With the Government’s most useless Minister, Pansy Wong, gone under a cloud of corruption and replaced by a new MP who has been labeled by some as a future Nat leader, we might have hoped that the Women’s Affairs portfolio would get some decent treatment and we would see a real commitment to closing the pay gap. Well, we can stop hoping.
Since we’ve just had International Women’s Day it was only fair that Carol Beaumont ask the new Women’s Affairs Minister, Hekia Parata: “Can she outline a significant improvement for women initiated by the current Government?”
Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Bringing about real and sustainable change in the long tradition of Aotearoa New Zealand is about the leadership of women themselves. This Government has recognised and respected that, by providing resources and tools to support women, and to translate their interests, skills, and ambitions into practical effect through the development of “my board strengths” initiative, the Women on Boards’ self-assessment tool, to be officially launched next week. The toolkit supports women’s own abilities to make smart decisions about developing their governance skills, with a view to lifting women’s representation in governance in the public and private sectors. The “my board strengths” forms part of the new and improved Women on Boards website.
So, after all the waffle, the answer is no, National has initiated no “significant improvement for women”. A ‘toolkit’ for women on company boards, yup, that’s really relevant to most women.
I recommend watching the video.
Honestly, if you just read the transcript and ignore the names you wouldn’t think Wong had gone.
In fact, all Parata seems to have done since becoming minister is induce her ministerial staff to quit.
It’s well-known around the traps in Wellington that Ms Parata can be a ‘difficult’ person to work with or for. She’s said to have been involved in a large number of staff grievance cases against her when she was a public service manager. As a MP she was onto her fifth or sixth executive assistant in two years. It was only a couple of days into her new role as Minister of Women’s Affairs and Ethnic Affairs, one long-serving staff member, who worked for Pansy Wong, has been shown the door – despite earlier assurances to the contrary.
If Parata is, as I’ve heard, now Key’s favoured heir for when he steps down in 2013 if he wins a second term, then National’s in deep, deep trouble. And so are we if she manages to slide in to being PM.