Bill's Speeches

WOMEN’S BUDGET STATEMENT - 2019 - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA - THURSDAY, 4 APRIL 2019

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Thank you Tanya. I’ll tell you, there are many good reasons to vote Labor, but we just heard one of the best reasons to vote Labor - Tanya Plibersek.
 
I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, and pay my respects to elders both past and present. 
 
I'd also like to acknowledge the work of Sharon Claydon and the Status of Women Committee, along with our remarkable Tanya Plibersek and her very, very capable staff. 
 
It's exciting. We'll be in election in five or six weeks’ time, whenever the current government's fingernail marks are stretched across the concrete from beng forced to get in the car to go and visit the Governor General. 
 
But whenever that is, we're ready.
 
And we are ready, not the least because we will be bringing to the Australian people the most comprehensive set of gender equality policies, policies which would see women get a fair go, that the Australian public have ever been presented with at an election - and this is a very exciting thing.
 
Gender equality, the equal treatment of women, the fair go for women, that's at the heart of the Labor mission. 
 
It's what animates the members of the Parliamentary Party, our union movement, the broader community, our rank and file.
 
We genuinely believe that if we could achieve the equal treatment of women in this country, then this would be the finest country in the world. 
 
If we accomplish nothing else as a government if we were to be elected, but secure the equal treatment of women, we would be in a place that the world has never seen - a society where men and women are truly equal. 
 
This is a goal worth aspiring to. 
 
To me it's a very personal proposition. 
 
My mum was a very capable woman. So when you're raised by a capable woman it never occurs to you that women are not equal. In fact, you have this sneaking suspicion they're smarter.
 
Then you sort of spend your life trying to reconcile and get over it, that maybe you're okay too. 
 
But the point about my mum is that she was first in her family to go to university.
 
She came from a working class family, she wanted to do law, but there was no money in the family.
 
She was the first to go to university, so she had to take the teacher's scholarship - and teaching is a great profession and she loved it all her life.
 
But she had to make a sacrifice for the rest of the family, and her two younger sisters, there was no money so they became nuns.
 
My family and my mum was raised in a world where women had to battle, not to get ahead, but just to get an equal go. 
 
You know this theory, that women can only advance so long as the others - that's code for men, don't get pulled back. Well for the history of our country, the modern history of our country, women have always been forced to take a back seat to men.
 
It's not a case that when we talk about gender equality we want to do something special for women, we just want to address the imbalance, the unfairness that exists in our society. 
 
This is not political correctness.
 
This is just about valuing us all.
 
It's funny, campaigning with Libby Coker in Corangamite, we visited a dairy farm to announce some good policies, but that's not for today.
 
But the farmer there, he was in his 60s, he was down on the Bellarine Peninsula, and I asked him where did you go to school?
 
And he went to Queenscliff State School, Secondary School, and I asked him that because that's where my mother taught, so I knew she had a connection down there when she finished her teaching degree. 
 
And I said, ‘oh did Ann McGrath ever teach you?’
 
And he said, ‘Ann McGrath did teach me’.
 
And when you get to meet someone who knew your parent who's passed away, it's like a voice from beyond.
 
It's what you never get to do, to hear your parent's voice again, except through someone else, and he was her student.
 
And he said, Ann McGrath, he called her "Annie get your gun" and I said ‘why did you call her that?’
 
And he said ‘because she was a feminist before there were feminists.’
 
Because his mum was all for the rights of equal treatment of women too.
 
And for me to hear that my mum had been pushing the case - and I said ‘what do you mean?’
 
And he said ‘oh well me and my mum’ - this is the farmer, ‘were always sceptics about the blokes. They never took things at face value, they always insisted on their own point of view’ and that's why this is personal for me. 
 
I truly believe that if my mother had different opportunities she would have, could have, done anything.
 
And she did great things as a teacher - don't get me wrong, brilliant.
 
But I always thought, and I suspect she always thought that maybe if circumstances had been different, by virtue of economy, by virtue of gender, that she didn't quite get the go that her abilities, if she'd been a bloke might have seen. That range of opportunities.
 
She was not bitter about that. It's just, it was what it was.
 
I can't go back in time and get my mum to be treated the way she should have been treated.
 
You can't turn back the clock on history.
 
But you can change the future.
 
You can change the future for everyone else. 
 
I want my daughters, I want your daughters, I want all of you, I want the women of Australia just to get an equal go. 
 
And our policies - they're not all of the answers, I understand that we're not arrogant, we're not hubristic. 
 
There are lessons we will have to learn.

There are fights that we perhaps haven't even thought of yet, which we will have to fight. 

But you know when I look at the work of Tanya and Penny and all of the caucus and the blokes, all of the women. 
 
This shows that we get it. 
 
We don't have all the answers. We don't have all the solutions yet, and we haven't won all the battles. But this is a plan. 
 
When people say about modern politics that it's all just you know, focus groups, where's the vision, people are sick of the instability. 
 
I say to you, have a look at this. 
 
We don't regard launching women's policy as an optional extra, the last paragraph in a Budget.

We regard a fair go for women as core business. 
 
When you look at our policies here, superannuation - $2.6 billion dollars extra for women over 10 years - $400 million soon.
 
Chris and others have all been driving it - Clare, we have all been driving it.
 
Childcare - why on earth are we still arguing about childcare?
 
How on earth did we get to a set of events, where this government has managed to take childcare off one in four families. 
 
How is it that we've got a government who doesn't want to give three year olds universal kindergarten, it's a cost of living issue.

How is it that we have a situation where our early childhood educators who do crucial work, the first adults that families entrust children outside of the family unit to, and yet we devalue their work, largely I'd submit to you because it's a feminised workforce. 
 
How is it that we still have so many women facing the threat of violence. 
 
Especially, but not exclusively, from people who once said they love them. 
 
How is it they can't get some time off when they're the victims of violence, just to just get the bills right, sort the kids out at school.
 
Just that crucial life maintenance, which most of the men who opposed paid family leave will never have to experience. 
 
You know when we look at our policies and all the recent tax changes this government has made - they've even found a way to shortchange people who earn less than $40,000 a year.
 
Now 57 per cent of Australians who earn less than $40,000 a year are guess what - women.
 
So we want to rectify that too. 
 
We have got a package for working women. We've got a package for women.
 
Better protection from violence and better support when you're the victim of violence.
 
We've got a package to support better retirement savings. 
 
We've got a package to make sure that we do something about improving the pay of low paid workers, and the tax refunds which go to low paid workers, which are preponderantly women. 
 
We make no apologies for wanting to lift wages for millions of wage earners, because that will benefit women. 
 
We make no apologies for wanting to put the penalty rates back, because that affects women. 
 
So we've got a view about the fundamental fair go for women, but it doesn't stop there. 
 
Apprenticeships, we are going to pay for the upfront fees of 100, 000 apprentices.
 
But we're saying half of that - there's a catch though, half of those apprenticeship places have to go to women.

And Tanya mentioned an issue of reproductive choice policy. 
 
You know, we were talking recently and I know what a passionate advocate she and so many Labor women have been for reform in this area.
 
But you know the question I really had is why did it take so long, and I get it had to be fought for. 
 
But now it's actually being fought for and now we've actually supported it, like many good reforms when you do it the morning after people say, 'oh yeah. Why did it take so long?' And that's the art of change. 
 
You win the argument and then the actual victory, and the implementation is actually far less controversial than perhaps fears might be otherwise. 
 
But for me it all comes back to this basic notion.
 
Why should any of our daughters have to grow up in a world where they work two months longer each year, than the little boys to get equal pay. 
 
Why can't women be safe at home and on the streets. 
 
Why can't we have the idea that women can retire with better retirement savings.
 
Why can't women have a say and control over their own health choices.
 
It's all about a fair go.
 
But the best way to achieve a fair go for women is to have more women in the parliament. 
 
And that's what the Labor Party is going to do. 
 
We've got it right, but we're going to do it better.
 
And I thank everyone who is has worked on this.
 
Because you can't make it right for what's happened before, but we can make it right for all those who come after us. 
 
Thank you very much.


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