Browsing articles in "Interview Transcripts"
Feb 5, 2007

Transcript of doorstop interview – Murray Darling Basin announcement

Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra

ANTHONY ALBANESE MP – Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water

Manager of Opposition Business

Federal Member for Grayndler

Monday, 5 February 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Feb 1, 2007

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

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


Thursday, 1 February 2007


Subject: Tristar dispute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRICE: Where’s that money?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Feb 1, 2007

Transcript of doorstop interview – Tristar

Transcript of doorstop interview – Tristar






E&OE Transcript

9AM Thursday, 1 February 2007

Tristar Factory, Marrickville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jan 26, 2007

Transcript of radio interview – Federal Opposition backs Murray Darling takeover

Federal Opposition backs Murray Darling takeover plan

Transcript of radio interview

AM Programme – Friday, 26 January 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jan 25, 2007

Transcript of ABC NewsRadio interview

Transcript of ABC NewsRadio interview


Thursday, 25 January 2007

COMPERE: Back to the top story of this morning, as we’ve been reporting, the Prime Minister is set to unveil a multibillion dollar plan to overhaul water management and encourage farmers to be more efficient. John Howard is to throw $2½ billion at the water crisis.

The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water is Anthony Albanese, and he joins us now. As we’ve been reporting this morning, as part of this major speech, John Howard is going to announce government plans to wrestle control of the Murray-Darling River system away from the states—a contentious move. What’s the opposition’s response, Mr Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we certainly have called for a streamlining of control of water resources to ensure that there’s not duplication between the Commonwealth and the states, and that’s why Kevin Rudd, last week, called for a national water summit.

Given the constitutional control that the states have over water, we think it is particularly important, though, that this be done in a cooperative manner so we wait to see the detail. We certainly think that the outcomes are what is important but we are concerned that it appears that there hasn’t been any real consultation with the states prior to them reading it in the newspaper this morning ahead of the Prime Minister’s speech.

COMPERE: Well already Malcolm Turnbull, the new minister for environment and water resources, is slating the blame home to the states for this confusion over the Murray-Darling River system. He says they fail to properly invest in water management.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Malcolm Turnbull has to stop the blame game. Malcolm Turnbull, now that he is actually a minister rather than just a parliamentary secretary, has to accept some responsibility. Malcolm Turnbull has been in charge of water policy in the government for some time and already what we have seen is that the Commonwealth have established, in 2004, arising out of the National Water Initiative, the Australian Water Fund. Now, that’s a $2 billion program. That money has been got from the states in the form of the withholding of competition payments and yet we have seen a 70 per cent underspend in that program. We have seen the Commonwealth just simply fail to respond. They have been good at allocating money; very bad at actually spending it and delivering projects on the ground.

COMPERE: If John Howard, in his speech today, does announce that the federal government will be making a bid to take over water resources like the Murray-Darling River system, do you think it will be successful if the states challenge that decision, which they are likely to do, and it does end up in the High Court? I mean, the federal government’s already had a big win on work changes there.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I certainly think that the last thing that we need is legal battles over our water crisis. What we need is resolutions and that’s why we need real solutions, a cooperative approach, an end to the blame game from the Commonwealth.

It’s quite clear that the Commonwealth does need to have greater responsibility, in my view, over our management of water resources. But the Murray-Darling Basin Commission is a cooperative body, if the Commonwealth were to completely take over then there are obviously spending implications behind that. But from my discussions with the state premiers and state ministers responsible for water resources, the states all want to see results and impacts both in terms of the pain that’s been felt in our rural and regional communities but also the water restrictions that are on in every major city in the nation. So let’s talk about solutions rather than continue this game of blaming the states and advocating conflict rather than resolution.

COMPERE: Would you take further controls away from the states on water management?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we’d do is sit down with them and talk through these issues in a cooperative way and discuss what is the best way to achieve outcomes, what’s the best way to stop duplication between the Commonwealth and the states, what’s the best way to ensure that we actually promote water supply, not just promote Malcolm Turnbull as an alternative to Peter Costello to replace the Prime Minister. That’s what’s actually needed [inaudible] and more results.

COMPERE: The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water, Anthony Albanese.


Nov 9, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop – QLD Govt. Eastern Corridor Recycled Water Scheme






Subject: Water

BEAZLEY: Now, the second announcement I’m going to make today concerns the proposed western region corridor recycle system that the Queensland Government has put to the Australian Government for some considerable time as a project that they would desire and they believe is essential.

We are prepared to commit up to $500 million from that $2 billion fund to ensure this project goes ahead. The Labor Party has committed to a target by 2015 of 30 per cent recycled water as part of the water supplies of this nation. This is all of a piece, of course, with that.

The Queensland Government is sitting down, like most of the State Governments, seriously thinking through how they deal with the chronic water problems of this nation and this is their lead proposition and we should be, as a Commonwealth, totally supportive of this.

So, I’ll announce today of that $2 billion fund, we are prepared to commit up to $500 million to make sure this Queensland project works.

I’ll now ask Anthony to say a word or two and then you can jump in.

ALBANESE: South East Queensland is getting 60,000 new people migrate to it every year and we have to address the water crisis in all of our cities, as well as in our regional towns, and our rural communities. There’s no more important project than the western corridor recycling project being put forward by the Queensland Labor Government.

They’ve put forward a scheme, the total cost of which would be $1.7 billion. What that scheme would do would free up more than 200 megalitres per day for Queensland households.

It’s just three days since the Howard Government had its crisis summit in Canberra over water. One would think that they hadn’t been in government for 10 years, 10 long years of inaction, and they forgot to invite Queensland to that summit. It was only after the intervention of the Premier that they received an invitation, which is extraordinary, given that the head waters of the Murray-Darling, of course begin here in Queensland.

What we head with the Australian Water Fund and the issue of water is no more inaction, no more delay, no more procrastination. But what we have from the Government that’s holding onto $2 billion in a fund, is a lack of action on the ground. I think Australians expect a bit more than just meetings and that’s why Federal Labor’s making this announcement today.

JOURNALIST: On the question of the recycled water pipeline, do you see that water as being solely for industry use?

BEAZLEY: As I understand, the bulk of it is to be utilised for market gardens and industrial usages, yes, so it is being contemplated, not in the context of drinking. I think over time we do need to focus sufficient levels of quality in recycling activity so that we can meet European-style standards on drinking water. But, I’m not sure that that is what is intended for this particular project. This project, as I understand it, is basically industrialised and agricultural.


Nov 6, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Marrickville – Water Summit

Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Marrickville Town Hall, Marrickville

6 November 2006

Subject: Water Summit, Melbourne Cup, interest rate increase

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Howard Government has promised buckets of money but they have stalled at the barrier when it comes to actually delivering water to the Murray Darling system.

After ten years of inaction, the Howard Government it would appear has discovered in the last few days that the Murray River is actually in crisis. The hastily convened summit convened on a few days notice, on Melbourne Cup day and on the day that the Reserve Bank Board meets to put up interest rates, would indicate that once again the Prime Minister is all about politics rather than long term policy development.

It is clear from the frameworks that have been put in place with the National Water Initiative that the government should just get on with delivering. Yet under the Living Murray initiative, it has failed to purchase any water from willing sellers and failed to deliver a drop back into the Murray. When the Howard Government has been confronted by big issues, such as the purchase of Cubbie Station offered by the Queensland Government, it’s failed to get to the barrier again.

With this hastily convened summit they forgot to invite the Queensland Government, where the headwaters of the Murray-Darling begin, or the ACT Government which has an important role in the Murrumbidgee and is a participant in the Murray Darling Basin Commission.

In a report released today the CSIRO predicts temperatures in NSW could rise by some 6.4 degrees and a 40% drop in rainfall. These dire predictions add up when other scientific surveys are taken into account. The fact is that you can’t resolve a water crisis without addressing climate change. Whilst the Prime Minister continues to be sceptical about climate change, Australians are entitled to be sceptical about his new found conversion.

Just two weeks ago on 18 October in the House, one of the lead government speakers in a matter of public importance debate about the drought and rural policy Ian Causley said the following –

‘In fact the quality of the Murray river down stream is now better than it was 10 or 15 years ago because of the intervention schemes and the policies of all governments, state and federal to stop the contamination and salinity of the Murray system’.

That was Ian Causley, a senior coalition member arguing just weeks ago.

That fact is, the Howard Government has been in denial about climate change and it has been in denial about water problems because it has failed to listen to the scientists about what the problems are and failed to listen to the economists about what the solutions are.

JOURNALIST: What would you like them to do now then?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well certainly it is a pity that after ten years of inaction this has occurred, but what clearly is needed is to get on with the business of purchasing water to put it back for environmental flows in Murray Darling System. We have at the moment under the National Water Initiative a framework for water trading and yet the Commonwealth has failed to deliver. This is because there is conflict between Malcolm Turnbull who on the one hand says that water trading is good and purchase of water by the Commonwealth is appropriate, and on the other, Peter McGauran the Agriculture Minster, who has stated that purchasing of water by the Commonwealth is not appropriate. So we have had a lot of promises from the government.

Prior to the 2004 election they promised to put 500 gigalitres back into the Murray Darling. That is one third of the 1500 gigalitres that scientists and the Murray Darling Basin Commission says is necessary to restore the health of the river system. They should up their commitment and match Labor’s commitment of getting 1500 gigalitres back into the Murray Darling and they should get on with the business of actually returning water to the river.

JOURNALIST: That’s not going to solve the problem right now though is it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well yes it would. If the Commonwealth would actually get on with purchasing water to return those environmental flows into the system that would make a substantial improvement. But what we have seen is delays and prevarication because this is a government that only believes in spending government money when it is politically suitable and that, of course, tends to be in the run up to a Federal election.

What we actually want to see is those commitments resulting in water back into the system and a co-operative approach between the Commonwealth and the states and territories which has got off to a bad start given they haven’t even invited all the relevant states and territories.

State governments have been trying to get climate change and water on the COAG agenda for three years and the Howard Government has failed to take up those initiatives and now, in a hastily convened meeting, has put together tomorrow’s summit.


Nov 2, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Advertising expenditure double climate change

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Parliament House, Canberra

JOINT DOORSTOP – Kelvin Thomson MP

Shadow Minister for Public Accountability, and

Anthony Albanese MP

Shadow Minister for Environment & Heritage

2 November 2006

SUBJECTS: Advertising expenditure double climate change expenditure; Iraq oil imports scandal

THOMSON: The Howard Government is set to become the first Government in Australian history to spend $1.5 billion taxpayers’ dollars, on Government advertising. We learnt from Senate Estimates earlier this week that it spent $1.27 billion on media placements up until this financial year.

We know now that buried in the Budget Papers are a further $250 million to be spent for 2006/07. So, there is an avalanche of taxpayer dollars on Government advertising.

At the same time, we know that the Government has only spent some $670 million on climate change, so the fact is, it’s raining taxpayer dollars when it comes to Government advertising, but there is a drought on when it comes to climate change.

ALBANESE: It’s quite clear that the Australian Government’s priorities are all wrong. When it comes to the Howard Government, it’s self promotion first, daylight second and climate change last.

And the thing that the Howard Government Ministers have got to ask themselves this – do they want, in 20 or 30 years time, to show books to their kids and grandkids and say “this is what the Great Barrier Reef looked like”, this is what various plants and animals that were present in Australia looked like. This is what glaciers looked like before climate change arrived big time because they have been warned by the scientists, by the economists, but they still refuse to take action.

JOURNALIST: Given the quick turn around with the whole climate change debate in the last week or two, with the Government jumping on board, you must feel a bit vindicated after going along about this for years and not getting much interest?

ALBANESE: Well, what’s clear is that the Labor Party’s position has been vindicated by the Stern Report, the Labor Party released our Climate Change Blueprint in March of this year, which called for a ratification of Kyoto, a National Emissions Trading Scheme and a significant increase in the mandatory renewable energy target; as well as significant investment in clean coal technology and renewables.

What we’ve seen from the Government is a complete lack of action and what these figures highlight is that the Government is very good allocating money from time to time, they haven’t even spent the very minor amounts that have been allocated because they’d rather spend money on advertising themselves and getting themselves back into office, because they’re all concerned about their future and not about the future of the nation and the planet for this generation and generations to come.

JOURNALIST: Mr Thomson, can you just remind us what Labor’s position is on Government advertising, was it that you are going to appoint someone that it has to go through, is that it?

THOMSON: That’s right, we believe that the Auditor General’s proposed guidelines need to be put into effect. I’ve introduced a Private Members’ bill which would do that, it would ensure that there can be no money spent on Government advertising campaigns until legislation has passed the Parliament and it would require the Public Service Commissioner to scrutinise advertising campaigns and programs before they were run.

JOURNALIST: Kelvin, on the issue of alleged breaches of UN sanctions, are you concerned that is took DFAT five years to refer the BP case to Federal Police to investigate?

THOMSON: This has all the hallmarks of a cover-up. This matter was known to the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2001, and yet the investigation by the Australian Federal Police commenced in 2006. Frankly this is not good enough. In relation to the Cole Inquiry, on the one hand you’ve got an open public inquiry in relation to the wheat scandal, but concerning the other Oil for Food breaches, these things are being carried out in secret. Just when was Alexander Downer planning to inform the Australian people that all of this was going on?

JOURNALIST: The DFAT bureaucrats have stood before the Committee today refusing to answer questions for the same reasons that the Minister said he can’t. Is that acceptable given that most of the details of this BP case are out in the public anyway?

THOMSON: It’s not acceptable, in relation to the AWB scandal, the Howard Government has been hiding behind the Cole Inquiry and refusing to answer questions in the Parliament or at Senate Estimates and again here, they’re hiding behind the AFP inquiries and refusing to answer questions either in the House, when we asked them, or in Senate Estimates. It’s not good enough, there needs to be Parliamentary scrutiny, there needs to be accountability. What we’re getting instead is a cover-up.

JOURNALIST: Just a question to both of you gentlemen on Government advertising, you’re critical of the Howard Government spending too much money on advertising itself. Are you similarly critical of State Governments, particularly the Beattie and the Brack’s Government for the vast amounts they spend on advertising themselves?

THOMSON: What is required is independent scrutiny and proper guidelines. So you need to have some transparency about these things. We think that the Auditor General’s guidelines are right for the Commonwealth Government and the Commonwealth Parliament and we would introduce them in Office.

ALBANESE: I agree.

JOURNALIST: Ok, I hear you say that, but I’ve heard other people say that they are going to do stuff like that before too and when they get in power they spend millions of dollars on ads. If you’re going to be fair, you should be just as critical of your colleagues in the State Government as you are of the Commonwealth shouldn’t you?

THOMSON: Well, what I’m saying is there needs to be proper independent scrutiny and you need to have someone like the Public Service Commissioner looking at the ads and you need to have proper guidelines. The Auditor General suggested guidelines a number of years ago, after the GST Unchain My Heart ads went through, those guidelines have never been adopted. I’ve moved a Private Members’ bill in relation to this; this is evidence of our good faith and our intentions in relation to this matter, if and when we’re elected to office.

JOURNALIST: From your observation of State Governments, do you think that Labor State Government’s should also have some independent oversight of the ads that they place?

THOMSON: I believe they’re should be some independent oversight of Government advertising, that’s true for the Commonwealth, that’s true for the States as well.


Nov 2, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Newspoll on climate change

Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra

2 November 2006

Subject: Newspoll on climate change, Greg Hunt, Blogs, BP emissions trading scheme

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today’s figures from Newspoll show just how out of touch the Howard Government is when it comes to climate change. 79% of Australians want Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. 71% of Coalition voters want the Government to ratify Kyoto.

92% of Australians know that the Howard government simply isn’t doing enough when it comes to climate change. Why are they not doing it? Because the Howard Government simply can’t be believed when it comes to climate change. They don’t think it is a serious issue. The Howard Government is frozen in time while the globe warms around it.

JOURNALIST: The Parliamentary Secretary for Environment has suggested this morning that if Labor’s policy is taken up we would see petrol price double and triple or petrol bills double or triple. What do you think of that idea and can Labor guarantee household bills won’t rise?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is pretty desperate when they send out Greg Hunt. You know they are in trouble. Greg was running that line on Monday night. It changed on Tuesday. He should attend Question Time and listen to one of the 73 back flips we have seen from the Howard Government this week and keep up with the game here. That was the Howard Government’s line on Monday.

On Tuesday the Howard Government invented the term ‘New Kyoto’ sometime between 2 o’clock and quarter to four, and emission trading was no longer a tax according to the Howard Government.

It was something that was necessary to do. Maybe Greg Hunt has spent too much time in Hotel New Kyoto.

JOURNALIST: So he’s wrong?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Greg Hunt can’t be taken seriously on anything, let alone on the serious issue of avoiding dangerous climate change.

JOURNALIST: He has also had a go at Labor saying that its policy is only appealing to the café latte set …

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well he should have a look at the Poll. There are a lot of Australian’s drinking drink café latte around Australia today, because 92% of them say that his government, the government that he is a part of, however junior his position, is not doing enough on climate change.

71% of people who voted for the Coalition want Australia to ratify Kyoto. They want more investment in renewables. They want a national emissions trading scheme. They are essentially telling the Government what should happen, which is they should adopt and embrace Labor’s approach that we have consistently had.

Kim Beazley released our climate change blueprint in March of this year. It calls for ratifying Kyoto. It calls for a significant increase in the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. It calls for investment in renewables, in clean coal technology and the government can’t hold a position for five minutes, let alone five months.

JOURNALIST: Anthony on another matter, the Labor candidate who was to take Bob Debus’s seat has described you as a shameless factional warrior and a miserable hack.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m sure she wasn’t being serious at the time.

JOURNALIST: Does she have a point?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m sure she wasn’t being serious at the time.

JOURNALIST: Do you have a response to her?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t respond to anonymous comments which allegedly have been said on blogs. What I am doing and I think some of you might have noticed this week is pursuing a policy agenda on the greatest challenge facing the global community, that of climate change. That is the job that I am pursuing and that is the job I will continue to pursue.

What the Stern Report clearly indicates is the cost of inaction. What Stern says is that 20% could be shaven off global economic growth. He speaks about the combined costs of two World Wars and the great depression combined – the Great Depression but with worse weather.

JOURNALIST: You talk about the cost of inaction. Give us some example or some indication as what you see is the cost of action because surely if you are going to sign on to a carbon trading scheme and do everything you say you are going to do [inaudible].

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I’ll give you a practical example of an emissions trading scheme and how it works. BP established an internal emissions trading scheme. You know what they found? They reached their target far earlier. They saved $650 million in the process.

The Government’s own Warwick McKibbon, who’s been appointed to the Reserve Bank board, he’s on the Government nuclear inquiry, he has come out today on the front page of the Financial Review and called for an emissions trading scheme.

Now it is about time that the Government started listening to the scientists and started listening to the economists. The only group the Howard Government has ears for is the pollsters, which explains why they have such an inconsistent, all over the place policy on climate change.


Nov 1, 2006

Transcript of Interview, PM – Climate Change

PM – ALP and coalition locked in battle for environment vote

1 November 2006


Alexandra Kirk

MARK COLVIN: The Federal Government and the Opposition are locked in a battle for the environmental vote – with each side accusing the other of being stuck in the past.

Labor is calling the Coalition dinosaurs, and says the Prime Minister doesn’t take climate change seriously.

As Mr Howard announced around 40 projects, worth $60 million, to address global warming, the Government accused Labor of clinging to the old Kyoto Protocol – a scheme it says was designed in Europe last century – and insisted that the climate change debate had "moved on".

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Even the most sceptical ministers are now on board the climate change express. Both sides of politics have detected in their polling that Australians are really worried about global warming. And that includes older people concerned for their children and grandchildren.

The Prime Minister’s warned his MPs not to be mesmerised by the British Stern review, which warned of an economic catastrophe unless there’s urgent action.

But Mr Howard’s keen to highlight the Government’s environmental credentials, announcing $60 million worth of collaborative projects as part of Australia’s first contribution to the Asia Pacific climate group.

JOHN HOWARD: And a little bit of this debate over the past few weeks has given the impression that all you’ve got to do is put a signature on a bit of paper and hey presto the world stops getting warm.

Not quite as simple as that. I wish it were. It’s not.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Howard says technology’s the key to addressing climate change.

JOHN HOWARD: I don’t think there’s any doubt that in order to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions we need to make progress in cleaning up the use of fossil fuels.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government’s spending $8 million on testing the CSIRO’s mobile unit to capture the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, produced by coal-fired power stations.

The Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says when fully operational, it could lower global greenhouse emissions by two per cent.

But the head of the project, Dr John Wright, says commercial use of mobile carbon catchers is probably 10 years away.

JOHN WRIGHT: Then it probably has to be re-engineered to suit particular power stations. Then it has to go into a demonstration phase. And then once that’s proven, then you can go to a commercial plant.

And that is still looking at least a decade off.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Greens Leader Bob Brown is dismissive of today’s announcements.

BOB BROWN: It’s pathetic, when you see what ought to have been done.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Labor’s Environment spokesman Anthony Albanese says one-off announcements aren’t enough – insisting on the need for structural change on a global scale.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out by the ice age, there’s a need for the dinosaurs in this building to be wiped out politically by the age of global warming.

No one can believe John Howard takes climate change seriously.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: In Parliament Labor leader Kim Beazley continued the attack.

KIM BEAZLEY: Prime Minister, isn’t it the case that when the 165 countries which have ratified the Kyoto Protocol meet in Nairobi this month to further the practical implementation of Kyoto between 2008 and 2012, Australia and the United States will not have a vote?

JOHN HOWARD: Mr Speaker, there will be two meetings in Nairobi, and Mr Speaker the meeting about the future, the meeting about the new Kyoto, will in fact be chaired by Australia.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Anthony Albanese says it’s the second series of meetings that will decide the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol and the Government’s refusal to ratify Kyoto has relegated Australia to observer status.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: By Australia being on the outside, not able to vote, not able to participate in those discussions in Nairobi, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. Because India will be there, China will be there, but we won’t be around the table during that debate.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister says his Government would consider signing what he’s termed a new Kyoto.

Mr Albanese says he’s searched the Internet for "new Kyoto" and found just one entry – a hotel.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And what comes up is a review, and the review says this: Stuffy rooms would choose another.

It says the worst aspect of the room was that the window didn’t open, and there is no way, wait for it, to cool the room down …


… or get some fresh air. They only have a heater, which works really well, blowing out only hot air.

MARK COLVIN: Labor’s environment spokesman Anthony Albanese ending Alexandra Kirk’s report.




Contact Anthony

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Email: [email protected]

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