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Published by: api-25945645 on Oct 14, 2012
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Australian Agenda 14 October 2012 Sophie Mirabella
Sky News Australian AgendaSophie Mirabella14 October 2012
Interview with Sophie Mirabella  Australian Agenda program, 14 October 2012Peter Van Onselen:Welcome back, you're watching Australian Agenda and we're joined now by LiberalParty front bencher and industry spokesperson Sophie Mirabella, joining us out of Melbourne. Ms Mirabella, thanks very much for your company.Sophie Mirabella:Good morning.Peter van Onselen: You're lucky enough to be one of only two females in the Liberal Party that are on thefront bench within shadow cabinet. There's only I think 20% of the Parliament that arewomen. Is this because Liberal women aren't good enough to make it that far up or isit because there's sexism in the Liberal Party?Sophie Mirabella:
Australian Agenda 14 October 2012 Sophie Mirabella
Well, no. There are many reasons why women enter and don't enter Parliament and Ithink Tony has got an extraordinarily strong team. Let's not descend to the level whereeverything that doesn't happen to women is sexism or if they don't get a job it's sexism.Let's just actually operate on merit on the best possible team and in a political partythat is the best possible team to communicate the party's message and to go to anelection.Peter van Onselen:But you can't surely think that based on merit there's only two women in the Liberalparliamentary party, indeed the wider movement, that are capable of being shadowmembers of the cabinet?Sophie Mirabella:No, there are many shadow ministers. Tony Abbott has always had a female chief of staff and there are all sorts of issues that go to promotion. I don't think the promotionof women is an issue. Look, I probably wouldn't be in the Parliament if it wasn't forTony Abbott. He was seminal in getting me involved in constitutional political debate 20years ago, he actively supported my pre-selection when very few people thought Iwould win, and he has made me Shadow Industry Minister, the first woman to hold thatposition either in Government or in Opposition. So I actually judge the Liberal Party andTony Abbott by its actions and I certainly haven't felt that there's a problem in theLiberal Party.Simon Benson:We heard just recently from Christine Milne . She claimed that she found the term"handbag hit squad" offensive. That was delivered by one of your women
Australian Agenda 14 October 2012 Sophie Mirabella
backbenchers. Do you think that was a particularly unhelpful phrase to use, do youthink it's a sexist term?Sophie Mirabella: Absolutely not. Here is Christine Milne saying that you can only be a feminist if youconform to the Greens image of what a feminist is. Kelly O'Dwyer is an absolute star,she's passionate about politics, and she had had a gutful and encapsulated in a brilliantphrase the political use of women in the Labor Party to attack Tony Abbott as adeliberate campaign to deflect from their poor performance, to deflect from theproblems that they are facing: the budget blowout, the border protection problems, theproblems within caucus. So let's call it for what it is, and the Labor Party was upset thatthey were caught out. This is a deliberate strategy, probably straight out of the dirt unitin the Prime Minister's office, and they were caught out, and Kelly captured itbeautifully.Simon Benson: Assuming it is a deliberate strategy, and no-one will be surprised by that, it is a factthough that it has hit home amongst a lot of women voters, whether it's real or not alot of women believe that Tony Abbott is a sexist. I wouldn't use the term misogynist, Ithink probably chauvinist will be a better term to describe what they're trying to ascribeto Tony Abbott, but it is a problem for him don't you admit?Sophie Mirabella:There are different views about Tony Abbott and I can only give you my personal viewthat I have seen close up and out there in the electorate. I have tell you I was at theWangaratta show yesterday and dozens of people came up to me. They have had a

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