Anne Warner

Interviewed by
Robin Sullivan
Sep 06 2010
Anne Warner
Time Summary Keywords
00:00:11 Anne Warner describes her early childhood. She was born in India in 1945 of mixed Indian and British parentage. At a young age the  family moved to England, partly because her father was ill. Anne Warner's father died when she was six and mother remained a single parent. These early years in England were difficult for Anne Warner and her mother - she describes them as an impoverished childhood. This experience gave her an accute awareness of poverty and making ends meet.
00:03:13 Anne Warner notes that her family received the benefits of the English welfare state policies, with services such as education, milk, vitamins and medicine. She was brought up Catholic and went to Catholic schools until she was eighteen. She suggests that these experiences growing up in England developed her sense of right and wrong.
00:04:32 Anne Warner moved to Australia with her husband and three children in 1975 and immediately became involved with Queensland state politics. After moving from England, they were unaware of the power of the Queensland state government and political structure. They had a sense of outrage and indignation with having to put up with things that appeared to them quite backwards.
00:05:45 Anne Warner talks about the evoloution of her left wing views in the 1960s up until when she joined the British Labour Party in 1970. She was a member of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and throughout this period was engaged politically. Betwen 1970 and 1975 she had a period focused on her children.
00:07:03 Anne Warner discusses becoming politically active when she arrived in Brisbane and joined the Queensland Labor Party. She recalls that in 1976, one year after the Gough Whitlam dismissal, she was instrumental in organising a commemorative protest event at King Georges Square. She notes that Bill Hayden spoke at the event, and in attendance were Donald Horne and Frank Hardy. She comments on the divide in politics at the time - there was either left or right. This polarisation made it easy to take a position. Bill Hayden, Whitlam Government 1972-75
00:09:42 Anne Warner notes her years at university where she increased her political involvement and became secretary of the Student Union. Following this she stood for the seat of Kurilpa. Anne Warner discusses the issues related to preselection at the time, such as the setting up of an electorial council. The Labor Party was prominent in Kurilpa in the lead up to the election. Anne Warner was part of a group that formed the Socialist Left faction that reasserted the importance of ideological issues into party debate. This was in contrast to the pragmatic politics of state branch President Denis Murphy. Denis Murphy, factions, Kurilpa, student unionism
00:12:22 Anne Warner states that for her early career, the right to march issue posed challenges to organising political meetings to discuss party issues. She says Joe Harris was instrumental in getting the unions involved with a left wing grouping that was pro-reform. Although there was much reform within the party, they did not feel they had a realistic chance of winning the seat of Kurilpa. Joe Harris, Kurilpa, unions
00:14:10 Anne Warner recalls hersef, Tim Quinn, Diane Fingleton and Cath Rafferty discussing who should run for preselection for the seat of Kurilpa. All were very conscious of the reasons they shouldn't run for the seat. Anne Warner was selected to run for the seat of Kurilpa. Cath Rafferty, Di Fingleton, Kurilpa, Tim Quinn
00:15:35 Anne Warner discusses how they ran the campaign for Kurilpa, calling meetings with various groups in the area from the unemployed to those living in boarding houses. As an openly left and female candidate, numerous people, of left political persuasion, from around Brisbane came and worked on the campaign. She won Kurilpa with a swing of four percent. 1983 election, campaign strategy, Di Fingleton, Kurilpa, West End
00:17:30 Anne Warner talks about the redistribution of the seats of Kurilpa and South Brisbane for the 1986 election. She describes the National Party as playing a role in this redistribution, that placed two marginalised Labor candidates, herself and Demetrios (Jim) Fouras, in competition. This was a difficult campaign but she won. Jim Fouras, South Brisbane
00:19:08 Anne Warner discusses the issues that she focused on when she was a backbencher in Opposition: social justice, civil liberties, women's issues and the SEQEB (South East Queensland Electricity Board) dispute. She goes on to note the social justice issues related to the Boggo Road Gaol. This included one incident of fire where she witnessed an inmate brutalised, which she then reported to parliament. Anne Warner also notes that at the time she was less involved in the abortion issue. abortion, Boggo Road Gaol, SEQEB dispute, social justice
00:23:25 Anne Warner recalls the SEQEB dispute. She notes the number of people that were involved with the political activity surrounding this issue. She was arrested three times during the SEQEB dispute. This included one incident at Cleveland which she describes as unlawful arrest. This was a bitter process because they lost and the trade union movement lost. She believed it created a watershed that contributed to the restructure in the Labor Party and the election of Wayne Goss. SEQEB dispute, unions, Wayne Goss
00:28:41 Anne Warner recalls that in the late 1980s the member for Ipswich West, David Underwood, decided not to run in next election and Anne Warner became a shadow spokesperson as his replacement in the areas of Prisons and Administration Services. prisons
00:29:15 Anne Warner notes that she did not change her behaviour when she assumed the role of shadow spokesperson. Although she received more media attention she did not think she became media savvy. At this time she describes the quick movement of politics, particularly as a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry. She notes that as a shadow spokesperson there was little information apart from leaks. However, she did have a good working relationship with people in the Family Services Department. She describes having a good relationship with Alex Lobban the Director General of Prisons when she was Shadow Minister for Prisons. Corrective Services, Family Services, media, prisons
00:32:54 Anne Warner details how she received her ministry in Family Services, Aboriginal and Ethnic Affairs in the Goss Government. Largely, she suggests, it was given to her at the decision of Goss and Kevin Rudd. She describes how these large policy areas were aggregated under this administration. Anne Warner admits that this was a bit of a strain to have such a large department, and that the rationale for its size appeared primarily as a department for the neglected. Family Services, Kevin Rudd, Wayne Goss
00:34:57 Anne Warner describes the underpinning issue of social justice as an important theme that held the department together and gave her purpose. She states Aboriginal affairs was a significant issue, not only for policy makers but for Australian identity. She says she took a sense of achievement from opening women's refuges and childcare centres in remote areas. She was also proud of the juvenile justice legislation that was passed. Aboriginal Affairs, juvenile justice, social justice, women's refuges
00:39:09 Anne Warner considers the issues of child protection and domestic violence. She notes that the domestic violence agenda was not pursued as much as they would have hoped, but sexual assault services with the help of Minister Kenneth McElligott moved to the Health department. child protection, domestic violence, Indigenous issues, Kenneth McElligott, sexual assault
00:43:33 Anne Warner discusses the budgetary constraints placed on her portfolio throughout the Goss period. Although there were significant increases in funding for human services, she notes that in comparison to other Australian states Queensland funding was relatively low. child protection
00:47:10 Anne Warner notes that there was an amicable relationship with the commonwealth government throughout her time as a minister. She describes her relationship with people such as Brian Howe the federal Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services, and the funding deal between the state and commonwealth for disability funding and how the Queensland Treasury was sceptical about the scheme. Brian Howe, disability services
00:48:18 Anne Warner discusses her relationship with Gerry Hand, when he was federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. She recalls finding a list of former Minister Bob Katter's 'advisors'. She discusses working with Director General Ruth Matchett. Bob Katter, Gerry Hand, Ruth Matchett
00:51:07 Anne Warner discusses her relationship with local government during her time as minister. She notes that local government were reticent about moving into the area of human services with the exception of the Townsville City Council. human services, local government, Townsville City Council
00:54:13 Anne Warner describes the process by which the Director General Ruth Matchett was appointed. Anne Warner notes how Ruth Matchett had distinguished herself within the department with reports such as Beyond these walls. Anne Warner details her relationship with Ruth Matchett and notes the context of their working relationship in the post Fizgerald Inquiry era, so that processes were set up and adhered to. She notes that Ruth Matchett was very good at setting up these processes. Beyond these walls (1988), Ruth Matchett
00:58:15 Anne Warner recalls an example of her direct intervention in child protection. child protection
01:02:50 Anne Warner discusses the role of the Office of Cabinet and her relationship with them. She notes the centralisation of government in the period of the Goss Government where all decisions had to go through the cabinet office. To her, this system delayed the process of policy making. Anne Warner reflects that despite this there were many reforms completed over this period, such as the juvenile justice legislation. Cabinet Office, juvenile justice
01:06:43 Anne Warner jokes about Wayne Goss. She comments on the idea of a foodbank. foodbank, Wayne Goss
01:08:15 Anne Warner describes her relationship with the media and its response to the human services policies implemented. She provides an example of the changes to adoption legislation and the fallout from privacy groups. More generally, she notes that the portfolio was susceptible to sensationalist media coverage. human services, media
01:14:50 Anne Warner discusses the role of the Office of Cabinet. She compares the large portfolio that federal minister Jenny Macklin had which combined social securtiy and Aboriginal affairs, with her own portfolio. She also notes that like her Jenny Macklin had no parliamentary secretaries and this was an idea of Kevin Rudd. Cabinet Office, Jenny Macklin, Kevin Rudd
01:16:54 Anne Warner discusses her disappointment in areas of child protection policy. child protection
01:18:00 Interview ends.