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Getting the balance right

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For more information contact Jeremy Roberts on 0433 620 850 or Nick Xenophon on 0411 626 677

12 / 10 / 2015

Senate Committee hearing today on Bill to require gender balance on Government boards

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT WHAT: Senate’s Finance and Public Administration Committee hearing into Australian Government Boards (Gender Balanced Representation) Bill 2015 WHEN: 9am-12pm Monday 12 October, 2015 WHERE: Senate Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra.

Legislation instigated by Independent Senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon that would ensure the Government meets its target of gender balance on Government boards will be examined by a Senate Committee today in Canberra.

The public hearing by the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee will hear from experts and stakeholders including influential company director Carolyn Hewson, Carol Schwartz AM, founding chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, as well as representatives of the Office for Women (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) and the Institute of Public Affairs. See full program here: ministration/Gender_Balanced_Represent/Public_Hearings

The Bill was co-sponsored by Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Independent Senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus. It seeks to implement existing Government policy, first introduced by the previous Labor Government in 2010 and maintained under the current Government, which sets a target of 40 per cent men, 40 per cent women, and 20 per cent unallocated for seats on Government boards. The Bill would create a positive obligation for Government to meet the targets.

Senator Xenophon said the Bill was even more necessary following the latest figures, released last week, showing that across 361 government boards, 39.1 per cent of all directors were women as at June 30 2015, down slightly on the 39.7 per cent recorded the previous year.

The hearing comes a week after the newly appointed Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, appointed new ambassadors to the BoardLinks program, linking high-achieving female candidates with public-sector director vacancies.

“It’s concerning that there’s been a slip in gender balance on government boards, and in fairness, the Government shouldn’t be singled out on this. However, placing a positive obligation on the 40/40/20 rule would mean a cultural shift not only on Government boards but could act to spur change in the private sector. It’s all about community expectations and the fact that women make up 51 per cent of the Australian population,” said Nick.