Interview with Tim Wilson, Liberal
Updated: Apr 14
Thursday 14th April, 11am
Q: How old are you, if that’s not too personal?
Tim: I'm 42 years old so I was born in 1980.
Grace: Really, that was a long time ago!
Q: Have you lived in Goldstein all your life?
Tim: I haven't lived in Goldstein my whole life, I grew up nearby on the Mornington Peninsula but I have lived in different parts of Goldstein including Glen Huntly, which is in the north east corner, Brighton, which is in the north west corner, and I currently live in the centre, which is in Sandringham.
Q: How long have you been working as a politician?
Tim: So I was first elected to represent Goldstein in 2016. Prior to that I was Australia's Human Rights Commissioner.
Grace: Oh really, that's actually very interesting!
Q: When you were my age what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tim: When I was your age I wanted to be a marine biologist.
Grace: Is that the one where they study all those animals in the ocean?
Tim: Yeah, its looking at animals in the ocean and making sure they are healthy and well, and what we can do to protect their environment. I was really interested in that but then I decided I probably didn't want to jump in the water every day.
Grace: That would be freezing!
Q: What was your most rewarding job?
Tim: My most rewarding job is the one I am doing now, I'm both the Federal Liberal Member for Goldstein but also the Assistant Minister for Industry Energy and Emissions Reduction so I get to work on how we build Australia's clean industrial future and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions which are down 20% and will continue to go down and I'm really excited about the challenge and the opportunity to keep driving that agenda.
Q: What are your hobbies and interests?
Tim: My hobbies? Well, I like spending time with my husband when I can, and also my pug Louis who is very mischievous and naughty, one of my favourite things is to take him for a walk every day but I also like to read because I have a real thirst for knowledge, and I also like to keep studying so I've studied a lot at university because I'm always interested in looking at new issues and new ideas and how they're emerging, and how important they are, if you're interested in the future of Australia (as I am).
Grace: Dogs are my favourite animal, so I like your pug.
Tim: What sort of dog do you have?
Grace: Two labradors.
Tim: I had a labrador when I was growing up as well, his name was Sasha, but right now I have a very naughty pug, his name is Louis.
Grace: He sounds adorable!
Tim: He is adorable but he is also very naughty!
Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Tim: I am a dog person in the end. I went and visited a cattery recently down in Tasmania but I wouldn't want to betray Louis or his late sister Ella because in the end dogs give you so much love, particularly at the end of a long day of campaigning.
Grace: Yes, my friend has a cat, but cats can't go outside at night because they might destroy the wildlife.
Tim: There is that too. Cats do tend to kill birds, unfortunately, but that's not the reason, well, that could be added to the list of reasons, about why I'm not a cat person, with the greatest of respect to cat people.
Q: Do you like children?
Tim: Well, one of my favourite things to do is go to schools and visit schools and talk directly to children about the future of our country. I often go to schools all across our community because I think it's a really important part of the conversation to make sure that they have a voice, but also so they understand what we are doing in parliament and to make sure that they understand that we're making decisions in their long term interest and so yeah, I love talking to kids and I love talking to students at schools.
Q: Do you think children should have a vote?
Tim: I don't think that under 18's should be able to vote, I think there are rights of passage that are had, you know, from making sure that you go through school and then through secondary school, and that there's a point where everybody can have full participation in our democracy, but rights come with responsibilities and I think that we need to engender a society where people can exercise responsibility with their rights and that normally happens around the age of 18.
Q: Voting is compulsory in Australia. Do you think that’s the best way?
Tim: I have mixed views, ultimately, about the issue of compulsory voting but in the end I think it's practical, it's sensible, it anchors the political conversation towards the centre of Australian politics and I also think it guarantees legitimacy for those people who are elected. Everybody thinks that democracy is about who wins in an election, actually it's as much about the person who is defeated accepting the legitimacy of their defeat and that the person who won, won legitimately ,and I think compulsory voting gives that.
Q: Would you like to be prime minister one day?
Tim: My focus is on making sure that we support the good people of Goldstein rather than titles because I think you've got to make decisions in parliament in the best interest of the nation, regardless of the impact it might have on you or your career. Everyday you have in parliament is an enormous privilege and you have to make sure that you use that to do the right thing and not worry about titles.
Grace: Ok. So is that a yes or a no? [Giggles]
Tim: [Laughs] There are plenty of people who have been given that privilege but it's not my focus. My focus is actually on what we can do for the country. One of the first things that happens when you're elected to parliament is you get told how many people have previously been elected to parliament and it's not that many, it's only about 1400 people since 1901, so you have to realise the enormous privilege that you have. Now, of course, if there was an opportunity to serve as Prime Minister then obviously I would relish the opportunity to take it, but I think if you spend your political career focussed on that, I think you're kind of missing the point, one, that you can do enormously powerful things being a member of parliament without being Prime Minister, but also that you should focus on what it is that you can do and get outcomes, because you never know how long your time in parliament is going to be.
Q: Why should someone vote for you?
Tim: Someone should vote for me because I've consistently delivered for our community and led national debates taking our community's values to the nation. The reality is that Australia lives in very difficult and uncertain times and that means that we need someone who is stable and reliable, in parliament and in government, to give our community's values a voice but also to make sure that they're making decisions in the national interests whether it's on national security challenges, the economy, or creating opportunities for the next generation like yourself.
Q: Why do you think your party is the best party?
Tim: I think my party is the best party because it's one that's focused on empowering citizens. Politics is all about power and we have a lot of political parties that think that the solution to building a better society is if they give more power to Canberra, Corporates and Big Capital and I focus on how we empower citizens, families and communities and competitive commerce, and that's kind of the big difference. Every other political party is focused on how to empower themselves to impose solutions on society, I'm focused on how we empower you to be able to take responsibility to lead your own life and that if we get strong citizens we get strong families, and if we get strong families we get strong communities, and if we get strong communities we get a strong country.
Q: What do you think are the most important things in Goldstein over the next few years?
Tim: I'm going to be pedantic but it's technically pronounced "Gold-Stine". It's named after a woman called Vida Goldstein, who was a suffragette, and every time we mention her name we are honouring her legacy. There are lots of issues that Goldstein residents have raised with me from cost of living issues and the economy through to climate change issues, national security, so there's no one issue that dominates everyone's thinking, it's a very mixed bag, but what's important is, that when we make decisions in parliament, we don't just do what our communities want, but we do what is in the best interest of the whole country and that's where my focus is, in making sure we do things to build a strong Australia.
Q: I believe that it’s ok for anyone to marry anyone provided it’s legal and they’re trying to be a good husband or wife. Is it hard to be a male politician with a husband? Are there many gay politicians? Does anyone treat you differently because you’re gay? I hope not.
Tim: Not really, we have an amazing community. Some people have said they won't vote for me for that reason, but I don't pay much attention to them and I think a lot of people are quite disgusted by that view in a modern society. We had a whole vote in 2017 about whether people could get married to somebody who they love and I am very happy that that was successful so I think that I have had an enormous privilege to be part of the change in society to build a more inclusive and respectful Australia and I'm really proud to be part of that. That doesn't mean that sometimes it's not challenging, it doesn't mean it's not difficult but that's the privilege of being in these roles, that you can do something with it to improve our nation.
Q: I go for Collingwood in the football. Do you experience any negativity towards you because you support the Demons? [Giggles]
Tim: [Laughs] Occasionally you get a few people who are upset that I support the Demons because they might support St Kilda, or dare I say it, you know Footscray or something like that but often I will catch the train in with people when Melbourne, and particularly St Kilda, play, we have a lot of supporters of both teams in our community, and I make sure I go to those games because they're kind of like a contest between different parts of our community. But I'm Demons through and through, I'm very proud that we won the premiership last year and I'm hoping that we're going to take the flag again this year, so it's all very light hearted.
Grace: Thank you for your time and effort, I hope a lot of people vote for you.
Tim: Thank you Grace, that's very kind. Thank you for interviewing me, it's been a great privilege.