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May 28, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Fremantle – Monday, 28 May, 2018

Subjects: By-elections, WA infrastructure, NBN, Newspoll, Senator Steve Martin, Barnaby Joyce.

JOSH WILSON: Hi I’m Josh Wilson, I’m Labor’s candidate for Fremantle and it’s great to welcome you all here to Fremantle, or Walyalup as we call it – the lands of the Whadjuk-Nyoongar people, and we pay our respects to elders past and present.

We’ve been through a difficult time here in Western Australia over the last couple of years. We’ve been in recession, we’ve faced at times the highest unemployment in the country. Unfortunately we haven’t been supported in investment in productive infrastructure, job creating infrastructure by the Turnbull Government – whether that’s in transport manufacturing or the NBN.

I’m particularly concerned that we’ve got a terrible share of defence shipbuilding and that Western Australia is getting far and away the worst form of the NBN. We’re getting half as much again of the worst technology in fibre to the node than Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and that’s going to hold us back.

But look there’s no person who understands the social and economic benefits of investment in infrastructure than my guest, my friend and colleague Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. It’s great to have him here in Fremantle, and I’ll hand over to Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks Josh. It’s great to be back here in the West. This is my seventh visit to Western Australia just this year. And one of the reasons why I continue to come back to support people like Josh – and his now re-election campaign as the Member for Fremantle – is that Western Australians haven’t been getting a fair deal from the Commonwealth Government and it’s due to get worse rather than better, unless we get a Labor Government here federally, working with the State Labor Government of Mark McGowan.

The fact is that the Budget Papers showed of a fortnight ago, that infrastructure investment for Western Australia falls from $1.2 billion in the coming year across the Forward Estimates, to just $411 million. Now that cut, of some 75 per cent in infrastructure investment for Western Australia, will lead to fewer jobs, less economic growth and a contraction in the economy unless it is reversed.

This is a government that made a lot of promises from Malcolm Turnbull when he dropped in for an hour or two recently, in the lead-up to the Budget – with a very big figure mentioned. But he didn’t mention the timeline and the truth is that most of this funding is off into the Never-Never. We need investment here in Western Australia now – investment in Perth METRONET, investment in local roads, investment in the Outer Harbour – which will transform the way that Fremantle functions as a working city.

So those investments are all important, as is investment in the NBN. We know that – In terms of overcoming the tyranny of distance from the world’s city that is furthest away from any other major city, that Perth is. The NBN can overcome that tyranny of distance and we haven’t had that investment here in WA.

WA is suffering as a result by having businesses that can’t compete. Whereas if you overcome the tyranny of distance and a business in Perth or Fremantle has the same access to markets nationally and globally, as one in the CBD of Sydney or Melbourne, then that becomes a huge advantage for people here in the west.

I’m very proud to support Josh, he’s made an outstanding contribution already in his short time in office as the Member for Fremantle. The work that he’s done, for example on the live sheep trade, has made a real difference to government policy but also to Labor policy and I’m very confident that Josh will be returning after July 28, to be part of our team.

I think it is unfortunate that the Government has chosen to put off these by-elections and to leave Fremantle without a representative until then. But we’ll get on with it and we’ll be campaigning each and every day as the Labor Party, to make sure that Josh is returned and that Fremantle, which historically has had some great Labor members – John Curtin and Carmen Lawrence amongst them, Melissa Parke, Josh’s predecessor as well. I’m convinced that Josh will be another long-term Labor member who’ll make an outstanding contribution to Fremantle, but also to the nation. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: In respect to the Newspoll, voters prefer you as Labor leader. Considering Bill Shorten’s personal unpopularity as preferred Prime Minister, would the party have a better chance of success with you at the helm?

ALBANESE: Today’s Newspoll shows that once again Labor is ahead. I don’t know if that’s 32 or 33 polls in a row now. Malcolm Turnbull himself set the test when he rolled Tony Abbott as the leader of the Coalition and as Prime Minister – a first term elected Prime Minister. So we are determined to continue to campaign in the lead up to the election and once again we are ahead in the polls.

REPORTER: How does it feel though, to be more popular than Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: I’m concerned about the team, I’m a team player and every member of Labor’s team is playing their role and we only have one priority – which is to get rid of this rotten Government, this Government that doesn’t have an agenda for the nation.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott but he didn’t have a plan to govern. Once he got the job – he’s like the dog that caught the car, he doesn’t know what to do with it.

What we do know, is that he is not standing up for the values that he had on issues like climate change, over such a long period of time. And now we’ll wait and see what he does on company tax cuts, now that there is a great deal of difficulty to say the least, in him getting it through. And members of his own Coalition are calling for him to abandon his own policy.

REPORTER: I mean, it is impressive numbers though. Would you ever consider running yourself?

ALBANESE: :Look, I’m determined to do the job that I have and to do it to the best of my capacity as part of the Labor team. And what I do every day, is develop alternative policies for Labor in government on infrastructure, on transport, on tourism here in WA. At lunchtime I have a round table with all the executives from Tourism WA, again engaging with them about how we promote the west, about how we increase tourism opportunities, both in terms of domestic tourist numbers, but also global tourism numbers.

I was quite proud to play a role in ensuring that we now have direct flights from Perth to London, through Qantas. That will – in terms of the return journey – make a big difference to tourism here in the West, not just in Perth, but in those important regional areas like Broome, the Kimberley, down around Margaret River, Kalgoorlie. WA has so much to offer and we’ll be today talking about those issues and that’s what I’m concerned with and each and every day as well, campaigning against the Coalition Government.

I once said in a press conference – I like fighting Tories that’s what I do. Indeed that’s what I’m doing here today and that’s what I’ll continue to do, in the lead up to the next election.

REPORTER: It has just been confirmed that Tasmanian Senator, Steve Martin is joining the National Party, what’s your response?

ALBANESE: I do think that when members are elected under a particular political party, in my view they have a moral obligation to – if they’re going to change parties, to put that towards the public. Senator Martin was elected as a member of the Jacqui Lambie Network. That means he’s changed twice since he actually stood on that platform, when it came to the last election and received a very small number of votes. So call me old fashioned, I think that voters deserve more respect than Members of Parliament just deciding to change their political allegiances without reference back to those voters.

REPORTER: Can we talk about Barnaby Joyce for a moment? What are your thoughts on the fact that he is doing a paid interview now – $150,000 interview with Channel Seven on Sunday night, to talk about his situation. What do you think about it?

ALBANESE: My view is that Barnaby Joyce’s personal life is a matter for him and his family. It’s a matter for him to make those decisions and I’d make no comment about that. I do think though, that as politicians as parliamentarians we’re paid by the Australian public to do our job. Part of that job is media interviews such as this and I don’t think that parliamentarians should be paid for media interviews, full stop. I think that is a pretty important principle. That’s my personal view. It’s one that I’ve always engaged in and certainly it’s up to Mr Joyce to explain why it is that principle is being breached.

REPORTER: Do you think it’s a bit rich, him asking for privacy now, given that he is telling everyone about his life and asking the rest of the media and Australia for privacy?

ALBANESE: I don’t make any comment about his personal life or those issues, but people will draw their own conclusions.

REPORTER: This might be a repeat, but if the Labor Party loses one of the by-election seats, are you ready to put your hand up at the National Conference and run for the leader of the Party?

ALBANESE: I’m ready to ensure that – with the rest of the Labor team we win these by-elections. That’s why I’m here today. I was in Braddon on Friday with Justine Keay. I’ll be spending time with Susan Lamb in Longman. Later today, I’ll be with Patrick Gorman in Perth. I’m determined that Labor will win these by-elections and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that occurs, because we need to get rid of this Government.

We have an agenda for nation-building infrastructure. We doubled infrastructure investment when we were in government. When we came to office we were 20th amongst advanced economies for investment in infrastructure as a proportion of the national economy. When we left office we were 1st. I’m committed to nation-building infrastructure whether it be public transport, where we transformed the way that public transport was dealt with by the national Government to investments like Perth City Link, here. We invested in roads like Gateway WA, the Great Eastern Highway. We invested as well, in local community infrastructure here in Perth and Fremantle and that made a major difference. So I’m looking forward to being the Infrastructure Minister in a Labor Government after the next election, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that happens.

REPORTER: Surely you would be seriously considering it though? I mean if this gives Labor the best possible chance to get their foot forward, surely you would be considering it?

ALBANESE: The fact is that Labor is ahead in the polls yet again today. Indeed ahead by more than we were a fortnight ago. I’m determined that Labor will win the next election. I want to do everything I can to make sure that the opportunities are maximized – not as the end in itself, but because of what Labor governments do.

Because I want to see investment in education.

Because I want to see TAFE re-energized.

Because I want to see young people have the opportunity to be the best they can in life, and that starts with early childhood education.

Because I want to see health care prioritised, with Medicare as its centerpiece.

Because I want to look after our ageing population and we’re not developing those long-term strategies.

Because I want to invest in infrastructure and because I want to protect our pristine natural environment and there’s nowhere better than here in WA.

I want to see a Government that is committed to real action on climate change and a Labor government would be that.

That’s what I’m determined and focused on.

REPORTER: But you haven’t ruled it out?

ALBANESE: I absolutely have said that my priority is one and one only, which is to be a Minister in a Labor Government and to see us elected. I expect that to happen. Thanks.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 28 MAY, 2018

May 28, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 6PR Perth – Monday, 28 may 2018

Subjects: By-elections; infrastructure; Newspoll; defence;  NBN; citizenship; South Sydney Rabbitohs; corporate tax cuts.

T: Six past four, we’re kicking off another round of Talkback Democracy this afternoon. So if you would like to put a question to my guest, Anthony Albanese, senior member of the Labor Party, pick up the phone dial the number right now. He’s live here in the 6PR studios. Anthony Albanese, good afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day, good to be here.

PETERSON: Are you going to nominate for the State in the by-election in Darling Range Albo? Is that why you’re here – to run for the WA Labor Government?

ALBANESE: Well that’s always an option Ollie. I’m not sure my family would deal with a commute over to WA to the WA State Parliament.

PETERSON: Fair enough.

ALBANESE: Just because I’m a regular mate, doesn’t mean I want to be in the WA Parliament.

PETERSON: Seventh visit this year?

ALBANESE: Seventh visit this year. I was with Josh Wilson out at Freo earlier today and …

PETERSON: Working on the by-elections …

ALBANESE: A bit later I’ll be with Patrick Gorman in Perth at Mount Lawley and I had a fantastic roundtable actually with the WA Tourism Council at lunch time, so it’s been a very productive day.

PETERSON: Let’s start there, saying, you know, catch up with Patrick Gorman in the seat of Perth later. Are you surprised the Liberal Party isn’t putting up a candidate?

ALBANESE: I’m shocked, frankly. They got 42 percent of the primary vote at the last election and I think that the Liberal Party faithful are entitled to wonder why it is that they won’t have a candidate to vote for in a by-election. We’re standing even in Mayo where we have as much chance of that happening as there is of me running for the WA State Parliament.

PETERSON: So you’ve just got to put up a candidate and show you’re interested in the seat. It’s only on a 3 percent margin as well regardless of whether the federal government may be on the nose in the seat of Perth. Surely the Liberal Party has to run a candidate?

ALBANESE: And we’ve got a new candidate in Patrick Gorman. Tim, of course was a new candidate last time around but he had been known because he’d run for Federal Parliament before in the neighboring seat. So it is quite an extraordinary decision to say “no this is all too hard we won’t we won’t be bothered.” And I think it’ll have a flow on effect in WA in general, in that the Liberal Party won’t be out there in the field and the campaign will inevitably spread beyond the voters of Perth and Fremantle they’ll be listening to Labor Party people spruiking why people should support Labor forming government after the next election.

PETERSON: Well the Liberal Party argues that it’s saving its war chest, if you like, for the next federal election and it’s maybe its pockets are empty at the moment, it doesn’t have the money to fight a by-election in the seat of Perth and a state by-election in the seat of Darling Range. But do you think this has something to do with the fact that the Treasurer Scott Morrison has this Productivity Commission Review now, into the GST but he hasn’t made it public?

ALBANESE: I have no doubt they want to avoid getting questions about a review that no-one’s seen except for Scott Morrison. But he can’t hold on to it until after the next federal election, surely. So you’d be better off just putting it out there letting people see what’s in it and then coming to a determination. I think there’s pretty much a consensus that WA has not got its fair share from the GST. The solutions are always much more difficult of course to identify than the problem. We’ve come up with the $1.6 billion Fair Share for WA Fund.

PETERSON: And on that, it does look after you announced it, we saw Malcolm Turnbull the Prime Minister and the Liberal National Government more or less commit to basically the same plan. So I just want to ask you, Anthony Albanese, if hypothetically the Labor Party forms next government and some of those projects that you’ve identified are already underway and the money was already allocated. Would you find other projects in Western Australia to invest that $1.6 billion in?

ALBANESE: Of course we’ll have more to say about infrastructure in WA. But our $1.6 billion is over two years. What Malcolm Turnbull announced was $3.2 billion over 10 years. So most of that money is well outside the Forward Estimates. We could have three different governments by then, so it goes from $1.2 billion in the current year to $411 million dollars in 2021-22. Now that’s just not good enough. That’s a drop off of almost three quarters in over the four-year period and what you need on infrastructure is to have that constant investment. That’s what we did – when I was the Minister we had new announcements in every single Budget – be it the Great Eastern Highway, Gateway WA, Perth City Link, the Swan Valley Bypass down at Esperance, up the Great Northern Highway, the North West Coastal Highway. We made sure that there was a rolling issue of infrastructure projects coming through because that way you get efficiencies as well. Look at the Gateway WA project, I was with the Perth Airport CEO …
 
PETERSON: Kevin Brown …

ALBANESE: And others in the tourism sector today lunchtime, and it’s made such a difference to this city.

PETERSON: Talkback Democracy, a rare opportunity for you to put a question to Anthony Albanese senior Labor MP today. Obviously your portfolios, once again, transport, tourism, infrastructure, regional development. Absolutely everything you can speak on …

ALBANESE: Building stuff.

PETERSON: Building stuff, that and many more – if you would like to put a question to Anthony Albanese. I want to ask you what do you make of today’s Newspoll showing that for the 66th survey in a row, Bill Shorten has been behind as the preferred Prime Minister?

ALBANESE: Well what it showed as well, is that Labor is ahead 52-48 today. And that’s what determines whether you’re in government or not. If the election was held last Saturday Labor would have been forming government and I’d be – I’d have the same title probably, except with that nasty little word shadow rubbed out before my name. The most annoying word in politics is shadow.

PETERSON: But the polls now show that you are the preferred leader of the Labor Party.

ALBANESE: Well that’s, one poll shows that, but I’m doing the job that I’ve been given, Ollie, as you know, I work pretty hard, I get around the country.

PETERSON: Yeah, well you’re here for the seventh time this year. You front up, you’re likeable, you’ve got the public traits of a candidate for Prime Minister and obviously the poll has Malcolm Turnbull 47-30 on the preferred PM against Bill Shorten. That’s a huge gap, that’s 17 points, is this something your colleagues need to address?

ALBANESE: Well we need to all look at our performances, but we’re a team and the team is doing really well and the team is ahead. And Bill is the captain of the team I’m happy to play the role of halfback or five-eighth or wherever I’m picked. The Origin teams have been picked at the moment and I am happy to play that role. I’ve always been a team player …

PETERSON: But should the captain, maybe he injures himself or all of a sudden he’s out of form. Would you be prepared to step up and be the captain?

ALBANESE: I’m happy with the job that I’ve got Ollie, good try. But I am very happy with the job that I’ve got and Bill has confidence in me, he’s given me a role that’s significant in the Opposition and I think I’ve been holding the Government to account as well as, I like – I enjoy campaigning and it’s been terrific campaigning here today with Josh and I look forward to campaigning with Patrick as well.

PETERSON: But when we look at those stats it’s just one more, Anthony Albanese are you worried that when people go to the ballot box they cast a vote, they realise how unpopular Bill Shorten is, as being in charge of the Labor Party and then they say “no I’m not going to vote Labor” and now we re-elect the Coalition.

ALBANESE: Well of course I want Labor to win. And my job is to do everything that I can to contribute to the team to make sure that we do win. You can’t make a difference from Opposition. You can, you can push change and I think the way that we – one of the reasons why I’ve been here seven times this year is announcements like Midland Station, the Ellenbrook Line, Stephenson Avenue Road Project, Leach Highway. All of these projects that we got out there and announced our support for that – then the Government came in, was leading from behind this Government, when it comes to infrastructure here in WA. So you can make a difference. Our opposition to the Perth Freight Link Project made a difference, I think, to State Labor’s victory as well. So I think in life what you’ve got to do is to not worry about the job that you don’t have, to worry about the job that you do have and do it to the best of your capacity and that’s what I’m doing.

PETERSON: All right, let’s talk to Chris who’s there on line one. Chris, you have a question for Anthony Albanese. Good afternoon.

CALLER: G’day Albo, G’day Toady. Look mate, I’d say I’m largely a Liberal voter, I voted Liberal. But look, I can be …

PETERSON: Can be swayed, Chris?

CALLER: I can be, I wouldn’t say I’m a swinging voter but I can be swayed. And my biggest concern is our defence and the potentially disastrous purchase of, and I would say almost certain disastrous purchase of, World War Two era French submarines. And look there’s already predictions this will be a $75 billion blowout and these submarines will be superseded by the time we get them with modern technology, such as drones and whatever. And I think I would actually happily vote for anyone that cuts that whole deal in the bud.

But, just hopefully it’s not set in stone somewhere. It probably is, but this purchase of this submarine will break our back and I’m talking financially we’re already in huge debt and this is going to be the mother of all white elephants.

PETERSON: All right.

ALBANESE: Thanks Chris. Look I respect your view but there is of course – contracts have been entered into with the French-based company and that project is underway. It does have bipartisan support. I’m not an expert on defence procurement, I must put my hand up and concede. I don’t think Christopher Pyne is either, by the way, The Minister, to be fair. But certainly we would act in government as all government should with proper advice from the people in the Defence Department. We have an outstanding military in this country who do know what they’re doing and I would certainly do what I’ve done when I was last in government which was as a member of the National Security Committee and a member of Cabinet really listened to the advice of our defence personnel when it comes to defence issues.

PETERSON: Thank you Chris. Abe, good afternoon.

CALLER: Yeah good afternoon …

ALBANESE: Hi Abe …

CALLER: How are you mate, just on, similar to the GST. Why is it, why aren’t you guys pushing the Government to roll out better services for the NBN in WA?

ALBANESE: Oh, Well we …

CALLER: We always seem to miss out, we’re always on the slowest system fibre to the node instead of – at least fibre to the curb.

ALBANESE: Well absolutely and this is a huge issue with, it was raised with me this morning when I was in Freo with Josh. It is a tragedy, frankly. I was the Communications Minister at the end of the government and what I know is that, you know, this is pretty simple. Fibre is 21st century technology, copper is not and the hybrid model that Malcolm Turnbull imposed as the Communications Minister relies upon copper, either from the curb or sometimes even longer distances than that and it’s simply not reliable. One of the problems in Australia, including here in the West, is that the copper wires were laid many decades ago. They’re rusting. They’d need replacing regardless of the issue of broadband technology and of course it’s not surprising that when the pits were dug up people found asbestos, we were the greatest users in the world of asbestos …

PETERSON: I think there could be a vote winner in here for the Labor party if you can deliver faster NBN to WA than the Liberal Party, I think many people would vote for you.

ALBANESE: Well, we are absolutely committed to doing just that. We were doing that when we were in government it was disrupted but we believe in giving the best possible service and for WA it is so important because the NBN is about overcoming the tyranny of distance.

PETERSON: Correct. And we do here from time to time. It’s because we are isolated from the rest of the country as to why it is slower. We’ll take more of your calls next, your opportunity, Talkback Democracy with Anthony Albanese, twenty past four.

(Break)

And it’s Talkback Democracy with Anthony Albanese. Line Four is Alan. Good afternoon.

CALLER: Good afternoon to you.

PETERSON: Go ahead mate.

CALLER: The question is, gentlemen, I paid union dues from starting work to retiring and I see a lot of waste of money in the Labor Party and with this Section 44 the people taking money from Parliament in turn says to me, if he did that in private enterprise you’d be done for stealing as a servant. And the second one is, when Craig Thomson was in Parliament which Mr Albanese knows all about. He would use his credit card on prostitutes. What’s the answer?

PETERSON: All right, so the by-elections I think Alan, now we’re up to – what are we up to now? Twelve, fourteen, fifteen by-elections, I think it is overall? And all Senators who’ve been …

ALBANESE: Well there’s quite a few Senators, have come and gone quite quickly because they don’t – you don’t have to have a by-election and a couple of those have changed their political parties. One of them today …

PETERSON: Yes, the Nationals picked up another.

ALBANESE: Rather strange year I think. I think that you shouldn’t change your party unless you put yourself before the electorate. And that’s what’s happened today. With regard to the citizenship issue – even the electoral handbook said basically you had to do your best endeavours and that’s been changed by the High Court rulings that have been made. Josh Wilson for example, in his case he became the candidate and filled out the form the day he was pre-selected. He sent off the form and paid his money, the very next day. So it’s pretty hard to say that he didn’t do the right thing. However the court has ruled a very strict interpretation which is a change from previous rulings and that’s meant a by-election, that’s unfortunate. We regret that, we have apologised for that, but we’re out there fighting in each of these five by-elections one of which was  caused by …

PETERSON: In hindsight should the Labor Party have got their house in order last year when we held all the elections at once, plus Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander’s?

ALBANESE: Well to be fair, Ollie, we moved a motion in the Parliament to refer everyone to the High Court for determination. The crossbenchers voted for it. It was tied and lost on the Speaker’s casting vote. So we tried to get everyone who there was any doubt over, referred and dealt with, and the Government opposed that and that’s why we’re in the circumstance of having by-elections now, rather than earlier on.

PETERSON: All right, Harry wants to talk about the NRL. Good afternoon.

ALBANESE: Oh good on you, Harry.

CALLER: G’day Ollie, G’day Albo.

ALBANESE: Hi mate, who do you support?

CALLER: On behalf of the WA South Sydney’s Supporter’s Club welcome to Perth.

ALBANESE: You are a good man.

CALLER: Welcome to Perth. We’re looking good for number 22 hey Albo?

ALBANESE: Mate, they are on fire. Did you see the Warriors game?

CALLER: It was beautiful mate, it was beautiful.

ALBANESE: It was very good to knock them off in Auckland. It erased the tragedy of the Perth defeat, over here in Round 1.

CALLER: Absolutely mate, and that was terrible too. Anyway mate, good luck.

ALBANESE: Well Rugby League has got a lot of support here in the West and of course next year …

PETERSON: Origin.

ALBANESE: There will be a State of Origin game here and that will be, even if you haven’t liked rugby league particularly in the past, if you go to one game in your life go to the State of Origin next year.

PETERSON: Yeah it’ll be good. Good on you Harry. Hello Bruce.

ALBANESE: Hey Bruce.

CALLER: Look, I’ve got a problem I think that it should be a rferendum on dual citizenship and it should be a simple question. If you’re an Australian Citizen and you’re born in Australia, you should be eligible because I’m annoyed with the Murdoch Press that say Shorten was sneaky and dishonest with dual citizenship because the Labor Party, with the exception of David Feeney, took action in every case to rescind their citizenship. (Inaudible) so fair enough, but the Liberals did none and Malcolm Turnbull got up and said the High Court will find all these Members are eligible.

ALBANESE: Thanks mate. We’ve had in our Labor Party platform for a long time, simplifying Section 44. It is in there of course as a carryover from before there was Australian citizenship and when we were all citizens of the United Kingdom, effectively is why it’s there. Ironically it is people who have family connections with the UK who’ve been caught up in this issue with the exception I think of, Barnaby Joyce was a Kiwi and one of the Greens I think was a Canadian.

PETERSON: Scott Ludlam.

ALBANESE: Well, oh he was a Kiwi as well, Scott and the other one was a Canadian. But from the major parties in terms of the causes of the by-election, it all relates to the UK. Look, I agree with you. It should be simple but the truth is, we now have a ruling from the High Court and I think frankly it would be pretty unlikely that a referendum would be carried because people would say “why should we make it easier for the politicians.”

PETERSON: Correct and it would be a hard one to sell regardless of, you know, across the political divide it’s a hard one to sell a Referendum on making, really, your jobs easy.

ALBANESE: I agree. And I think there are other issues that we need to deal with in the Constitution. 118 years on it would be good if we recognise that there were people here for tens of thousands of years before Captain Cook sailed in and then Arthur Phillip brought the First Fleet.
 
PETERSON: Now just, we are running out of time but just before you go I read today and hear Pauline Hanson sounding to soften, if you like, around her opposition to the company tax cuts of the Government. Is it dead buried and cremated as your leader says? Or do you think the Government has this, this glimmer of hope that it might be able to somehow sweet talk the crossbench into company tax cuts?

ALBANESE: Look, trying to ascertain what Pauline Hanson’s thought patterns are is probably above my pay grade and so I don’t know, is the truth. I’d take her on her word though, she said that was the final decision but whether she changes from the final decision and comes up with the final final final decision, I guess well, we’ll wait and see. What is clear is that, I just think it’s wrong priorities and that we need to invest in education and health and infrastructure and early childhood and the ageing of our population. All more significant than giving company tax cuts to the big end of town, to the big companies.

PETERSON: All right. I’m sure that tax becomes the major sore point between both major parties in the coming weeks. Really appreciate you dropping by and taking a few questions on Talkback Democracy.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having me. It was a very good segment. Thanks for the people who rang.

May 25, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – RN Breakfast – Friday, 25 May 2018

Subjects: By-elections, transcripts, Luke Foley.

HOST: Welcome to Breakfast.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Devonport. I am standing on the banks of the Mersey with Justine Keay and a whole lot of her supporters here who are pretty annoyed at the disenfranchisement of the voters not just of here, but right around the country. We are talking about half a million people who won’t have a representative for 79 days.

HOST: When you say they are angry, are they angry at the date of the by-election, or are they angry at you and your party for dragging this whole citizenship saga longer?

ALBANESE: They are angry at the date. The fact is that Justine and the other people who resigned from the Parliament resigned on the day that the High Court handed down its decision that had implications for them.

HOST: But to be fair Anthony Albanese, that whole process could have been dealt with much, much sooner had your party not dragged it out in the way that it did.

ALBANESE: Let’s be clear Hamish. Let’s not rewrite history. We moved in the Parliament last year to refer any member of which there was any doubt whatsoever – Labor and Liberal – to the High Court for determination. The Government blocked that move. The crossbenchers voted for it. We voted for it. The fact is that in North Sydney the writs were issued in three days, in Bennelong two days. In New England, when the High Court handed down its decision, the writs were issued for Barnaby Joyce’s by-election on the very day. So I don’t see any reason why this has been delayed. The so-called regulations changes with the form – I mean, I’ve seen more difficult forms to get a library card than to fill that out and anyone who doesn’t know that there is an issue with Section 44 really hasn’t been paying attention.

HOST: All right, the ALP President, Mark Butler, has issued a press release overnight describing interference by Turnbull with the independent Electoral Commission. It also refers to the “fact’’ the Liberal Party has deliberately sought to disrupt our democratic process. Is there any evidence of either of those things?

ALBANESE: Well this is a government that plays politics with everything. During the week we were talking about when the dates of the by-elections should be and someone joked that maybe they will put it on the Saturday of the ALP national conference and people sort of had a bit of a chuckle at that, about how over-the-top that would be and dismissed it as absurd. The date that they happen to have picked is the one date in three years when Labor has a democratic process. We’ve had elections of delegates right around the country. We gather, it’s shown live – it’s broadcast on ABC.

HOST: Sure, we all know what that is. But is there any evidence of interference or of deliberately seeking to disrupt our democratic process, because it is a significant allegation and it involves the statutory body, the Australian Electoral Commission, which provided the advice that that was the optimal date. Is Is there any evidence that there was interference?

ALBANESE: At the Senate Estimates yesterday the Electoral Commissioner gave I think quite confused evidence about what was in the original advice to the Speaker about dates, about what subsequently was changed in that written advice. It is the Electoral Commissioner saying that you couldn’t have it on school holidays. Well the fact is that the Saturday before would have been the last day of school holidays – it depends how you count it I guess, as the Friday or the Saturday – wouldn’t have provided much disruption. The Electoral Commissioner doesn’t seem to have taken into any account the fact that these days about one in four voters pre-poll. People are very used to pre-polling and pre-polling would have been open prior to the school holidays. That wouldn’t have been difficult to do. So it is incomprehensible to me why it is that this one day of the term is the day in which five by-elections have been called deliberately. If you could have seen the faces of those opposite who thought they were just so smart. Well they are too smart by half.

HOST: So how has the Electoral Commissioner been influenced to do that then? You referred to him here. How has he been swayed in his determination to recommend that date as the optimal one?

ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that this date is determined by the Speaker upon advice of, consultation normally, with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission gave a range of advice. We ended up with a date that is incomprehensible to me.

HOST: But it is the date that was recommended as the optimal date by the Electoral Commissioner. So has he compromised or not?

ALBANESE: On what basis?

HOST: Was he compromised or not?

ALBANESE: Well on what basis was that date chosen as the optimal date? That is what we want to know because the circumstances here are red hot frankly.

HOST: As I ask you the key question here, you are moving away from it and that is the important detail – you are so willing to sort of make these …

ALBANESE: No, it’s not the important detail Hamish, with respect. The important detail is the fact that the one date that was chosen of all the dates that could have been chosen, before, after, it is beyond belief that someone at some stage didn’t say to the Electoral Commissioner before that letter was written that there was something happening on that date. One would have thought that the Electoral Commissioner would have taken into account events that were happening on that date. That is a normal process. And for a political by-election across five seats he surely would have taken into account the circumstances of what political events were happening on that day.

HOST:  So he has been compromised?

ALBANESE: We think this is red hot and there are questions to be answered. We’ll get on with the fact of campaigning in these by-elections and Justine Keay has a large number or people out very early on quite a brisk morning here in Devonport. She will be campaigning, as will other Labor candidates, I might say, in all five seats across the country because, unlike Malcolm Turnbull and his team, we’ve got candidates in all the seats. They are not even bothering to run in Perth or Fremantle.

HOST:  All right, there have been some questions about an altered transcript of an interview with Linda Burney – your colleague. She was interviewed by David Speers on Sky. The crucial part of that transcript referred to her saying there should not be indefinite detention referring to refugees in offshore detention. What is your position on that? Should there be indefinite detention or should there be a limit?

ALBANESE: I don’t think anyone says Hamish that there should be indefinite detention and that people should be locked away for ever. What my position is is that the people on Manus and Nauru need to be resettled in third countries. We have offers on the table, including from New Zealand, and the Government needs to resolve these issues. People have been there for too long. You can be tough on people smugglers without being weak on humanity and these issues do need to be solved and it is up to the Government of the day to explain why it is that is has taken so long to resolve these issues. Even the US settlement arrangements are taking a very long time indeed.

HOST: If there shouldn’t be indefinite detention what is the maximum amount of time that it is reasonable to keep these people there?

ALBANESE: Well that is not up to me to say Hamish. It is up to the Government to resettle these people in third countries in accordance with what they said they would do and for them to implement that policy of achieving that outcome. That is what they said they would do. There is an enormous cost to the Australian taxpayer of keeping these centres open with all the people who have been found to be refugees looking for third countries of resettlement. But importantly as well there has also been a human cost and we have seen just this week another tragedy and the Government needs to resolve these issues and resolve them as a matter of urgency.

HOST: You will be familiar with the comments of the New South Wales Opposition Leader, Luke Foley, in the past 24 hours talking about so-called white flight, decribing an exodus of Anglo Saxons from certain suburbs of Sydney. They are suburbs that you know petty well I would have thought. Were you shocked to see leader of the Labor Party in an Australian state using that term white flight and do you understand why it was so offensive to so many people?

ALBANESE:  I am often not shocked by front pages of The Daily Telegraph.

HOST: Well come on, he said it.

ALBANESE: Well I am often not shocked. He has apologised for it. It’s an inappropriate term and he says that he regrets using it and he has apologised and that is appropriate. But what is important is that he has drawn attention to the fact that one of the reasons why we live in a successful multicultural Australia, including in electorates like mine in the Inner West of Sydney, is that we have appropriate resettlement services, that we provide those services to people so that they can fully participate in the community, so they can have access to education and English language skills, so they can have access to assistance into employment, so they can get access to health care. That is what we need to do and Luke Foley is quite right to point towards the need for providing services for people, particularly when you have large numbers of new migrants settling in those communities.

HOST: We will leave there. Anthony Albanese, enjoy what it sounds like should be a beautiful day in Tassie.

 

May 23, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – FIVEaa Adelaide, Two Tribes segment – Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Subjects: Canberra, foreign interference, Royal wedding, republic.

HOST: It is Two Tribes time on a Wednesday morning – Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from a very miserable Canberra out here today.

PYNE: I like it actually.

HOST: It’s bracing isn’t it?

ALBANESE: It’s got that sort of wet, cold, fog.

PYNE: That wet air feel. But I like it. It is nice to have a change. Imagine if we lived in North Queensland and we would be always warm.

HOST: I could think of worse case scenarios to living in North Queensland. Is Canberra a good place for the capital? I mean, we are probably not going to be able to move it now, we are sort of stuck with it.

PYNE: It’s too late now.

HOST: But what do you think, because it was put there to defuse the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry?

PYNE: The capital should have been put in Adelaide.

HOST: I agree

ALBANESE: I think Canberra is a great place for the capital. It’s Australia’s largest inland city. I think it has got, in the time I have been coming here, it has really become much more a real city.  It’s got quite a vibrant life around. I think it’s a good lifestyle for families to live.

PYNE: It’s very different in the last 25 years. There’s no doubt about that.

ALBANESE: It has really done. That’s what an ACT Labor Government does for you, you see. They improve liveability.

HOST: Calling it a Government Albo? It’s like city council on steroids.

ALBANESE: It is but they do a very good job. Andrew Barr is a very good Chief Minister.

PYNE: Oh stop it with your politics.

HOST: On a serious issue, is there an issue in Canberra at the moment with infiltration of the Australian Government and political parties by operatives close to the Chinese Communist Party? There is a front page story in The Australian today regarding comments made by Andrew Hastie in Parliament yesterday where he reveals and names someone identified as a co-conspirator by the FBI in the bribery of a UN official – someone who has close links to the Communist Party of China and also is a political donor in this country. We’ve had the Sam Dastyari affair fairly recently too. Do we have a problem Christopher Pyne?

PYNE: I don’t think we have a problem, but I think we need to be aware of all those kinds of issues around foreign interference and that is why the Government and quite frankly the Opposition are sitting down working together on foreign interference laws. George Brandis as the Attorney General just before he retired from politics revealed the Government’s plan around foreign interference laws, basically following on from a lot of the stories out of the United States that deal with their election. And our Attorney General now, Christian Porter, is sitting down with the Labor Party and the Parliament to work out what we can do in a bipartisan way to make sure that what is pretty low-level in terms of the stories that keep appearing every now and then doesn’t become a significant challenge for democratic government down the track.

HOST: What is your reading of this Albo? There’s a lot people – your old sparring partners from Labor’s New South Wales Right faction – people like the former premier, served for a decade, Bob Carr as Premier of NSW, does a lot of lobbying work now with Chinese business interests. There is a closeness there isn’t there?

ALBANESE: Well China is our most important trading partner.

HOST: I get that.

ALBANESE: The idea that someone who is involved in business in China has connections with the Chinese Communist Party is like saying they have connections with the Chinese State. The Chinese Government is the Communist Party. It is no more extraordinary than someone in Australia having contact with myself and Christopher Pyne as part of the Australian Government apparatus.

HOST: The Andrew Hastie comments though, are a bit more extraordinary are they not Albo, because he is talking about Chau Chak Wing being linked to the bribery of a UN official?

ALBANESE: Well the gentleman is an Australian citizen. That’s one point. Secondly, there’s no suggestion I don’t think from any of his comments there’s any inappropriate interference in any Australian political processes. I was with Christopher Pyne at the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Building in Sydney at UTS where he donated a substantial amount of money to build the new facility, which is quite an extraordinary design known as the Paper Bag Building here as part of UTS as a contribution.

Look, I think that we do need to be, as Christopher said, vigilant about any outside interference that does occur. We need to work through that in a bipartisan way and we do that. Julie Bishop I think might even be in China at the moment. But she is engaging with the Chinese Government. Steve Ciobo was up there last week. That’s a good thing that we have contact and that we build a positive relationship whilst maintaining of course a strong relationship with our major ally in the United States.

But I think the concern here is the suggestion as I read it from Mr Hastie’s comments is that information that he got as Chair of the National Security Committee he has released in the Parliament under parliamentary privilege. I find that quite extraordinary. I’m sure that they were probably rogue actions. I don’t suggest that it was authorised by Malcolm Turnbull, but there really needs to be an explanation about whether this is abuse of his position in that, according to his own statement, he has used information given to him in a briefing by another government’s agency to give a speech under parliamentary privilege about allegations from a different government, whilst being chair of the National Security Committee.

HOST: Just quickly before we let you go guys, you are both republicans. We saw an outpouring of warmth and interest here in Australia towards the wedding of Harry and Meghan last Saturday night. Chris, do you think that Australia will ever become a republic?

PYNE: Yes I do. I think we will become a republic, most likely when the Queen is no longer on the throne. I don’t think there is a lot of point in trying to become a republic while the Queen reigns, but I think when that generational change occurs, it is very worthwhile trying to achieve an Australian head of state. It’s the only office …

HOST: That could be within three or four years.

PYNE: Well, it’s the only office not available to an Australian and it is our Head of State. Now I find that remarkable. I loved the wedding by the way. I watched it with my family. I was quite surprised. I had no intention of watching it but I became quite absorbed. It was quite a spectacle. It reminded me that there is a lot of show business associated with this particular institution and it was great fun and I think from that point of view it was terrific. But that doesn’t change my mind about being a republican by the way.

HOST: Do you agree with that Albo?

ALBANESE: I agree with all of it, including maintaining my commitment to an Australian head of state and the republic. But the wedding was a hoot. It was an absolute hoot.

PYNE: Don’t get Will started. He didn’t watch it. He tried and he changed channels.

ALBANESE: Thank goodness the Souths-Cowboys game ended at about quarter past seven. So then the TV got switched over. I watched it. I didn’t have a choice, but I am glad I did. Weddings are joyous occasions and isn’t it a good thing that two people who clearly love each other – you could just see it, it’s real – and what a wonderful event. And why shouldn’t people get some enjoyment out of it?

HOST: That’s why people listen to Two Tribes too. The same sort of reasons. Feel the love.

ALBANESE: Because we all love each other.

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese , Two Tribes on a  Wednesday morning here on 5AA.

May 21, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – SKY News, David Speers PM Agenda – Monday, 21 May, 2018

Subjects: Senate Estimates Commitee hearing on faster rail.

DAVID SPEERS: .. A million dollar grant to a business to do a business case on a, not a High Speed Rail, Link but a fast rail link between Melbourne and Shepparton. With me now to talk more about this is the Shadow Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese. Thanks for joining us.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Thanks David.

SPEERS: This is a  $5 million – well, to be clear it is $20 million that went to three different companies. So one of the companies we are talking about here, that you are concerned about, has received presumably somewhere in between $5 million and $20 million?

ALBANESE: Around and about. They didn’t seem to be able to provide the precise details.

SPEERS: You are a big fan of High Speed Rail. But what is wrong with this?

ALBANESE: I’m a huge fan of High Speed Rail and we had a proper study – $20 million into High Speed Rail down the east coast from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra. It identified a route. It identified regional economic growth as one of the great benefits of High Speed Rail. What we have here is quite extraordinary though. Here we have $20 million set aside in last year’s Budget, in 2017, for studies into faster rail and this proposal; it’s not just that it has a hole in it, it’s that it is one big hole – an idea of having faster rail from Melbourne to Shepparton but the company that is involved here – the company of Nicholas Cleary, a former senior New South Wales National Party person – CLARA – doesn’t have, it would appear, the money to back up the joint funding that is required. It only has $422,000 in capital in its accounts.

SPEERS: To do the …

ALBANESE: To do the study. The idea was matching funding. That doesn’t appear to have been there. They don’t have all of the land options in place for the corridor that is being picked to Shepparton and indeed there’s a lot of speculation around Shepparton that some of this corridor is on a flood plan and it relies …

SPEERS: That could be problematic.

ALBANESE: Could be a problematic.

SPEERS: Let me just break this down, this guy Nick Cleary, his company is Consolidated Land and Rail Australia. – CLARA. So he has been given several million dollars from the Government. He is obviously very keen on making a buck out of High Speed Rail. He has been buying up a lot of farmland.

ALBANESE: Well he has been buying options.

SPEERS: Options. Right.

ALBANESE: But it is very unclear as to whether all of the options are there. The department couldn’t really say that. The department couldn’t really say what the financial state of the company was. The department couldn’t really say what was happening with regard to the route of this and it relies upon this idea  – the whole CLARA proposal is much bigger.

SPEERS: It is. I was having a quick look at this.  He has plan for eight inland cities.

ALBANESE: Eight. That’s right.

SPEERS: Inland cities?

ALBANESE: We are in Australia’s major inland city right now. It is Canberra.

SPEERS: Yes.

ALBANESE: And there are others as well of course – Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga. Shepparton is one.

SPEERS: The guy is dreaming big though. He’s thinking big. He is thinking we can build these cities and a rail link and we’ll …

ALBANESE: Well this is Utopia after a very long night. The idea of eight cities in inland Australia where there are currently none? What people who have looked at this proposal in local government have come back with almost universally is saying: “Hang on a tick here, why don’t you do something about building up Albury-Wodonga or Canberra for that matter or Goulburn?”

SPEERS: And have the train go through?

ALBANESE: And have the train go through or on the border of. This is an idea …

SPEERS: I mean, you have been Minister. You’ve obviously had people come to you with ideas, you know: Oh we’ll build these inland cities, we’ll …

ALBANESE: I have had all sorts of …

SPEERS: Being a fan of High Speed Rail, I am sure plenty have come to you …

ALBANESE: I have seen some very ambitious plans.

SPEERS: So what’s going on here do you think?

ALBANESE: That’s what the Department has to answer, of how it is. What they did – there was a competitive bidding process. The bids included pretty sensible propositions for the Sydney-to-Canberra route, for example, that didn’t rely upon whole new cities being built. This relies upon that. It relies upon the options being there, it relies upon whole new planning mechanisms – by and large, in Australia, given how long we have seen European settlement, there is a reason why cities that have thrived and have grown are located where they are.

SPEERS: You obviously don’t think he should have been given several million dollars?

ALBANESE: No, I certainly don’t.

SPEERS: Why do you think it has happened? Are you alleging some political payoff here?

ALBANESE: I want answers to it. It is unusual that Mr Cleary is a former National Party official. Certainly there were a range of people from across the spectrum that were …

SPEERS: He’s got a few working with him, Steve Bracks I think …

ALBANESE: Resigned. Resigned from the Board. Barry O’Farrell resigned from the Board. There have been a  range of people have resigned, well before this grant was given.

SPEERS: So you think tax payers should be steering clear of this bloke?

ALBANESE: I think that if someone tells you something that you, in your guts know is too good to be true, it usually is. The fact that this project relies upon two new cities, that it goes as well – if you’re thinking about High Speed Rail and where the big population bases are, your starting point is not Shepparton, as the first High Speed route in Australia …

SPEERS: It’s a great place.

ALBANESE: It is a fantastic place, I love Shepparton. I like lots of smaller places around. The first High Speed Rail should also not be to Orange, which is also a great city in New South Wales …

SPEERS: A lovely place.

ALBANESE: … or Dalby in Queensland. It needs to be based upon populations. That is why Sydney-to-Canberra makes sense, that’s why Sydney-to-Melbourne makes sense, Sydney-to-Newcastle. Even Melbourne-to-Geelong where there is proposals, makes a lot of sense, and it would have saved Bronnie from getting her helicopter.

SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

 

May 20, 2018

Transcript of television interview – Insiders Program, ABC – Sunday, 20th May 2018

Subjects; UN resolution on Palestine, Budget, by-elections

BARRIE CASSIDY: Anthony Albanese, welcome. Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, Barrie.

CASSIDY: We will come back to the Budget. I want to start with the vote in the UN with only Australia and the United States opposing the inquiry into the killings. How do you feel about that?

ALBANESE:  Well, the Government needs to explain why it was isolated as one of only two nations to vote against an independent inquiry. I would have thought, given the circumstances whereby, we’ve had at least 58 Palestinians killed, over 100 Palestinians killed since March 30th, that an independent investigation, is in the interests of all and no doubt, as with everything in the Middle East, it would find, if it were an appropriate investigation, that all the fault wasn’t on one side.

No doubt there has been provocation in Gaza, but international law requires a proportionate response and those people who have guns on one side and on the other side has rocks, the people with guns have a responsibility to act in a way that is proportionate and people have seen this acted out on their television screens in the past week and certainly I think that the Government needs to explain why it has opposed this independent investigation.

CASSIDY: So you are prepared to say the response wasn’t proportionate in this case?

ALBANESE:  Well, I’m prepared to say what anyone who looks at this objectively would say, which is that when you have all of the fatalities on one side of a dispute then there needs to be an explanation as to how those circumstances have been done. Now, there is no doubt that the primary concern, of course, is always to any fatalities in conflict and those who are injured and their families, but also, this is doing damage to Israel’s reputation. I’m a strong supporter of Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, but I recognise also the need for a two state solution and that requires a Palestinian state.

CASSIDY: But the NSW ALP have a motion, a successful motion at their last conference, to unilaterally recognise the state of Palestine. Will that motion go to the national conference and if it does, will you support it?

ALBANESE:  That motion will go to the national conference I would expect, but we have a NSW state conference at the end of June and I should imagine that resolution will be updated. I’ll wait and see what the debate is at the national conference and determine my position based upon my long-standing view that you need a two state solution in the Middle East with a state of Palestine, with a state of Israel, both of them having secure borders and making sure that that is in the interests of Palestinians and Israelis. For people who travel to that part of the world, when you recognise that Jerusalem and Bethlehem is like saying you can have security in my suburb of Marrickville from where I’m sitting here in Ultimo, they’re right next to each other. We can’t continue to have an ongoing, up to seven decades of conflict, there is a need for a resolution and quite clearly the international community must play a role in that.

CASSIDY: Do you though, support unilaterally the recognition of Palestine?

ALBANESE:  Well, I support recognising a Palestinian state, but with Israel continuing to have a right to exist within secure borders. And my concern is that the possibilities of a two state solution are being undermined by the ongoing expansion of settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza and there is a need for the international community to recognise that this circumstance, whereby people in Gaza now, we have three generation of refugees living there in circumstances without any economic capacity to have a decent standard of living, is causing enormous frustration and there is a need also to recognise, that it is understandable that Israel feels under siege given where it is in the world and given some of the Islamic fundamentalism that exists in many of the nations on its borders. But fundamentalism of any sort, be it Judaism, Islam or Christianity is bad. What we need is a solution there because it is providing fuel for instability across the entire region.

CASSIDY: Alright, we’ll go to the Budget now and infrastructure in your portfolio area to begin with. The Government has a good story to tell, hasn’t it, $75 billion over ten years, $25 billion of that new projects?

ALBANESE:   Well, this is, of course, all spin and no substance. The fact is if you look at this year’s Budget, compared with last year, there is a $2 billion cut across the forward estimates. Infrastructure investment is due to be $8 billion in the current financial year. That drops to $4.5 billion across the forward estimates, across four years. And we have seen as well the Government not even deliver what it said it would each year; some $4.7 billion of under spends in their first budget. Infrastructure investment, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office is in fact due to half over the next decade from 0.4 to 0.2 of GDP and now we have in this Budget, an increased propensity to have off-budget allocations. In this case, now for public transport projects like the Melbourne Airport rail link that simply means that it is a fantasy. They’re suggesting you can have public transport projects for free, which means that it won’t happen.

CASSIDY: But what they are doing is finding new ways to finance infrastructure projects?

ALBANESE:  No, all of the experts in the sector regard this as simply a con. Now, you can’t have off-budget financing for a project unless it is going to do two things. Firstly, it has to have revenue that is greater than the ongoing maintenance and costs of running a public transport project. Now, that doesn’t happen anywhere in Australia for any of the public transport projects and secondly, you have to produce a return on the investment, on the capital costs otherwise it has to be funded with at least some level of grant funding. And that’s why this is an announcement, a big announcement of $5 billion, but it’s not real and we’ve seen that with so many of the Government’s announcements. The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, a big announcement three years ago of $5 billion, and very little has happened. A couple of small projects, basically most of the expenditure seems to be having board meetings of the NAIF board members in the southern capitals. The NAIF has become the ‘No Actual Infrastructure Fund.’

CASSIDY: Can I ask you more broadly about an issue that Phil Coorey raised in the Financial Review? That a Labor Government would be no better placed than the Tony Abbott Government and the Malcolm Turnbull Government in terms of raising the revenue that you wanted to raise. You’ve committed spending, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to raise the revenue that you pinpointed because of the Senate?

ALBANESE:  Well, we’re very confident we will be able to. Of course, there have been changes to the way that the Senate is elected. Malcolm Turnbull blew that last time around with his Double-D election, he ensured an expansion of the cross benches.  It will be more difficult at the next election in a half Senate election for minor parties to come through. We’re very confident, we’ve been out there, Barrie, on issues such as our housing affordability strategies, of changes to negative gearing and the treatment of capital gains. Now, not just for this election coming up, but the last election as well. So we think there is a very clear mandate for that. We think our other changes are sensible. We’ve announced them well in advance and we’re confident that we would get them through the Senate and through the House of Representatives if we are fortunate to form Government after the next election.

CASSIDY: Adam Bandt said this morning the Greens wouldn’t support your tax cuts.

ALBANESE:  Well, Adam Bandt, of course, wouldn’t support, probably, tax cuts for anyone. That I think is the Greens position. But the fact is that we have a larger tax offset, that we will be arguing for, than the Government, more than $900 as opposed to a little bit over $500.
That’s our position and we’re confident that that would get through the Senate.

CASSIDY: Alright. A couple of, well, five by-elections, but two, which are very important to the Labor Party – Braddon and Longman. What would be a good result?

ALBANESE:  A good result is to win, Barrie. That’s a good result. Any time there is an election held, I’ll you’ll give you the big tip here, the big scoop on Insiders –  Labor frontbencher says he wants Labor to win!

CASSIDY: But if you fell in, if you just fell in in Longman for example, would that be good enough?

ALBANESE:  A win is a win, Barrie. We’re in it to win in all of the by-elections in which we’re running. We’re not terribly confident in Mayo of winning, but we’re having a crack there, unlike the Liberal Party which isn’t even giving it supporters someone to vote for in Perth and Fremantle.

CASSIDY:You are running as a stalking horse for Rebekha Sharkie aren’t you?

ALBANESE:  We’re running because it is the right thing to do for Labor to run candidates in these by-elections just as we ran a candidate in New England where there was no prospect of us winning that by-election, but we did the right thing because we want to take every opportunity to put our case before the Australian public. What’s extraordinary is you’ve got a Government that in Perth for example last time around, got 42% of the primary vote, which is running scared. That just says they’re not prepared to go out and back themselves. Labor is.

CASSIDY: And if you were to lose either Braddon or Longman, what kind of a shock would that be to the Labor Party?

ALBANESE:  Well, we are in it to win Barrie, and we are not into contemplating anything other than victory in those by-elections. We have got outstanding candidates in Susan Lamb and Justine Keay and they will be, they are already on the ground running. It is extraordinary Barrie that the by-elections haven’t been called and I saw Christopher Pyne coming out with some excuses. The truth is that when the Prime Minister at some stage in the next year goes to Government House and says let’s call the federal election, there’s 150 seats organised in the next 24 hours. I can’t understand why these by-elections haven’t been called.

CASSIDY: What’s your theory? Why do you think he is holding it up?

ALBANESE:  I think Malcolm Turnbull, just like he’s running away from the public in Perth and Fremantle, is delaying these by-elections for reasons that he needs to explain. The Speaker, of course has said that he’ll consult with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition about that timetable, but Christopher Pyne was suggesting some changes being made to candidates’ eligibility. I think the High Court has made their position very clear about candidates’ eligibility in the determinations that they’ve made.

CASSIDY:Thank you for your time this morning.

ALBANESE:  Good to be with you Barrie.

May 18, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – The Today Show – Friday, 18 May 2018

Subjects: Live exports, Liberal Party pre-selection,

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Thank you guys. Good morning again to you at home. The Agricultural Minister has announced tough new rules and penalties for live exporters, in response to distressing footage aired on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago. The crackdown though doesn’t go far enough for Liberal MP Sussan Ley. She’s broken ranks confirming she’ll put forward a Private Member’s Bill to phase out the sheep trade to Middle East.

Joining me now is Anthony Albanese and in Melbourne Christopher Pyne. Christopher, division in your ranks over this. Sussan Ley could derail the government’s plan.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yesterday, Sylvia we announced a very tough crack down on the live sheep trade to make sure that the sheep are treated humanely. I think that was a very good decision by the Government. We take it incredibly seriously. We’re reducing the percentage of sheep that you can have per pen on those boats. We’re increasing the penalties – and the fines. Of course, we’re putting independent monitors on every single ship going to the Middle East which is a very good outcome. I think we’ll make a huge difference for the sheep and for the trade.

JEFFREYS: Thousands more sheep will die during the current summer months in the Middle East before that plan is implemented. Are you prioritising the exporters over the animals?

PYNE: Well, we have announced yesterday that the number of sheep you can have on the ships will be reduced by 28 per cent. We’ve also announced we’ll do further work on ventilation and on changing the ships to improve them – to get rid of old ships to have new ships with much better facilities for the sheep. It’s an important trade, but also has to be humanely treated. These sheep have to be humanly treated.

JEFFREYS: They won’t be over next few months and thousands more will die. Are you protecting exporters and profits over the animals?

PYNE: My understanding is that these regulations are being implemented as soon as possible. We’ll also introduce legislation to ensure this work can be done. We’ve responded as toughly as you can without banning the trade which will be going too far.

JEFFREYS: Are you disappointed that Sussan Ley has broken ranks on this – that she’s going against the party?

PYNE: Sussan Ley is a private member as we call them, a backbencher in the Government. She’s entitled to put a bill to the Parliament and have that debated at some stage. I welcome all backbenchers doing that. I think she is well within her rights. She has strong views about it. We’re not a Stalinist party. She certainly won’t be punished for having those views. She’s entitled to have those views.

JEFFREYS: Albo ending the trade permanently is going to wipe out jobs, it will destroy some farmers. What is Labor’s transition plan? How will you support farmers through that process?

ALBANESE: Transitioning to ending live exports will actually create jobs. It will create jobs in value adding here in Australia. We need to immediately end the export during the summer months. We know that it is…

JEFFREYS: Julia Gillard did that in 2011, it did not go well for her. The response from Indonesia was shocking. Has Bill Shorten not learnt from those mistakes?

ALBANESE: What we had in 2011 was very different. What we are saying here is that there’s a need to transition the industry away from live exports to ensure that jobs are not just protected but enhanced, but that during the summer months we know the consequences. The evidence is in and we need to respond to that. In the interests, not just of the animals themselves, but also in the long-term interests of the industry, they need that protection. They need to transition so that we see increased jobs created in places like Western Australia.

JEFFREYS: Whatever happens and however it happens farmers will need support. It is going to hit them quite badly. There is no doubt about that. I want to move on to Scott Morrison’s rather unusual press conference yesterday. He was publicly endorsing Ann Sudmalis, as she stares down a preselection battle in the seat of Gilmore in NSW. It follows the shock defeat of Jane Prentice in Queensland as well. Christopher, if Ann Sudmalis is a phenomenal member as the Treasurer says, why does she need his public endorsement like that? What is wrong with the pre-selection process in your party?

PYNE: There’s nothing wrong with the pre-selection process in the Liberal Party. It’s very democratic as it should be. Every member of the political party gets a vote in pre-selections in NSW and in South Australia. Every member of Parliament who wants to remain and candidates who want to stand are allowed to do so. The voters of the party will make a decision.

JEFFREYS: If it’s such a good system why are two very effective, very popular members of Parliament potentially losing their jobs? One has lost it and another one stands to lose it as well. How can that be based on merit?

PYNE: Well, it’s based on merit because nobody tells the preselectors how to vote. Jane Prentice is a great friend of mine and a good colleague. She lost her preselection, 260 votes to 105. Voters of Ryan decided that the preselectors of the party wanted a new member in Julian Simmonds. That’s democracy. I defeated a sitting member in a preselection 26 years ago. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it – Ian Wilson my predecessor. That’s internal party democracy. That’s the way it works. The alternative is the smoke-filled room of the Labor Party, where they dole out seats to the factions.

ALBANESE: Clearly, the Liberal Party has a problem with women’s representation. The fact is they’ve been going backwards in the last few terms, at a time when Labor’s representation of women has surged to 48 per cent, after the next election we will hit the 50 per cent figure. The fact is Jane Prentice is a very effective local member. She’s one of the few people on the other side who understand cities and urban policy and public transport. I think she’s a great loss to the Parliament.

JEFFREYS: Very quickly speaking of elections, Albo, will you be leading Labor to the next election given this week’s polls.

ALBANESE: I’ll be doing the job that I’ve been given. I’ll be doing it to the best of my capacity as I do each and every day as part of the Labor team.

JEFFREYS: Alright. I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. There’s a little wedding happening in London over the weekend.

ALBANESE: We’ve noticed.

JEFFREYS: We must go back there as matter of urgency. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese thank you for your time.

May 16, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes – Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Subjects: Bill Shorten, citizenship, by-elections, Chris Bowen.

HOST: Good morning to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Now we are going to start with you today if we can Albo.

ALBANESE: Yes. Alphabetical order. It’s because I am more important?

PYNE: He’s your favourite, that is the truth.

HOST: I don’t think you are going to mind Chris. It is never good news when we start with someone.

PYNE: Good point.

ALBANESE: Hang on, I will just get ready.

HOST: OK. Brace yourself. Now Albo, I wanted to start by paying you a compliment and I pay that same one to Chris too, which is that one of the things we love about having you on the show is that you bring a refreshing level of honesty to the discussion of politics. So with that in mind, can I ask you this question: Bill Shorten – he is having a total shocker at the moment isn’t he?

ALBANESE: No, he’s not. He’s ahead on the polls this week in both News …

HOST: This week.

ALBANESE: No, no, for the last 32, actually, Newspolls we have been ahead. We have been ahead substantially. If the election had of been held on Saturday, he would be the Prime Minister and I would be a Minister in the Government.

HOST: There’s been an enormous surge though to Malcolm Turnbull as preferred PM. Correspondingly, there has been a significant drop in Bill Shorten’s standing and he has misled the Australian people over the citizenship fiasco, hasn’t he?

ALBANESE: Well, it is true that Malcolm Turnbull got a bounce in the poll, but that didn’t translate through to votes. And it’s not a popularity contest. It’s about votes and the fact is that people are choosing to say that if an election was held, they would vote Labor. We obviously regret the fact that these by-elections have to occur. We’ve said that. It’s now impacted people across the political spectrum – National, Liberal, Green, the party formerly known as Nick Xenophon, I am not sure what they are called these days, and Labor.

HOST: Is his leadership riding on the result of those by-elections?

ALBANESE: No. We intend to win the by-elections.

HOST: But what if you don’t?

ALBANESE: We intend to win. The fact is that governments have found it difficult to win seats from the Opposition in the form of by-elections and the fact that the Liberal Party is not even bothering to run in Perth and Fremantle says something about them. They are not even confident that they are prepared to put themselves forward in a seat like Perth, where last time round they got 42 per cent of the primary vote.

HOST: Chris Pyne, is it a concern that despite promising billions of dollars’ worth of corporate and personal income tax cuts, the polls didn’t shift on Monday?

PYNE: I think it’s very interesting about the polls. I mean, if you listen to the commentators of the far left and the far right you would assume that the Government had been written off a long time ago. But in the real contests – the New England by-election, the Bennelong by-election, the South Australian election, Tasmanian election, the Liberal Party is winning when it actually counts and that is because Bill has got a twin ‘T’ problem – a trust and tax problem. People don’t trust Bill Shorten and he has a $220 billion tax hit on average Australians to pay for his spending spree. So he’s got significant problems.

The Government is actually travelling pretty well. We are getting on with the job. The economy is growing well. We have created 420,000 new jobs in the last 12 months. The Budget has been well received. Of course Labor should win all of these by-elections. The last time a Government took a by-election off the Opposition was in 1920 when Billy Hughes was the Prime Minister of Australia. So of course Bill Shorten should win these by-elections and he should win them well. If he doesn’t, yes his leadership will be in dire straits and our friend on the other end of the phone will be licking his chops.

HOST: Is that true Albo? Are you licking your chops?

ALBANESE: I’m not quite sure what that term means.

PYNE: A wolf-like description.

ALBANESE: Christopher, now you are getting very graphic.

PYNE: … children’s stories.

ALBANESE: It’s nine in the morning, my friend.

PYNE: It’s like the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. He’s licking his chops.

ALBANESE: I have a view that I have been given a job and I do it to the best of my capacity. I have always been loyal to the Labor Party and to the Labor Party team. I’m doing that now. I am playing a role. I think that in terms of the infrastructure agenda I have been pointing out – I had a very good op-ed in the Adelaide Advertiser last week …

PYNE: Alongside mine.

ALBANESE:  … last Friday. But mine was much better.

PYNE: I wouldn’t say that this was a huge endorsement of Bill Shorten, fellows. This is sounding like an endorsement of Anthony Albanese.

ALBANESE: I am doing my job, and Bill is doing his job, and he is doing it very well.

PYNE: But not for long by the sound of it.

HOST:  Well, one thing you have mentioned a lot in the past though Albo is how people are sick of sort of pro-forma, cookie-cutter politicians and the glib sound bites and the zingers. Is that lack of perceived realness his problem?

ALBANESE: No. I think people have got to be who they are. I think Christopher and I, for better or worse, I think we now have a running two-person show. We have spread across the country to Perth!

HOST: Oh no, you’ll be playing at the Bridgeway Hotel soon.

PYNE: We should be syndicated.

ALBANESE: I think people do want politicians who will say it like it is and one of the things about Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen today at the National Press Club is that we will be upfront about where the dollars are coming from, about where the dollars are going to, and about our priorities. No Opposition for a very long time has been prepared to take the brave stances that we have been prepared to take and…

PYNE: Well I heard that …

ALBANESE: … it’s to Bill Shorten’s credit.

PYNE: I heard Chris Bowen on another radio station this morning saying that he wouldn’t be telling us what his surplus might be until the next election – not for 12 months.

ALBANESE: I only listen to 5AA.

HOST: Yes, I was going to say that Chris. You don’t need to listen to other radio stations. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always a rollicking chat. Good on you both. We will do it again next week.

May 15, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Sydney – Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Subjects: Budget, polls, Bill Shorten. 

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is a Budget that was a failure when it comes to actual infrastructure investment. It is due to decline from $8 billion in the current financial year to just $4.5 billion across the Forward Estimates – over four years – so a cut almost in half. This is a Government that talked up infrastructure investment before the Budget, but didn’t actually put the dollars in the Budget to create the projects that are needed. And on projects like Melbourne Airport Link, they pretend that it can be done for free. It can’t. It needs real investment, just like we need real investments in Western Sydney Rail and in Cross River Rail in Brisbane and other important projects.

REPORTER: I don’t know if you have had a chance to look at party stalwart Graham Richardson’s column in The Australian today where, I quote, where he says he uncomfortable about the number of people who approach him in the street and say that they don’t trust Bill Shorten. Does Bill have a trust problem?

ALBANESE: Well Graham Richardson of course is a commentator these days rather than an ALP activist and I believe very strongly that we are in a position to win the next election and if you look at the polls, the fact is that under Bill Shorten, Labor is ahead in both of the polls that were published this week, one of which showed an increase from 52 per cent two-party-preferred to 54.

REPORTER: They are specific stats about the party which is valid that you have pointed those out, but what about Bill Shorten and the issue of trust? Do you think that there is an issue from the voter in regards to trust when it comes to the Opposition Leader?

ALBANESE: Well Bill Shorten has been advancing policies that are receiving the support of the Australian people. Our support for education and health and infrastructure investment, our strong opposition to giving a tax break just for the big end of town, for big banks and big multi-nationals. Bill Shorten has been leading the party on that case and that has been well received, which is why we have been ahead in the polls now for 32 Newspolls.

REPORTER: If the party does drop a seat in the by-elections that are coming up, how much pressure does this put on Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: Well we intend to win these by-elections. We think we have got a good story to tell, we’ve got good local candidates. We have big issues of education, health, infrastructure, child care. Our priorities are different from the current Government’s and we will will be advocating that case in all seats right across the country in these five by-elections. I think it says a lot about the Government itself that they are not even bothering to field a candidate in Perth where last time they got 42 per cent of the primary vote, or Fremantle. I think that is showing contempt for the Australian voters.

REPORTER: Will there be any soul-searching if you do lose seats?

ALBANESE: Well we intend to win these by-elections and we intend to win the next election.

REPORTER: Many Liberal MPs think that you have what it takes to beat Malcolm Turnbull. Does that give you confidence?

ALBANESE: Well I am out there arguing my case as I have just done on infrastructure, on transport, on regional development, on cities, on tourism, and taking it up to the Government.  That is what I do. I do it in a consistent way. I do it not just in my electorate but right across the country and that is my focus – being part of the Labor team. I think we have a very strong team across the board and person-for-person I think I would much rather be a part of Labor than the Coalition, which is a very weak team which is divided at the top, that has sniping from the back bench from the former prime minister and the former deputy prime minister. We have a very positive agenda and it is not surprising that that is being reflected out there in the community.

REPORTER: Do you think Bill Shorten is an enigma?

ALBANESE: I think Bill Shorten is a strong person who has a record going back many, many years standing up for working people first as a trade union leader and then as a Parliamentarian. Thank you.

May 14, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – Perth Live with Oliver Peterson, 6PR – Monday, 14 May 2018

Subjects: Budget; citizenship; Fremantle and Perth; polls; date of by-elections; Jane Prentice; party democracy; shipbuilding.

OLIVER PETERSON: Christopher Pyne, good afternoon.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Ollie, good to be with you again.

PETERSON: And Anthony Albanese, good to be talking with you again as well.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s good to be here, particularly after my Rabbitohs beat your Dragons yesterday.

PETERSON: I didn’t think we were going to discuss the rugby league today Albo.

ALBANESE: I just had to work it in early.

PETERSON: Well you certainly put this on the back foot so I will go to Christopher Pyne first and give him a free kick if you like here because the lines in the sand really have been drawn here after last year’s Budget and Budget Reply speech. Christopher Pyne, doesn’t your Government’s plan really encourage Australians to want to work harder, particularly earning between $50,000 and $200,000 per year. Is Labor’s plan lacking in that real opportunity for Australians, as I say, to work harder?

PYNE: Well the good thing about our plans is that we are basically abolishing bracket creep so the more you earn, you won’t suddenly move into a different tax bracket and still be paying the same or even more tax because we are reducing the number of thresholds from four to three and we are proving that we are the party for aspirational Australians. Now Bill had the same policy in 2005. He said we should have three tax rates and now he says that that is not progressive enough because you see the problem with Bill is ‘Unbelieveabill’. He can never be trusted and that is the problem with his response to the Budget last week, nobody believes it, whereas ours was sensible and measured, it grows the economy and reduces tax.

PETERSON: All right is Anthony Albanese, as Christopher Pyne says there, is your leader ‘Unbelieveabill’?

ALBANESE: Our leader has a plan that is realistic, that is fully costed, that will deliver not just tax cuts for those who most need it in the form of double what the Government is offering; what we will also do is invest in education and health and infrastructure and be able to pay down debt sooner because we are not having the big giveaway to big business and the big banks.

PYNE: This is where it becomes unbelievable you see. So they are going to have apparently less tax, more spending and pay back debt.

ALBANESE: Well, we are not giving away $80 billion.

PYNE: Anybody who is managing their own budget knows that you can’t actually spend more, take less revenue in and also reduce your credit card at the same time. This is Labornomics, you see. This is what happened under Rudd and Gillard and we are all going to go through the same experience if Bill wins next year.

PETERSON: It has been a tough week Anthony Albanese for the Labor Party with the dual citizenship crisis obviously reaching a new height last week – four MPs embroiled in this. Now, didn’t your Party in particular say that you were better, your processes were better, there would be no problems? Why didn’t your MPS like John Alexander or like Barnaby Joyce from the other side of politics, declare the fact that they had citizenship issues last year and head to a by-election back in 2017? Why is it dragging into 2018?

ALBANESE: Well, hang on a tick. Barnaby Joyce sat in the Parliament and in the Cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister after he conceded that he was a citizen of New Zealand – quite extraordinary. These people have all renounced their citizenship. They went through a process which was in accordance with the previous High Court rulings and there was a change there and therefore they have been impacted. Then they have done the right thing – resigned. Those by-elections need to be held and I note that the Liberal Party isn’t even entering the field in Perth and Fremantle. They are not even giving their rusted on voters the opportunity to vote for the Liberal Party in those by-elections. I find that quite extraordinary.

PETERSON: Yes, let’s come to that in a moment, but on to the point Anthony Albanese. Last year, particularly Bill Shorten said that your processes were ridgy-didge effectively, paraphrasing for a moment here, that everything was OK.

PYNE: Rolled gold.

PETERSON: Ok rolled gold, there you go. So what was wrong with Labor’s processes and now does Bill Shorten have a leg to stand on when it comes to the dual citizenship saga?

ALBANESE: Labor’s processes relied upon the previous High Court rulings. What occurred, say for example Josh Wilson there in Fremantle – he was preselected on a particular day. On that very day, he applied, filled out the forms to renounce his citizenship. He sent it off with the payment that was withdrawn from the bank the very next day. Now it wasn’t finalised, the processing of that, until after the nominations had closed – after he had nominated for the seat because he was a last-minute candidate due to the withdrawal of the person who previously had been preselected. So the reason why the courts have in the past have said that that’s OK is obviously that it relies upon another country – the High Commission of the UK in this case – to process the application, which is not within the power of the person applying for the renunciation of their citizenship. Now Josh did everything that he could …

PYNE: This is a very long answer.

ALBANESE: … clearly that wasn’t enough.

PETERSON: Christopher Pyne?

PYNE: He’s just trying to talk out the interview. We all know that Bill’s credibility is shredded. Anthony knows it. Everybody knows it. He took a very arrogant line last year when Malcolm Turnbull held out the hand of bipartisanship and said let’s refer a number of MPs who have got a cloud over their head. Bill wrote a very rude letter back on August 17 saying that he had absolutely no reason to co-operate with the Government and he has been found heavily wanting. And that is because Bill lives day to day. At least Anthony Albanese believes in things, whereas Bill thinks if I get through the next 24-hour news cycle, I’m in front. And that is why the people don’t trust him.

PETERSON: Well he is in front at the moment on the two-party preferred poll. But Anthony Albanese, perfect opportunity to ask, on the preferred PM question it is 46 to 32 per cent when it comes to Malcolm Turnbull verses Bill Shorten. Is there another alternative in the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, who might be able to close that gap?

ALBANESE: I tell you what. In Perth and Fremantle I will make this prediction – Labor will do better than the Libs, because we are actually running. Because we are actually running.

PETERSON: Well there is no candidate there Christopher Pyne …

ALBANESE: We are actually putting forward our case. We are actually running in Mayo too even though it is highly unlikely that we will win because we think that is the right thing to do. And what matters of course on polling day is who wins Government and according to both the polls that are out today, if the election was held on Saturday, the week after the Government brought down its Budget with all the hoopla that goes with that – all the advantages that it has – they would still lose and Labor would win the election.

PETERSON: Christopher Pyne, are you disappointed that the WA Liberal Party has decided not to field candidates in the Fremantle and Perth by-elections? Let’s be honest, Fremantle you’d have next to no chance, but Perth on a margin of only around 3 per cent. Are you surprised that your colleagues over here didn’t preselect somebody?

PYNE: Ollie, the by-election is decided on the boundaries from the last election. So it’s about a 6.5% Labor seat. The new boundaries don’t kick in until the 2019 election. A government hasn’t won a seat off the opposition in a by-elections since 1920 and even when Labor was at its lowest ebb in Western Australia, when we got 57 percent of the two-party-preferred vote and Labor got 43, they still won Perth and Fremantle. When we won 12 out of 15 seats they still won Perth and Fremantle so they are as Labor seats as you’re ever gonna get. So we’ll focus on Longman and Braddon and Mayo, all of which we have a better chance in and we’ll let the Greens take on Labor in those two Perth seats. Of course, you can vote Green and you won’t change the Government and you won’t hurt the Opposition, but you can protest against the $220 billion of new taxes that Bill Shorten wants to levy on Australian companies and individuals.

PETERSON: Preselection issues…

ALBANESE: I never thought I would hear Christopher Pyne tell people to vote for the Greens.

PYNE: Well, I’m just saying they could vote for the Greens and it wouldn’t change the Government.

ALBANESE: That is historic. Next thing you know he’ll be saying…

PYNE: I wouldn’t say it your seat, Albo. I wouldn’t say it in Grayndler. I’d never say it in Grayndler. I was wearing a Save Albo t-shirt at the last election.

ALBANESE: One of the points that’s got to be made too is; let’s call these by-elections. I read today that these by-elections might be put off ’til July. Now, the only reason why that would happen would be if Malcolm Turnbull didn’t want the scrutiny that will come if by-elections are held on 16th June, which is when they should held.

PYNE: Rubbish.

PETERSON: Do you have a date for the by-elections, Christopher Pyne?

ALBANESE: Why aren’t they called?

PYNE: Well, the Speaker decides the date of the by-elections and of course because of the citizenship debacle that Bill Shorten has visited upon the Australian people yet again, we need to make sure that all the processes are in place; that this doesn’t happen a third time. So the Government with the AEC will go through its proper processes. They’ll give advice to the Speaker. The Speaker will make a decision and of course we’ll be running in the by-elections. We’ve already announced candidates, just as we would whenever it’s called and the date is immaterial. It’s the outcome that matters, and these elections give people an opportunity to protest against the $220 billion of new taxes that Bill Shorten wants to levy on people.

ALBANESE: Protest against an opposition. That’s a new pitch in a by-election.

PYNE: If I was in one of those seats I’d be voting Liberal.

PETERSON: Talking of by-elections, talking of preselections Christopher Pyne, I need to ask you about the Assistant Minister for Disability Services, Jane Prentice. She is out after eight years of service. She’s being replaced by Julian Simmonds. Is there a gender issue in the Liberal Party, Christopher Pyne?

PYNE: No, there isn’t. I mean one of the good things about the Liberal Party is that we are an internal democracy. We don’t have the candidates being chosen in smoke-filled back rooms at the Labor Party conference, like the Labor Party does, particularly in Western Australia where you’ve had a history of that. We actually give our members a genuine vote. I know Anthony Albanese is in favour of the members having a genuine vote in the Labor Party and I defeated a sitting member in a preselection. That’s internal democracy. Jane is a good friend of mine. I’m disappointed to see her defeated but that’s the choice that the preselectors of Ryan have made and everyone will just have to get on with it.

PETERSON: Anthony Albanese, would you like the members to have a vote as well?

ALBANESE: I always am a supporter of direct democracy. In the Labor Party we have direct votes in New South Wales. We have 100 percent rank and file preselection. That’s how I got into Parliament. In terms of the candidates, obviously there were truncated processes because of the by-elections being called. But both the candidates in Perth and of course in Freo have very strong grassroots support in the Party. The tragedy here is the lack of representation from women on the frontbench and now on the backbench of the Liberal Party and the National Party. We saw on one day last year the extraordinary circumstance whereby there were no women sitting on the Liberal Party frontbench because Julie Bishop was away and Kelly O’Dwyer was on maternity leave. It’s quite outrageous that someone like Jane Prentice who actually has a great deal of capacity particularly in the area of cities and urban policy; who was making a contribution, has just been rubbed out by someone who was her former staffer, who told her clearly that she was going to be okay and at the last minute has sprung this coup on her with an impact on the Liberal Party meaning that Malcolm Turnbull should intervene and say: ‘That’s not good enough. Just steady on there, young fella – this woman’s has got something to contribute’. She’s a frontbencher in the Government and the Government hardly have any women on their frontbench.

PETERSON: Christopher Pyne, can we just move to a meeting you had last week with the State Government’s Paul Papalia. You had a meeting of course around a particular area. I know that you like to tell me you’re very popular in Henderson around shipbuilding and the like, but we did see reports out of The Australian late last week that Austal may no longer have some of the work on the offshore patrol vessels. Are you able to confirm that Austal and Lürssen will not be working together on the offshore patrol vessels or are you hoping to have a solution here?

PYNE: No, Austal and Lürssen have failed to come to a commercial negotiation which is disappointing for Austral, but it’s still good news for the people in Henderson because the 10 offshore patrol vessels we built there, by Lürssen in conjunction with Civmec trading as Forgacs which is building a brand spanking new shipyard at Henderson costing a million dollars, so there’ll be 400 to 600 direct jobs and about another 400 to 600 indirect jobs at Henderson in shipbuilding. It confirms Henderson as the other hub of shipbuilding in Australia alongside Osborne and Paul Papalia and I had a great meeting last Monday in Canberra to talk about investment in infrastructure and planning for the Henderson precinct to take full advantage of the Government’s $200 billion build up of our military capability, the largest in our peacetime history. So there’ll be other work for Austal. They said in their statement that they had plenty of work in building ferries and taking advantage of other Government Defence contracts like the future frigates. They’re bidding into the United States for more combat vessels, so that they’re a healthy company. Unfortunately they and Lürssen and weren’t able to come to commercial terms and that’s life in commerce, I’m afraid. The jobs will still happen whether they’re wearing Austal shirts or Lürssen shirts, the jobs will still occur in Henderson.

PETERSON: Alright Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. We are out of time for the Odd Couple segment, but we’ll do it all again soon. Thank you very much gentlemen.

PYNE: Great to talk to you.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having us.

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