Retiring Karen Andrews won’t campaign against Voice

Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews announced her retirement at the next federal election.

Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews announced her retirement at the next federal election. Photo: AAP

The Coalition’s outgoing home affairs spokesman, Karen Andrews, won’t join the opposition’s campaign against the Indigenous Voice.

Ms Andrews, who said on Tuesday she will retire from politics at the next election, said she didn’t support the current proposed wording for the Voice to Parliament.

Ms Andrews said her decision to quit politics was unrelated to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s decision to formally oppose the Voice.  She said she didn’t support the proposed wording, but would speak to voters in her Queensland electorate in a neutral way ahead of this year’s referendum.

“I will work towards making sure that the people on the southern Gold Coast have the opportunity to understand the question … but I want to do that in a very neutral way,” she said.

“I won’t be out there wearing a shirt that says vote ‘no’.

“This is a decision for each and every Australian, and I want to make sure that people are informed and that they make a decision that they are comfortable with.”

Ms Andrews is not the only senior Liberal to be less than enthusiastic about Mr Dutton’s stance on the Voice. The Coalition’s leader in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, has also said that he will not campaign against it – although he plans to remain on the opposition frontbench.

Ms Andrews is a former engineer and small business owner who was first elected to the seat of McPherson in 2010. She was appointed to cabinet as industry minister in 2018 and in 2021 took on the role of home affairs minister.

With the frontbench reshuffle announced by Mr Dutton on Tuesday, she will go to the backbench until the next federal election.

Confirming her retirement on Tuesday, Ms Andrews said the Liberals had a “lot of work to do” to rebuild their standing across the nation. The party needed to get better at communicating its principles, she said.

“There’s a lot of work that the Liberal National Party in Queensland has to do, and the Liberal Party right across Australia,” she said.

“I believe wholly and solely in the principles of the Liberal Party.”

Peter Dutton announces new frontbench

Ms Andrews said she was “very confident” the LNP and Liberal Party will make an effort to preselect more women into winnable seats.

A review of the party’s 2022 election loss found it performed “particularly poorly” with female voters, continuing a trend present since the 1996 election.

In other changes announced in the reshuffle, Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price has been elevated to shadow cabinet as the opposition’s new Indigenous Australians spokeswoman.

She takes over from Liberal Julian Leeser, who resigned so that he can campaign in favour of the Indigenous Voice.

Senator Price has sat in the Nationals party room since being elected last year. Her appointment brings the number of Nationals in shadow cabinet to seven, well above their quota within the Coalition with the Liberals.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said he put forward Senator Price to Mr Dutton for the role not due to her party affiliation, but because she was the best person for it.

The Nationals leader insists he didn’t give up anything during negotiations.

“It’s important that we got that balance right and we brought the lived experience,” he said.

“I’m not sitting here with my chest out, I’m proud of the diversity that our Nationals party room brings.”

Mr Dutton named Victorian senator James Paterson as Ms Andrews’ replacement in home affairs.

“There is no more sacred duty of government than to keep Australians safe and secure,” Senator Paterson said.

“Labor’s dismantling of the portfolio upon coming to government was a major mistake.

“In the dangerous and uncertain strategic environment we find ourselves in, we cannot afford confusion about which minister is responsible for our domestic national security settings.”

Michaelia Cash – described by Mr Dutton on Tuesday as a “dear friend” – will add attorney-general to her shadow portfolio. South Australian senator Kerrynne Liddle becomes the opposition’s spokeswoman for child protection and the prevention of family violence.

– with AAP

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.