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What is the Minister for Women’s Affairs going to do for women in this country?

Since forming government we’ve heard a number of Coalition Ministers speak about, or take action on their portfolios. For example, Environment Minister Greg Hunt has shut down the Climate Commission, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, has determined that asylum seekers were now to be referred to as ‘illegals’ and has done his utmost to demonise these poor people, Treasurer Joe Hockey keeps raising the debt ceiling (and his level of stupidity) whilst blaming it on the previous government and Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Education has threatened to overhaul the higher education system and turn public schools independent.

I, and most readers here as well as a large percentage of the wider community have been horrified by their announcements but at least we do know what they’re doing. Not so with the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Tony Abbott. He appears, on the surface, to be as distant from any of the the issues as he is from a probing question.

The Coalition’s September 2013 Policy for Women tells us a little more. Five whole issues fill its pages, being:

  1. Relocate the Office for Women
  2. A Real Paid Parental Leave Scheme
  3. Help Make Child Care More Accessible and Affordable
  4. Take Further Steps to Reduce Violence Against Women
  5. Increase the Annual Target for Women at Risk Visa Grants

It’s not a real lot, is it? And it is safe to assume that only a small percentage of the country’s women will benefit from any of these policies, if indeed they are initiated.

There is nothing for the majority of women, or more importantly the disadvantaged women in our society that don’t rate a mention in the above policy document, such as these:

Female workers

The pay packet is always smaller and the gap between what men and women are paid is still widening, according to the latest workplace survey figures. A study carried out by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) found a $266 a week overall difference between what men and women in full-time work earn. There are also proportionately fewer women in key positions in the Australian workforce.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Mental illness

Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders (18% compared with 11%) and affective disorders (7.1% compared with 5.3%) and are more likely to have anxiety and affective disorders in combination.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Homelessness

Over 40% of homeless people in Australia are women.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Lesbian couples

Thousands of lesbian couples in Australia want the opportunity to marry their partner.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Underemployment rate

In August 2012, the extended labour force underutilisation rate was higher for females than males (15.2% and 11.3% respectively). Not to mention the 350,000 Australian women that are looking for work.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Indigenous women’s health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait women experience poorer health across all health areas compared with non-Indigenous women.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Poverty

A 10-year study has found Australia’s most disadvantaged are more likely to be, among others, women.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

All of these are issues that should be a priority for the Minister for Women’s Affairs . . . if he cares.

My views on the self appointment of Tony Abbott to the Women’s Affairs portfolio are well known, which are based on his out-dated attitudes to women and a complete disregard of their place in modern Australia. Here’s a recap of what I published earlier:

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.” Tony Abbott Four Corners 15/03/2010.

“While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.” Tony Abbott Herald-Sun 06/08/2010.

“I won’t be rushing out to get my daughters vaccinated [for cervical cancer], maybe that’s because I’m a cruel, callow, callous, heartless bastard but, look, I won’t be.” November 9th, 2006

“I would say to my daughters if they were to ask me this question . . . [their virginity] is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don’t give it to someone lightly, that’s what I would say.” January 27th “The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.” 2010

It has been revealed that after having being defeated by Barbara Ramjan for the SRC presidency, Tony Abbott approached Barbara Ramjan, and after moving to within an inch of her nose, punched the wall on both sides of her head. news.com.au 09/09/2012

‘I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’ cited 23/08/2012

Gaining momentum across everywhere but the mainstream media are allegations that Opposition leader Tony Abbott inappropriately touched Aboriginal author Ali Cobby Eckerman in an Adelaide cafe last March. First Nations Telegraph 20/06/2013.

Tony Abbott urges women to save their virginity for marriage and reveals mixed feelings about contraception in a new interview. The Australian 25/01/2010.

And who can forget his behavior: standing in front of people as they hold signs calling Julia Gillard a bitch or a slut; rubbing shoulders with people after they’ve said on air that Julia Gillard should be dumped at sea; supporting members of his party who suggested Julia Gillard should be kicked to death.  He also failed to reprimand those in his party who said Julia Gillard needed a bullet.

He can’t even address a female by name; it’s either ‘her’, ‘she’, ‘it’ or someone with sex appeal.

I could best describe his elevated appointment as ‘token’. He may prove otherwise, but as the above problem areas suggest he has a lot of work to do to prove it. If not, 100,000s of women in this country will remain disadvantaged and quite frankly, I believe that’s the way it’s going to stay. Unless of course, Abbott’s Number One policy of relocating the Office for Women turns out to be the most social and economic reforming program ever enacted in this country.

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25 comments

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  1. J.Fraser

    Good photo of OTT (one term tony), his wife and the handbag hit squad.

    And everyone one of them has been on the receiving end of OTT having to pay back illegal expenses to the taxpayer.

  2. Stafford Hall

    Laughable really, Abbott Minister for womens affairs.

  3. Carol Taylor

    This is just another one of Tony’s ego trips. Note how Abbott always went into a mild state of panic when the press announced that he wasn’t popular with women. WTF, how could Tony not be popular with women! After all he really “gets” women..he knows all about them, what sex appeal is, how they only have certain aptitudes and how most of them spend nearly all of their time ironing. Solution: make himself Minister for Women. That’ll show ’em how he really “gets women”.

  4. Roswell

    Stafford, Abbott is laughable even without the title.

  5. Fed up

    Michael, how could you be so wrong. Abbott is going to be good for women.

    He is not allowing those employed in childcare and similar positions to get the small wage rise, they were promised over time.

    Cannot expect wealthy women to pay more for their childcare. Anyway, they will nit be needed, as paid nannies will be the go.

    Then he does need to ensure that women of calibre are the only ones that need to breed,

    His PPL scheme will be paid for, but cuts to childcare and the disastrous school kid school bonus. Has anyone ever heard of success waste. Nothing to do with education. If the cannot afford to but those uniforms, they only have to visit the second hand bins that most schools have, These parents will only put the money through the pokies anyway.

    We all know, that the child’s home life and enshrinement has nothing to do with there ability to learn. We know this, because the only expert available, Mr. Pyne tells us so.

    He is going to assist single patents by bringing them into income managing. Did you not you know, these women have trouble balancing their budgets.

    Do not forget, work for the dole is to be revived. This will be good for women, in general. Have to be taught, that one has to work.

    Maybe there will be places for women, in that 15000 Green Army.

    Yes, Michael, you are terribly wrong, it is only Abbott that knows what is good for us women.

    Yes, he will even go to his sister’s wedding, but he will not be supporting the marriage.

  6. Fed up

    I noticed that Peta’s husband was treated with a little contempt and ridicule yesterday at the NPC. Was giving his version of how Labor lost, more than why the Coalition won.

    Did not seem to achieve his agenda of building Abbott up.

  7. Fed up

    Challenge to ACT marriage law goes before the High Court tomorrow afternoon.

  8. Fed up

    Wonder if the High Court Judgment will be as slow, as it has been with Ashbey and other matters.

  9. Brian

    Sounds like a Peta Cretin strategy to me. “Hey Tones, why not make yourself Minister for Women’s affairs? Then they’ll all be convinced that you’re really not a misogynist prick”. Masterful.

  10. Olive

    Women’s groups can start to up take the challenges up to My Abbott by requesting
    meetings, forums, swamping his office and correspondence channels, organising for journalists to ask regular daily questions of him in relation to his portfolio, etc etc and not backing down ,

  11. Anomander

    The only interest OTT has in women is ogling or demeaning them. One only had to look at how he objectified his own daughters on the campaign trail.

    To make the situation of this odious government even more laughable, we now have the alleged environment minister referencing Wikipedia for climate information when he has a wide array of expert scientists at his disposal.

  12. helenmarg

    He is a pathetic person.How did this happen.When will we wake and realise it it only a nightmare.

  13. gordonwa

    Well said Michael,

    We need to raise this issue at every opportunity.

    I think it is clear that Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech really stung him. Look at all the fluff pieces with the women in his family that appeared in the compliant media shortly after that speech. Abbott has taken the role of Minister for Women’s Affairs to hit back at Julia and feminists everywhere. He’s not going to use the position to improve the lives of Australian women, instead he has taken it hostage and locked it in a cabinet made up of misogynists. The role is a trophy to Abbott and it is up to women (and men) to claim it back.

  14. VoterBentleigh

    The Prime Minister is getting paid thousands to do nothing except talk at the moment. His portfolios don’t just cover women’s issues, but Indigenous affairs, deregulation, national security and relations with state governments. On ABC Radio National Michelle Grattan claimed that his stint at fire-fighting was just part of who he is. No, it is not. He’s now Prime Minister of the nation, not a fireman and it’s about time he recognised the fact. He is not being paid to be a fireman (there are hundreds of competent people doing that and they don’t need him) or do volunteer work (well, he’s been reimbursed for doing volunteer work, but let’s “move on”). Let Margaret Abbott and his daughters get on their bikes and do the charity work, like most PM’s partners do. The Prime Minister of the country is supposed to be attending to his portfolios and running the country – he said that he would make a difference from day one, but it seems it is others who are doing the work.

  15. EqualityForAll

    What a joke. Women were liberated almost half a century ago. Do you SEE a minister for mens affairs? To even suggest that women NEED someone to represent their entire gender at the federal level should be an insult to their intelligence and competence as working members of our society. I believe there should be equal participation of women and men in political affairs, but NO race or gender should be given special consideration by the government. Who gives a crud whether Tony Abbot will “support women”. Women shouldn’t need government support to live. They’re perfectly capable human beings.

  16. Fed up

    No, woman should not need government support to live. Not in this age. The shame is that many do, through no fault of their own.

  17. Gina

    Cretinism. He works it well in his grande scheme of things. It’s so embarrassing.

  18. Janet thompson

    Equal pay seems an obvious starting point for the new minister for Womens Affairs.

  19. DC

    There are some serious questions about the Mat Leave policy that are not answered. If women are entitled to 6 months pay at their own “wage” but funded by tax payers;

    *How long to they need to be earning a particular wage? (if a woman who does not work falls pregnant to a wealthy business owner, could he not just suddenly decide to put her on his books as an outside consultant and pay her a wage before she gives birth?

    *What about women who are self employed, do they get anything?

    *What about woman who study or work part time / casual or are unemployed?

    *What about woman who earn commission, how do you work out how much they deserve

    *Will legal sex workers be discriminated against?

    *What about woman who work for small companies that do not have the ability to hold someones job for them for 6 months?

    The questions are far from trivial they need to be answered now as this is influencing peoples decisions to procreate or not

  20. Möbius Ecko

    DC another rort I saw canvassed was where an employer who has a wife or daughter working the company and increases the wages on their planning for a baby or on becoming pregnant, then reduces it back to previous wage after the PPL is finished.

  21. Ann

    I loved the comment that he won’t be letting his adult daughters get vaccinated. Apparently they only follow him like a loyal puppy. They do not have a voice or mind of their own. Says a lot about the rabbott household. It’s going to crash and burn, just not sure who he will take with him, his party or the whole country. He’s an idiot (I’m sorry, I had to swear) and I am embarrassed to call myself Australian

  22. cuppa

    The Minister for Women has hit the wall!!

  23. monicastangledweb

    Gina, knowing pretty much nothing about your politics, I think you’ve put together a very extensive thorough list. The Minister for Women has a tall load ahead but what confuses me a bit is why is the Minister a man, and not a woman? Seems rather strange to be frank.

  24. abbienoiraude

    May I suggest that another large group of women forgotten about are Carers? Most people who are looked after because of being small children, disabled people, the ill, and the aged are being cared for by women. These are the forgotten ‘workers’…because most do it for ‘love’ ( ergo can never be remunerated for it, can they?) and most do it be cause it is their duty, their family or the right thing to do.

    When is it going to be recognised that it is a modern day ignominy that it is women who ‘work’ for nothing to care for those in need.

    Abbott will never ever get what it is to be the Carer, the caring member of a family, group, home….for he has no sense of caring for even his own Nation.
    Goddam his “Minister for Women” status. He has NO qualification let alone any idea.

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