Subjects: Post-election analysis, gender quotas, energy policy, Anthony Albanese’s travel
HAMISH MACDONALD: Karen Andrews is the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence. She’ll be addressing the Queensland LNP women’s state conference tomorrow. She’s with us now. Good morning to you. Welcome back.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good morning, Hamish. How are you?
HAMISH MACDONALD: I’m very well, thank you. I put a question to you that a listener sent in yesterday to Linda Reynolds. Why would any woman in her right mind want to be in the Liberal Party right now?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it’s a good question for me. There is a really obvious answer and that is that the Liberal Party has always been the party of individual freedom of free enterprise. We have a range of core beliefs that are important to everyday people. It includes things such as maximizing opportunity for wealth creation so that we have high standards of living. And one of our core beliefs is clearly that we want to preserve the environment for our future generations. So, if you look at the core beliefs of the Liberal Party, it is what many people within Australia aspire to.
HAMISH MACDONALD: I’m sure you’d get debate on some of those points, but even if we were to accept all of those, why is it then that so few women have stood and won seats for your party and why so many women have, have left voting for you?
KAREN ANDREWS: Because we’ve been historically very poor at demonstrating what our beliefs are and how we capture those beliefs in our policies. So, they are our core beliefs that I spoke about before. What we have not been able to do is communicate that properly so that people, women in particular, understand what the liberal party stands for. And I know that many people think that the Liberal Party is not keen to support the environment, that we don’t understand or accept that climate has been changing. But if you look at the core beliefs of the Liberal Party, one of those core beliefs is preserving the environment for future generation.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Do you think your actual policies might have something to do with that?
KAREN ANDREWS: Oh, without a doubt. I mean, let, be frank. We weren’t elected. We were not reelected to government. So, we have to reassess where we are now. We have to look at the policies that we took to the election, see which of those we need to continue with, that we need to dump, get rid of and those that we need to refine. And I don’t think anyone in my Party should be proceeding on the basis that everything that we took to the election, we should hold onto forever because we were not elected.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Do you think that, uh, the new government’s emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030 is, is one of those?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I’m not that big on symbolism. I much prefer there to be action. And I think it was probably close to two years ago that I said very publicly that we should stop talking about whether or not the climate was changing, that we should get onto action. Now, I personally supported the work that Angus Taylor did on looking at a technology roadmap. We need to move on as a nation and start to look at what the options are. We do need reliable and affordable energy, and we need to be very conscious of, uh, the sustainability of any systems that we are putting in place. It’s not an either or-
HAMISH MACDONALD: I –
KAREN ANDREWS: -think where we can move forward.
HAMISH MACDONALD: I think we can all hear you circling around that particular question though. Why not just accept that target, which the Australian public voted for?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I don’t have an issue with it being, something that we all aspire to and something that we all work to towards, does it have to be legislated? I would say no, that it does not have to be legislated-
HAMISH MACDONALD: Why not?
KAREN ANDREWS: It is because it’s purely symbolic. What does putting it in legislation actually deliver?
HAMISH MACDONALD: Well, it makes it harder to abandon. That’s the point? Isn’t it?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, what’s Labor gonna do to itself if it doesn’t reach its target?
HAMISH MACDONALD: Well, hold on. You just, you just told me that it it’s just symbolic. I mean, doesn’t legislating it, make it harder for a future government, if it’s different, to change it.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I think that things are going to involve over time as they always have. We’ve had various measures and targets that have been put in place. I believe that legislating, what Labor took to the election, were elected on the basis of, which is the 43% target, does not achieve very much, if anything at all. And they should just get on with the action of the implementation -they’ve been elected. That was one of their platforms, they could argue now that they have the mandate to go and implement. Let’s let them start implementing what their strategy is to meet that target rather than a lot of symbolism about standing up in Parliament progressing legislation that is not going to ensure that anything actually happens.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Well, I suppose one of the things you might argue it would do is make it harder for the Greens to force this government, to extend the target further in an instance where they needed the Greens to pass legislation in the upper house.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, would they, would, would that pacify the Greens or are they still gonna keep talking about what the target should be anyway? I mean, I don’t think that this-
HAMISH MACDONALD: I suppose it just proves the point though, doesn’t it? That legislating, it actually does make it slightly more rock solid.
KAREN ANDREWS: We’re gonna have to agree to disagree on that one, Hamish, because I think it’s symbolic.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Let’s talk about quotas, do you support quotas for the number of women pre-selected in the Liberal Party as a way of resolving this pretty significant problem that you have with women?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I’m gonna start by saying that you are going to think I’m skirting around the issue here, and I’m not, I’m not with what I’m about to say. And that is that, look with quotas, I think that we need to start looking at how we’re going to deal with the issue of making sure that we have women who want to stand as candidates for the Liberal Party. Is quotas the end result that we need to get to, to make sure that this happens? I don’t think it is, but it may be part of a possible solution. At the moment, we aren’t attracting sufficient women to be candidates for the Liberal Party. I’ve been strongly of the view for many years now that we need to make sure that we have credible female candidates standing for pre-selection in winnable seats. Now, at the moment, that is not happening. And we need to make sure that we are attracting women to stand in winnable seats, not just get the seat that you’ve gotta really work hard at. And you may or may not even be, uh, elected because it’s not a strong seat for us. Let’s get women standing in seats where they have a good chance of success.
HAMISH MACDONALD: But how do you do that if you don’t have quotas?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, we have to change the perception of our Party and go back to what our historic roots have been, which has been, you know, we actually have a very strong record for the Liberal Party in terms of first achievements for women. And in fact, I am the first female federal cabinet minister in Queensland. Now that only happened in 2018. So, we’re a long way behind, but so I’m the first of the female cabinet ministers, we’ve also had many other records for women; we’ve put record funding into women’s safety initiatives, as we’ve done all of these things, but it’s clearly not enough to be attracting women. So, we have to go out there and demonstrate and show by leadership that you can get ahead in the Liberal Party. And that you can be part of some changes in government that are going to mean that Australia is a better place to live and work.
HAMISH MACDONALD: I wanna understand clearly, do you think you can do it without quotas?
KAREN ANDREWS: I think we’ve got to set some very strong measures in place. And I think when we go into the process for pre-selection and that will happen on a state basis and also on a federal basis, and realistically we’ve just come through an election. So, it’s probably a good 12 to 18 months before we’ll be starting the pre-selection process across Australia for the Liberal Party. But what we need to do is actively go out now and identify people that would be good candidates and start to nurture them so that they understand what you need to do to win a pre-selection and what you need to do to properly represent your communities. So, we have a 12 to 18 month lead up now, and if we are not able to do that, then I think in 12 to 18 months, we’ve got to look at how we are going to ensure that we are increasing the number of women. But I think there’s a 12 to 18 month lead up.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Linda Reynolds, though, seemed to be saying that she was open to a discussion about quotas if they were temporary. And if it sat within a broader range of changes, are you willing to have that conversation?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes. I’m very happy to have that conversation. I’m happy to look at whether or not it should be a temporary measure. I’m happy to look at a range of things that we need to do, but I don’t think that quotas is the one and only answer it may well be, as I said, at the beginning, it may well be part of a solution, but it is not the only solution and the only way forward.
HAMISH MACDONALD: The opposition has been criticizing Anthony Albanese – I think the term was circumnavigating the globe. Those were Angus Taylor’s words. He’s been off obviously to a number of summits and meetings. Are, are you critical of him for doing that?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I, my view is that it was, it was important for Australia’s Prime Minister to be overseas at a number of events and meetings that he attended. I think it was very important for the Foreign Minister to be in the Pacific region, but now’s the time to be at home. There are there’s significant flooding happening in New South Wales. I’m in Queensland at the moment, and it’s been raining here for quite some time. People are going to be affected here very soon. So, yep, done, done. Now Prime Minister, you need to be in Australia and you need to demonstrate your support for the Australian people.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Is Peter Dutton at work at the moment?
KAREN ANDREWS: I haven’t spoken to Peter this week. So I honestly can’t answer that for you. I’m not aware that he’s not here.
HAMISH MACDONALD: I, is he on leave?
KAREN ANDREWS: I don’t know. I don’t speak to Peter every day. I mean, I’ve heard reporting that he’s on leave, but I haven’t checked. I’ve actually just focused on my own job.
HAMISH MACDONALD: There’s a bit much though, to criticize the PM for doing this when the Opposition Leader’s on leave, isn’t it?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I’m not criticizing Anthony Albanese at all. What I just said is that it was important for Australia’s Prime Minister to be overseas, and I also commented favourably on the foreign minister being in the Pacific region, but I also said now’s the time to be home.
HAMISH MACDONALD: Karen Andrews, appreciate your time as always.