Senator Mitch Fifield
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector
ABC Radio National
20 February 2009
EO & E
Subject: Appointment to Shadow Ministry
The Opposition’s new Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Senator Mitch Fifield has just spoken to Sabra Lane about his new job, and the Coalition’s [inaudible]
It’s a great honour to hold the Coalition’s brief on Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary sector. A mark of a compassionate society is how we care for those who are doing it tough or face particular challenges. And that’s the brief of this portfolio, helping those who need it, and assisting those who care for them. It is a big challenge. It is very important that we look after those who need the help, and I think we’ve seen the importance in particular of volunteers in a much clearer light in the wake of the bushfires in Victoria.
Senator it has been a particularly messy week for the Coalition. What words of advice to you have for your colleagues?
Some weeks are more elegant than others, but what all of us have to do and are determined to do is to focus on the Labor Party. The Labor Party have introduced a $42 billion spending spree and there is no guarantee that the spending spree will support jobs and will lead to the economic stimulus that the Labor Party contends that it will. We’ve got the important job to hold the Government to account and to make clear that good economic management is something that requires calm, sober judgement and we are certainly not seeing that with this Government.
As you mentioned, this hasn’t been a good week. Will your appointment appease those in your party that believe that conservative elements have been sidelined?
I don’t view my appointment in those terms. The Leader has the complete prerogative to determine who serves and how they serve and I am delighted to be given this opportunity.
You’re a close friend of Peter Costello, you used to work for him. Would it be in the best interests of the Liberal Party perhaps if he left politics as soon as possible?
I would never presume to give Peter Costello advice. He was elected at the last election. He has every right to serve his term as the Member for Higgins, and he is making a great contribution in that regard. And also, I’ve got to say, I am enjoying his columns in The Age newspaper holding the Government to account.
Sure, you say that he is making a great contribution to the party but there are some people who say that as long as he remains on the backbench he will always remain a leadership option for the party and potentially continue to fuel rumblings within the party.
I don’t think that is right. Peter indicated the day after the election that he wasn’t available for the leadership and he has confirmed that in two subsequent leadership ballots and that remains the case.