International Women’s Day 2014: Australian PM Tony Abbott Claims He Is a Feminist

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By Vittorio Hernandez | March 19, 2014 9:56 AM EST

From being charged with misogyny by Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, and the target of the country's handbag brigade when he was still the Opposition leader, current Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now considered a feminist by opinion makers.


Candid shot of Tony Abbott and wife Margie (Reuters)

To mark the observance of International Women's Day, Perth Now columnist Jessica Irvine, who pens Making dollars and sense, wrote on Tuesday that she considers the PM a feminist.

She cited his support for a parental leave scheme in which all women workers would be paid their full salary, subject to a cap of $150,000, for six months after birth as the sign that the PM - who was accused also of bullying by a female rival for a student body position during their university days - is now allegedly pro-women.

Mr Abbott credits his change to his wife and three daughters. He admitted at the International Women's Day breakfast that he had a personal transformation from an "unreconstructed bloke into a feminist."

The PM just announced a cut on red tape in the Australian bureaucracy which could result in a current regulation mandating local companies with more than 100 workers to report the gender composition being repealed.

The columnist argued that reporting requirements is a cost to business, takes time to fill up the online form submitted to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and require the CEO's signature, the benefit of such information to Australian society would outweigh the cost to enterprises.

Ms Irvine stated that pinpointing where talented females are missing will help businesses remove obstacles to more women participating in work which would eventually help boost the Aussie economy by $25 billion annually.

She cited ANZ Bank CEO Mike Smith as a supporter of the mandatory reporting of gender composition, quoting him as saying, "We need current, accurate data to give us a more transparent and granular view of the pipeline of women and out progress to date. It shows we are serious - for us, ensuring women are represented in our management ranks is a real business priority."

Ms Irvine insisted that gender reporting is not red tape and compared the requirement to a gardening tape used to train shrubs to grow up straight.

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Candid shot of Tony Abbott and wife Margie (Reuters)
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