"Women have equal status under the law, and the law provides for pay equity.
There are highly organized and effective private and public women's rights organizations
at the federal, state, and local levels. A federal level Office of the Status
of Women monitors women's rights. The federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner
receives complaints and attempts to resolve those that are deemed valid. According
to government statistics, sex discrimination complaints fell by 8 percent between
1999 and this year; 325 new cases were filed during the year. Of these 83 percent
were filed by women and 79 percent were employment related. In July the Australian
Bureau of Statistics estimated that the ratio of female to male full time average
hourly earnings was 83 percent.
However, a study released by the Australian Institute of Management in May was
more pessimistic; it found that women were paid only 66 percent of their male
counterparts' wages. This study also found that there were fewer female board
members in both large and small companies than the previous year. Some members
of opposition political parties have attributed the difference to changes in workplace
laws, such as the 1996 Workplace Relations Act, which relies on the use of individual
employment contracts that are negotiated privately and thus do not necessarily
foster equal pay outcomes. Other commentators have suggested that an "old
boy's network" can make it difficult for women to negotiate salaries equal
to those of their male counterparts."
(Country Reports on Human
Rights Practices 2000. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and
Labor, February 2001, U.S. State Department)