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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Karen Andrews is the former home affairs minister and now shadows that portfolio, which includes cyber-security.

With Australians shocked by hackers starting to post Medibank data on the dark web, in this podcast Andrews calls on the health insurer to provide more information.

“There are some very serious questions that need to be put to Medibank about what it actually did.”

“They have sustained incredible reputational damage. The only way that I can see forward for them to be able to improve their public standing is to be very clear and open about what happened, why it happened, and what they are doing to assist their customers.”

On this week’s revelations of extensive visa scams, Andrews says: “I’m not aware of those specific issues that are being played out in the media now having been raised specifically by the department [when she was minister]”.

“There will always be individuals out there who will seek to take advantage of Australia’s visa system […] It’s not acceptable and I’m not excusing it and the role of the Home Affairs Department is to do what it can to try and be ahead of the game […] I can say that I would give all the support that I possibly could to there being a proper review of what has happened and how it could possibly be fixed.”

Andrews takes an uncompromising line on the government’s repatriation of ISIS brides and their children. “I think it’s an appalling decision that’s been abysmally handled.”

“I am sympathetic to the children, particularly those that were taken there at a very young age and those that have been born there, because they’ve come into some pretty ordinary circumstances. But there is a level of parental responsibility in there, and they will have to live with the consequences of the actions that their parents took.”

Looking to the opposition’s task of trying to win back female voters, Andrews says, “Without a doubt women left the Liberal Party in droves at the last election.

“In hindsight and even at the time I think I was of the view that we weren’t listening enough to women and the issues that were important to them.

“I actually find it personally offensive that every time someone talks about what’s important to women, it invariably goes to childcare. And yes, that is important to some women at some points in their life, but that’s not the only issue.”

The idea of gender quotas has been a contentious topic for the Liberal Party. Andrews says, “quotas are a difficult issue for us […] I think we need to consider quotas. Absolutely. But maybe the quotas in the first instance need to be so that we have more women standing for pre-selections. So […] we have to have equal numbers of males and females in a pre-selection process.”

She says it is vital to recapture what have become “teal” seats.

“For the Coalition to win, we need to win the best part of 20 seats, which is a large number of seats. We cannot do it, I don’t believe, without winning back the majority of the teal seats that we lost at the last election […]

“Some of those [teals] are quite closely aligned with the values of the Liberal Party, which means that their constituencies are aligned with the principles of the Liberal Party.

Now that’s going to be a difficult thing to achieve in the short term, but we have to; we have to make sure that we are regaining those teal seats, that we are winning seats off Labor and that we are in a position that we can form government at the next election”.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Politics with Michelle Grattan: Karen Andrews on the Medibank hack, visa scams, and winning back women voters – https://theconversation.com/politics-with-michelle-grattan-karen-andrews-on-the-medibank-hack-visa-scams-and-winning-back-women-voters-194259

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