My adjournment matter this afternoon is directed to the Premier, and it relates to equal pay for women in Victoria. Members in this place are well aware that our community service workers are an integral part of our communities. They are people who care for children, the vulnerable, the elderly and the disabled. The majority of our community service workers are women, and they have been underpaid because of their gender.
Victorian women heard Ted Baillieu state before last year’s election that he would be a champion for pay equity, matching Labor’s pledge to boost wages for community service workers, who were among the lowest paid in the state. The Minister for Community Services went even further in committing an elected coalition government to this promise by stating that that promise would be kept, whatever the cost.
All Victorians have a right to be outraged at the Premier’s absolute betrayal of our female community service workers through his latest decision to back away from the coalition’s promise to deliver equal pay for women. It is an affront to women that the government has decided to threaten cuts to government services in an attempt to abrogate its responsibility to fix equal pay and resolve this important social justice issue.
The cynic in me tells me that the government’s approach to this issue confirms that equal pay is most definitely a gender issue. In addition to this, the Baillieu government has made a submission to Fair Work Australia’s equal opportunity case dismissing the role that gender played in pay equity despite the interim decision of Fair Work Australia, which found that gender certainly was a reason these workers were the lowest paid in the sector. This sheer betrayal and the shameless vote-grabbing exercise by the Baillieu government are disappointing to say the least, and they are clear for all to see.
I urge the Premier to keep the promise that he made to low-paid women in Victoria and reconsider the current government’s position on the issue. I ask the Premier to recommit to pay equity in Victoria, including fully funding equal remuneration for community services workers. I take this opportunity to also thank the unions and the equal pay alliance partners for the function they held at Parliament House this morning. I note that not one member of the government bothered to attend.