The craft brewers forum which Joel Fitzgibbon and I hosted last night was a great success, with more than a dozen businesses coming together to discuss how to boost the industry across Australia and make the Inner West the craft brewing capital of Australia.
The forum, hosted by Wayward Brewing Company in Camperdown, included representatives from successful brewers including Willie the Boatman, Young Henry’s, Batch and Grifter.
The brewers identified a range of policy challenges at the federal, state and local government levels which are holding back the growth of the industry.
Joel Fitzgibbon and I intend to take up the cause of the craft brewing industry through the Parliament and to advocate for solutions to the problems they face.
The growth of the craft beer industry in recent years and the emergence of new breweries across the nation has been exciting.
The industry already makes up approximately 9 per cent of the Australian beer market and was estimated to be worth $400 million in 2015-16.
I want to develop a practical plan for how government can better assist this growing industry which is already boosting the national economy and cultural life of Australia.
I share the ambition of brewers in my electorate to make the Inner West of Sydney the craft brewing capital of Australia.
I will work with them, and others in regional areas, to deliver the support required to build their breweries as tourist attractions as well as to grow the industry including realising the potential of Australia craft beer as an export product.
The decision by the NSW Government to propose the former tramsheds next to the Leichhardt campus of Sydney Secondary College as a potential construction site for WestConnex is almost beyond belief.
In recent days the Government informed residents it wanted to use this piece of land as a dive site for the construction of the tunnel for the Westconnex tollway.
This Government dumped this absurd and reckless proposal on residents last week in a letter that exemplifies the appalling lack of proper community engagement that has caused so much resentment.
This crowded school has argued for years the tramsheds should be incorporated into the school to take pressure off the overcrowded space.
Instead, the Government is proposing it as a dive site for the construction of the tunnel for the WestConnex tollway.
This site is entirely inappropriate.
The letter to residents highlights why the planning for this project will be regarded as worst case practice. It declares that “Sydney Motorway Corporation will soon release a design report that includes the latest tunnel route, all shortlisted M4-M5 Link potential construction sites and other details”.
It is remarkable that they have begun to dig a tunnel without knowing where it is going.
They are literally making it up as they go along.
Sydney needs infrastructure. It does not need utter contempt for communities while it is being built.
The motivation for using NSW Government land which should be a part of the Leichhardt school site is simply greed. If they turn this into a construction site it will save them from purchasing private land for the construction site.
Premier Berejiklian should intervene and rule out this proposal. Today.
Today I have joined with victims from my electorate of Grayndler to speak out about of the Turnbull Government’s Centrelink debt debacle.
Over the Christmas and New Year period I have been inundated with calls from constituents distressed because they have been issued debt notices and threats of debt recovery action for debts that they never incurred.
Thousands of people with disability, students, pensioners and people recovering from life threatening illnesses are being told by the Turnbull Government that the onus is on them to prove that they have not acted fraudulently.
These people represent the human cost of the Government’s actions.
They deserve to be treated with dignity, which is why Labor’s Shadow Minister Linda Burney has today called for the Commonwealth Auditor General to investigate this fiasco.
Today Paul Shetler, the handpicked head of Malcolm Turnbull’s own digital transformation office has described this bungle as “cataclysmic”.
He has rightly stated that any commercial entity that that was sending incorrect debt notices to 20 per cent of its customers would go out of business.
This Government is treating vulnerable people with no respect.
Whenever this Government feels it is losing control of the agenda, it makes a huge show of targeting people on welfare, for purely political purposes.
In this case they are sending threatening letters to people who have done nothing wrong and whose only crime is that they have at some point received welfare benefits.
Of course we should require people who have been overpaid to repay their debts but there is never any excuse for politicians exploiting vulnerable people for political gain.
It is time for the Prime Minister to intervene and make sure that Australians are treated fairly and respectfully by Centrelink and not denigrated by his Government.
Today I was pleased to attend the opening of the Food Pantry at Addison Road Community Centre. The event also served as the launch of the Mind the Gap Report into increasing inequalities faced by multicultural communities in the Marrickville area.
The Food Pantry will provide quality groceries and household products at affordable prices, plus free fruit, vegetables and bread for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the Inner West.
Earlier this year I helped deliver a $20,000 grant for Youth off the Streets, located adjacent to the Food Pantry, to fix their outdoor deck and provide a community BBQ and shade sail.
I am going to continue to work with the team at Addison Road to make the Centre becomes an even more welcoming place for all local residents.
Diversity is the strength of our Inner West community and to protect that we must always offer a helping hand to people who are doing it tough.
I am very pleased to have been able to support the establishment of the Food Pantry which will help make sure that low income families have access to affordable nutrition.
Subjects: Parallel imports, nuclear waste, Malcolm Turnbull
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it’s great to be here at the launch of a book by Gavin McCormack, a local author of children’s stories, a teacher who has written stories to teach young people morals about life. In this case, the moral is about kindness. It’s a great example of Australian authors and the contribution that they make to the Australian story. The fact is that if we allow wholesale importation of books we will see a diminishing of Australian stories being told. And that’s why the flourishing of Australian authors is so important and Labor is opposing the freeing up of the wholesale importation of books, because we know that in New Zealand that led to less authors, less books being published locally and it cost jobs. The Australian book publishing and printing industry creates some 20,000 jobs and here we have Australian authors, Australian publishers, Australian booksellers and Australian printers, all saying that we need to protect our Australian industry so that Australian stories can be told.
JOURNALIST: So obviously you were saying that it’s going to challenge the Australian book publishing industry, but wouldn’t you already say that that importation pressure is already there, on the internet and other places, re-sellers and things like that?
ALBANESE: Well individuals can now import whatever book they want. They can buy a book on Amazon and they can engage in that so that the current rules are that if a book isn’t published in a short period of time here in Australia then the importation is allowed. So it is, we believe, a system that has its balance right. What it doesn’t allow is for the mass importation of books and what that would do is to diminish the presence of the Australian book industry that’s been so important, which is why authors, be it Anna Funder, Tom Keneally and others, have been opposed to this change, because they know that the Australian stories being told is so important. I learnt about Western Australia and its landscape by reading Tim Winton’s book. So many Australians have learnt the Australian story based upon published books and it’s important that we cherish that because we do have a unique Australian culture and that’s worth protecting.
JOURNALIST: Also comments made yesterday by pretty much a living legend, Bob Hawke, about nuclear waste and the need for Australia to embrace that as a renewable resource, what would you say as far as Labor stands on nuclear waste, and disposing of it in the country?
ALBANESE: Well Australia has, up to this point of course, been opposed to further engagement in the nuclear fuel industry and the nuclear (inaudible) and there is of course a study that’s underway in South Australia that was rejected by the group of people who were appointed to examine this proposal. So any proposal could only succeed with public support and up to this point in time that public support hasn’t been there.
JOURNALIST: The papers today have been talking about what a tough week it’s been for Malcolm Turnbull, have you got any comments on that?
ALBANESE: Well it has been a diabolical week for Malcolm Turnbull, Malcolm Turnbull said himself that if you stand for nothing, the public will wonder why you’re there. And people will wonder what is the point of Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership. Here we have a report by the Council of Australian Governments saying that if you adopted the Emissions Intensity Scheme for energy, would result in lowering prices for households and for businesses of $15 billion, and that was rejected by Malcolm Turnbull. One wonders how he can continue, given he is Prime Minster in name only and is a captive of his Party’s right wing.
The long standing problem of dangerous air pollution from cruise ships in White Bay will at last be solved through a new federal regulation requiring the use of low sulphur fuel.
The regulation, which I officially proposed last week in the Parliament, will be implemented by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport through the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
All cruise ships berthed in Sydney Harbour will be directed to adhere to a strict 0.1 per cent limit on sulphur content in the fuel they use.
Since becoming the federal member representing Balmain at the July election I have met repeatedly with departmental officers and Minister Chester to insist on a solution to this long standing problem.
Balmain residents have been fighting for more than 5 years for proper protections against cruise ship emissions.
Five months after being elected to represent these residents for the first time I am very pleased to have been able to deliver a proper solution.
Last Sunday I addressed a meeting of Balmain residents who have been affected by emissions from Cruise Ships in White Bay for many years.
I gave a commitment to those residents that if the Government had not issued a directive to fix this problem by the end of this parliamentary sitting week that I would introduce a private members bill to force through this overdue environmental protection.
I thank the Minister for working with me in a bipartisan fashion to achieve this outcome.
This order will achieve the precise protection NSW Government had previously sought to enact for berthed ships.
Ship to shore power, which can eliminate the need for berthed ships to burn fuel at all, can and must also be provided by the NSW Government at White Bay.
I will continue to fight hard to force the NSW Government to implement this common sense solution as well.
In a welcome outbreak of political bipartisanship the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, will join me today in visiting Birchgrove Primary School in my electorate of Grayndler to help encourage democratic participation amongst young students.
At a time of hyper-partisanship overseas and often vitriolic political debate in Australia and abroad, it is vital for politicians to put aside their differences and work together in the national interest.
This is the second time this year that the Speaker has joined me at Birchgrove Public for discussion with Year 5 and 6 students about how our Parliament and government works.
We were both so energised by the first event that we wanted to follow up Mr Smith‘s earlier visit, particularly given that the students have travelled to Canberra and visited Parliament House since that visit.
For the Speaker of the House to travel twice from his home state of Melbourne to help make sure our local students have the skills and knowledge to become active citizens is a testament to the dignity and seriousness with which he carries out his role.
I’m pleased Mr Smith is making this effort. The community is crying out for politicians to work together.
It is important that we don’t just talk about working together, but get out into the community to lead by example.
Parliament House in Canberra is the most visited destination by school groups across Australia.
But it is indeed far too rare for students to receive a visit from Labor and Liberal politicians at the same time.
Last week I met in Parliament House with inner west representatives of Rainbow Families, a national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex parents.
I pledged to fight alongside them to oppose an unnecessary and divisive plebiscite on marriage equality.
Hearing first-hand the fears of local parents and children about what a plebiscite will mean for them has reinforced my view that politicians must do what we are paid to do and legislate marriage equality now.
Grayndler is one of the most diverse electorates in the country and there are literally thousands of rainbow families in the inner west who are concerned they will be denigrated during a plebiscite campaign.
Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to give millions of dollars to opponents of marriage equality for negative advertising will have a human cost for local parents and children.
Delivering marriage equality will extend to one group of Australians rights that are already enjoyed by other Australians. It will take no-one’s existing rights away from them.
We don’t have plebiscites on the economy or infrastructure or the other issues governments deal with and we don’t need a plebiscite on marriage equality.
When all of this is over, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Petersham Bowling Club will this Saturday celebrate the ten year anniversary of its transformation into a ground breaking poker machine free club and live music venue.
The PBC Ball will also commemorate the Club’s 120th birthday, making it one of the oldest continuing community associations in the inner west.
Federal Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese hailed the Club’s successful turn away from poker machines and embrace of community led events and live performance.
“The success of the Petersham Bowlo’ shows what can be achieved when clubs prioritise music, community events and volunteerism instead of just relying on poker machines,” Anthony Albanese said.
“I congratulate all of the Club’s members, volunteers and supporters on the extraordinary transformation they have brought about.
“One of the inner west’s oldest institutions is now a modern community hub which local people feel ownership over.”
Mr Catsi said that a decade of hard work from local community members had paid off.
“Ten years ago local residents came together to say rather than handing the Club over to developers or turning it into a pokies den we wanted to remake the place as a music venue,” Mr Catsi said.
“We made the decision to remove the poker machines and make a stand against gambling.”
“The community board, all volunteers without experience running a venue, rallied the community to save the club.
“Ten years on, thanks to the hard work of community members we are now a vibrant, successful and musical venue and a role model for other small clubs.”
PETERSHAM BOWLING CLUB FACTS
- From 2004 – 2007 various proposals were put forward to develop the Club’s land for housing and other uses.
- In 2006 a new board was elected vowing to protect the Club’s open space and take a stand against poker machines.
- After initially operating with volunteers behind the bar, the PBC’s membership and patronage has increased and the Club is now one of the most popular and successful in the inner west.
As he rose to high political office, Anthony Albanese made a discovery that set him on a life-changing search.
This was not how Anthony Albanese was used to being introduced. Kevin Rudd was back in charge, almost three years to the day since being removed as prime minister in mid-2010, and now Albanese was there alongside him in Parliament’s Blue Room, wearing a new title. “Let me make some remarks before I turn to the deputy prime minister,” Rudd said, gesturing to his newly minted number two. As things turned out, Albanese was deputy prime minister for just 83 days, the shortest term since the position was designated officially in 1968. But as he stood beside the triumphal Rudd, Albanese was not focused on how long he might stay but how he’d got there.
Standing there at the podium, he was thinking about a journey that had begun a lot further back. Rudd spoke to the gathered journalists first, briefly and off the cuff. Albanese also didn’t have a formal statement prepared but when it was his turn, he found he had something to say. “It says a great thing about our nation that the son of a [single] parent who grew up in a council house in Sydney could be deputy prime minister of Australia,” he said, his emotions close to the surface.
“I didn’t know I was going to say it,” he recalls now. “It was the ultimate gut instinct.” Beyond those friends and colleagues who knew his real, whole story, few listening might have understood exactly what this moment represented for the boy from Sydney’s industrial inner west, whose late mum had lived in that same council house her entire life. Some who did know still wished he wouldn’t show his heart quite so readily.
“I’ll give my all for Labor,” Albanese continued that day in 2010. His mother had given much the same for him. He wished that she could have been there for this momentous day. After all they’d been through — her sacrifice, their struggle and a personal search he never thought he’d embark on — here he was on this podium, a heartbeat from the highest political office in the land.
Anthony Albanese never knew his father while he was growing up. For his success in politics and in life, he credits his mother. Bad health since childhood had made life a battle for Maryanne Therese Albanese, nee Ellery, and her schooling had suffered. She was determined her son would have the best life she could make for him and she also encouraged his interest in politics. Her devotion to the Labor Party, and her parents’ before her, meant he had little hope of escaping it. “She made a decision that her life would be lived through me — through a child,” Albanese says. “Lots of parents do that but the truth is, it’s particularly women who do that, much more so than blokes. It’s very selfless.” When his mother died in 2002, Albanese told those gathered at her funeral service that she was the finest person he had ever known. “A two-person family is different,” he said, standing before the congregation at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Camperdown, next door to his primary school, up the road from home and where most of his family’s religious rituals had been performed since before he was born.
In contrast to the close relationship with his mum, Albanese knew nothing much of his father — just a romantic, tragic story. He knew his father’s name was Carlo Albanese, that he was Italian and that Maryanne Ellery had met him on her greatest adventure, a trip to Britain and Europe when she was 25. He recalls that from when he was young, he’d heard that Maryanne and Carlo had married after a short courtship during her eight months abroad, but that his father had died in a terrible car accident, leaving her pregnant and widowed. The story was accepted without question among those who knew it, both within the family and around the neighbourhood; there was no reason to doubt it.
But one night when her son was 14, Maryanne sat him down at the kitchen table and said, “We need to talk.” Then she told him the truth, a startling rewrite of his life’s story. Maryanne Ellery had, indeed, met Carlo Albanese on her trip to Europe — a four-week ocean voyage she and her older brother had taken from Sydney to Southampton in March 1962 on the Fairsky, a cruise ship of the Sitmar Line. Carlo was a steward on board and he and Maryanne had begun a romance. Not long after, the good Catholic girl discovered she was pregnant.
According to this new version of his origins tumbling out onto the kitchen table, Maryanne had told Carlo of her situation. The response was not what she might have hoped — he could not marry her; he was engaged to wed a girl from his town in southern Italy and that was what he was duty-bound to do. So, contrary to the story upon which he’d built his life to date, young Anthony learnt that his parents had never actually married at all. There had been no fatal accident.
Still a single woman, Maryanne had arrived back in Sydney in October 1962, nearly four months pregnant. She moved back in with her parents and acquired and wore wedding and engagement rings — to this day her son doesn’t know where they came from — and took her lover’s surname as her own, not bothering with the deed poll. When her son arrived on March 2, 1963, he became Albanese too — pronounced then in a plain, Australian way without any Italian flourish: Alban-eez.
After his birth, Maryanne had gone about her life in an elaborate, well-intentioned ruse. Seeking to avoid the innuendo she feared might come from being an unmarried mother in a tight-knit working-class Catholic community in 1960s Sydney, she presented herself to the world as a young widow, to protect her son from scorn and maintain their family’s public reputation.
Sitting there in the kitchen with her teenage son that night, Maryanne was concerned about how he would react to the extraordinary secret she had just revealed. “She, I think, was petrified somehow that I’d … ” He pauses, searching for the right word. “Not reject her … but that it would change our relationship.” He told her it wouldn’t and that he was neither embarrassed nor upset by her revelation. But it was clear that it had been a difficult conversation for his mum. She asked if he felt he was suffering by being in a single-parent family. And she wondered aloud if he would like to try to find the father who, suddenly, strangely, might have come back to life.
But the hard-edge teenager wouldn’t hear of it. “I do remember at the time saying, ‘I’m not interested’,” he says. “And I do know that that’s what she wanted to hear. What she needed was for me to say, ‘You’re all I needed’. ”
For decades, he left his family history right where it lay. But gradually, after Maryanne’s death, he started contemplating finding out more about Carlo and his own lineage. In the final years of his mother’s life, when Albanese had married his longtime partner, Carmel Tebbutt, and they’d had a son of their own, his perception of family changed. Then one day in Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery, he was confronted by a question he couldn’t answer. Visiting his mum’s grave, his young son Nathan asked him a direct question. Where was his father? He fobbed off the question. The moment faded. But the question didn’t. Albanese decided he needed to know something about the man whose Italian name they had both inherited.
The business of life in the present had a way of pushing aside the past. By the time Albanese was thinking seriously about a search, he had been almost a decade in Parliament as the Member for Grayndler, the whole time in Opposition. His party won office in 2007 and Albanese was preoccupied by the challenges of ministerial life. But early that year, while still in Opposition, he had asked his NSW Labor colleague and confidant Senator John Faulkner for help. Faulkner quietly lodged a request with the National Archives for records of Maryanne’s voyage and the steward she met onboard. “Records held by the National Archives provide little information about this person, apart from the fact that he visited Australia as a crew member of the Fairsky,” wrote Anne McLean, the archives director of access and information services.
McLean had asked around, trying to help further, and suggested some other avenues of inquiry in Australia and overseas, including archives in Britain and Italy. The research eventually turned up a 1962 crew list for the Fairsky that included Carlo’s name and position as “assistant steward”, aged 30 — five years older than Maryanne. But beyond confirming he’d had a home port of Naples, there was little in the way of traceable information to go on.
Albanese mined the memories of his relatives in Australia, hoping for something to connect all the pieces. While his mother had been a great keeper of sentimental things, there was no correspondence from Carlo or anything that might point to where he was. But there was a black-andwhite photograph of a smiling group of young people, dressed up and seated around a table in a ship’s dining room. His mother was there in the photo and standing opposite her was a steward in a gleaming white jacket. It had to be Carlo.
Some more internet research established that Sitmar Cruises had been sold to P&O in the 1980s. The owner of P&O was Carnival Cruise Lines and when Albanese noticed the boss of Carnival, Ann Sherry, was in Canberra one day, he sought her out. “I sat down and he said, ‘I need you to do me a favour,'” Sherry recalls. “And then he told me the story.” She understood why it was so important to him. “You need to know who your family are.”
Sherry says she left the meeting feeling like she’d been burdened by a secret. “I came out of there feeling a bit shell-shocked and thinking, ‘My God, where do I start?'” Back in Sydney, after giving it some thought, she contacted a maritime historian who was working on the history of P&O in Australia, Rob Henderson. “I honestly thought we would not find anything,” she says. “It was such a long shot.”
But Henderson has made an art of chasing down impossible details. By chance, while on a lecturing commitment on board a cruise, he met a man by the name of Christopher Jolly, an executive in shipbuilding with Carnival Corporation who later mentioned he was heading to Genoa, in Italy. And Henderson suddenly thought, Oh! “So I said to him, ‘While you’re in Genoa, can you see if there’s anything in the old Genoa wharves relating to the old Sitmar company?'” Jolly figured it would have all been destroyed, but he promised to have a look.
Some time later, an email arrived with a message saying, “Are you sitting down?” Henderson recalls, laughing. Most of the boxes of Sitmar records had been destroyed, but inside a shed at the end of the wharf had been just a few boxes stacked against a wall. “He said, ‘I’ve found this box of cards of stewards and there is a Carlo Albanese and he lives somewhere in the south of Italy.’ ”
The address dated from his time with the cruise line back in the 1960s. Apparently determined to see the adventure through, Jolly spoke to a shipbuilder he knew in Italy and asked how he might go about finding a current address or phone number for this Carlo Albanese. The local man took up the case. He managed to check a database of maritime pensioners. On November 5, 2009, Henderson received another message. “He found Carlo Albanese’s name in the social security records,” Henderson says. “He checked the birth date against the date on the card and he thought, ‘It’s got to be the same man’. ”
Henderson rang Sherry. She couldn’t believe it. “Oh my God!” she said. It was late on a Thursday afternoon. She had Albanese’s mobile number and called him straight away. “It’s Ann,” she said. “I’ve found him.”
Sherry told him what she knew and that his father lived in Barletta, a town in southern Italy. In the moment that followed her words, there was a kind of stunned silence. “And I could hear him just … ” She tries to describe it. “He gulped. He gulped … I could almost feel him falling off his chair when I spoke to him. It was so profound.”
Albanese says the news hit him like a front-row forward. “I just sat down and collapsed with emotion,” he says. “I just broke down. This flood of emotion came over me and I rang Carmel.”
His wife, then the deputy premier of NSW, was as astonished as he was. “I thought it was an almost impossible task and was never terribly hopeful that Anthony would find his father,” Tebbutt says. “And so when he did get that information I just was a bit stunned and amazed and also a bit anxious, because I thought, ‘What are the next steps? What happens now?'”
Having made it this far in the search, Albanese wasn’t giving up. The need to pursue this to its end consumed him. He knew former Liberal senator Amanda Vanstone from her many years in Parliament and before she left Australia to become ambassador to Italy in 2007 he had told her what he knew of his father. She agreed to do what she could to help. Once she was in Rome, Vanstone had enlisted — and sworn to secrecy — one of the embassy’s very experienced consular officers, who compiled a list of the Albaneses in southern Italy, around Naples. They had eliminated them one by one. When Albanese received Sherry’s call — and an address — he rang Vanstone again.
A third person in the embassy also knew about his situation and he rang her, too. In another of the many strange serendipitous twists in his story, one of Vanstone’s staff at the embassy, Lisa Golden, was Albanese’s cousin, once removed, from his mother’s side. An accomplished Italian-speaking Australian, Lisa had been living in Italy and had applied for a position as a locally engaged public diplomacy project officer. When he told her the news, she was as gobsmacked as everyone else. He gave her the address and before long she had found a telephone number online.
In a further extraordinary coincidence, as minister for transport and infrastructure, Albanese was due to fly to Italy at the end of that month — and not just Rome, but to Bari in southern Italy, 40 minutes’ drive from Barletta. As a public diplomacy officer, Lisa had been one of those working on plans for the visit. It was an opportunity he couldn’t let slide but he didn’t speak Italian and he couldn’t just turn up out of the blue on Carlo’s doorstep.
He needed to try to contact Carlo beforehand and asked Lisa to call him. “It was obviously going to be a difficult phone call to even begin to make,” Lisa says. She rang and rang. Eventually, someone answered but she couldn’t get them to stay on the line long enough to explain fully. When she asked for Carlo she was told he didn’t hear very well.
She sent a letter, then tried ringing again, finally reaching Carlo’s wife, who said calmly that a family friend of theirs would call her. When Lisa’s phone rang again it was late Friday afternoon, the day before Albanese’s ministerial visit. The woman said she was a lawyer from Barletta, and a friend of the Albanese family. She agreed to meet them. It was the breakthrough they had been hoping for.
The lawyer welcomed Albanese and Lisa to her office and over the next almost two hours they talked. She asked Albanese why he wanted to meet Carlo. “I think he’s my father,” he said simply. “I don’t want anything out of him. I’m not after money, I’m not after anything else. I just want to meet him.” When the conversation ended, the lawyer said she would talk to Carlo’s son and try to convince him to bring his father to her studio the next day to meet them. When they left the lawyer’s office and were safely out in the street, Albanese burst into tears.
The meeting was set for 11am. Carlo entered the room with his son and daughter; Anthony had two siblings. Carlo was slight, clean-shaven and well dressed. He seemed fit, if a little hard of hearing. There is some resemblance, Lisa thought. He walked in and, without speaking, opened his arms for an embrace. “I was in tears,” Albanese says. “I think everyone was a little bit in tears.”
They sat down and began to talk. Carlo still had some English and used a little of it, though he mostly spoke in Italian. “I said, ‘You knew my mother,'” Albanese says. “He acknowledged that straightaway. There was no ‘Maybe I’m not your father’. There was none of that.”
Carlo asked what Albanese calls “sensible questions” about Maryanne and what had happened to her. “He was a gentleman,” Albanese says. “He was a class act. I liked him. I could certainly see what my mother would have seen in him. He was charming. He was smart. He cared a lot about his family. He was very generous. He was interesting, hard-working.”
Gradually, small fragments of Carlo’s life entered the conversation, enough for a blurry picture to emerge. He had been married to his wife — mother of his son and daughter — since 1963, the year Anthony was born in Sydney. After he left the shipping line, Carlo had worked two jobs, as a school janitor and as the maitre d’ at a local restaurant.
Albanese had no doubt he had found his father at last. But there was one more thing he wanted to do. Before they said farewell, vowing to bring his own family back the following year, Anthony pulled out the black-and-white photograph taken on the ship 47 years earlier. There was his mother and her travelling companions smiling up at them and the suave Italian steward standing beside. He wanted to make absolutely sure. He showed the photo to the Albanese family and they recognised it. To Carlo, it was especially familiar. Because for all those years, he had kept a copy of it as well. E
dited extract from Albanese: Telling it Straight by Karen Middleton, $34.99 (Vintage Australia), out August 24 2016.
Telling it Straight will be launched at Parliament House in Canberra on 1 September 2016.
This story appeared in the Weekend Australian Magazine, 20-21 August 2016.