entertainment

Lisa Wilkinson: Tony Abbott should not be Minister for Women.

The Today show host says Australia needs to wake up to the way that it treats women.

Lisa Wilkinson, 55, is one of this country’s most respected journalists, with more than 36-years of media experience. When she speaks, Australia listens.

In an interview with Sunday Life magazine today, Lisa Wilkinson gets straight to the heart of what is wrong:

“We’ve got a crisis in this country when it comes to domestic violence; our figures, shamefully, are that one woman dies every week at the hands of a partner,” she said. “We need a minister for women who is not also our prime minister. And we have a gender pay gap that’s the largest it’s been in 20 years. We need to focus on these issues.”

Lisa Wilkinson on the cover of Sunday Life. Image: Instagram.

Lisa is not afraid to call out sexism where she finds it. And that’s something she attributes to the strength she found after being horribly bullied at Campbelltown Highschool in her teens.

She told Sunday Life: “I can remember it as if it was yesterday,” she says, “walking out of the gates, and making a decision that never again in my life would I allow someone else to determine who I was and what I was capable of.”

Lisa in Sunday Life magazine. Image: Instagram.

Since then, Lisa’s career has been characterised by an unstoppable work ethic and a straight-talking style, which has seen her challenge injustice – even at the highest levels.

In February, she accused Tony Abbott of hypocrisy on Q&A. According to Lisa, his claim that the Gillard government was nothing more than “broken promises” was ironic considering Abbott’s cuts to the pension, education and the public broadcasting sector.

She also has no time for interviewees who hedge and use political double-talk.  Last month, Lisa interviewed Social Services Minister Scott Morrison to talk about his leadership goals, only to end the interview with “like all politicians, you’re very good at not answering the question.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Lisa’s Today show family. Image: Instagram.

Lisa has also not been afraid to call out injustice, hypocrisy and sexism in the media industry. In the Andrew Olle lecture in 2013, she painted a dim picture of what female journalists face every day:  “When you’re a woman doing breakfast TV, you quickly learn the sad truth, that what you wear can sometimes generate a bigger reaction than even any political interview you ever do.”

But Lisa has made it clear that women need to keep doing the powerful political interviews, and she will make a stand to drive home her point. In 2012, she walked out of the Today for 45 minutes because Karl Stefanovic, her partner on the breakfast show, was being given more high-profile interviews with politicians. While she feels a little sheepish in retrospect about how she chose to highlight the disparity, Lisa told Sunday Life that, “there was an inequity going on … and it was certainly addressed after that.”

Read more: Lisa Wilkinson and her daughter attend her Year 12 formal.

In the same week when Melissa Doyle’s promotion at Channel Seven has been attributed to her appearance, rather than her skill, it’s important that we have one of Australia’s most prominent journalists speaking about sexism and the importance of being outspoken and sticking to your guns.

In her Andrew Olle Lecture in 2013, Lisa listed some of the most impressive women working in media and said:

All of these women are at the top of their game. And we can all celebrate that despite the current glossy environs of so much of the media, their paths have been sure and steady: learning, growing, honing their craft, withstanding the temptation to compromise, and SURVIVING, despite all the extraordinary pressures placed upon them.

It is clear from her most recent interview with Sunday Life that Lisa Wilkinson’s words two years ago about her talented colleagues apply equally to her – she continues to be sure and steady, withstanding the temptation to compromise and does it all despite extraordinary pressure.

And we’re so glad she does.

Here are a few  more of Australia’s excellent female journalists who we love to see on our screens… .

Want to read more about Lisa?

Why did Lisa Wilkinson have to apologise for her hair this morning?

Leigh Sales and Lisa Wilkinson respond to accusations they’re too aggressive. 

Lisa Wilkinson has a few choice words about the government childcare changes.

00:00 / ???