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Mar 21, 2018

Transcript of television interview – SKY News with David Speers

Subjects; dividend imputation; company tax; enterprise bargaining; inaugural Qantas Perth-London flight; tourism

DAVID SPEERS: I’m joined now by Labor’s Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Thanks very much for your time this afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good afternoon, David.

DAVID SPEERS: Bill Shorten says he’ll have more to say about pensioners in the coming weeks. What is he going to say?

ALBANESE: Well, David you’d be shocked if I told you exactly what Bill Shorten would say in coming weeks. That would be a bit undermining of the whole point of him saying that. The fact is that we’re not going to take lectures about treatment of pensioners from a mob who just this month have gotten rid of the Bereavement Allowance; from this mob who want to increase the working age for pensioners up to 70; from people who opposed the big increase that we had, the largest ever increase in the pension that we had when we were in office; from a mob that changed the assets test to throw tens of thousands of Australians off the pension.

SPEERS: Fair point, but but does Labor acknowledge that this policy announced by Bill Shorten last – does this suggest Labor perhaps didn’t realise it was going to hit that many pensioners with this policy announcement last week?

ALBANESE: It suggests nothing of the sort. What it suggests is that we have a policy out there well in advance of an election for all to see; that we know that this policy now costs around about $6 billion. It was estimated to cost $500 million when it was introduced. When it was introduced…

SPEERS: …nearly 20 years ago….

ALBANESE: …pensions weren’t tax free. That has made an enormous difference. So when you see the scare campaign run by the Government through the pages of some compliant news agencies, they talk about taxable income, not income and there’s a big difference between the two.

SPEERS: But there’s also no dispute that about 14,000 full pensioners will be hit. You know well that these aren’t wealthy retirees. A full pensioner is doing it tough. Why should they be hit at all?

ALBANESE: Well, they will be impacted because simply in terms of this policy, we had a decision to make of whether this was sustainable or not. I don’t believe that anyone could possibly argue that if this system wasn’t in place that you would go to an election saying that we had this plan to allow for cash payments to be made rather than a reduction of tax liabilities, which is what it was introduced to do. We have got this plan; it’ll cost $8 billion dollars for the Budget. Would you do that, or would you spend it on education, on health, on infrastructure, on lifting living standards.

SPEERS: All important things, but why should a full pensioner who might have ten grand in shares have to lose money they rely on?

ALBANESE: If you have ten thousand dollars in shares at the moment you will receive a cash payment based upon the dividend on that which will be of course a small amount relative to what some people are getting from this. But I understand that even a small amount can have an impact.

SPEERS: So why should they lose that at all, even a small amount but important for those who are trying to make ends meet?

ALBANESE: There is not a country in the world, in the OECD that has cash payments for dividend imputation. Not one, and there’s a reason for that.

SPEERS: Well, not many have 30 percent company tax rates either if we want to make international comparisons.

ALBANESE: Actually, if you have a look at the international comparisons and you look at actual tax paid, they don’t have the sort of deductions that are allowable in Australia that sees major companies, including many of the ones that you read out earlier today, not pay any tax. So a range of companies have a lower headline rate, if you like, but they have very different systems indeed from the Australian taxation system.

SPEERS: Perhaps getting off this issue, I understand it would be difficult to exempt pensioners from this sort of change, because what if they wanted to buy shares or sell shares? You know, what would happen to the franking credits that are attached to those shares and so on? But from what Bill Shorten was saying today there seems to be the thinking within Labor that you’re going to have to do something else to help these pensioners.

ALBANESE: Labor will always help pensioners. That’s what we do. That’s what done since Gough Whitlam. That’s what Hawke and Keating did. That’s what Rudd and Gillard did and that’s what a Shorten Labor Government will do.

SPEERS: Would you undo the changes to the taper rate that Labor opposed a couple of years ago? The Greens and the Government passed it through. Is that something Labor would look at?

ALBANESE: I’m not about to to announce policy on your program this afternoon, with due respect. I’ll leave that to the Leader and Jenny Macklin as the appropriate Shadow Minister. I’ll say this; Jenny Macklin or Malcolm Turnbull? I know who pensioners can rely upon, and it’s not Malcolm Turnbull.

SPEERS: Let me turn to company tax. We were just touching on that there. You’ve got another crossbencher today, Steve Martin who says he’ll back the Government, the BCA with that statement. They’ve just offered a commitment to the Senate to invest more in Australia at least. Is Labor winning or losing this argument in the Senate at the moment?

ALBANESE: Out there in the public, certainly there’s a view that $65 billion of tax cuts is something that we simply can’t afford. The Budget is about priorities and we now have a debt increase to half a trillion dollars from a Government who said it was an emergency situation when it was just about half that; a Government that seems to have given up on the issue of how you get deficits reduced and how you deal with with fiscal policy. So the fact is that today’s announcement – I notice that you read out earlier, it didn’t say anything about increasing real wages of the staff from those corporations involved. We have circumstances in Australia where we already have record profits taking place. We have big payments to senior executives but you have their employees effectively not getting any increase in…

SPEERS: So you doubt these companies, BHP, Energy Australia, Qantas, Woodside, Woolworths would actually boost wages?

ALBANESE: All I know is that in that statement that you’ve read out, they didn’t say that they would. They were directly asked whether they would and they haven’t said that they would. So I think they can be taken on their non-word, that they haven’t been prepared to give a commitment there. We know that trickle-down economics essentially doesn’t work. The idea that if you just give a whole lot of money to the top end of town then it trickles down, doesn’t work. People are experiencing it right now. It hasn’t worked for the economy at the moment. Why would it work if they had even more profitability? Essentially we’ve seen a transfer in recent years from wages to profits as a share of the national economy. We’re not seeing wages keeping up. That’s why many families are really struggling to pay their mortgages, to put food on the table, to look after their kids education and health needs.

SPEERS: Let me just finish on a couple of other issues. Sally McManus, the ACTU Secretary spoke at the National Press Club today; a wish list from the ACTU. We’ve heard many of the ideas before. Can I just pick out a couple; the unions want industry-wide bargaining allowed. Would Labor ever go back to industry-wide bargaining?

ALBANESE: Well, what they’re concerned about is that enterprise bargaining at the moment simply isn’t working across a whole range of enterprises in both the public and the private sector. The current Government’s attitude for example to pay rises at the lower end, of those good public servants, who are all working away in the national interest has been nothing short of appalling…

SPEERS: So is industry-wide bargaining the answer?

ALBANESE: …and in the private sector we haven’t seen wages kept up either. So certainly, there is a need to consider why that isn’t working; to work that through. Sally McManus speaks for the ACTU. Labor will determine our own policy direction, but it’s very clear that the national economy is being hurt by the fact that real wages aren’t increasing, and it’s not just the ACTU saying that. It’s the Reserve Bank Governor and previous governors; it’s senior economists; it’s people who are normally seen very much on the conservative side of politics.

SPEERS: But is this something that Labor would consider? Allowing the entire building industry, for example, to have industry-wide bargaining and what that might mean for the economy?

ALBANESE: Labor will determine our own policies after input from the ACTU, from employer organisations and from the broader community, and we will do what is in the national interest.

SPEERS: So it’s not a yes?

ALBANESE: I’m not about…

SPEERS: Because you’re going to have an interesting National Conference in July with the unions and the Labor Party.

ALBANESE: Our national conference is always interesting, David, and it will be broadcast live on Sky TV!

SPEERS: It will. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. Final one. Lucky you, Anthony Albanese. You’re on the inaugural Perth to London, the first Qantas Perth to London direct flight. It’s, what is it, Sunday?

ALBANESE: Saturday evening.

SPEERS: Saturday evening. Why is this important for the tourism sector?

ALBANESE: It is critical and Steve Ciobo the Tourism Minister will also be travelling as will the Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan and their Tourism Minister, Paul Papalia. This is a historic event. When the Kangaroo Route, as it was called when it began in 1947, it took four days. One of the reasons why it was called the Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was that it had so many stops that it was like a kangaroo hopping across the globe. Now we’re going to have the first ever non-stop commercial flight from Perth to London. This has an enormous potential to give a boost to jobs and tourism particularly in Western Australia. Perth will benefit but so too will those regional locations like the Kimberley and Ningaloo Reef and the Margaret River region in Western Australia. Tourism is so important for jobs and for our national economy. It’s been identified as one of the super-growth sectors and there’s no doubt that this opportunity, where WA is getting the first direct flights, in a few years time you’ll be able to fly direct from Sydney and Melbourne to New York or London. That will happen sometime in the middle of the next decade, but we’re seeing a transformation where Australia’s competitive disadvantage of distance is being overcome with new technologies such as the Dreamliner, which will undertake this direct flight.

SPEERS: All right. Maybe Alan Joyce will sit next to you for part of the trip and have a chat about company tax rates. We’ll see. Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us there from Sydney this afternoon.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you, David.

Mar 21, 2018

Transcript of radio interview – Two tribes segment, FIVEaa

Subjects; SA election; National Energy Guarantee; Di Natale bushfire comments; Greens Political Party. 

HOST: We’ve got a brand new government in South Australia but no change to the line up on Two Tribes. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day. What’s Christopher going to do now he can’t whinge about the South Australian Government?

PYNE: I can whinge about you instead.

ALBANESE: He’ll be devastated.

PYNE: I’ll be devo.

HOST: Totes devo, as the young people say. So Chris, you’re probably still basking in the happy afterglow of Saturday night. How’s it going to change the relationship between South Australia and Canberra, particularly on the question of energy?

PYNE: Well, Jay Weatherill’s schtick of course was to fight with Canberra because that was basically a politically motivated modus operandi. I actually used to work quite well with Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis on all the Defence industry side of things. I let them do their political thing which was to attack Canberra but now that the election is over I’m sure that things will return to a more balanced state. Of course Steven Marshall is a very good friend of mine and a very good friend of the Prime Minister’s. He’ll have an excellent relationship with Canberra and for a state like South Australia having a good relationship with Canberra is really important because we need federal investment in our state whether it’s in shipbuilding and submarine building, whether it’s roads and transport and ports and infrastructure. Not having a good relationship with the Federal Government really hurt South Australians. So I think we’ll see a whole different approach, which would be very refreshing.

HOST: We’ll get Albo’s take on this is a moment, but specifically on the question of the National Energy Guarantee, Steven Marshall’s signalled his willingness to sign up to the federal energy policy; it means it’ll likely go ahead. What is that going to mean for South Australia?

PYNE: Well every Labor state has agreed to the National Energy Guarantee being considered except for Jay Weatherill’s former government. The way the National Energy Guarantee works through the Council of Australian Government is that one parliament passes a bill and then all the other parliaments copy that bill, if you like; they say they pass the SA bill. So this will be quite important from the point of view of getting lower electricity prices and more reliable energy. Everyone has supported the idea of going ahead with the National Energy Guarantee ; even the ACTU and the Australian Conservation Foundation. The only hold-out state was South Australian Labor and now we can get on with it. It was a real travesty for the upper house in South Australia to try and block that. I don’t think Labor in South Australia would do that because it would be the first time since 1996 that an upper house in a state parliament had blocked a Council of Australian Governments submission.

HOST: What’s your take from Saturday, Albo? Is there a lesson for Federal Labor in what happened here? Because in hindsight you can probably…

ALBANESE: Yes. That after that after 16 years we probably won’t be re-elected.

HOST: So you reckon it was purely an ‘it’s time’ election?

ALBANESE: That was the big factor if you look at the outcome. Quite extraordinary that South Australian Labor after 16 years got a swing. I hope Biggles [Leon Bignell] is still hanging in there.

HOST: Yeah, he’s still a few votes in front.

ALBANESE: I’d rather be that than behind. I mean, that’s a remarkable result. Some people were tipping that he’d run third in that seat; that was very difficult. He needed a swing to win. The fact that people like Stephen Mulligan who are I think, outstanding; the fact that he’s still there. The fact that you’ve got a range of other people; Malinauskas, Koutsantonis, you’ve got a range of people, Susan Close, who will form the basis of the next South Australian Labor Government is pretty good. It’s a pretty good outcome under the circumstances.

HOST: Hey, just on another matter; Richard Di Natale made these remarkable comments yesterday morning where the fires are actually still underway in NSW and he came out and gave everyone a lecture about climate change and then doubled down and said that his critics were akin to the National Rifle Association and saying there’s never a good time to talk about climate issues. Can I get your thoughts from both of you about what’s going on with the Greens right now, particularly after what happened to them on Saturday in Victoria in the Batman by-election?

HOST: We just lost Albo, his line dropped out.

HOST: Oh, bummer. Over to you Chris.

PYNE: We’ll I’ll keep it going. I’ll do twice as good a job now, actually. Well obviously Richard Di Natale is under a bit of pressure. The Greens vote has come off in Tasmania, ACT, last Senate election, South Australia, the Batman by-election and his comment about the bushfires are quite frankly sick. The idea that these bushfires are occuring because of Australia’s response to climate change is embarrassingly anti-intellectual.

HOST: He was blaming the Adani mine for the bushfires yesterday, I heard.

PYNE: The Adani mine hasn’t even begun. It’s just…

HOST: …anti-intellectual.

PYNE: It shows a very under-pressure leader of the Greens. The truth is that we’re 1.3 percent of the world’s emissions. We have halved our emissions per capita in the last few years. That’s the policies of previous governments and the current government. We are not responsible for bushfires in New South Wales or Victoria and the Greens really need to get their act together. I almost think they’re on the way out and the reason is because of ridiculous remarks like that from Richard Di Natale.

HOST: What do you reckon, Albo? With the Greens are we seeing a sort of internal battle to the death between the treehuggers and the Occupy Wall Street camp?

ALBANESE: I do think this as an example whereby the Greens Political Party’s sloganeering and juvenile approach to politics is actually a threat to serious consideration of environmental issues. We know a couple of things. We know climate change is real. The scientists tell us that. We know also that as a result of climate change there are more extreme weather events including bushfires and cyclones. What we also know though is that bushfires and cyclones and extreme weather events have existed for a very, very long time and that you can’t say that any specific event is solely the cause of climate change. That’s just an anti-intellectual, juvenile response from Richard Di Natale.

At a time where, to their credit, whether it be Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten or Mike Kelly, the local Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, were quite rightly concentrating on the impact that this fire has had on the people of the south coast of NSW around Tathra or the people in Victoria. That was the appropriate response of political leaders. Not this juvenile response, let alone the doubling down of drawing an analogy with the NRA, when everyone in mainstream politics in Australia supports strong gun control. I mean it’s one of the things, thank goodness, that we’ve kept politics away from in this country.

PYNE: I noticed, by the way, that Anthony and I both used the phrase ‘anti-intellectual’. There might be something in the suggestion that he and I were separated at birth.

HOST: Is it Canberra speak for ‘dumb’ or is it that you both got the same phrase-of-the-day calendar?

ALBANESE: Only our wives can tell us apart.

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, on that note, Two Tribes for this Wednesday morning.

HOST: You couldn’t accuse Albo of plagiarism because he wasn’t even on the line.

HOST: Frightening.

HOST: They’ve been spending far too much time together. Like you and I Will, they’re going to end up finishing each other’s sentences.

Mar 20, 2018

Transcript of radio interview – Drive program, ABC Radio National

Subjects; Di Natale bushfire comments; Greens Political Party; Batman; Ged Kearney; Pauline Hanson; company tax; trade unions; Simon Birmingham; Catholic schools funding; Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia. 

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Welcome to the program.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Patricia.
KARVELAS: When is the right time to talk about climate change and natural disasters? Have the Greens overreached? Have they been inappropriate?

ALBANESE: They have overreached; they have been inappropriate and they’ve been counterproductive. I think sometimes the Greens’ self-righteousness does damage to the causes which they seek to advocate. There’s no doubt that climate change is real. There’s no doubt that there’s an increase in the number of extreme weather events. That doesn’t mean that every time there’s a bushfire or a cyclone or an extreme weather event it is because of climate change. These things have been around for some time and our focus should be on the people who’ve been left homeless by the destruction of these homes at Tathra. Senator Di Natale today accused the Government of basically sounding like the National Rifle Association in the US, not wanting to talk about gun control. That’s a pretty offensive analogy particularly given that in this country, fortunately, we have a bipartisan position in support of decent guns policy. That’s supported across the Parliament. I just think that Senator Di Natale was perhaps looking for a distraction from Saturday’s result in Batman but it’s unfortunate that he will have put many people off an appropriate and sober consideration of the impact of climate change.

KARVELAS: You mentioned Batman and of course you have one of the seats that the Greens target, as they do Tanya Plibersek’s seat as well, I was about to say as they do the seat of Melbourne, but they did and they won there so that seems to be dealt with for them. There has been a case for a long time that this is inevitably a case of demographic change; that in your electorate, when you go, the seat will go as well. Do you think this result has changed that narrative?

ALBANESE: I’ve never had that view. I think the idea that because people in an electorate more likely through gentrification to be tertiary educated than they once were is a recipe for Labor giving up on people who’ve been the beneficiaries of Labor Governments. Labor Governments have taken action to ensure that there is opportunity for people to be the first in their families to become lawyers, to become doctors, to get professional qualifications. That’s led to a changing composition of the Australian community and workforce in general. But what we shouldn’t do is give up on those people. Those people are part of the Labor base. Anyone who’s concerned about social justice, who’s concerned about better education and health care not just for themselves but for others in the community, who are concerned for the generations to come;  who are concerned about the environment. That’s part of a Labor agenda. What Batman shows is that if we have the right candidate, which we did in Ged Kearney, if you have the right campaign which we did, led by Paul Erickson, then you get a very good outcome and indeed you can have swings in areas like Northcote.

KARVELAS: Is it then also a lesson to the Labor Right to have stopped candidates, left wing progressive candidates from being preselected in the past?

ALBANESE: Certainly what you need is the right candidates for particular seats and there’s no doubt that Ged Kearney was an outstanding candidate. I visited the seat on a number of occasions with Ged. She related to the community there. She has an outstanding record in her working life as a nurse and then as a trade unionist leading to her position as President of the ACTU in advocating for the needs of people. She understands the need to engage in political debate. One of the things about my electorate is that; yes it is true that more people now need to be convinced than perhaps 30 or 40 years ago to vote Labor. They don’t vote that way automatically. But there’s nothing wrong with the discipline of having to convince people of the need, your worthiness to receive their vote. Ged Kearney did that. In the last federal election I received swings in places like Balmain and Rozelle and Haberfield which have changed substantially over recent decades. I think they want someone who will stand up for them, who will stand up for their interests. People like Tanya Plibersek have done that in the electorate of Sydney as well.
KARVELAS: Let’s just get to a pretty interesting story this afternoon. Pauline Hanson has told Sky News this afternoon that she has an open mind to the Government’s company tax cut plan. She says she’s not over the line but she’s clearly increasingly in talks with the Government about this and she’s keeping an open mind. We know the Government is lobbying the crossbench very hard on this. If the package is passed will you have to revisit your position on it?

ALBANESE: The first thing to say is that battlers out there who Pauline Hanson purports to represent will be scratching their head. Pauline Hanson is someone who has been prepared to give away penalty rights for underprivileged workers who rely upon them to put food on the table and pay their bills. At the same time she is prepared to consider a $65 billion tax break, much of which will go overseas to offshore owners of those companies and much of which will also rely upon some form of the trickle-down effect that we know isn’t working. That’s why real wages aren’t increasing in this country under this Government. So I think they will be very confused at the difference between Pauline Hanson’s rhetoric and her actions and those of her fellow senators if she indeed passes the Government’s company tax cuts.

KARVELAS: But if it does pass, it changes the framework for Labor. You would have to reconsider whether you would keep the corporate tax cuts, wouldn’t you?

ALBANESE: I’m not working on hypotheticals. What we’re determined to do is to defeat this legislation.

KARVELAS: How are you going to do that, because we know that the Government has hired former head of mining lobby group the Minerals Council of Australia to lobby the crossbench. How are you going to counter that?

ALBANESE: We’ll counter that through the argument and through the arguments of not just us, but working people who’ll be contacting their senators. When I walk around, and I’m at an event in my electorate tonight, I don’t think many people will be coming out saying ‘gee, you need to pass those corporate tax cuts.’ Indeed, that is yet to happen to me anywhere in my electorate.

KARVELAS: It might have something to do with where you mix. On another topic, the Government’s Ensuring Integrity Bill will soon come before the Senate. This aims to introduce a public interest test around the merger of unions, particularly when it comes to unions’ compliance with industrial law. Now, if a union has broken the law, why should it be allowed to merge with another union?

ALBANESE: These are issues that are determined by union members. If unions break a particular law, then they’re of course accountable for that. The idea that the Government should decide which union workers can join or not is a massive infringement on the civil liberties and all the freedoms of workers to organise. We know that this Government would prefer that no one was in a union; that no one had any industrial rights. But the fact is that all those things that workers enjoy including workers compensation, occupational health and safety, annual leave, superannuation, all of these things have been fought for by working people through their trade union.

KARVELAS: We’re not talking about the right of unions to exist. We’re talking about criminality here. The Government also wants people who have been convicted of serious criminal offences to be prevented from being union officials. What’s wrong with that?

ALBANESE: The Government is obsessed by attacking unions. That’s the fact of the matter.

KARVELAS: But on that issue, people have been convicted of serious criminal offences. Should they be running unions?

ALBANESE: Criminal law should be dealt with under under the appropriate Crimes Act. What this Government seeks to do is to argue that somehow every – I’ve never heard them praise a senior trade union official in Australia. That’s most unfortunate, because people going to those jobs overwhelmingly –  yes, like in any other profession including public broadcasting you will have a bad egg and that should be dealt with. But overwhelmingly, people going to the trade union movement because they want to improve the working lives of their fellow workers.

KARVELAS: Just on another issue, Bill Shorten pledged to give the Catholic school sector an extra $250 million in the first two years of a Labor Government, and this was in the final weeks of the Batman campaign. That pledge has led to a pretty big fight between the Government and the Opposition. The Education Minister Simon Birmingham suggested yesterday that the Catholic sector support was bought. Was it?

ALBANESE: That’s an absurd proposition by Simon Birmingham and he mustn’t have been paying attention.

KARVELAS: But it’s not a needs-based funding model if you’re bankrolling a sector, is it? I mean, that’s not needs-based funding.

ALBANESE: We have made it very clear that Labor would restore the funding that was agreed to in the original Gonski model and overwhelmingly something in the order of a nine in every ten dollars of that will go to public schools on the basis of need. We have said we would restore that funding; there’s nothing new about that. The fact is that Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to public schools make up 86 percent of those cuts. So the 86 percent we’ve said we’ll put back into public schools and we’ve said we’ll put back the 12 percent of the cuts that come from Catholic schools and the 2 percent that come from independent schools. I would have thought it would be extraordinary proposition for the Education Minister to argue that this was somehow a new policy. He musn’t have been paying any attention to the significant campaign that Labor’s been running over these issues.

KARVELAS: Just finally I know you are speaking at a domestic violence service in your electorate tonight. What are your concerns about the support that they’re getting?

ALBANESE: I’m speaking at the Annual General Meeting of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia. They’re based in my electorate. The fact is that on average at least one woman a week is still killed by a partner or former partner. One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. These figures are quite shocking. They remain. I think the Government botched the handling of the 1800RESPECT number that this service used to receive funding to provide, and that’s most unfortunate. They were prepared to stand up. They’re an openly feminist service that provide that support to women at that great time of need. They do a fantastic job and I think the Government should do everything we can across the spectrum to deal with this scourge which is a real blight on our society.

KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time tonight.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having me.

Mar 19, 2018

Transcript of television interview – SKY News

Subjects; Election results; Greens Political Party; SA infrastructure record; renewable energy; tax policy.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Joining us live from Canberra is the Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Good to see you. Thank you for your time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning, Ash.

GILLON: We’ve seen mixed results for Labor over the weekend with the loss in South Australia, the win of course for Ged Kearney in Batman. What do you take from the win in Batman? There has been some analysis suggesting that Ged Kearney’s going to be bringing a new left-leaning push to Canberra. I know you’d be excited to see that on a few fronts including asylum seekers.

ALBANESE: Ged will bring a lifetime of commitment to progressive politics to Canberra. It was one of the reasons why she was successful. She was authenticity writ large and she’s a very experienced person, of course. She has real life experience as a nurse, she has experience as leader of the Nurses Federation and then as President of the ACTU. So Ged will be a contributor to Labor both in Opposition, hopefully for a very short period of time, before being a contributor as part of a Labor Government. One of the things that people did on Saturday was they voted for someone who could be a strong progressive voice in a party of government rather than just a party of protest such as the one which Richard Di Natale leads. I notice that he’s confirmed that the Greens Political Party are a party of protest by protesting ever since Saturday night about the outcome.

GILLON: Well, I’ll be speaking to Sarah Hanson-Young next hour for more on the Greens situation and their reaction to Batman. In South Australia though, Jay Weatherill has announced he will be standing down as Leader. He described the South Australian election as a referendum on renewables. What then is the take out from that election? Does it suggest that voters are turning their back on renewables? Does Steven Marshall now have a mandate to scale that back in that state?

ALBANESE: Not at all. What we saw on Saturday was remarkable. Indeed, after 16 years in office Labor achieved swings in more seats than they had swings against them. Of course we’d had a redistribution which effectively turned four seats from the Labor side to the conservative side and still we had an outstanding result. The fact that people like Stephen Mulligan were re-elected; the fact that my mate Biggles, Leon Bignell has had an amazing result. He’s still ahead there in Mawson. He had everything up against him. People had written him off and he’s ahead there. He certainly won on primaries and he’s still ahead on two party preferred. So really Jay Weatherill can be very proud of his legacy; of the infrastructure build including the North-South constructions; the Northern Expressway; the Noarlunga to Seaford Rail Line. The beginning of the Gawler line electrification; the modernisation of the Adelaide Oval; the Convention Centre; the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He can be very proud that throughout South Australia he has a great legacy and part of that is of course renewables; the world’s largest battery. He had a plan, obviously, to go further with that but South Australians do support renewable energy. The idea that it can be just wound back, just like in the rest of Australia there’s great support for renewables, is I think that Steve Marshall will be misreading the fact that he’s fallen across the line in this state election very wrongly indeed if he thinks he has a mandate to just tear apart what is a great legacy of both Jay Weatherill and before him Mike Rann’s Government.

GILLON: Well it looks like South Australia is heading in a new direction on that energy front under Steven Marshall. I’m keen for your view on a federal issue though, Labor’s tax policy announced last week in regards to the franked dividends rebate. Is there room for compromise on that policy? We’ve seen new modelling out this morning suggesting that there would be a way to spare some 200,000 pensioners from being affected if there was a cap placed at the $500 or $1000 level regarding those rebates.

ALBANESE: What Labor has done very strongly is put our policy out there well in advance of a federal election and well in advance of what we say would be the starting date for changes. That’s unlike what governments tend to do, which is to scrape into office through an election and then say ‘oh, the finances are different, we need to make these changes’. We’ve been quite upfront about the fact that it is simply unsustainable to the Budget that you have more money going in terms of payments to people who haven’t actually paid any personal income tax. This was of course intended to be a rebate in terms of tax liabilities, to reduce people’s tax liabilities, when it was instituted in 1987 by the Keating Government.

The thing that’s really changed substantially even since the Howard Government made this change, at a time where the fiscal position of the Budget was far different than it is today, is that superannuation for those above above retirement age is of course tax free. What that’s meant is a whole range of people, some of whom are gaining massive amounts of tax payments from people who are working hard to pay their tax, the PAYE tax payers is being transferred to some people getting large amounts and and that simply isn’t sustainable.
GILLON: But again Anthony Albanese, is there room for compromise here if there is a way to affect fewer pensioners while also not affecting the total savings Labor’s trying to achieve here?

ALBANESE: We have our policy out there for all to see, and that is our policy.

GILLON: And are you open to compromise on that policy?

ALBANESE: That’s our policy. I’m not the Treasury spokesperson. That’s our policy that we’ve put out there for all to see. The fact is that we expected a scare campaign about this issue. The fact is that more money is going to these payments than currently goes from the Federal Government to pay every single public school in the country. That is simply not sustainable, and for a Government that was elected and said it would engage in Budget repair, what we’ve seen is that the debt is now some half a trillion dollars, has increased substantially from a Government that said that it would produce a surplus in its first Budget and every year thereafter, we’ve seen deficits into the future. Labor is being responsible with regard to this measure by pointing out that when it was first introduced, it was expected to cost the Budget $500 million and it’s now costing in the immediate future, we can see that will rise to $8 billion dollars and that is not sustainable.

GILLON: Anthony Albanese joining us live there from Canberra. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Thanks Ashleigh.

Mar 16, 2018

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Adelaide, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: South Australian election, tax reform, superannuation.

HOST: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese join us for Two Tribes. Good morning gentlemen.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen. Good to be with you.


HOST: Now we are going to kick off with you if we can Chris. It has been almost 20 years since your lot were in power, the Liberal Party, here in South Australia. What has kept them out of power for so long and why do you think they can win this time?

PYNE: I think we will win this time because Steven Marshall has done the work necessary to put the policies together, to get the team together, to unite the team in a way that we haven’t been united in decades. It has been a great testament to his strength of character. I think we will win because of that, because we offer a real alternative, a real change from what has been a lacklustre government under Jay Weatherill. They’ve run a lacklustre campaign. You almost get the sense they are desperate to hand over the keys of government to someone else after 16 years. Sixteen years is a long time for one government to be in power and they look tired. So I think we will win tomorrow, I don’t think Nick Xenophon has come up trumps. He hasn’t got any policy, his candidates are unknown, he has run a stunt sort of silly campaign about, you know, jingles and laughs and I think people take it more seriously than that. So that is why I think we will win tomorrow. We have got the real plan for real change and I think Labor is desperate to hand to somebody new to get a change.

HOST: What do you make of it Albo? You are good mates with Jay Weatherill.  You guys have been very close. You are in the same faction, the Left faction of the Labor Party. You would be collaborating at the moment to try get the local boy Mark Butler up as Labor Party President against the Right’s Wayne Swan. Would you be sad to see Jay go?

ALBANESE: Well Jay Weatherill deserves to be re-elected tomorrow. He leads a united team, a team with a vision for South Australia that is being implemented – growing the economy, dealing with the issues that we have had with the car plants being closed at the behest of the Federal Liberal Government and the fact is that Jay has managed that transition. Job creation is his priority. He also has a plan in my area of transport including the rollout of the AdeLINK tram extensions throughout Adelaide and he has a vision for the state. I I think the fact that Nick Xenophon has emerged as the third force in the South Australian election says that people have had a look at Steven Marshall and the Liberal Party and don’t see them as an alternative government. And anything can happen tomorrow of course. This time last election campaign Steven Marshall endorsed the Labor Party. He called for a vote for Labor.

PYNE: That is so lame. Honestly.

ALBANESE: We will see what he does today.

PYNE: Is that the best you’ve got?

ALBANESE: Well it is pretty lame. Steven Marshall is lame.

HOST: All right.

PYNE:  … a four-year old story. You’ve got nothing better.

ALBANESE: He is a lame leader limping because he’s got nothing better.

HOST: Let’s get you to stick to your knitting and get back to a federal issue and for that Albo we return to you because Bill Shorten put up a policy this week regarding closing the loophole reading dividend tax imputation credits. So much debate and discussion has come out of this regarding whether this is a loophole, whether this is something that people have simply planned retirement around and the goalposts have been unfairly moved on them. But at its heart I think is a simple question: do you believe that people who are self-funded retirees are rich?

ALBANESE: No and no one is saying that. What we are saying here is that this is a loophole. You yourself described it as that in your introduction. Dividend imputation was about offsetting tax liabilities, not cash payouts. And the big change that has happened since, well there have been two changes; firstly Labor introduced dividend imputation to avoid double taxation in 1987. It was never envisaged that there would be tax payouts. That change was made in the early 2000s. But since then income from superannuation is tax-free for those who turn 60 or are older. So what has happened is that a cost that was originally $500 million to the Budget is now heading towards $8 billion to the Budget. That is more than we spend on public school funding at a federal level right around the country in every single school.

HOST: Is it possible though it can be good tax policy if we were starting from ground zero, but not fair when you consider that people have built retirement planning around this, because for those that don’t have other investment income to offset their situation and they lose the benefit of franking credits, they suddenly go from a zero percent tax rate to 30 per cent do they not?

ALBANESE: Well of course in a range of areas across the board you don’t have people who are paying less than zero tax. That is the case for the entire tax system and that’s why we are the only country in the OECD that does this. The Government itself considered doing this in a Treasury paper in 2015. This is Government that has tightened the assets test, which kicked 90,000 pensioners off the pension. This is a Government that is removing or trying to remove the energy supplement. This is a government that has committed to increasing the pension age.

PYNE: I am still here by the way …

ALBANESE: They have all of those changes …

PYNE: … if you want to give me a go.

ALBANESE: … running through.

HOST: You are up next Chris.

ALBANESE: Stop whinging, Christopher.

PYNE: Well you know, really.

HOST: Come on Chris, your turn.

ALBANESE: Well you have got nothing to say because it is Labor …

PYNE: This is like Mao Zedong’s last speech to the Chinese Communist Party national convention.

ALBANESE: It is Labor that once again is always leading the debate in this country. You are just sitting in the bleachers at Adelaide Oval watching.

PYNE: … four hours.

HOST: He was being very polite Albo. He gave you a good run.

ALBANESE: You have forgotten you are the Government.

HOST: What do you make of it all Chris?

PYNE: Well this policy makes the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan look like a dance party it is such a disaster. The truth is there are 1.1 million Australians, 610,000 have got incomes of under $18,200 a year who are going to be hit by Bill Shorten’s tax grab. Ninety-seven percent of the people affected have incomes of under $87,000 a year. Now Bill Shorten is trying to pretend that this is a soak-the-rich policy. It is actually the opposite. Five thousand people out of the 1.1 million have incomes of over 180 grand a year so we are looking at a massive hit on low-income earners, self-funded retires, pensioners who can’t change their position. They can’t come out and work more. They can’t come out and do extra hours or shifts. They are stuck on those incomes. They planned those incomes their whole lives and Labor’s come along and said: “No, we are going to pull the rug out from under them”.

ALBANESE: I’ve got a question for you Chris. Are you talking about low incomes or low taxable incomes?

PYNE: We are talking about people on low incomes.

ALBANESE: Low taxable incomes is what you are talking about.

PYNE: You go out and argue that. That will be good.

HOST: Hey Albo. Albo. Sorry. I’m jumping in. Albo, I reckon one big problem that you have got and it makes you guys look hypocritical on this: when John Howard quite rightly shut down the old and unsustainable and obscenely generous Parliamentary Super Scheme in 2004, talking about, you know, the super that you guys are entitled to because you were elected prior to that date, they didn’t do it retrospectively. They created a new, much more modest superannuation scheme for MPs like my wife who were elected that year. So you covered your own backsides by not making it retrospective to MPs who were already in the Parliament. If it is good for the goose why isn’t it good for the gander?

ALBANESE: For you to raise Parliamentary super in this context is rather bizarre.

HOST: No it’s not at all. It’s exactly comparable.

ALBANESE: No. No it’s not and you know it’s not. It’s a cheap shot.

HOST: It’s not a cheap shot.

ALBANESE: Defined benefits schemes are defined in the law. There have been cases that say that you can’t change defined benefits schemes because of essentially the contract of employment.

HOST: All right. I reckon a lot of listeners would regard that as convenient.

ALBANESE: There is a whole range of case law along there.  Well so is having a shot at politicians David, convenient for you frankly. The fact is …

HOST: It’s not a cheap shot.

HOST: The point of the question was about pulling rug from beneath people that have made plans, who have planned under a certain set of rules.

HOST: The argument in 2004 for MPs …

ALBANESE: Let’s be clear here. The rules were set in 1987 by Paul Keating who introduced imputation and it was never, ever envisaged that there should be cash payments. Then when the change was made in terms of cash payments being allowed by the Howard Government what they then subsequently after that did was they changed the issue of – that’s why I raised the issue of low income as opposed to low taxable income. Because income from super is tax-free after the age of 60 what you have had is in particular some self-managed super funds with balances of well over $2.5 million, which is where 50 per cent of the funds here, of the revenue here, will come from – the top ten percent of funds. That is where overwhelmingly the revenue from this change will come.

PYNE: So the 1.1 million individuals don’t matter?

ALBANESE: And you have got to make, you have got to make your decision in terms of, I mean this is a Government that is proposing measures like increasing the working age up to 70, like removing the Energy Supplement – a range of measures …

HOST: But Albo, the point I was making though, it wasn’t a cheap shot at politicians, what I am saying …

ALBANESE: Of course it was. But that’s fine.

HOST: No, no no …

ALBANESE: But of course it was.

HOST: No hear me out. Hear me out. What I was saying was the argument at the time in the Parliament in 2004 was that it would be unfair to retrospectively change …

ALBANESE: No it wasn’t.

HOST: … superannuation for politicians because it was their nest egg.

ALBANESE: No it wasn’t. Well you are just wrong.

HOST: Mate I covered it. I was there.

ALBANESE: You are just wrong.

HOST:  I remember talking to politicians about it saying we are not going to change the nest egg for existing MPs because it would be unfair.

ALBANESE: Well you are just wrong. It was done because there was advice that they couldn’t do that.

HOST: Right. Ok. Well I reckon it is going to be a hard path – the sell job.

PYNE: You two seem to be getting along well.

HOST: It wasn’t a cheap shot. I remember the argument. I remember the discussion around it at the time.

ALBANESE: The same argument is if you got out there and say do politicians earn too much money, do a survey and say should we be paid $200,000 a year or $100,00 a year with your listeners and guess what, 99 per cent would chose the lower amount.

HOST: Sure.

ALBANESE:  We know that is the case.

PYNE: The bottom line here is that Bill thought he was going to get a cheap shot attacking the so-called soaking-the-rich policy and it has completely blown up in his face.

ALBANESE: That is not right. The bottom line is this simply is not affordable.

PYNE: Just before the Batman by-election. Just before the Batman by-election and the South Australian election. I mean this is like Jay’s plan to increase the GST 10 percent.

HOST: That was also Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for a while Chris. Be careful going down that path. We are going to have to leave it there. It’s (inaudible) for you to get that fiery today. That came out of nowhere.

HOST: I must say they have made a powerful argument for Two Tribes to appear on a Friday every week. Clearly nerve endings are a little frayedat the end of the week in Canberra.

HOST: I’ll say. Sorry Albo.

HOST: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, Two Tribes. We do it once a week, usually on a Wednesday. Sometimes it is in fact boringly civil.

HOST: Not today it wasn’t.

Mar 16, 2018

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects; SA election; Batman by-election; tax policy; Russia. 

BEN FORDHAM: Let’s get ready to rumble. We love Friday chats with Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne and the tax battle continues. Labor says it won’t offer compensation to pensioners affected by its plan to scrap $59 billion in refundable tax credits on share dividends. This was the policy announced by Bill Shorten this week. Let’s welcome Anthony Albanese. Albo, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be here.

FORDHAM: And Christopher Pyne, hello Christopher, how are you?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good thank you, Ben. Nice to be with you.

FORDHAM: Look, before we get to the tax plan, state election in South Australia this weekend. You’re the man in Adelaide. Your prediction for tomorrow?

PYNE: Well, the Labor Party’s had a lackluster government and a lackluster campaign and Steven Marshall on the other hand I think has done all the things to show why he deserves to be elected. I don’t think Nick Xenophon has performed well in the last five weeks. He’s been found wanting on policies and candidates and therefore I think that we will win. I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch…

FORDHAM: I think you just did.

PYNE: I think we will win a majority government.

ALBANESE: He’s clucking!

PYNE: That’s my prediction. The South Australian public deserve a change of government after 16 years.

FORDHAM: Alright, hold on there Christopher, we have a few things to get through. So we got your prediction; the Liberal Party will win the state election in South Australia tomorrow. Batman by-election same day tomorrow in Melbourne. The Libs aren’t involved there. It’s down to the Greens and the Labor Party. You confident Labor will get up, Albo?

ALBANESE: They both have something in common, Batman and South Australia; in one the Liberals aren’t running at all. In the other they’re not really running, which is why Nick Xenophon has emerged as an alternative Opposition Leader, because the South Australian Libs under Steven Marshall are so hopeless.

FORDHAM: Just stick to the question. Batman by-election?

ALBANESE: South Australia is important!

FORDHAM: No, South Australia’s in South Australia. Batman is in Victoria.

ALBANESE: I understand that.

FORDHAM: Who’s going to win the Batman by-election?

ALBANESE: I know where they both are. Labor is running in both and Labor will win in both.

FORDHAM: Labor will win the Batman by-election?

ALBANESE: Labor will win in both. People have an opportunity tomorrow to have Ged Kearney, a voice in government, or they have someone who can sit back, wait until decisions are made and then decide whether they will protest or not. Ged Kearney will be the first nurse put into the House of Reps.

FORDHAM: This isn’t a chance for both of you to put up your election posters.

ALBANESE: Well, you asked the questions! You’ve got to expect the answer.

FORDHAM: Questions, as opposed to using it as a chance to flash your election posters. Let me ask you about the timing of Bill Shorten’s tax announcement this week. You must admit even Ged Kearney, the Labor candidate in the Batman by-election seemed to acknowledge yesterday that this was pretty ordinary timing, the fact that this has been announced this week.

ALBANESE: The fact is that Labor, unlike previous Oppositions is prepared to put our policies out there, to argue for them, to do them well in advance of an election. Not wait until the usual processes, which is government getting into office and they say ‘oh look, things have changed, we’ve got to announce this new cut or this new policy’. Labor is putting it out there for all to see. It’s good policy. Every economist in the country knows that this policy was never intended to actually provide cash refunds. It was designed to reduce tax liabilities down to zero. And when it was introduced of course, superannuation wasn’t tax free for everyone above the age of 60.

FORDHAM: Okay, if it’s such a good policy, Christopher, why has it gone down like a lead balloon all over the country, this policy from Bill Shorten?

PYNE: Well Ben, Bill Shorten’s tax grabs are starting to make the landing on the beach in Saving Private Ryan look like a tea party. It’s an absolute fiasco because there’s 1.1 million Australians who are on low incomes, largely, going to have their income reduced. 610,000 of those are on incomes of less than $18,200 a year. It has not been thought through. Whoever came up with it has obviously not got the competence…

FORDHAM: Well, it wasn’t Albo who came up with it. It wasn’t you. It was the boss, Bill, right?

ALBANESE: It has been thought through.

PYNE: Albo has run a million miles from it this morning, as has Ged Kearney this week.

FORDHAM: He called it good policy!

ALBANESE: It is good policy.

FORDHAM: You should be staying away from it.

ALBANESE: It is good policy and every economist in the country knows it.

FORDHAM: Rubbish, every economist in the country. Why don’t you ask Ross Greenwood, Today Show and Channel 9’s Finance Editor? He called it out within hours saying this is going to hurt the people that Labor doesn’t want to hurt and that’s why there will be sweeteners at some point from the Labor Party.

PYNE: Absolute incompetence.

FORDHAM: Can I ask another quick one? Russia, we’ve got this cold war emerging at the moment in the UK. Also the United States taking on Russia. Theresa May, within one week of this poisoning attempt in the UK, she kicks 23 Russian diplomats out of the country. Why is it that four years, nearly four years after 38 Australians were killed by a Russian missile on MH17 our official line in Australia is ‘we’re waiting on a report’. Can you believe that?

ALBANESE: We should have seen stronger action and Theresa May has shown strong action in the UK. This is the first chemical attack in a Western country for a long period of time and the UK deserves praise for what they’re doing. Australia supports it, as we should.

FORDHAM: Christopher, when is Australia – you’re are a member of the Government – when is Australia going to get serious about the deaths of 38 Australians as a result of a Russian missile? Theresa May showed us how it was done this week, kicked ’em out of the country and took decisive action in Australia. Nearly four years later, we’re waiting on a report.

PYNE: Well, that’s wrong. I think you conflating the two issues is quite unfair. The truth is that the separatists in the Ukraine shot down the MH17 and there’s been an ongoing investigation which points the finger at Russia. The Dutch are leading the prosecution in that case because over half of the 298 people who were killed on MH17 were Dutch. Australia has supported the Dutch and the Ukrainians throughout the investigation. We’ve done absolutely everything required of us. We’ve applied sanctions to Russia as a consequence and nobody has criticised Australia’s reaction to MH17 until you this morning. On the other hand…

FORDHAM: Well hang on a moment, that’s not true.

PYNE: No, hang on. No, no.

FORDHAM: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott criticised it this week; he said it wasn’t good enough and it was disappointing. So what you just said was wrong, Christopher.

PYNE: He was the Prime Minister at the time so if wanted to…

FORDHAM: …and he called out Russia within hours of that attack.

ALBANESE: Christopher’s never met Tony Abbott, you need to explain to him who he is.

PYNE: Well he didn’t expel 20 – it’s a very serious issue – he didn’t expel 23 diplomats, so four years later being an expert on the Government’s reaction as it should have been four years ago is very easy. What’s happened in the last fortnight though is really serious in London because the nerve agent used could only have been produced by the Russians. So either the Russians allowed it to be used, or they’ve lost control of that nerve agent stockpile in Russia. And that’s why they are very much…

FORDHAM: I’d love to be able to talk about it further, but in all seriousness, I’ve got the boss in my ear saying ‘wrap this up’.

PYNE: Well, you raised a very serious issue at the last minute.

FORDHAM: Good luck to everyone involved in the…

ALBANESE: Where’s Karl been? Last time I saw him he was jumping in the Yarra River.

FORDHAM: He’s still in there.

ALBANESE: Hasn’t been seen since.

FORDHAM: Thank you very much. He’ll be back next week. Thank you very much Christopher, thank you Albo.

Mar 15, 2018

Transcript of radio interview – 3AW Neil Mitchell Program

Subjects: Labor Party, tax policy.

NEIL MITCHELL: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Cities and he is in the studio with me. Are you sure you are a member of the Labor Party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am absolutely a very loyal member of the Labor Party.

MITCHELL: What the hell are you doing here?

ALBANESE: Indeed I am so old, I was at a branch event last night and talked about when I joined the Labor Party and it reminded me that I am eligible for life membership soon, so that is a bit of a worry.

MITCHELL: When did you join?

ALBANESE: When I was at school.

MITCHELL: You could be thrown out for coming here you know.

ALBANESE:  No. Never. I am always happy to talk to you, Neil.

MITCHELL: You are alone.

ALBANESE:  I’m sure that’s not the case.

MITCHELL: I am. Now the other thing that surprises me – this new tax policy, you can’t support that, can you? An old Labor man like yourself with a history in the Labor Party caring for the battler, the pensioner and you are going to take money out of their pockets?

ALBANESE: I certainly do support this policy and it is important to go back to first principles here. I actually was a researcher as a young economist in the Hawke Government who worked on the Tax Summit and worked on the dividend imputation scheme and you need to go back to first principles. What is the dividend imputation scheme about? It is to make sure there is not double taxation, so that when a company makes profits they pay tax on it and then the franked dividends get paid to the shareholders.


ALBANESE: And because it has been taxed already, the shareholders are able to offset their tax liabilities – the tax that they owe. It was never, ever intended to be a system that produced cash payments for people who weren’t paying tax and …

MITCHELL: I understand all that but …

ALBANESE:  … and that is important.

MITCHELL: … but I’ve still got this problem with your leadership and your leaders are saying this will not hurt pensioners and low-income earners. Now that is palpably wrong. Do you agree with that? It’s going to hurt people who don’t need to be hurt.

ALBANESE:  There is another element here as well, which is that the Howard Government introduced this change and at that time it was going to cost some $550 million. This year it is costing the Budget something in the order of $6 billion and within a couple of years it will rise to $8 billion.

One of the reasons why that is, is because since that change was made, a couple of years later the Government changed superannuation so that no tax is paid once you turn 60. It’s all tax-free.

So what might have been an acceptable policy when it was introduced, once that happened it created a complete distortion so that you have people who are receiving $2 million and more in actual cash refunds who aren’t paying any tax, so …

MITCHELL: What percentage of people are in that category?

ALBANESE:  There are a range of people who are in that circumstance. What we know, in terms of this policy, is that 50 percent of the cash payments go to just 10 percent of the funds. We know that this is a loophole that should be addressed. Government is about priorities and yes, this is a difficult decision for Labor to make.

MITCHELL: Do you accept that it is going to hurt people like pensioners and self-funded retirees who have not got a lot of money?

ALBANESE: I certainly accept that pensioners will always be better off under Labor.

MITCHELL: No, no, no, no.

ALBANESE:  You need to look at what we are doing, Neil. What we are doing is we are going to maintain the system of the energy supplement that the Government is trying to remove.

MITCHELL: That’s all good.

ALBANESE:  What we will also do, we won’t raise the pension age, which is what they are going to do as well. We are against that. I also accept that it was Labor when we were last in Government that had the largest-ever increase for pensions in Australian history.

MITCHELL: Now Mr Albanese, you are not a spinner usually.

ALBANESE: No, I’m not.

MITCHELL: Do you accept that people who cannot afford it will be hurt by this?

ALBANESE:  I accept that this will have adverse impacts on some people …

MITCHELL: Pensioners included?

ALBANESE: … on some people, but by and large the impact is very much on those people at the top end in terms of, as I said, the figure 50 percent of these cash refunds go to the 10 percent of funds. What you also have …

MITCHELL: What about your unintended consequences? What about your collateral damage: Helen, income of $20,000 a year, $3300 she is going to lose out of that; Brian $40,000 a year, he is losing $7000; self-managed super fund 70 grand a year, admittedly tax-free, he is losing $27,000 – that’s a couple – losing $27,000. These aren’t fat cats are they?

ALBANESE: One of the things that we are doing here, as well is clearly flagging it well in advance of the election, well in advance of any legislation going through, so that people can have certainty in terms of their tax arrangements.

MITCHELL: Certainty? You are changing the goalposts from what they have set up.

ALBANESE: No, the goalposts have been changed since this was set up, Neil.

MITCHELL: That’s true. I’m not saying the other mob is any better.

ALBANESE: Before this was set up there wasn’t tax-free super for everyone above the age of 60.


ALBANESE: And that has been a significant change. When you can see a tax loophole and any economist, any serious economist, will say this is a tax loophole, we cannot simply afford when we have debt above half a trillion dollars now under this Government, when we have increased deficits going out, when we have a $6 billion figure from something that began as a $500 million cost to the Budget each year and rising in the coming couple of years to $8 billion.

MITCHELL: You can’t afford it?

ALBANESE: You need to make choices. Government is about choices.

MITCHELL: You are not going to save it. You are going to spend it. You are not going to pay off the deficit. You are not going to put it towards surplus.  You are going to spend it buying an election.

ALBANESE: Wait and see what we do, Neil.

MITCHELL: Will you tell us that you will not spend this money on tax cuts?

ALBANESE: I’m not here to announce – funnily enough – I’m not in a position to announce Labor policy for the next election.

MITCHELL: Do you just accept that these people are collateral damage?

ALBANESE: We will always do more for pensioners than the other mob. Always. We will always do more for pensioners than the other mob.

MITCHELL: Will they get compensation for this?

ALBANESE: I’m not in a position to announce new policy here Neil, as you know. But what I will say as someone who, as you know, grew up in a household that depended upon a single invalid pensioner, I understand how important pensions are and I understand what it is like to be a battler and Labor will always stand up for those people.

MITCHELL: And you do accept, I think, that you are taking money here from pensioners, from self-funded retirees who can’t afford it.

ALBANESE: What I accept is that these changes are difficult, that people will have time though to work through their arrangements. This isn’t the usual course of events, which is you make an announcement on Budget night, the legislation is ready that day as part of Budget Papers and then the changes go through. We are not doing that. We are clearly saying there is an anomaly here that needs fixing, this loophole …

MITCHELL: If it is the fat cats, go after the fat cats. Leave the battler alone.

ALBANESE: That is where most of the money is coming from here in terms of this loophole.

MITCHELL:  You are hurting battlers. We will take a break. Calls for Mr Albanese in a moment. Everyone will be generous, won’t they?

ALBANESE: Who knows? We will see.


MITCHELL: Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese is with me. We’ll take a couple of calls. We’ve got a boardfull so please be as quick as possible. Yes, Rod?

ROD: G’day Neil. My mum’s obviously one of Bill Shorten’s fat cats. She’s an 89 year old Veterans Affairs pensioner courtesy of my dad’s war service in World War Two. He died 20 years ago leaving her a modest house and a comfortable – a small parcel of shares. She’s on a full DVA pension of $24,000. The shares bring in $8300 worth of dividends, of which $3500 is the franking credits. So Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten are quite happy to take away that $3500 from her leaving her with a net income of under $30,000, probably $28,000, so a 10 per cent haircut. I guess she’s got plenty of time to plan for it, Mr Albanese, she can plan to cancel her hairdresser, plan to cancel some of her little treats that make life worth living when you’re 89  and you haven’t done enough for your country.

MITCHELL: Rod, hold on. Mr Albanese?

ALBANESE: I’m very sympathetic with your Mum’s case but of course she won’t lose a dollar from any of those those dividends. She won’t lose a dollar from her pension. It will result in a change in terms of –

MITCHELL: She’ll lose money though.

ALBANESE: Yes, it will result in a change in terms of the treatment of those dividends –

MITCHELL: An 89 year old World War Two widow, was it $20,000, $24,000? She’s going to lose money. Is she a fat cat?

ALBANESE: No, she’s not. I don’t know all of the circumstances and I can’t be – with respect – expected to confirm details about where those investments are and how much they earn, but I’m also not going to say to someone who rings up with an 89 year old mum, whose husband fought for our nation that she is deserving of anything but respect and I certainly have that for her.

MITCHELL: Does this sound like respect?

ALBANESE: The circumstances here are that you simply have an unsustainable loophole that was never intended to be.

MITCHELL: Means test it.

ALBANESE: It was never intended to be a part of the system.

MITCHELL: What’s wrong with means testing?

ALBANESE: There is no country in the world, in the OECD, there is not a single country that provides for cash payments, essentially a refund of tax that hasn’t been paid. That is essentially what the current system –

MITCHELL: Well, arguably it has been paid.

ALBANESE: Yes, but in terms of the income tax –

MITCHELL: What is wrong with just hitting the fat cats? Just hitting you and me? What’s wrong with that?

ALBANESE: What we want, and the proposal here is for simplicity of the system to remove this anomaly that has been identified, that overwhelmingly –

MITCHELL: Can I have a bet with you? You’ll change it and introduce some sort of targeting of the fat cats and let Rod’s mum off the hook.

ALBANESE: Well I’m not a gambler, Neil – and I didn’t think you were either.

MITCHELL: Steven, hello Steven.

STEVEN: Hi Neil and Anthony, I’m just looking at ways obviously to reduce this impact. Just my question is, if I was to transfer my pension plan back into superannuation, superannuation pays 15 percent on its earnings, can I apply those imputation credits to those earnings to offset that tax? There’s very little information out there at the moment .

ALBANESE: Mate, I’m not in a position to give tax advice on commercial radio here in Melbourne. That wouldn’t be fair.

MITCHELL: Hold on Steven, we’ll get your details and we’ll and try and get an answer on it. Veronica, hello Veronica.

VERONICA: Oh, hello.

MITCHELL: Yes, Veronica?

VERONICA: My income now since I lost my part-pension last year is only $18,800 and now I’ll be losing another $2300, which brings me down to $16500 per year.

MITCHELL: Another fat cat?

ALBANESE: Well, hang on. Why did you lose your part pension if your total income is only $16,000 per year?

VERONICA: Because they moved the goalposts last year. My husband died so I’m single now and I’m 82 years of age with no super.

MITCHELL: Okay, and you’re going to lose two grand. Another fat cat?

ALBANESE: No. What the woman has just indicated, sorry, I missed her name…

MITCHELL: Veronica.

ALBANESE: …Veronica. Veronica has indicated that the current Government, not us – the current Government – changed the goalposts which is why she lost her pension.

MITCHELL: You’re looking to take an extra two grand out of it!

ALBANESE: I can’t be expected –

MITCHELL: Well, what about the $2000 you’re taking out of her $18,000?

ALBANESE: Well, she will still of course earn her dividends. What she won’t get is a cash payment for income tax that she hasn’t paid. It was intended to be a refund of income tax. That was the system that was set up.

MITCHELL: Will she or will she not lose $2000?

ALBANESE: It’s a pretty simple principle. What will happen is that people who aren’t paying income tax won’t be able to receive a refund on income tax that they haven’t paid.

MITCHELL: Thank you so much for coming in. You can’t win an argument without debating it and I appreciate that.

ALBANESE: I’m always happy to have have a debate and I’m always happy to be here, Neil.

MITCHELL: I appreciate that. Thanks for your time.

ALBANESE: Thanks mate.

Mar 9, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Melbourne

Subjects; Batman by-election, extension of number 11 tram, Greens political party candidate Alex Bhathal

GED KEARNEY: Good morning everybody. I’m Ged Kearney, the Labor candidate for the by-election of Batman and we are one week to go until voting day. I have had the most amazing support from everybody, right across the electorate and of course the wonderful people in the Labor Party. I’m very pleased to have Anthony Albanese with me today. We’ve had some great announcements this election.

If Labor is elected we will see $10 million going to our Northern College of the Arts and Technology. We’ll see $2 million going to establish a sensitive healthcare centre for the LGBTIQ community. We’ll see really essential funding going to the Aboriginal Advancement League so that they can build a wonderful cultural and sporting centre there. And, of course, the very popular announcement that we will extend the number 11 tram all the way to the Edwardes Park Lake. So without further ado, I’m going to hand over to Anthony. Thank you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. It’s been great to be here once again with my friend Ged Kearney who I want to be able to sit next to in the Parliament of Australia. One of the things I want to do as the Transport Minister in a Shorten Labor Government is make sure that the number 11 tram is extended from West Preston up to Reservoir. Now this is a vital project. The fact is that Melbourne is one of the world’s great liveable cities. One of the things that makes it liveable and great for both residents and visitors like me, or visitors from around the world, is its light rail network, which is of course the longest of any light rail network in any city in the world.

It’s something that Victorians should be very proud of and indeed it’s a great national asset. This is why Federal Labor believes in investment in public transport in Government, unlike the Coalition and unlike the Greens political party, we can actually deliver it.

How do you know we’ll do it? Because we’ve done it in the past. The largest ever investment in a public transport project in Australia’s history is the Regional Rail Link, with our $3 billion commitment that we made to fix up the line there. Of course we also made a commitment to the Melbourne Metro, which was cut by the incoming Abbott Government. This light rail extension, the extension of the tram network, will be welcomed by residents but also visitors and will assist in the ongoing improvements here in Melbourne.

At this election you have a choice. The people of Batman can elect someone, Ged Kearney, who’ll be an advocate not just for this project but for other projects as well as part of a Labor Government. As part of a party that seeks to make decisions around the Cabinet table and at budget time. Either that or you can have someone who will be someone who has to wait until decisions are made and then protest or not protest against them.

What we know about the Greens party candidate in the Batman by-election now is she mightn’t even be a member of the Greens political party in a fortnight’s time after the by-election is considered. We know now that not just do we have a massive complaint of over 100 pages signed by more than a dozen members of her own political party, we also know that there have been multiple complaints, including complaints made in part with a fellow called Richard Di Natale, the national leader of the Greens political party. And it’s been interesting during this campaign Mr Di Natale has been prepared to say that the Greens support his party’s candidate here. He hasn’t said that he personally supports the candidate, because he has reservations. We know from ABC reports that those complaints have not been dealt with and they’re still in a position whereby it’s possible that the candidate will be either suspended or expelled from the Greens political party.

And this is what we see from the Greens party. We see it right around the country,  I saw it in my electorate last time around, whereby the candidate wasn’t supported by a whole lot of his own members. Here it is very clear during this campaign that you have Greens party members, not just supporters, who are refusing to support their candidate who has been imposed in this by-election. That should be of real concern.

So you have on the one hand a candidate who doesn’t have the support of members of her own party, who is subject to ongoing complaints, who may well be expelled or suspended from the Greens political party after this by-election is over. On the other hand you have Ged Kearney: someone whose record is out there for all to see over decades in a transparent manner; someone who, of course, began her working life as a nurse looking after people; someone who then went into the nurse’s union and made gains for hardworking nurses; someone who, because of that success and her reputation as a principled person of integrity, rose to the heights of being president of the national trade union movement.

With Ged Kearney you know exactly what you’ll get. You’ll get someone who will fight for her values and for her principles and be a voice within the Labor Party as well as for the Labor Party, for progressive views. And that’s why I really hope that next Saturday, in eight days’ time, Ged Kearney receives support.

I said at the beginning of this campaign that I thought that Labor would win this by-election. I still think Labor will win this by-election and as every day goes on and people have a look at what the options are: Ged Kearney – Labor, principled, feminist, progressive, activist – or someone who’s under a cloud from her own political party. I think the choice is very clear.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that voters will care that much about internal issues within the Greens? Or are they just going to vote on the issues like Adani?

ALBANESE: I think what they will care about is the fact that those people who know the Greens Party candidate the best are people in her party.
This isn’t a new candidate. This is someone who has run unsuccessfully and hasn’t received the support of the people of Batman on five occasions. So they know this candidate and they have expressed reservations.  There is a history of multiple complaints that Mr Di Natale has either just simply not told the truth about them being resolved or at best he has dissembled about the facts around these matters.

Whereas with Ged Kearney you know what you’re getting. What you see is what you get: a strong fighter, someone who has been fighting for the interests of nurses and the community her whole working life.

Local representation does matter. And whilst I respect the fact that Adam Bandt wants someone to have play lunch with, that is not what is important. What is at stake here is whether this electorate has strong representation. I want a progressive like Ged Kearney to join me in the federal caucus.

I want someone who will stand up for views with the authority that she will bring in. Ged Kearney, as a former president of the ACTU, won’t be coming into the caucus sitting up the back and working out how things work over the first couple of years during the first term. She will be someone who will be a strong voice from day one. And I think the electorate will get that. It does matter who candidates are and in this electorate we’re putting up the strongest possible Labor candidate. The Greens are putting up someone who a whole section of their own party don’t support and probably won’t be voting for.

JOURNALIST: There are ‘Stop Adani’ signs all over this side of the electorate. Do you think that you have done enough work on that? Bill Shorten has toughened his stance against the project; do you think you’ve done enough to convince voters?

ALBANESE: Voters are sophisticated. And the sort of people who are weighing up whether they will vote for Labor or the Greens political party understand that what you need to deal with the challenge of climate change is comprehensive policy solutions.

You need policy frameworks. That’s what Labor has put in place. We have put that in place with the renewable energy target. I tell you what, if the Greens had voted for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009 it would be in place today.

We wouldn’t be having a debate as we are about the national energy guarantee. We wouldn’t be having chief scientist reviews. It would be in place. One of the things that is driving change around the globe, and is leading to a decline in demand for thermal coal, is the fact that around the globe both policy mechanisms and frameworks being put in place of emissions reductions schemes, be they in our region or internationally through the UN Framework Convention on climate change, those changes are leading to a reduction in the demand for thermal coal.

New technology is leading to renewables being an increasing share. That will continue. The fact is that it’s Labor that has been in a position to put in place those mechanisms. I think that one of the things that concerns me about some of the people in the Greens and those associated with them, is that progressives should be able to say what they’re for, not just what they’re against.

What Labor is for is action on climate change. What Labor is for is real mechanisms that put a cap on carbon emissions and drive that change throughout the economy.

What Labor is about is being a part of international processes that drive that change through the global economy. That’s what we’ve been in a position to do, not shouting from the sidelines, and if you want real action on climate change then it is a Labor Government that will deliver that.

JOURNALIST: So if Bill Shorten doesn’t support this project, does that mean he is going to lean on Queensland Labor to try to stop it?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that we’ve put our policies out there, our policies on climate change …

JOURNALIST: Not on climate change, on the Adani coal project.

ALBANESE: That is a climate change issue. Either that or it’s nothing; that’s the argument here. We have a comprehensive plan to deal with climate change to transition our economy away from fossil fuels and towards renewables, to reduce emissions. It’s only Labor that has that plan …

JOURNALIST: But Queensland Labor is pushing for a giant new coal project.

ALBANESE: We will continue to put forward our proposals. We believe – that’s just Queensland Labor – that there should be no subsidies for private sector projects. That’s where government comes in; it’s a private sector project. This will receive no subsidies. It is Federal Labor that led the debate on that issue and let me say this: the advocates who came to see me about this issue said ‘if you stop the public subsidy of the rail line you stop the project’. And it’s very clear that this is a project that doesn’t have finance. Thanks.

JOURNALIST: The betting odds are looking a little bit more favourable now. How much do you think that is a swing against the Greens candidate?

KEARNEY: I don’t really look at the odds; I try not to take any notice of them. But I am feeling out there that it is a very close competition at this point in time. We are by no means way behind. I wouldn’t say that we are ahead at all but it is very close. That’s the indication I am getting on the ground.

JOURNALIST: Did you feel that you’ve been helped by the accusations against Alex Bhathal?

KEARNEY: I think I’ve been helped by wonderful people like Anthony Albanese, who are making great announcements on infrastructure and the announcements that we made with Penny Wong about the funding for the LGBTIQ community.

I think we have really had some terrific announcements, some very positive things to say in this campaign and I really think that is what is working.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Alex Bhathal is a suitable character to be a federal representative?

KEARNEY: I really don’t want to comment on that. I think that’s for the Greens party themselves to sort out. I’m just really focusing on what I can bring to the people of Batman and convincing the people of Batman that I will be the best candidate for them.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the hipster proof fence of Bell Street, is it going to hold?

KEARNEY: I am seeing a lot of change. People are telling me that we have had a very good response on pre polling. A lot of people are talking to me, I have been having house meetings, in houses, a lot of them are in the south where a lot of people have been coming along and having very good conversations with me about Labor and Labor’s policies. It will be very interesting to see on polling day how that plays out. Thank you.



Mar 9, 2018

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects; Catholic schools funding, US tariffs on steel and aluminium, Yarra River.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Well it’s what’s been described this morning as a Catholic education funding war. Bill Shorten is pledging more than $250 million to Catholic schools if he wins the next election. The pledge comes after Education Minister Simon Birmingham revealed a plan to reduce Catholic school funding. Joining me now is Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese. Guys, good morning to you.


JOSH FRYDENBERG: Good morning.

STEFANOVIC: What the Coalition taketh away, Labor giveth. Is that right this morning?

ALBANESE: Well we have said that we will put back the $17 billion that’s been cut from schools. We had an agreement to end the war over education funding with the Gonski reforms and we’ll put that funding back because we think that every child should be given the opportunity to be the best they can in life.

STEFANOVIC: Why will you be giving money back to the Catholic schools though?

ALBANESE: Because the fact is that the Catholic schools have had their funding cut. We estimate, or importantly, the Parliamentary Budget Office, independent of Labor, says that will add up to about $250 million in the first couple of years, but of course that figure increases over a period of time.

STEFANOVIC: That jams you a little bit, doesn’t it Josh?

FRYDENBERG: Well only Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten would think that a $3.5 billion boost to Catholic education is a cut. That is what they will get under the Turnbull Government and under Gonski 2.0.

STEFANOVIC: It’s a cut in terms of funding overall.

FRYDENBERG: No, it’s not. We’ve been boosting…

ALBANESE: It’s a cut compared to what they would have got.

FRYDENBERG: Welcome to Melbourne, Australia’s most liveable city, Albo. But look, the fact is the Catholic schools will benefit greatly under the Turnbull Government’s Gonski 2.0.

STEFANOVIC: So you’re not worried about this at all? Backlash from Catholic voters?

FRYDENBERG: No, we are focused on our big boost for education funding – more than $25 billion.

STEFANOVIC: You don’t care about Catholic voters, do you?

FRYDENBERG: We really care about Catholic voters, we really care about Catholic schools and we really care about education overall.

ALBANESE: This isn’t about voters, this is about students and kids, giving them an opportunity and that’s what we need to do.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, let’s talk about Donald Trump. He’s preparing to sign off on trade tariffs. He’s given an indication this morning that Australia may be exempt. Here’s what he had to say:

TRUMP: We have a very close relationship with Australia. We have a trade surplus with Australia. Great country. Long-term partner. We’ll be doing something with them.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. We know the PM has been over there. Julie Bishop has also been doing work behind the scenes. Josh, anything to report there? He’s mentioning Australia, that’s got to be a good thing?

FRYDENBERG: This is a very positive sign and Malcolm Turnbull has led a full court press with the Americans, galvanising our ambassadors, galvanising our business community, working with other ministers to put our case as to why our steel exports create jobs both here in Australia as well as in the United States.

STEFANOVIC: Is it going to work? Is he going to relax (inaudible)?

FRYDENBERG: Let’s just see what happens but this is a positive sign and these are welcome comments from the President.

STEFANOVIC: Albo, do you see it as a positive sign?

ALBANESE: Well it is a positive sign and this is a national interest. We’re as one here for Australia. The risk, as well, even if Australia is exempted there is of course a risk that what you’ll see if other countries are imposed tariffs you’ll see an increased risk of dumping of cheap imports here and that’s something the Government needs to guard against as well. I think President Trump would be well advised to listen to people in his own party and the Congress and the Senate and back away from this attack on free trade.

STEFANOVIC: With the greatest respect, do you think the US President is going to listen to you?

ALBANESE: I hope that he’ll listen to the Republicans in his own party and the Democrats, people in the Congress and the Senate, people in the business community, internationally, particularly in the United States, are opposed to this move.

FRYDENBERG: But Karl, Malcolm Turnbull has been talking to Donald Trump about these issues for a long time, going back to G-20. They have a good working relationship. This is a positive sign. The Coalition stands for free trade; it’s in Australia’s interest. If Bill Shorten had been Prime Minister he would have given up, just like he did on the TPP.

ALBANESE: That’s nonsense. The fact is…

FRYDENBERG: He did give up on the TPP.

ALBANESE: The fact is that Labor is the party that actually opened up the Australian economy. It was the Hawke-Keating Government reforms that gave us the more than two decades of growth that we’re continuing to enjoy today.

FRYDENBERG: And we signed the free trade agreements with the United States, China, Japan and Korea.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, tit for tat here this morning. It is a beautiful morning here…

ALBANESE: It is beautiful. I’m a bit worried about you mate.


ALBANESE: The river.

STEFANOVIC: Yes, so a little bit later – why don’t you jump into the river?

ALBANESE: It’s not Bondi Beach.

FRYDENBERG: Do a Jim Courier.

ALBANESE: Well when I win the Australian Open, I’ll jump in.

FRYDENBERG: We’ll be waiting a long time mate.

ALBANESE: Maybe the seniors – over 80s or something.

STEFANOVIC: This is for charity; you two should do something decent for once in your lives and jump in the Yarra with me.

ALBANESE: I think as a Melbourne local, Josh should show the lead and I’ll follow him.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. If you jump in the Yarra and also fix law and order in this state, then we’ll swim across the river.

ALBANESE: Christopher Pyne would have jumped in the river.

STEFANOVIC: Where is Christopher?

ALBANESE: He would have been in.

STEFANOVIC: Where is he?

ALBANESE: I don’t know. He was worried about the river mate.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you gentlemen, have a great weekend.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

FRYDENBERG: Good to be with you Karl.



Mar 7, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Trade, Newspoll, Adani.

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us each and every week at this time for Two Tribes. Good morning gentlemen.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Sydney.

PYNE: Oh, you are at home.

HOST: I am thank goodness. It’s very nice to have a few days at home.

PYNE: You’ve been spreading your Marxist ideology all over Australia.

HOST: You have had your Weet-Bix this morning haven’t you?

PYNE: I have had Weet-Bix this morning. You are right.

ALBANESE: A certain Senator got in trouble last week for calling someone a Nazi.

PYNE: You wear Marxist like a badge of honour.

ALBANESE: Oh poor Christopher. You are coming up to your 25th anniversary …

PYNE: I am. It is very exciting.

ALBANESE: And maybe, you know, you are a bit past it.

HOST: Gentlemen, maybe on this morning, given what is going on around the world, the fighting words should be saved for US President Donald Trump. The decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports is going to have ramifications for Australian industry. Christopher Pyne, as a long-time ally of the United States, do we deserve better?

PYNE: Well the truth is that we are a long way from a world trade war despite all the breathless reporting by the media in the United States and elsewhere. We aren’t on the brink of a world trade war. Free trade, open markets – that’s one of the things that has made the Western world as well off as we are. We don’t want to go back to things like causes of the Great Depression in the 1920s and early 1930s.

HOST: So you are not worried at all?

PYNE: I think it will be sorted out over time. We will see exactly what these statements mean down the track. But the Minister for Trade Steven Ciobo, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull have all spoken to their counterparts in the United States, including Malcolm Turnbull speaking to Donald Trump when he was there a couple of weeks ago about free trade. We in the Coalition of course have delivered free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China.

HOST: It sounds like you still expect there to be some sort of exemption for Australia.

PYNE: I didn’t say that there would be an exemption. I said let’s wait and see what it actually means.

HOST: Well Anthony Albanese, in the absence of an exemption, what should the Australian Government do? What can it do?

ALBANESE: Well I am much more worried about this than Christopher appears to be. The fact is that Australia is a good friend of the United States. There was an agreement reached between the President and our Prime Minister that Australia would be exempt. That commitment was given and it appears to have been breached. I think sometimes we all have a bit of a chuckle over President Trump’s tweets and what appears to be sort of fairly erratic policy calls, but the implications of this are dire for the global economy. It was Bob Hawke and Paul Keating who set up the more than two decades now of continuous growth that we have had here in Australia by essentially opening up the Australian economy way back in the 1980s.

HOST: Can we do anything about it now? Would you guys be doing anything about it?

ALBANESE: Well, we should be doing something about it. We should be quite strident I think towards the United States about the commitments that were given because of the consequences not just obviously for places like Whyalla in South Australia, but the consequences for the entire global economy of entering into a trade war, and sometimes statements by the President of the United States matter a lot. It’s not just simply throwaway lines. They can result in someone then responding and then you have quite dire consequences. It is extraordinary.

PYNE: You are talking about the steel industry. Of course, it is because of the current Government that we will be using Australian steel to build 21 Pacific patrol boats, 12 offshore patrol boats.

ALBANESE: He managed to work it back to that. We are talking about the whole globe here Christopher.

PYNE: You want chaos and we want as a Government to get on with good government.

ALBANESE: Oh, don’t be stupid Christopher.

PYNE: We are a long way from an international trade war.

ALBANESE: For your mob, you’ve had Michaelia Cash, the Barnaby Joyce fiasco, ongoing saga – it’s like an episode of a Mexican soap opera this Government.

PYNE: A world trade war would be as bad for the United States as it is for any other country.

HOST: Hey, I am jumping in guys. Sorry, I am jumping in. Chris Pyne, a question for you. On Monday, we saw the 28th consecutive poor Newspoll for the Turnbull Government and indeed for Malcolm Turnbull himself. Tony Abbott said in the wake of that it would be up for Malcolm Turnbull to explain if he reaches the magical 30 mark why he deserves to keep his job. Is the clock now officially ticking on Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership?

PYNE: Well David, let’s be very clear here. Tony Abbott didn’t lose the leadership of the Liberal Party because he was behind in 30 Newspolls. He lost the leadership of the Liberal Party because he lost the support of the party room in exactly the same way as in 2009 he replaced Malcolm Turnbull as Leader of the Liberal Party because he got the numbers in the party room by one vote.

HOST: So did Malcolm Turnbull make an error then in citing it as a reason?

PYNE: I think Malcolm Turnbull himself has said that he regrets making that statement because there were a lot more significant reasons why the leadership changed in 2015 than 30 Newspolls. Thirty Newspolls was a symptom, but the truth is that Malcolm Turnbull has the support of the party room in a way that Tony Abbott didn’t have, so there is absolutely no clock ticking on anyone. This is a reality of politics – it’s arithmetic. In the same way that Anthony and I have won eight and nine elections because we got more votes than our opponents in our seats, in the Liberal Party room Malcolm Turnbull has more votes than Tony Abbott. Right now if there was a leadership ballot Malcolm Turnbull would be overwhelmingly re-elected. So it was not because of the Newspolls, it was because people in the party room lost confidence in Tony Abbott two years ago in a way that they haven’t in Malcolm Turnbull.

HOST: Albo, has Labor been coming up with strategies as to how you would combat a Liberal Government led not by Malcolm Turnbull but perhaps by, say, Julie Bishop?

ALBANESE: Well what we have been doing a little bit is what I suspect you and your listeners have been doing – sitting back having some popcorn watching the show on the other side. It has been a diabolical period for the Government in the last few weeks. We’ll take on whoever the Leader of the Liberal Party and therefore the Prime Minister of the day is. I’ve had three Cabinet Ministers for Infrastructure to shadow in the last three months. This is a soap opera and I think that Australians are pretty tired of this Government that seems to be obsessed about itself rather than about the needs of the country.

HOST: Before we let you both go just one final question to you Albo is it possible to get a yes or no answer to the question – does Labor support the Adani mine?

ALBANESE: Well that of course is the wrong question, because what we have in this country …

HOST: Have you got another one you would like me to ask you?

ALBANESE: Well what we have in this country is a system whereby we have approvals through the EPBC Act. This is a private sector project. It is not a government project. Does Labor support government subsidy of the Adani project? No.

PYNE: Bill Shorten says he is going to rip up the process and just oppose it because of the Batman by-election. Do you support that?

ALBANESE: The question of the private sector – a private sector company engaged in activity, whether it be the milk bar down the road, is subject to certain approvals. The Adani project is subject to certain approvals.

PYNE: So you don’t agree with tearing up the licence process and just trying to win the Batman by-election like your Leader does?

ALBANESE: I support the proper processes as does the Leader, Bill Shorten.

PYNE: No he doesn’t. He said he wants to can it.

ALBANESE: Yes he does support the proper processes. It has …

PYNE: And that is why your colleagues are saying he has lost the plot.

HOST: All right we will try again for a clearer yes or no at some point down the track. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese interviewing each other a little bit at the end. Maybe Chris wants to, now that he is possibly approaching the autumn of his career, he wants to get a job in radio.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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