I am the member for Monash and I represent the Liberal Party in this House. Throughout my career, I have had the benefit of being surrounded by very strong women, from the traditions of Edith Cowan to Dame Margaret Guilfoyle. If I wanted to speak about the strong women within the LNP, I would be using my whole five minutes just sprouting names of those who have enabled me, through times of defeat and disaster politically. They held me up so I could continue to carry on and be here today. I said in my maiden speech that, without the women who surrounded me at that time, I wouldn’t be here today. I made the mistake of naming them.
I want to go to a more contemporary place: quite often we get accused of having some toxic problems with women in the Liberal Party. Let me tell you about who has been pre-selected and elected to represent us here in the party. Katie Allen took the safe seat of Higgins. She is a medical professional in her own right. She is highly regarded by her peers and, more than that, has a life’s experience of all that has been, in the struggles that she has had, to get to this place. She is here and is a great contributor.
There’s Celia Hammond. I call her my partner in crime, because, prior to COVID, we sat down there together. I’ve been able to get to know a very special person from Western Australia who reached the top of her profession before she came to this place. She has a wide worldly experience that she brings here with great gusto.
Angie Bell is the member for Moncrieff—another safe seat. Angie Bell had a life in the professions but also one of the hardest professions that anyone can face that I know, and that’s as a professional musician. You’re working when everybody else is playing, and you’re on deck the whole time. Angie Bell brings a special talent to this place that no-one else can bring.
Anne Webster is from the Mallee. It’s a safe seat—our coalition partner. She is a professional in her own right, widely experienced and extremely tied into her local community. She knows the Mallee. Everything she says in this place is about regional people and how they’re affected and how her constituents are affected. She’s able to do that because of her wide experience before she came to the House.
Each one of those four had a huge pre-selection battle to get here. They didn’t just walk in and say: ‘I’m here. Aren’t you lucky to have me?’ They had to fight to get into this place. Some terrible things were said about a number of those people by their enemies, but they’re here. And then we’ve got, in our less safe seats, but I hope they’ll make them safe: Bridget Archer in Bass, a cracker; Fiona Martin in Reid, a professional; and Gladys Liu in Chisholm. Gladys has had a world of experience behind her before she came to this place, before she had the opportunity to stand and risk her reputation and time and energy to win the seat of Chisholm when the world thought she couldn’t win. But she won. There’s Melissa McIntosh in Lindsay, another cracker member of parliament here. Any one of these women that represent the Liberal Party could take a senior role in any area of our leadership today. Every one of them has the capability to step into a higher role. And I know that in the future each one of these will be household names that you will know about because of the contribution they make at a higher level in this place.
It is not often that someone comes into this place and goes straight onto the front bench in government in their first term. But you can guarantee that Katie Allen, Celia Hammond, Angie Bell, Anne Webster, Bridget, Fiona, Gladys and Melissa will have long careers in here if they’re supported by their communities. So, please, just remember that the Liberal Party has a long history of powerful, strong and talented women who will contribute to this nation’s wellbeing.