THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
ABC AM WITH SABRA LANE
THURSDAY 8 MARCH 2018
SUBJECTS: International Women's Day; Equal pay for childcare workers; gender pay gap; Adani.
SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: For more on International Women's Day I was joined a short time ago by the Shadow Minister for Women and the Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek. Good morning Tanya Plibersek. Happy Women's Day.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Sabra.
LANE: Is Parliament still too blokey given the tone from both sides recently and the long, long hours? None of that is particularly attractive when weighing up a political career?
PLIBERSEK: What is attractive about a political career is the opportunity you get to do some good in the world, and I think men and women have equal capacity to do that and equal desire to do that. It has been for a long time pretty male-heavy but that really has changed in my lifetime too. I remember when I first got there, if there were two or three of us women standing around in the hallway talking, that men could not walk past without commenting you know 'oh the ladies are plotting to take over the world'. It's just not like that anymore because we are at almost 50% in the Labor Party and we do have some really good support structures in place for female staff too. We've put a lot of effort into that - so we have made deliberate effort to change the culture. Have we gone far enough? No, not yet.
LANE: OK onto some policy. Will a future Labor Government legislate to ensure a pay rise for early childhood workers?
PLIBERSEK: You don't legislate to ensure a pay rise for a particular group of people. You have to make sure our industrial relations system works for all underpaid workers. I think the childcare workers pay equity case result has been very disappointing so far. They've been fighting for five years for a revaluation of their work and they haven't got there yet. So of course we need to look at why they haven't got there, not just for childcare workers but for other women working in undervalued industries. They do such important work and it just makes no sense that if you're a Certificate 3 metal worker you get 40 bucks an hour, and if you're a Certificate 3 childcare worker you get 20 bucks an hour. If you look at the level of qualifications, this is difficult work, it's demanding work, so we need to look at the system. But we also need to ask individual employers to do better in their own workplaces. We've seen some companies today talking about the extra money that they're putting in to pay when they've discovered that they have a gender pay gap in their own organisations. So there's more that we can do. We can absolutely also encourage people to go into non-traditional fields, so more girls going into STEM-type subjects, construction, mining industry and so on, and more boys taking on caring-type roles, I think that would be a fair way to reducing the gender pay gap too.
LANE: You've also said the current laws and structure should be used to ensure equal pay. What current laws can be enforced to do that?
PLIBERSEK: Companies that are using the tools that they have through the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, doing their own pay equity stocktakes within their own companies. Many of them actually say 'we don't have a gender pay gap' and then they do a stocktake and find a gender pay gap of 30 or 40 percent. So we do have existing laws and structures in place that ought to be better utilised by companies themselves to make sure that they're treating their workforce as it should be treated.
LANE: The Adani question continues to follow Labor. Bill Shorten has said that he's against it, then that it has to economically stack up. Party insiders fear that this is putting the seat of Herbert in Queensland at risk. How worried are you that the people of Queensland won't tolerate Labor's position on this issue?
PLIBERSEK: Nothing's changed. We've said all the way along it has to stack up environmentally and economically but the more we see of this project the less it stacks up environmentally or economically. No one wants to fund it. They can't get investment. They've now got their hand out to the Government. They wanted a loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, the Queensland Government said no to that, so the Federal Government's trying to go around the back and use EFIC to give them loans. This is a project that private investors don't want to invest in because they see that the world market for coal is changing dramatically, and for that reason alone, I mean, the jobs claims from this company - originally it was 10,000 jobs, then put them on oath and they say it's 1400. They've said they want to automate this mine from pit to port. So if that's the case, where are the jobs coming from? What worries Queenslanders, they tell me this all the time, is that this is another Clive Palmer event for them. People come in with these great promises and at the end there are no jobs and Queenslanders are let down.
LANE: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for joining AM.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.