Interview with David Lipson, ABC Local Radio
27 November 2022
DAVID LIPSON: Well Jane Hume is the federal Shadow Finance Minister and Liberal Senator from Victoria, and she joins me now. Jane Hume, thanks for your time. What went wrong?
JANE HUME: Well, this is obviously it's not the result that we were hoping for David. There will certainly be a lot of work done now to establish exactly why the party's candidates and why the party's message didn't resonate with enough Victorians to pick up the seats that we were hoping to pick up. But it's not all bad news. There are some green shoots. We won back in Napean with Sam Groth. He was a very strong candidate, he worked very hard and that was an 8% swing towards him. Based on this morning's numbers, we think we've held on to Kew with Jess Wilson. She didn't have the benefit of incumbency, obviously, but she retained that seat after a very very tough fight against a Teal, a very well financed Teal too. And in our National party did a great job in the regions. It looks like Jade Benham will win Mildura. She was running against a very popular independent incumbent, and Kim O'Keeff looks like she may well have won Shepparton with a strong swing towards her. And as of this morning, just around the corner from me today, John Pesutto, it looks like he's still ahead in Hawthorn, only by around 300 votes or so. That's a very very tight race, but against an incumbent ALP member and obviously we had a very strong Teal candidate there but John is ahead. Which to me, I think just demonstrates that you know, like with Jess Wilson in Kew, that the Liberals can still be competitive and can win those traditional eastern seats, when there's the right candidate, and when there's the right message. Now, chances are we were sent that message in 2018. You know, four years on John Pesutto clearly has listened, he’s contested again and he's worked extraordinarily hard. He's an amazing advocate and representative in his community and he’s taken those losses very seriously.
DAVID LIPSON: Do you think he should be the new leader?
JANE HUME: Oh, well look that is a decision for the State team, obviously Matthew Guy remains leader. He certainly hasn't stepped away from that. He made that pretty clear in his concession speech last night, that there is a lot of soul searching that he'll have to do and that the Victorian State team will have to do as well but it's up to them to choose their leader.
DAVID LIPSON: That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for Matthew Guy either.
JANE HUME: Well, look, Matthew has taken us to two elections. I personally like Matthew very much. I think he is Liberal to his veins. He joined the party at 16. He has an amazing work ethic and he's an extremely articulate, articulate speaker and I think that the policy development in this election was exceptionally good too. Unfortunately, it just didn't seem to be resonating. So there is a lot of work that needs to be done to analyse exactly what it was that went wrong for us in this election.
DAVID LIPSON: Did the Liberals underestimate Daniel Andrews by putting a lot of your emphasis on him?
JANE HUME: Well, actually, the response to Daniel Andrews was an interesting one. I'm sure lots of people have said it before. He's a very polarizing character. People will either love him or hate him. In fact, some of the responses we were getting on the booths in the last couple of weeks, was quite visceral. But he is a strong leader. There is no doubt about it. And I think that that became very clear in this election campaign. I think Matthew Guy said it very well last night when he said this term of government we would hope that Dan Andrews will heed the message of Victorians to focus more on uniting Victorians rather than dividing them and and bring a very different attitude and different approach to government because it has been a very heavy handed approach to governing here in Victoria. We went through the longest lockdowns, we have a health system in crisis. We have state debt that's larger than New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania combined. And that's really on Dan Andrews, who was the health minister in particular, he was either health minister or Premier for something like nine of the last 11 years. We need to make sure that those issues are addressed here. And that Dan Andrews, he committed last night to governing for all Victorians, not just sectional interests, not just the people that voted for him. And yet in that concession speech, he didn't even acknowledge messy guy which I thought was rather than gracious.
DAVID LIPSON: The Liberals preference the Greens ahead of Labor, which is ultimately pushed the Victorian Parliament further to the left. Was that a mistake?
JANE HUME: Well I think it is very cynical of Labor to bleat about the Liberals preferencing the Greens, when they have always preferenced the Greens over the Liberals in every single election. In fact, without the Greens-
DAVID LIPSON: But they’re a little more closely aligned than the Liberals?
JANE HUME: But without the Greens preferences, Labor would never have got across the line in so many seats. I mean if this was first past the post, this would be a very different election result. So I mean, I think that is quite a cynical ploy of Labor to try to bleat about that now.
DAVID LIPSON: So you don’t see any problem with that preferencing arrangement?
JANE HUME: Well look, it wasn’t my decision and obviously it’s done for tactical reasons. I know that there was a lot of party members that weren’t particularly comfortable about it, but our responsibility here is to win elections. And that was a decision made by the leadership.
DAVID LIPSON: What about the issue of women? Is that a factor in this result, and should there now be quotas put in place to get more women into the Liberal Party as candidates?
JANE HUME: There is a couple of different issues that you raise when we talk about women and the Liberal Party. One of course is representation within the party. It’s really important we have more women within our ranks, because we want to better reflect the communities that we represent. That’s very important. The other reason of course, to have more women in the ranks, is when you have more voices around a decision making table you get better decisions. You know, that’s what’s known as the wisdom of crows. So you know, there is a compelling business case to have more women in the Parliament.
DAVID LIPSON: So how should they do it?
JANE HUME: The other issue that is important with women, is where the votes come from. And there is no doubt, absolutely no doubt, that fewer women are voting for the Liberal Party than they used to. Particularly in that cohort of professional women, and that is something that we have seen on a Federal level and a State level. And it is something that we need to address, there is no doubt about it. Now, I think that quotas as an answer to both of those problems is a very blunt instrument indeed. We actually had more women running at this election in winnable seats than we have ever had before, and I think that is very encouraging. Unfortunately though, when you don’t have the election result you’re looking for, that’s very hard to get that renewal in your ranks. But we do have fantastic women like Jess Wilson now, who has, hopefully, come into the Parliament. I was really sad though to see somebody of the calibre of Nicole Werner in Box Hill miss out. She was an exceptional candidate, Malaysian Chinese, an incredible backstory with migrant parents. It would have been incredible to see her get across the line. I don’t think that’s gender playing out, that’s other issues, and they’re the ones we really need to address.
DAVID LIPSON: Federal Shadow Finance Minister, Senator Jane Hume. Thank you for your time, appreciate it.
JANE HUME: Great to be with you David.