All Australian Governments must act to stop pay discrimination against women after tax office data today revealed that men on average earn 46 per cent more than women, the ACTU said.

‘Today’s figures show the pay gap between women and men is continuing to grow. It’s unfair and discriminatory that working women, many with major family responsibilities, must also bear the brunt of increasing financial pressures,’ ACTU President Sharan Burrow said.

The Australian Taxation Office’s new Taxation Statistics for 1998-99 show the average taxable income for men, of $34,460, is more than 46 per cent higher than for women, on $23,599, and that the gap is widening.

The figures reflected the predominance of women in part-time, casual and low-paid jobs as well as gender inequities in the salaries of the highest income earners, Ms Burrow said.

‘The value of women’s work has never been properly recognised in Australia. It’s time the Howard Government showed some leadership by seriously addressing pay inequities that are critical problems for many families and for our society in general.’

The recent establishment of non-discriminatory work value principles in New South Wales and Queensland was a step in the right direction, but much more needed to be done. Ms Burrow said test cases in the state industrial commissions were yet to deliver any award pay increases based on the new principles.

Today’s figures also showed the importance of the ACTU’s Living Wage campaign and casual maternity leave test case in improving living standards for women on minimum wage rates and in casual employment, Ms Burrow said.