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Hickey: “I’m bloody glad I’m out of it”

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Outgoing Liberal Sue Hickey said she doesn’t hate the Tasmanian Liberal Party but confessed that powers with the organisation had been against her right from the beginning.

Yesterday, current Speaker of the House of Assembly Sue Hickey sensationally announced the Liberal Party would not endorse her for re-election at the next state poll.

Today she spoke to media in front of Parliament House about her time in the Liberal Party.

Sue Hickey

There are 74000 people in Clark that matter to me, and I’m hoping that as of today, they will see me back as the independent fighter with independent thought.

Journalist

Are you leaving the party today?

Sue Hickey

Not today, I’ve got to put some paperwork in and do a few things. It’s not like I hate them. But I’m free.

Journalist

Are you thinking to continue on as Speaker for the rest of this term?

Sue Hickey

Well, at the moment I think, if that’s the Premier’s desire, I would love to stay on as Speaker. I think I’ve proven to everybody that you know, I’m a fair and well functioning Speaker. But that’s at the discretion of the Premier, he now has the numbers to remove me technically, but it is at the will of the House. So hopefully, we can get through to the next election.

Journalist

What do you think it was ultimately landed you here?

Sue Hickey

I think it’s a long time coming. I think there must be an election fairly soon. And they’ve decided they need some clear oxygen, and getting rid of the elephant in the room is probably the way to go.

Journalist

Do you concede that you know, being a bit independent inside the party, do you concede that that’s probably a good enough reason for why they probably didn’t want to have you in the party any more?

Sue Hickey

Look, there’s no question about it. You know, I’ve had some powerful enemies in the party. And there just isn’t the capacity in a party for individual thought. It’s a very groupthink mentality. And I’m not always confident that’s the right thing to do. You know, I had to wake up every morning and say, ‘can I live with it? Can I look into the future and say, I made the right decision?’ Because there’s been lots of things that have happened on my watch that I’ve thought should have and could have been done better.

Journalist

Is the far right, evangelical side of the party running the show?

Sue Hickey

They have a very, very loud voice.

Journalist

Can you explain why this conversation is being had now?

Sue Hickey

Well, I think, you know, Blind Freddy can see we’re going into an election. And I just think it was a matter of…I had been told quite clearly that I wouldn’t be pre-selected, the branches would be stacked, the pre-selection would be stacked rather. And, you know, I knew that was of great concern. And I’m not a person who believes in stacking. And I’m also a person that believes that you should be measured on your credentials, and I do believe I’m more than highly qualified.

Journalist

So what’s your relationship like with the Premier right now?

Sue Hickey

You know, the Premier did what he had to do. And probably if I was in his situation, I would have done the same. So there’s no bad blood from that point of view. I hope a couple of people probably review their consciences. But you know, it is what it is, and no regrets. Nothing could be done, or undone. So it’s exactly where we are. But I am now free to express and to call out poor behaviour.

Journalist

When do you think the election will be?

Sue Hickey

Well, I’d say it’s very soon. I’m not certain. And I hope that I’m going to be prepared in time, but obviously, the power’s that be do know.

Journalist

What are your chances in Clark?

Sue Hickey

Who knows, it’s one of those things. There’s a lot of independents now running. And I hope we get more independents around the state because I think people are seeing across Australia and across the world, the weaknesses of having two dominant parties, I think what we need is a lot more creative thinking and, and really testing of ideas. And we need to change culture. So when you look overseas, you will see a lot of part, governments work with minority parties or with independents. And I think people of good, solid conviction really struggle in a party environment. It’s just too hard to sit there. I mean, I’ve watched people every day stand up and give a speech on stuff, you know they don’t agree with it and they don’t believe it but someone wrote it for them. And they are compelled to say it.

Tasmanian Times

It sounds like a decision was made to get rid of you at some stage. When do you think that was made? And, importantly, who made it?

Sue Hickey

Well, I don’t know who made it. You might have to do a bit more digging. But I’m certainly aware that the stacking of the branch was confirmed a couple of months ago. I was sort of hoping that common sense would prevail. But as I say, as this turned out, I actually feel liberated and free and I can be me.

Journalist

You said yesterday that you didn’t think the party could handle a strong woman. What kind of a reflection is that on the other women who are remaining as Liberals?

Sue Hickey

Well, you know, they have to account for themselves just as I do. But you know, I believe that I proved to the community that I would stand up when I thought something was wrong, I would call it out. And in the early days, as you know, I was quite loud, you know, I would go out and, and point out, I think I’m probably one of the few Liberals have actually gone inside some of these social housing areas, and really looked at what the problems are. There hasn’t been one agenda to either Premier that has not had housing at the top of the list for discussion. I’m also passionate about getting more nurses, getting people to want to be nurses, to get people connected to jobs, getting youth into jobs, to give people a second chance at education like night school to improve their outcomes. Mental health is in a crisis state in this state. There isn’t anybody here who wouldn’t know somebody who’s affected very badly by a mental health situation or is not suffering themselves. So we need more resources to go there.

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Journalist

Are Elise Archer and Sarah Courtney not strong women?

Sue Hickey

Oh, they’re very strong, very strong.

Journalist

Premier Gutwein said that, you know, it’s not his decision to pre-select, it’s the party’s. Did you give any consideration to just running for pre-selection anyway, just to make a point?

Sue Hickey

Well, I thought I better make the point that I was ready to stand for pre-selection and test the water. As I say, it was kind of like lancing the boil. It’s been lanced.

Journalist

How will you vote on government legislation from now on?

Sue Hickey

Well, it depends on the legislation, like I think you’ve seen my history as Speaker has been very much about the traditional role of Speaker and a traditional Speaker only has a casting vote. So when it comes down to legislation, that you’ve had all the recommendations, this is wrong, it’s not going to work, it’s going to have perverse outcomes, then, you know, I have to live with myself. I had to make decisions that I knew the party would not be happy with. But I had all the facts and figures, and I believed I was doing the right thing.

Journalist

You were a Liberal independent now you’re an independent independent, are you less likely to vote in flavor of government legislation now where you have a casting vote?

Sue Hickey

Look, I’m not trying to play games with you here. I really just don’t know till I see what legislation comes before me. I’d be very surprised because if they put anything too controversial in front of me.

Journalist

It’s on merit now rather than as a Liberal.

Sue Hickey

Yes, it’s definitely on merit. And I think now I’m, I’m out and I’m free to cover the blues, the reds, the greens and the in betweens, whatever shade you are. I am going to be a crusader for Clark, just as I always have been, but I’ll be free to be more vocal.

Journalist

Do you regret running for the Liberals in the first place?

Sue Hickey

Oh, look, it’s been a very difficult road. People did say to me at the beginning, you know, ‘how are you ever going to be, you know, put up with being told what to do?’ Stuff like that. And I honestly thought I could make change from within. But it just isn’t possible.

Journalist

To what extent you accept that you brought this on yourself by, you know, crossing the floor a number of times criticising the government, obviously, right from the start when you took the Speakership you crossed the floor in order to do so. You’ve been a thorn in their side, surely it’s not surprising, and you’ve got what you deserved.

Sue Hickey

That’s probably true. I guess that’s what you’d call destiny. I don’t have any regrets. I think history will show that Rene Hidding was taking the Speakership off Mark Shelton, I then took it off Rene…you’d think I’d murdered somebody. I’ve suffered for three years, I’ve done my penance. And unfortunately, the good Christian souls in our party just are not capable of forgiveness, or recognising that I could be rehabilitated and useful.

Journalist

What’s your message for Liberal members that maybe aren’t in the Christian side of this party or evangelicals? What’s your message to them?

Sue Hickey

Well, let’s be very clear. There’s probably 50% of the population that are Liberal leaning. But the actual party that controls the destiny of people running for Clark is about 300 people with 54, last check, not paid up. So they’re not necessarily representative of the average person out there that would identify as a Liberal with liberal leanings.

Journalist

That was my question. What do you give as a message to those that maybe are in the party that don’t control the destiny but are members who pay up and do all the tasks? What’s your message to them? Should they continue to fight on?

Sue Hickey

Oh look, that’s up to them. I mean, there’s a certain ideology that goes with whether you’re Labor or Liberal or Green, and obviously, if you identify with it, and you want to be part of the groupthink, and you’re not prepared to challenge things, that’s where you belong.

Journalist

You’ve used the term stacking a couple of times. Are you saying there actually has been stacking or –

Sue Hickey

Categorically going to be stacked. So you usually go in…I felt like the pre-selection was stacked. But common sense prevailed. And, you know, this is just a realistic factor of all political parties around the country.

Journalist

Can you explain did the Premier initiate that conversation with you yesterday, or did you initiate it?

Sue Hickey

No, I had a conversation with him last week and said that I’d be putting out a press release saying that I was putting myself forward for pre-selection. So I guess I was testing the water. He didn’t have a problem with that. But then clearly, when yesterday he called around and, and obviously, the numbers are against me, so I don’t belong to that tribe. And it’s extremely liberating.

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Journalist

Take us through the call. Was it a civil conversation? How did it go down yesterday?

Sue Hickey

Well, I was making him a coffee, the coffee was sort of just about coming over the top of the coffee cup, and he says, ‘oh, by the way, you’re not going to be pre-selected.’ That’s it. So it was very interesting. But I’ve never been sacked from anything. And so it’s my first time. And I think I’ve been sacked on merit, and I’m really, really proud of what I’ve done. I’ve been a thorn in their side. And I’m hoping that they will do better.

Journalist

Have you had contact from the other parties and the independents?

Sue Hickey

I’ve had lots of people, it’s really been quite surprising and comforting too that a lot of people in that Parliament took time yesterday to ask ‘are you okay?’. And a lot of independents, and a lot of people have shown kindness wanting to support it than me running as an independent, etc. But yes, people from all walks of life, and particularly from different political parties were concerned.

Journalist

Have you had any contact from any Liberal MPs expressly?

Sue Hickey

One.

Journalist

Which one?

Sue Hickey

I’m not going to tell you. The kindest one.

Journalist

In terms of that conversation, is it disappointing that, you know, even though this is a decision that’s made, but not other Liberals who you’ve worked with in campaigns haven’t shown you any time?

Sue Hickey

I think it says everything doesn’t? I mean, you know, like, the people you’ve worked with for four years, you know, can’t even check on you. That is exactly the nut of the problem.

Journalist

Do you think the Liberals will win the next election?

Sue Hickey

I’m pretty confident they will.

Journalist

And if it was a minority again, would you automatically give confidence and supply again? Or will again, in a hung parliament, will you be shopping the field if you’re elected again?

Sue Hickey

No, I think if you’ve got the balance of power, you can negotiate better outcomes on all legislation, which is really important. But the fact of the matter is, I think somebody has to be in control. So if that was my luxury, and I ended up holding the balance of power, I would certainly guarantee confidence and supply to the government who had the majority numbers. The wishes of the people in other words.

Journalist

In terms of governance and supply, can you clarify that? I mean, obviously, if there’s major corruption, you’d have to reconsider wouldn’t you?

Sue Hickey

Oh, absolutely. 100%. If I saw something that was, I believe, was corrupt, rather than something that was incompetent, I would call it out, I’d be out there on the front foot. And I’ve got a history of that, I did it in local government. So I’m not afraid of being the one that names it up if it’s something that’s really against the will of the people.

Journalist

So it’s not unconditional support?

Sue Hickey

It’s about good governance. I want the people of Tasmania to be confident that the government has the control, is doing the right thing, etc, etc. There’s still going to be more conversations. But confidence and supply, I think, is important because people don’t want to be rushing to unnecessary elections.

Journalist

You’re still going to have a critical vote in the Parliament, is that something you can use to further your agenda?

Sue Hickey

I’m not certain we’re going to get a lot of time. It really depends. As you know the Parliament doesn’t sit that often, which is something I’ve also had an issue with. But that’s the will of the governing bodies. And so I’m just going to take every piece of legislation on its merits.

Journalist

Why are you so sure there’s an election coming?

Sue Hickey

I think, you know, basically Journalists are talking about it, the winds through the walls, and parliament are all talking about, you can see people moving, you know people are going out to get billboards and things like that. I don’t think this would have been moved on me so quickly if there wasn’t an election in the air.

Journalist

You said the boil has been lanced and now you’re free. But you did run for a party the first time around, is it not a little bit hypocritical seeing as you did get into parliament with a party?

Sue Hickey

Well, I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought, you know, I have liberal values. And I thought I could contribute to government in a really meaningful way. But you get in there, and you find that there are forces that work against you. And there’s nothing you can do. All parties have a centre of perhaps jealousy and control and ego and all of these things, and that’s what you’re dealing with.

Journalist

So was that a long learning period of many years. Was there one particular incident that stood out?

Sue Hickey

Oh, there were quite a few. But you know, you try. I I’ve tried to be the best I could be. I tried not to wallow in misery. And I’ve always tried to make every day count. So that’s my record. That’s what I’ve done. And I think any person who’s followed my career and trajectory will know that I care deeply about every single constituent of Clark. And I care deeply about changing this world to make it a better place for all of us. I want prisons to do more rehabilitation, I want better educational outcomes. It’s just simply unacceptable that we have nearly 50% of Tasmanians functionally illiterate. And I see them every day come through my office.

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Journalist

What discussions have you had with members of Parliament or parties about retaining the Speakership?

Sue Hickey

None. It’s the will of the Premier at the moment. I always knew it was a temporary seat. And I’ve done the best I could with it. I hope everyone I found me to be a respectful Speaker. Fair, firm. But other than that, it’s really basically just the sort of like the chair of the board in a meeting.

Tasmanian Times

You’ve talked a bit about the Liberal Party. What’s the experience like generally for women in Tasmanian politics?

Sue Hickey

Look, I think the whole world’s waking up to this new dawn, that we have to stop bullying at all levels. And politics does a lot of bullying. And it’s not just the men. Women can be very nasty beasts. And I think we have to stamp it out and say, we must have a safe workplace. We must have people who can come to this parliament, and every parliament, and be able to make a contribution without fear of being demoted, demeaned, given a hard time, sent to Coventry, all of these things. We should be respectful, and it should be a more diverse parliament. So I’d love to see Parliament not only have the women that we’ve got, because we’ve got more women than men. But I want a mixture of people representing the different facets of our community.

Journalist

You spoke about women there, you said women can be nasty beasts as well. Is it your experience in the Liberal Party, that the vitriol from them, after your decisions, that was just as bad as the men?

Sue Hickey

Look, there’s no question about it. You know, when you’re left off a brochure in spite it does make you question things best, but I don’t want to go there. I’m happy I’m out of it. I’m bloody happy I’m out of it.

Journalist

Is there a culture of bullying in Parliament?

Sue Hickey

There’s a culture of bullying in every facet of Parliament. You have to be a tough character and be able to get up every day and say, ‘I’d better get back in there for more.’ That’s the truth of it. And I think there is a new mood for change. There are people calling it out. And we have to be the change.

Journalist

Any regrets?

Sue Hickey

None. I can’t undo anything that’s done. I’m really looking forward to the future. And I want a big, bold, brave, accountable government for us all.

Journalist

It’s been a whirlwind three years, but do you concede your card was marked the day you took the Speakership that this was going to come to this situation?

Sue Hickey

Are you a tarot reader? Someone sent me a little emoji the other day of a deck of cards going out and then popped out one with my face on it. I don’t know whether my card was marked. Certainly my my early experience wasn’t good. Right from the moment I was pre-selected. I felt my campaign was stifled. My entry into parliament was, you know, always under some risk and cloud. It was just a horrible, horrible time.

Journalist

You talked before about good governance, and that will be when you’re on the cross-bench a big thing. Do you think the Premier and this government has provided good governance?

Sue Hickey

I think the leadership the Premier has shown since the COVID outbreak, I mean, he came in in a very, very difficult period of time. And there’s definitely more confidence in Tasmania than in many other states. I think we have to give him credit for the way he took us through that.

Journalist

Will you continue having, like, after politics is long gone, could you continue having a friendship with the Premier?

Sue Hickey

I can be friendly with anyone. It doesn’t matter what the debate is, even like the VAD bill, I support someone having a different opinion. And I support them having a voice to express that opinion, just as I expect to be able to voice my opinion.

Journalist

But obviously, the Premier’s come around and said you’re out of the party. Is that is that going to be a deep scar? Or will you be able to move on from it?

Sue Hickey

No scars. Boil gone. New day.

Journalist

And just to clarify from now, do you see yourself as independent from this moment?

Sue Hickey

Well, I guess I’ve probably been functioning as an independent for a very long time.

Journalist

But in a formal sense?

Sue Hickey

Oh, yes. I’m definitely independent. And happy to be so.

Journalist

Will you be having discussions about the Speakership this week before you get into parliament, about what your odds are in keeping it?

Sue Hickey

It’s up to the people in the Parliament to decide whether or not I’m Speaker. Any one of them can move to have me removed and it’s always been that insecure a job. I’ve never held on to it like really tight leash. I’ve never expected to stay there. I’ve been very grateful for my time in the Speakership chair, and I don’t think I’ve done a better job. Kept you guys interested. Anyway, thank you so much. Look forward to seeing you again in the future.

Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2021/03/hickey-im-bloody-glad-im-out-of-it/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hickey-im-bloody-glad-im-out-of-it

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