Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

April 14, 2021
| Womens Advocacy

Founder’s Weekly | 30th October 2020

Here's what you need to know this week on women in the world...

Fellow remarkable women,

We’ve reached the end of October, and therefore the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, there has been a massive reduction in breast cancer preparations and diagnoses in recent months due to COVID-19 - our minds have been elsewhere. BUT, breast cancer is very real and often very unforgiving, so we must keep up our checks and encourage those around us to do the same. This is a friendly reminder to get your check-ups regularly, and as soon as possible. Your health matters! 

In this week’s wrap, we’ll be covering the news of three specific women. We’ll be discussing Justice Jacqueline Gleeson (the newest Justice of the High Court of Australia), Justice Amy Coney Barrett (the confirmed Justice for the US Supreme Court) and Christine Holgate (the current CEO of Australia Post). We’ll be looking at what it means for these women to be in positions of power and how it affects our society..

Justice Jacqueline Gleeson has been appointed to the High Court of Australia

Following the retirement of two current justices, I’m pleased to announce that Justice Jacqueline Gleeson (along with her colleague, Justice Simon Steward) has been appointed to the High Court of Australia.

The daughter of former High Court Chief Justice, Murray Gleeson, Ms Gleeson will become the sixth woman to ever serve on the High Court. And honestly, the position is well-deserved. Having battled to escape her father’s shadow, Justice Gleeson possesses a BA Arts, BA Laws and MA Laws from the University of Sydney and has been practising at the NSW Bar for the past 30 years. In addition to practising as a solicitor with the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Government Solicitor, she was also appointed as a judge of the Federal Court in 2014.

According to Attorney-General, Christian Porter:

“She is held in obvious and very high regard by all members of the judiciary and the legal profession. In fact, the diversity of Justice Gleeson’s across a number of civil jurisdictions in both public and private practice has served the Federal Court incredibly well and she will no doubt be a major asset to the High Court going forward.”

Justice Gleeson will be taking on her role from March 2021. She’ll be joining her colleagues Justice Patrick Keane, Justice Stephen Gageler, Justice Michelle Gordon, Justice James Edelman, and Justice Simon Steward, as well as Chief Justice Susan Kiefel – the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the High Court.

The appointment of Justice Gleeson was the result of two High Court Justices retiring, giving the opportunity for two new replacements. Justice Simon Steward was the second High Court Justice to be appointed. 

While I’m pleased to see that the gender balance of the High Court remains with the appointment of Justice Gleeson, the appointment means that status quo has been maintained with 3 of the 7 justices being women. I’d like to see the day that the status quo is challenged and gender balance in the High Court looks like four out of seven Justices being women. To invoke the late great RBG, why not?!

Amy Coney Barrett will not serve the interests of women 

With the US Federal Election just days away, I think it’s important that we address the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as the next Justice of the Supreme Court.

The fact of the matter is that throughout the recent campaigns and in her confirmation hearings, Barrett has refused to state her support for safe abortion, birth control, or fertility treatment. And, while she might not be saying much, her silence says it all.

Women make up the majority of voters in America, and have done since 1964, also representing the majority of mail-in ballots and early votes. However, the current POTUS has rushed through the appointment of a person who could jeopardise the basic human rights of these voters - with the unfortunate irony being that she is of course a fellow woman herself.

I’m without doubt concerned for the women of America. This is a Justice that could easily remove the Affordable Care Act – an incredibly important law that ensures women will not be charged more for health coverage because of our gender or denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition such as breast cancer. I’m also concerned for the minorities of America, because under Barrett, it’s not just women’s abortion rights that are on the line but also critical matters like racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, voting rights, and equal pay.

Her confirmation means that she will most likely be serving on the Supreme Court for the next 30 years - which would do a lifetime of damage to our daughters. 

And so, I urge you - if you are an American citizen - to vote. And, if you have friends in the US, encourage them to do the same as the President of The United States of America has the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices. If you want change for the future appointments, the power is in your hands via your vote. If you believe in reproductive freedom, affordable health care, racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights, then you must show up. If you don’t, I fear what America could become and the danger it will pose to the most vulnerable members of our community, and the influence it will have on our world at large.

Christine Holgate is not a villain 

Over the past week, there have been many words and accusations thrown around regarding Christine Holgate – CEO of Australia Post. I don’t blame you if you’ve gotten confused with all the back and forth.

It all began over the purchase of $19,950 worth of luxury watches for senior AusPost employees as a reward for brokering a deal with Australian banks to set up banking services at Australia Post offices.

On the one hand, we have PM Scott Morrison expressing his disgust at taxpayer money being used to fund luxuries.

"So appalled and shocked was I by that behaviour... as any shareholder would in a company raise their outrage if they had seen that conduct by a chief executive."

On the other hand, we have Ms Holgate defending the purchases, saying that actually, no taxpayer money was used to fund the gifts.

“I have not used taxpayers' money. We are a commercial organisation. We do not receive government funding...It was a recommendation from our chair that these people get rewarded."

To me, it seems like our PM has latched onto a great opportunity to tell all of you that he’s tough on the use of taxpayers’ money and he is swift in taking action - regardless of knowing the facts. The fact that no taxpayer money was actually used to purchase the watches seems to not to matter in the optics of politics.

Christine Holgate has not misappropriated taxpayer funds, mismanaged expenses or exemplified poor leadership, despite what the PM might have you think with his blustering words. In fact, she’s done quite the opposite. The deal which prompted the purchase of the watches has actually led to the Commonwealth Bank paying Australia Post an additional $22 million dollars a year for their customers to bank at Australia Post. This is a deal that was then followed by Westpac and NAB, securing the future of Australia Post and bringing in $66 million in additional revenue - all through the century’s most challenging economic landscape and a global pandemic.

If we just look at the raw numbers, under Holgate’s leadership and the work of her team, Australia Post has been able to increase its base transaction payments to its licensed post office partners by 50% and increase their annual minimum payments by 25%. In other words, they’ve boosted the bottom line for small business owners, and secured the future of our national service.

Considering Australia Post adds a total economic contribution of $6 billion, surely $19,950 in reward payments to the key team that ensured the survival of the company is more than deserving. How a 0.03% reward payment for a deal worth almost $70 million is worthy of such disdain simply doesn’t make sense. And how on Earth is her career supposed to survive the scolding of the PM and the misled judgement of the population at large? All for what? 

Until next week,

Shivani

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