Statement from Martin Parkinson – Gender equality and the Office for Women

Statement from Martin Parkinson – Gender equality and the Office for Women

PM&C
Monday, 12 September 2016

Martin Parkinson,

Secretary,

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

I write in response to commentary published earlier today claiming that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is failing to deliver on pay equity given the different and unequal salaries that exist across the department.

As someone committed to gender equality the accusations made in the article titled Federal Coalition failing to walk the line on pay equity are deeply offensive.

There is a pay gap for comparable positions across my department. But the issues raised in relation to a specific position advertised in the Office for Women compared to other roles at PM&C are not related to gender. Instead, they are driven by the reality that the Australian Public Service (APS) does not have a single employment agreement. There are many enterprise agreements across the APS, with different conditions and rates of pay. 

The difference in pay in my department highlighted in the article dates back to 2013 when the Office for Women was moved from the former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) to PM&C. Until enterprise agreement negotiations are complete, all jobs in the Office for Women continue to be covered by the FaHCSIA enterprise agreement, while positions in PM&C's Social Policy Division are covered by the PM&C enterprise agreement. 

Had the time been taken to contact my department prior to writing the article, I would have been more than happy to explain this. I am committed to equal pay for equal work and am working to find a solution to the current enterprise agreement situation. In the meantime, within the parameters of their enterprise agreement, employees have the ability to negotiate a salary based on their skills and experience. To suggest my department is unfairly treating current and potential female employees is just plain wrong.

The importance of gender policies and women’s economic empowerment is unmistakeable. Achieving gender equality will contribute to economic growth and jobs for all Australians. In recognition of this, I have elevated the Office to Women to a standalone Division and ensured it has ongoing strategic direction and strong leadership by appointing one of my best operators to lead it. Criticism of someone for their experience rather than their transferable skills and potential is one of the reasons that women do not progress at the same rates as men. I am proud to have appointed an executive with significant runs on the board and potential to this key leadership role.

Martin Parkinson, Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.