Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

WorkChoices good for women: Hockey

Joint Media Release with:

    Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
    Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation

    Minister for Community Services
    Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development
    Minister for the Status of Women

The Howard Government’s last Workplace Relations Minister and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has today defended the extreme workplace laws he oversaw as Minister.

He told an Executive Women Australia function in Sydney:

“I was the last Coalition Minister for Workplace Relations. One of the things that upset me the most was the suggestion that our workplace relations policies were targeted at women.”


A report commissioned by the Howard Government and released in 2007 found that women in low-paid industries like aged-care and retail lost up to $100 per week under WorkChoices.

The Howard Government report also detailed a number of real life case studies of how working women were adversely affected by WorkChoices, including:

  • Sonja, working part-time in aged care, had her penalty rates removed with no consultation and no notice.
  • Penny’s employer unilaterally removed a public holiday entitlement. Her paid overtime was eliminated, even though she was required to work the same hours as previously.
  • Lois, working as an assembler, had her overtime pay removed.
  • Rochelle had been working for a retail store. Rochelle was encouraged to sign an AWA that removed casual loading and shift penalties in exchange for extra hours. The extra hours did not make up for the lost penalties, and meant she was working more for less. Her colleagues that did not sign an AWA were not given shifts.
  • Ruby, a secretary and sole parent, was dismissed for refusing to move from part-time to full-time work.

“A day after Tony Abbott indicated he would use the weight of the Office of Prime Minister to drive down penalty rates should he win government, Joe Hockey is defending a policy which ripped pay, protections and conditions away from working women,” Minister Shorten said.

“This just shows that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party cannot be trusted on workplace relations.”

Mr Hockey also spoke of ‘corporates dragging their feet’ on promoting women and of ‘attitudinal roadblocks’ to the entry of women to senior positions.

It is a matter of record that Joe Hockey, along with his Coalition colleagues, voted against the Gillard Government’s Workplace Gender Equality legislation.

“This landmark reform aims to change the workplace culture – to remove those ‘attitudinal roadblocks’,” Minister Collins said.

“It recognises the important role of men and provides for equal access to flexible working arrangements to give all parents options in balancing paid work and caring obligations.”

The Gillard Government has been working with business and the corporate sector in fostering greater representation of women in senior positions.

The percentage of women on ASX 200 boards has almost doubled to 15.7 per cent since 2010, thanks to the efforts of Government and the sector to promote cultural change.

“We have almost achieved our target of 40 per cent women on Government boards, now standing at 38.4 per cent,” Ms Collins said.

“More than 40 per cent of board positions on Government Business Enterprises are now held by women – another target we have met.”

“The Gillard Labor Government, with 10 out of 30 Ministers, has the highest representation of women at the highest levels of Government in history.”

“With only 2 women in a Shadow Cabinet of 20 and 6 women in a Shadow Ministry of 32, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott might want to change their party’s culture,” Ms Collins said.