16 May 2018
Transcript - #2018025, 2018

Interview with Tom Elliott, 3AW

Subjects: Women in the Liberal Party, the Government’s Personal Income Tax Plan, the Government’s Protecting Your Super Package.

TOM ELLIOTT:

I mentioned this female fighting fund that has been set up in the Liberal Party. Kelly O'Dwyer who is the Member for Higgins and Minister for Financial Services and Revenue has just forked out $50,000 of her own money to start this fighting fund. The idea is that this will help aid campaigns for female MPs and women preselected in winnable seats. I think all this was kicked off because up in Queensland Assistant Minister Jane Prentice – now I must admit I hadn't really heard about her – she was in Cabinet and yet somehow got rolled in a preselection battle in her seat and as result will soon lose her seat in the Parliament, and she's been replaced by a former staff member Julian Simmonds, who as his name would suggest is a man, and already the Liberals have fewer women in politics than their opponents in the Labor Party. Anyway Kelly O'Dwyer, Member for Higgins and Minister for Financial Services has been good enough to join us. Kelly, good afternoon.

KELLY O'DWYER:

Good afternoon, Tom. I'm also the Minister for Women which is why I take a really strong interest in this topic.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Women, financial services and revenue…

KELLY O'DWYER:

They keep me busy

TOM ELLIOTT:

They do. Who's they?

KELLY O'DWYER:

The Prime Minister.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Right, now you've chosen to donate $50,000 of your own money into this fighting fund, it was a response to the preselection loss of your colleague Jane Prentice.

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well firstly let me just clarify, my electorate conference, the Higgins electorate conference, is making the contribution of $50,000 to this fighting fund, this fighting fund I first announced when I delivered a Press Club address in the week of International Women's Day, that was earlier in March, where I announced that I would be establishing a fighting fund for Liberal women in order to assist those women who were in marginal seats in the Liberal Party and who wanted to stand for the Liberal Party for winnable seats, to have the financial firepower that they need to run effective campaigns. I'm delighted that there are a number of my colleagues now, I've written to them to ask them to make a similar contribution, because I do believe that if we want to have good, strong, talented, experienced women stand for the Liberal Party we need to make sure that we financially back them. And the other point I want to make to you Tom, you talked about the fact that there were more Labor women in Parliament than Liberal women, that's true at the moment, but can I say since Federation we've have about 385 people represent us in Federal Cabinet and only 24 of those people have in fact been women – and that's on both sides of politics. The majority though have been Coalition women and that's true of the outer ministry as well when we take into account the whole ministry. And the Liberal Party has had a really strong and proud tradition of firsts, you know we had the first woman elected to the House of Representatives, in Julie Bishop we've got the first female Foreign Minister, and in Marise Payne we've got the first female Defence Minister. We've got a long and proud history but all parties, when it comes to women need to do better.

TOM ELLIOTT:

And yet the fact that you've set up this fighting fund suggests that even though the Liberal Party might have a proud history it doesn't have such a proud present when it comes to the selection of women.

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well I think every party should examine whether it can do better and I'm certainly saying that we in the Liberal Party can do better and I think you need to put in place practical measures. Now certainly there are lots of other elements that go to whether or not somebody wants to put their hand up or wants to run for Parliament, but I think unlike a lot of your listeners, I actually do think that people who put their hand up for public office, whether they be in the Liberal Party, the Labor Party or even dare I say it the Greens, most people who put their hands up do it because they believe in public service and have pretty good and genuine motivations for wanting to do it.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Well ok, I know it's very tough being a federal politician, I've got to say you couldn't pay me enough money to do it, I don't know how you manage keeping a family together and travelling to Canberra every second week and all the rest of it.

KELLY O'DWYER:

I've got two under three.

TOM ELLIOTT:

So, is it possible that the reason that there aren't that many women in politics is because women are actually too smart to want to do such a unrelenting and difficult job?

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well look, there's no doubt that there are lots of smart women who choose not go into it but there are lots of smart women who choose to, and frankly that's a matter that I want women to make. There shouldn't be an artificial barrier there that sort of precludes them from being able to put their hand up and when they do to be financially supported.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Ok this fighting fund, I mean Malcolm Turnbull said he'll put 50 grand in, Julie Bishop will put 50 grand in, you're putting 50 grand from your own fundraising organisation, so these a hundred and fifty grand, so if a woman comes to you and says 'I want to stand for the seat of whatever's vacant at the next election', you'll give them some of that money to help advertise their choice?

KELLY O'DWYER:

So the money will be held by the party organisation and the money will be spent in consultation with female cabinet ministers. I certainly know that my electorate conference heavily supported Julia Banks when she ran for the marginal seat of Chisholm. She's one of the most hard-working members of Parliament, she's someone who came with a really long and established a career as a lawyer who had worked in food processing and pharmaceuticals, somebody whose experienced of course we need in the Federal Parliament. These are practical things that we can do to make a difference.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Ok just on another issue, I bumped into a friend who is a young but up-and-coming journalist here in Melbourne and he's not a very financial person and he asked me about the Budget. He said 'look, whose Budget is better?' I don't know exactly what he earns, but let's say he's around about average weekly earnings, so 70, 80 thousand, something like that. He said 'Malcolm Turnbull's tax is probably worth about 500 bucks to me but Bill Shorten's is worth $900'. He said 'who should I vote for?' What would you say to him?

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well I would say to him, if he is working now and he aspires to continue to work for a period of time, if he wants to work longer hours or get promoted, he'll actually be much better off with the tax relief that we are actually offering in the simpler tax system that we are offering over our seven-year plan.

He will also be better off because I suspect that 9.5% of his income right now under the law is being put into his superannuation savings and we are the only people who are actually talking about and will reunite people with their money, $6 billion in year one for the lost accounts, we're the only people who for people under the age of 25 will make sure that they're not being forced into paying insurance premiums that will erode their retirement savings if they don't want it, which again in conjunction with the low-balance accounts and inactive accounts will mean that $3 billion of people's money is returned back into their retirement savings accounts.

Again, these are practical measures. We're banning exit fees on superannuation funds, we're putting a cap on the administration and investment fees that will mean people get to keep more of their own money, so my advice would be, he'd be better off supporting the Coalition.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Kelly O'Dwyer, thank you for joining us and I'll pass that on to the young up-and-coming journalist in question, although I think talking to someone in his mid-20s about how we might be better off in retirement is probably going to be a waste of conversation.