Election Time – What are they offering?

As the Australian Federal Election draws nearer, each party is ramping up an advertising campaign saturated with buzzwords and catchphrases.  We want to know: what have they got to offer women in business? Let’s take a look at the election and what result is specifically likely to improve things. This is not an election driven by imaginative visions of the future, so we have had to look more widely to find some clues:

  • While voting just on gender alone is not good, if pretty much all else is equal why not give the woman our vote? If our first woman PM lost so soon it would not be a good look for wider issues, as it will be assumed that her gender counted against her.
  • The only policy Labor and the Coalition offer that is specifically targeted to women is paid parental leave and the Coalition look better as their policy is for longer and replaces higher incomes. But it reinforces the wage gap by pegging it to the mother’s wage to cut costs. There are also questions on whether it will happen, given the noisy objections in the ranks.
  • Labor is supporting the Equal Pay case in community services, while the Coalition is silent.
  • Labor has promised to legislate for 40% of women on Government Boards but no commitments from the Coalition.
  • Do we need quotas for increasing the numbers of women on boards or in business? We believe that it should be on the agenda as a way of pushing voluntary change. But no one is promising anything on this scary policy area at the moment.
  • The Greens website outlines many promises to women, but lacks specifics in many instances. However, its views are much more friendly towards women than the major parties and having them in the Senate would be useful.

The key message is Vote Strategically; remember the Senate is often the area where the major parties are called to account. Think about voting below the line – who knows where the preferences go. Check the WEL Australia and ERA websites who have both assessed the policies in more detail. Visit each of the parties’ websites to find out about policies that are directly relevant to you. The lack of specific policies to deal with other issues that relate to women shows that we need to keep putting questions of gender fairness on the political agenda.