Colour head shot of Katy Gallagher, current Minister for Finance.

Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher

Minister for Finance

Television Interview - Today Show

Minister for Finance
Minister for Women
Minister for the Public Service

International Women’s Day; Status of Women Report Card; gender equality.

SARAH ABO, HOST: It is International Women's Day: a day to recognise and celebrate some of the most influential leaders across our country. And our next guests are no exception.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: We are thrilled to welcome 2023 Australian of the Year recipient Taryn Brumfitt, Katherine Bennell-Pegg, the Director of Space Technology at the Australian Space Agency, and the Minister for Women, Katy Gallagher. Nice to see you ladies. First of all, to you Taryn, what is the significance of International Women's Day for you?

TARYN BRUMFITT, AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR: Well, body image impacts predominantly women and girls and young women in particular. So on International Women's Day, it's a great day to acknowledge where we've been, but also get really clear about where we're going. And it's going to take a village of academics, activists, advocates, creatives, government, to work together to get this issue right. The stakes are really high.

ABO: And Taryn, it's interesting, because we often hear about, "Why is this day even still necessary?", and I guess the the message that you're pushing as well, it's like, "Do we really need to still be promoting body positivity?", but clearly we do.

BRUMFITT: Yeah. And then these days, we talk more about it being body acceptance, and I have to say, having hated my body and then learn to embrace it, it is like a superpower. And on International Women's Day, I want all women to really rise up, speak up, stand up, and consider their bodies to be the incredible machines that they are, and not let them sideline them in life. We need our voices and the foundation of our power starts with our relationship with our body.

STEFANOVIC: Katherine, you'll be the first Australian woman to be trained as an astronaut by an International Space Agency.

ABO: How cool!

STEFANOVIC: I mean, what does it mean for you to hold that kind of title?

KATHERINE BENNELL-PEGG, AUSTRALIAN SPACE AGENCY: I'm absolutely thrilled. This is such an incredible experience and opportunity. I've wanted to be an astronaut ever since I was a little girl, but I never thought I'd ever have the chance to do it as an Australian. So for me, that means so much. And I'm excited for this opportunity to show what Australia is capable of on the world stage. Not just me, but all of Australian research and ingenuity, because it's the scientists and engineers that create the experiments that astronauts ultimately operate up there and that's what I'll be training to learn how to do.

ABO: Yeah, it's so exciting. Now let's go to you Katy because you entered politics over 20 years ago, you now hold the Portfolio for Women. Tell us a bit about the significance of this day for you in terms of what you've seen develop over those 20 years in politics.

SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Yeah, thanks for having me on. And it's great to share this panel with Taryn and Katherine, two incredibly inspiring women. It has changed a lot in politics, in my time. When I got elected, there were no women in our Labor caucus in the ACT and now I'm a member of a caucus that has a majority of members who are women. So that's a huge change from nothing to more than 50%. So change can happen. You’ve got to keep fronting up, you've got to keep going into the fight to make sure we keep improving, but change can happen. It does happen. And in politics, we're seeing that and it's a big improvement.

STEFANOVIC: I guess people would look at politics and go, “Why on earth would you want to do that, especially with all those fellas?” And in Canberra, I mean, how do you overcome that and encourage women to go into politics?

GALLAGHER: I never think that Karl. Look, I think women, well by having more women in, it certainly demonstrates to others that it's a career that you can aspire to. I think it improves politics to have, you know, it's not just women, it's people from different cultural backgrounds, more First Nations people, people with a disability. I mean, we need politics to reflect the community we live in. And it can be combative, and it can be a bit aggro at times which isn't necessarily, you know, the way that women like to engage at work and to some degree you have to get involved in that. But also, you can do politics your own way and I think women are demonstrating that every day.

ABO: I think representation really is key and I guess this is where the government comes in. I mean, what are we doing to try and ensure that there is further progress towards gender equality, for example?

GALLAGHER: So we've released today the first scorecard on the status of women in Australia and that's really to put out there the areas that we think we still need to make improvements towards gender equality. We don't live in a gender equal country, and we've got a lot of work to do to get there. Government can do some of it, but it's a broader national conversation. We know women earn less, they retire with less, they have less assets, they have less savings, the gender pay gap is there, violence is a big problem that we've got to continue to focus on, housing – a whole range of issues. So we'll keep going forward and trying to deal with all of those issues. But it's not just government's responsibility, it's a whole of community responsibility.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, a question for you all, before we go. I don't know, I'm going to be honest, and this is kind of the dichotomy, this question, but I don't know as a bloke, what to do on International Women's Day. So, if there's a bit of advice, from each of you on what blokes should do, it can be any advice, it can be to shut up, you know, do whatever. Tara, you're first up.

BRUMFITT: The first thing that springs to mind is just do half of the work that women do and see how that feels.

ABO: Yes, good point.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. Katherine?

BENNEL-PEGG: I would just say, know that what you're doing in STEM is for everyone and being inclusive and considering diverse opinion and diverse types of people into the activities you're doing in STEM. Often when I walk on, you know, the shop floor of a company, it's a sea of dudes. So yeah, make sure to open those doors.

STEFANOVIC: A lighthouse in a sea of dudes. Katy, for you.

GALLAGHER: I think it's just about supporting us, Karl. It's, you know, about being role models, and making sure that the message that you're sending as men to boys and younger men growing up is that, you know, we need to support women. We need to treat them with respect, and we need to strive towards a gender equal country because it's good for all of us.

ABO: Absolutely.

STEFANOVIC: Well said everyone.

ABO: Very good.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

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