Transcript - Afternoon Briefing [13 October 2021]

13 October 2021

Subject/s: McKinnon Prize; domestic & family violence; political leadership

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Each year, the McKinnon Prize recognises political leaders who have successfully tackled vital issues of public policy, overcome adversity and achieved real change for the public good. But like most things over the past two years, which no doubt you've noticed, it's been delayed due to COVID-19. Now the winners have finally been announced. We know who they are now. We know that Greg Hunt has won the overall award for the Political Leader for 2020. Greg Hunt is the Health Minister. He's won it for his work, of course, on COVID-19 and the public health response that was coordinated last year. The other award has been awarded to Labor's Dr Anne Aly, who was awarded the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year. She joins me now. Welcome.

ANNE ALY: Thanks so much, Patricia.

KARVELAS: Well, congratulations. Firstly, and you know, just full disclosure, you and I had a cheeky chat about this yesterday, so we're all... I've already congratulated you a couple of times! Tell me, what does it mean to you to win this award of the Emerging Leader of the Year?

ALY: I have to admit that when I found out that I'd won the award, I was pretty shocked. To be honest, Patricia, I didn't know that I'd even been nominated for the award. It is, of course, an incredible honour to be recognised in that way, particularly if, you know... for me, at least, there are certain frustrations that I've felt over the last five years about not being able to make change. And when you have like a kind of a, a burning passion for change and you see so many challenges and, and obstacles in your way, to, to know that at least there is some change that's being made, even if you don't recognise it yourself, for me, that means a lot. It actually, it actually means for me that all of those doubts that I have in my mind, all of those frustrations that I, I feel, that actually change is being made.

KARVELAS: And you have been recognised for advocating to reduce violence against women and children, and also another issue, exposing extremist groups to, to greater government scrutiny. They're really very two challenging spaces. Tell me how you've approached those issues and how you've tried to put the spotlight on them at a time where there's so much noise, particularly last year was such a noisy year over, over COVID and dealing with this pandemic, they're both really important issues. How did you approach that?

ALY: You know what, Patricia? I think it's because one issue, the issue of violence against women and children and domestic violence, is personally so important to me because of my own experiences as a survivor. And the other issue, the issue around raising awareness of different forms of violent extremism and, and looking at how we deal with violent extremism in our policy and legislative response, has been my professional career for more than a decade. And I think that's the key there is that, you know, I bring a professional expertise and appreciation and understanding of one area, but another kind of understanding and awareness and appreciation of another area because it's so personally important to me. And I think that, you know, cutting through all that noise, you're right, is a big challenge. But even with all of that noise, I think we still have to realise that there are issues that were around before COVID and will continue after COVID. And we must never lose sight of the fact that our jobs as parliamentarians is to continue to strive for a better Australia - through times of crisis, but through other times as well.

KARVELAS: I want to talk about what you just mentioned, being a survivor of domestic and family violence. It is obviously very brave, which many people have said before me, to talk about that experience, and we thank you for talking about it because it's not easy to talk about. But how important is it to make yourself vulnerable like that on the public stage like you have, to try and make that connection, and also demonstrate that our ideas about family violence are perhaps not as we imagine, that it affects actually all of our lives?

ALY: It's interesting that you raise that because I actually didn't talk about it for a very long time. For a very long time, nobody knew about it. It wasn't something that I'd spoken about, and it was almost kind of out of being in a position where I was on a panel and I had to speak about something for International Women's Day. And I looked at the audience and they were all professional women and I thought, I should, I should, I should speak now. And after I shared my experience, I had so many women in that audience who were teachers and doctors and lawyers and accountants come to me and say, "same thing happened to me". And for me, it was about getting over that shame that I had held, and still hold, the shame and the humiliation of it. I think it... that's, that's being able to get over that by sharing my story. And I can't tell you how many women, since I've spoken publicly about my story, have come to me, for advice, for strength, to share their story as well. And to... and to kind of have that connection that we have through a shared experience. And I think it's strengthened them, but it's also strengthened me in being able to tell my story, and to advocate more strongly on, on dealing with this scourge of domestic violence, domestic and family violence towards women.

KARVELAS: Just finally, Dr Aly, before I say goodbye, what does good political leadership look like in a sort of post- - if we can call it post-? I want to call it post- - pandemic world?

ALY: Mmm, I think it looks very much as the same as it... was, or should have, in a pre-pandemic world, Patricia. I think, you know, political leadership is... if you look at what people want their political leaders to be and the values that they want their political leaders to have. And I remember when I agreed to run for Cowan, I actually did some research in this because I questioned whether or not I was a good political leader. I was like, Can I do this? What's a political leader? What do people want in a political leader? And if you look at that, it's things like integrity, vision, courage. I think those things came to the fore during a pandemic, during times of crisis, where people really shifted their gaze and their attention to their political leaders and look to their political leaders for, for guidance. But I'm sure and I know that that is what they wanted before the pandemic as well, and they will want after the pandemic as well. So for me, political leadership is always about standing up for your values; standing up for something that's... that's right, which is not always what's popular, but what's right; being able to listen and be in touch with the people that you represent; and being sincere in your approach to what you do every day.

KARVELAS: Well, congratulations again. And you're regularly on this show anyway, so I really appreciate your time.

ALY: Thank you so much, Patricia. It's great to talk to you.

KARVELAS: That's Labor MP Dr Anne Aly, who has been awarded the McKinnon Prize for Emerging Political Leader 2020.