It’s been a huge week in the Wilkinson-FitzSimons household.
On Monday night, Lisa Wilkinson announced she would be leaving Nine’s The Today Show, after ten years on air. Within the hour, it was announced she would be moving to Network Ten, where she will co-host The Project, and participate in other collaborations in 2018.
But in the wake of one of the biggest shakeups in Australian TV history, a complex conversation emerged about pay equity – given rumours that Wilkinson was paid half that of her co-host, Karl Stefanovic, and this was the ‘expectation’ Nine were ‘unable to meet’ in her contract negotiations.
— Lisa Wilkinson (@Lisa_Wilkinson) October 16, 2017
Immediately, women expressed their thanks for Wilkinson – who rewrote the rules when the rules were, frankly, completely unfair.
But then… well. Then came Andrew Bolt. And ‘sources’ from Nine. And others who argued that the support for Wilkinson was ludicrous. “Let’s ask Waleed Aly the truth about a pay gap,” posed Bolt for News Corp, arguing that it’s a “joke” to hail Lisa Wilkinson as a crusader for equal pay, given “she’ll now be paid three times more than her new co-host Waleed Aly”.
Ahh yes, when you use the exception to argue that the rule doesn’t exist. Classic.
After a week of being followed by paparazzi, and living side by side with the biggest news story of the week, Peter FitzSimons appeared on Sunday night’s episode of The Project to talk about his new book, Burke and Willis: The triumph and tragedy of Australia’s most famous explorers.
But towards the end of the interview, Chris Bath asked a question many critics have likely been desperate to ask.
“One final question, I have to ask,” said Bath. “Is there pay parity in your household?”
Listen: Mia Freedman on Lisa Wilkinson leaving The Today Show. Post continues after audio.
FitzSimons immediately laughed, along with the panel and the studio audience, and quickly responded, “I will say this…”
“A few people have sneered unpleasantly along the lines of ‘na na your wife’s humiliating you by earning more than you,’ but I’m like, ‘PLEASE! HUMILIATE ME!”
While his comment was light hearted, it definitely carries a heavy point: when women do well – everyone does.