The former boss of the Office for Women has called for the Prime Minister to use the upcoming ministerial reshuffle to ensure the role of Minister for Women is not relegated to a secondary portfolio.
The role is currently held by Senator Marise Payne, who also holds the weighty and time-consuming portfolio of Foreign Affairs. Trish Bergin, co-director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra, said it was important that the Minister for Women had the role as their main priority, but retained a seat at the cabinet table.
"It would be such a huge opportunity for the Prime Minister, it would be seen to be a really strong response," she said.
The reshuffle comes as the government deals with the fallout of two separate rape allegations and debate around the role of women in the party. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has this week sought to show he understands the issues around women's safety, following the allegations and record crowds at the March 4 Justice rallies around the country.
While only small changes are expected in the reshuffle to manage the positions of Attorney-General and Defence, Ms Bergin said "the incredibly important" portfolio for women could be adjusted in the reshuffle.
Ms Bergin led the office within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2017 to 2019, and said it was also vital the role was in the wider Prime Minister's portfolio.
"One of the things with inducting any minister for women in the last few rounds have tended to come at it thinking it was a narrow, specific portfolio. It actually touches on every portfolio," she said.
"Having someone whose job it is under the auspices of the Prime Minister to go to their colleagues and work with colleagues for whole of government approaches to women's issues and gender more broadly. There is really complex policy intersects."
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