Despite all the gains made in gender equality over the last 100 years in Australian society, the role of women is still not equal. When we consider the amount of wealth available for woman at retirement in comparison to men, we understand that our sisters and mothers are still not appreciated, respected and valued as they should be.
My three daughters need to be all they can be, they need to live as Australians accepted not just because of their beauty, but valued as citizens because of the content of their character and for how they may contribute to society.
We all need role models and in this place in the Ministry and the Cabinet the numbers of women dilute their importance and rob the nation of their talents.
Men and women think differently, they approach problems from different perspectives and Australia deserves to benefit from the wise counsel of its entire people, not just some.
Do we really believe women are not as talented as men? They don’t have as much to offer as men? Are not as capable to solve a crisis or make a judgement?
It’s not my view that any gender is superior to another, but we need a balance in this place. We need to recognise all the qualities in our society. It has been 114 years since women got the vote and could stand for Parliament, in 114 years how long does it take, 114 years, longer than that for a male dominated society to recognise the value of each and every Australian regardless of their gender.
The reduction in the availability of Pap smear tests for Australian women shows the Turnbull Government has no commitment to the health of women and doesn’t care about their special needs. Do we think this decision would be taken by the Turnbull Government if it wasn’t dominated by men? It’s very easy for men, who won’t face the prospect of cervical cancer, to condemn woman to their fate and show no compassion.
It’s time for all of us to demand changes to address this inequality if we want a truly united country.
When society is slow to act and our citizens’ rights and opportunities are being suppressed, it’s time for Parliament to act.
History has shown us that legislation is an effective tool in achieving social change, we have seen this in the workforce and in the application of racial discrimination laws. We need to have a proper gender balance in our Cabinet and Ministry. Somehow the Canadian Government can achieve a gender balance in its cabinet, but Australia’s Prime Minister can’t.
Ministers are a role model for our society, if we have Ministers who are dominated by one gender then what sort of a message does that send to our people? That one gender is more valuable than the other, that our daughters are not as valuable as our sons.
The message is that women can be treated differently than men, that somehow they are not as valuable. These are dangerous undercurrents in our society and are validated by the economic clout that women have.
Why is that more women than men receive low income support and low income super? Why is that women are the subject of more than 90% of all domestic violence in this country?
Change starts at the top and we need laws that guarantee each gender is well represented in Cabinet, not necessarily 50/50 but each gender should be entitled to at least 40% of all appointments to send the right message to Australians; that our daughters as well our sons, are equally important. We can’t wait another 114 years to recognise the value of all our citizens.
If change doesn’t come now, it may never come. This Parliament needs to pass laws that require all genders to be properly represented in all decision making aspects of the Australian Government.