THE GENDER pay gap in Australia has widened over the past year to 26 per cent, according to data released this week.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that total weekly earnings for males has increased by $71 per week, from $1,447 last year to $1,518 in the same month this year. This compared with females, who only received an increase in total weekly earnings of $59 from $1,193 to $1,252 per week.
According to the ABS data, men are now paid, on average, 26 per cent more than women, an increase from 24 per cent a decade ago.
The concept of “equal pay for work of equal value” was first introduced in Australia in 1969 with an Arbitration Commission decision requiring incremental increases over four years to achieve equal pay. The first woman appointed to the High Court, Mary Gaudron said in 1979, “equal pay was ‘won’ in 1969 and again in 1972 and yet again in 1974.” She further added at the time, “We still don’t have it.”
The current disparity in gender pay is partly fuelled by soaring wages in the mining industry, where women are earning $675 less than males a week. The average male weekly earnings is now $2,548, and an increase of a staggering $160 in the same month on the previous year.
Within each state, WA has taken the lead with the highest average wage, just ahead of the ACT. This is largely due to the growth in the mining industry, with high demand for workers driving up the cost of labour.
Tasmanians receive an average wage of $1,265, making it the lowest average earning state in the country.
(Image: Banner from a 2010 Equal Pay Rally in Sydney, AAP)