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Lib preselection frontrunner ridicules ‘niche culture wars’

A Liberal Party member widely touted to be the frontrunner for preselection if a by-election is called in former Premier Steven Marshall’s seat has criticised a focus on “niche culture war issues”, and says women voters are being let down by policies from both major parties.

May 02, 2023, updated May 02, 2023
Image: Tom Aldahn/InDaily

Image: Tom Aldahn/InDaily

In an opinion piece published in InDaily today, Liberal member Anna Finizio wrote that policy motions passed at a Liberal Women’s Council policy forum last month “seemed to have little to do with empowering women”.

Finizio, who did not attend the April 15 policy forum meeting, said the motions were “economically daft” and “do not solve the real and big problems we face”.

She took particular aim at a motion calling for tax reform “in order to allow for income tax to be split between the parents in single income families”, as well as a motion calling for a review into the teaching of “adult related themes and content including gender ideology” in schools.

“Connecting with women is a significant task for all political parties. The reality is most women don’t have time for niche culture war issues,” Finizio wrote.

“Until bodies such as the Liberal Women’s Council start speaking about issues that impact all women, like the gender pay gap and women in leadership (including gender parity in its own parliamentary party), instead of niche culture war issues, it will continue to fail to attract a diverse membership that can help the party win elections.”

Finizio also criticised the Malinauskas Government for funding “a weekend of all-male golf backed by that world-renowned bastion of gender equality, Saudi Arabia”.

“The average Australian voter is a 37-year-old woman, a woman my age, yet we are failing to see policies that speak to us. And not just from the Liberal Party,” she wrote.

The Women’s Council president, Leah Blyth, previously told InDaily that the motions passed at the policy forum were “all consistent with the party values”.

She added that “even those who are on the left of the party were absolutely in support”.

“I think we’re a centre-right party so you would expect there to be a sort of conservative approach and a sensible approach to the proposals that are happening,” Blyth said earlier this month.

Finizio ran as the Liberal candidate for Hindmarsh at last year’s federal election, losing to incumbent and now Health Minister Mark Butler.

She previously worked in the legal sector and as a Liberal staffer under the former Marshall Government, and is the South Australian representative for the Hilma’s Network – a national initiative to increase women members in the party.

Several party sources have told InDaily that Finizio, who now works at PwC, is the frontrunner for preselection in Dunstan if former Premier Steven Marshall decides to step down.

Finizio told InDaily she would “consider opportunities as they arise” and praised Marshall for being an “excellent local member” of the eastern suburbs seat which takes in suburbs including Norwood, Kensington, St Peters and Marden.

Labor’s candidate for Dunstan at the 2022 state election, Cressida O’Hanlon, told InDaily last month that she intended to put her hand up again if a by-election was called.

“I’d certainly put myself forward for it,” she said.

InDaily understands the Greens have already been campaigning hard in Dunstan, buoyed by a five per cent swing at the 2022 state election.

But Opposition leader David Speirs told InDaily he would be surprised if a by-election was called in Dunstan.

“There’s a lot of speculation about potential by-elections, but there has been for a long time,” he said last month.

“That speculation has come to naught to date and Steven is working away there as the local member.

“He’s told me he’s continuing in the job. He’s said he’ll serve the full four-year term and I’ve got to take him at his word on that.”

Speirs added that if a by-election were called in Dunstan, he would “definitely expect a woman to have a significant chance at succeeding him (Marshall) as the Liberal candidate”.

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