Senator Katy Gallagher was sworn in as Australia’s new Minister for Women this week, taking on the role as part of a federal cabinet with a record number of women. She’s also been appointed Minister for Finance and Minister for the Public Service, cementing her position as one of the most senior ministers in the new Albanese government.
Gallagher was a regular and reliable fixture of Albanese’s campaign trail and brings a wealth of experience and policy nous to her portfolios. As Minister for Women, Gallagher will be responsible for improving outcomes for Australian women over the next three years.
What should you know about the new Minister for Women?
Katy Gallagher was born Canberra in 1970. She graduated from the Australian National University in 1991 with a degree in politics and sociology, and was a union organiser with the Community and Public Sector Union before entering politics. Gallagher is a mother of three children.
She first entered politics in 2001, when she was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly, where she served for 13 years eventually becoming the ACT’s Chief Minister. In 2014, she made the switch to federal politics, becoming a federal Senator for the ACT.
During her maiden speech in federal parliament in 2015, Gallagher spoke about the need for women to be better represented in Australian politics.
“I cannot really pinpoint the exact reason why I chose politics, in 2000, although the lack of women members in the assembly ranked highly,” she said.
“It is disappointing to me that in 2015 women remain so under-represented across Australian parliaments. Women constitute just under 30 per cent of all elected representatives across Australia and hold just 25 per cent of all ministries across all parliaments.
“We must re-commit across party lines to encourage more women into political organisations, to support them when they are there and mentor them into roles and positions within parties and across parliaments.”
She also spoke about responsible economic management and looking after the most vulnerable members of society.
“I believe that governments should manage their budget in an economically responsible manner and at the same time invest in and provide for their citizens, particularly the most vulnerable,” she said. “I believe that universal access to health and education, affordable housing, fair wages and conditions and pensions are fundamental components of any social contract in a fair minded and prosperous country.”
Last month, former prime minister Julia Gillard endorsed Gallagher as a candidate for an ACT Senate seat, calling her a “strong, experienced” politician, a “good friend” and “strong advocate for the values that matter to Canberrans”.
“As a voter living in the ACT, you have the opportunity to make sure we keep one of our best, brightest and strongest women in the Senate,” Gillard said.
In her new capacity as Finance Minister, Gallagher has been quick to point to the need for budget repair and greater fiscal discipline, as Australia grapples with a record amount of debt. She recently told the ABC’s Insiders that she is focused on prioritising government spending that delivers an economic dividend and benefits all Australians.
She has also spoken about the government’s commitment to delivering cleaner, cheaper energy, childcare reform, boosting skills to drive economic growth, as well as looking at an audit of the previous government’s spending decisions.