Deputy Premier Liza Harvey opens up about her late husband Hal’s battle with cancer

FOR someone who never saw herself with a career in politics, WA’s first female deputy premier Liza Harvey is confident she will step up to the challenge.

The Scarborough resident said she first entered politics “through frustration” after spending many hours in local government meetings trying to deal with planning issues around her small businesses in 2005.

“I got to the point where I thought, I can continue to shake my fist at the TV or I can actually step up and try and do something about it – and that’s pretty much what I did,” she said.

Since she was elected in 2008, Ms Harvey moved quickly through the Liberal party ranks.

The mother of two said she intended to keep her other portfolios as the Minister for Police, Women’s Interests, Training and Workforce Development and Road Safety along with added responsibilities as Deputy Premier.

“I don’t shy away from a challenge; I always come back to the fact that I have the endorsement of all my colleagues,” Ms Harvey said.

“I really want to hang on to the Women’s Interests portfolio because I think as the first female deputy premier that’s really appropriate.”

“I’ve been working on developing economic independence and leadership capabilities for women and trying to create opportunities for women to step into leadership roles and move into non-traditional trades.

“There’s some really exciting stuff happening and I really love that I’m getting to know all these amazing women’s networks, women that you never really hear about that are out there doing a fantastic job.

“We need to see more of those women in the public eye.”

“We’re also right in the middle of a reform program with Police and for somebody else to step in and get across all of that and continue with it would be difficult at this point.”

Ms Harvey said she was looking forward to working alongside Premier Colin Barnett.

“I’ve had a very tough few years, particularly through that last year of my husband’s illness, it was a very, very trying time and Colin was quite simply fantastic,” she said.

“There were times where I decided to pull out of a function at the last minute because there might be some critical issue at home that I had to deal with and Colin was the one who would step in.”

Having lived in Scarborough for more than 20 years, Ms Harvey said she had seen many changes in the area including the transformation of the Esplanade from a crime hot spot into a family friendly area.

“The main thing is the cultural change, when I first came here in 1992 there was no way I’d have felt comfortable to walk along the Esplanade on a Friday or Saturday night,” she said.

“It’s completely different now, last week I came down here after work and this entire place was just full of people, there was Brazilian music playing, families and people from all sorts of different cultures here – it was just beautiful.”

According to Ms Harvey, keeping in check with the community was the key to success.

“I have a great electorate, network of family and friends and good teams behind me so I’ve got the recipe to succeed but we need to stay in touch with the community,” she said.

“If we lose touch with the community we lose touch with everything.”