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Thursday, 31 March 2022
Page: 1512


Ms COKER (Corangamite) (16:48): The fight for justice and equity for women across our nation is far from over, but this is not just a fight for women; it's a fight for every family. It's a fight for our nation's future productivity, because we know that, when women do well, families do well, and when families do well we create a hopeful, prosperous nation. We know that, shamefully, under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments, women do not have the same opportunities as men. Many women do not receive the same pay as men, and far too many women in this country experience gender based violence and die at the hands of men.

I stood in solidarity with the STOP Campaign this week on the front lawns of Parliament House. The STOP Campaign is a grassroots movement tackling sexual violence against women. They presented the Lost Petition created by artist Dans Bain. The Lost Petition is a 30-metre list of names of 978 Australian women and children who have been killed by their partners since 2008. These are Dans's words and why she brought this petition to parliament on budget day: 'Women need to be at the forefront of this year's budget. We need to make change—things like reviewing sexual assault laws, introducing a national gender equality act and increasing funding for domestic violence support. I want systematic, real-world change.'

Sadly, we know that one in four women in Australia experience domestic violence, and, tragically, every 11 days an Australian woman loses her life at the hands of her partner. These statistics reveal a fundamental flaw in Australian culture, a lack of equality and respect for women, and no wonder. We've heard from a procession of talented women that they have been bullied and intimidated by none other than our Prime Minister. And what did the Prime Minister and the coalition do? They voted against the vital Respect@Work recommendations, including changing workplace laws to ban sexual harassment, requiring employers to try and stop sexual harassment in their workplaces, and protecting victims against massive legal bills for taking legal action against perpetrators. In contrast, Labor will implement every single recommendation in the Respect@Work report.

But we must do more. We know that far too many women across our nation are facing skyrocketing costs of living, record-high childcare fees, stagnant wages, a gender pay gap, skill shortages and rising rates of sexual assault. Not only that—Australia has now slipped 26 places in the World Economic Forum's gender ranking, since Tony Abbott appointed himself the Minister for Women in 2013. We are now in 50th place worldwide—our worst result ever. Even worse, Australia's ranking on economic opportunities for women has fallen to 70th in the world, and in health and safety rankings we've dropped to 99th in the world. And the budget handed down by the Morrison government on Tuesday does absolutely nothing to address this shameful record. Achieving equality and justice for women requires leadership from the top, but instead we have a Prime Minister who too often treats women with disrespect.

By contrast, Labor leads by example, establishing a quota policy that has resulted in nearly an equal number of women and men in our caucus. Countries with gender equality in the workplace are the same countries that experience the lowest rates of sexual and family violence against women and children. Labor will not turn its back on women. If elected, we will implement our plan to seriously address family violence. We will close the gender pay gap. We will ensure women feel safe at work, in public places and in their homes. We will end exploitation of casual labour and create secure jobs. We will treat women who work in female dominated professions, like aged care and health care, as valued members of our society, with better pay and conditions. Labor understands that when women do well families do well, and when families do well we create a hopeful, prosperous nation. It's time for a change of government. It's time for an Albanese Labor government.