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Push for new legislation that would all but ensure pay parity in sport

The campaign to close the prizemoney gender pay gap has received a massive boost from NSW State Parliament with the Upper House unanimously endorsing the Equal Pay for Equal Play petition.

Headed by Sydney longboarder Lucy Small, the campaign aims to introduce a bill ruling that, in order for any NSW sporting club or organisation to be eligible for government funding, it must offer equal prizemoney for men and women who compete in equivalent competitions.

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Greens Upper House MP Abigail Boyd and spokesperson for Women’s Equity and Economic Justice, introduced the motion which was passed without debate, indicating all political parties in the upper house support the campaign in principle.

“Sexism in sport is officially on notice,” Ms Boyd said.

“Women athletes deserve the same opportunities, access, and compensation as men competing in the same sports.

Longboarder Lucy Small is heading the campaign Equal Pay for Equal Play
Camera IconLongboarder Lucy Small is heading the campaign Equal Pay for Equal Play. Supplied Credit: Supplied

“As the Equal Pay for Equal Play campaign has highlighted, sexism in sport is a cycle, and it’s time to break it.

“It’s now apparent that not only is there community support, there is cross-party support in Parliament. There’s now no excuse to not act.

“Now the Government needs to take direct action to tackle sexism in sport, and mandate equal prize money for women athletes.”

Surfer Small unwittingly became the face of the campaign after winning an event at Curl Curl earlier this year and, after accepting the $1500 winner’s cheque, said “this has been a bittersweet victory knowing that our surfing is worth less than half of the men’s prize money.”

The equivalent men’s prize money was $4000.

Abigail Boyd
Camera IconGreens Upper House MP Abigail Boyd. AAP Credit: News Corp Australia

Small said: “The motion introduced by Abigail Boyd in support of Equal Pay for Equal Play and passed unanimously in the NSW Upper House is a promising step in applying pressure from the whole Parliament to legislate the changes we’re calling for.”

“Jo Haylen also moved a motion in the Lower House last week so as the petition gains momentum it’s great to see this collective pressure from within Parliament.

“We welcome the support from all parties to recognise the need for immediate action to break down sexism in sport and move toward a culture of equality and gender inclusion in sporting spaces.

“It’s so exciting and I am so happy to have our campaign recognised and supported by the Upper House. It feels like it’s just a matter of time before we can get this legislated.”

Small, and surfer and journalist Kate Allman, then work shopped the Equal Pay for Equal Play campaign, mirroring the successful campaign run out of California in 2019.

Kate Allman is pushing for the new legislation. Supplied
Camera IconKate Allman is pushing for the new legislation. Supplied Credit: Supplied

Female surfers competing at the infamous Mavericks big-wave competition were earning less than half of the prize money of their male counterparts.

Surfers convinced the Californian government to introduce a law making it illegal to pay women and men differently in athletic events held on state land.

Allman said: “The passing of this motion in the Upper House puts our campaign on the agenda for the state government and Minister for Sport to take a fresh look at our proposal.”

“From a political perspective – as well as a human rights perspective, really – saying ‘yes’ to equal prize money and equal opportunities for women in sport funded by public money seems like a no-brainer.

“I think most people would agree that government grants and taxpayer money should be distributed in a way that encourages modern sport clubs to embrace and foster equality.

“NSW has an opportunity to lead the way for the rest of the country here, it’s very exciting.”

Small then met with lower house MP Jo Haylen, who then agreed that if the Equal Pay for Equal Play petition lodged at parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/Pages/epetitions-list.aspx reached 20,000 signatures she would table the concept in the lower house.

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