Ministers statements: Equal Workplaces Advisory Council

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I rise to update the house on the establishment of the Equal Workplaces Advisory Council on this International Women’s Day. I take this chance to congratulate all the women in the chamber who are here today and wish them, along with all our female staff members who service us so well here in the Parliament and the women in the gallery upstairs, a happy International Women’s Day.

This initiative arises from the gender equality strategy released by the Minister for Women last year, and it is a fantastic piece of policy which will work hard to address the systematic, cultural and historical factors that have resulted in the pay gap that exists between men and women in this state. Nationally on average women are paid $261.30 less than men per week. It is not good enough. One of the actions of the council is to have a look at the pay gap differences — —

Mr Watt — On a point of order, Speaker, the minister is clearly reading from a document. I would ask you to get her to table that document.

The SPEAKER — Order! Is the minister reading from a document?

Ms HUTCHINS — No, Speaker, I am referring to notes, and I am happy to repeat the figures that I have just raised out of those notes.

The SPEAKER — Order! The minister, to continue.

Ms HUTCHINS — Thank you. Unlike those opposite — —

Honourable members interjecting.

Questions and statements interrupted.


Member for Kew

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Kew has been warned. I ask the member to leave the chamber for a period of 1 hour.

Honourable member for Kew withdrew from chamber.


Ministers statements: Equal Workplaces Advisory Council

Questions and statements resumed.

Ms HUTCHINS — Speaker, it is very disappointing that I am trying to make a point about gender inequality in this state and yet I am getting shouted down by the men on the other side, who clearly are not concerned about a $261 pay gap per week.

This government is absolutely committed to equity for women. We put our money where our mouth is. We have committed to equal 50 per cent representation on our boards, we have 10 amazing women at our cabinet table, out of 22. We do not believe in having bookends like the other side — —

Mrs Fyffe — On a point of order, Speaker, the minister was discriminating. I was also involved in that noise level.

Ms Neville — On the point of order, Speaker, today is International Women’s Day, and there are serious issues of discrimination and inequity that still continue to exist not just here in Australia and Victoria but across the world, and what we have got is a minister who is trying to raise those issues. It is not a joke. She was being shouted down, and she made an important point about the way this Parliament deals with women. Even the point of order that was raised is a joke to those opposite. This is a serious issue, and the minister should be able to be heard in silence in order to make those points and should not to be shouted down by those opposite.

Mr Clark — On the point of order, Speaker, the member for Evelyn was making a point that the minister was belittling women and belittling her own statement in the way she sought to misuse a ministers statement on a very important issue to make attacks on the opposition. That was the point of order being made by the member for Evelyn, and it was a very valid point of order.

Mr Thompson — On the point of order, Speaker, the suggestion that a member is reading a speech is not a gender normative description, and that statement has been made in this chamber irrespective of gender. In the absence of it being in the rules, it is inappropriate to make that suggestion in relation to the issue. The description has been made across the chamber over 20 years, and as for the suggestion being made as to whether it is gender normative or not, that is irrelevant. The suggestion was the minister was reading her speech.

The SPEAKER — Order! I do not think that relates to the original point of order raised by the member for Evelyn. We have gone a long way around in a circle. The minister, on matters related to her portfolio, to continue.

Ms HUTCHINS — What is belittling to women is men who ignore the pay gap that exists in this state. This government is standing up for women in workplaces. We do not bury our heads in the sand. We are taking this on head-on.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! I warn the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation and the member for Eltham.

Questions and statements interrupted.