Subjects: Four Corners, post election analysis, gender quotas
MATT WEBBER: Karen Andrews is the member for McPherson on the Gold Coast and Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Child Protection, and Prevention of Family Violence. She’s spoken with the ABC’s Cathy Border this morning. Cathy asks her what she thinks of last night’s programme.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I have enormous respect for Melissa McIntosh. She is an excellent member, got a swing towards her at the last election. So, I personally get on well with Melissa. Look, I was concerned about what she was saying. Melissa doesn’t pull any punches. So, the fact that she was prepared to make some very public statements about what was going on in her own division of the Liberal Party was something quite clearly that we have to take notice of, we have to pay attention to, and we have to do something about it.
CATHY BORDER: Did you have any inkling before you saw her say these things on Four Corners?
KAREN ANDREWS: I didn’t specifically in relation to some of the things that she spoke about in terms of meetings. But I was aware that there was a lot of shenanigans, quite frankly, is the best way to put it, within the Liberal Party in New South Wales. Now I find that particularly concerning as a Liberal Member of Parliament, that there are games being played in our divisions, our focus should clearly be on making sure that we can serve the people that we’re elected to represent. And the Party should be doing everything it can to make sure that we have good candidates, the right candidates, in position well before an election, and we’ve focussed on winning our seats.
CATHY BORDER: Let’s talk about quotas. Are you now fully behind setting a quota in the Conservative ranks?
KAREN ANDREWS: I’m not fully behind quotas. I have said in the past that it’s something that we need to give consideration to, and that is because we need to make sure that we’ve got women in winnable seats. Now our preselection process is led by the membership of our Party. So, the first thing we have to do is make sure that we’ve got women putting their hands up for preselection in winnable seats. I don’t think that the whole answer to the issue of how we get more women into the Party is quotas. But I think it is part of a potential solution. But we need to. And now, is the perfect time. Now is the time for us to be looking at how we position ourselves so that in three years’ time we’re competitive.
CATHY BORDER: I understand with the LNP’s state convention in Brisbane that you’re attending this weekend, there will be an urgency motion to try to get a better balance of representation. Will you support that?
KAREN ANDREWS: It depends what the terms of the motion actually are. If it’s to just, implement quotas, then I would not support that, but if it is more broadly presented and we’re focused on real and meaningful ways to attract more women to our Party, to attract more women to stand for pre-selection than I’m very open to whatever is put.
CATHY BORDER: What about factions within the Liberal Party ranks, within the LNP? You are non-aligned, has that been a help or a hindrance in your progression?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, it’s interesting. It means that if you are not factionally aligned, then you really do rely on your own merits and your own ability and being able to put yourself forward for positions – sometimes it’s a help to be aligned with different groupings as it is in just about every job, you know, quite frankly, but I’m very comfortable with the way that I have always positioned myself, which is that I’m here to represent the people of McPherson on the, the Gold Coast. And I will do all that I can to represent them and being factionally unaligned quite frankly, is somewhere that I’m very comfortable.
CATHY BORDER: Have factions tried to bully you?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, people have spent a lot of time over the years trying to convince me to support various motions, to support various people-
CATHY BORDER: You’re being very diplomatic. Is that a yes?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yeah, look, I wouldn’t call it bullying at all because, I’ve never taken much of it too personally. I mean, it is politics, it’s robust. I mean, there are lobbyists and I mean, of course that’s an issue with what’s happening with the state government here in Queensland at the moment, but there are people that lobby all the time. I mean, I can’t go to the supermarket without people talking to me now, I think it’s great. I’m pleased that people come up and talk to me, but they come and talk to me about their issues and what is important to them. So that’s part of my job. So do some of my colleagues robustly put forward their views. Absolutely. Particularly if there’s a leadership battle on but I don’t, I wouldn’t call that bullying and, quite frankly, I normally just say, yep, look, I’m fine. Thanks, you know, don’t worry about me.
CATHY BORDER: Well, some of your colleagues have experienced something quite differently though.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yep.
CATHY BORDER: You are one of the most senior women in the Liberal Party ranks, have you personally done enough to address these issues?
KAREN ANDREWS: I’ve done what I can when I’ve become aware of it. And unfortunately, often we don’t hear about these things until they are reported in the media. Now, I think that that’s a pretty sad indictment on the way that Parliaments operate, that there aren’t opportunities to support people along the way. And that’s been raised in many different forums, particularly over the last couple of years. Absolutely. I have reached out to people when I’ve become aware that they’re going through difficult times irrespective of their gender, I have reached out to them. And I’d always like to think that people felt comfortable talking to me without reading about it in the papers the next day, because that hasn’t been the case when people have spoken to me. Is there more that we can be doing? Undoubtedly there is more, it is a difficult environment to work in. Parliament House is a difficult workplace. When you are there, you are locked within the building effectively because what’s Parliament is sitting, that’s where you are – and they are long hours.
CATHY BORDER: On ABC Gold and Sunshine Coast chatting to Karen Andrews, the Member for McPherson, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence. Can I ask you, Ms Andrews, it’s been a little while – [inaudible question].
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, my first priority and Cathy, I’m not just being diplomatic here, my first priority is obviously the people of McPherson on the Southern Gold Coast. So, I’ve been reflecting on what more I can continue to do to properly represent their views. More broadly since I was appointed into the role of Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, and I’m also responsible in a shadow capacity for child protection and the prevention of family violence. I’ve eventually been looking at what I can do proactively to make sure that we are pushing forward an appropriate agenda for security of Australia and security of those people that have been affected particularly by family violence.
CATHY BORDER: [inaudible question].
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it may well have been one of the factors that was there. So, look, no one wants to swing against them at an election, but the swing against me in McPherson was less than the swing in Queensland and less than the national swing against my Party. So a bit of that swing was without a doubt the tide was going out against the Coalition. So many people were affected by that. Not everyone, some people had positive swings towards them and, and good on them. So climate change would well have been an issue that was front of mind. I mean, I stood on polling booths, every single day during, prepoll and of course on election day. And there were a lot of people who were coming in picking up Greens, how to votes. Not, I mean, when I looked at the number that were coming through, I actually expected that the vote would’ve been higher for the Greens. So, it didn’t always reflect a vote at the actual booth itself. But yes, there was a high primary vote for Greens here. I think there was, they had an increase in their primary vote. So, I think people were looking at environmental issues, climate change issues, and were prepared to put at least their first vote there.
CATHY BORDER: [inaudible].
KAREN ANDREWS: It’s a pleasure, take care.