Mar 7, 2003

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 7 March 2003

On International Women’s Day on Saturday, Australian women will have the opportunity to reflect on their achievements, but they’ll also be acutely aware that there’s still a long way to go, according to Anthony Albanese MP the Labor member for Grayndler.

“Women around the country are under pressure. They’re trying to bring some balance to their working and family lives. But they’re constantly up against John Howard’s old-fashioned views of families. He doesn’t care that his policies mean reduced access to child care, rising medical costs with fewer doctors bulk-billing, increased household debt and pay inequities.

“I know that families in Grayndler are finding that life is getting tougher; it’s harder to make ends meet. Most families depend on two incomes, not so they can live in luxury but just so they can survive. That’s why Labor is committed to a national paid maternity leave scheme – to help families when they need it most,” Mr Albanese said.

“There also needs to be a greater investment in our children, including boosting child care services and education. Again, John Howard’s user-pays ideology disadvantages those who simply can’t afford to pay – from mothers who can’t afford quality child care to students who can’t afford $100,000 up front university fees.”

Mr Albanese said the Government’s record on issues that affect women was damning evidence.

“Six hundred thousand families are caught in the Howard Government’s Family Tax Benefit trap and Australian families are now spending more than they earn thanks to the GST and the high cost of living. Nationally, we need at least 50,000 more child care places and for many the cost of child care makes going back to work hardly worthwhile. Even Howard Government minister Amanda Vanstone admits that, after paying child care fees, a part time worker on $15,000 only earns $1660 more than if she didn’t work at all.

“And the statistics show that women in the workforce are still undervalued. On average they earn 67% of male earnings or $271 less per week. They earn less than their male counterparts across every single occupational group and increasingly they are being pushed into casual or part-time jobs.”

Mr Albanese said Labor’s record as advocates for women’s interests included boosting working women’s superannuation from 24% to 85% by 1996; a six-fold increase in the number of child care places and the Maternity Allowance payment for new mothers.