Topics: Reshuffle, Member for Bowman
Natalie Barr: Well, the Prime Minister has announced a ministerial reshuffle following weeks of scandal that have engulfed his government. Senator Michaelia Cash has been appointed Australia’s new Attorney-General, replacing Christian Porter. Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, will lead a taskforce of new ministerial roles, including women’s safety and women’s economic security. Mr Morrison has described her role as the Prime Minister for Women. Karen Andrews received a big promotion to Minister for Home Affairs while Peter Dutton becomes Defence Minister. Scott Morrison says his new Cabinet will have the strongest female representation in Australian history. And Minister Karen Andrews joins me now.
Firstly, congratulations to you.
Karen Andrews: Thank you.
Natalie Barr: Many Australians are very disappointed with how Scott Morrison has handled the last sort of six weeks or so. There’s controversies backing up the Brittany Higgins rape allegation, the separate allegation against Christian Porter, the handling of Andrew Laming. Is this new Cabinet enough?
Karen Andrews: The new Cabinet is going to be a very significant step in the right direction but I don’t think that we should think that this is going to solve all of the issues within Parliament House or within the workplace more broadly. So there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I think that in setting up additional roles held by women, where they will be advocating on behalf of women across a range of portfolios, is a very important step, and to demonstrate to the Australian public that we do understand the significant issues that women face.
Natalie Barr: Because it’s obviously effecting- the Australian public are listening. That Newspoll the other day showed. Did that send panic through your ranks?
Karen Andrews: Well, I’ve known for a long time, and during the last six weeks it’s been highlighted that the Australian people are very disappointed in their parliamentarians, and that’s not where the Australian Parliament should be. So the conduct is not acceptable in Parliament House. Conduct outside of Parliament House by some parliamentarians is clearly not acceptable either. So we have a lot of work to restore the Australian public’s faith in us.
Natalie Barr: And the difference between inside of Parliament House and outside is what people are talking to us about. Because when we talk about Andrew Laming and what he’s been accused of, a criminal offence, people are writing to us in droves and saying, if that happened in my workplace, I’d be out of there. I wouldn’t be able to stay and serve out my contract and be paid $200,000. The Prime Minister’s just keeping him there after his course because he needs his number.
Karen Andrews: I think you’ve got to understand, though, that Andrew Laming is the elected Member for Bowman, and I can assure you, I am not defending Andrew Laming at all because I don’t find his conduct acceptable and I will be very clearly watching what happens over the coming weeks when he goes through the counselling and what he does to demonstrate that he does seriously understand what he has done, the impact on other people and that he’s prepared to change his behaviours. But having said that, he is the elected member for Bowman, which means he remains in that role until the next election, and he’s said that he’s not going to stand in any category, so he’s not going to stand as an independent, and I think that’s a good thing. He’s certainly not going to be standing for the LNP.
Natalie Barr: Okay. You’ve had a big promotion, Home Affairs; what are you going to do with it?
Karen Andrews: Well, it is a huge portfolio, so the first thing that I’m going to do is what I would do in any new role which is to get briefings to understand what the issues are. Now, it is very different to the role- well, I’m still currently in the role as the Minister for Industry, Science and Tech, that is an economic portfolio; Home Affairs is a security portfolio. There will be some overlap, particularly with science and technology, and obviously impacts on industry, but it is very, very different. I mean, what I will be making very clear is that I have no intention of unwinding any of the significant gains that we have made in terms of border security since 2013.
Natalie Barr: Okay. Karen Andrews, thank you very much for your time.
Karen Andrews: Pleasure.