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The government has refused to commit to pay superannuation on paid parental leave despite a new 10-year plan from the government’s own gender pay equity taskforce recommending the measure.

Released on Monday, the final report from the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce (WEET) recommended systemic changes designed to close the gender pay gap, including the adding superannuation to paid parental leave.

But in an appearance before senate estimates, Finance Minister Katy Gallagher would not commit the government to adopting the recommendation.

“The Treasurer and I are on the record a number of times saying this is something that we want to see happen when we can find the room,” Senator Gallagher said in response to questioning from Greens senator Larissa Waters.

“I’ve put the report before cabinet so they have that and then how we implement recommendations will be subjected to another process.

“I don’t think we would take every recommendation at once … it’s a 10 year plan to implement recommendations and so we’ll just consider how … best we can do that.”

Senator Gallagher added that the timeline would depend on “budget processes”.

The government has come under intense pressure from the Greens in recent months to add superannuation payments to PPL, a measure which the Labor Party committed to making a “priority reform” at its national conference in August.

Prior to the May budget, the WEET similarly recommended superannuation be added to PPL payments, however the government rejected the proposal on the grounds of budget constraints despite recording a $22.1bn surplus.

Instead, the government has committed to expand PPL to 26 weeks by 2026, up from current levels of 20 weeks, at a cost of $1.2bn over the forward estimates.

The new WEET report also recommended the government increase investment in childhood education and abolish the ‘activity test’ which requires both parents to be working to access child care subsidies.

The taskforce, led by Chief Executive Women chair Sam Moyston, estimated the economy could grow by $128bn if the barriers to women’s full economic participation were eliminated.

On Monday, Senator Gallagher said the government would establish a national strategy on gender equality which it planned to release in 2024 in response to the WEET report.

Gallagher refutes ‘jobs for mates’ culture 

Speaking later in senate estimates, Senator Gallagher refuted suggestions from Liberal senator Jane Hume that the government was overseeing a “jobs for mates” culture.

The allegation follows the recent appointment of former Labor senator Chris Ketter to be Australia’s next senior trade and investment commissioner and consul-general in San Francisco, just months after a high-ranking Austrade official was named as the “preferred candidate” in a competitive recruitment process.

But Senator Gallagher rejected the criticism, arguing that the Albanese government was “doing things very differently to the way (the Morrison) government did.”

In response, Senator Hume noted Mr Ketter’s lack of relevant experience and questioned the political appointment process.

“(Mr Ketter) has absolutely no experience in trade and investment, but he certainly was a union official for 32 years with the Queensland branch of the Shoppies Union,” Senator Hume said.

“There’s also the fact that he didn’t apply for the job – I imagine that wouldn’t fall into the criteria of removing a jobs for mates culture?”

Senator Hume also questioned the government’s appointment of Chris Barrett as chair of the Productivity Commission, a position he later pulled out from. Mr Barrett was previously chief of staff to former treasurer Wayne Swann.

“Do you accept that Mr Barrett has a political connect to Labor?” Senator Hume asked.

“There was a merit process in place for that position,” Senator Gallagher replied.

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By Rahul

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