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Wednesday, 8 March 2023
Page: 79

Senator BARBARA POCOCK (South Australia) (17:02): Happy International Women's Day to all of my sisters here and beyond the chamber. Today the government has given us what women have always craved on International Women's Day, a report card. We don't need another report card. I have a library of them, like every other gender equality advocate in the country. We could paper the walls of this place with the report cards we have on gender equity. I am sure that many people across this chamber could contribute reports. We have seen so many. If report cards won the day on gender equity, we'd be in a paradise.

We don't need report cards; we need action. We are told we have to wait. I am waiting for the day when we hear that defence has to wait for some things they really, really want. They want $170 billion to buy some submarines. We could do with a bit of that going to women. Instead of a report card, I want to suggest a few things the government could do that are action.

First of all, put super into paid parental leave. It won't close the gender super gap; it would narrow it by about 10 percentage points, by my calculation, but it's an insult to not be doing it already. It will cost about 2.5 per cent of a Virginia class submarine—probably the periscope. Secondly, 26 weeks of paid parental leave now, not in 2026. That's still only half the international standard, so, while you're at it, we should get map going for 52 weeks as soon as possible. That costs much less than a submarine would cost. Make child care free—not just cheaper but free. Give an immediate wage supplement to working carers who are leaving the jobs they love in droves across the aged-care system, child care and disability.

We women want more than a report card. We deserve better. We know our pay is 84 per cent of men's. We know we do more unpaid work than men. It's time to give us action and share out the public dollars that are there to support what we really need now.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Cox ): The question is that the matter of urgency on women's safety, health and economic security moved by Senator Waters be agreed to.

A division having been called and the bells being rung—

Senator Ci ccone: Acting Deputy President, we'll withdraw the division

Question agreed to.