Browsing articles in "Interview Transcripts"
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

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

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.

ENDS

Feb 15, 2007

Transcript of doorstop – $10 billion water announcement, climate change

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra

Thursday, 15 February 2007

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Lack of planning and detail in the $10 billion water announcement; climate change

ALBANESE: In Senate Estimates yesterday, another leak in the PM’s water plan was exposed. There was no economic modelling done whatsoever by Treasury or Finance on the impact of the $10 billion plan outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech some three weeks ago.

We now know that this was a plan that didn’t go to Cabinet. That issue was dismissed by Senator Minchin, who said that $10 billion wasn’t really all that much money.

We now know that the Departments of Treasury and Finance were excluded, and that there was no proper costing.

It’s not surprising that three weeks after we requested it, Labor has been denied a briefing by the Prime Minister on this plan.

Our national water crisis is too important to not have detail when it comes to financing, when it comes to timelines, when it comes to the impact of these proposals, and when it comes to the management arrangements.

After their meeting with the Environment Minister and the Leader of the National Party yesterday, we had the National Farmers’ Federation say it may be 12 months before that detail is available.

This is of real concern. It just appears more obvious, day after day, that the Prime Minister’s office put more effort into the crafting of a political speech than they did into the details of this $10 billion water plan.

REPORTER: Were you surprised that they didn’t do any research on climate change?

ALBANESE: This is a government that is only focused on the past. It has no plan for the future.

It is extraordinary that Treasury has done no modelling whatsoever on the impact of climate change. You compare that with the Stern Report, with what responsible governments are doing.

It’s simply yet another example of how this Government doesn’t believe in climate change. They are climate sceptics.

On the weekend, the Prime Minister tried to say that you could cordon off the water debate from climate change. If you don’t have a solution to climate change, you don’t have a solution to water.

ENDS

 

Feb 13, 2007

Transcript of doorstop – $10 billion water announcement; MPIs

Transcript of doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: $10 billion water announcement; Government plan to cut MPIs and cut debate in Parliament.

ALBANESE: The national water crisis is too important to be dealt with using a cobbled together plan with a lack of detail.

Last night’s Senate Estimates revelation that Cabinet wasn’t consulted on a $10 billion plan is stunning.

It shows that the plan was put together at the last minute. Treasury and Finance were brought in only in the week leading up to the putting together of John Howard’s speech on 25 January.

It’s quite clear that the Howard Government put more effort into crafting John Howard’s political speech than it did into developing detailed funding, timelines and governance arrangements for this plan.

On another issue, this afternoon we will see in the Parliament yet another action by the Howard Government to stifle democratic debate on the floor of the Parliament.

The proposal to reduce the Matter of Public Importance debate to just one hour is unnecessary and is once again an example of the Howard Government being determined, in an election year, to stomp on any democratic debate, and to stomp on accountability.

Last year, there were 50 MPI debates. Of those, only 13 went for more than hour. Of those 13, six went over one hour by less than 90 seconds.

The Matter of Public Importance debate provisions have been in the Standing Orders since 1901. It’s served this Parliament for 106 years to have an opportunity for individual members to hold the Government to account on the issue of the day.

The Government will also be changing provisions so that the new designation of Assistant Ministers, which are, in effect, Parliamentary Secretaries, can’t be asked questions in the Parliament.

One’s got to ask, what is the difference between a Parliamentary Secretary and an Assistant Minister?

The only reason why these designations were created was to hide the fact that John Cobb was demoted, and Christopher Pyne wasn’t promoted.

Christopher Pyne was a Shadow Minister from 1994 to 1996. Under the Howard regime, he hasn’t made the position that he made way back in 1994.

That might be sad for Christopher Pyne, but it doesn’t justify the creation of an entirely new position. And John Cobb has said that his appointment as Assistant Minister to the Minister for Environment and Water Resources is a promotion.

Well, if it’s a promotion, why can’t the Parliament hold John Cobb accountable?

We all know why the Howard Government wouldn’t want John Cobb answering questions on the floor of the Parliament. But if that’s the case, then he shouldn’t be given this title.

REPORTER: If most MPIs only go for about 50 minutes, what’s the problem with limiting them to an hour?

ALBANESE: Because on very important issues such as the war in Iraq, such as the drought, such as taking action to address climate change, it’s important that members have an opportunity to contribute.

This is an attack on the independents, on members of the Opposition, and from time to time, on members of the Government who may wish to contribute to the debate of the day.

We all know that the Government controls the agenda on the floor of the Parliament. Matters of Public Importance were put in place in 1901 to provide some accountability mechanisms. The winding back of that is extraordinary, it’s unnecessary, and it’s symptomatic of a Government that’s out of control.

REPORTER: Is it possible that this might actually see a tightening up of debate and better debate because people will be forced into better forming their ideas before getting up there in the despatch box?

ALBANESE: No, they won’t get up there at the despatch box, that’s the whole point.

 

Feb 8, 2007

Transcript of doorstop – Concerns about the PM’s Murray Darling Basin Proposal

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra

Thursday, 8 February 2007

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Concerns about the Prime Minister’s Murray Darling Basin proposal

ALBANESE: Today, the Premiers and Chief Ministers will be in Canberra to meet with the Prime Minister about the Prime Minister’s national water proposal, which he put forward in a speech on January 25.

It would appear from this leaked document from the Murray Darling Basin Commission, that even the government’s own agencies are saying there are massive gaps in the detail for this proposal.

It would appear that the Prime Minister spent more time on having his office work on the speech than they did on working out the funding details, the timelines and the management detail for this proposal.

It’s now two weeks since the Prime Minister gave that speech. The Leader of the Opposition Kevin Rudd, and myself, have requested briefings on this proposal. Up to now, we haven’t received a response from the Prime Minister.

We are determined to be positive and to play a constructive role because we believe that national water reform is too important to play politics with. But in order for there to be a bipartisan approach, we have to be involved and there has to be the detail.

Today the Prime Minister, if he wants support from the premiers, must put forward that detail which, up to this point, has been sorely lacking.

This document identifies a number of gaps. It identifies a $900m shortfall in the funding of the Commission.

What the Prime Minister must answer is: who will fill the shortfall? Will it be additional funding from the Commonwealth? Will there be an expectation that the states will have to pay? Or will it be irrigators? You can’t have such a gap.

Major questions need to be resolved, including what will happen to the assets that are currently owned by the states?

This is not just an issue of water. It’s also an issue of land management and natural resource management. And the integration of those issues I think needs to be resolved in terms of what will happen on individuals’ properties in the form of dams, what will happen to the assets that are there, and that is identified by this document as well.

Those assets are worth billions of dollars, and the fact that answers haven’t been given is of real concern.

REPORTER: Morris Iemma approved the plan, he said that he’ll sign up to it and leave the officials to work out the detail. Why can’t everyone just give that sort of support outright?

ALBANESE: I think it’s fair to say that we also, Federal Labor, have been constructive in terms of stating that we believe there’s a need for a streamlining of processes.

We want to make sure that it’s water that flows, and not red tape. But we need to get the detail right. National water reform is too important to not have the detail sorted out in funding, timelines and governance arrangements.

REPORTER: Do you think that the federal takeover is the way to go, or is Mike Rann’s idea [inaudible].

ALBANESE: I think there should be constructive debate on all proposals that are on the table today.

REPORTER: Isn’t that just sitting on the fence though?

ALBANESE: No, it’s not. What it’s doing is saying there’s a need to streamline proposals. But let’s have a constructive attitude towards that. Clearly this is a national water crisis. It therefore requires national leadership.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: The state Labor premiers can speak for themselves. But yesterday in Parliament, we asked the Treasurer whether it was the case that the Departments of Treasury and Finance were consulted well after the Department of Environment was told of this plan on January 8.

It is of real concern that this proposal didn’t go to cabinet, and appears to have not been properly costed.

REPORTER: Isn’t this meeting today all about what you’re talking about – a constructive debate, they’re going to talk about it, thrash it out, and come to an agreement at the end of the day?

ALBANESE: I’m hopeful that today is a constructive debate. I do think that we need to sort these issues out. But it is quite extraordinary, the lack of detail that is there, and the shortfalls that have been identified by the Murray Darling Basin Commission itself.

This is the government’s own agency, over 9 pages, identifying an extraordinary lack of detail when it comes to funding, when it comes to timelines, and when it comes to management arrangements in the basin.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: I heard Premier Iemma this morning, and Premier Iemma will also be raising a number of issues that he has. He has had a constructive approach to the proposal, and Federal Labor has been constructive as well, in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister has failed to brief the opposition on this plan.

ENDS

 

Feb 8, 2007

Transcript of doorstop interview – Murray Darling Basin proposal

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House

Thursday, 8 February 2007 E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Concerns about the Prime Minister’s Murray Darling Basin proposal

ALBANESE: Today, the Premiers and Chief Ministers will be in Canberra to meet with the Prime Minister about the Prime Minister’s national water proposal, which he put forward in a speech on January 25.

It would appear from this leaked document from the Murray Darling Basin Commission, that even the government’s own agencies are saying there are massive gaps in the detail for this proposal.

It would appear that the Prime Minister spent more time on having his office work on the speech than they did on working out the funding details, the timelines and the management detail for this proposal.

It’s now two weeks since the Prime Minister gave that speech. The Leader of the Opposition Kevin Rudd, and myself, have requested briefings on this proposal. Up to now, we haven’t received a response from the Prime Minister.

We are determined to be positive and to play a constructive role because we believe that national water reform is too important to play politics with. But in order for there to be a bipartisan approach, we have to be involved and there has to be the detail.

Today the Prime Minister, if he wants support from the premiers, must put forward that detail which, up to this point, has been sorely lacking.

This document identifies a number of gaps. It identifies a $900m shortfall in the funding of the Commission.

What the Prime Minister must answer is: who will fill the shortfall? Will it be additional funding from the Commonwealth? Will there be an expectation that the states will have to pay? Or will it be irrigators? You can’t have such a gap.

Major questions need to be resolved, including what will happen to the assets that are currently owned by the states?

This is not just an issue of water. It’s also an issue of land management and natural resource management. And the integration of those issues I think needs to be resolved in terms of what will happen on individuals’ properties in the form of dams, what will happen to the assets that are there, and that is identified by this document as well.

Those assets are worth billions of dollars, and the fact that answers haven’t been given is of real concern.

REPORTER: Morris Iemma approved the plan, he said that he’ll sign up to it and leave the officials to work out the detail. Why can’t everyone just give that sort of support outright?

ALBANESE: I think it’s fair to say that we also, Federal Labor, have been constructive in terms of stating that we believe there’s a need for a streamlining of processes.

We want to make sure that it’s water that flows, and not red tape. But we need to get the detail right. National water reform is too important to not have the detail sorted out in funding, timelines and governance arrangements.

REPORTER: Do you think that the federal takeover is the way to go, or is Mike Rann’s idea [inaudible].

ALBANESE: I think there should be constructive debate on all proposals that are on the table today.

REPORTER: Isn’t that just sitting on the fence though?

ALBANESE: No, it’s not. What it’s doing is saying there’s a need to streamline proposals. But let’s have a constructive attitude towards that. Clearly this is a national water crisis. It therefore requires national leadership.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: The state Labor premiers can speak for themselves. But yesterday in Parliament, we asked the Treasurer whether it was the case that the Departments of Treasury and Finance were consulted well after the Department of Environment was told of this plan on January 8.

It is of real concern that this proposal didn’t go to cabinet, and appears to have not been properly costed.

REPORTER: Isn’t this meeting today all about what you’re talking about – a constructive debate, they’re going to talk about it, thrash it out, and come to an agreement at the end of the day?

ALBANESE: I’m hopeful that today is a constructive debate. I do think that we need to sort these issues out. But it is quite extraordinary, the lack of detail that is there, and the shortfalls that have been identified by the Murray Darling Basin Commission itself.

This is the government’s own agency, over 9 pages, identifying an extraordinary lack of detail when it comes to funding, when it comes to timelines, and when it comes to management arrangements in the basin.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: I heard Premier Iemma this morning, and Premier Iemma will also be raising a number of issues that he has. He has had a constructive approach to the proposal, and Federal Labor has been constructive as well, in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister has failed to brief the opposition on this plan.

ENDS

 

 

Feb 5, 2007

PM under fire over management of water initiative – The World Today

PM under fire over management of water initiative

ABC Radio – The World Today

Monday, 5 February , 2007 12:25:00

Reporter: Peta Donald

ELEANOR HALL: While the Prime Minister tries to wrangle the States into line on his water plan, he’s now being criticised for not consulting his own departments on the $10-billion initiative.

A report in today’s Financial Review newspaper says the package was prepared in extreme secrecy in January, by a small group of bureaucrats, overseen by the head of the Prime Minister’s department.

It says the package, that’s likely to be one of the biggest single spending initiatives this year, was not considered by Federal Cabinet, and that the Federal Departments of Treasury, Finance and Environment were not consulted.

Mr Howard’s office says preliminary discussions began in November, and continued over the Christmas break, and that the departments were involved in putting the package together as appropriate.

But that’s not good enough for the Federal Opposition.

Labor’s Water spokesman, Anthony Albanese, has been speaking to Peta Donald in Canberra.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The fact that it didn’t go to Cabinet and didn’t have the involvement of key economic and environmental departments would indicate perhaps that that detail is still being worked out.

PETA DONALD: What evidence do you have that this $10-billion water package was put together quickly?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think anyone who has a look at the single page document with just a few lines on it and concluding numbers in the billions of dollars, without any detail or any timeline, would see that this is a document that’s been put together in a rush.

PETA DONALD: Well, the Prime Minister’s spokesman says the discussions on the package began in November and work continued over the Christmas break.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s surprising given that on December 7, the Government introduced into the Parliament the Murray-Darling Basin Amendment Bill that goes to governance arrangements and financial arrangements of the way that the Murray-Darling Basin Commission will operate.

And if it was the case that on December 7, it was envisaged this massive significant change would be made to the operation of the Murray-Darling Basin, then I don’t think that Bill would’ve been introduced in it’s current form.

PETA DONALD: Well, does it really matter? There’s no doubt, is there, that the $10-billion is available, as the Prime Minister says, thanks to the Government’s good economic management, and if this has been put together quickly, does that really matter if it’s good policy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, what matters is that we get to the detail of the announcement. We’ve asked for a briefing since the day the announcement was made, it’s unfortunate that hasn’t been made available yet, but we look forward to that.

We’re determined to be constructive about this, but I do think that there is an entitlement before the States will refer their powers to have detail as to exactly what the financial arrangements are, what the timeline of delivery will be, and what the governance arrangements will be.

PETA DONALD: Are you hoping that when the State Premiers come to Canberra and attend this summit called by the Prime Minister that they will then agree to refer their powers over the Commonwealth?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I’m hoping that on Thursday both the Commonwealth and the States will take a constructive relationship to this discussion, because I think that the Australian public don’t particularly care about delivering mechanisms. What they want to know is that there’s action on water.

 

PETA DONALD: Does it surprise you that such a major package would be announced without the involvement of these key federal departments – Treasury, Finance and Environment?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it certainly would be normal procedure for the Cabinet to be consulted and for key departments such as Treasury and Finance to be consulted, given the $10-billion figure that’s attached to the Prime Minister’s announcement.

PETA DONALD: Why do you think they wouldn’t have been?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s really up to the Government to answer why that isn’t the case. It is certainly, I think, quite extraordinary.

Certainly what Labor is asking for are the details of this announcement, in terms of funding arrangements, in terms of timelines for that expenditure and the governance arrangements to be made available.

What we need to make sure is that promises aren’t just made, promises are actually delivered on.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Labor’s Water Spokesman, Anthony Albanese, speaking to Peta Donald in Canberra.

Feb 5, 2007

Transcript of doorstop interview – Murray Darling Basin announcement

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra

ANTHONY ALBANESE MP – Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water

Manager of Opposition Business

Federal Member for Grayndler

Monday, 5 February 2007

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Questions over lack of planning for Prime Minister’s Murray Darling Basin announcement

ALBANESE: The revelation of the lack of involvement of Treasury, Finance, and indeed, even the Department of Environment and Heritage, in the Government’s water announcement of January 25, are of considerable concern.

Labor has had a constructive response to this package. We want to see real water reform in Australia.

We want to see a streamlining between the Commonwealth and the states, so that it’s water that flows, and not red tape. But we also want to see the funding detail, the timelines, and the governance arrangements that the Commonwealth is proposing.

We welcome the fact that the Commonwealth and the states will be having a summit this Thursday, because I think the states are entitled to answers to those questions.

Labor believes that water reform is too important to be fudged.

We need to get the detail right. And the one-page, flimsy few lines that came with the Prime Minister’s speech prior to Australia Day, and the reported costings, are certainly no-where detailed enough.

$10 billion is a substantial amount of money, but it’s over ten years, and we need to see what the timeline for that expenditure is.

I think the fact that the Commonwealth, since that announcement, in the form of Peter McGauran, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Prime Minister, has had three different positions regarding the acquisition by the Commonwealth of over-allocated water, has again highlighted that we need stream-lining, not just between the Commonwealth and the states: in this case, we need stream-lining within the Howard cabinet so that the Government speaks actually with one voice.

REPORTER: Do you think that, because it didn’t go to Treasury and Finance, that they’re hiding something?

ALBANESE: I think that this was a hastily gathered package. It’s quite clear, just as with climate change, that this is a government that only responds in election years.

We’ve known about the water crisis, we’ve known about the long-term impact of the drought, and indeed of climate change, yet the government has failed to respond.

The position that the Prime Minister put in his speech on January 25 was very different from the position that was put on Melbourne Cup Day last year, where, on two days notice, he gathered premiers from the Murray Darling Basin.

I think it highlights the problem with the government that it’s all about the politics and not about the policy development. And it certainly is of concern that, on an issue as significant as this, this proposal didn’t even go to Cabinet.

ENDS

Feb 1, 2007

Transcript of radio interview with Steve Price, Radio 2UE – Tristar

Transcript of radio interview with Steve Price, Radio 2UE – Tristar

ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

Thursday, 1 February 2007

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Tristar dispute

PRICE: Let’s go back to the car-parts manufacturer, Tristar. Now you remember Tristar dominating the headlines last week, after they refused to grant voluntary redundancy to that ill worker, John Beaven, who’s now dead.

Now they finally paid up $50,000. Mr Beaven was on his death bed, and he passed away the day after the cheque was written out, and we spoke to his brother-in-law on this program.

Well, now everyone’s more interested in what’s going to happen to the remaining employees. We have this ridiculous situation where the company is saying, “Well, we are not going to pay these people out their redundancies because we’ve still got work for them to do, we’ve got a factory.”

The factory’s empty – there’s not even any machinery in it, and yet these people are expected to turn up to work to do no work whatsoever. They really have pushed the boundaries on this.

Labor’s industrial relations spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, was out there today, along with Anthony Albanese, who we’ve talked to about this matter before on the program. He is on the line. Good to talk to you again.

ALBANESE: Good afternoon, Steve. Sorry I’ve got to talk to you about this issue again, actually.

PRICE: You went out there, and are they working?

ALBANESE: Of course they’re not. The first time I visited this factory was in 1995, when I was a candidate. I visited it because it was then the biggest employer in the electorate of Grayndler, it had 650 people working in it. It takes up an entire, very large block of an industrial site in the industrial belt of Marrickville. It must be some 300m long.

What they’ve done now is put the workers, the 30 plus that remain, in what is basically the front end of the factory, in sort of a tin shed. The rest of it is completely vacant, and anyone who watches the TV tonight will see that it’s a vacant factory, and that the workers have nothing to do. You have the extraordinary situation whereby they’re being kept on simply to be denied the redundancy payments that they’re entitled to.

PRICE: Can they do that, in the spirit of the law?

ALBANESE: It would appear that they can, that’s the tragedy, that the law now not only allows for the green light to be given to exploit people, but it’s taken away the independent umpire. I notice you’ve been talking a bit about cricket this afternoon, and one of the things that makes Australia the country that we are is the idea of a fair go, and that if you’ve got a dispute, you’ve got an umpire. The umpire’s gone in industrial relations under the new legislation.

Therefore, the workers there have not many options. Indeed, the Industrial Relations Commission ruled last week that the agreement was terminated, so they have essentially until the end of a couple of weeks from now to get redundancy, to leave. They have got a big decision, those remaining workers, whether to take a minimal amount of pay and leave, or to continue to battle on.

Mr Beaven, who was buried yesterday, his family has got $50,000, but it must be remembered he was actually entitled to $212,000. So not only are the workers there entitled to their full payouts, but I think Mr Beaven’s family remains very much exploited compared with what Mr Beaven was owed.

PRICE: What is the end game for this Tristar mob? What do you think they’re trying to do, are they trying to wait these people out? Eventually they’re going to have to pay them something, aren’t they?

ALBANESE: They’re starving them into submission, this is the worst example. Mental torture is what’s going on here, in Australia, in Marrickville, in suburban Sydney in 2007.

PRICE: I mean, they’re telling Joe Hockey there’s two years’ work there.

ALBANESE: Well, it’s a nonsense. They’re a company that has no customers, and no contracts, and no work is going on there. They have to clock on every day.

Back in August – as you know, because it’s people like you in the media who follow this issue and put the pressure on, and without people like you, Mr Beaven would have got nothing – way back in August, I had a meeting there with the workers. It took less than an hour, but the employers clocked them off for an hour and deducted their pay, because they’d had a meeting about this issue.

PRICE: Ridiculous. Now the government says this legislation of theirs works both ways. Ok, why don’t we get them to prove that – use it to give these people what they are owed?

ALBANESE: That’s exactly right. The problem is that the balance has been tilted too far one way.

PRICE: So of your knowledge of the legislation, is there anything in there that the government can use to belt these people around the ears and get them to do what they need to do, or is this a moral argument that can’t be won by legislation and law because the legislation and law doesn’t exist?

ALBANESE: You can always do something through legislation and law. If the government was fair dinkum, and if the Prime Minister wanted to do provide a resolution to this issue, he could. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and the government’s in a very powerful position. I mean, this is a company that, when it took over Tristar, it got the redundancy pay outs from the previous owners paid over – millions of dollars paid over – as part of the take-over of the company.

PRICE: Where’s that money?

 ALBANESE: Well, that’s what we need to know. What we know is that the company’s doing alright. It made a substantial profit last year. It would appear that what’s going on here is simply asset stripping. But what we have here is not just asset stripping, this is dignity stripping.

PRICE: Well, you can’t say to people, “Turn up and sit here and do nothing.”

ALBANESE: Well, I just pay tribute to the people there. The tragedy is that we went around today – it was Julia’s first visit to the site – and there is no-one there who has been there for less than 20 years. Mr Beaven’s case of course is pretty well known, it was the only job he’d ever had: 43 years. The average time of service there was above 30 years. You have the extraordinary situation whereby all the people who have been there for less time, because they had less entitlements, have been made redundant.

The people who’ve been loyal, many of whom are people who came to this country, are the sort of people who made this country great. One fellow, Simon, he’s a Macedonian, he was a migrant, a refugee essentially; he came here under the normal processes because he didn’t like the communist system in former Yugoslavia. He came here, he’s worked hard for 40 years, and what is happening is nothing less than theft.

PRICE: Well, the TVs were out there with you again today, and let’s hope that the coverage again tonight and our discussion here again can shame these people into doing the right thing.

 ALBANESE: Well, I thank you once again for continuing on this case. We’re going to be raising it again in Parliament again next week. I raised it first way back in August.

PRICE: It’s a good test for the new minister, he can fix it.

ALBANESE: Well, he can fix it. If you really want to do something, and you’re the national government of this country, you can. This is a real test of Australian values, it’s that simple.

These people have families, many of them live in my area, around Marrickville, they live around the factory there. Of the people who are left, we found out today that three of them are skilled workers. One of them is 78, he reckons he can find another job, he’s not ready to retire yet.

These are salt of the earth people who’ve made a contribution, paid taxes all their lives, contributed to the company. They’re not paid a lot, the company never put super in until it was made compulsory under the Hawke Government all those years ago, so it’s not like they have a lot of money. And all they’re asking for is what they’re entitled to, and to be treated with a bit of respect and a bit of dignity.

PRICE: Absolutely. Good on you, nice to talk to you again. Anthony Albanese, the Federal Member for Grayndler there, we’ll keep an eye on that story.

 THE END

Feb 1, 2007

Transcript of doorstop interview – Tristar

Transcript of doorstop interview – Tristar

JULIA GILLARD MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

FEDERAL LABOR MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER

E&OE Transcript

9AM Thursday, 1 February 2007

Tristar Factory, Marrickville

GILLARD: When the Howard Government passed its extreme industrial relations laws, it did one thing. It gave a sign to bad employers in this country that it is ok for them to go to extremes.

Now, a lot has been said and a lot has been written about this dispute at Tristar and I know that most industrial relations problems come packaged up with a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but there is one essential truth at the bottom of this Tristar dispute and that is that there is no work for these remaining workers at Tristar to do. They are redundant and they should be paid their full redundancy entitlements. The company doesn’t want to do that because it doesn’t want to give them what they are entitled to. Instead the company is having them sit in this empty factory, leaving them to rot, occasionally coming along and bullying them and hoping against hope that it will wear them down and that they will go away with less money.

We are here today, I am here with my federal colleague, Anthony Albanese and the local State Member in New South Wales, Minister Carmel Tebbutt, to say these workers aren’t going to go away because they know this is unfair and rotten and we are not going to go away, the Labor Party, because we know this is unfair and rotten too.

Now, Joe Hockey intervened last week to try and get some money for Mr Beaven, one of these workers who shared this dreadful experience with the people we have met today, and then had to confront the additional tragedy of being terminally ill and knowing that his family’s future, and particularly their financial future, was in jeopardy. Mr Hockey intervened to get Mr Beaven part of what he should have had; and at least some money for Mr Beaven’s family is better than no money. But the reality is that Mr Hockey only intervened because Mr Beaven’s case was so tragic that it was dominating the headlines, dominating the radio stations and most particularly dominating what Alan Jones said to the Australian people on his radio show.

The Howard Government is full of clever politicians and they can see a political problem when it is in the headlines and they will go out and fix that political problem. But the reality for working Australians is most people aren’t walking headlines. Most people will experience unfairness and they will never be able to have it reported in the newspaper. They will experience that unfairness quietly and they will suffer alone. The only thing that fixes it for them is if the laws of this country are decent enough to give them a hand when they need it.

We are going to make sure we keep raising the Tristar dispute in Federal Parliament and beyond. It has been raised in Federal Parliament, directly with the Prime Minister last year and he basically shrugged his shoulders and dismissed it. We are going to make sure we raise it again and I doubt the Prime Minister will shrug his shoulders this time because he will be worried about the publicity.

So we want to do more than that, we want to do more than continue to raise this dispute. We want to make sure at the next election this country is able to make the choice to have decent and fair workplace laws so into the future, workers under this kind of pressure know they have got decent laws to rely on and know they have got a strong industrial umpire who can sort things out when they need a hand. I will just ask Anthony Albanese if he would like to say anything and then we will take your questions.

ALBANESE: I first raised this in Parliament on August 9. On August 10, I asked the Prime Minister would he use his ‘good offices’ to intervene on behalf of the workers here. He dismissed it and indeed came back to Parliament and blamed the workers for this predicament because they happened to be members of a trade union.

In November, a busload of these workers came down to Parliament House seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister or the Minister for Industrial Relations or anyone else in the Howard Government. They were treated with contempt. They sat in Question Time and watched as the Prime Minister dismissed their concerns. They wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister asking for his assistance in their plight. They have been treated with contempt, with no response to that letter.

Julia is quite right, were it not for the publicity and the tragedy concerning Mr Beaven and the fact that his courageous family were speaking out so articulately in the last days of his life, there wouldn’t have been the minimal resolution whereby Mr Beaven received $50,000 of the $212,000 that he was entitled to.

The 35 workers who remain here are the longest serving, most loyal servants of this company. Their redundancy entitlements were handed over when Tristar took over the company from the previous owner. This is nothing more and nothing less than a theft of what is rightfully theirs under the obligations that the company has. And yet what we have in John Howard’s Australia is a new morality, is a morality whereby unscrupulous employers, who are a minority, but employers such as here, can get away with whatever they try on.

I want to pay tribute today to the workers who struggle day after day after day, under traumatic circumstances, which I have seen on the regular visits that I make down here – and I have been coming here for more than a decade, but in the last 6 months I have been a regular visitor here – their courage in standing up for their rights is quite awe inspiring, and I think is symbolic, not just for them, but for what they are doing for working Australians in standing up. I also want to pay tribute to the union. This is an example of why unions continue to exist and the role that they play and it is terrific that we have the support of the State Labor Government in being represented here today as well.

JOURNALIST: What can Labor and the Government do to force Tristar to pay up when legally the company says, we don’t have to, we have got work for these people?

GILLARD: Well I think the Government, if it is prepared to really engage in this issue can make a difference. John Howard should have taken this issue up seriously when it was raised last August in Parliament. Instead he shrugged his shoulders and as Anthony Albanese has said, he blamed the workers. I don’t believe that if the Prime Minister of this country really made it his business to fix this dispute that it would remain unfixed.

So John Howard should seriously engage in fixing this dispute. He should be prepared to be on the case of the company and to say he has got to get this fixed. But we know, that the Howard Government isn’t going to do anything unless it is hounded into it by media exposure and even if they intervene in this dispute there are all of those cases, right around this country, happening day in and day out where people are being treated unfairly under Mr Howard’s laws but never make it into the newspaper, that are never spoken about on a radio station, that you don’t see on your TV screen and for those people the only fix is laws that are decent and fair and restore the balance in Australian workplaces and those laws are only going to come with the election of a Labor Government.

JOURNLAIST: What could you do retrospectively to help these people if you won government?

GILLARD: Well look the problem of course with retrospective payments and the like is that we don’t know what the circumstances would be there. We know, from what Anthony Albanese has said, that the money for these workers was guaranteed at an earlier point in time in this company’s history. We know that that money has now just been absorbed into the rest of the company’s money and we don’t know what is going to happen to it between now and Election Day. So the problem for these workers is urgent and it needs to resolved, if it is going to be resolved, now.

What we can resolve after the election and what we will certainly fix as an elected Labor government is we will rip up Mr Howard’s unfair workplace relations laws, we will get rid of his indecent laws and we will replace them with a system that is balanced and fair and meets the needs of working Australians including the needs of working Australians who find themselves in such a dreadful predicament as this one.

JOURNALIST: So all you can really do is to hope to prevent a repeat of this and in the meantime put some media pressure on?

GILLARD: Well this is John Howard’s Australia. This is happening under John Howard’s watch. He is taking his pay everyday for being Prime Minister. He has got a responsibility to get this fixed and if he doesn’t get this fixed people will judge him on the basis that he wasn’t prepared to lift a finger to fix it. That is the reality in Australia as we stand here today.

The future, what the future could be post the next election, with the election of a Labor Government is we have got decent laws that don’t allow a circumstance like this to happen again. Decent laws which means that redundancy entitlements are valued and decent laws which mean that there is a strong industrial umpire you could go to, to get a problem like this fixed in the first few days of the problem not months and months and months later.

ENDS

Jan 26, 2007

Transcript of radio interview – Federal Opposition backs Murray Darling takeover

Federal Opposition backs Murray Darling takeover plan

Transcript of radio interview

AM Programme – Friday, 26 January 2007

TONY EASTLEY: There’s a lot of general support for the Federal Government’s plan for the Murray Darling system, but the question is now how the Labour Party and the States will respond.

So far the Prime Minister has made the early running, as he’s seen to be tackling one of the nation’s top environmental issues.

The Federal Opposition has signalled its broad support for Mr Howard’s plan, but not without some scepticism.

Opposition water spokesman, Anthony Albanese, told Chris Uhlmann that it made sense to streamline the running of the Murray Darling Basin.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’re very pleased that the Prime Minister has adopted a number of the initiatives that we’ve been advocating for some time: the creation of a water minister, the single water agency, extra funding for efficiency, addressing the important issue of over allocation of water entitlements, which the National Party has been strenuous in resisting up to this point.

We want to look at the detail of the proposal, the governance arrangements, funding, before we commit ourselves.

But, the principle of streamlining processes and getting rid of red tape so that water flows rather than bureaucracy, is one that we’ve been advocating for some time.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Do you believe that the Commonwealth should take control of the Murray Darling Basin, and will you be advocating that to Labor premiers?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well we believe there should be a streamlining of process.

We’re going to have a look at the impact and the details of this proposal, but we don’t have an ideological position that says it should be delivered by the Commonwealth or the States.

We believe though that there should be a streamlining of procedures, and what works best should happen.

And there is clearly a role for national leadership. This is a national water crisis, it does require involvement of the Commonwealth, and we want to also express our view that the Commonwealth should also be providing leadership, not just in the Murray Darling Basin, but for the 17 million Australians who live in our urban centres and our capital cities, who are suffering from water shortages.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, there is a $2 billion water fund that will address some of that, and of course they are State responsibilities. And this would free up a lot of money for the States.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the Commonwealth had to concede yesterday, the Prime Minister at the press club, that less than half of that $2 billion Australian water fund has been spent.

And you have worthwhile projects, such as the Western Corridor Recycling Scheme in southeast Queensland – the biggest recycling scheme in the southern hemisphere. That’s worthy of Commonwealth support.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Certainly, but the States have a role in supplying urban water, obviously.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Of course the States have a role. But we also say that the Commonwealth has a role, and the States are somewhat cynical given the Commonwealth underspend.

CHRIS UHLMANN: So, if you were in charge, you’d just fund the lot?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, we would work in a cooperative fashion between the Commonwealth and the States, with the Commonwealth providing that national leadership that’s necessary.

And what we wouldn’t have is a situation shown in last year’s budget, where $337 million was allocated for spending that financial year under the Australian Water Fund, and only $77 million spent, less than a quarter.

We’ve actually had money going back into the surplus, rather than flowing through to increasing our water supply at this time of national water crisis.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s water spokesman, Anthony Albanese, speaking there with our Chief Political Correspondent, Chris Uhlmann.

 

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(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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