WINSTON PETERS: A lot of hot air from Paula Bennett

WINSTON PETERS: A lot of hot air from Paula Bennett

Talk loud, do nothing - that could sum up the strategy adopted by Minister for Women and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.

Paula on Thursday – International Women’s Day – was hand-wringing over the pay gap between men and women.

And she grabbed the publicity she wanted: plenty of newspaper headlines along the lines of “Bennett slams pay gap” and cosy television interviews in which she said the right things – but offered no real action.

The only action she revealed on this issue was to push the responsibility away from the government and on to the shoulders of employers and recruiters.

She harangued and challenged them with a barrage of questions such as, “Do you actively seek women out when they're not coming forward themselves?"

And then she suggested a gender pay audit “might be a good way to find out if there is a problem.”

Again this targeted recruitment agencies and employers who, no doubt, would not have taken a blind bit of notice.

But it’s certain Ms Bennett was happy – she had plenty of media hits and was seen as doing something, in this case diverting attention to private business and its obligations. However, in reality the government was not doing anything and won’t.

If she was truly serious about the pay gap, Ms Bennett should have focussed on the public service. The government employs 47,500 people in the Public Service.

She and the government have the power to change the system and attitudes in, for example Crown Law, which has a 39% pay gap; the Social Services Commission, where a 27% pay gap exists, and the Ministry of Education with 26%.

Why has she not set about narrowing the 14 per cent public service pay gap, thereby setting an example to the private sector?

Quite simply this was all a mirage. If you are a woman in the workforce the whole debate was disappointing.