Pansy Wong provides stiff competition in the race for most incompetent National minister. That’s not to say she’s as dangerous as a competent and wrong-headed Bill English, or the incompetent but determined Tolley. But women’s rights risk demolition by neglect under her watch.
After years of progress, now the gender pay gap is increasing by about 1 percentage point each year under her watch (now 13%) – and incredibly it’s larger in the public (15.4%) than private sector, despite the government having control over civil servant wages. And a new report out shows women’s level of participation in key leadership areas is static or falling. Female unemployment had passed 7 percent for the first time in 12 years – and with a higher proportion of women in the public service, the continuing cuts there will make that unemployment figure worse.
This despite a large part of National’s success in 2008 being John Key’s appeal to women.
By portraying a soft-centre image, and talking nicely on education being a National Priority, putting women ministers into the “social” portfolios, and using compassionate, inclusive language to excuse their harsh policies they have moulded a pro-women image. By slashing $400 million from early child education, canning community education, cutting beneficiary training allowances, undermining worker’s rights and growing the pay-equity gap, they have betrayed that image.