Subjects: Deporting criminals, gender quotas, biosecurity measures for foot and mouth disease, incoming passenger declarations
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, foot and mouth disease is a really serious disease that we don’t want coming into Australia. Now, obviously our border security measures are critically important at this time. Look, I have a very high level of confidence in firstly, Border Force, but also in the support that is given through the Ag Department with biosecurity personnel. They will do all that they can to make sure the passenger declarations are filled out appropriately, but it relies very, very much on people coming into Australia, ensuring that they are filling out their declarations correctly, declaring what they need to, particularly if they’ve been to any farms, any properties, whilst they have been overseas, particularly in Bali in Indonesia. But I have a lot of confidence in our officials that they will do all they care at our borders to make sure that Australia remains protected from foot and mouth disease.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I think every Australian would be very, very happy to see us return to a very normal way of life, which is what we experienced pre COVID. So, clearly changing the settings at the border has been underway. We opened our borders officially from the end of last year, where we started to open it for skilled workers to be able to come in for families to come in for tourists to come in. So, that was all very important. Now, we need to look at what the measures are now, when the Coalition was in government, we took advice from the health officials. It’s great to hear that Labor is doing exactly the same thing. They’re listening to the health officials and what is being put in place is hopefully exactly what has been re recommended by health officials. I will be very happy to see the end of masks here in Australia, whenever that may well be.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, the border settings that were in place at the time and frankly, throughout the period of COVID and potentially into the future, were very important to make sure that Australians were protected. So, I believe that they were the right settings at the time. Now, things have moved on and we are in a better position. Now, we do have high levels of vaccination rates, even though we could still have more people being vaccinated with their third shot. So, their second booster, that would be an important thing for people to be doing. Now we do need to keep those rates as high as we possibly can, but the circumstances that surrounded Novak Djokovic at the time were very appropriate. And yes, there are provisions, therefore, bars to entry into Australia to be put in place and to be maintained, it’ll be a matter for the current government as to what they choose to do with that. And whether or not anyone who has previously been barred from entry to Australia or has been required to leave Australia will be allowed entry into Australia.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I would assess the information that I was given on its merits. Obviously asking a lot of questions. I would rely on the first instance on advice that came through to me from the Department of Home Affairs. But look, I really don’t want to get into the hypothetical of ‘what would I do?’ because at this stage, we know that there is an increasing number of cases of COVID around Australia at the moment, we don’t know what the future holds. We hope that we are well beyond the worst phases of COVID, but I don’t want to preempt anything that may well happen.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, when we were in government, we always said that we would look for a diplomatic resolution to, I guess, all matters of conflict with any nation. So, we were always open to the prospect meeting with counterparts from all around the world, but let’s be clear at this stage, yes, the Foreign Minister will be meeting with her counterparts tomorrow. Hopefully, it may well translate to their being a one on one meeting, but that’s not confirmed at this point in time, but I would be very, very clear in any meeting that I had, that our national security interests were paramount here in Australia. We needed to make sure that we were doing everything to protect our national interests. Of course, there are significant trade issues between Australia and China. It was disappointing that the Trade Minister was unable to secure a meeting with his counterpart. We’ll wait and see what happens with the Foreign Minister, but trade is particularly important here. And national security is critical to Australia.
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it would be one of the points of discussion if I had the opportunity to be part of that meeting, but clearly my focus would be on national security matters. And then I would be speaking about a trade, but that’s because my shadow portfolio is home affairs.
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I’m not committed to going down the path of quotas. I am open to a discussion about how we can get more women to stand in winnable seats. So that means that they have to be preselected. So we need more women to stand for pre-selection and then to go on and win that seat. This is not the first time that I’ve spoken about that. I’ve been fairly public about my views on getting women into winnable seats for the Liberal party and in Queensland, the Liberal National party. That is very important. Now there’s a lot of concern amongst our party members here about quotas. And quite frankly, I’m really of the view myself that I would prefer to have always been selected on merit rather than on my gender. And I am concerned that women just being popped into seats because a number is required. There is not doing any particular service to that woman. It’s not doing any service to the electorate. Ultimately, it’s not doing a benefit to the Australian democracy.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, the pre-selection process. And let me speak specifically about Queensland today to run in a seat, whether that be changed, I’m not a particular fan of candidates being parachuted in. I don’t think it helps the person that’s being parachuted example, not from my party, but from the Labor party where Kristina Kenneally was parachuted into the seat of Fowler, Labor lost that seat. So, I think that that’s a very good warning to many people who are fans of people being parachuted into, into seats that you should never ever, ever ignore the views of the local party people.