A defeated private member's bill that would force the private sector to open up its books and reveal more about gender pay differences may be resurrected as a Government bill, in an effort to narrow the gender pay gap.
The Women's portfolio, to be held by Green MP Julie-Anne Genter, was one of many allocations that were released today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Genter said one of her top priorities was to close the gender pay gap, "both in the public and private sector".
Asked about bringing back the Equal Pay Amendment Bill, which was voted down in May this year by the narrowest of margins, she said: "That is a Green Party bill and certainly one of many things that I''ll be investigating in the role, and trying to win support for with the new Government."
The bill, brought by Green MP Jan Logie, aimed to provide greater transparency in the interests of fighting pay discrimination. It was voted down 60 votes to 59 - with National, Act and United Future opposing, and Labour, the Greens, NZ First and the Maori Party in favour.
The bill would have required employers to tick a box on existing pay records to state whether the employee is male or female. Employees would also have had access to data showing the pay and gender of other people doing the same kind of work.
It was opposed on the grounds that it would add greater compliance costs and could compromise privacy - though an independent reviewer could have collected the information, to alleviate confidentiality concerns.
If the bill returns as a Government bill, it could be passed with the backing of Labour, NZ First and the Green Party.
At the time, Logie said that women's average hourly earnings were 13.6 per cent lower than men's, and that figure increased to 22.9 per cent for Maori women, and to 28.4 per cent for Pasifika women.
Today's announcement also confirmed that Greens leader James Shaw would be Climate Change Minister, Statistics Minister and Associate Finance Minister, while Genter would also hold Associate Health and Associate Transport, in which she said she hoped to make an impact in road safety.
Eugenie Sage would be Conservation Minister and Land Information Minister, as well as Associate Minister for the Environment.
Logie would be under-secretary to the Justice Minister, responsible for domestic and sexual violence issues.
Shaw said the party was proud and humbled.
"We have the chance to make real head way in the fight against climate change, and usher in a low-carbon economy. We have the chance to make real change in the lives of the most vulnerable and overlooked New Zealanders.
"The 3000 native species faced with extinction in Aotearoa New Zealand now have a lifeline. Victims of domestic and sexual abuse will have the loudest voice in Government they've ever had."
Shaw added that the issue of a female co-leader of the party was separate from ministerial positions. "No decisions have been made."
Meanwhile former Green MP Mojo Mathers tweeted: "Sad my former colleague Jan Logie is not Women's Minister - she has worked flipping hard on pay equity and gets intersection with disability."
Logie responded to the tweet, saying: "We only got three Ministerial positions and JAG is a quick learner. Thanks for the love though."