Panelists: Minister Karen Andrews, Linda Burney, Sarah Hanson-Young, Nicole Livingstone and Sabina Shugg
E&OE. *Check against delivery*
Annabel Crabb: Good evening and welcome to Q and A. I’m Annabel Crabb. Here to answer your questions tonight Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Olympian and head of the Women’s AFL Nicole Livingstone, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, Labor frontbencher Linda Burney and director of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub Sabina Shugg. Please welcome our panel.
Q and A is live in eastern Australia on ABC TV, iView and News Radio. Tonight, we’re hoping to get to questions from across the nation via Skype but our first question comes from the studio and it’s from Chantelle Bastow.
Viewer question: Hi. Thank you for listening to my question today. Many men are beginning to see equal opportunity for women as an opportunity for them to be more involved in family life. Why does Scott Morrison see this as a loss for men instead of the opportunity that it is?
Annabel Crabb: Okay. So that’s a reference to Scott Morrison’s International Women’s Day speech in which he said he was all for the rise of women but not at the expense of others. Linda Burney, I think I’m going to let you have the first shot on this one.
Linda Burney: Well, it’s almost as good as the Endeavour circumnavigating Australia as an act of reconciliation, isn’t it?
Annabel Crabb: Oh, that’s low.
Linda Burney: Look, I think it’s very worrying that the leader of this nation would make that comment on International Women’s Day. To me, it seems to be an absolute own goal and in the sense of what Scott Morrison said, it’s really putting women down and not understanding what feminism is and not understanding what equality is about.
Annabel Crabb: Is it possible to promote women not at the expense of men though?
Linda Burney: Well, the paradigm is skewed one way at the moment. I think that the really important point to make here is that for women to achieve equality, requires men to understand and men to be supportive of that notion. Unlike the Prime Minister clearly is not.
Annabel Crabb: Karen Andrews, if men wind up retreating from paid work and increase their time at home, that does qualify as a cost to them on a whole?
Karen Andrews: Well, let me start by answering that in my own relationship, my husband has equal responsibility for caring for our three children; always has and I’m sure always will. So he has taken time away from work to help with raising our three children. He’s very comfortable in that space, I was very comfortable in that space. I don’t believe for one second that he thought that that held him back in a work sense; it meant that as a family unit, we were able to be stronger, able to work together – child care responsibilities were clearly shared between both he and I. We had a different skill set; we preferred different parts of the childcare responsibilities but we worked together. I think that Australia needs to get to the point where it’s not unusual for men to take time out of the workforce, to take on caring responsibilities. We’re not there yet, we still have a long way to go but it is actually a really important thing that we must do.
Annabel Crabb: Do you think the PM could’ve chosen his words a bit more carefully on International Women’s Day?
Karen Andrews: Well look, let me say about – as Scott Morrison, I’ve always found him very, very supportive. We’re his words clunky? Look, yeah a little bit. They were. Look, I think that I’ve seen a marked difference in our party room and in the way the Liberal Party works since he has taken on the leadership. I have personally found him to be very supportive of women so I’m prepared to forgive the clunky words because I know that the sentiment is – that he has and that his respect for women is there.
Annabel Crabb: Sarah Hanson-Young, you’re a parliamentary parent. What did you think when you heard those words?
Sarah Hanson-Young: Well, I must say I didn’t just think that the words were clunky. Those words were written in a speech; this was a prepared statement from the Prime Minister of the country on International Women’s Day. And frankly, I think it says everything about Scott Morrison; I think it says everything about his misunderstanding of really what is at the heart of the struggle for equality. And what he said to women right across the country on Friday was that: yeah, you can be equal; just not as equal as men. That’s what he said and it’s not on.
I mean I’m sorry, we’ve had this debate about merit, well there’s some pretty mediocre bloke’s up there and you know, if women rise to the top and knocks some of them off, well go for it I say. Really, I think this whole idea that we have to hold back women’s advancement by fear of upsetting some blokes, well I really think it’s the wrong perspective to be promoted from our Prime Minister particularly on International Women’s Day.
The fact is equality is good for everybody; men and women and the sooner we all kind of accept that and from political perspectives, lead with that perspective – the better off we’re all going to be regardless of profession, regardless of where you live, regardless of gender.
Annabel Crabb: Thanks Sarah. Nicole?
Nicole Livingstone: I just – I mean for me I’ve been a working mum as well with three children and I recognise that families are different; two mum, two dads, a mum and a dad. And I think one of the things that we need to get ourselves to is a comfortable place where it’s okay in a traditional family, a man and woman, that the men are okay to leave work to go and pick up kids; to take some of the responsibility and that it’s not shamed that you know, they go off to help with their family or they’re babysitting they’re children; you know, it’s actually this shared responsibility. And once we get to a workplace that’s flexible and it’s okay for a man and woman to have those childcare duties or picking up children you know, we’re not going to be able to help women move forward.
Annabel Crabb: Sabina, just on this issue of whether if women succeed at work, it need be at the expense of men. I mean you work in an industry that’s changed usually over the last few decades. Do men in your industry feel that the advancements of women come at their expense?
Sabina Shugg: Look, I think there’s certainly pockets of men in our industry that do think that but I think that there’s plenty of examples of women you know, making a better environment in the workplace, in our industry and the men are reaping the rewards of that. And they’ll talk about that and they’ll tell others and they’ll encourage women to get into mining and work in our industry. So I think there’s both sides of it.
Annabel Crabb: What sort of structural changes of the presence of women at senior levels made to your industry?
Sabina Shugg: I think – you know, we get people challenging people in different ways. One of my friends works up at one of the Pilbara mines and she said it’s really stark there; that there’s a really large number of women in the leadership and in the operational roles. And it’s really different the way that they talk in the meetings; the way the leadership address each other; the way they solve problems and move forward on issues. And you know that everyone appreciates that and it makes a much better work place for everyone.
Annabel Crabb: And not necessarily a zero sum game.
Sabina Shugg: Exactly.
Annabel Crabb: Okay let’s hear from our next questioner now and she is Lauren Humphrey.
Viewer Question: In the last 12 months, the Liberal Party has both voted against Julie Bishop in the top job despite her being the most popular and recognised Liberal in the running and chosen to run Dave Sharma in my local seat of Wentworth despite polls that indicated that a female candidate would get a four-point bump. Those are two instances where the data clearly suggested the Liberals should back a woman. So my question is why shouldn’t female voters believe that a vote for the Liberal Party is a vote for an old boys club that isn’t interested in empowering women or in giving us a say in running this country?
Annabel Crabb: Okay Lauren. You’re looking at Karen Andrews, I’m at Andrews, they’re all looking at Karen Andrews. Karen Andrews?
Karen Andrews: Look, that’s a great question. It really is and it’s question that does need and deserve to be answered. Let me say up front that there are clearly some issues that we need to address as a party. The perception that we are not a party that is supportive of women is something that we cannot allow to continue, so some action needs to be taken. Having said that, we are a grassroots party, so our pre-selections are conducted by the little preselectors and they vote on the preferred candidate.
To address the problem, we actually need to start developing a pipeline so that we don’t have women candidates in particular, coming up at the last minute where they don’t have the party backing or the skills to be able to move straight into that role. I’m very keen for the development of that pipeline to come through. It means that it’s not going to be a magic bullet that all of the sudden we can’t come up with 30 per cent or 50 per cent of women overnight.
We’ve got quite some way to go but we need to start that process; there’s a lot of support within the party to do that. But I want to make sure that the women who come into Parliament in particular, have the skills and that they’re able to make a contribution; they understand what they’re getting into in the first instance and that they can make a great contribution. To give them the best chance they need to be supported, they need to be mentored and they need to be given an opportunity. I’ve made an open commitment, it’s a standing offer, that any woman who is interested in politics I’m happy to work with them to give them the best chance.
Annabel Crabb: Karen, you’ve got a target at the party to get to 50-50 by 2025, which is really not very long ago at all particularly when you consider that your party has gone backwards in the last 25 years. So everyone’s agreeing that it’s an issue and something decisive needs to be done. But what on earth can you do that’s going to shift the needle to that extent in six years?
Karen Andrews: Look, I think quite frankly, a 50 per cent target in that space of time is very ambitious and we need to accept the likelihood of us achieving that is slim. So I’m in favour of setting a more realistic target to make sure that what we are setting up is reasonable, it’s achievable. But we need to have a plan to be able to get there because quite frankly, just sitting there crossing our fingers and hoping that all of a sudden, we’re going to increase the number of women representatives is just not going to happen. So…
Annabel Crabb: [Interrupts] But from what you just said that your immediate course of action is to lower the target which seems an odd way to approach the situation. At what point do you star- and I know you’re not a supporter of quotas but at what point do you start thinking: well, you have to pull a serious lever?
Karen Andrews: Well, two things I’d say to that is that firstly, targets need to be realistic. So there’s not any point in my view in setting a target that cannot be achieved and if you need to revise that down, then I think you actually need to be prepared, willing and able to do that. So I think we do need to revise the target; we need to make sure that we are doing something realistic; that we’re giving women the opportunity to come on board. I don’t think, as I said, that there’s a magic bullet, that this is going to happen overnight; there’s a considerable amount of work. I’ve talked about a 30 per cent target because I believe that we need to develop a critical mass. Now, whilst there’s a number of views on what that critical mass should be, it’s generally accepted that a critical mass to make sustainable change is about 30 per cent. Once you get to that, it can be quite self-sustaining; that’s the target that I think we should be aiming for. But we need to put in place some direct means to be able to meet those targets.
Annabel Crabb: I sense that to my left, Linda Burney may be itching to make a comment on this. In the last 25 years, of course, since the Labor Party committed to a binding quota of 33 per cent of winnable seats being contested by women, you’re reaching parity. How – it’s taken 25 years to make that progress. How hard was it along the way?
Linda Burney: Well, in 1994 everyone, the Labor Party set a target of 35 per cent and progressively that target has gone up and in 2015, we set a target of 50 per cent by 2025. After the next federal election, we will be over 50 per cent women in the federal caucus, which is a great, great outcome.
Annabel Crabb: To be clear, that was a quota, not a target.
Linda Burney: Sorry, a quota, I beg your pardon, a quota. And of course, there are many women who are on the frontbench, and I don’t buy the argument that Karen’s put forward that somehow or rather it’s about quality. There is not one single woman in the Labor Party that is not of the highest calibre, and those quotas have been really important in getting us to the 50 per cent. Not just 50 per cent in terms of the winnable seats, but over 50 per cent in the actual caucus.
Now, what’s going to happen, most probably, with the Coalition after the next election is the numbers will more than likely go backwards because there have been men pre-selected over women in at least two seats. I’m really proud of my party; I’m really proud of the women in my party, and the leadership comes from the very top – a commitment by Bill Shorten right through. So it’s men and women that support the system in the Labor Party, and I think it’s really something that other political parties should look at, particularly the Nationals, who have almost no women.
Annabel Crabb: Which is why you see Bill Shorten rarely go out in public without a doughnut of women around him.
Linda Burney: Well, that is because there is a doughnut to be had.
Annabel Crabb: Of course. If you have a doughnut, you should use that doughnut, we all agree on that. Sabina, give us an idea of how this works in your industry because the representation of women in decision-making roles has increased. Has that been targets with teeth, quotas or just a general determination by you and your lady colleagues?
Sabina Shugg: Well look, I think it has been across the board a bit of all of those things. There’s certainly been some companies that have had quotas and some have had targets and there has been a lot of individuals that have said: I need to make a difference in my particular area, even if my company is not. And so I think the combination of all those things has, you know, made a big difference. And people have looked at it a bit differently, too. They’ve not just looked at traditional roles doing traditional jobs, they’ve gone: okay, that person is a really great finance person, they’ve never managed a mine but let’s give them a go. And they use those management skills to manage the mine even though they are not a traditional mining engineer. And so things like that, we’ve really expanded the pool.
I think, for example, you know, one of the big miners has got an occupational therapist who is one of their managing directors. I mean, you know, when you do things like that, then there’s no excuse for not having more women represented in a political party.
Annabel Crabb: So you mean that’s about changing the job specs that you advertise for effectively?
Sabina Shugg: Well yeah, instead of just always looking in the mirror and saying: well, the person taking the next job must look like me, you look around and you think: well, I need these certain skills but maybe you don’t have to look like me to have those skills, I can bring other skills from other industries and job roles in to do that.
Linda Burney: And often it’s not just about targets and quotas, it’s actually about policy. What are the policies of various political parties or organisations, or corporations, that actually attract women, that are important to women? And I think that when you have a look at many of the policies of the Coalition, they are not women-friendly.
Annabel Crabb: We will move on, on that point. You’re watching Q&A Live. Our next question comes from Jenny Morris, who’s the founder of Women for Election.
Viewer question: Thanks Annabel. Does the panel think that a cross-party women’s caucus would be effective in Australia for women parliamentarians? So are we ready for that? And secondly would such a caucus, or could such a caucus address some of the issues that women are facing such as the increased harassment and intimidation that women in public office now talk about quite openly?
Annabel Crabb: Sarah Hanson-Young I’m going to direct that to you because I know you’ve got some views on this particular topic.
Sarah Hanson-Young: Yeah thank you for the question and I think it is a really good one. In fact it’s a nice dovetail. I couldn’t- I didn’t get a chance to respond to the last one. But I actually think this is part of the issue because regardless of what political party, we need more women in politics. We need more Liberal women, we need more Labor women, we need more Greens women, we need more independents. I genuinely believe that parliament and democracy would be better off with more women there. And I think, to be honest, in order for the Liberal Party to get there, they’re going to have to implement quotas because the target system clearly isn’t working, they’re going to have to. And I know there are some people already advocating within the Liberal Party to do that and good on them and I hope they succeed. But what we’ve come to now I particularly think in the last 12 months is a more, or an increased frankness about what politics is like for women and I think that’s a really good thing. There’s kind of a bit of a renaissance going on in terms of the politics and feminism in the spotlight, particularly on Canberra. Me Too has come to politics and that has meant we’ve had to talk about some of the things that have been going on, that are not comfortable. And women across all sides have reached out and supported each other and we do that quite informally.
Annabel Crabb: So did that happen to you for instance during your recent run-in with Senator David Leyonhjelm?
Sarah Hanson-Young: Abs- Yes it did. Yes it has and women from all sides, some of the first people to reach out were members of the Liberal Party actually. Women who said- had their own stories. Women from Labor. Members of- female members of the press gallery. Because it’s the culture inside parliament, it’s not just the politicians that create this kind of toxicity. The building itself is a boys’ club and we’re starting to break that down, and we do that by confronting the culture, naming it, calling it out and then supporting each other when we do.
And I think a formal women’s caucus is inevitable. I think it would be a good thing and I’m really hoping that after this next election we’re going to see a huge advancement of the way women are treated in politics and the way we stand up for ourselves and back each other, regardless of our political stripes. It’s the only way to lift the standard of politics and the only way to make sure the new women coming in are not left kind of having to work it out for themselves and being isolated, but that we all actually lift together.
Annabel Crabb: Okay we’ll hear from our other political women on the panel at the moment. But Nicole I was just thinking the only viciously more tribal pursuit in this country than politics is AFL. So do you see a lot of cross-team cooperation in your nascent competition?
Nicole Livingstone: Look in the AFLW yes I’m sure the competitive advantage will start to come in as the competition expands and as it grows and gets older. So right now everybody is looking at how we actually lift women’s football in the AFLW, so they are quite collaborative in terms of the clubs – we have ten clubs in total. But I was just thinking about of those ten clubs we don’t have any female coaches. We have female assistant coaches, but we don’t have any female coaches. We did in the first two seasons in Bec Goddard and Michelle Cowen and now we have ten coaches that are male.
Annabel Crabb: Wasn’t that because the women couldn’t get a full-year contract?
Nicole Livingstone: Yeah, so we are part time industry right now, we’re only in our third year so to be…
Annabel Crabb: [Interrupts] But the male coaches have got full time jobs.
Nicole Livingstone: Yeah. Yeah exactly right, so it’s a much more developed industry where they have need or they have a second tier competition like a state competition. So while we’re waiting for that to grow and the industry to grow it is difficult to find that full-time contract. Having said that though, a woman is not going to lose you a premiership cup, she may just win you the premiership cup by diversity that she offers. So to have women working in the male side of the comp- we don’t want to bring women forward in AFLW or women’s football to only be pigeon-holed in women’s football. We want women to work in the men’s football industry as well, the football industry as a whole. But importantly for us we want to make sure we don’t just send them out alone, that we want to start to develop this cohort of really capable women. And they are there right now they just need to lose their cloak of invisibility that they have right now.
Annabel Crabb: Alright back to politics for a moment, let’s say Sarah has called the cross-party women’s caucus meeting for the next Monday of the sitting week to coincide with the National Party leadership showdown. So, are you showing up?
Karen Andrews: Absolutely. Thanks for the invitation.
Sarah Hanson-Young: You’re welcome.
Annabel Crabb: And what structure will- I mean how formalised could this caucus be? Would it just deal with policy matters? Will it just be a source of reassurance and companionship and support? How structural could this be?
Karen Andrews: I think in the first instance it’s probably to be best if we have it a semi-formal structure so that it would be getting together, sharing experiences, looking at what the opportunities are for us to work together. Surprisingly there is a collegiate atmosphere some of the times in parliament so we do actually work together. So it is not always the combat that you see of Question Time all the time, there’s actually a lot of work done behind the scenes quite collegiately. So I think there is an opportunity for women of all parties including the independents to come together to talk about issues that are relevant to a new woman who’s coming into parliament. How do we support them? What advice would we give them on day one? How would we put together some sort of an induction program to assist women who are coming into politics?
Because presumably there will be women who are elected into the House and into the Senate for the first time at the next election. So how do we support those women? Because we want them to succeed, we want them to have long and meaningful careers in politics, and if that means that the women need to get together to work together, then I think it’s a good thing.
Annabel Crabb: Linda Burney you’re the most recent entrant into the federal politics on the panel. When you turned up was there a lot of cross-party support waiting for you?
Linda Burney: No. Not that I recall. There was an induction program where everyone that was new spent two or three days affectionately called pollie kindergarten. Look I think – that’s where the emotional maturity came from.
The Labor Party already has a women’s caucus that meets every week when parliament is sitting and what that caucus does is examines legislation that’s coming through as it relates or what it would mean for women. But I do like the idea of Sarah’s of having a women’s gathering, I think that would be a very welcome thing where particularly you could support new women that are coming in. You get there and you think: oh my gosh I’m in this big building, what happens now? You don’t necessarily get a lot of induction or support and that would be a good thing to do. But we do have a caucus and that caucus looks at legislation.
Annabel Crabb: Do you think you would ever be in a position where your feelings of solidarity with women in other parties would override your commitment to your own party?
Linda Burney: Look the answer would be no and I’m being very clear about that. The solidarity of women across the parliament I think is really important because, as Sarah said, it can be a very isolating place. The actual physicality of the building I have- I mean I’m not a tall person, you’ve got these chairs that you’re not allowed to change because they match the building apparently and they’re really large.
Sarah Hanson-Young: [Talks over] And your feet don’t touch the bottom.
Linda Burney: No your feet don’t touch the ground.
Sarah Hanson-Young: They’re made for big men. You have to have very tall heels if you want your heels- your feet to be on the bottom.
Linda Burney: So there are some practical things like that but in very serious way a women’s caucus, a cross-party caucus I would not see as a body that would make legislation but it would be a body of supporting each other. That’s what I would see.
Sarah Hanson-Young: I think that’s right and I think there’s things about the way, the processes, how the chamber works and how parliament works that as a women’s caucus we could actually deal with. A few years ago all of the school holidays were blocked in the middle of sitting weeks for example and it was the mums in the parliament in our own parties who stopped and went: hang on a minute if we’re going to be spending 20 weeks away every year perhaps maybe we could have at least two of the school holidays weeks where we can actually be in our electorates. Simple things like that.
Annabel Crabb: Okay, well the cross-party caucus has ruled on the school holidays and height of the chairs so that’s good progress. You are watching Q&A’s Women in Leadership Special.
The next question comes from Robert Bertuzzi.
Viewer question: Hi, and thanks for taking my question. I’d like the panel’s opinion as to why we see the parliaments and our senates behaving badly. There’s a view that the behaviour of people that doesn’t occur in business – I don’t see it in business, I see it in Parliament. I don’t think that our elected members believe that shouting across each other actually engenders any empathy to their cause. So I’m not quite sure if it’s a male, chest-thumping, you know, gorilla type thing that I don’t understand.
But it actually, I think, undermines the respect that we should have for your role as our governors. It’s surprising, and I know that there’s members on the panel that have actually been subject to quite poor and atrocious behaviour, and Senator Hanson-Young, I know that I would not have been able to cope with half the stuff that you have. So my question to the panel is, as leaders, what can you change, what can you do to change that culture? To bring respect back into Parliament? And if I may have a supplementary question…
Annabel Crabb: [Interrupts] Oh okay.
Question: … will I see that in my lifetime?
Annabel Crabb: Would you like to take this one, Sarah?
Sarah Hanson-Young: Thank you for the question, and I hope we’ll see it in your lifetime. I really do. And I think it’s – if we don’t improve the behaviour, I think the public are just going to turn more and more off politicians and politics and, really, it does the whole system of democracy a disservice. I think we’ve got to remember that the set-up of Parliament is, by its very nature, combative. And yes, granted it was designed by men, you know – one side of the chamber faces the other, and in Question Time, you get that the most. The length between the opposition benches and the government benches is exactly two swords long and that’s something we’ve inherited from the British system and it was on the basis that once we fought with swords, and now we fight with words. So it’s kind of inherent in the process.
However, I think the public have switched on very clearly now that they want better. This scrapping – we talked about kindergarten before, this kind of you know, fighting for the sake of it and thinking that somehow your argument is more important if you shout it the loudest just doesn’t wash with people. The bad behaviour that is being presented is turning people off and they’re saying: well, if politicians are behaving like that, they’re not working on the issues that we need them to be working on. And when I talk about needing to lift the standard of how we treat women in parliament – and you’re right, there are some atrocious things that are thrown at women, very gendered. If we were to lift the standard of how we treat women in politics, it would lift the standard for everybody, and we’d all get a bit more of a pat on the back from the public because we would be getting on with our jobs.
Annabel Crabb: Okay. I will take in the rest of the panel in a moment but I wanted to invite a supplementary question from Robert’s daughter, Sabina, who’s sitting right next to him.
Question: So obviously, in recent years, it’s been increasing attention towards females in leadership roles and while we’ve seen that representation of females in these roles rise, we’ve also seen the treatment of women become so different to the way we treat men in their corresponding roles. And, you know, it’s often they’re treated with such disrespect and no integrity, and it’s quite alarming, as a young person, to see this for our leaders and the people who make the decisions in my life and what I’m going to be living in. And so I suppose I guess the question is, how can we actually, as a society, as a really diverse society, from lots of different backgrounds, how can we actually tackle that and how can we create an environment where women are not only respected but we’re treated as equals, as men, or without any sort of gender?
Annabel Crabb: I’m going to throw that to you, Sabina, because – well, working in a male-dominated industry, my attention turned to you immediately. Is it your experience that women in senior positions are treated differently from men?
Sabina Shugg: Look, I think it’s always hard to generalise about these things. But I think everyone gets a fair go, really. I think in mining, as in many other industries, there’s pockets where people behave worse than in other pockets, and, you know, I mean, my own experience has been, in the main, that most places I’ve worked, I’ve got on and had a go and I’ve received the right amount of respect for that role. So I don’t know, does that answer your question?
Annabel Crabb: Yes, it answers it partially. I will go back to politics and talk to Karen Andrews now, because you have said in the last week that the more senior you get, the worse you’re treated, and you told a story in an interview a couple of days ago about having to cut short a stakeholder meeting recently because of inappropriate behaviour. Now, what happened is what I want to know?
Karen Andrews: Yes, okay. I thought you might ask exactly what-
Annabel Crabb: Well, it’s such an interesting story and you told half of it and I wouldn’t mind the other half.
Karen Andrews: A male in the meeting thought it was appropriate for him to make gestures as if he was going to remove his trousers.
Annabel Crabb: Okay, well, that’s pretty above board.
Karen Andrews: And at that point, I called it as inappropriate behaviour, and I left the meeting.
Annabel Crabb: Okay so …
Karen Andrews: And you weren’t expecting to get that answer, were you?
Annabel Crabb: I wasn’t. I’m surprised and thrilled. So what was going on there? Was that person just-
Unidentified speaker: An idiot.
Annabel Crabb: Absolutely unaccustomed to the idea of dealing with a powerful woman, or deliberately trying to provoke you out of some sort of sense of pique? I don’t know, what was happening?
Karen Andrews: Well, if I was to be generous, I would say that the individual concerned was not used to dealing with senior women in a workplace. And probably genuinely, I think that was the issue. But the behaviour needed to be called. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t smart – it was inappropriate. And I think that women need to start calling out that behaviour as and when it happens. There would have been no point in me continuing that meeting, and then complaining about it to my peers afterwards. I needed to act, and I did.
Sarah Hanson-Young: Good on you, absolutely.
Annabel Crabb: Can I ask what the response was from the individual concerned?
Karen Andrews: I got a written apology the next day.
Annabel Crabb: Right.
Karen Andrews: As I should.
Nicole Livingstone: But they still remain in their role?
Karen Andrews: I don’t know. I don’t know. They won’t be in my office again.
Annabel Crabb: Nicole, you work in a pretty willing field of work – what’s your response to these sorts of situations?
Nicole Livingstone: Well, in fact, I think in the football side of things, I’ve never seen an organisation – perhaps government and politics is parallel, but I’ve never seen an organisation like the AFL that is just open to criticism and critiquing. I know it’s the passion of what it is, and that is tribal, and football, but you know, it’s a little like customer service – people don’t remember the good things going on, they only focus on the bad things that are going on. So when I first joined the AFL, I had an impression that it was very much a boys’ club, very masculine. We have 30 per cent executive that are female at the AFL, and we have a workforce and senior leadership right across the business that is very female. So you don’t have to have played men’s football to be able to work in the sports industry. You need to be a good operator and you need to be good at your job. So to see more females there, it actually makes it more comfortable for other females. But I have a 16-year-old daughter and I look at Sabina and I think the world that we live in, and in particular when we’re watching politics, what motivation is it for Sabina or my daughter, Ella, to get involved in a public life? You know, there is no motivation when they’re watching what’s going on. So the standard we walk past is the standard we accept and we have to start calling this out and whether it’s politics or whether it’s social media, we actually have to start calling this out and I’m seeing more and more of that happen around the women’s football industry, where I’ve seen some horrific things said about women footballers which is just not right, but we really need to start calling this out.
Annabel Crabb: The next question comes via Skype and it is from Joanna Maidment(*) in Surrey Hills, Victoria.
Viewer Question: Hi, considering the pivotal matriarchal role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play within their families and communities, shouldn’t their disproportional incarceration rates be considered the most pressing feminist issue facing our society today?
Annabel Crabb: Okay, I’m going to throw that to you, Linda Burney?
Linda Burney: Look, thank you for that question. The rates of incarceration of Aboriginal women, young Aboriginal people and Aboriginal men in this country are an outrage. I mean, I think everyone would accept that. You can’t be a tiny per cent of the population, 2, 4 per cent of the population, and yet be over on a – over 50 per cent of the incarceration rate and in the case of women over 80 per cent.
In some parts of Australia it is 100 per cent. Now, we all have to ask ourselves, how can this be? And when you have a look at the role of Aboriginal women in the community, in local organisations, and in homes as the matriarchs, you wonder how those two things can co-exist in a country. The answer to the question is incredibly complex, and we don’t have time to go into it now, except to say that there needs to be recognition that this is the current situation, it’s unacceptable and what needs to change are a whole range of drivers that will change that incarceration rate.
Annabel Crabb: Karen, it’s odd, isn’t it, that we sit here having arguments about quotas in parliament and the representation of women, ignoring the fact that we are here on a continent that has tens and tens of thousands of years worth of history, of a strong matriarchy. How much is this question a concern for the federal government?
Karen Andrews: Look, I think it’s – it’s clearly a big concern and I thank you for the question, and I mean even just sitting here listening to Linda go through those statistics, it’s a wake-up call for all of us. Now, I’m sure there are some solutions out there, but what we need to make sure that we’re doing is, instead of just sitting back in an ivory tower talking about what the solutions should be, we actually need to listen to those who understand the extent of the issues and come up with some solutions that are going to deal with the issues in the short, medium and the longer term.
Annabel Crabb: Who is not being listened to now that should be listened to?
Karen Andrews: Well, I think there is obviously a breakdown somewhere along the line, because if we as a government, and previous governments, had actually listened, we should surely have been much further down the path of coming up with what that solution is going to be, and we clearly don’t have a solution for it. So I would say, we need to listen, we need to take advice, we need to work out what the solution’s going to be, not just sit back and allow a situation that is clearly unacceptable to continue.
Annabel Crabb: Nicole, I wanted to bring you in briefly, because there is a really strong relationship that the AFL plays with bringing Aboriginal boys into the sport as a way of reintroducing them to the education system. Given the explosion in women’s footy, is there a similar program for Aboriginal girls?
Nicole Livingstone: We are seeing more and more girls and women play football, there’s half a million in this country that are female and play football which is fantastic, Aussie Rules Football. We are- we only have a very small number of Indigenous football players in the AFLW so it’s something that we do need to focus on to be able to attract more girls to want to play elite football. But what we also need to do is to make sure that when they do come to AFLW quite often they have to leave their families, leave their communities. So what we need to do is make sure that it is actually a positive experience for them, it is one that they feel comfortable with. So from our point of view we do need to do some work on that.
We have great programs right around the country, the Adelaide Crows have just started an Indigenous Academy and Bronwyn Davey is coaching that, an Indigenous footballer herself. And Cape York House is another one we are investing in along with a collaboration with government and local footy and local councils. So those kind of programs are very, very important. But I think it’s also how new AFLW is. We can actually learn from mistakes that have been- that have happened with AFL and from other sports as well as to how we can actually make it better.
Annabel Crabb: What sort of mistakes?
Nicole Livingstone: Just in terms of bringing Indigenous players into clubs without having the right support networks around them so that they don’t- they don’t thrive, they don’t succeed. The last thing that I would want to do is to bring an Indigenous footballer into the AFLW for them to fail. I want to make sure that they have a positive experience and one that can assist their families as well. We have employment programs, we’ve had our first Indigenous player Delma Disu who is working for one of our hotel chains. So to be able to have that kind of benefit that also helps her family is really important for us to look from a holistic point of view.
Annabel Crabb: Okay time now to go to another question from our audience. The next question is from Samuel Mack and I’m sure Samuel won’t mind me mentioning that he’s 14.
Viewer Question: Since the #MeToo movement toxic masculinity has been defined as: male feelings of entitlement, anger and vulnerability and the urge to dominate and intimidate. This has led to a certain amount of controversy as it lumps all men as seemingly criminal and also feeds off the idea of male privilege and entitlement which many men do not believe exists particularly when we see the differences in legislation with maternity leave and women’s priority in family law. I’d like to ask the panel: does this notion of toxic masculinity seem fair given the amount of guilt and shaming towards one generation of men who have never dealt out any violence?
Annabel Crabb: Sarah Hanson-Young here is a young man wondering about whether he should feel guilty about crimes he hasn’t committed.
Sarah Hanson-Young: I think it’s a really important conversation for us to be having actually because I think the way we move forward and actually achieve genuine and real equality is men have to be part of that conversation. They have to be part of that active decision as well, and young men in particular. I mean I’ve got a daughter and by the way I just want to say I think you must be so proud of her [to member of the audience].
And what a fantastic dad you have. But I think yeah I’ve got a daughter but I also have a nephew and I think about- when I think about what kind of world they are both growing up in I think about how we are promoting respectful relationships?
How are we working through the issues to ensure that young boys as well as young girls grow up in a world where both of them understand that equality is good for everybody? And I guess this comes back to my concern with the Prime Minister’s comments at the beginning of International Women’s Day last week is I think he missed the point. This isn’t just about because women have been behind for so long whether it’s in the wages gap, or in access to services or in terms of numbers in parliament or around the boardroom – the more equal our society is the better for everybody. And as a young person you’re going to grow up in a world which is much safer, much more healthy, much more respectful if the girls in your class are treated just as well as you are. And as we grow up together I think that equality is what needs to be promoted by both sides.
Annabel Crabb: Linda, is this something you’re conscious of? This sort of feeling of backlash as we talk more about women’s rights at work, more about women’s entitlements and advancement, that you get this backlash from particularly young men?
Linda Burney: No, I’m not conscious of that and thank you very much for a really thoughtful question. But we all need to take responsibility. It’s not saying: well I haven’t committed any crimes or I haven’t done anything wrong, so therefore this doesn’t mean anything to me. It means everything to you and the fact that you’re thinking about it, the fact that you’re conscious of it, the fact that you’ve got the courage to raise it in the way that you have means that you are taking responsibility. This issue of the way women are put down, the way women are treated not just in politics or in mining but pay- in what you get paid, in what your superannuation is going to be – that’s everyone’s responsibility. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re 14 or 40 or much older, male or female it’s all of our responsibility to make sure that we are bringing into society equality, and equality just doesn’t exist now. So that’s what the real issue is. It’s not about what you’ve done or what anyone else has done – it’s about creating an equal society for everybody.
Annabel Crabb: I want to bring in our next questioner now, Ashley Cameron, with a slightly related question. Are you with us?
Viewer Question: Thank you. My question was in the wake of the MeToo movement, some men who might otherwise be mentors or sponsors to young women might be a bit hesitant in taking on that role or feel less comfortable in that role. What can we be doing to ensure is that we are encouraging the men to continue to take on that role with young women and to their development and how can we ensure that they continue to take on that role for the benefit of women in the current climate?
Annabel Crabb: Sabina, can I bring you in on that one because is this something that you are noticing within your industry, that there is a gingerness or a concern among men about mentoring young women?
Sabina Shugg: I don’t think so. We run – in WA, in Perth, we run a woman in mining mentoring program twice a year with about 40 pairs of mentors and mentees. Most of the mentors are women but there are a number of men. And that’s certainly not been raised at all, really, I think. I think, you know, clearly, our Prime Minister didn’t set a very good example on Friday when he was left alone with a bunch of women and he said some silly things but I think generally, you know, if you’ve got an honest conscience and you are a straight shooter and whatever, what’s to worry about? You are not going off to a hotel room to do a mentoring session, you are at a coffee shop or restaurant or something, and you know, it’s pretty plain sailing, I think. So I think we’re seeing you know, more men wanting to mentor women because they can see that there are lessons that they can share with them.
Annabel Crabb: What about mentoring all these women who need to get into the Liberal Party super quick?
Karen Andrews: Well look, I would discourage a male in the current environment from taking on one-on-one mentoring, I would have to say.
Annabel Crabb: Really? In all circumstances?
Karen Andrews: I think that – I think that there is a general concern from a lot of men, and I think it was a very, very good question, about how do they protect themselves from an accusation about their behaviour, and their conduct, and I think that that is actually something that men should be very conscious of, and I take on Sabina’s comments that in the mining industry – so if you look at engineering and a lot of industries as a whole, there wouldn’t be one-on-one mentoring, it would actually be in a group, it would be in an environment where everyone was going to feel safe and protected, and I think that it makes a lot of common sense, particularly in the current environment, that where you are working with people and you are trying to help them and you are trying to assist them, make sure that everyone’s safe.
Annabel Crabb: So you are the Industry Minister and your advice to men is, do not do one-on-one mentoring with women?
Karen Andrews: No, no, I think it is to be careful of that environment. I would discourage, in a lot of circumstances, their doing one-on-one mentoring, because you know, Sabina actually gave the example of, you know, you don’t have a one-on-one mentoring session effectively in a hotel or something like that – you don’t do that sort of thing. You know, you would do it in an open place like a coffee shop, you would do it somewhere else, where there were other people around, not in an environment that was just two people.
Annabel Crabb: Sarah Hanson-Young?
Sarah Hanson-Young: Yeah. I guess I just wanted to pick up on one other point that I think has come out of the MeToo movement and the interaction with men and the role that men can play in this. When I called out bad behaviour that I have copped in the Parliament, some of the first people to reach out to men were male colleagues from all sides of politics and they said to me: oh, thank God, Sarah, because we’ve been wondering how to respond to this and you’ve kind of, you know, were silent about it and we didn’t know whether we should raise it, whether that would make it more awkward for you, and so me being able to say: actually, this is going on and I don’t like it, this is not acceptable, has actually empowered a whole new group of people to stand up and call it out when they see it from the men’s perspective as well. And I think – so while there’s a bit of nervousness – and I can understand where the question has come from, and I also think the calling out and naming it for what it is and standing up to it has given a licence to men as well to call out bad behaviour when they see it, and we need them to. We need men not to be silent bystanders but to actually stand side-by-side and stand up with us.
Annabel Crabb: Nicole first and then Sabina.
Nicole Livingstone: I was just going to point out that the sport industry has taken a lead on this with the Male Champions of Change led by Liz Broderick and Kate Jenkins. There were two separate working groups with the Male Champions of Change because do actually we need men on this journey for equality. You know, we probably – sorry, we probably need a man at this table, to be able to talk from their perspective what it means to be welcoming, to be accepting, and to actually help women on their journey. So we need men on this journey.
Annabel Crabb: Ok. Super quick, Sabina?
Sabina Shugg: Yeah, look, we need men mentoring women as well, because how else are they going to learn about what some of the people in industry, in politics, in sport are experiencing and how can they then take that learning into their own work environment and make change?
Annabel Crabb: And vice versa, as well, men learn from women they mentor, too.
Sabina Shugg: Yup. I was going to say that.
Annabel Crabb: Sorry, I’ve re-stated your case for you, too. Okay, one more question from the audience. Patrick Cain.
Viewer Question: Hi, everyone. So in my family there are six people – there are three doctors, an engineer who works in community development and a filmmaker and three of these people happen to be women and so from the outset I’ve always been surrounded by really impressive, brilliant clever and wonderful women but I’ve also seen the barriers and obstacles and difficulties they’ve faced along the way so I guess as much as you can, I seem to have feminism in my DNA. I consider myself a feminist in progress, I feel like as a man I can’t be anything else, I would just be arrogant. And so I suppose my question to all of you is just what advice would you give me to continue to being a better ally to all the women who surround me in my life?
Annabel Crabb: Sarah Hanson-Young, Patrick is adorable. And he wants to know how to be more adorable. Advice, tips?
Sarah Hanson-Young: You’re doing pretty well already, I would say. Look, I think one of the key things is – I mean, look, there are some structural problems. It doesn’t matter how smart your sisters are and how successful they are, the reality is we still have a huge gender wage gap in this country. It’s almost 62 extra days a woman has to work per year in order to make up the same wage that a man does and we’re in 2019. I think we’ve got to do something about that. Sadly, if you retire as a woman at the moment, you’re more likely to fall into poverty or to be homeless because we just don’t have the superannuation bank accounts of our male counterparts.
So I think from your perspective, advocating for changes to those systems and lobbying your politicians and talking to your mates about this, that is how you can look after the women in your life and also the other women around you in terms of being an ally. We should have a system – and I think the Productivity Commission should look into this – where people who are caring, whether it’s for children or for their elderly parents, they get some superannuation paid by the government, because we know – women do most of the caring still. When they’re in those jobs, they’re lower paid and we’ve got to help them catch up and superannuation would go a long way to doing that. So there are some tips for things that you can advocate for.
Annabel Crabb: Nicole, what can Patrick do to help apart from watch your code?
Nicole Livingstone: Well Patrick, I would like you to an AFLW game, tickets are free any time you want to come along. We’ve also got Gen W which is our platform to encourage men to come along and watch and support women’s football. So it’s about that unconscious bias and conscious bias as well. And so to be able to speak to your mates, to speak to other men about what you like about what your sisters are doing; what you like about females are doing in particular industries. I actually spoke to the VFL players from the 1950’s recently and spoke to them about women’s football; took them on the journey of what we’re trying to do; where we’ve come from. Of course, they knew a little about women’s football but not a lot. And so my final message to them was when they are asked about women’s football, just think about how they’re going to respond and think of their daughters and granddaughters and talk it up; talk about how great it is that women actually have the freedom of choice to choose to play something that has been dominated by men for so long.
Annabel Crabb: Karen? Any quick thoughts?
Karen Andrews: So talk to your mates. I reckon you’ve got the gift of gab so make sure that you’re out there.
Annabel Crabb: Good on you Patrick.
Karen Andrews: We love Patrick.
Annabel Crabb: We do, don’t we? We do have time for one last quick-shot question and it is from Ben Hughes.
Viewer question: If women ruled the world, what would be different?
Annabel Crabb: Sabina Shugg, what would be different?
Sabina Shugg: Well, I mean, I don’t think I would advocate for just women ruling the world in the same way I wouldn’t advocate for just men ruling the world because it would just be a different set of problems. So I’d like to see both genders rule the world together.
Annabel Crabb: Linda?
Linda Burney: My response would be it would depend on what women. We’ve seen some good and some not-so-great examples. But I think the issues, in a very serious way, the structural things that Sarah has spoken about, that political parties would have very good policies, as I believe my party does, in terms of women’s issues, and I think we would see a lot less conflict in the world.
Annabel Crabb: Karen?
Karen Andrews: It depends on the woman and her team.
Nicole Livingstone: I’ll jump in and say I don’t know, again, I’m probably being sexist, maybe we would be a bit better organised. There would definitely be milk in the fridge, I know that.
Sarah Hanson-Young: I actually think there’s lots of things that would be different but something that’s very close to my heart – I think we’d get serious about climate change. I think women take this issue and understand this issue very well. I think we’re thinking about our children and I think we wouldn’t be having a debate about whether we spend public money on new coal – we’d be spending public money on our kids’ education and making sure they are leading the way when it comes to a clean, green and safe country going forward. So climate change.
Annabel Crabb: I’ll just check that with our Queensland-based Industry Minister. You want a coal-fired power station funded by public money? Just checking.
Karen Andrews: I think that Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister, is taking exactly the right approach. We are actually looking at what we are going to be able to support going forward. There’s 66 project applications that have come forward. That’s great in terms of a coal-fired power station. Look, clearly, I worked as a maintenance engineer at a coal-fired power station, I do actually understand them, and I think a lot of work should be done to extend the life of our existing ones, rather than look at a new one.
Annabel Crabb: Right, just throwing in a curve ball at the end of the show there. This is, by the way, the first time I’ve ever had two engineers, I think, on the panel, so a little golf clap to us for that.
That’s all we have time for tonight. Please thank our panel Sarah Hanson-Young, Nicole Livingstone, Karen Andrews, Linda Burney, and Sabina Shugg.