Australian women have been left waiting for 150 days now for a Sex Discrimination Commissioner.
In that time, we’ve seen rampant, high-profile cases of sexism, including from Turnbull Government ministers, which a Sex Discrimination Commissioner could have spoken out about.
Perhaps that’s why the Government is dragging its heels on making the appointment. It’s unacceptable to leave this important role vacant for months on end and the majority of Senators agree with me.
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate passed my motion calling on the Government to get on with the appointment of Australia’s official advocate for women against discrimination.
The former Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, was a strong voice for women, who fearlessly called out sexism, and thankfully continues to do so unofficially. Her original term was extended for a fixed timeframe so the government had plenty of notice to find a replacement. Elizabeth Broderick has left big shoes to fill. She has convinced big businesses to take gender equality seriously; advocated for paid parental leave before we had any; raised awareness about domestic violence when it was taboo and led an investigation into how women are treated in the defence force after the Skype scandal. It’s an outstanding legacy and one that many worthy women could carry on admirably.
So why is it taking so long? My worst fear is that the government thinks we might all forget about the position and then they might try and remove it like they did for the Disability Discrimination Commissioner. So it was good news that the Senate passed my motion, sending an official message to the government that we’re watching and waiting, along with many, many more women in the community.
Excited to be here with 2016 Aus of the Yr David Morrison. It will be the year of equality. pic.twitter.com/R2NvWggmKO
— Elizabeth Broderick (@LizBroderick) January 26, 2016
In the months and months that women have been left waiting, sexism has reared its head time and time again.
Former federal Liberal Minister Jamie Briggs and the former general-secretary of the NSW Labor Party Jamie Clements have resigned over sexual harassment allegations. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sent a text to a journalist, which he meant to send to Jamie Briggs, calling the journalist a “mad f#$!ing witch”.
Dutton remains a Minister and, while Jamie Briggs stood down as a Minister, the Prime Minister has reportedly told him that the path back into Cabinet remains open despite his sexist behaviour.