As we used to say back in highschool – “Duh Fred!”

We should have said sorry: Abbott

Opposition spokesman for Indigenous affairs, Tony Abbott, has admitted publicly for the first time that the Coalition made a mistake by refusing to apologise to Australia’s Indigenous population.

The former prime minister, John Howard, repeatedly defended his decision not to say sorry to Aboriginal people during his 11 years in power and criticised the Federal Government’s historic apology to the Stolen Generations last year.

Addressing a social services forum in Sydney, Mr Abbott was applauded when he publicly admitted the Coalition should have said sorry while in government.

“It was a mistake for us not to apologise to Aboriginal people,” he said as the crowd applauded.

“And I’m pleased when Kevin Rudd did decide to apologise that he was strongly supported by the Coalition.”

He was speaking as the Government officially adopted the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples at a ceremony in Parliament House, reversing the decision of the previous Government who voted against it in 2007.

What I’m not clear on is whether Abbott is implying that they should have done it as a vote winning political move, or they should have done it because its the moral thing to do.  For the rest of the article goes on to say that the Opposition are declaring the Government’s decision to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of  the Indigenous Peoples, a “grave error”.

What I am clear about is that  the ABC News comments thread is proving to be excellent blog fodder.  While a few commentators shared a reaction akin to mine, some, probably diehard JWH fans, were not happy.

Concerned Aussie: Already the socialist ALP party is dragging this once great country to the far-left, so much so that we have right-thinking politicians like Abbott succumbing to the do-gooder mentality.

Tony Porter: Dear Tony,
You and I were not in OZ when the stolen generation debacle happen so don’t apologize but make sure that any help given to the indigenous or part indigenous people at this time will not come back and bite our descendants on the bum.

regret: Whats wrong with you Tony Abbott? Why do you have to rehash the past? I admired John Howard for his stance on this issue, its a pity the rest of the govt. at the time didnt get behind Mr Howard and explain that he was right in his wording.

(Do I even live in the same country as ‘concerned aussie’?)  On the, most assuredly slim, basis of a comparison between the reaction to this story and the reaction to the story about a report the lifetime earnings gap between men and women, it seems that misogyny‘s more acceptable than racism, in terms of how people comment.

Can we talk about this (wage gap) civilly, please?

Apparently not, if the comments thread at the ABC is anything to go by.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

The ABC carried a story today about the wage gap, entitled “Men ‘earn $1m more than women’ “.  From the story:

A new report shows Australian men earn $1 million more on average than women over their working lives.

But the AMP-NATSEM report has found women are making progress in the pay stakes.  Female workers in their 20s and early 30s now earn the same as their male peers.  But researcher Rebecca Cassells, from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, says young women may struggle to maintain equal pay throughout their working lives.

“I think Generation Y’s achievement is something that’s fantastic and really shows how far women have come, but we also shouldn’t be complacent and think that’s going to be the case all the way through their careers,” she said.

For 37 years the concept of equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in law, but Ms Cassells says the reality is somewhat different.  “Women have progressed considerably over the past few decades and they have actually improved in their educational attainment and their presence in the labour force and their presence in professional occupations,” she said.  “However, despite this there are signs that there are significant gaps, particularly in lifetime earnings, the accumulation of wealth and employment.

Did news of this report start productive discussion of reasons why, when we look at lifetime earnings, women’s are so far behind that of men’s?  Did people offer any critique about superannuation being premised on the male/full time/unbroken employment model?   Was there earnest conversation about the possibility of sharing parental responsibilities so that both parents’ careers are equally compromised affected?  Was any concern shown about the reality that very few women will have the same amount of super accumulated as their male counterparts?  Or the fact that women are over-represented in low paying occupations and under-represented in the upper echelons of high paying occupations?  Any questioning of the assumption that the gap is acceptable because women are heterosexually partnered with men whose money they can depend upon?  Was there mature conjecture about the possibility of challenging the dominant work structure and overthrowing the corresponding economic paradigm?  Was there reasoned argument about the need for well paid parental leave?

No, there was not.

I leave you with a selection of the misogyny found in the comments thread:

Me:  The work done at home contributes nothing to the economy – that’s why it is unpaid work.
Or should I say with baby bonuses, both family tax benefits and single parenting allowance us taxpayers pay you handsomely to do your ‘unpaid’ work [me = not rayedish]

equality does not exist: My point is that men work harder in paid employment outside the home than women and so it should be no surprise to find that they receive more pay over their lives than women.

Men earn the money that women spend. Coffee shops and department stores are not full of men spending money in the daytime are they? – the blokes are too busy grinding themselves into an early grave while women potter about at home washing a few nappies in between daytime tv and whining that they dont get paid for doing it – the only reason women claim “home duties” is a type of work equal to demeaning tasks typically performed by men is because women have no real concept of what hard work actually is. Just because you had to get out of bed in the morning and clean up after yourself does not mean you ought to be paid a wage.

steven: If you and your partner choose to have children (and it does take two willing participants in 99.99% of cases), then you must expect that these tasks will fall upon the two of you. At least a woman has the choice of wether to have children or not, men dont have the same choice without effectively permanent surgery. Wether the man does it or the woman does it is up to the couple (breast milk can be expressed and stored for later). There are a whole lot of tasks involved and lifestyle implications that you are aware of before you join. If one part of the partnership feels the other is not pulling their weight, it is up to them to do something about it. It certainly isnt up to the government or anyone else to pay you for doing these things you were aware of. I am a single man who has to work and choose to have a house, should I be paid for having to look after the gardens, clean it and do all the other tasks?. If I choose to join a social club or a sport that has additional demands on my time should I be paid for that as well.

The Bunyip: As the great Homer Simpson once said, “money can be exchanged for goods and services”. That’s an EXCHANGE. You do something for me, you get some money. You do something for yourself or your own kids, you get nothing other than the intrinsic benefit. Oh wait, sorry, maybe that should be “you do something for yourself or your own kids and contribute nothing to the economy, you get more government benefits than you could poke an excessive middle-class welfare tax rebate at.”

Lord Haw-Haw: If only she had left the apple on the tree.

Eric: If only he had kept that damn rib. No tree, no snake, no apple just eternal paradise.

mark edwards: what nonsense. There is also a stat that says obese people earn less- should we increase pay rates if someone is obese?jobs are paid according to the skills/hours provided- not according to gender. Men in general work their whole life, and are highly driven as providers. Most women take time off for children. The above article is about baby boomers- not the current less than40 yrs olg generation. You should be happy that men are driven to be providers, rather than using this as a excuse to fly the paranoid feminist flag

there is not a different award for men and women re pay. In generazl men are still driven to work/be creative and provide a little more than woman- that explains the discrepancy. Men in general are the ones working the 60 hours, and out doing deals. Of the 100’s of books written about wealth creation, how many were written by women? Different drives and different skill set. Men need to create and provide for wife and family-its in our genes

jonno:  men die younger because they want too.Its there way of getting some peace.
People make their own choice in income. Im sure my income is less than a lot of women, but who cares.

clobs: There are only so many positions at the top of any business structure. “flexible work options so that they can job share or work part-time or work hours that suit them”, and then still take the top job over some poor bloke who is equally skilled but devoted ALL of his time with no flexibility throughout his career … then denied this position due to affirmative action.

Haz: My wife is happy that men earn more. She’s also happy with the statistic that women spend more… i think i’ve been jipped.

Tim: I am a male and I have 4 sisters which all earn more then myself and they find work within 1 week of looking. I have a degree but they only finished Yr 12. Women have it good in the work place.. Why is it when moving any thing heavy in the work place it always done mostly by males… while women sip on there coffee. If its equal then women should pull there own weight. If men have to move heavy objects around the office such as chairs/tables/ etc. Then women need to participate.

Foolsday: and there’s also PLENTY of men who lose out on jobs simply because of the whole “we have to be seen to employ such and such percentage of women, indigenous people and handicapped people etc etc.

Sercro: The reality is that it is hard to see women ever attaining the same lifetime earnings as men because they will, on average, take more time off during child rearing. Simple biology. Men and women are different, get over it.

sucker: That extra $1m I’ve earnt has all been spent on women!