The Kings Cross Saturday markets are a great way to meet top politicians at the moment, thanks to high-profile contest between Liberal incumbent Dave Sharma and Independent Allegra Spender, daughter of fashion icon Carla Zampatti.
So the only surprise when we came across Labor’s popular deputy leader Tanya Plibersek just behind the vegetable stall close to the famous King’s Cross fountain was that she was there, given this constituency rarely fields a Labor candidate.
Not to worry. Apart from smattering of the party faithful, she was standing alone. So we abandoned our trolly bag of veggies to ask her why Labor had so spectacularly dumped the push to pay super on parental leave.
It was certainly instructive. Basically, what Tanya told us was that the choice was between the elderly or women. And thanks to the commission of inquiry into aged care, the elderly won.
Despite enormous support for the policy within the party, she said it came down to cost. And Labor couldn’t fund both.
“We couldn’t afford it,” she told Supawomen in what turned into an exclusive interview. “Who knows, maybe it will be back once we are in government? We could still do it down the track – but it’s very expensive”.
Asked about Labour’s polices for women, she said the party had made pledges about domestic violence, and supported the abolishment of the $450 earnings ceiling at which super payments are made, which bring many poorly paid women under the super umbrella.
However, both of these policies have been enacted by the Liberal Coalition.
The fate of super on parental leave is certainly a bit of a mystery. The Liberal Coalition was supposed to announce it in the Budget last year, but didn’t. The assumption from commentators was they were holding back for the election.
Then came this year’s budget. Apart from domestic violence and a “leadership” campaign – both worthy causes, of course – women didn’t get a look in.
Super minister Jane Hume has been dodging our requests for interviews and podcast appearances. Now we know why.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison vetoed the plan even though his own retirement income reviewer recommended it, leaving hundreds of thousands of Australian women to face being worse off in their savings.
The reason? Apparently it wouldn’t have a big enough impact on the polls for the amount of money required – a cynical but practical argument meaning it was the right thing to do but wouldn’t get the party re-elected.
They went for one-off payments and petrol tax cuts instead.
So what is the support for this campaign? Huge, actually.
If you were to count the ACTU, the Industry Super Funds, MLC, Telstra, Finder and others who ARE supporting the call for more help for women, we reckoned we are supported by around five million.
We’ve reached over 700,000 with our messaging and sent thousands of letters demanding more help for women to ministers and MPs.
But so far, only the Greens have pledged to do anything to help fix the problem.
So what happens next?
We believe the mainstream parties have underestimated how our campaign and those of others will impact campaigning.
We carried out a poll of 1,000 voters – mainly women – and 82% of them said they would vote for a party promising to make super part of parental leave.
The shame of the decision by both sides to take this crucial measure off the agenda is that it leaves voters with little choice.
Meanwhile, more and more businesses are taking up the slack and introducing policies that mean their skilled working women receive the security every Australian woman deserves.
Join our campaign here: