Straight from the Senate - Issue 11

5.00pm | March 12, 2017



1. This past Wednesday marked the 108th International Women’s Day. Since the first IWD in 1908 we have come a long way and Labor has a proud history of advancing women’s rights. However, there is still much to be done to achieve equality.

On average, Australian women retire with half the superannuation of men and more than half of all retired women have an annual income of less than $30,000. Women earn 16% less than their male counterparts (much more if bonuses are included), and one in every three Australian women experience domestic violence. 

On Wednesday I caught up with many former colleagues from the engineering and technical professions at a breakfast for Consult Australia. Women are still vastly outnumbered in these sectors, but in recent years the sector has begun active strategies to improve opportunities and support for women in the profession, and the contributions from large and small business leaders were genuinely inspiring. 

Yesterday I joined many Labor friends for the IWD march. It was particularly gratifying to see so many young women involved this year.



Last weekend I joined Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Sam Dastyari, Terri Butler and many other Labor members to march in Mardi Gras. Unlike the Coalition, Labor believes that those in same-sex relationships are entitled to marry the one they love. I call on Prime Minister Turnbull to grant his party a free vote on this issue so that the Parliament can do its job and deliver for the thousands of Australians waiting for equality. 


Australian companies are not keeping pace with the rest of the world when it comes to disclosure around climate risks.

These risks arise when a business faces increased costs because of climate change (for example, insurance companies exposed to greater payouts as a result of more frequent bushfire) or decreased asset values because of changes to reduce our carbon emissions (for example, fossil fuel power stations which are less attractive assets under policies which seek to reduce emissions). 

The Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) this week testified before the Senate Electricity Committee stating that only thirty-three of the two hundred ASX-listed companies are comprehensively disclosing climate risk. Australia’s financial regulators are now calling for such disclosures, arguing that the risks are “foreseeable, material and actionable now”. 

I spoke to the SMH about the Government’s failure to provide policy leadership on this issue. Timely disclosure would allow investors to adjust in an orderly way. This is far preferable to sudden repricing, which could cause shocks to the broader economy. However, it’s obviously difficult for either the financial regulators or for business to respond to climate risk when senior members of the federal cabinet don’t believe in climate change.

In Labor,
Jenny McAllister