Topics: Reshuffle, Member for Bowman
Nicole Dyer: Six new positions for women in Cabinet, including that of Karen Andrews – McPherson MP, Gold Coast MP. She has gone from Science and Technology Minister to Home Affairs. Minister Andrews, good morning and congratulations.
Karen Andrews: Good morning and thank you very much for the congratulations. I’m certainly very excited to be moving into, into the Home Affairs portfolio.
Nicole Dyer: Did you expect this portfolio?
Karen Andrews: No, I didn’t. My experience to date has been in economics portfolio, industry, science and tech and vocational education. So, to move into a security portfolio is a different direction for me to take. There will be some overlaps, particularly when we’re looking at cyber, cyber security, cyber skills. But it is a new role for me with new opportunities.
Nicole Dyer: Five days ago, you told the ABC’s, Leigh Sales, that you had a gutful of the treatment of women in Parliament, and definitely a need for change. Is this reshuffle a step in the right direction?
Karen Andrews: It certainly is a very good step in the right direction. There’s no magic solution to this, we have to work on a number of fronts. But I was actually very pleased to see the breadth and depth of the changes, particularly the focus on women and issues that are important to women – their economic security, their physical security – they’re all important. But it’s not going to be an easy solution to really come to terms and understand the issues and how to address those that affect women across all workplaces.
Nicole Dyer: Yeah, you were the first female MP to speak up about this. Do you think, in some ways, you’ve been rewarded for taking a stand? For being that squeaky wheel?
Karen Andrews: Look, I think the Prime Minister knows me very well, and he would not have been at all surprised about what I said last week. I have made similar comments before, and so he wouldn’t have been surprised by that. I don’t think it was a reward at all. I think when he, when he called me yesterday, it was very clear that, you know, there were good reasons why he wanted me to take on the Home Affairs role.
Nicole Dyer: Do you regret not speaking up sooner about your concerns about how women are treated in Parliament?
Karen Andrews: I’ve spoken, I’ve spoken up in the past – why didn’t you use the megaphone that I have, and I regret not using that megaphone. So whilst they were my views and I put those views, I would’ve, in hindsight – and everyone’s got 20-20 hindsight – I would have preferred to have made those comments earlier. But I’m, I’m very happy with what I said last week, I think it needed to be said. And I also made the point last week that this is more than just conduct within Parliament, this is actually an issue for all women across all workplaces. And the number of women who emailed me, contacted my office demonstrated that – they were way outside the political environment, but they’d experienced many of the issues that I spoke about in their own workplaces.
Nicole Dyer: I just want to share a question from one of our listeners here. Paul from Nobby Beach says: look, why does it take a crisis and men behaving badly for the PM to have skilled women acknowledged in Cabinet?
Karen Andrews: Well, I think that he has, he has recognised the skills that women bring to the portfolios that, that we’ve had in the past. I think what was missing before, that he’s addressed now, is a particular focus on issues that affect women, and making sure that that is going to be dealt with across all portfolios. So, I think that that’s the important difference this time.
Nicole Dyer: I know that there was a fair bit of commentary about this in the last 24 hours, but the goodwill that has been demonstrated by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has it, in any way, be undermined by the fact that senior ministers are resisting calls for Liberal back bencher, Andrew Laming, to resign? I mean, is that muddying the waters? Is that, if you like, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t? Because then, obviously, the Government doesn’t have the numbers to hold power in the House of Reps.
Karen Andrews: Yeah. Look, it’s not as simple an issue as the way that you’ve just described it. Andrew Laming is the elected Member for Bowman, and he holds that position until he, either, resigns himself, or he chooses not to recontest an election. Now, he said that he is not going to recontest, I think that that’s the right thing for him to do. He is a member of the Liberal National Party; they’ve made strong statements about his conduct. Andrew, himself, has said that he is going to go and get some help for his conduct, as he should. I will be looking at what his actions are when he returns to, to Parliament, to make sure that he actually has learnt the lessons and he fully understand the impact of those actions on other people.
Nicole Dyer: Wouldn’t it make- be a stronger statement, though, from the Federal Government if they did move more quickly on Andrew Laming. Because I know that the Prime Minister was saying, look, he was elected by the people, but I’m sure the people who elected him in that position, given the information they know now, might have a different opinion of him.
Karen Andrews: Well, they might, but that’s a decision for the people of, of Bowman. Now, he said he’s not going to recontest, I think that’s a good thing. And, as, as a party, as the Liberal National Party, we will move to preselect a candidate for the next election.
Nicole Dyer: Right. He did- Very little remorse was shown yesterday in an interview that he did while on medical leave, with ABC Brisbane.
Karen Andrews: Yeah.
Nicole Dyer: Again, that- Does, does that just disappoint you? Given that you’re now part of this taskforce of change, if you like, which is being led by Marise Payne, the Minister for Women and Foreign Affairs?
Karen Andrews: Andrew needs to demonstrate clearly that he understands the magnitude of those actions, and the impact on others. I’m looking for a, a stronger statement from him, that may well be in a couple of weeks’ time after he’s been through the counselling and his awareness is, is greater. But, his actions are not acceptable and he needs to recognise that, and he needs to take action to fix it.
Nicole Dyer: Karen Andrews, I really appreciate your time this morning. Good luck with the Home Affairs portfolio, and thank you for joining us.
Karen Andrews: It’s a pleasure. Take care, and have a good day.
Nicole Dyer: That’s Karen Andrews who, yesterday, was announced as the new Minister for Home Affairs.