6 February 2018
Transcript - #2018008, 2018

Interview with Sabra Lane, ABC AM

SUBJECTS: Government funding for ovarian cancer, Minister for Women, small amount credit contracts/payday loans

Sabra Lane:

Minister good morning welcome to AM.

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Great to be with you Sabra.

Sabra Lane:

The government's announcing $3 million today to examine the issue of women who have previously had ovarian cancer in the past 15 years to identify who's got the BRCA one and two genes – why?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well it's critically important to be able to provide the families of those women with the opportunity to find out whether they are more predisposed to ovarian cancer. We know that for many people the increase in their susceptibility to ovarian cancer is really very significant if they have had a family member with this gene mutation. Which is why the $3million which is in addition to the $50 million that the Government has already spent on medicine specifically for ovarian cancer and also for research specifically focus on ovarian cancer that's why it's going to make such a difference to so many families right across the country.

Sabra Lane:

Now you are the Minister for Women, you're at the cabinet table, that's a rare thing for someone with that portfolio to be at that level of government. What do you want to achieve?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well I think economic empowerment for women is one of the most critical things that we can do. We need to make sure that women have real choices about their lives. When you give people financial security, when you give women the tools to understand their finances, you give them real ability to make choices about their lives and I think, frankly, that's what we should be delivering every day.

Sabra Lane:

When it comes to real difference what do you make about this 'Me too' movement, are you comfortable about the pile ons that have been happening about that? And there is also criticism that it's really victim centric.

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well look, I think with all of this we need to strike the right sort of balance. I think it's absolutely right to highlight where people have behaved in an egregious manner – and some of what has been talked about has been criminal behaviour – and it is unacceptable on every level. So I think it is entirely appropriate to shine a light on that. It think where people make allegations we need to be very sensitive about the allegations that are made and I think you know everyone has got a responsibility to have a really sensible and sober discussion about these issues.

Sabra Lane:

Can a campaign like 'Me too' help women who have no public profile and you know who are the subject of awful treatment day in and day out?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well I certainly think that there are lots of opportunities today with the variety of media voices to get important stories out. But I also think it's critically important, as I said, to strike the right sort of balance. If people make accusations I think you also need natural justice in that as well.

Sabra Lane:

Are you happy to call yourself a feminist?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

I am very happy to call myself a feminist Sabra because…

Sabra Lane:

So many of your colleagues aren't.

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well for me feminist is about equality between men and women and I can't think of too many people who wouldn't think that we shouldn't have equality between men and women. So whether people describe as a feminist or not I think most people would subscribe to the fact that we should have equality between the sexes.

Sabra Lane:

Female representation in Cabinet is low, there wasn't an additional boost to numbers in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. Does that mean that there aren't more Coalition women who are Cabinet standard?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well we have got a great problem in the Liberal Party which is that we've got brilliant women and we just don't have enough places. Having said that I am absolutely passionate about making sure that more of my colleagues can sit around that cabinet table and more of them are not only being preselected and getting elected to Parliament but also going through the ranks.

Sabra Lane:

Is there a cultural problem within the Liberal Party?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well look I don't think any political organisation is perfect, I don't think the Labor Party is perfect, I don't think the Greens are perfect and certainly the Liberal Party isn't perfect. There is always room for improvement and I'll be focusing on where we can make a difference.

Sabra Lane:

I just want to touch on Jeff Kennett's defence yesterday of Robert Doyle. He says that Mr Doyle has been a victim of a witch hunt but he also said that in life we can be magnanimous, we can be friendly, we can be how would I describe it, fairly touchy in the nicest possible way and people have the opportunity to reject that sort of friendliness. What do you make of that?

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well look I've got great regard for Jeff Kennett, look I think there are some lines that are pretty clear that people shouldn't cross, there are some grey areas that people perhaps don't understand their approaches might not be taken in the right way. I think everybody has got to exercise good judgement and where there are grey areas well perhaps we ought to be a bit magnanimous.

Sabra Lane:

Also I need to ask you – how concerned are you that payday lenders and lease companies have access to the Government's centre pay system that they're deducting huge amounts of money from customers for over inflated goods because they know the government will pay.

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Well look the Government has long been concerned about this particular issue. The Government has announced a package of reforms here where people who are vulnerable will not be able to be exploited in paying well and truly over and above the price of the goods because they don't have the capacity to fork out the cash on day one.

Sabra Lane:

Thank you for your time this morning.

Kelly O'Dwyer:

Thanks very much Sabra.