Well it’s finally happened, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has succumbed to public pressure and taken a leading role in improving women’s economic security.
The Prime Minister has announced a new cabinet taskforce will be establish to drive the government’s agenda on women’s equality, safety, economic security and wellbeing, and will comprise all eight female members of the ministry.
The taskforce will be co-chaired by Morrison and foreign affairs minister Marise Payne.
This is at the very least a positive step forward for Mr Morrison and his government which for the past month has been plagued by allegations of sexual assault, lewd acts and disrespectful behaviour towards female Parliamentary staff.
What we need to see beyond this is a clear plan that joins the dots on women’s economic security and all the issues that set women back financially compared to men.
My brief wish list starts like this:
- Improving workplace participation for women in critical child raising years with affordable childcare.
- Supporting more flexible work practices for men and women
- Normalise paid parental leave for women and men equally.
- Superannuation on parental leave for both men and women.
- Breaking down gender stereotypes in schools, with education, careers and at home when it comes to the paid and unpaid work responsibilities of the genders. This requires media campaigns, and in-school, community or at work programs.
The new cabinet includes:
- Michaelia Cash — attorney-general, industrial relations,
- Anne Ruston — women’s safety in cabinet, families and social services,
- Karen Andrews — home affairs,
- Linda Reynolds — government services and National Disability Insurance Scheme,
- Melissa Price — defence industry,
- Marise Payne — foreign affairs, women,
- Jane Hume — women’s economic security, superannuation, financial services and the digital economy,
- Amanda Stoker — assistant minister to AG, assistant minister to IR, assistant minister for women,
- Peter Dutton — defence, leader of the government in the house,
- Stuart Robert — employment, workforce, skills, small and family business,
- Christian Porter — industry, science, technology.
The reshuffle comes just a week after the government was forced to ditch plans that would have allowed victims of domestic violence to access their superannuation savings early.
The idea, which was flagged by the new women’s economic security minister Jane Hume, was criticised amid concerns that it would leave many women financially worse off it they had to raid their retirement savings to flea a violence situation, and that it could even lead to financial abuse by a coercive partner.
Women retire with $45,000 or 31% less in their superannuation than the $65,000 for the average man, according to the most recent superannuation account balance data from the ABS in 2017-18 and as reported in the latest Financy Women’s Index.
According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), couples aged around 65 living a comfortable retirement need to spend $62,562 per year and singles $44,224, both up by 0.9% on the previous quarter due to rising costs of living and financial pressures.