Gender equality in workplace — legislation progressing

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Gender equality in workplace — legislation progressing

New legislation supporting gender equality in the workplace has passed through the House of Representatives this week.

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New legislation supporting gender equality in the workplace has passed through the House of Representatives this week.
 
The Minister for Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, has welcomed the passage in the House of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 as a key Gillard Government reform to advance gender equality.
 
The proposed new law is aimed at increasing women’s participation in the workforce and their economic security.
 
The Minister noted that an Australian woman on average still earns around 17 per cent less than a man and that gender pay gap remains one of the highest in three decades.

‘Not a win for gender equality’ says Opposition
 
The passing of the Bill through the House of Representatives does not represent a win for gender equality, shadow spokesperson for the Status of Women Senator Michaelia Cash said.

‘The Coalition is a strong advocate of gender equality in the workplace and has a history of delivering policy outcomes for women while in Government,’ Senator Cash said.
 
‘We firmly believe that it is Government’s job to create an environment which supports and encourages business, because in the end it is business, not Government, which creates jobs and ultimately prosperity in this nation.’
 
‘We do not support legislation which gives the Minister discretion to do what she likes and potentially tie business up in red tape, which is effectively what this legislation does,’ Senator Cash said.
 
‘Extraordinarily this legislation also gives the Minister scope to consider new matters without any indication or restriction on what those matters might be.’
 
‘Lifting the participation rate for women, especially women aged over 25 and women with children, is critical not just for national productivity, and could increase the size of the Australian economy by up to $25 billion per year, but also for the future financial security and independence of those women, who may ultimately rely on their superannuation in later life,’ Senator Cash said.
 
‘Having a job to go to and having financial independence also reduces the risk of social isolation for older women. ‘
 
‘But instead of focussing on critical issues like childcare and balancing caring responsibilities, which research from the Grattan Institute has shown are some of the major barriers to full workforce participation, the Government is focussing its efforts on increased regulation which will make doing business harder, without any genuine gains for gender equality.’
 
The legislation will now move to the Senate.
 
Background to the legislation is available on the FaHCSIA website.
 
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