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Sep 27, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – ABC Melbourne Drive with Francis Leach – Thursday, 27 September 2018

Subjects: Infrastructure; debt; women in Parliament; Grand Finals.

FRANCIS LEACH: Mr Albanese, welcome. How are you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Very well thank you Francis.

LEACH: What were you talking about down in Frankston?

ALBANESE: I was down there with Peta Murphy, who is our candidate for the seat of Dunkley, and Jacinta Allan, the State Minister, to announce a 500-space park-and-ride facility – commuter parking at the station there. It’s been two years since I was at Frankston Station. There has been an amazing rebuild and renovation done there by the State Government, but it has been identified by a forum I held a month ago with the local community-based organisation and businesses we held at the art gallery there, and they identified park-and-ride as a real priority, commuter parking, so this will make a big difference. We are very serious about dealing with traffic congestion by investing in public transport, but you also need to facilitate people getting access to that public transport so park-and-ride facilities are really important for that.

LEACH: There’s been a lot of talk about infrastructure in this state in particular and often a lot of what needs to get done falls between the crack between federal and state governments and the funding shortfall. Why should people believe the Labor will be any better at delivering on a better financial return for Victorians when it comes to infrastructure spending?

ALBANESE: Because we did last time. We delivered over 25 percent of our national infrastructure budget to Victoria. We did things like the Regional Rail Link – the largest ever public transport investment by any Federal Government ever, and we delivered on upgrades to the Monash Freeway, the Geelong Ring Road, Princes Highway East and West. We built here in Victoria and we worked co-operatively with both the Labor and Coalition governments. We had $3 billion in the Budget for the Melbourne Metro project, which Tony Abbott removed when he got elected and this week the new Budget figures are out on what the actual investment was in the 2017-18 financial year. That showed Victoria got 7.7 per cent of the national infrastructure budget. It is entitled on a per capita basis to one in every four dollars, and Melbourne is of course the fastest growing city in Australia and Victoria is the fastest growing state.

LEACH: If you are going to deliver that increased spend, you are going to need to find the money from somewhere and the Federal Government, has announced this week that its deficit projection has shrunk significantly to a $10 billion deficit – one that was projected to be $30 billion. Aren’t they doing a reasonable job in making the money available in order to achieve the projects that they want to spend it on?

ALBANESE: Well they are not really. When you look at debt has increased by $5 billion every year that they have been in Government in terms of the net debt. We have seen a doubling of the debt levels since they were in government and it isn’t as if there haven’t been good global circumstances. There has been no Global Financial Crisis that they have had to deal with. They haven’t had to deal with the significant bush fires and floods that we had at the same time as the Global Financial Crisis.

LEACH: There’s significant drought at the moment.

ALBANESE: Oh absolutely and that is causing significant hardship for people in those rural communities. But this is a Government that hasn’t been able to fulfil the commitments that it made on budgeting and we are an Opposition that has learned that you need to do the hard policy work in Opposition in order to be a good Government. We have put forward savings, some of them quite difficult savings, on dividend imputation, for example, on what we’d do with negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax for new dwellings for new investments. All of them of course we have made sure that we have corralled them in terms of the negative gearing changes, but over a period of time that will make a difference. So all of our commitments are fully funded and one of the priorities for a Labor Government is nation building. That is what Labor governments do.

LEACH: But if this Government is reducing debt without having the impost of new taxes, aren’t they winning the argument?

ALBANESE: But they are not reducing debt. That is the problem Francis. Debt has continued to increase every year under this Government and indeed you had today an Assistant Treasurer go out there, Stuart Robert, and confuse debt with deficit and say that the debt in Australia had been reduced to $10 billion, whereas that is of course the deficit figure. The debt figure in terms of gross debt is some $530 billion and the net debt is around about $340 billion under this Government.

LEACH: Can we talk a little bit about the ABC situation? What is the view from the Opposition benches on what has occurred with ABC management in the last seven or eight days?

ALBANESE: Well, I think we go back to the campaign that has been conducted by this Federal Government to undermine the ABC, whether it is the cuts – $83 million is the latest cut to be imposed on the ABC; whether it be the attacks on its independence, the attacks on journalists; the Liberal Party National Council of course passing a resolution calling for the privatisation of the ABC. We think that the ABC is a cherished national institution. It is a public broadcaster, not a Government propaganda arm.

LEACH: But there has always been political pressure applied to the ABC by all sides of politics depending on who is in Government. This isn’t just coming from those on the Government benches now. It’s been a long-term situation.

ALBANESE: There is a very big difference Francis between someone saying: “I don’t agree with what Francis Leach said about St Kilda winning the comp every year …

LEACH: That would be a lie … fake news.

ALBANESE: … I think he is wrong in that assessment,’’ or whether what particular news stories are out there. People are entitled to express their views and criticise. What we have had here though is systematic attack including calling on the CEO basically to sack journalists in order to curry favour with Government in order to secure funding for particular programs. That’s the way that the Chairman put it in the emails to Michelle Guthrie.

LEACH: But Anthony Albanese, how do we protect the ABC and have that independence so that it is the public broadcaster, not the state broadcaster. Is there a change that needs to occur – a circuit breaker between the politics in Canberra and the ABC?

ALBANESE: Well, we made significant changes when we were in Government under Stephen Conroy of course about the way the board is appointed to try to enhance that independent role. Part of it is a cultural change. This debate in itself I think will be, over the long-term. The fact that there is transparency about this this now means I think there can be a focus on why that independence is important and that will place pressure on politicians to back off essentially inappropriate conduct. I remember with Emma Alberici has being a the centre of this, I debated Malcolm Turnbull when I was the Communications Minister. He was the Shadow. Emma had a view about the National Broadband Network which was consistent, it’s got to be said, with just about every expert on broadband. All were talking about the need for fibre to the premise rather than the sort of copper stuff from last century that is being rolled out now and we have seen the NBN debacle come through. And I think I was there at the point of the first dispute between Malcolm Turnbull and Emma Alberici. Emma gave both of us frankly a hard time during that Lateline debate. But Malcolm didn’t seem to be prepared to support any criticism at all.

LEACH: Just to finish on another situation in Lindsay, the seat of Lindsay, another Emma, Emma Husar. There’s up to 17 candidates that have put their name forward to replace her. There has been a big debate within the Liberal Party around participation of women in parliamentary life and the issue of bullying. But in the Labor Party Emma Husar was bullied out of her seat as well. Is that something that you need to address as you go into the pre-selection for the seat of Lindsay?

ALBANESE: Well I don’t think that is a fair characterisation of Emma Husar’s situation. There are issues between Emma and her staff, many of whom were women, or former staff who had made complaints, and that was dealt with by the party. Emma chose to say that she wouldn’t recontest in the Parliament. I wish her well in whatever she chooses to do in the future, but the fact is that we are verging on 50 per cent representation of women. There has been a substantial increase since I was elected back in 1996 and there are women in very senior positions coming through – our candidates right across the broad, including Peta Murphy, who I was with today. After the redistribution Dunkley is now in the Labor column so if everyone votes the way they did last time, that will be another woman from Labor elected to the Parliament and the Liberals are knocking them off in pre-selections one by one and are headed toward potentially having single figures of representation of women in the House of Representatives.

LEACH: Just to finish on a lighter note, Melbourne Storm go to Sydney this weekend. I know you are a big rugby league fan. Your team isn’t contesting in the NRL Grand Final, but could you cope with another Melbourne victory in the NRL?

ALBANESE: They are playing the Roosters Francis.

LEACH: My enemy’s enemy is my friend?

ALBANESE: We are all Storm supporters now mate. The Roosters have had a history of taking South Sydney players one by one. They don’t have any juniors.

LEACH: You’ve got a purple tie on by the way.

ALBANESE: I do indeed. So I just hope it a good match. I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I would be very pleased to see the Storm win and I think they have been a remarkably successful team over a long period of time and I am glad that Billy Slater is getting to play his last match.

LEACH: Good to talk to you. Thank you for being here.

ALBANESE: Thanks Francis.

 

Sep 26, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes – Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Subjects: Australia Day, quotas.

HOST: Albo, good morning to you. Senator Ruston, good morning to you.

ANNE RUSTON: How are you going?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Thanks for stepping up the plate Anne. We always love having you on when Chris is otherwise indisposed.

ALBANESE: Anne, you are much better than he is. I will talk you up.

RUSTON: Thanks Albo.

HOST: What about that? How is that for an endorsement?

RUSTON: Yes, I am sure it won’t last long.

HOST: Either a glowing endorsement or the kiss of death. We are going to start by talking about the Prime Minister’s call for a bit of a national debate about Australia Day and whether we should have an alternative day of indigenous recognition. We will start with you Anne as the relevant Government person. What’s your thoughts on this?

RUSTON: I reckon the most exciting thing about the comments from the Prime Minister yesterday without even getting into the detail of what he was saying was the fact that he actually said, you know what, as a country as a nation we are grown up enough to have debate about things. He wasn’t putting anything out there saying we had to do this or we had to do that. He was actually saying let’s have a talk about it. I mean, I thought that was an amazing start to a conversation because so many times we see conversation start and all of a sudden somebody from some particular interest group jumps on and says we can’t have that conversation because it means this or it means that. It’s time to sit down and have grown up conversations and I reckon it’s fantastic.

HOST: You tried to start a conversation about this yourself last year with that speech that you gave saying that we are going to have this sort of annual stink about whether Australia Day is perfectly fine or an insult to indigenous Australians and you came up with your own proposal didn’t you?

ALBANESE: I did. One of the things that I said in an Australia Day address that I give every year, like many Members of Parliament in their local electorates, is that I floated the idea for a conversation basically, saying that Australia Day does recognise of course the arrival of the First Fleet. That is a part of modern Australia. We can’t pretend that that didn’t happen. I think there is something a bit disingenuous about those of us who are descendants either directly or indirectly of European settlement at that time to sort of pretend that that didn’t happen by saying just, you know, abolish the day and don’t recognise it. But it is a difficult day for the indigenous Australians who were dispossessed at that time as well.

So I propose that at some stage two things are going to happen in this country. At some stage we will recognise the First Australians in our Constitution and what form that takes is obviously the subject of debate. I am a supporter of the process that has been established whereby you would have an Indigenous voice to Parliament that is not a third chamber, that Indigenous people went through an extensive consultation of and I think it is unfortunate that that has been dismissed by the Government. I would hope that Scott Morrison would be more open to that proposal but regardless it is going to require an indigenous Australians to be recognised in our Constitution. That is something that is missing. And secondly at some stage we are going to decide to have an Australian as our head of state. That I think is inevitable as well.

So I have proposed a referendum be conducted on January 26 so that it would truly be a day that recognised our past, our past that goes back at least 50,000 years; that recognises our present, who we are, the fact that the arrival of the First Fleet signalled the first migrants to Australia and most Australians are descendants of migrants, either first or second or third or many generations; and also our future, that we are a confident nation able to move forward. So I welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has raised this issue as an idea. I think it was misinterpreted by some of the media as a declaration that this must happen. But we should be prepared to discuss these issues and be mature enough to do it without trying to put people in a box.

HOST: Hey Albo, I want to stick with you and I will get Anne’s take on this in a moment. Interestingly the whole concept of quotas has been talked about recently in the context of the under-representation of women in the Liberal Party federally and a lot of the credit to Labor’s more even distribution of genders has been given to the quota system was introduced a short time ago. But now it is being reported there is a push on in the party for quotas to be extended to gays, lesbians, transgender people and indigenous Australians as well. Is there merit in broadening out this system in the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: No.

HOST: Simple as that?

ALBANESE: No.

HOST: Has it been talked about internally?

ALBANESE: Well it was debated in 2013 when you had a leadership ballot between myself and Bill at the time.

HOST: Did he promise to introduce something like this?

ALBANESE: Well that was proposed as part of his platform. It was something that I didn’t support. I think the fact that we have been able to achieve the election of people like Pat Dodson and Linda Burney and Malarndirri McCarthy without having a quota – I think there is a very different question between gender, which is essentially more than, slightly more than half of Australians are women and being conscious about that, and getting down to identity politics so that it goes through precisely who people are and that is why we don’t either in the Labor Party reserve seats for women or men. We have been able to achieve it on the basis of merit but being conscious of the need to move towards 50 per cent women’s representation and we are going to get there.

HOST: Why do you think Bill Shorten moved away from that commitment? It has been five years since that was discussed.

ALBANESE: I don’t know why that is the case. One of the ways that we achieve in New South Wales for example is that where there is a woman standing against a man in a pre-selection, the vote for a woman counts for 1.2. Now what that has meant culturally is that frankly powerbrokers that exist in both political parties have a sit back and they go: “We should support, where all other things are equal, we will support the woman rather than a man, because they have a better chance of winning the pre-selection”. That is one of things that has encouraged that change.

HOST: What do you think Anne? And to put it more on to the Liberal side of things I saw, I think it was The Guardian, ran a poll this week showing that two thirds or more than two third of Liberal supporters also support gender-based quotas or targets. What do you think of that?

RUSTON: Well, look I don’t support quotas. I have never supported quotas because it just plays into this whole identity politics thing and what I agree with Albo absolutely entirely is that we shouldn’t be disappearing off down this track of diminishing the individual for the sake of the collective which is just bad Socialist policy as far as I can see. We do also need to accept the fact that, you know, it is the thin edge of the wedge when you start putting quotas on women and then you start putting quotas on other groups within our community. But I do absolutely agree that we do need to be putting things in place to encourage more women, creating more pathways for women in the Liberal Party. We don’t have enough women in the Liberal Party at every level. So I accept the general public would like to see greater gender balance in our political system. But by turning around and putting quotas in place or your 1.2 values of votes, I actually think as a female is actually quite diminishing to me. I like to think that I got where I got not because I was a female, not because I was, you know, straight, not because I wasn’t indigenous or was indigenous. I like to think I got there because the people who voted for me believed that I was capable of representing them in the Parliament better than anybody else who put their hand up at that particular vote.

HOST: I totally agree with that sentiment but equally it looks to me when you have only got one in five of your MPs on the conservative side at the moment being women, doesn’t it show the problem is that if you haven’t got any mechanism there to stop it from operating like a boys’ club, it will default to the boys’ club position, because you can’t tell me that men are, by a factor of five to one, better equipped at being politicians than people of your feminine persuasion Anne.

RUSTON: No, not at all and the big problem is not that that is the case but the fact that we aren’t getting enough women prepared to put their hand up in the first place and say they would actually like to be considered for roles. I’m sure that if we have more women wanting to put their hands up then you’d see more women in the Parliament. I think our fundamental problem is that women perhaps look at parliamentary life, particularly the Federal Parliament where you spend so much time away from home, and are choosing not to put their hands up. What we need to do is to work out what are the things that we should be putting in place so they will say: “Hang on a minute, actually I would like to put my hand up to be considered’’. I think as soon as they start putting their hands up you will see this change.

I am not shying away from the fact that we have got a fundamental issue that we need to address. In the past we have had much greater representation of women in the Parliament. I mean, at one stage we had much, much greater representation in Cabinet. So I think we do have an issue and an issue that needs to be addressed. All I am saying is that I don’t believe that quotas, the blunt tool that they are, are necessarily going to achieve the outcome that we want because we want the best women in the Parliament, not just women for womens’ sake.

HOST: Anne Ruston and Anthony Albanese …

ALBANESE: With respect, can I make just two very quick points?

HOST: Yes.

ALBANESE: One is there’s a whole bunch of blokes on the other side of the Parliament who are absolute numpties.

RUSTON: You’ve got a few too Albo.

ALBANESE: The idea that it’s about quality and merit is a nonsense when you look at some of the blokes who have made their way into the Parliament. A couple of them struggle to ask a question let alone answer one. And secondly, what Anne’s comments, with respect, ignore, is that the power structures within both parties are there from the top down as well as from the bottom up. So when we speak about not enough women putting their hand up, people are encouraged to put their hand up. You look at the people who were the Dutton plotters. They were all blokes. All these people – Michael Sukkar and all these nobodies – sitting round saying that someone should be knocked off, Malcolm Turnbull should be knocked off as Prime Minister – they were all blokes. That is something they had in common. Because they are the powerbrokers and that is why you need some structural change in the Liberal party to drive it from the bottom up but also from the top down.

HOST: The debate on quotas rages on. Albo, thank you for that. Anne, thanks for stepping up. Great to have you on the program as well.

[ENDS]

Sep 26, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Marrickville, Sydney – Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Subjects; The Coalition Government’s infrastructure underspend, Doug Cameron, ABC, quotas

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yesterday the Government released its final Budget Outcome. What it showed was another $1 billion underspend on infrastructure. That is, the Government spent $1 billion less than what it itself said it would spend when it announced the Budget in May of 2017. The fact is that over the first four Budgets now, we have an underspend of some $4.9 billion. These aren’t figures based upon what Labor though should have been invested in infrastucture – these figures are based on what the Government itself said it would do.

So what we see right across the programs is an underspend. When it comes to the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, a 46 per cent underspend. They said they would spend $1.5 billion, but only invested $800 million. For the Beef Roads Program, we have $81 million committed in those four Budgets and $6 million actually invested. Six out of 81 – or a 93 per cent underspend. For the Black Spots Program we have $100 million less spent then what the Government said it would invest – or one in three. Now Black Spots occur right around Australia. It’s a program aimed at road safety. The Government has to explain why, on major road projects, on the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program, Northern Australia Roads Program, the Bridges Renewal Program – a program that they introduced, more than half of the money that was allocated hasn’t been invested in that program – over the four years, $4.9 billion. Just think about that. That’s the sort of figure we want to see as a federal commitment to the Airport Rail Program in Melbourne. That’s the sort of program that could have delivered major projects in five capital cities. That’s the same figure that could have equalled the cuts that were made to the Melbourne Metro project of $3 billion, to the Cross River Rail project of $715 million, to rail in WA and South Australia.

What we’re seeing as a result of that is less jobs created, less economic activity and we’re falling behind on all of those issues. And at the same time we know that the Government, due to a leak in this year’s Budget, have allocated $7.6 billion for new infrastructure projects. The money has been set aside but those projects haven’t been announced. It shows that the politicisation of the Government’s infrastructure agenda is leading to failure of policy. And just this week we saw Infrastructure Australia announce, through the Government, that they had listed the Gawler Line Electrification in South Australia as a priority project. But the fact is it was listed as a priority project way back in 2009, almost ten years ago and it was invested in by the Federal Labor Government. It was a project that was underway and was stopped by Tony Abbott when he came into Government in 2013. And now, five years later, they are announcing it as somehow a new project that’s been approved by Infrastructure Australia as a priority. This Government is failing on infrastructure. They are failing to invest the money that they themselves said they would do. They are failing to support Infrastructure Australia’s independence and fund projects that have been endorsed as priority by Infrastructure Australia. And they are allocating money to projects, putting it aside, but not announcing them until the Federal Election campaign is actually launched, rather than getting on with projects like Western Sydney Rail. It should be under construction today, rather than waiting for some surprise political announcement down the track where the Government will say, ‘oh we’ve just made the decision to announce $3.5 billion for this project’. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Is it correct that Doug Cameron is going to run as Labor’s candidate in Lindsay?

ALBANESE: There are also fairies and dinosaurs flying past Marrickville Town Hall. That’s a bizarre suggestion. Doug Cameron is a good friend of mine. He could run for any seat and he’d be a good candidate, but the idea that Doug Cameron is going to run for Lindsay just shows that the media will report any rumour and it is a great example of the 24 hour media cycle driving things. The fact is Doug Cameron announced, on his own time, he’s stepping down from the Senate. Had he chosen, I’m sure he would have been endorsed for a further term in the Senate. That term ends in June 2019 and I know that Doug’s looking forward to making a contribution – I’m sure he will continue to – to the Labor Party and on other issues that he cares about. He certainly has never raised with me, and I doubt whether he’s raised it with anyone on earth, him running for the seat of Lindsay.

JOURNALIST: Now on the subject of the ABC, is it appropriate for the Chairman of the ABC to get involved in the employment of staff?

ALBANESE: It’s completely inappropriate, if that story is proven to be correct. The idea that the ABC Board would have a say in the running of the ABC in terms of who they employ as reporters is extraordinary, made all the more extraordinary by the emails that seem to indicate this was as a result of Government pressure. The ABC’s independence should be cherished. There’s a word for governments that intervene to try to stop reporters and journalists being able to do their job – it’s called totalitarian. That’s what we see from totalitarian regimes around the world. In a democracy the public broadcaster’s independence should be cherished by both the government and by board members.

JOURNALIST: Now if those emails are found to be true, should Justine Milne stand down because of this?

ALBANESE: Well the issue here is the Government pressure that has been placed on the ABC. We saw it with Tony Abbott stopping members of his party going on Q&A. We’ve seen it with the ongoing attempts to intimidate the ABC as the national broadcaster. All of us from time to time, if we’re in politics, will have disagreements with various reporting of the national broadcaster and have a right to actually say we think that’s wrong or we think that report has got it wrong. What they don’t have a right to do, as the Government, is to intervene in the ABC’s independence and I say that as a former Minister for Communications. It is very important that the intimidation from the leadership of the Liberal Party, and indeed from the Communications Minister that we’ve seen as well in Mitch Fifield, against the ABC and SBS stop. And the ABC plays such an important role in this country. It is the most trusted news source and the basis of that trust is its independence from interference from government. The Government should not be interfering and the Board should ensure that government interference is not supported, indeed that the ABC’s independence is protected.

JOURNALIST: Now what do you think of the idea of quotas for gay people in the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: Well I don’t support having quotas for every category that exists in society and certainly someone’s sexuality is just one aspect of the contribution that they make and their personality that they bring. The fact is that the Australian population is made up of a diversity of people. We have people who happen to be gay or lesbian now in Federal and State Parliaments, I don’t think that defines all of who they are or what their contribution to public life is. It is good that there’s diversity in our Parliaments, I support that. But if we move to a situation whereby identity politics has categories based on every category in our society thenI think given the House of Representatives, for example, is made up of people whose job it is, as mine is to represent people in this electorate regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality, then I don’t support quotas. I didn’t support them when the issue was raised in 2013, when it comes to quotas based on sexuality or based upon race.

[ENDS]

Sep 26, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – David Speers PM Agenda, SKY News – Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Subjects: ABC; Radio Birdman; quotas; Doug Cameron; Morrison Government’s infrastructure underspend.

DAVID SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us this afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, David.

SPEERS: So do you think the ABC chairman Justin Milne should now step down?

ALBANESE: Well it’s pretty hard to see that his position remains tenable given the content of this email, in which he’s indicating his view, essentially on behalf of the Government, that the journalist Emma Alberici should be sacked in order to appease the Government. I think the real story here is the ongoing intimidation of the ABC by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government that has been ongoing from day one. It’s quite extraordinary that the public broadcaster, which needs to be independent of government, it has been intimidated in this way. There’s a word for …

SPEERS: Just to be clear on this because I mean – is the problem here, and I think you touch on it, the Chairman can clearly talk to the Managing Director when there’s a big, you know – blow up that’s creating damage to the organisation and so on. But you know maybe they can talk about staffing matters, but it’s when he goes to the fact this isn’t about journalistic integrity and so on, it’s to keep the Government happy. It’s to not upset their political masters. That’s the problem isn’t it?

ALBANESE It’s the politicisation of the ABC that’s the problem here. And there’s a word for governments telling journalists that they shouldn’t do their job and it’s called totalitarian regimes. I mean this is – tinpot shows intervene in the media and shut down voices of opinion. And here we have a Government that from time to time speaks about freedom of speech, but really don’t act like it, don’t want alternative voices to their own. The ABC annoys all politicians from time to time. I’ve been annoyed with them that they haven’t shown a particular documentary about Radio Birdman and I’ve given speeches about it, but it’s their decision. It’s not a political decision. And I think here we have a circumstance whereby explicitly the Government has obviously complained about Emma Alberici and that’s been the source of whether ABC management should appease that or not. Quite clearly it’s inappropriate, the intervention by the Chairman. And quite clearly we have a circumstance whereby the ABC, which is regarded,and I say this with respect to Sky News and all the other commercial broadcasters around, the ABC is regarded as Australia’s most trusted news source by people regardless of what their politics would be and it’s very important that independence of the ABC be protected.

SPEERS: Well, look and whether you trust them or not. Maybe viewers of this channel may not trust the ABC as much as others. You want them to be independent of government; I think everyone would agree on that. Look, just a quick one on this one before we move on. The Greens are talking about an urgent Senate hearing to get Justin Milne, the ABC Chairman, to come and answer some questions because he’s, you know, he’s keeping fairly quiet so far today. Would Labor support that to make him actually answer some questions?

ALBANESE: That would be a matter for Michelle Rowland, the Communications Spokesperson, for Labor to respond to. The Greens Party try to make themselves part of most stories. I think here though, don’t these e-mails speak for themselves?

SPEERS: Yeah, as long as they’re confirmed. They’re only reported at the moment. But as mentioned, they’ve not been denied. Look, a few other things. The idea of having not just a gender quota, in terms of getting more women into Parliament, but quotas to get more gay or Indigenous members into Parliament for Labor. The backstory to this – when you and Bill Shorten were slugging it out for the Labor leadership all those years ago, back in 2013. Bill Shorten’s manifesto of his policy says, “We should consider quotas for sections of our community that are underrepresented in our Parliaments, including Indigenous Australians and the LGBTI community’’. Obviously not much has happened on that since. Do you think it’s a good idea?

ALBANESE: No, I don’t. I didn’t then and I don’t now.

SPEERS: All right and are you surprised this hasn’t been followed up?

ALBANESE: Look, that’s not a matter for me. I think the fact is that when someone who might be gay or lesbian is a Member of Parliament, as of course there are on all sides of the Parliament now and in in all Houses of the Parliament as well, they’re not defined by just their sexuality. They’re defined by their range of views that they have, by what they bring to the position.

SPEERS: Isn’t that the same with women though? With respect, I mean, are women defined by their gender?

ALBANESE: No, they’re not. But politics is changed by having a more representative Parliament and women are 50 per cent or a little bit over of the population. What we haven’t done for example is in – say the Member for Bennelong has to be a woman, we will have a woman candidate for that particular seat. What we’ve put in place …

SPEERS: I get that, but it sounds like you’re saying because there are more women in the population then gender quotas are a good idea. But because what; there’s not so many Indigenous Australians or LGBTI Australians, that quotas aren’t necessary there?

ALBANESE: No. It’s a matter of – I think that you can bring identity politics to a point whereby it’s not constructive or practical. What about quotas for people with disabilities? What about young people? What about a whole range of different categories?

SPEERS: Well exactly, once you start down the path of quotas for women, do you open the door to all these arguments?

ALBANESE: No, you don’t. Quotas for women across the board in terms of 50 per cent of the Parliament are far more achievable. And the fact is that we’ve managed to do that and the difference of quotas has been that – one of the things I’ve said with regard to increasing the number of women in Parliament. Some people say, well women have to put themselves forward. Change happens from the bottom up, but it also happens from the top down. And the truth is that the power brokers in the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and the Greens Party for that matter and the Nats, have tended to be, and it’s changing, but have tended to be men. And one of the things that …

SPEERS: Are there any women who are power brokers right now, would you say, in the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. Kaila Murnain for example, is the convener of the National Right of the Labor Party; she’s the General Secretary of the NSW Branch. The Leader of the Organisational Left in New South Wales is Rose Jackson. So both of the heads of the factions, if you like, in New South Wales in the Labor Party, are women.

SPEERS: That’s good.

ALBANESE: That’s a good thing. The fact is that there are factions in both parties. One of the things that we’ve done is rank and file preselections, where there is a woman candidate and a male candidate, the vote for the woman candidate is worth 1.2 and one of the things that’s done is encourage power brokers to ensure that there are women candidates putting themselves forward. And that cultural change has gone through the party, the same as in terms of Indigenous representation – we’ve had Linda Burney, Pat Dodson, Malarndirri McCarthy all elected to the Parliament from the Labor Party in recent times. And of course Ken represents the Liberal Party from WA and is a Minister.

SPEERS: All right, I’ve got to move on. We’re going to lose time here, I apologise. A couple of other things, Doug Cameron, would he – you know he wants to leave at the election, he’s been there in the Senate for, well, quite a while now. Some suggestion, maybe he should be installed as the candidate for Lindsay, currently held by Emma Husar in Western Sydney. What do you reckon?

ALBANESE: Well what’s important is what Doug Cameron thinks and Doug Cameron will be stepping down from the Senate at the next election, in his own time. And I’ve seen nothing from him or no comment from him. I know Doug very well, he’s a very good friend of mine. There’s no one I’m closer to in the federal caucus and I think there’s more chance of you being the candidate for Lindsay, for either party, than there is Doug Cameron being the candidate at the next election.

SPEERS: Well, we can rule that out then. That’s good to hear.

ALBANESE: I think that’s a fair assumption.

SPEERS: I think it is. Is there a problem though of finding a candidate for Lindsay, is that what’s going on here?

ALBANESE: No, not at all. I think there’s a range of people there who would be very good candidates. There are people I’m aware of. We have some very good locals, both through local government there in Penrith council through the branches. It’s a very active area for the Labor Party and we’ll have a good candidate.

SPEERS: All right, let me ask you finally on the Budget figures we saw yesterday. This was the final budget result for last financial year, better than expected. Clearly there’s more money coming in the door and less being spent as well, it would seem. What do you put this down to?

ALBANESE: Well one of the problems here David is that the infrastructure underspend continues. That is, the difference between what the Government says on Budget Night they’re going to invest and what actually happens. And in this case there’s a billion dollars difference, a billion dollar underspend which adds up to …

SPEERS: Just for one year?

ALBANESE: In just one year. Over four years the underspend is $4.9 billion. Now that’s massive. A massive difference between what they said they would do and what they’ve actually done. And for some programs like the Beef Roads Program there’s a 93 per cent underspend, but there’s underspends all the way through – in smaller programs like the Black Spots Program, but also major programs of rail and road and the Northern …

SPEERS: And is it deliberate? Or is it just that some projects, you know, take a little longer to get off the ground?

ALBANESE: Well, what’s impossible to justify is how every program every year for four years can see this underspend. And these aren’t Labor figures – these are on the Government’s own figures. What they say on Budget Night last year $7.9 billion; the actual spend- $6.9 billion. So this is a massive underspend, some 58 per cent on the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program, which is essentially for truck rest stops and for programs that are designed – essentially to not just keep heavy vehicles and their drivers safe, to keep those of us who share the roads with heavy vehicles safe as well. It is hard to see how that can possibly happen. A 46 per cent underspend on the Western Sydney Infrastructure Program. They said they’d spend $1.6 billion and they’ve only spent half of that. What that shows is that the Government really hasn’t got its act together. And this comes on top of the fact that we now know, through the leak a couple of weeks ago, that they have put $7.6 billion aside for various infrastructure projects. They just haven’t announced them and they’re holding them off, even though it’s all been in the papers.

[ENDS]

Sep 26, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 2GB, Chris Kenny Program – Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Subjects: ABC, Newstart, rugby league.

CHRIS KENNY: Thanks for joining us Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on Chris.

KENNY: I want to get to some economic matters in a moment but first up your take on the ABC. Surely it is open and shut here. This is a case of attempted political interference by the Chairman no less and he should resign.

ALBANESE: Well the ABC Charter is very clear about the independence of the ABC. The real story here of course is there is ongoing intimidation of the ABC by members of the Government. It should be allowed to operate independently of government. From time to time the ABC says things that all of us in politics don’t like.

KENNY: Heaven help. Heaven help that that should ever be the case.

ALBANESE: But that’s just the way it is. But this email, if it is proven to be true, and one would suggest that if it wasn’t Mr Milne would have stated that by now – he has been given the opportunity and has failed to do so, then it is a pretty clear breach of saying essentially that in order to appease the Government a journalist, Emma Alberici, must be dismissed.

KENNY: Yes it seems open and shut to me. I don’t think this controversy will last very long although we are going to have to see who replaces him and how they replace Michelle Guthrie and all the rest of it. I want to get on to economic matters. You would have noticed of course the Budget Outcome announced yesterday shows that the Federal Budget is getting now very, very close to being balanced, perhaps even in this financial year, certainly the one after, and this has reignited a push that has been put about by a lot of people for a long while now that we should increase the dole – that the Newstart Allowance should be increased. What is your view? What is Labor’s view on the Newstart Allowance and whether it should be increased?

ALBANESE: Well look, what we have said is we will have an inquiry into the level of Newstart if we are elected, whenever the election might be. It’s pretty clear that it hasn’t been increased for a very long period of time and people really can’t get by on the level of Newstart which is there. So that is our position. I notice today Scott Morrison in one of the interviews I heard him on certainly indicated that he was open to the idea and I think that would be a good thing. These issues shouldn’t be partisan. Everyone agrees that the priority should be to get people into employment, but whilst they are not, it shouldn’t be the case that people are living essentially in abject poverty.

KENNY: Yes. Just so we are clear on that, you are talking about surviving on $275.10 a week with some extra rent assistance of $67.90. That is the best you can do on Newstart. Try living on that sort of money in any of our major capitals. It’s an interesting balance here. Of course you always want to make sure that there is enough incentive in the welfare system so that people are trying to get work Anthony Albanese, but that just doesn’t seem like enough money for people to live.

ALBANESE: Well, you just struggle to pay your rent. That is the truth in an electorate like mine in the Inner West of Sydney where rents are exorbitant of course and I don’t know how people get by. I grew up, as you know Chris, in a family with a mum who was on an invalid pension and she managed to be the most frugal person. I don’t know how she managed, but she seemed to. But it was literally putting little bits of money aside in envelopes every fortnight …

KENNY: Indeed.

ALBANESE: … when the pension payment came in and you know, it’s pretty tough for people. But on Newstart, it hasn’t been increased for such a long period of time so the truth is both sides of politics have been responsible for this and I’d like to see personally both sides of politics solve it.

KENNY: Yes, when there is some money around, sure. We have run a decade of deficits but when there is some money around, you would have thought it needs some attention and you are right, it might be one of those issues where we might look to try to get some bipartisan agreement. Speaking of bipartisan agreement, who do you reckon is going to win the Dally M tonight?

ALBANESE: I think Cook is a certainty. Souths have got to win something mate. I am a still hurting from Saturday night so I think Damian Cook had quite an explosive year. He began the year of course not even being certain of being a starter in first grade and to make the State of Origin side and I’m pretty sure he will be named as the Australian hooker given the great Cameron Smith has chosen to stand down from rep football. So if I was a gambling man, which I am not …

KENNY: If you are a gambling man he is second favourite coming in at $4.50 but I had a hunch you might go for the Rabbitohs.

ALBANESE: Who is the favourite?

KENNY: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He’s a short-priced favourite at $1.90.

ALBANESE: He has had a very good year and he is the stand-out in the Warriors side. Often what you’ve got to be is the best player, but in a team whereby you are clearly the best player.

KENNY: Yes, you don’t have too many sharing the votes.

ALBANESE: You are competing against your team mates as well.

KENNY: Indeed. A bit like a political leadership contest isn’t it?

ALBANESE: It can be a bit like that. That is right.

KENNY: Thanks so much for joining us Albo.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having us on Chris.

Sep 25, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop -Yeppoon, QLD – Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Subjects; Great Keppel Island, tourism infrastructure, rail trails, Emma Husar.

RUSSELL ROBERTSON: So we’re here today and we’ve had a great discussion with the local Keppel Council and I’ve got with me the local Keppel Member, Brittany Lauga, Queensland Senator Murray Watt and my great friend Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. Today was about talking to local tourist providers and the local Capricorn Enterprise to find out what the local industry needs to boost it along, to keep this and grow this local area. And it was a great meeting, some great outcomes and I look forward to coming back and working on these as a candidate to try and deliver some solid outcomes for the local region.

JOURNALIST: What were some of the concerns this morning raised with you?

ROBERTSON: Things like GKI. Things like access to that and no work from the local Federal Member to match the hard work that Brittany’s doing. We want to do that, we want to get in and assist the local tourist foundations and the local market to try and increase tourism here and grow this region into a significant tourist economy.

JOURNALIST: Once the election’s called and you are obviously up and running, if you get in what are your priorities going to be with the Keppel and the Capricornia tourism sector?

ROBERTSON: Well I want to see it grow, I want to put my heart and soul into this area and make sure we can get GKI up and moving again, not to be left behind like the local Member has done. I want to try and see some real productivity, some real tourist gains in this local area.

JOURNALIST: What brings you to our neck of the woods today sir?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve held roundtables right around the country about tourism. Tourism has been identified as one of the super growth sectors. There’s already around about one million Australians employed in the tourism sector, but we can do much better.

The growth in domestic tourism will be important, but what will be a real game changer is the growth in international tourism. We had more than 50,000 visitors to the region from overseas last year, but we can do much better and what that needs though is attractions like Great Keppel Island to be able to fulfil it’s potential.

Today we had an opportunity to talk about the sort of programs that are required. We’ve had the State Government offer $25 million on the table to fix up water and power for Great Keppel Island. But we’ve had at the Commonwealth level a failure to invest in tourism infrastructure, whether it be major projects like that or whether it be the programs that used to exist like the T-QUAL program, making small grants available to private operators who want to improve their business and therefore create more local jobs and expand their economic activity.

Today one of the groups that we met with was the group from the Capricorn Caves talking about just that, talking about the opportunities that are available. We used to have a Tourism Infrastructure Regional Fund that has also been abolished by this current Government.

So we want to prioritise regional economic development and we want to prioritise growth in tourism. These are sustainable jobs, these are jobs in which we need to create career paths for locals to be employed. We need to make sure we maximise this amazing environment here to produce not just a wonderful lifestyle for people who live in this great part of the world, but economic opportunity and jobs so that young people can stay in this community and continue to work in a sustainable way.

We’ll have further meetings, we’ve organised today, in Canberra just next month when operators from Northern Australia visit the capital for meetings in Parliament House. But we think there are huge opportunities here and I look forward to working with Robbo as the local Member for Capricornia to make a real difference to this community.

JOURNALIST: You talk about tourism infrastructure – we’ve just done a story this morning about they want to extend – they have a rail trail here that goes about – I think it’s 3 kilometres at the moment – they want move out (inaudible) … and make it like a 20 kilometre or 35 kilometre loop to go out and come back. Would you be pushing for some funding to extend the rail trail?

ALBANESE: Well rail trails have been an enormous success, I know from the last time when I was in Government as a Minister we funded many rail trails right around the country because they did make a big difference for people who either walked or who cycled on those rail trails. The good thing about it is it brings people to a region not just for an hour or two but for a week or longer. People are prepared to come and stay, it increases the visitor nights and I’d welcome any proposal to give that consideration if we were in government.

JOURNALIST: Do you welcome Emma Husar’s return to the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: Well Emma Husar is in the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: As a sitting Member.

ALBANESE: Well Emma Husar is the sitting Member for Lindsay. She has made an announcement that she wouldn’t be recontesting at the next election and I certainly welcomed Emma back to the Parliament when she returned for the last sitting fortnight and I wish Emma all the best in whatever she decides to do with her future.
 
JOURNALIST: And in recontesting the seat.

ALBANESE: Well she has said that she’s not recontesting the seat. That’s a decision that she has made and I respect that decision.

JOURNALIST: Has Keppel been too long in the waiting, it’s been nearly 10 years now – like it’s yes and no and should we have taken the Towers licence years ago.

ALBANESE: It’s been far too long, far too long. We met with other operators of course on Great Keppel Island who are doing their best under difficult circumstances to keep their business going, to keep employment going on Great Keppel Island. But what clearly it needs is for this issue to be resolved. It’s good that it will be resolved,  that there’s now a timeframe on it in terms of the licence that Tower has and I really look forward to advancing this project and seeing Great Keppel Island not just restored to its best, but I think it can be much, much better than it was even before.

Sep 25, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – CQ Radio Network 4RO – Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Subjects; Great Keppel Island, Rockhampton Ring Road, tourism, Wentworth by-electio

AARON STEVENS: I’m joined now by the Opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Anthony Albanese. Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Aaron.

STEVENS: I’ve got to tell you, you’ve got a very busy stay in Rockhampton and on the coast today. Every person I have spoken with this morning has a meeting with you at some point in time.

ALBANESE: That’s exactly right. I’m speaking to you from Yeppoon this morning. I’m just having a quick brekky with Robbo our candidate, Russell Robertson, and Senator Murray Watt and Brittany, the State Member. We’ve got a good roundtable this morning with all the tourism operators about how we can increase jobs and economic activity here. Of course part of the discussion will be about Great Keppel and what happens there and yesterday we had a range of meetings in Rocky itself and a pretty good function last night at the racing club.

STEVENS: Fantastic. Let’s start with Keppel because money has been promised to Keppel on a state level but it’s going to take more than that. Do you think there should be a commitment on a federal level too?

ALBANESE: Well that’s one of the things I’m going to be talking to people about this morning. Quite clearly Great Keppel has suffered, both through natural disasters and through other issues over the years. It’s a great, iconic tourism asset for Queensland and particularly for Central Queensland. What we are keen to see is that it be restored to its former glory and be made even better in the future. Queensland, of course, has the commitment of $20 million for power and for water and we’re going to be talking about in what way the Federal Government could potentially help.

I had a discussion last week, before I came up here, with Kate Jones who is a very passionate advocate for Queensland tourism and we’ll wait and see what comes out of today’s discussion. But clearly tourism is one of the super growth sectors that’s been identified by all the economic studies about Australia’s future. It already contributes massively and this part of the world had 51,000 visitors from overseas last year and over half a million domestic visitors. But we can do much better.

STEVENS: Well a full strength Keppel is imperative for this region for tourism and it has to happen now. We’ve been waiting for ten years. It really needs to be fast tracked.

ALBANESE: I agree. You can’t have an asset like that just sitting idle because what that means is that is lost employment opportunities for the region. We live in a part of the globe as well that’s seen an explosion in the middle class two hours to our north and those tourists from China and India and Indonesia and other parts, as well as joining those other people who come here from the UK and the US and parts of Europe, really can see a potential explosion in economic activity here.

But you need to have the assets that add value, that turn weekend trips into week long trips and turn week trips into fortnights; that’s how you really maximise the benefit of the tourism potential that’s here on the coast.

STEVENS: It will be interesting to see what comes out of those meetings that you have this meeting. Of course one item of discussion that you’ve been very strongly involved in is the Ring Road for Rockhampton and you’ve promised it would happen in the first term of a Labor Federal Government.

ALBANESE: We have. We committed when I was last Infrastructure Minister we did the study, in 2009 we commissioned that. It reported in December 2011. Of course we funded when I was the Minister the works on the Yeppen Flood Plain and other mitigation works that made an enormous difference to Rocky including during the recent – the last time it flooded in the region. But the long term solution was identified as being the Ring Road and that’s why we’ve committed to fund it and to start that construction during our first term of office. We’re somewhat concerned that the current Government has in a number of instances promised various infrastructure projects but off in the Never Never and quite clearly it’s needed now.

STEVENS: And that’s the thing, that’s why we’re frustrated here in Central Queensland because there’s all these little carrots being dangled, but nothing’s happening.

ALBANESE: Well that’s why we’re putting timeframes on our commitments, like we did last time with the Yeppen Flood Plain. We didn’t promise it when I was Minister and then come back five years later and turn the first sod. We got on with it. We got on with those jobs in construction. I must have visited that site there at least four or five times for the announcement, the sod turn, the construction activity which went at pace and got delivered. And that’s what’s needed on the Ring Road. I frankly am surprised that a report in December 2011 – we certainly were given consideration to the timeframe – it should have been gotten on with by now. It’s been five years since the change of government and there hasn’t been any new projects commenced. Once the flood plain upgrade was completed, one would have thought that activity should have started on the Ring Road.

STEVENS: Yeah well we want to see these projects go ahead and obviously they are vital to the future of Central Queensland. Let’s talk about the Labor Party at a Federal Level. Obviously there have been the goings on for the Liberals, they’ve changed Leader, we’ve got our new Prime Minister. Has everything settled down as far as the Opposition goes?

ALBANESE: Well certainly we’ve been busy with developing policies. We had a policy last week to improve women’s superannuation. We have a policy announcement today about universities and we’ve been getting out there, whether it be on infrastructure or schools or health policy, concentrating on what the needs of the Australian people are rather than the Government, which seems to have been focused largely on itself. And the disappointing thing is, having sat in the Parliament the last two weeks sitting, Scott Morrison couldn’t answer why he was the Prime Minister rather than Malcolm Turnbull.

And of course I tend to have shadowed the National Party Leaders and Infrastructure Ministers over recent years and we’ve been through four different Shadow Ministers for Infrastructure and three different Leaders of the National Party in just the last few years as well. And I think people really want a bit of stability and the Government’s not providing that.

STEVENS: We seem to be in election mode, when do you reckon we’ll go to the polls?

ALBANESE: I doubt whether it will be soon. If Scott Morrison can survive through to Christmas I think his intention is to call the election next year. But we have the Wentworth by-election of course, where Kerryn Phelps as the Independent candidate has a good chance of winning there and if that does happen then we could well be forced into an election before the end of the year.

So Labor’s ready. We’re ready with policies. Russell Robertson and I have been here campaigning for the last two days and you’ll see a very steady stream of Shadow Ministers. Bill Shorten was here just a couple of weeks ago, of course, holding a town hall meeting and we’re ready for the election whenever it is. And I do think that there’s a case when you have an unelected Prime Minister in place in Scott Morrison to actually give the Australian people a say in who the Prime Minister should be. The only way you can do that now is to have an election.

STEVENS: Absolutely. Good to have you in Central Queensland, lovely to talk to you. Thank you for your time.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on the program.

 

 

Sep 24, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 6PR, The Odd Couple – Monday, 24 September 2018

Subjects: Parliament, Newspoll; welfare recipients, Gender pay gap.

OLIVER PETERSON: We welcome back to Perth Live the Odd Couple and I speak of the Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and the Opposition Infrastructure and Transport spokesman Anthony Albanese. Christopher Pyne, good afternoon to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Ollie thank-you for having me. It’s nice to be on again.

PETERSON: It’s nice to have you back. Anthony Albanese, hello to you. Commiserations on South Sydney’s loss in the finals series in the rugby league.

ALBANESE: It was very sad. I fled to Rockhampton.

PETERSON: Fled to Rockhampton?

ALBANESE: To get away from Roosters supporters.

PETERSON: Sydney has become a very, very lonely place I can imagine while we are all flying high here hoping the Eagles can destroy Collingwood this weekend. Christopher let me start with you. Last night on 60 Minutes Julie Bishop has claimed that the way that you lot carry on in Question Time makes you no better than school children, Has she got a point?

PYNE: Well before I answer that, Anthony was a little overconfident on Friday morning saying that they would be having chicken on Saturday night, the Rabbitohs.

ALBANESE: Mate, I was I was confident when we didn’t make the finals for 20 years. I was confident. It’s called loyalty.

PYNE: I understand, the Redlegs, my local SANFL team lost on Sunday in the Grand Final against North Adelaide actually so we were very disappointed about that too. But I must admit that I am supporting the Eagles at the AFL. Of course, I would as a South Australian, especially against Collingwood. But in terms of Julie Bishop, well you know I do think that people are thoroughly sick and tired of politicians talking about politics. I think they want us to talk about issues that count for them – education, health, incomes, jobs – and that is what I intend to focus on. I think the weeks of talking internally about introspective issues are not changing one thing in the Australian public’s minds about who is putting them first. So I am just not talking about that any more.

PETERSON: OK. Well, put the personalities to the side. That’s fair enough. But when you sit back and have a look at Question Time, whether it be your side or whether it be Anthony’s side and what not, we look at the rough and tumble, the bear pit, of the Federal Parliament during Question Time in particular and just say that is how it is, that is the way that you all carry on and behave. But is there a problem with that? Is it the way that we might view that from the outside that in the end that you are all looking like school children just mucking around in the yard during recess or lunch time?

PYNE: Well Ollie, politics is a robust business. It is very, very competitive. Labor wants me to lose. I want Labor to lose. It’s not for the faint-hearted. That doesn’t mean you can’t be respectful and see good in the other side. I mean Anthony and I do your show, we do several other shows around the country on a regular basis. We manage to disagree on issues – not all issues but plenty of them – but we manage to maintain a respectful friendship and I think that is not a bad model quite frankly.

PETERSON: All right Anthony Albanese I will ask you. Scott Morrison is obviously narrowing the gap with Labor. It is now 54-46. But as the preferred PM question your leader Bill Shorten is about as popular as a Collingwood fan in Perth today. So what is wrong with Bill?

ALBANESE: Well what today’s poll shows is that Labor would win in the order of 25 to 30 seats if an election was held today. And the interesting thing I found about today was the question that was asked: “Are you more likely to vote for the Coalition now that they have changed Leader’. And the answer overwhelmingly is no. And I think going back to the Julie Bishop interview, where I think she made some salient points, one of the things that she said that I think the Australian people are saying as well as former or current foreign ministers to Julie Bishop, is they don’t know why this change happened. And I understand Christopher’s point about inside the beltway but I do think that the Australian people are owed an explanation for why Malcolm Turnbull was removed by Scott Morrison.

PYNE: Ollie I think the poll that Anthony was most interested in today was the preferred prime minister poll which showed that Bill Shorten was preferred PM for one week in the last five years and Scott Morrison has been ahead of him for five of the last six weeks because of course the public have worked out Bill Shorten. They don’t trust him, they think he is a phoney and they don’t want to vote for him. And so if the Government can put together the policies and the record that convinces the public that we are the people they want to keep in Government, I think Bill Shorten will be very much the Achilles heel of the Labor Party and Anthony knows it. That is why he has been circling for some time.

PETERSON: We will turn to policy in a moment. Anthony Albanese, how does Bill Shorten become more popular if he is, as Christopher Pyne says, the Achilles heel of the Labor Party when it comes to polling time and people just think you know what, I just can’t vote for Bill Shorten, but I want to vote for Labor.  Then is there somebody in your owns ranks who might be a little bit more popular? Maybe yourself?

ALBANESE: What they are saying in today’s poll is precisely that they will vote for Labor to the tune of 54 per cent. I mean get some perspective here. When the polls were for about two months were Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals on 49 and Bill Shorten’s Labor on 51 that was so catastrophic apparently that they had to remove an elected Prime Minister for the fourth term in a row. But today the polls are on 54 for Labor and 46 for the Coalition and you would have us believe some of the Coalition commentators, the spin doctors, that that somehow that is terrific. I mean it does not make sense. The fact is that Australians have marked the Government down because they have a range of policies that are bad policies for the country and the latest result of trying to end the debate on education by adding to the division that is there – I fully support Catholic schools, particularly poorer Catholic schools getting more funding, those that are in need. But public schools have missed out here and the Government I think has shown yet again that they are about creating division rather than creating harmony and moving the country forward as one.

PETERSON: So that point Christopher Pyne, is the Government creating division or is it trying to make the education sector a more level playing field when it comes to the announcement regarding school funding last week?

PYNE: Well Ollie I think Anthony is sounding very over confident and the public, the Australian public in particular, don’t like overconfidence in their footy teams or in their political teams so Labor would want to be very careful. We thought we were going to win in 1993 very easily and the public could see that we were over-confident and they didn’t elect us. They elected Paul Keating again. To your question about education, well the truth is that we are increasing spending on public schools by about $6.2 billion. So there is a huge amount of money going into public schools. There is also a lot more money going into Catholic and Independent schools because that has been part of our education reform. We asked Michael Chaney from Western Australia to do a review of the formula about how schools get funded. He did that review and he came back making recommendations, all of which we have accepted and that has meant more funding to poorer Catholic schools and smaller Christian schools who the formula had been disadvantaging in the past when Labor was in office and when we’ve been in office. So we have actually fixed the problem that existed under Labor, that existed under us and Michael Chaney from your own Western Australia helped us with that through the report that he gave us about six weeks ago

PETERSON: Anthony let me ask you about a policy announced over the weekend to target welfare dodgers and say you can’t travel overseas. So they might be stopped at the airport before they clear up their debts with the Government. That seems like a wised idea, doesn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well people who owe the Government money legitimately should have to repay it and you shouldn’t be taking an overseas holiday if you owe the Government money. If you are saying I can’t pay back my debt but I am off to Europe for three months, there is obviously something wrong there. The thing is though is the Government got it really very, very wrong when it came to the Robodebt Scandal at the beginning of last year. What we saw was that every single constituent who came to me and asked for assistance – and there were dozens of them – either got their debt reduced to zero or reduced substantially because this Robodebt system they had frankly had got it wrong. Now I am for prudent fiscal policy when it comes to Government money. I want to see the Government be as hard in chasing after corporate tax cheats who seem to be never mentioned by the Government. So if you are cheating on welfare or you owe money to the Government of course you should pay, but what we have seen is that the Government hasn’t been very good frankly at being accurate about that and I hope that they are starting to get it right because we need to.

PYNE: Well I am glad to hear Anthony say that because when Labor was in office they didn’t do this once. They didn’t collect a welfare cheat’s debt leaving the country or refuse to allow them to leave the country on any occasion. This has been something that the Coalition Government has introduced and it is really bearing fruit.

ALBANESE: You know you have been in government five years Christopher.

PYNE: Yes and we are doing it. You didn’t do it once. So I am glad to see that you have actually changed your mind about it.

ALBANESE: But you weren’t doing it a fortnight ago.

PYNE: The truth is this is working. We’ve had people with debts of tens of thousands of dollars of debts if you can believe it to the Commonwealth trying to leave the country to go on overseas business trips and as soon as we refuse the opportunity to leave, miraculously they have been able to repay some of their debt, or all of their debt and start repayment plans, Now I am glad we had to take this harsh measure  – I’m not glad – I am delighted we have taken this harsh measure because it’s not right that everyone who wants to do the right thing doesn’t get rewarded and those people who do the wrong thing have been getting away with gaming the system for too long.

PETERSON: My guests are Christopher Pyne, the Defence Minister and Anthony Albanese, Opposition Infrastructure and Transport spokesman. Should companies have to reveal their gender pay gap?

PYNE: Look I don’t think that is a relevant step for companies to be required to do. What we have done in the past five years is reduce the gender pay gap from 17 per cent under Labor to 14.5 per cent under us. It blew out under Labor. It was about 14.5 per cent. It went up when they were in Government. What we have done is there are now more women in work than ever before in Australia’s history and more women in full time work we’ve seen it before and the gender pay gap has been reduced. Now we look at every measure to try and reduce the gender pay gap. But we also don’t want a situation where people are sitting in the same workplace and wondering whether the person on the other side of the desk got a pay rise and they didn’t, not because of their ability but simply because of their gender. We want to reduce the gender pay gap, but we also don’t want to create two classes of workers in the same workplace.

PETERSON: Anthony, what would this achieve? If Labor wins government, what do you think it achieves in the companies? Why are they going to be more open and transparent?

ALBANESE: What we have found is that when you have had the reporting about numbers who are executives – same as the numbers, a focus on how many women there are in Parliament as a proportion, when you have that focus, that can often be a very good first step to remedying the situation and getting greater equity in the outcomes. The reason why people are concerned about wages at the moment is they are flat-lining or they are going backwards in real terms. Real wages have been in decline. That has been identified by the Reserve Bank of Australia and other economists as being a real problem for our national economy and I can’t understand why companies wouldn’t jump on board this and say yes we support being transparent about any gender pay gap that is within our companies because we know it is out there, so why shouldn’t there be transparency in it as one way of overcoming …

PETERSON: But isn’t everybody’s own salary confidential information? If I asked you now what do you get paid, you are not going to front up and tell me.

ALBANESE: Yes I am. It is s published. Every time we make a phone call it’s available to you Ollie. And the fact is that transparency can make a difference. We are not talking about information that would say Mary Smith works at the Commonwealth Bank and she gets $10,000 less than John Smith. What we are talking about here is that the Commonwealth Bank has 10,000 employees and on average the men receive X dollars greater than the women who work for the Commonwealth Bank. So that’s the sort of transparency that I think would be appropriate. There’s all sorts of reporting now about numbers of employees, the gender of them and different issues. There is no reason why this shouldn’t be reported in a transparent way.

PETERSON: All right gentlemen. We will wrap things up. Christopher Pyne, you have already told me that you will be an honourary Eagle this weekend. Anthony Albanese, will it be Eagles or Collingwood?

ALBANESE: I’m hoping for a very good match, I am not going to jump on either team.

PETERSON: You can’t sit on the fence!

PYNE: That’s outrageous!

ALBANESE: I can because I still depressed about my Rabbitohs.

PETERSON: Whichever audience you are talking to you will just pick whichever team. You told me last time you were the honourary minister for Western Australia.

ALBANESE: I didn’t give a different message. Christopher will be on 3AW tomorrow and he will say: “Go the Pies’’.

PYNE: No I won’t, because Collingwood is Bill Shorten’s team. No wonder you in fear. You are in fear of Bill Shorten.

ALBANESE: I have good friends who go for both teams. Stephen Conroy is very excited about the Pies and my mate Ollie Peterson and all the team here are very excited.

PYNE: Well you have lost every vote in Perth you have every put together.

PETERSON: Yes that’s right, all that hard work, the 10 visits you have been here this year – undone, Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Sep 24, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – ABC Capricornia – Monday, 24 September 2018

Subjects: Rockhampton Ring Road; Tourism; Newspoll.

HOST: Another week, another visit. Today it is the turn of Labor’s Anthony Albanese, who is coming to Rockhampton later on today to talk about infrastructure for the region especially the Ring Road for the Rocky region in his role as Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and Tourism.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.

HOST: Not long since Bill Shorten was here. Can we expect in influx of Federal Labor figures through these marginal seats of Capricornia and Flynn?

ALBANESE: I think you can certainly expect a steady stream of Labor Members and Shadow Ministers over the coming weeks and months but this is pretty consistent. I have been to Rocky at least once a year for many years now and I look forward today to being there with our candidate, Russell, and it will be a good day talking about the Ring Road. But tomorrow, also, I am hosting a round table along with Russell Robertson and Senator Murray Watt about tourism, particularly about what might happen with Great Keppel, at Yeppoon, so I am looking forward to that as well.

HOST: What announcements do you have today on the Ring Road for Rockhampton given that Bill Shorten just a couple of weeks ago has already pledged funding to construct it?

ALBANESE: Well I will be reinforcing that commitment and calling upon, now that we have yet another change of Liberal Prime Minister, the Government to match our commitment to partner with the Queensland Government to build the 22km Ring Road. I funded, when I was last Infrastructure Minister, the study into the Ring Road that identified the route and identified where it would go from the Yeppen Roundabout there, which was also funded when I was the Infrastructure Minister, along the western side of the airport to another bridge crossing before reconnecting with the Bruce Highway there. The fact is that highways shouldn’t really run through the centre of cities and what we have seen is the Mackay Ring Road is being built; Townsville of course, and what should happen is that Rockhampton should have the same treatment. It will make a big difference to road safety. It will make a big difference to travel times. And it is a project that will of course create many hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs if you include indirect jobs, so during construction, but will also help to boost economic activity for the Capricornia region in the medium term once it has been done.

HOST: So we’ve got the Rookwood Weir coming and that funding has been pledged. Any other infrastructure projects for the region that you are looking at?

ALBANESE: One of the things I will be doing today is to talk with members of the business community, members of the local community with Russell Robertson, our candidate, and identifying other projects. We’ve got important funding streams available, including we have $1 billion in the Northern Australia Tourism Fund we will be talking, with particularly the people on the coast at Yeppoon, about any potential projects there. But today also I will be hosting a dinner tonight to catch up with the locals. I look forward to it. It’s a pretty miserable day in Sydney as I leave.

HOST: Well you are coming up to the best part of the world. There’s no doubt of that and talking of tourism, what do you feel could be done at a Federal level regarding Great Keppel Island?

ALBANESE: Well I have had discussions with Kate Jones who is the wonderful Queensland Tourism Minister. She is very passionate, of course, about Queensland tourism and one of the things I will be doing is sitting down with the sector to see if there is any way in which the Commonwealth can provide assistance there. Great Keppel Island for course, when I was young it was an iconic destination particularly for younger people to come to Queensland. Of course there are investment opportunities there. Tourism is critical for job creation and for the region and that Capricornia Coast region has so much to offer with a great city of Rockhampton at its core as well, so I am very hopeful that we can have some constructive proposals out of that. One of the things I will be doing is informing people of the opportunities that are there with our Northern Australia Tourism Fund, which myself and Jason Clare as the Shadow Minister for Northern Australia have been working very hard on.

HOST: Anthony Albanese is with you this morning and have you been looking at this morning’s Australian’s Newspoll that has Prime Minister Scott Morrison increasing his lead over Bill Shorten as preferred PM? So Scott Morrison now 45 per cent, Shorten just 32 per cent. What does Bill Shorten need to do to gain people’s approval?

ALBANESE: Well I think the important figure that I take from today is that Labor remains 8 per cent ahead of the Coalition. If those figures were reflected on polling day then Labor would win more than 90 of the 150 seats around Australia and certainly seats like Capricornia and others in Queensland would fall on those figures. So there is no doubt that new prime ministers have traditionally got a short-term boost but still an interesting poll there as well is that people are less likely to vote for the Coalition now because of the change of Leader from Malcolm Turnbull to Scott Morrison. I have just sat through two weeks of Parliament in which we asked every day Scott Morrison to explain to the Australian people why it is that he is the Prime Minister and not Malcolm Turnbull and he can’t explain that and I think the Australian people deserve frankly to have a say themselves. So my view is stop the polling,  call the poll and give the Australian people a say in who the Prime Minister is. I think they deserve that in a democracy like ours.

HOST: And what is the Labor Party leadership doing about perhaps about the marginal parties that could very well do very well in seats like Capricornia and Flynn at the next election and I am thinking here most specifically about One Nation?

ALBANESE: What we are doing is putting out an agenda for Government. One of the things that we’ve seen, and I think closer to the poll that people will be cognisant of, is the fact that so many people have been elected for these minor parties. In Queensland’s case, of course, the number two candidate was found to not be eligible and ruled out of sitting in the Senate and then you had them replaced by someone who, on day one, on the way to being sworn in, defected from One Nation and became an Independent and then later on has joined another political party. So I think people need to be very cautious about voting for minor parties because they don’t know who they will end up with and the Senate is full of people who have changed allegiances, some of them on a whim, they have gone from being Jacqui Lambie Party is now a National and the Family First Party is now a Liberal and One Nation have lost so many. They have lost more than half their party and the thing is that Pauline Hanson’s party have had a record of getting people elected and then them collapsing within. And of course that was the experience in the Queensland State Parliament and unfortunately is has been the experience once gain in the Federal Parliament.

HOST: Anthony Albanese good to hear your views this morning on ABC Capricornia. Thanks for your time.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on.

Sep 24, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop, Rockhampton – Wednesday, 24 September 2018

Subjects: Rockhampton Ring Road, Michelle Landry, live exports

RUSSELL ROBERTSON: I’m excited to have Anthony here today to announce this great project, another great project driven by the Labor Party about really bringing services and infrastructure to Capricornia. It shows again that we understand what the regions need and we are going to make sure that we deliver on all of these projects and only a Labor Government in the future can deliver on this projects. I am going to hand over to Anthony to touch on more around the specifics of the project.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. It is great to be here – back here – in Rockhampton with Russell Robertson – Robbo – our candidate for Capricornia and it is also good to be here with Murray, my parliamentary colleague from Canberra and Barry from the State Government. A Federal Labor Government will partner with the Queensland Government to deliver the Rockhampton Ring Road.

We undertook a study that we commissioned in 2009 that reported in December, 2011. What it found was that the long-term solution in terms of flood issues, in terms of congestion here through the CBD of Rockhampton was the Ring Road and that is why we have committed to this vital project. It follows of course the commitment that we have made already to the Rockhampton-to-Yeppoon Road Duplication Stage I.

It follows of course the massive amount of work that we did when we were in Government through the Yeppen Floodplain, the bridge, the other work that we did that the current Government has tried to take credit for even though they haven’t put in any additional dollars for those projects.

Now we have had five years in which the current Government under Scott Morrison, the latest version of the ATM Government – Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison – have taken deposits from the people of Rockhampton and Central Queensland into their ATM Government, but they haven’t taken anything out. They haven’t put back into the community and Federal Labor will do just that. We know from a leak that they have planned to do something, they just haven’t actually announced it or put dollars in the Budget. And when they have announced funding it has either been just replicating funding that Federal Labor already had in the Budget or it has been off in the Never Never.

It took a Federal Labor Government to get serious about the Bruce Highway and it will take a Federal Labor Government once again to take the needs of regional Queensland, and Central Queensland in particular, into account. So I am very proud that we would be able to step up if we’re successful in the election, whenever it’s held over the next six months. We’ll be committed to doing the next step following on from the work that we did when we were last in government that has made such a big difference here in Central Queensland. And I look forward to having Robbo as a member of the Caucus – someone who is committed to his local community, someone who is an outstanding candidate and who would make a big impact in Canberra. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST:  I have a question for Barry though – can you run us through the update on this project at a state level? Obviously it is mainly a State Government thing.

BARRY O’ROURKE: This is a step in the right direction. We’re finally starting to get the project underway. We’ve now seen the Federal Labor Government commit to this project. You know people living in Rockhampton we’re aware of the struggles that we have with all the trucks coming through town and it’s some 60 odd intersections that a traveller travelling through Rockhampton has to go through. So this Ring Road will be essential for our community – hopefully reduce some of the congestion and we’ll end up with that third bridge out of town.

JOURNALIST: Do you know the latest with TMR? What they’re doing at the moment?

O’ROURKE: At the present time, TMR I know have been doing a lot of work around the land acquisition stuff and doing that planning work to be able to get on with that project.

JOURNALIST: So Anthony sorry, Michelle Landry said they’d committed something like $65 million towards the land acquisitions and what not – design – so in a way they’re already sort of getting on with it.

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that they’ve been in government since 2013. They’ve had five Budgets to put money into the Budget for construction of this Ring Road. A great deal of credit goes to Kirsten Livermore, who was a champion of this project when she was the Member for Capricornia.

And the difference between a Labor Member – and Robbo would fit that mantle that Kirsten Livermore had – and Michelle Landry and the Nats is that a Labor Member for this region actually delivers concrete and steel, not just talk. And the Yeppen Floodplain is a great example of that whereby the current local Member pretended that she had something to do with that even though construction was begun here. I was here with Julia Gillard, you’ll have footage and photos of the construction that was taking place there – came along, pretended that she had something to do with it. It was all fully funded and we of course were always going to complete that project. It’s the logical thing to do, and then to move on to the Ring Road.

But nothing’s happened under this Government in terms of advancing this project and indeed this Government have just taken the money that we had in our 2013 Budget for the Bruce Highway and have been complacent and have just sat on that, whether it be this project, the Mackay Ring Road, whether it be the works around Townsville, whether it be the works right up and down this vital highway here in Queensland.

So this is a Government that has been complacent. We know that when John Howard was in Government they put $1.3 billion into the Bruce Highway over 12 long years. And we put four times that into the Bruce in half the time. So we increased funding eight-fold for the Bruce. And we would deliver once again. We’d be committed. The fact is they’ve had a Budget. They had a Budget in May. They had an opportunity in May to put money in that Budget for this project and they haven’t.

JOURNALIST: I’ve just got something that Michelle Landry said today: “the Labor Party has only become aware of the Ring Road, which promises to deliver jobs and a third bridge over Fitzroy since I started advocating for it. They did the same thing on Rookwood Weir and I’m sure they will do the same on the next thing I talk about. It’s this ridiculous piggy-back politics that central Queenslanders are tired of”. What do you have to say about this allegation of piggy-backing on their ideas?

ALBANESE: The idea that people are sitting listening to Michelle Landry shows a lack of self-awareness on behalf of Michelle Landry, with respect. The fact is that it is Federal Labor – I was the Minister- who commissioned the study. It had been talked about, the Ring Road, for a long period of time. The study that identified the route, that identified the third crossing, that identified all the works that had to take place was commissioned by me and received by me.

Just like the Yeppen Floodplain work was promised, funded and built by the former Federal Labor Government, working in cooperation with, I was prepared to work with either the State Labor Government here in Queensland or, indeed, the State Coalition Government as well. I wasn’t interested in playing politics. I was interested in outcomes and the fact is that it is Federal Labor that has advanced this project in partnership with State Labor. That was when the project was commissioned, that was when we did the Yeppen Floodplain in cooperation. And for Michelle Landry to suggest that somehow she was out there in advance of this project ignores the fact that she has been in Government for two terms.

In the two terms, in which I was the Minister, have a look at what we actually got done. Promised, built, opened right up and down Queensland. And we did that by basically tripling the funding for infrastructure that the Commonwealth was giving here in Queensland and, in particular, in regional Queensland.

JOURNALIST: Just a quick question for Russell. Michelle has been calling you out today about not just coal mining but also live exports and wanting to know what you thought about Derryn Hinch foreshadowing that cattle live exports were next. And I was just wondering about what you thought about the whole banning of live exports and where you draw the line or what you feel about that issue?

ROBERTSON: Well the Labor Party’s committed to banning sheep and I think this is where the local Member is getting lost. So we’ve committed to banning sheep. We’re committed to the live export market as long as it’s done humanely, as long as it’s followed per the legislation. And again, around the coal, Michelle keeps concentrating on the coal owners, how about we focus on the people who are struggling? How about we focus on those people who make the coal industry work, which is the workers. We’ve seen the scourge of casualisation continue and not a peep from the local Member. So we need to get away from worrying about coal owners’ pockets and start focussing on the workers who are struggling today.

ALBANESE: Thank you. Thanks everyone.

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