Three Minute Squiz With… Dean Smith

Dean Smith is no stranger to dealing with difficult issues. The bloke was Bronwyn Bishop’s chief-of-staff for a time for starters… He also worked for former WA Premier Richard Court and did a stint in the corporate world with Optus. And now he’s a Senator for Western Australia and was at the forefront of the same-sex marriage debate. A keen Squizer, we’re thrilled Dean found some time for a Three Minute Squiz.

Where and how do you Squiz?
I am an early riser, so it’s the first thing I wake up to in the morning.

What was the first concert you ever went to?
It was a Simple Minds concert at the old Perth Entertainment Centre in 1988 with my mate Avi.

And the first album you ever owned?
The Best of ABBA which was released in November 1975. I still have the original copy today.

Where were you born?

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
John Stuart Mill, Adele, Elie Wiesel and Kylie Minogue.

Your favourite writers?
I am a big fan of Kazuo Ishiguro and Alain de Botton.

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
In a political sense, sometimes I wish I could be more ‘transactional’ in my approach to issues. But in my line of work, I believe it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and I think that’s what people will respect above all else.

What’s the hardest job you’ve ever had?
It’s a toss-up between having to clean swimming pools in the summer and working endless shifts back-to-back in a cafe in Soho in London in the 90s.

Which historical figure do you most admire?
George VI, father of The Queen. He was a reluctant King but proved to be a man of great determination and resilience at the most critical time in British history.

The best piece of advice your mother/father gave you?
My parents have been wary to offer advice I think they see me as too headstrong and stubborn at times. But observing them over a lifetime has taught me to be grateful for the simple things.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Tell us something about Western Australia that is awesome.
My all-time favourite journeys are through WA’s Great Southern in the south and across the Kimberly in the north it’s isolated, and the colours and light are exquisite.

Is there a secret to surviving that red eye flight from Perth to the east coast?
I used to be a frequent red-eye flyer which allowed me to learn the secret: avoidance.

What’s your go-to dinner party recipe when you’re trying to impress, but also trying to look super casual?
Recipes are like jokes for me I can only remember two at a time. My cannot-fail recipe is either lasagne or fusilli with tuna, sprinkled with rocket, lemon and capers. After a meal, I like to move quickly to the vino.

You’ve been a prominent part of the same-sex marriage debate and an active campaigner against the plebiscite. With the postal survey almost done what’s your take on the whole exercise?
I remain steadfastly opposed to anything that undermines our parliamentary democracy and the postal survey is the most grievous departure from our parliamentary practice to date. It’s a blemish on an otherwise stellar Liberal Party history of protecting our parliamentary and constitutional traditions.

If two virtues have to be found in the postal survey approach, they are: first, the human stories at the centre of the same-sex marriage issue have been real and powerful and have been embraced by the Australian community. And second, it will give the community ownership of a ‘Yes’ outcome (hopefully) and act as a powerful rebuke to those who may seek to play political games and continue their campaign of delay on legislating same-sex marriage in Australia.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
Australians would be outraged to learn of the alarming and rising rates of STIs and HIV in our remote Indigenous communities. The issue goes to the heart of being honest about the real challenges facing Indigenous Australians and the need for a more concerted effort in combating Indigenous disadvantage. I have been very disappointed at the slowness of the response by all Australian Governments.

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