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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11376


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for Women and Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations. Will the minister please update the House on what action the government is taking to improve economic security for women and what attitudes to economic management would undermine their success?

Ms O'DWYER (HigginsMinister for Women and Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations) (14:48): I thank the member for Ryan for her question. She knows, like every member of this side of the chamber, that when women do well, their families do well, and when their families do well, our nation and our economy prosper. That is why the coalition government delivered last week the first Women's Economic Security Statement. It includes practical measures that focus on ensuring more participation for those that want to join the workforce, increasing women's earning potential and ensuring their greater economic independence.

One such measure is the flexibility of the government funded parental-leave payment. We know that there are more than 2,300 families that miss out on the government funded parental-leave payment because of the lack of flexibility. It is too rigid right now. You can't say to all families, 'You must only take it as 18 weeks.' You should instead give them the flexibility to make decisions that are right for them and their families, and that is precisely what we have done. In our measure, you can take 12 weeks up-front, but the next six weeks you can take as blocks or as one day at a time. This helps those women—particularly those women who are in charge and who run small businesses—allowing them to be able to return to work knowing that they have financial support behind them to make the decisions that are right for them and their families. It builds on the government's achievements to date. It builds on the fact that we have seen more women in work than ever before, and more women in full-time work than ever before. And, as the Prime Minister quite rightly pointed out, under our government we have seen a reduction in the gender pay gap. It's down from 17.2 per cent under the previous Labor government to 14.5 per cent under us. That is still too large, but it's heading in the right direction.

Sadly, those opposite simply pay lip-service to women's economic security. They refuse to get on with practical measures that will actually support women in building their financial security. They should support the government's catch-up contributions when it comes to women's superannuation payments and tax deductions, so that those people—no matter who employs them and no matter how they're employed—are able to have a level playing field in achieving their financial security through their superannuation. But those opposite have said that they would, in fact, scrap the catch-up contributions. They should stop the rorts and the rip-offs in the superannuation sector. That would add $2.5 billion to women's economic security, but, instead, they are opposing this. And, of course, they have their mega retirees tax that would hurt women the most. Thirty per cent more women will be impacted by that regressive tax. (Time expired)