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Australian women left in the dark under Howard.

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Tanya Plibersek MP Shadow Minister for Work, Family & Community Shadow Minister for Youth & Early Childhood Education Shadow Minister for Women

7 March 2005

Australian Women Left in the Dark under Howard

International Women’s Day (IWD) 2005, will take place tomorrow, 8 March.

While IWD is a celebratory event, IWD also reminds us of inequities that Australia women still suffer in the twenty first century, and how the Howard Government is failing the women of Australia, leaving them in the dark, without a torch.

• Since 1996 the gap between men and women’s total average wage has grown from $229.10 per week in 1996 to $310.90 per week.

• Australian workplaces lag behind all other industrialised countries, the Federal Government supporting neither paid maternity or paternity leave as a worker's right.

• More than 1 in 3 Australian women report experiencing physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

The Howard Government cannot be trusted to make Australia a safer or fairer place for Australian women.

Most recently, the Prime Minister ordered the Office of the Status for Women to be moved out of his department, and into the Department of Family and Community Services.

This underlines the view that women’s issues start and end with the family and motherhood.

Labor believes that the focus should be broader and include women’s lower earnings; lower savings; health problems peculiar to women; fertility rights and threats to their safety in all environments from the street to the home.

The Howard Government has discarded the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence project and has not indicated any plans to replace it.

This is after millions of dollars of tax payer’s money was wasted last year on preparing a domestic violence campaign, most of which was scrapped at the last minute.

Women’s reproductive rights are again under attack, and there is a push by individual conservative MP’s to re-open the debate on abortion. Labor by contrast supports the current federal arrangements.

The Howard Government has the opportunity tomorrow, of all days, to announce policies that will actually help the women of Australia, rather than leaving them in the dark.

For further media comment, please contact: Tanya Plibersek MP on 0413 777 787 or Monika Wheeler on 02 6277 4519