P-Go…the new Pru Goward

It was 1984 when my mother excitedly announced to her young, naive daughter that she no longer has to tolerate her boss hovering way too close behind her at the filing cabinet, in the lift or at her desk. It seemed my mother and many women like her were very pleased that legislation was finally in place that protected her from unwanted sexual attention.

That decision created a major shift in the way in which women in particular, have been protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. The legislation also provided for Ms Pam O’Neill to be appointed the first Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner (FSDC). The FDSC utilises the The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 which gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 156.

“Its [the FSDC] major objectives are to promote equality between men and women, eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, with respect to dismissals, family responsibilities, and eliminate sexual harassment at work, in educational institutions, in the provision of goods and services, in the provision of accommodation and the delivery of Commonwealth programs.” HREOC

Pru Goward is the sixth FSDC. She has a secondary role of Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination (CRAD) following the introduction of the Age Discrimination Act in 2004. In this role Pru undertakes educational activities to promote the law which aims to reduce barriers faced by younger and mature age people in public areas of life including employment.

Our current FSDC/CRAD is now the Liberal candidate for Goulburn, NSW. Since that time her previous statements that showed her to be critical of WorkChoices legislation for the group of people she used to represent have been toned down to be significantly less critical and I can’t believe that we put up with this. How do we tolerate this when women of all ages (who represent a large proportion of casual and part-time workers) and the younger and older workers are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged under the WorkChoices legislation.

Pru’s position has moved from this

“the spread of AWAs will inevitably mean that the present system of employer funded paid maternity leave will disappear. This is because employer provided paid maternity leave, in the absence of a national government funded scheme, has been provided by Australian employers as part of negotiated enterprise agreements or, less often, as part of awards. This will not be possible where there are not collective agreements, which explains why so few AWAs have paid maternity leave. Either the government will need to replace employer funded paid leave with a national government funded scheme or we will be back in the nightmare of low fertility and or of women dropping out of the work force at a time when the country needs them most. HREOCs chief concerns about the [WorkChoices] bill relate to its impact on the protection of workers with family responsibilities, on pay equity between men and women and on the protection of employees in vulnerable and lower skilled positions in the Australian labour market.”

to this

“My concerns had not been supported by any evidence. I did have concerns, but I also have always argued that greater flexibility in working arrangements is what has enabled more women to work. The big take-off in female participation rates in Australia was the early 1990s, when part-time work became widely available. In other words, workplace flexibilities are good for job creation and women particularly have taken advantage of them.”

Pru has offered to quit her role as FSDC/CRAD, however it seems that she is not required to. I disagree. I don’t believe she can rebuild her credibility to any point of relevance after what can only be seen as a shameless, unprincipled, mercenary bid for the advancement of her own political career.

P-Go…Principles Gone!


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11 Responses to “P-Go…the new Pru Goward”

  1. Graham Bell Says:

    It’s worse than degrading of maternity leave and similar rights, important as those issues are.

    What our wonderful news media keeps neglecting to mention is that so-called WorkChoices is a joy and delight to gropers, sleaze-bags and those with short-comings in their wedding-tackle.

    Probably without intending it to be so, the Howard government has given a green light for unscrupulous employers to give vulnerable women – and lads too! – the stark choice of surrendering to the sexual demands of the employer and working (maybe?) OR refusing to prostitute themselves and not working …. and then being “breached” by CentreLink too. Very nasty choice. Welcome to the Second Great Depression …. it’s getting even rougher than the first.

    Of course there are Complaints procedures and Appeals processes too. Yeah mate. Right. Hang on a minute, I’ll just finish this call to my stockbroker then I’ll instruct my Senior Counsel to fill in all those forms for me to sign; I’ll drop them in as soon as the garage drops my Beema back.

    Only the most amoral cynical political operator would say that a lack of formal and public complaints indicates that there is no problem. And only the most gullible would fall for such a line. These are vulnerable people!!!! Making a complaint means that they lose the money to eat and to have somewhere to sleep; why the hell would they take the stupid (to them) risk of making a complaint???.

    There are social costs arising from sexual harassment which, sooner or later, become community costs. And certainly I do not want to pay for any sexual predators to enjoy themselves, with the government’s blessing, at my expense.

  2. Suki Says:

    Good points Graham.

    Is there a plan b for the role of FSDC/CRAD? Will the vulnerable have an advocate to replace P-Go, or is this the beginning of a phasing-out process…a non-core commissioner if you will?
    Perhaps the FSDC/CRAD go the way of the Office of the Status of Women?

    I am at a loss to explain why winning the seat of Goulburn (or for that matter Epping) for the Liberal party can be worth throwing away all credibility.

    Then on the other hand, with her clear talent of saying whatever will get her favour will make her perfect for the Liberal party.

  3. flute Says:

    It’s a shocker isn’t it? Craven beyond belief.

  4. Graham Bell Says:

    Suki, you said ….”Then on the other hand, with her clear talent of saying whatever will get her favour will make her perfect for the Liberal party.”

    Ouch!! You might get crossed off her Christmas-card list for that.

    There probably are people waiting in the wings to pick up the vulnerable who have been neglected by this callous regime. Hezbollah? NeoNazis? Groups that would make the Communists look quite genteel? …..

  5. Suki Says:

    I wish I’d have used the word ‘craven’ flute. It is sadly perfect!

    I’m waiting to hear HREOC’s plan B Graham. The cynic in me worries that there is no plan B.

  6. Graham Bell Says:

    There probably is a Plan B – or its equivalent – somewhere but it won’t be used by this moribund regime.

    My guess is that real baddies outside the traditional party system will be the ones to come up with Plan B ….. and in doing so will win yet another easy victory in battle for the hearts and minds of the Australian people.

  7. Suki Says:

    Paul Stephenson has a plan for Pru.

    Unfortunately it does not create a powerful voice from HREOC against the government.

    This plan is more a fuck us less gesture from the people of Goulburn Mulwaree.

  8. Graham Bell Says:

    By coincidence …. apparently, Pru Goward will be speaking at Central Queensland University on Wednesday. I did consider, for a moment or two, going all the way to the big city (Rockvegas)just to hear her speak…. but I’m a pensioner enjoying what we are told is the current exceptionally high level of prosperity in Australia. I make do by being reasonably frugal without being mean and miserly; I do have to look at the opportunity-cost of going there in terms of fuel and wear-and-tear on my vehicle…. so I can’t afford to go there to hear her speak. Pity …. but that’s what happens out here in the real Australia..

  9. Suki Says:

    I can see how Pru’s not worth the wear and tear on your vehicle! I’m pretty picky myself… 😉

    I acknowledge the irony in your statement which essentially is
    ” I am a pensioner and I do not have the unaccounted for means to fund the travel it would take to get to a talk given by the Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination (CRAD)”

    We bloggers here in Sydney are more fortunate as we can often carpool, which can really keep the costs down. AND one of our number is wait-listed to get his car LPGEEEED- now if it will only start… 🙂

  10. susoz Says:

    Sorry for such a late comment but I wanted to congratualte you on this – nowhere else have I seen or heard criticism of Goward for not resigning her job. It’s appalling – and so disappointing. I always knew she was a ‘personal friend’ of Howard’s but thought she had a bit of gumption. Apparently not.

  11. Suki Says:

    I have always been ambivalent of Pru.
    Sometimes she was on and others she was off. As far as I am concerned she remains off and it seems that her new electorate also smells something that they would rather not go near…

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