Browsing articles in "Interview Transcripts"
Apr 19, 2007

Murray-Darling crisis could devastate farmers: NFF

Murray-Darling crisis could devastate farmers: NFF

PM – Thursday 19 April, 2007 18:10:00

Reporter: Peta Donald

PETER CAVE: There was grim news today from the Federal Government for farmers in the Murray-Darling basin.

Unless there’s heavy rain in the next couple of months, there’ll be no water allocated from rivers for irrigation.

The National Farmers Federation warns it could be devastating for the 55,000 farmers in the basin, in particular in the horticultural sector, who rely on water to grow such things as grapes and stone fruits.

The Prime Minister suggests praying for rain.

But the Opposition argues he should have acted earlier to prepare for this water crisis.

From Canberra Peta Donald reports.

PETA DONALD: It was a sombre Prime Minister who announced the results of a report into just how bad the shortage of water is in the Murray-Darling basin.

JOHN HOWARD: I’m sorry to report that the report, which has been delivered to both State Premiers and to me, indicates an unprecedentedly dangerous situation.

PETA DONALD: Unless there’s heavy rain in the next six to eight weeks, water will only be made available for basic human consumption for farmers, and in the cities and towns. There’ll be no water allocated for the environment and no water for irrigation.

And that’s in the region that produces most of the country’s irrigated agriculture.

Mr Howard says even if there is rain, it won’t be possible to know if it’s been enough to allocate water to irrigators until late July or well into August.

JOHN HOWARD: We should all pray for rain, because the situation for the farmers of Australia in the irrigation area of this country, in the Murray-Darling basin, is critical. And we must all hope and pray there is rain.

But even if there is, it will be some time before we know the full extent of it, and whether or not it will enable some allocation to be made.

BEN FARGHER: I cannot underscore enough the potentially devastating impact that this announcement today and the prolonged drought will have on regional communities and the irrigation sector, the farm sector, in this country.

PETA DONALD: Ben Fargher is the Chief Executive of the National Farmers Federation. He says the situation is serious for the 55,000 farmers in the Murray-Darling basin – responsible for 40 per cent of Australia’s agricultural production. He’s particularly concerned for those who rely most on irrigation.

BEN FARGHER: But if you are a tree cropper, and you lose that tree, be it stone fruit, grapes, avocadoes, almonds, to name just a few, not an exhaustive list, it may well take you five, six, seven years to rebound. And there is so much infrastructure in regional communities that rely on those industries.

PETA DONALD: The Opposition argues the Federal Government could have done more earlier.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This water crisis has not occurred overnight. The water crisis has developed over a number of years, and it shouldn’t have taken an election year to get action from the Howard Government.

PETA DONALD: Labor’s water spokesman Anthony Albanese says the Government took 10 years to form the national water initiative, and more than half its two-billion dollar fund remains unspent.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s been clear for a long time that out water supplies have been over-allocated, and yet the Government is yet to purchase any of that over-allocated water, to put it back into the system.

It’s quite clear that the complacency of the Howard Government – dominated as it is by climate sceptics – has meant that the pressure has got to the point whereby we now face what is quite extreme action, due to the water supply shortages for our agricultural communities.

PETA DONALD: The Prime Minister – who now calls himself a climate change realist – is playing down the possible link between drought and global warming.

JOHN HOWARD: We’ve had very severe drought before, but we had smaller populations and we had lesser demand … look, I recognise the ongoing debate about the link between the two things. And I don’t really, I don’t vary from that, I don’t think this dramatically alters it.

I mean, we’re practical people, we Australians, and we’ve got to deal with the situation. And I would have thought what people ought to do is focus on what we can do to make sure that the available water does, is used efficiently.

PETER CAVE: Prime Minister John Howard.


Apr 19, 2007

Transcript – Murray Darling basin, need for water and climate change strategy

Transcript of media conference – Electorate Office, Marrickville Rd, Marrickville

Thursday, 19 April 2007


Subject: Murray Darling Basin, need for water and climate change strategy to address long-term water crisis

ALBANESE: Labor shares the concern of the Prime Minister over water supplies in the Murray Darling Basin, but we believe firmly that unless you have a plan to address climate change you won’t address the water crisis. Unless you have a plan to address water across the Murray-Darling Basin over the long-term, you won’t address the water crisis.

Labor supports action being taken to ensure the drinking water supplies for rural communities.

We are most concerned that many of the initiatives foreshadowed under the National Water Initiative have not been implemented, whether they be for rural communities or for urban communities.

This water crisis has not occurred overnight. The water crisis has developed over a number of years, and it shouldn’t have taken an election year to get action from the Howard Government over these issues.

REPORTER: What does the Prime Minister’s statement today that farmers and irrigators can’t take water out of the Murray mean for farmers?

ALBANESE: That will place a great deal of pressure on the farming communities. They have already suffered in recent years because of the drought. They have also suffered because of a lack of Government foresight. It’s way back in 1994 that COAG first addressed the Murray Darling issues, and began the process which took 10 long years to form the National Water Initiative. It’s been clear for a long time that our water supplies have been over-allocated, but the Government is yet to purchase any of that over-allocated water to put it back into the system.

It’s quite clear that the complacency of the Howard Government, dominated as it is by climate sceptics, has meant that the pressure has got to the point whereby we now face what is quite extreme action due to the water supply shortages for our agricultural communities.

REPORTER: Isn’t it better late than never though?

ALBANESE: It is certainly better to take action than to not take action at all. I think Australians expect their Government to take action not just in election years but over a considerable period of time.

I think most Australians would find it pretty extraordinary that the National Water Initiative, which began in 2004 and established programs such as the $2 billion Australian Water Fund – but more than half of that money remains in Government coffers. At a time of national water crisis, one could have expected early action because early action is cheaper, and early action means you don’t have to take drastic measures down the track.

What this highlights again today is the need for Australia to have a serious national plan on climate change if we are going to address the water crisis and if we are going to avoid, in the future, having to take drastic action such as we are seeing today.

REPORTER: Is it too little too late?

ALBANESE: Well, certainly there may be a need for further action. It certainly is of some concern that it has been left to the point where we’re having to have these extreme measures taken. But it’s quite clear that we do need to secure our water supplies for the citizens in our regional towns and communities as a first priority, and we certainly agree with the government on that. We are hopeful that there will be ongoing co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, because this is a national water crisis that requires a national water solution.



Apr 4, 2007

Transcript of media conference – Treasury’s concerns over PM’s water plan

Transcript of media conference, Parliament House, Darwin, NT

Wednesday 4 April 2007


Subject: Treasury’s concerns over Prime Minister’s water plan

ALBANESE: It’s a pleasure to be here today with Damian Hale, Labor’s candidate for Solomon, who we are confident will join the Rudd Labor Government after the next election.

Today I am here to talk about the concerns that Treasury has expressed through the most senior economic adviser to the Howard administration.

The Secretary of Treasury, Dr Ken Henry, gave a speech recently in which he indicated his grave concern at the failure of the government to take into consideration proper economic costings, and to consult Treasury, over the $10 billion water plan.

If the government’s most senior economic advisor has concern over the Howard Government’s economic credentials on this plan, it is no wonder that Australians are concerned that the Howard Government is all about short term politics rather than long term policy development.

We can’t address the water crisis and climate change without addressing economic policies and the changes that are required.

The Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed Ken Henry’s concerns, saying that Treasury doesn’t know anything about water policy. We need to set in place economic mechanisms which encourage reform, such as water trading and emissions trading, if we are going to deliver solutions to climate change and have a solution to our water crisis.

The government’s arrogant dismissal of Dr Henry and Treasury’s concern about the lack of detail in their $10 billion plan shows that the Howard Government is arrogant, it’s out of touch and it’s out of ideas, and come the next election, it will be out of time.

REPORTER: Should voters be concerned that the Howard Government is not listening to its public servants?

ALBANESE: It’s a real concern that Dr Henry has outlined, not just on water and climate change, but also on John Howard’s nuclear fantasy, real concern across the board that the Howard Government isn’t listening when it comes to the advice that Treasury is giving.

Treasury is saying that we need to ensure that policies secure our economic prosperity beyond the mining boom. The fact that these criticisms have been dismissed out of hand by the Howard Government shows that not only is it not listening, but it is arrogant and it is out of touch.

REPORTER: Is the water policy simply a matter of too little, too late?

ALBANESE: What Dr Henry has outlined is the failure of this government, over a period of 10 years, to deal with the water crisis.

What’s clear is that more effort went into the crafting of a political speech by the Prime Minister on the 25th of January than went into gaining proper costings from Treasury and Finance, developing a timeline for that expenditure, and putting in place the economic structures that will drive the reform that is necessary to resolve our water crisis.


Mar 29, 2007

Transcript of doorstop: Govt running out of legislation & ideas, deforestation

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra


Subject: Government running out of legislation & ideas, deforestation policy

Thursday, 29 March 2007

ALBANESE: Today the Main Committee in the Parliament will not meet. It won’t meet because this is a Government that after 11 long years has run out of legislation. This is a Government that’s out of ideas, it’s out of legislation, it’s out of touch and it’s out of time.

Whilst the Government has no business to do, Labor’s been busy announcing policies – announcing policies to expand broadband, announcing policies to tackle climate change, announcing major parts of our education revolution.

What this shows is that the Parliament normally on a day like today, the last day of a session before Budget, will be sitting late. I’m sure you can all book your dinners tonight because I’m sure the Parliament will be getting up at 5 o’clock. Because once again this is a Government that simply is out of business it’s out of ideas and I think the Australian people know that it’s out of time.

REPORTER: It’s got an idea to stop logging.

ALBANESE: Well no, that proposal was discussed at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in November last year in Nairobi. This is a plan that actually has come from a number of nations. Planting trees in Indonesia is a good idea, but if we were part of Kyoto we could actually get economic credits to engage in that activity. And Australia would get increased economic incentives for tree planting in developing countries.

REPORTER: So a $200 million fund is an old idea?

ALBANESE: Well it s an idea that came up and has been discussed at the last two UN Framework Convention conferences. It was debated in Montreal 2005 and in Nairobi in 2006. We do have to address deforestation, but the idea that this is a new idea from the Australian Government is just not the case.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

ALBANESE: Well people who follow the international debate know that deforestation is an important issue that needs addressing and planting trees in Indonesia is a good idea.

REPORTER: It’s also monitoring the illegal logging of trees, it’s satellite technology it’s providing them with the support they need to monitor the stuff.

ALBANESE: Yes. And I haven’t seen the precise details of what the Australian Government has put out, but I have been a part of debates at international conferences about this very issue.

The tragedy is that you have an Australian Government that’s putting this out as if it is its own idea. Putting it out as if it substitutes for the failure to take action. And the fact Australia is isolated from the global community by being outside of the Kyoto Protocol, which means that the Australian economy can’t get those economic bonuses that would occur through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

REPORTER: It might have been discussed but isn’t it good that you’ve got Australia taking the diplomatic initiative, that’s it’s trying to push this thing that it’s trying to get it up.

ALBANESE: Well, these initiatives have been taken. I’ve been at conferences, where these initiatives have been discussed by the global community. I suggest that you all log onto and what you will see there is the debates and the transcripts of debates that took place at those conferences.



Mar 25, 2007

Transcript of AM – Focus turns to upcoming federal election

Transcript of AM – Focus turns to upcoming federal election

Sunday, 25 March 2007, 08:25:00

Reporter: Chris Uhlmann

TONY EASTLEY: With New South Wales out of the way, all eyes now turn to the federal election, expected to be called late this year.

So, what does this result portend for the national poll? Labor campaigned hard against the Howard Government’s workplace relations laws and says this result is a slap in the face for the Prime Minister.

The Coalition’s key message out of New South Wales is that the Federal Government is now the only thing standing between voters and Labor domination.

Chief Political Correspondent Chris Uhlmann has been testing the federal reaction to the poll, with Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, and Labor Infrastructure and Water Spokesman, Labor’s Anthony Albanese.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Anthony Albanese – roads, rail, health, water. Is there any aspect of state governance that the Labor Party hasn’t failed at over the last 12 years?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, the voters sent a message which is they want better services, but they also sent a message which is that only Morris Iemma and Labor can deliver that and they rejected the, what is now, an extreme right-wing division of the Liberal Party in John Howard’s home base.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Don’t the people of New South Wales have a right to expect better government after 12 years of the Labor Party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is an extraordinary result where after 12 years, the Liberal Party, it would appear, have failed to win a single seat off the Labor Government.

CHRIS UHLMANN: How big a role do you believe that the campaign that the New South Wales Labor Party waged against the federal workplace laws played in this campaign?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: People out there know that the WorkChoices legislation has resulted in a change in the balance of power in the workplace, a change away from ordinary workers towards employers.

And they want that balance reset and WorkChoices was a major issue. Australian people don’t want extremist policies and what we have from the Howard Government is an extreme right-wing WorkChoices agenda.

They have an extreme right-wing parliamentary party in New South Wales and their organisational wing is pathetic, is perhaps the best thing that you can say about the Peter Debnam campaign.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But surely, the major lesson out of this federally is that you can’t win government unless you meet the minimum standard of running an opposition?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s why Labor is not just holding the Government to account in Canberra, we’re putting forward our positive agenda, our positive agenda to restore fairness in the workplace, our positive agenda on broadband, our positive agenda to tackle climate change and the water crisis.

Labor federally is putting forward a positive agenda whilst holding the Government to account.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s Anthony Albanese.


Mar 19, 2007

Transcript, Radio National – Senator Santoro, Labor’s Positive Policy Agenda

Transcript of Radio National Interview with Fran Kelly

Monday, 19 March 2007


Subject: Senator Santoro and Labor’s Positive Policy Agenda

ALBANESE: Good morning Fran

KELLY: Where will Labor take this share matter now that the Minister Santo Santoro has resigned? You’ve got the scalp it’s over isn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well there’s no doubt that there are some more questions to be asked since the Prime Ministers press conference last Friday, where he basically said that he’d been sacked for not disclosing the 72 at least share tradings that had taken place. It’s quite clear that that’s only half the story, that there are also clear conflicts of interest in the nature of those shares. You have potential conflict over companies which deal with seniors accommodation or retirement villages, another company that deals with intensive care equipment, another company that deals with patient security systems, which gets payments back through Medicare. So there’s a range of questions there, which I think remain outstanding.

KELLY: But who are they questions for I mean the Prime Minister is clearly angry about what Senator Santoro had done. In a sense what has this got to do with him, he can’t know every portfolio his MPs and Senators have can he?

ALBANESE: Well, the Prime Minister is angry that yet again his Government has been engaged in conduct which has brought discredit on it. We just think this is symptomatic of a Government that is arrogant. Before I noticed the question was raised, is it arrogance or incompetence? I think it quite clearly is an element of both.

KELLY: But that’s on the part of one person, you can’t blame that, you can’t tar the whole government?

ALBANESE: I think across the board the big concern that we have and certainly this week we’ll be also very vigorously pursuing Labors positive agenda, is that this is a Government that is really distracted by this. That isn’t doing what’s necessary, over issues such as Education. Today Kevin Rudd is out there announcing the next part of his Education Revolution. In the next fortnight we have the anniversaries, one year in terms of the Governments Workplace Relations Legislation. We have the four year anniversary coming up of the Iraq war that was only going to last months, not years. We have a failure to address Climate Change and Water. The challenges of this century, because the Government seems to have really lost its way. And I think out there there’s a feeling that this is a tired Government. That the Government has changed, that this is a Prime Minister who wouldn’t have presided over this level of chaos within his own ranks. We have the situation of who could be promoted after Senator Santoro’s demise. The problem is that most Queenslanders are under suspicion at the moment of one thing or another, or simply unpromotable. So you have Christopher Pyne who was a Shadow Minister way back, way back in the early nineties before the Government was elected, finally making it back on the front bench because there weren’t any other options for this Prime Minister.

KELLY: But I mean all the indications are that while Labor is perhaps pursuing its as you say its positive policy agenda, it’s also going to pursue this mater for all its worth, wherever it can. Will Labor put its money where its mouth is and support a notion perhaps like the Democrats brought up some years ago of a commissioner for parliamentary ethics, to oversee shareholdings and matters like this?

ALBANESE: Well, we’ll certainly be giving full consideration to the issue of ministerial standards and we’ll be releasing further statements on that closer to the election, so that the Australian people know exactly what they can expect from a Rudd Labor Government in this regard. But this isn’t even a matter of really the fact that the Prime Ministers Ministerial Code of Conduct isn’t worth the paper it‘s written on, this fails the common sense test.

KELLY: Absolutely.

ALBANESE: The common sense test and it is symbolic of a Government that is out of touch and out of time. This is a Government that is now so arrogant that it’s tripping over itself and I think that’s recognised. Labor’s job is to keep putting forward our positive policy agenda and we’ll be pursuing that very vigorously as well, in the Parliament, in the next fortnight.

KELLY: And what about if Labor did win Government, would you bring in any moves to say, suggest that any Minister must put all their shares into blind trusts?

ALBANESE: Well those details are for further announcement. We in the past have gone to elections with very strict and very comprehensive, policies in terms of what we would do to improve not just ministerial standards, but parliamentary standards.

KELLY: Are we at the point now where ministers shouldn’t own shares in this country? We keep running into these kinds of problems.

ALBANESE: Well I think the Australian public would expect that Ministers and other Members of Parliament would ensure, as a minimum, that there are no conflicts of interest in the job that they’re given to do. Being a Member of Parliament is a great privilege and with that comes responsibilities. And I think there is an expectation that is absolutely legitimate, that these sort of occurrences with Senator Santoro where we have the truth dragged out five months ago it being hidden, and going to the Prime Minister, and saying there’s this problem. Him being told to get his affairs in order, but it would appear no checks being made. And if the media can essentially do a search and find out this information very quickly, it’s extraordinary that the Howard Government with all the facilities at its disposal, couldn’t have determined that there was a major problem here. I mean it appears that some of these purchases actually occurred after he was made a Minister.

KELLY: I’m sure we’ll find out some more from Senator Santoro over the next few days. Anthony Albanese thank you very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you.

KELLY: Anthony Albanese is the Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Reps.

Mar 1, 2007

Transcript of doorstop – Unparliamentary behaviour; Noel Crichton-Browne


1 MARCH 2007


Subjects: Unparliamentary behaviour; Noel Crichton-Browne

ALBANESE: Parliamentary procedure during Question Time has become farcical due to the failure of the Speaker to actually control the Parliament. It would appear that Tony Abbot has a green light to do and say whatever he wants on the floor of the House of Representatives.

It is a fact that since Tony Abbott became the Manager of Government Business he is yet to quote a standing order during Question Time, not even once. His tactic of getting down into the gutter and using terms deliberately designed to throw mud at the Leader of the Opposition is transparent and it shows that this is a Government that’s become extraordinarily desperate.

Yesterday in Question Time I was asked to withdraw a comment to the Prime Minister and I did so. It is appropriate that Tony Abbott also withdraw unparliamentary language when asked to do so by the Speaker.

Unless both sides are treated equally in the Parliament, what we will see from Tony Abbott is an escalation of the vitriol and that does nothing to uphold Parliamentary standards.

And I refer the Prime Minister back to his first Headland speech in 1995 which was all about lifting Parliamentary standards and all about respect on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister can’t hide behind Tony Abbott and other attack dogs getting down into the gutter and pretend that he’s not there as well.

So, today Federal Labor is calling upon the Prime Minister to call Tony Abbott and others into line and to actually behave in Parliament in a way which is appropriate.

JOURNALIST: Does this show you’re really nervous about the Dr Death slogan?

ALBANESE: No, certainly it doesn’t. The problem, though, with these comments are quite clearly they’re unparliamentary. I think they’re pretty undignified and, frankly, I think most Australians would be concerned about an attempt to equate the Leader of the Opposition with terms which are quite clearly not appropriate.

JOURNALIST: Did you use the term ‘lying rodent’ to try and entrap the Speaker? Is that not undignified?

ALBANESE: Of course it’s undignified. I was making the point that the Speaker suggests that unless the Leader of the Opposition objects personally to statements which are made, then he won’t ask for comments to be withdrawn. Well, the Prime Minister was branded a lying rodent by someone who’s now a Minister on his frontbench. The Prime Minister didn’t object to my using that term on the floor of the Parliament yesterday but the Speaker did exactly what he should have done – which is to ask me to withdraw it – and I did so. All we’re asking for is equal treatment.

JOURNALIST: What’s the status of the neutral Speaker proposal that Labor took to the last election? Is that still alive under Kevin Rudd?

ALBANESE: Look, we certainly will be coming out with a comprehensive plan for Parliamentary reform. There are a number of issues being discussed at the moment and we certainly will be proceeding with that.

JOURNALIST: Have you ever met Brian Burke?

ALBANESE: I’ve never met Brian Burke and I certainly don’t expect to meet him in the near future.

JOURNALIST: We’ve had several Liberal MPs out today demanding answers to questions about influence, possible influence that he may have exerted, even over Kevin Rudd. Is there any reason to be fearful of this?

ALBANESE: I think what the Liberal MPs should ask themselves is what influence Noel Crichton-Browne has had. Noel Crichton-Browne is in the WA scandal right up to his neck in league with Brian Burke and in league with Julian Grill. He has stated, and it’s been stated before the Commission over there, that the Liberal MP, Anthony Fels, was basically acting on behalf of Noel Crichton-Browne.

So that’s the real question here. What we have is that Crichton-Brown, Burke and Grill obviously have done a great deal of damage to political life in WA and drawn into question the standing of governance in that State from both Labor and Liberal perspectives.

So I say to the Liberals, get your own house in order. What contact has Noel Crichton-Brown had with WA Liberals and Liberals in this building? We know that he’s played a key role in the preselection of a number of Liberals to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. And that’s the question which Liberals should be asking themselves. Thanks very much.


Feb 28, 2007

Transcript – water plan, nuclear power

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra

Wednesday, 28 February 2007


Subject: National Party opposition to Prime Minister’s water plan, Government plans for nuclear reactors, Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd.

ALBANESE: The National Party and its vested interests are at the core of the water problem. They are also at the core of the Howard Government.

And today we have yet another break-out between the Coalition partners. Adrian Piccoli, a National Party state MP in New South Wales has been supported by his National Party leader, Andrew Stoner. It’s important because this is Mark Vaile’s own branch of the National Party which is now saying they’re determined to wreck the national water plan that was proposed by the Prime Minister on the 25th of January.

It’s quite clear that the National Party aren’t interested in taking real action on Australia’s water crisis. We know that Peter McGauran has been opposed, on the record, all the way through, to any purchase by the Commonwealth of over-allocated water entitlements. And that’s why, in the Government’s tender which was due to close at the end of January had to be extended for two more weeks, because that tender was limited to just efficiency gains. And it would appear that the Commonwealth wasn’t even able to attract enough bids for the $200 million that was allocated there.

There’s real concern that you have the NSW National Party saying very clearly today that they are determined to scuttle any reform on national water.

REPORTER: Does this demonstrate that they see lots of problems with the plan?

ALBANESE: Well, certainly, the lack of detail that is available is of concern. The NSW National Party are saying that they weren’t briefed on the plan, and that they haven’t had an opportunity to see the detail. I think Mark Vaile’s got a lot of questions to answer. When we raised in Parliament two weeks ago whether it was the case that Mark Vaile was briefed at the last minute, he evaded the question. And what has become apparent through the Senate Estimates process is that this plan didn’t go to Cabinet, the Departments of Treasury and Finance were told to put a light eye over the proposals and that there weren’t any costings involved. And what seems to be characterising the Government in an election year is last minute political fixes rather than the long-term planning that is required.

REPORTER: Should the Premiers have signed up to it if the Nationals aren’t even happy with it?

ALBANESE: Well, the Premiers are putting the national interest first. And we were very pleased with the fact there was an agreement last Friday. We think it’s time to put sectional interests aside and the concern that’s there is whether, when it comes to the crunch, the National Party is prepared to do that. Mark Vaile has to actually answer what is the National Party’s position on the ground? Is he going to say one thing when it’s convenient, but another thing when it comes to the NSW State election, which is being conducted at the moment.

REPORTER: The ALP’s not exactly united at the moment – isn’t Steve Bracks the biggest obstacle to the national interest?

ALBANESE: No. Steve Bracks is saying that he wants further detail. There’s bi-lateral negotiations between Steve Bracks and the Commonwealth.

I note the Victorian leader of the National Party has opposed the plan, and what Steve Bracks and the Commonwealth will engage in, as a result of Friday’s meeting, is bi-lateral discussions and we’re confident that an agreement can be reached as long as there’s flexibility from both Victoria and the Commonwealth and as long as those details are provided. It is reasonable that the State Premier asked for more details given that more effort went into the Prime Minister’s political speech on the 25th of January than went into the detail of the governance, the timelines and the financing of this plan.

REPORTER: On uranium, why should voters take Labor seriously when you can’t even put a unified position on the future of uranium exports? So, your argument about the nuclear reactors gets pretty mixed … [ inaudible ]

ALBANESE: Well, Labor’s position on nuclear reactors is very clear. I have sat in Parliament yesterday and listened to the Prime Minister speaking about how nuclear energy was the cleanest, greenest energy that was available. And that reminded me of someone else who said

“Thank God for nuclear energy, the safest, cleanest energy there is. Except for solar, which is just a pipedream”.

Whilst John Howard could have said that, the quote was actually from Homer J. Simpson. And it would appear that the Howard Government wants to live in Springfield, but I don’t think Australian’s want to go down the nuclear path.

The fact that the Howard Government has been dragged kicking and screaming. Yesterday we had to ask question after question of the Industry Minister who was extraordinarily evasive about what details he had and discussion he’d had with Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd.

[ break ]

As I was saying, on nuclear issues, the Prime Minister must answer some simple questions:

What dealings has the Prime Minister, his Ministers and senior staff had with Australian Nuclear Energy regarding the establishment of a global nuclear waste dump in Australia? What dealings has the Prime Minister, his Ministers and senior staff had with Australian Nuclear Energy or their representatives?

What dealings has the Prime Minister, his Ministers and senior staff had with Mr Ron Walker regarding the development of the Federal Government’s nuclear reactors plan?

When did Mr Howard speak to Mr Walker about his plan for nuclear reactor plants in Australia and how does that relate to the setting up of the Switkowski Inquiry?

Did Mr Howard discuss forthcoming public announcements regarding the Liberal Government’s nuclear reactor plan with Mr Walker?

I think Australians are entitled to answers about these questions. Yesterday, Mr Macfarlane was extraordinarily evasive in the Parliament. We will be pursuing these questions both inside and outside the Parliament over coming days. It is quite clear, particularly given historically the secrecy associated with the nuclear fuel cycle that Australian’s get answers to these very important questions.

Were it not for the exposure yesterday, in the Herald Sun and the Adelaide Advertiser, about the discussions that had taken place between the Government and Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd then Australians wouldn’t know anything about this at all. And it’s extraordinary that these discussions weren’t volunteered by the Government when they took place, which we know from Mr Howard’s comments go back at least the middle of last year.

REPORTER: But you must be pretty dirty with Steve Bracks? He was well in the loop and he had been sitting down with Ron Walker about this before his own last election.

ALBANESE: No. Mr Bracks has made his position very clear. Mr Bracks is opposed to nuclear reactors not just in Victoria, but in Australia. And indeed, Mr Bracks is introducing legislation to make sure that if the Commonwealth wanted to impose nuclear reactors on Victoria that would have to be put to a referendum.


Feb 26, 2007

Albanese calls for urban water reform – The World Today

Albanese calls for urban water reform

The World Today

26 February 2007 12:26am

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ELEANOR HALL: Labor’s Water spokesman, Anthony Albanese, has used a speech in Melbourne today to make a call for even further federal control of Australia’s water supplies.

Mr Albanese said the Commonwealth needed to take a leading role not just in allocating water to irrigators and farmers, but in securing urban supplies as well.

Mr Albanese described the Prime Minister’s Murray-Darling proposals as a substantial reform, but he said a Labor Government would go further.

Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: The Prime Minister’s bold $10 billion plan to take over the management of the Murray-Darling River system from the States isn’t bold enough for Labor’s Anthony Albanese.

The water spokesman now wants the Commonwealth to take on water supplies in Australian cities, where 17 million Australians live.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Water use and water supply in urban Australia is a national crisis. It requires a national response.

Labor doesn’t just seek clean water as an expenditure of money, we seek clean water as an investment in the future of Australia.

JANE COWAN: The Government has set aside $2 billion in what’s called the Australian Water Fund. But Anthony Albanese says more than half of that money is not only unspent, but unallocated.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: You would think there was no urgency to this task for the Government sitting on that money.

JANE COWAN: It’s that money that the Opposition’s Water spokesman says Labor would use to secure water supplies in major cities.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Urban infrastructure is important for the jobs and lifestyles of those who live in our major cities, but it’s much more than that. Urban infrastructure investment is essential in the creation of sustainable cities to address climate change, and urban infrastructure is also critical to improve productivity and economic growth.

JANE COWAN: And Labor would go further.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: As well as through direct funding of water projects through Commonwealth water programs, a Rudd Labor Government will establish a Commonwealth statutory authority called ‘Infrastructure Australia’, which will coordinate the planning, regulation and nation-building infrastructure. We’ll address the failure of the Commonwealth to engage in urban infrastructure programs, through the Major Cities Program, which will support practical initiatives.

This will provide significant opportunities for good water infrastructure to be funded and built.

JANE COWAN: Speaking on the weekend, the Water Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said it wasn’t necessarily the farming of thirsty crops, like rice and cotton, in the arid Australian climate that was a problem.

Tody Mr Albanese appeared to disagree. While he didn’t specify exactly which crops he had in mind, Mr Albanese said it was important to be as productive as possible.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Growing more food with less water alleviates scarcity, and it contributes to food security and puts less strain on nature.

The most effective way to increase water productivity is to shift water use by trading from low-value to high-value crops. To facilitate this, water entitlements and water trading regimes have to be developed. They must provide security for water users and security for the environment.

JANE COWAN: Mr Albanese also blamed over-allocation for water shortages, and said the redressing of that imbalance was an ongoing problem.

Jane Cowan in Melbourne.


Feb 23, 2007

Transcript of media conference on the National Water Summit

Transcript of media conference on the National Water Summit

Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, Phillip St, Sydney

Friday, 23 February 2007


Subject: National Water Summit

ALBANESE: Kevin Rudd is currently meeting with the Vice President of the United States, so he’s asked me to represent Federal Labor with our response to today’s National Water Summit.

Federal Labor welcomes the agreement reach today on the Murray-Darling.

Australia is confronting a national water crisis, it needs a national water solution, and today’s Agreement is a positive step in the right direction.

From day one, Federal Labor has sought to play a constructive role in bringing together the States with the Commonwealth. To this end, Kevin Rudd and myself have met with various premiers around the nation over the past fortnight and had many discussions over the phone.

Ultimately of course this was a decision for the Premiers, the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister, and we congratulate them on today’s outcome.

A further process of consultation will now take place between the Commonwealth and Victoria. Victoria has particular challenges due to their existing water management systems, but we are confident that the Victorian Government will continue to work constructively with the Commonwealth.

As a result of today, the States and Commonwealth have come together on a number of outstanding issues which were raised as a result of the Prime Minister speech on 25th January.

It’s clear that there’s been a spirit of compromise and flexibility in the national interest.

There’ll be a review in seven years time of the Agreement.

There will be an independent commission which will make representations to the Commonwealth Minister. If the Commonwealth Minister disagrees with any of the recommendations from the Commission, that Minister must table reasons in the Parliament for that disagreement.

The independent Commission will be made up of two State representatives as well as two Commonwealth representatives and a Chair, appointed by the Commonwealth. These positions will be discussed at COAG in a cooperative way.

It’s been agreed today the planning powers will remain with the States and that caps will only be altered on a pro-rata basis.

Federal Labor will continue to play a constructive role on this issue. We congratulate those people involved, in particular, Premiers, the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister on this outcome today. And we look forward to further involvement in resolving questions of our national water crisis. In particular, a resolution to our urban water issues which confront the 17 million Australians who live around our major capital cities and our coastal towns.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

ALBANESE: Victoria has some particular challenges as a result of the fact that they have a very mature existing water management system and there are ongoing concerns that they had about the challenges faced by Victorian farmers and irrigators. I note that there’ll be bi-lateral discussions between Victoria and the Commonwealth and Federal Labor is hopeful that the outstanding issues that Victoria has can be resolved. Agreement must be sought which is good for the nation as well as being good for the individual States and Territories. And I’m confident that Premier Bracks and the Victorian Government will continue to engage in constructive dialogue with the Commonwealth.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

ALBANESE: Federal Labor would like to see a constructive dialogue. That will take place now under these bi-laterals, but we’d urge the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government to enter into those negotiations with the objective of achieving an outcome for which all States and Territories can then be signed up for. It’s clearly preferable that all States and Territories along with the Commonwealth agree across the board. So, we’re hopeful that the bi-lateral discussions, which were agreed to today, will lead to that.



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Email: [email protected]

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