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Sep 7, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – Sky News – Friday, 07 September, 2018

Subjects: Infrastructure investment in Victoria, Liberal Party chaos, bullying, immigration, Peter Dutton.

TOM CONNELL: Anthony Albanese has been good enough to join us from Melbourne. Thanks very much for your time Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having us on Tom.

CONNELL: An announcement today – this extension out to Baxter on the Frankston Line. So you could get out there previously but it is an old diesel train, which surprised me. This is a commitment made twice now by the Government so they seem very committed. Now you would welcome this given Labor has committed to this?

ALBANESE: Well, there’s nothing new in today’s announcement and what is still there is that only $60 million of this $225 million is available in the Forward Estimates, so it is off into the Never-Never this commitment. You have to elect Scott Morrison whenever the election is, then you have to elect Tony Abbott or Michael Sukkar or whoever the Leader of the Liberal Party is if they are successful the next time around before you actually see any real investment in this project. And it comes after the leaking on the weekend of the revelations of $7.8 billion of projects – 10 projects – of which Victoria gets not a single new transport project.

And that is after Victoria has only got around eight to nine per cent of Federal infrastructure funding up to this point since the election of Tony Abbott’s Government some five years ago, even though they are one in four of the population and even though Victoria is Australia’s fastest-growing state and Melbourne is Australia’s fastest-growing city.

CONNELL: You mentioned off into the Never Never. So too obviously is this plan to actually connect up all of Melbourne’s metro train lines Anthony Albanese, but is that a good idea?

ALBANESE: It is certainly a good idea but the Victorian Government are getting on with the Melbourne Metro project. That’s a project that had $3 billion of Federal funding in the Budget before Tony Abbott was elected five years ago. And so it was cut by Tony Abbott. Malcolm Turnbull maintained the cut and Scott Morrison has maintained the cut. So Liberal prime ministers have come and gone – three of them with only one election in between – but the cuts to Victorian infrastructure remain. The fact of failing to deal with urban congestion in our major cities remains. And their objections to funding public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, like Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail Project remains as well.

CONNELL: So what would Labor do though on this linking up of the train lines? Obviously it is in embryonic stages including just how it would happen, but is this something you could see a Labor Government putting billions of dollars towards? That’s the only way it would get up, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well potentially down the track absolutely. I mean it is at the early stage. It has got to have its planning done and we would do infrastructure right as we did when we were in Government. We established Infrastructure Australia to get those processes right. What you do is, you have your planning, you then work out your financing and then you get on with construction. The problem with this Government is it cut funding for projects that were ready to go, like the Melbourne Metro, now under construction here in Victoria, and put it towards toll road projects that either didn’t stack up, like the East West Link that produced 45 cents benefit for every dollar invested, or other projects that simply never went ahead like the Perth Freight Link project, of which there had been no planning whatsoever.

We need to do much better when it comes to infrastructure investment and I would have thought when Scott Morrison travelled out there with the local Member and State MPs today we might have actually got a new announcement from the new Prime Minister. But instead all we got was an old announcement being re-announced.

CONNELL: Leadership contests have just been on in earnest in the Liberal Party. Now you know a bit about these Anthony Albanese. They can be brutal. They can be emotional. I still remember you after one of them talking about how you just wanted to fight Tories. Have we actually seen anything in concrete in evidence here that hasn’t necessarily gone on in a Labor leadership contest?

ALBANESE: Well I think what we have seen here is total chaos. We, I think, and I said at the time and I maintain that position consistently, that we made a mistake in 2010 when we replaced an elected Prime Minister in their first term. What we have seen from this Government is it go through three prime ministers with one election in between and no-one can explain why Malcolm Turnbull was replaced – no-one. There is no explanation. It is very clear that there are no policy reasons and no big policy shift. It’s very clear that Scott Morrison doesn’t seem to have an alternative narrative or agenda other than the rather strange speech that he gave in Albury yesterday and it is clear also that the chaos and dysfunction in the Coalition will go on. They’ll all be in the same building next week.

CONNELL: What are you saying on that speech Anthony Albanese?  What did you find strange about it? Are you talking about the religious references?

ALBANESE: No no, I think it is fine for people to talk about who they are and their faith. It’s up to them whether people talk about that and I respect people of faith. I think the strange thing was to grab the entire Cabinet, take them all to Albury to hear someone just do off the cuff about a couple of their values that he could have done, frankly, here in Melbourne where the Prime Minister Morrison is here today, or could have done it in his electorate, or could have done it in Parliament next week. I am not quite sure that going back  ….

CONNELL: It’s good to get out of the city isn’t it, out to the regions?

ALBANESE: It is good that people get around, but you don’t need to take the entire Cabinet with you. If you look at the images there, apart from Members of Parliament and their staff I don’t know who else was there in Albury. It didn’t look like very many people at all to me. It looked like a hastily convened media opportunity.

CONNELL: Can I just ask you about the leadership contest finally on this though, on the nature of this? Do you consider as a specific example a threat of a pre-selection during a leadership contest – is that bullying, or is that politics?

ALBANESE: That’s bullying, that’s what that is.  To try to provide either an incentive …

CONNELL: So if that was made in a Labor contest as well, that would be bullying?

ALBANESE: Absolutely it would be. People who are elected Members of Parliament should make their own decisions without having either incentives to vote a particular way or a threat if they don’t vote a particular way. And what we’ve had here, which Mr Morrison seems to have excused and dismissed today, doing this ‘nothing to see here’, is you now have a range of very senior women in the Liberal Party, including Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for the Status of Women, including Julie Bishop, the former Deputy Leader and Foreign Minister, including of course Julia Banks, including Sarah Henderson, the Member for Corangamite – a whole range of women in the Liberal Party saying that there were standover tactics and bullying went on in that ballot. Now the Liberal Party needs to address this. They can’t just dismiss it because I think that everyone out there, regardless of their gender, but particularly women will look at this, they’ll look at the Liberal Party and say why is it that the Liberal Party has gone backwards in recent years, since Tony Abbott became the Leader, they’ve gone backwards in terms of women’s representation in the Parliament. Labor is now at 48 per cent women’s representation. We want a Parliament that reflects the community. That will strengthen our democratic processes if that happens.

CONNELL: It keeps getting put to the Liberal Party about quotas. They seem reluctant at the moment. But you mention there that bullying could be threats or incentives, surely every leadership …

ALBANESE: Except that some of their members have come out and supported it.

CONNELL: OK, some have. It’s not happening at the moment. I just want to touch on this element about either threats or incentives. Surely there are incentives in these leadership contests. For example when Kevin Rudd came back as Leader, you were Deputy. Isn’t that an incentive?

ALBANESE: No, I was elected in a ballot in the Caucus. I defeated Simon Crean in that ballot. I don’t think either of us had a chance to lobby at all in that process. And I myself have stood for …

CONNELL: So no one’s ever gotten a ministerial upgrade though from changing sides?

ALBANESE: Well I haven’t been involved in that at all and when I stood for Leader in 2013, I certainly refused to offer any incentive in terms of front bench positions or anything else, any favours. I stood on my own merits. That’s as it should be.

CONNELL: OK. I want to ask about Peter Dutton. I know we’ve gone through so much of the entrails through this enquiry and so far there certainly doesn’t appear to be any sort of smoking gun. Let me put this to you, if you had a friend call you up about an urgent visa matter and it was a Sunday and you were asked to forward something simply to the office – let’s say Labor’s in power at this stage – so forward something on to the Immigration Minister’s office. Would you do that?

ALBANESE: Well it hasn’t happened. That’s a fact. And I’ve been a Minister and I’ve never behaved in that way. And when it comes to Peter Dutton there are a number of issues that will be raised next week. One is his eligibility to sit in the Parliament. Forget about what he does as a Minister. All of the decisions which he makes are drawn into question because there’s a big question mark over whether he can sit in the Parliament and the legal advice from the Solicitor General was quite clear – that only the High Court can make a definitive decision about that. Then, when it comes to Mr Dutton, I’ll tell you what, what we’re talking about here aren’t the circumstances whereby someone’s life is in imminent danger; they are about to be sent back to a country where they would be endangered; there’s a health crisis. What we’re talking about here is au pairs – nannies. There are people in this country who can be au pairs or nannies to young children and who could perform that task.

And what’s more you have a departmental decision here saying that the person, or one of the people, weren’t entitled to work as an au pair. That they had previously been in breach of the visas which had been issued, which is why it was triggered when they attempted to come into Australia on that occasion. And you had an intervention to turn that over.

CONNELL: I understand what you’re saying there, it’s not a life and death situation. I think everyone would agree with that. But it could still be someone coming out here that paid a lot of money, they’re going on holiday. If a constituent came to you in that situation and they couldn’t get through for some reason, to the office on a Sunday …

ALBANESE: Let me be very clear. If someone was going to breach their visa – the Department had said they were coming out here on a visa that didn’t allow them to work, and they were going to work which is why they had been pulled up, absolutely not. Absolutely not and I find it extraordinary that anyone would.

CONNELL: Well the claim is that they weren’t going to work. There was a mix up. You’re saying, is tourist visas the sort of area you just wouldn’t interrupt in. You’re saying you would put forward the concerns of a constituent in a more serious matter, not a tourist visa?

ALBANESE: No. I’m not saying that at all. You can do your hypotheticals all you like. I’m saying I’ve never done that. I’ve certainly made representations to ministers at various times over circumstances. There was one for example where a woman had been in Australia who, according to the Department, had been advised that they had to leave when they were a young girl. They had actually lived in Australia for about 25 years or thereabouts. I can’t remember the exact period, but a long time. In the time in which they had been there after – allegedly they’d been asked to leave – they had done a medical biology Master’s Degree from university. They were precisely the sort of person who we want to come into Australia someone – a woman with those skills in science. They’d lived here for decades and the Department had no evidence that they were ever – when they were a child, asked to leave.

So I did contact the Minister over that case, I wrote to the Minister, there was intervention there. That’s an appropriate circumstance. Because what would have happened was the woman would have won a legal case. It was very clear the courts would have determined that, but it would have cost both the Australian Government and this woman substantial amounts of money and she was someone who’d been a good citizen and thought she was here legitimately for a very long period of time. She had family here. So those are the sort of circumstances where you intervene. So, I’ll give you a specific one rather than you getting to make up hypotheticals. But this isn’t a hypothetical case that we’re dealing with here in either of these au pair cases.

CONNELL: No, it’s not. And I’m just going to jump in there sorry, Anthony Albanese, because we are right out of time. Go on, I’ll give you 10 more seconds.

ALBANESE: Well I think what will jar with Australians, is Peter Dutton saying that he intervened because of justice and compassion. They are words that you don’t associate with Peter Dutton and the Australian people know that.

 

 

Sep 7, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – The Today Show – Friday, 07 September, 2018

Subjects: Lack of public respect for politics and politicians; bullying, female representation in Parliament; football finals.

GEORGIE GARDNER: Five prime ministers in five years, allegations of bullying and intimidation, and policy gridlock. Australians are sick of it. The Government is meant to serve its people but these days it seems like it is only serving itself. We put it to you, asking on Facebook: do you trust our politicians? More than 13,000 of you voted. Ninety-four per cent said no and just six per cent said yes. Joining me now is Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne from Melbourne. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having us.

GARDNER: Christopher firstly, your response to that poll?

PYNE: Well look Georgie, a lot of people like the politician that they know, like their local member, often, but they don’t like us as a group. And I think that is the case for quite a lot of different professions in Australia – union leaders, even sometimes journalists – we all tend to get down below on the ladder unfortunately in terms of most trusted profession whereas dentists, chemists, doctors are always closer to the top. I think this, unfortunately, comes a bit with the territory, but there is no doubt that the last 10 years has been tumultuous in Australian politics and I think it has been a tremendous shame and done us all a great disservice. And it is time that, as you say, the politicians, that the Government and the Opposition, for that matter, stopped this constant civil war, if you like, in politics and put the people’s interests first and that is exactly what the Morrison Government intends to get on with doing.

GARDNER: Anthony, there is clearly an absolute vacuum of trust and respect for politicians.

ALBANESE: There is.

GARDNER: What are you doing about it?

ALBANESE: There is. Well it is one of the things I was talking about in my Whitlam Oration a couple of months ago, was the fact that there is a disconnect between what Australians want from their politicians and what they are getting. The fact that we have had now four elected prime ministers …

GARDNER: So what are you doing about it?

ALBANESE: … turfed out in their first terms. Well we just have to be better. First we have to acknowledge that there is a problem and the Liberal Party at the moment is copping it in particular, but there is a general problem as well with the way that Australians see their politics. The fact is that Christopher and my segment here on the Today Show has outlasted now four prime ministers. That says a lot.

PYNE: We are leading by example.

ALBANESE: Christopher and I have been consistent, but it is no wonder that there is disillusionment when you talk about – today in fact, it is five years since we lost office. If you had said five years ago we would have three prime ministers with only one election in between, but three prime ministers, it’s no wonder people are disillusioned.

GARDNER: Christopher, Julie Bishop has come out swinging this week as you know, calling out the appalling behaviour in Parliament – her words – which she says would not be tolerated in any other workplace across Australia. Liberal MP Julia Banks was bullied and intimidated so badly she quit. What does that say about the Liberal Party?

PYNE: Well, I don’t think it says particularly about the Liberal Party. I don’t think Julie Bishop was talking about the Liberal Party. She was talking about politics in general and there is no doubt that politics is a robust business and it is probably time that it started to get more modern, more up with the times. People expect a different workplace. The antagonism that exists between Opposition and Government has been a feature of our politics for a very long time, for 118 years, and you can go back to the early speeches of the Commonwealth and you will find exactly the same comments being made. But the last couple of weeks and the last five years as Anthony points out, the last 10 years as I said before, has taken things to a new level and I think we need to recognise that this constant excitement and chaos …

GARDNER: But the problem is you are not recognising it. You are not recognising it and Julia Banks – her allegations were dismissed as scuttlebutt, innuendo and rumour.

PYNE: Not by me.

GARDNER: But by Michael Kroger. She was told to toughen up. Can you imagine how offensive that is for a woman who is so appalled by her treatment that she is quitting? That is unacceptable.

PYNE: It is unacceptable and I agree with you entirely and whoever said that people needed to roll with the punches, it was a particularly bad choice of words because what we all need to do is be a lot more caring of each other. Now as Anthony pointed out, we have managed to be on this show for five years without having any kind of major falling out. It can be done and people need to grow up.

GARDNER: More than grow up I would suggest. I would suggest start respecting women. I mean can you imagine, what woman would want to enter politics these days?

ALBANESE: Well of course and that is what Julie Bishop has pointed out. I might point out that Julia Gillard’s treatment as Prime Minister was disgraceful.

GARDNER: Of course it was. But it was your party …

ALBANESE: We’ll that’s not right. The fact is that …

GARDNER: Well, you rolled her.

ALBANESE: The fact is that our party, our party, has 48 per cent of women. One of the ways in which politics can get more respect is to be more representative of the community. It is a good thing that we have 48 per cent. We will hit 50 after the next election I am confident.

PYNE: I think it’s fair to say though Anthony …

ALBANESE: It is also good that now we have indigenous Australians in the Parliament on both sides.

PYNE: Definitely.

ALBANESE: It’s a very good thing that that has occurred. We need to represent the people.

GARDNER: Of course. We do hold up 50 per cent of the sky.

PYNE: After 11 and half years of one Prime Minister with John Howard, it was your party that started the rot by rolling Kevin Rudd in the first term.

ALBANESE: Yes and that was a mistake.

PYNE: That was a mistake and unfortunately it set the pattern for the next ten years and I think we all need to say to the Australian public we respect your choice when you vote at an election. I mean it can be changed so easily.

ALBANESE: I think the other thing that is happening is that in 2010 one of the big problems was people woke up the next morning and thought, “Hang on, we voted for Kevin Rudd, how is Julia Gillard the Prime Minister?’’ What has happened now is that people think they voted for Malcolm Turnbull and there is no explanation of why he has been knocked off, none at all that passes muster frankly. And until the Government can work out some sort of narrative other than “we don’t like him’’ then they will continue to be in trouble and it doesn’t matter how many speeches Scott Morrison gives in Albury or wherever, the Australian people I think will mark the Government down.

GARDNER: Just on that speech from our new Prime Minister, who we didn’t vote for, yesterday, Christopher, it talked about a new generation of Liberal leadership but it didn’t outline any new course of action, instead harking back to the golden era of the Menzies Government. I mean that is gone, that’s done. We want to hear of a progressive government, forward-thinking, giving our kids hope.

PYNE: Well Georgie it wasn’t a speech designed to announce new policy proposals or new directions, it was a speech about where the Liberal Party comes from in terms of its values, what it believes in, and that is why it harkened back to the founding the party in 1944, because those values around support for the individual, families, communities, multiculturalism, small business, they remain the same. So it wasn’t a speech designed to say here is a bold new policy; it was a speech about the kind of person that Scott Morrison is and it needs to be seen in that context. And I think from that context it was very good rendition of the kind of person we now have as Prime Minister, who I think will resonate very well with the Australian people in a way that Bill Shorten simply doesn’t because people don’t trust Bill Shorten.

GARDNER: All right. Well I hope you are right. I want to end on something light and happy because it has been a terrible week. Who is your football team that you are supporting this weekend Anthony?

ALBANESE: (Points to cardinal and myrtle neck tie) My beloved Rabbitohs, playing Melbourne tonight.

GARDNER: Of course, wearing your colours on you.

ALBANESE: Go the Rabbitohs.

GARDNER: And Christopher?

PYNE: Well of course I am a Crows ambassador Georgie, so thank-you for raising the finals. But my second team is the Demons. I am a Melbourne supporter because that is my Redlegs colours, red and blue, so I will be supporting the Demons in the finals.

GARDNER: Well we wish you luck. I think you both need it.

ALBANESE: It would be nice if the Dees do well. It’s been a very long time.

PYNE: It has been. It’s time to give them a go.

GARDNER: Thank you both, We will see you next week. OK. Over to you Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I just never want to see Christopher Pyne’s red legs.

PYNE: You’ve seen them before Karl. Stop it.

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: You devil.

ALBANESE: That’s too much information.

PYNE: You saucy minx.

STEFANOVIC: Like a flamingo across the Serengeti.

GARDNER: Saucy minx!

JEFFREYS: It’s nice how football brings everyone together in our country. Very good. Thank you Georgie.

 

Sep 5, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 6PR Oliver Peterson – Wednesday, 05 September, 2018

Subjects: WA tourism, retirement age, dividend imputation, renewable energy, Peter Dutton, Rabbitohs.

OLIVER PETERSON: Why is Anthony Albanese in Perth? Let’s find out. Anthony Albanese, good afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be here once again, back in Perth.

PETERSON: Exactly.

ALBANESE: Eighth visit this year.

PETERSON: Eighth visit this year and you’re talking tourism today. So how would a Shorten Government boost the numbers of visitors to WA?

ALBANESE: Well the first thing that we need to do is to partner with the WA Government and with the airport. They’ve got a plan about getting increased international visitors and flights here. We should look at in the medium-term making sure that there are direct flights to India, to Japan as well as China, Singapore – the flights that are there at the moment. We of course have the direct flight to London from Qantas and we have access to Europe through not just that flight but through the Middle Eastern carriers. We have, I think, a great product here in Australia, but Western Australia has some particular advantages. The time zone is the same as Singapore and much of Asia, it’s a lot shorter in terms of travel times. So I think there’s a real opportunity for growth in international tourism but domestic tourism is important as well – that we grow the product, that people who come to the West enjoy it. The natural environment here is so extraordinary and diverse, whether it’s Margaret River, Broome, Ningaloo, all of this product, and a great global city here in Perth at its centre.

PETERSON: Okay, so that will be front of the agenda there of the Labor government, should you form the Labor government and I know I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself. But let’s talk about today’s issues as well, because the Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants the pension to stick to 67. Is Labor going to make the same commitment?

ALBANESE: Well it’s our policy. We didn’t support it being increased. What’s extraordinary here is that the Libs have gone out there and tried to increase it to 70. We said we would oppose it in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. A lot of the crossbenchers have done that too and the Government after campaigning since Tony Abbott’s 2014 Budget – this was a part of their mean-spirited measures in 2014, that they’ve all backed in since – it’s good that they’ve walked away from it today, accepting reality. But I think it’s another example of Labor leading from Opposition on policy.

PETERSON: All right. Do you think the Government can afford this though? Because they’re also still talking about personal income tax cuts, so where does all the money come from?

ALBANESE: Well that’s one of the problems with this Government is that they’ve of course blown – the debt has doubled on their watch at a time when we’ve had relatively good economic circumstances both domestically and globally importantly. We’ve had commodity prices increasing, so increased revenue to the Government, and they haven’t taken advantage of it. But I think for those people who are listening who are blue-collar workers, who are manual workers, the idea that they can just continue to work forever – it might be okay for someone like myself, a politician – mind you I don’t intend being a politician when I’m 70 – to continue to work. But I think it was always just not fair dinkum to try to force people into working until they dropped.

PETERSON: Okay, if Labor wins the next election though, we’ve still got to talk about the franking credits and the dividend imputation policy because although self-funded retirees are going to be caught up in this – you’ve quarantined pensioners for the moment. So it’s a tough policy you have to sell with older Australians because ultimately if you are a self-funded retiree you’re going to be penalised.

ALBANESE: It is a tough policy, we acknowledge that. We acknowledge though that difficult decisions have to be made. And when dividend imputation was introduced by Paul Keating as the Treasurer, it was never ever intended that people who weren’t paying tax could actually get a payment from the Government – could actually therefore reduce, if you like, government revenue through that payment and it’s become increasingly unsustainable. It’s about $5 billion this year but that will grow to some $8 billion, which is why we simply can’t afford it. We realise that it’s a difficult policy and yes, some people will be and are opposed to the policy, but governments have to put forward a path back to surplus. That’s what we’re prepared to do and I think we deserve, even if people disagree with the policy, I think that we deserve some credit for being prepared to take difficult decisions in Opposition.

PETERSON: But are you giving people enough notice here who may be wavering and they can go and see their accountant now, because we have been trying to encourage Australians to fund their own retirement. Will they turn around now, Anthony Albanese, and say: ‘If I get back under that threshold, I’ll take the pension, I might be able to put some of that money into my house and all of a sudden the Government’s still having to fork out to pay John Citizen his pension.

ALBANESE: Well we are giving them a lot of notice, this was a change that was introduced by the Howard Government in the dividend imputation system. It was introduced at a time whereby the Howard Government thought the rivers of gold, a lot of them coming in literally from Western Australia through the resources boom, that you could just make these decisions …

PETERSON: There’d be no consequences.

ALBANESE: … and it would all be okay. And the truth is the nation has to determine priorities. We’re determined to fund education, we’re determined to fund our public hospitals, we’re determined to fund infrastructure. You can’t do all of those things if you don’t have the money to pay for it.

PETERSON: Okay, the narrative the Government is running at the moment is all of a sudden good news on the aged pension if you like, good news on your personal income, and Labor’s running a campaign or a policy here that says, if you’re a self-funded retiree we’re going to be taking money off you. You can understand, it’s going to be an interesting policy battle you’ve got on your hands with the Government.

ALBANESE: Well we’re prepared to engage in that policy debate. But I think people when they have a look at what the Coalition have been prepared to do – this is a Coalition that have abandoned policies but they still believe in them. They still believe in increasing the age pension age in which it can be got. They still believe in taking away the energy supplement from pensioners – another change that they tried to get through, they’ve accepted they can’t get it through so they’ve backflipped on it. They still support reducing company tax for the big banks and for the other major multinational corporations. Again a policy that Australia simply can’t afford. So we’re quite prepared to be involved in the policy debate. Labor will have a responsible economic policy, but one that’s also about delivering for people, delivering on living standards, delivering on better education for people’s kids and grandkids, delivering on healthcare with Medicare as the centrepiece of our health system.

PETERSON: All right, .talking of energy, are you committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change and reducing emissions?

ALBANESE: We certainly are, as does the Government say that it is as well. We think that you can have of course a reduction in energy prices as well as dealing with emissions. And indeed there’s a link between the two things.

PETERSON: All right, is the 50 per cent target still on Labor’s radar?

ALBANESE: Yes it is absolutely.

PETERSON: So, today The Australian newspaper report there, pours cold water on your plans and bills – they say, could skyrocket by 84 per cent. So who’s going to want that?

ALBANESE: Well no one and that’s why it’s not going to happen under Labor. This is a pathetic report frankly put on the front page of The Australian …

PETERSON: So we can still have …

ALBANESE: They may as well have got it out of a Wheaties packet this morning.

PETERSON: Right, so we can still have a renewable energy policy and a 50 per cent renewable energy target and reduce electricity prices?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. And have a look at – don’t look at what The Australian and various sort of outlets with an agenda to run say – have a look at what Kerry Schott and the Energy Security Board, that was established by the Turnbull Government to advise the Government on a way forward, say. And what they said is that of the $550 decrease that they say would happen when they were still promoting the NEG as the centrepiece of their energy policy, $400 was due to the renewable energy target that was put in place by Labor. The fact is that demand and supply works, that’s one of the fundamentals of economics. If you increase supply by having more renewables in the system, you decrease the price.  And one of the things that’s occurred of course is that Australians, many of your listeners I’m sure, have voted literally with their own roofs by putting solar panels on the top of them.

PETERSON: Lots of solar panels here in WA – heaps.

ALBANESE: And how crazy is it that here in Australia we have our worst winter is better than Germany’s summer and yet we have been lagging behind before Labor put in place that renewable energy target. When we announced the policy I was the environment spokesperson and the target was two per cent and we said: ‘We’ll get to 20 per cent by 2020’. And we were told at the time ‘Oh no that’ll lead to disaster!’ Of course, what we know is that it’ll end up being about 24 per cent by 2020. We’ll reach that target easily because renewables throughout the world are becoming cheaper as there’s more volume and as they become more efficient as well with battery storage. We know now that renewables can provide that secure power as well.

PETERSON: All right what did you make of the Prime Minister’s character reference of your leader Bill Shorten as union-bred, union-fed and union-led.

ALBANESE: Just another line from a focus group. I don’t know why the Government hasn’t realised that their personal attacks on Bill Shorten haven’t worked very well. So we’ve now had – we’re now on to the third Prime Minister over these two terms. The third Prime Minister since 2015 and yet they’ve all been characterised with a debate essentially of yelling and abuse and insults. What Australians want are policies. They want a Government with a clear direction. What they’ve got at the moment is an absolute rabble.

PETERSON: So all you need to do really is turn up to the next election and the keys to the Lodge fall into the hands of Bill Shorten.

ALBANESE: No we’re not taking it for granted. We’re out there campaigning, we’re out there talking to people, we’re out there putting forward coherent policies. At the tourism conference today, the WA Tourism conference – I sometimes feel a bit lonely as the Shadow Minister because Tourism Ministers are nowhere to be seen over the years by this Government. Once again here I was, a major conference here in Perth, some 450 people from the tourism sector throughout regional WA, no one from the Government even bothered to show up.

PETERSON: Let me ask, Parliament resumes next week, by next Friday will Peter Dutton still be the Home Affairs Minister?

ALBANESE: Well he mightn’t be in Parliament because there is a real cloud over Peter Dutton’s eligibility to sit in the Parliament. Their legal advice …

PETERSON: So you’re going to go hard on that?

ALBANESE: We’ll be raising it appropriately because what the legal advice said was that only the High Court can determine definitively whether Peter Dutton is entitled to sit in the Parliament. Other people have gone through the High Court processes, Peter Dutton should as well. Because the problem with a Cabinet Minister having that cloud over their eligibility is that the decisions which they make can be drawn into question as well. And when you’ve got someone in charge of national security it’s important that it be beyond any doubt that they have a capacity to make decisions.

PETERSON: Have you got the numbers, with the crossbenchers and Andrew Wilkie, to move a no-confidence motion?

ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see but Peter Dutton should be referred to the High Court and that should be what removes him as a Minister. Wait and see if it’s determined or not. Mind you there might be – forget about the crossbenchers, there’s a few people I don’t know if you’ve noticed Ollie, a few people, including some here in WA who are pretty angry with Peter Dutton themselves and I think they’d be quite glad to see the back of Peter Dutton.

PETERSON: All right, well watch this space. Most important question I ask you for the afternoon, who wins the 2018 NRL Premiership?

ALBANESE: Well quite clearly it’s – that is far more certain than any election. I’m very confident that South Sydney will secure their 22nd Premiership. Mind you I have been confident every year since I was born that South Sydney would win the Premiership. So we’ll wait and see.

PETERSON: Well and for those who can’t see this afternoon, you’re wearing the South Sydney scarf, so good luck to the Rabbitohs. I hope that the Dragons can somehow beat the Broncos this weekend and we meet you somewhere in the finals.

ALBANESE: And Ollie what they can’t see now, but they will be able to see online is that you’re wearing a South Sydney footy jumper bought for you by your dad.

PETERSON: Yeah back in the 80’s, absolutely it’s got Peterson 1 the back, the Smith’s Crisps logo, the NSW Rugby League logo. And there you go, I am wearing it for one day only, Albo.

ALBANESE: For one day. Proudly wearing the cardinal and myrtle.

PETERSON: Anthony Albanese, great to see you in the Perth Live studio. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be here. Thanks for having me on Ollie.

[ENDS]

WEDNESDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER, 2018

 

Sep 5, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – FIVEaa Adelaide, Two Tribes Segment – Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Subjects: Retirement age, bullying in the Liberal Party, CFMMEU.

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Perth.

HOST: Perth? Geez Albo, you are up at sparrow’s. Your dogged commitment to this segment, we commend you for that.

ALBANESE: I’d talk to you at two in the morning.

HOST: You have a couple of times. You weren’t making a lot of sense.

ALBANESE: As I recall David, nor were you at that time.

HOST: That was years ago.

ALBANESE: But probably best not to go into those stories on air.

HOST: No that’s right, when you were my local member in Sydney’s inner west. Hey before we get down to brass tacks I just want to start with a question without notice for both of you. I see this morning our new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the retirement age is going to stay at 67. It’s not going to be increased to 70. For those of us, I think all of us on the show, you and me – Will might be Gen Y – but we are all Gen Xers. This is good news for us isn’t it?

PYNE: It’s very good news, particularly for Anthony Albanese of course who is much older than us and getting closer to pension age. He will be absolutely delighted. It is good news and I am glad that we have announced that. I think a lot of older Australians will be pleased about that and it means they will be able to get access to a pension a lot earlier than they would have otherwise under the previous policy. It was a policy of course that was initiated originally in the Rudd Government and we …

ALBANESE: That’s not true.

PYNE: It’s good news that we are …

ALBANESE: For goodness sake!

PYNE: … leaving the retirement age at 67. I think a lot of people will be breathing easier today because of it.

HOST: Albo?

ALBANESE: What we have here is Labor leading from Opposition again. We have opposed this increase in the pension age.  We have campaigned against it. We have refused to vote for it in the Parliament. The Government hasn’t been able to get in it through the Parliament therefore they have reluctantly acknowledged that. Look, if you are 67 and, frankly, in the professions that all of us are in, you can continue. But if you are a blue-collar worker; if you are someone who is in a much more physically demanding job, the idea that you can just continue to work was never on. That is why Labor opposed it and it is good that the Government has adopted our position.

PYNE: Well you’ve got to admire his chutzpah anyway.

HOST: Christopher Pyne, following the leadership ugliness of the last fortnight, you have had the resignation of Julia Banks, you’ve got South Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi threatening to name names in the Parliament of alleged bullies within your party. Does you party have an issue with bullying?

PYNE: No of course it doesn’t and I think the Australian public want everyone to stop talking about the incidents of two weeks ago.

HOST: It’s your guys talking about it, and girls.

PYNE: Well, you know I think the Australian public wants us to get on with talking about the things that are of interest to them around the economy, around wages, jobs. That’s exactly what we are doing. That’s what the new Prime Minster is getting on with. There has been no complaint to the Chief Whip or to the Prime Minister about bullying by any of my colleagues. But if such a complaint was received of course we would take it very, very seriously.

HOST: Julia Banks has resigned.

PYNE: Well she hadn’t resigned. She has said she is not going to contest the next election, whenever that might be. She hasn’t resigned because of this issue. Of course we are handling these issues internally. If anyone feels that they have been intimidated or stood over then of course that is unacceptable behaviour. And we will make sure that the people who are part of this are properly looked after and counselled. But no-one has made a complaint and I think it is time that we put this issue behind us and got on with focusing on the issues that the Australian public care about, which is the day-to-day, bread-and-butter issues that they are concerned about themselves.

HOST: Have you spoken to Senator Gichuhi about the suggestion that she will name names under privilege?

PYNE:  No, I haven’t.

HOST: Albo, speaking of bullies, why does Labor have anything to do with John Setka and, given his leadership position at the CFMEU, why does Labor still have a relationship with the CFMEU?

ALBANESE: Well I have never met the bloke. So he is not a member of the NSW branch of the CFMEU. He holds no national position in the union so it is not surprising that I haven’t met him. The tweet was entirely inappropriate. It has been withdrawn. It should be condemned. I condemn it. And we should move on. I mean the CFMEU represents people in the construction sector, or that division does, and in the construction sector it’s important that there is a union there because it is already a very dangerous industry. Obviously, without union representation we would have more occupational health and safety incidents.

HOST: But does it worry you, the calibre of person that seems to be moving into office bearer roles at the union. I mean, we have seen those borderline skinheads who were running the joint in Western Australia for a while walking around with their Eureka flag singlets and big Doc Marten boots and red braces and all of that and now this yahoo down in Melbourne. It’s not a good look for you guys is it?

ALBANESE: Well of course these people are selected by people within the union. I don’t get a say in that.

HOST: That speaks to an even bigger cultural problem then doesn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well no, because they hold no position in the Labor Party. John Setka holds no positon in the Labor Party that I know of whatsoever.

HOST: But there is a big financial relationship between the CFMEU and the Labor Party though.

ALBANESE: Well the CFMEU is one of the unions that is affiliated to the Labor Party. That’s true. But overwhelmingly the people who work in the construction, forestry, mining sector are people who go to work every day, do their bit for the country, do their bit for the people that they work for and are good, decent people who are contributing to the national economy and working very hard to put food on the table for their families.

PYNE:  Two point four million dollars. That’s the donations that the CFMEU has made to Labor since Bill Shorten was the Leader of the Opposition.

ALBANESE: Well I am surprised Christopher that you could just actually say on air that no-one has made a complaint about bullying in the Liberal Party.

PYNE: We’re not talking about that. We are talking about John Setka.

ALBANESE: Well exactly because you are trying to distract from the fact that you have an enormous cultural problem in the Liberal Party. You won’t even acknowledge that it is there.

PYNE: Your boss is union-bred, union-fed and union-led.

HOST: There’s a line we will be hearing a lot between now and election day.

ALBANESE: That is Scott Morrison’s line.

HOST: This is the political equivalent of the old football argument there are bad eggs in every supporter base I think. Thank you Albo. Thank you Chris. Good stuff.

[ENDS]

Sep 3, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – 2CC Canberra Live with Richard Perno – Monday, 03 September, 2018

Subjects: Morrison Government’s leaked infrastructure plan; Peter Dutton; ACT election; Leadership spill; Federal election; Wentworth by-election; Australia-India Business Council.

RICHARD PERNO: Anthony Albanese I’ll bet you’re glad you’re not a Liberal.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I sure am. They’re having a very rough time at the moment but it’s deserved.

PERNO: You reckon it’s a good kick in the pants, a wakeup call, water in the face, run over, whatever?

ALBANESE: Well they certainly are a mess at the moment. We had in my portfolio this morning quite an extraordinary leak on their infrastructure plans – ten different projects worth $7.6 billion. Decisions that were made in the Budget in May but not yet announced and just put all out there. A very significant budget leak from documents that would have gone through the Cabinet and the Expenditure Review Committee and it just shows what a state of chaos the Government is in.

PERNO: Hey, hang on, they’re giving us money. What’s chaotic about that?

ALBANESE: What’s chaotic is announcements not being made by the Government but being made by a leak to a journalist in Canberra.

PERNO: But you know Anthony Albanese, you’ve been around a while, there’s no such thing as a leak.

ALBANESE: There absolutely is a flood going on at the moment. So you’re right that it’s not so much a leak, more a torrent of information. Quite clearly what’s …

PERNO: A tsunami, Anthony.

ALBANESE: That’s right. Well clearly what’s happened here is that people who were part of the old regime in the Abbott-Turnbull Government. Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government now, have decided: ‘Well we’re not going to allow Scott Morrison to get credit for these projects, so we’ll just chuck it out and let everyone know that these decisions were made in the lead up to the Budget in May’.

PERNO: Okay, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has threatened to turn the tables on you if you keep pursuing him over the au pair scandal. You haven’t got – have you got an au pair? I didn’t know that, Anthony.

ALBANESE: I wish him the best of luck because he’s going to need it. This is a fellow who it’s unclear whether he’s entitled to be in the Parliament. I mean, that issue hasn’t been resolved yet. That can only be resolved by a reference to the High Court. And then you’ve got multiple interventions, not through the normal process of representations by Members of Parliament, but by people who apparently had the Minister on speed dial and all of a sudden we hear words that haven’t passed Peter Dutton’s lips too often of compassion and justice and people have a look at what he’s said in the past about other cases where he’s been completely resolute in not showing any compassion and compare the circumstances. And that’s why people are scratching their heads.

PERNO: Okay, you haven’t got an au pair in the cupboard somewhere have you Anthony?

ALBANESE: I certainly have not, let alone one from the south of France.

PERNO: Yeah it’s an interesting case isn’t it? I got something to tell you from Canberra too, the Member for Grayndler, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Regional – do you really like all those titles? – Shadow Minister for Tourism,  Anthony Albanese. Two years until the ACT’s next election, minor parties are already making battle plans to overcome the tough odds they face to win a seat in the Legislative Assembly in Canberra. Members from the – I don’t know whether you know these – Australian Progressives, Reason Party – they were the funny other party weren’t they? The Reason Party ACT – the Sex Party, Sustainable Australia, Liberal Democrats ACT, will host a question and answer at King O’Malley’s Pub this Thursday. You’re welcome and they’ve invited you Anthony Albanese and it starts at six. What question would you ask them?

ALBANESE: Why?

PERNO: Simple.

ALBANESE: Why.

PERNO: Well they don’t like any of the major parties …

ALBANESE: Just why.

PERNO: They don’t like you. They don’t like any of the others. They just want to get together.

ALBANESE: The problem is of course, is that when people get elected from these minor parties what the Senate has shown us – it keeps reminding us unfortunately. Is that they change which party they’re in. You have One Nation people who become Katter people and Family First people become Liberals and independents and Jacqui Lambie Party people become National Party in Tasmania, that didn’t even exist prior to that. So I think I’m a bit old fashioned which is that if you want to get things done, vote for a party of government.

PERNO: Yeah.

ALBANESE: I hope that’s Labor but if it’s not the alternative. I’m not sure what they call themselves in Canberra, the conservative parties, I guess it’s just the Liberal Party rather than the Liberal-National Party but I do think that there is a lot to be said for having parties of government hold office.

PERNO: I guess in a way though, really Anthony Albanese, what you’re saying is the chaotic measure of politicians and one party after the other party after the other party all the time …

MUSICAL INTERLUDE

PERNO: I mean it is chaotic at the moment, right across the political spectrum. Is it any wonder that we go, ‘up you we don’t want anything’?

ALBANESE: Look I’m not surprised that there is a great deal of disillusionment out there. I think that people are entitled to think that when they vote for a Prime Minister the Prime Minister will be allowed to serve. I was flabbergasted by the actions of the Liberal Party in knifing Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm Turnbull was in a reasonable position, he was a bit behind us, but he was ahead in terms of preferred Prime Minister and had been from the time he took over the leadership.

And he, to be cut down not by someone who was more popular, but someone who was less popular, the idea that whoever thought that Peter Dutton would be a good choice as Prime Minister was quite bizarre. As it is they’ve got Scott Morrison and immediately our primary vote has lifted by six points. And of course the popular choice apart from Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party was Julie Bishop, so of course they put her last.

PERNO: Well she got knocked out in the first round as you know Albo. The problem is that you have now got, if you like, prime box haven’t you in the race? You’re solid; you’ve been solid for a while now. Bill Shorten will no doubt take you to the next election and should you be victorious in the next election, Anthony Albanese, will you keep him there or do you think there might be a bit of a spill in your party?

ALBANESE: No, we will be as united as we have been for the entire couple of terms. The fact is that people in the Labor Party are looking forward to having the opportunity, if we are successful, to serve as Ministers. People have been in the same portfolios for some time. One of the interesting things about today’s leak, which is about infrastructure projects that were funded but not announced in the Budget, is that so many of them are projects that we had already announced our support for from Opposition. So I think there’s a range of areas in which Labor has been leading from Opposition. We’ve been doing the hard policy work and we’ve been acting like a team.

PERNO: Yes, okay. The accusations, the criticism with your party though Anthony is the perception that if you get in you’ll spend like drunken sailors. That’s what we always hear, you blow the budget.

ALBANESE: Well if you actually have a look at what Labor Governments have done, if you look at the proportion of spending compared with GDP what you’ll find is that Labor has been more economically responsible than the Coalition, even though we had to deal with the Global Financial Crisis. And of course what we’ve seen is the debt more than double under this Government’s watch and that was with no excuse, with no need to deal with the potential of a global recession. They haven’t had the natural disaster crisis that we had on top of that, in terms of bushfires in Victoria and the floods in Queensland, and they have shown themselves to not be responsible when it comes to the Budget and indeed one of the things that we’ve done is to announce savings that we would make. We’ve been prepared to make tough decisions and of course we wouldn’t have even proposed giving a huge tax cut to the banks.

PERNO: And you were flabbergasted when the Liberal Party stabbed one of its own – like Caesar in the back. But didn’t you knife Julia and Kevin?

ALBANESE: Well and at the time – I certainly said back in 2010 that was a mistake. I said at the time, that we would destroy two Labor Prime Ministers through that action and I think that’s been proven to be historically correct. And one of the extraordinary things though, is that we had Tony Abbott after that – come into office and be replaced. We have then had Malcolm Turnbull be replaced.

PERNO: We’re sick of it.

ALBANESE: We’re now on our third Liberal Prime Minister within two terms.

PERNO: All right let’s cut to the chase of Wentworth. They’re not going now on either the sixth or the thirteenth, Albo. The Wentworth by-election isn’t going to go – I reckon Turnbull should have stuck around and done the honourable thing like Julie Bishop did. She went to the backbench and she said she’ll contest her Western Australian seat. Do you agree with me, Albo, that he should have stuck around, not spat the dummy and taken his bat and ball and gone home and cost a Wentworth by-election? Although they can afford it, they’re pretty rich. A by-election, he should have stuck around?

ALBANESE: Well its taxpayers’ money, of course.

PERNO: That’s right.

ALBANESE: Everyone – you’re paying, the people of Canberra are paying as well.

PERNO: I don’t want to pay! I mean, he should have stuck around. So if it’s not going to be held on October 6 or 13, when is it going to be held?

ALBANESE: It should be held, in my view, it should be held as soon as possible. Wentworth – the people are entitled to be represented.

PERNO: The people are revolting.

ALBANESE: They can’t get their act together. They have a preselection, Labor’s had ours.

PERNO: Fifty year-old Tim Murray, he’s going to do this in Wentworth for you. Who is Tim Murray?

ALBANESE: Look he’s a local who’s been very active in the local branches. He’s been active in the business community and he’s putting himself forward to have a crack – of course we don’t expect it to be overwhelmingly successful in Wentworth of course.

PERNO: Why not?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a seat that we’ve never held.

PERNO: So what? A man never went to the moon until 1969 Anthony, come on!

ALBANESE: When you doorknock around Point Piper you don’t necessarily – it doesn’t necessarily strike you that these are natural Labor voters.

PERNO: Obviously you have not been to Point Piper, you don’t doorknock in Point Piper, you ring the buzzer at the front gate. There is no door knock.

ALBANESE: You probably have to walk a fair way (inaudible).

PERNO: That’s right and they’ve got they’ve got these walloping great Mastiffs and you’ve got to go past the chauffeur before you can get to the door. A couple of quickies – you’re on Q&A tonight, yes?

ALBANESE: I am indeed. Maybe some of your listeners can ask some questions tonight.

PERNO: And then on September 11, that’s a holy number, you’re going to be at the Australian-Indian Address at the Hyatt. Nice place to have an address.

ALBANESE: I am indeed. The Australia-India Business Council is a really important organisation. India is of course a growing economy; it will be the third largest in the world in a short period of time. And everyone talks about China but our relationship with India is very important. It’s a democratic nation. It’s one one in which we have close ties, including a large Indian diaspora here in Australia. And of course many Indians come and study here as well and go back. And it’s important for our economy that we keep those relations, but you can’t beat, I don’t think, people to people relations. So I’ll be very pleased to be supporting the Australian business community doing more activity in India as well.

PERNO: Now you know you don’t have knives and forks when you’re eating Indian food, you mop it up with the rice and the bread. You’re aware of that aren’t you Anthony? So you’ll be handed a very large napkin to place over that tie of yours so you don’t make a mess of yourself. All right?

ALBANESE: Well I do like Indian food I have had the pleasure – I’ve been to India a couple of times. (Inaudible) once many years ago, my first trip to India was back in 1991 with a backpack, where myself and my now wife took buses and trains and really got amongst the people. It was quite a rewarding experience. It’s a difficult place to travel, but the people are wonderful and it was a great pleasure to be able to go back there just last year.

PERNO: All right. Well behave yourself. We’ll see you on Q&A tonight.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 03 SEPTEMBER, 2018

Sep 3, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – Sky News with Ashleigh Gillon – Monday, 03 September, 2018

Subjects: Morrison Government’s leaked infrastructure plan; high speed rail; energy; CFMEU; Peter Dutton; asylum seekers.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Let’s now bring in live from Sydney the Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Appreciate your time Mr Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Ashleigh.

GILLON: This latest report on infrastructure announceables is embarrassing for the Government, no doubt about it. But on the content of these announcements, do any of these spends constitute pork-barrelling in your view? Do you have an issue with the content of this leak? Because I understand Labor does broadly support the funding of the projects outlined in this document.

ALBANESE: Well the first thing to be said, Ashleigh, is that this isn’t a government it’s just a rabble. This is chaos. This isn’t Mr Turnbull’s list. This is a budget list. This is a leak from a document that would have gone through the Cabinet and Expenditure Review Committee process in the lead up to May’s Budget. There are a range of projects in the list that had already been supported by Federal Labor. So once again we’ve been leading from opposition over projects like the Linkfield Road Overpass, the Rockhampton Bypass, the Mackay Ring Road – Stage II, Western Sydney Rail. The concern here is why is it that these decisions were made in May – funding allocated but nothing’s happened. Because they wanted to just politicise the process rather than, in the case of Western Sydney Rail, get on with the project. Get on with creating jobs and economic activity. Get on with creating the certainty so that the investment along that north-south corridor that will come with the new airport for Sydney, will be able to occur.

GILLON: Isn’t this just politics at this end of the election cycle, though? Mr Albanese when you were the Infrastructure Minister, are you saying that the Labor government never held back on announceables to time it with an election coming up for a campaign?

ALBANESE: Well what we did was we listened to Infrastructure Australia and we made sure that we had that infrastructure pipeline. So every single Budget where I was the Infrastructure Minister – we did have new projects for each and every state and territory. I mean there is nothing in this for Victoria in the form of transport. All there is, is $150 million for the Geelong City Deal. I’ve been recently to both Geelong and Darwin, who were promised City Deals, who have sat down with the local councils with the State governments. These things have been announced more than a year ago but not a dollar has flowed. So it’ll be interesting to see when the actual allocations were. Because this Government has also been very good at making announcements for new projects, but when you look at the detail the funding comes sometime after. Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull – all of them have left the Parliament. Funding doesn’t start for six or seven years. So we’ll wait and see what the detail of this is.

With regard to high speed rail, there is $1.5 billion in there for that. We actually had the High Speed Rail Authority ready to go in 2013, with funding to start the preservation of the corridor. It was shut down by Tony Abbott. We’ve had Private Members Bills before the Parliament. But under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government nothing has happened. So what we’ve had is five years of delay. It will be interesting to see again when that $1.5 billion is actually going to flow.

GILLON: Well just another thing for Mr Morrison to contemplate today. He’s also saying today that he’s open to a Royal Commission on energy companies. Is that necessary, do you think? Is that something Labor would support?

ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see what proposal is there. What we need is some energy policy certainty. And the problem here has been five years of a Government that doesn’t have a policy. They knew what they were against, they just didn’t know what they were for.

GILLON: But looking at Labor’s position, we’ve looked at this closely. Do you think a Royal Commission would be a good idea into the energy companies? Is it warranted?

ALBANESE: We think that a policy on energy is a good idea. We think that certainty to drive that investment in energy is a good idea. We think that driving down emissions will also drive down costs of energy and that’s what the renewables sector is doing now. Were it not for Labor’s renewable energy target, we’d have higher prices now, but what we have from this Government is a lack of policy. We saw them adopt a policy in their caucus room, in their party room, announce it and then walk away from it just three or four days later because of the pressure on Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. Well that didn’t turn out too good for him. We’ve had an EIS, a clean energy target from the chief scientists. We’ve had the various versions of the NEG and now we have no policy from this Government and what the Government is trying to do of course is say, look at the energy companies over there. Well, how about the Government take some responsibility for its own actions because it’s part of the problem. Yes, energy companies are part of the problem but government inaction is very much a major part of the reason why we have higher prices today.

GILLON: Keen for your views on an issue that has been thorny for Labor. Is it time, do you think, for Labor to cut ties with the CFMEU? John Setka using his young children to send a pretty vile message targeting the building watchdog on social media. It was a bit beyond the pale, wasn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well of course that is inappropriate. But the fact is that one of the things that you don’t see here this Government talk about is the role of unions in keeping people safe, so that they return home from work at the end of the day. If you had no unions on construction sites – I tell you what, you’d have a lot more families not being able to welcome home their mum or dad at the end of the day.

GILLON: Well Scott Morrison says he is considering de-registering the CFMEU. The union, as we all know, has had its issues. Do you fear this could be the final straw? Every time another scandal comes up it does reflect badly on Labor, doesn’t it? With your links to the union?

ALBANESE: No. Look this is – an individual sent a tweet. Let’s put this in some perspective here.

GILLON: He’s not just an individual he’s the head of the CFMEU, which is a big donor for the Labor Party.

ALBANESE: No he’s not, actually. Dave Noonan is the head of the CFMEU construction division. Michael O’Connor is the head of the entire CFMEU. He’s not Ashleigh, he’s the head of the Victorian division of the CFMEU. It’s an inappropriate tweet, but we shouldn’t determine policy over what occurs in the construction industry over a tweet.

GILLON: Labor is keeping up pressure on Peter Dutton over the au pair saga. Today you’ve been named as making some 26 appeals to the Minister over visa issues concerning your constituents. How are the appeals that you made any different from appeals made by other members of the public?

ALBANESE: Well I’m not a member of the public, Ashleigh, I’m a Member of Parliament.

GILLON: Sure, but if somebody makes an appeal about a certain …

ALBANESE: No. Let’s be very clear here, Ashleigh. There is an enormous difference between – a member of the public goes to the Local Member of Parliament about immigration, about health, about issues with Centrelink and Members of Parliament make representations on their behalf, and someone who is a mate making direct appeals to the Minister to overturn decisions of the Minister’s Department – you surely must see the distinction which is there. And the distinction that is there as well, behind this Minister who has built a career on meanness and lack of compassion. That’s his whole Modus Operandi: ‘Vote for me, I’m mean, I don’t care about people, I’ll make tough decisions’. And then these people, who quite clearly had recommendations by the Department for very good reasons, one of these people had breached previously the conditions of their visa. Someone else clearly was found to be someone who was coming in on an inappropriate visa and intended to do work in contradiction of that visa. Those decisions were overturned. Not on the basis of representation from a Local Member of Parliament, but based upon having that direct access to the Minister.

GILLON: You’re alluding there to the Minister’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus. The Pacific Islands Forum is focusing on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers there at the moment. We’ve seen another report today looking at the plight of some 109 children still there. It warns they are at breaking point. They are trying to kill themselves. It makes a very sad, depressing reading. Would Labor – should Labor, do you believe, keep those children on Nauru and Manus?

ALBANESE: Well we’ve said very clearly – the Government says that those people shouldn’t be on Nauru and Manus. That’s what the Government says. They just haven’t done anything …

GILLON: What would Labor do if you got into Government? When it comes particularly to those children?

ALBANESE: Well if you wait, then you’ll get the answer. What the Government says is that – they just haven’t done it. And Labor has already said very clearly, for example with regard to the offer of New Zealand to take some of the people, that should be accepted. And that other third countries of settlement should be found.

GILLON: But in the meantime would a Labor Government be quicker to bring these children to Australia for medical treatment? If a child is threatening suicide, is that the point, they need to be extracted from that situation?

ALBANESE: I’ve given you the answer Ashleigh. These people need to be settled. They need to get that certainty. It’s very clear that there are real mental health issues behind keeping people in detention for that period of time. There are offers which have been made that haven’t been accepted by the Government. The Government needs to explain why it is that they are just unprepared to find solutions, that are not only in the interests of those refugees – people who have been found to be refugees. And the interests of Australia as well because we’re paying enormous amounts of money – of taxpayers money here, to keep those people in Manus and Nauru.

GILLON: Anthony Albanese joining us live there from Sydney. Appreciate your time this morning, thank you.

ALBANESE: Thanks Ashleigh.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 03 SEPTEMBER, 2018

Sep 3, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Sydney – Monday, 03 September, 2018

Subjects: Morrison Government’s leaked infrastructure plan, Labor’s infrastructure commitments, High Speed Rail, CFMEU.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The damaging leak on infrastructure decisions that were made in the Budget but not announced is yet another indictment of how dysfunctional the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has become. What we have here is a range projects; projects that aren’t new; projects that have been around some time; projects which have been delayed as the Government has cut actual infrastructure investment. Infrastructure investment is due to fall from $8 billion in the current financial year down to $4.5 billion across the Forward Estimates. And the Parliamentary Budget Office has indicated that it expects investment to fall from 0.4 per cent of GDP down to 0.2 – in half over the coming decade.

Therefore it’s not surprising that there will be further investment made. What is surprising is the delay that is occurring and the politicisation of the infrastructure investment process. Labor created in government Infrastructure Australia to take the politics out of infrastructure decision making. And yet here what we have is a Government that has actually made decisions way back in May and just not announced them – was leaving them until an election campaign was called.

What that means is delay – delays in job creation; delays in economic activity. For projects such as Western Sydney Rail along the north-south corridor – a vital project, essential that it be opened on day one of the new airport, this delay means a delay in jobs. It means uncertainty for those private sector investors who want to invest along that corridor. And yet we have an MOU signed between the Federal and State Government last year and a political process, rather than a proper policy process, so that that announcement will be made in the lead-up to both the State election in NSW next March and the Federal election, whenever that may be.

We have other projects on the list that have already been announced by Federal Labor. Bill Shorten today is in Rockhampton backing in our commitment to the Rockhampton Ring Road. I was in Mackay just a month ago backing in our commitment to Stage II of the Mackay Ring Road. Just two weeks ago I was in Peter Dutton’s electorate of Dickson backing in the Linkfield Road Overpass with our candidates for Dickson and Petrie. The South Road corridor – we have been crying out for investment for some period of time. This is essential in Adelaide so that you get efficiencies if you are able to have that certainty of investment and that process occurring properly. AdeLINK, the light rail project in Adelaide, we have called for since before the 2016 election and yet – Federal funding delayed.  Malcolm Turnbull, a Prime Minister who liked to travel on trains and and trams and take selfies; he just didn’t fund them. And now of course we know that the Morrison Government intends to announce these projects. It’s no wonder there is so much bitterness there.

And as for the City Deals processes in Darwin and Geelong, I have visited both those cities – met with local government there, over the last month. They have been told that it is coming. In Darwin’s case it is more than 500 days since it was announced and yet no announcement of the $100 million – it announced through a leak effectively. They now know that is coming.

Similarly, in Geelong, the $150 million – done through a leak rather than through proper process; that uncertainty for local business, for the State Government, for local government in the great city of Geelong.

And as for High Speed Rail, I am pleased that the Government is somehow belatedly jumping on board that train. But the train was at the station in 2013 and they cut funding for the High Speed Rail Authority and for the preservation of the corridor that was in the 2013 Budget. So some five years later, after five years of delay, in spite of the fact that Labor – I have had Private Members Bills for the High Speed Rail project before the Parliament twice now in the last term and again in this term. We have had to reintroduce it because the Government refuses to debate it.

Again a High Speed Rail Authority was about making sure the coordination between the different levels of government occurred to make sure the corridor was preserved and to advance that project. We had Tim Fischer as one of the members of the advisory board that recommended that. We made sure there was bi-partisan support. But instead this Government has chosen to politicise the project over five years and three prime ministers. But finally it would appear that some money was allocated in the May Budget. They just didn’t bother to tell anybody. In the meantime of course development has occurred along those corridors.

This is a farcical operation from a Government that is dysfunctional, from a Government that has had three prime ministers in five wasted years. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: So what do you make of this road an rail package announced today? Do you think somebody is trying to steal Mr Morrison’s thunder?

ALBANESE: Well quite clearly there is a great deal of annoyance that the people who were responsible for this in the Cabinet – this would have gone through the Budget process in the lead-up to the 2018 Budget, so that means that it would have been prepared well in advance of the May Budget. It has been discussed, debated and approved, but for whatever reason put in the Budget with decisions taken but not announced.  And quite clearly Malcolm Turnbull and others would be annoyed that there was an attempt by the Morrison Government; it would have gone out and said “Look we have made this decision. We have finally announced the Rockhampton Ring Road. We have finally got funding for the Mackay Ring Road Stage II. We’ve finally got funding for the Western Sydney Rail Line. It couldn’t be delivered by the Turnbull Government, but the Morrison Government, this shiny new Government, has been able to make this happen’’. Now quite clearly there are people who would have been annoyed at this so they have leaked what is a very comprehensive Budget leak. This is an extraordinary revelation – some $7.6 billion.

Of course what is interesting about this as well is they have forgotten when they looked at the map of Australia that there is a major island to the south of the Victorian coast called Tasmania and there are no projects in it for Tasmania. And what’s more Victoria, in spite of the fact that for the life of the Abbott and Turnbull governments they’ve got around about 9 per cent of the Federal infrastructure budget. They got a little bit more in this year’s Budget that was announced, but there is nothing – no transport projects whatsoever – in this Budget leak for Victoria. Victoria continues to be punished in spite of the fact there are good projects, some of them underway, some of them ready to go in Victoria.

REPORTER: What elements of this road and rail package do you disagree with?

ALBANESE: Well, most of this package has already been supported by Federal Labor, some of it when we were in government in the form of the High Speed Rail Project down the east coast. We set up the process of the study. We had the legislation. We still have before the Parliament the High Speed Rail legislation and the Government should put that through now that they have been exposed, next week.

Many of the other projects – the Rockhampton Ring Road, the Mackay Ring Road, the Linkfield Road Overpass, the Western Sydney Rail Project, Adelaide South Road and AdeLINK –  we have previously already announced our support for these projects. So this is Labor once again leading from Opposition. We have been saying to the Government that they should be getting on with these projects.

What we see also is the Gold Coast Light Rail is of course was a project that was begun by Federal Labor with a $365 million grant – one that was opposed by the Coalition at the time. And Gold Coast Light Rail of course has been an enormous success. But what we did was, we went through the proper process. We went through Infrastructure Australia. Infrastructure Australia made the recommendations and then we funded the projects.

REPORTER: So what do you make of the timing of this announcement?

ALBANESE: Well this quite clearly has been designed to damage the Morrison Government, to show when it stands up on future so-called announcements that there is nothing new in it; that these are decisions that were made when Malcolm Turnbull was the Prime Minister in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

This just shows that the ongoing war between the Abbott-Dutton forces and the Turnbull forces just continues. It continues and the only way to stop it is to actually go to an election. This once again reinforces the need for Scott Morrison to stop pretending that somehow he is a new prime minister but to go to an election and seek a mandate from the Australian people, because at the moment he has no mandate and quite frankly he has no credibility.

REPORTER: Now the new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has floated de-registering the CFMEU even though the Royal Commission recommended against it. What is your reaction to that?

ALBANESE: Well that is typical of Scott Morrison. They had a Royal Commission at a considerable cost to the taxpayers of Australia. That Royal Commission of course was all about trying to damage Labor and damage Bill Shorten in particular. It failed. The fact is that when you have a Royal Commission then you have already had an independent look at these matters in a way that has been politicised.

When Labor was in government, if you contrast what we do in government in the national interest, we had a Royal Commission into the institutional abuse of children and young people that resulted in significant, significant change and I don’t think anyone out there is saying that that Royal Commission that found such widespread abuse didn’t serve the interests of those people, many of them now very much later in their lives who have been able to get at least some closure, who were able to tell their stories. That was in the national interest. We called for a Royal Commission into the banks and clearly the revelations there – voted against more than 20 times by Scott Morrison; Scott Morrison called it just a stunt – and yet what they have had is royal commissions essentially into their political opponents. Thank you.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER, 2018

Sep 3, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly – Monday, 03 September, 2018

Subjects: Morrison Government’s leaked infrastructure plan, City Deals, immigration, Peter Dutton.

FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese welcome back to breakfast.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Fran.

KELLY: So the Turnbull Government reportedly has allocated $7.6 billion in infrastructure funding which comes under the portfolio you are the Shadow Minister for. Would you welcome this big spend?

ALBANESE: Well this is a major embarrassment for what is a rabble of a government for announcements to be made this way. What it shows is the politicisation of the infrastructure portfolio under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government and here we have a range of projects, most of which we have been calling for to be announced, projects like the Mackay Ring Road Stage II, the South Road upgrades in Adelaide, the Western Sydney Rail Line, Rockhampton Ring Road – have all been announced previously by Federal Labor as commitments, as have the Geelong and Darwin City Deals.
But in those communities they have been waiting for some action from the Government. The Government had made the decision, the money had been allocated and yet it was just sitting there waiting for an election campaign before these projects were actually announced.

KELLY: Are you trying to say that Labor in government has never used infrastructure to get political bang for your buck?

ALBANESE: Well what we did was we established Infrastructure Australia to make sure there were proper recommendations. Projects like Western Sydney Rail – the delay in the actual announcement of funding means that this project, which should be under construction now – that north-south corridor is very important that it be completed by the time of the opening of the airport at Badgerys Creek. What we say is those jobs could be created now. The economic activity could be occurring now. Instead we have had a decline in infrastructure investment under this Government and these projects squirrelled away if you like to be announced later on.

KELLY: So what you are saying is you are not opposed to the kind of projects it looks like the Government is interested in funding – a $150 million rail line that goes through Sarah Henderson’s Geelong seat of Corangamite or the $1.5 billion for planning and pre-construction of High Speed Rail along the east coast linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Newcastle? You support these projects?

ALBANESE: We certainly do support High Speed Rail and indeed what occurred when the first Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected was they took money away from the creation of the High Speed Rail Authority and the money that was allocated for the preservation of the corridor. Now some five years later, they are putting money back into that project and it is a lost opportunity. It is an acknowledgement by the Government that essentially Labor has been leading from Opposition when it comes to infrastructure policy.

KELLY: OK. So you aren’t opposed to the projects, you are just opposed to the timing?

ALBANESE: That’s right. We think that projects need to be rolled out in a pipeline so there is some consistency there and for some of the announcements that are coming such as the City Deals for Geelong and Darwin. I was in Darwin just last week. They have been waiting for this announcement, which was actually made originally some three years ago, and the final announcement that funding would be coming was made now more than 500 days ago and yet it still hasn’t been announced.

KELLY: OK.

ALBANESE: At least they know now the $100 million has been allocated. They just didn’t bother to tell the people of Darwin that that had occurred.

KELLY: On another issue, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is under pressure for stopping the deportation of at least two European au pairs who were coming in on tourist visas. Peter Dutton in response says he has been asked to intervene 9000 times since taking on the role as Immigration Minister in 2014 and he has named you as one of the Labor MPs that approached him to intervene on immigration cases, to use his Ministerial powers to intervene 26 times last year alone. Why were you seeking Peter Dutton’s intervention?

ALBANESE: Well local Members of Parliament of course make representations across a whole range of issues – not just migration, but health, social security issues. That’s one of the things we do. When constituents come to us and ask for assistance we forward that on to the Government of the day. Now that is the job of local Members. There is nothing inappropriate about that.

KELLY: But is there anything inappropriate then in what Peter Dutton has done? Scott Morrison, the PM, former Immigration Minister says he has taken a look and he says that they were all taken completely consistently with how the powers should be exercised.

ALBANESE: Well it’s not consistent with Peter Dutton’s own rhetoric. Peter Dutton, this is a guy who has had children in detention in Nauru for example who have been asking and have medical advice saying that they need assistance. He has shown a complete lack of compassion for those people. A lack of compassion has characterised his time as the Immigration Minister. It’s interesting the Scott Morrison has taken immigration away from Peter Dutton and perhaps he knew that these issues were coming.

KELLY: Are you saying that you think that Peter Dutton has acted inappropriately with his au pair decisions?

ALBANESE: I think Peter Dutton has acted completely inconsistently. I am not aware of all the details, but on the surface it would appear there is complete inconsistency in the way that Peter Dutton has acted, just like there remains a cloud over Peter Dutton’s right to sit in the national Parliament, let alone to be a minister.

KELLY: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER, 2018

Aug 29, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 104.1FM Darwin – Wednesday, 29 August, 2018

Subjects: Darwin City Deal, infrastructure investment, Tiger Brennan Drive.

MEL LITTLE: Welcome to the Northern Territory Albo. We are glad to have you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s always good to be here, but particularly good to be here because it has been so bloody cold down south. It’s a beautiful day here. My wife was quite upset with me for coming up and I rubbed it in last night when it was zero in Sydney.

LITTLE: Yuck.

ALBANESE: It’s been really cold. It’s a beautiful morning here of course and we had the Ports Australia conference last night. We had dinner outside of the Convention Centre there and it was just gorgeous. I am very jealous of all of you. I’m jealous of my mate Luke.

LITTLE: It’s a beautiful time of year. I don’t know whether you have heard, but we are throwing out a few incentives for people to move to the Top End so if you would like a little bit of coin maybe let us know, we could find you a spot.

ALBANESE: Absolutely. It’s a great place to live and a great lifestyle. I actually have quite a few friends who have moved up here over the years and have settled here and they are all very, very happy with their choice in life.

LITTLE: Well we are happy to have them. We are kind of happy to have you in our city at the moment. I am hoping you can ruffle a few feathers and maybe make our new Prime Minister come good with the City Deal.

ALBANESE: Well it has been now 498 days since it was promised and not a dollar has flowed – nothing at all. And indeed it’s pretty disappointing that ministers have come and gone but none of them have actually delivered. So certainly it’s not without the enormous pressure that Luke Gosling puts on. He raises it in Parliament just about every week and puts pressure on the Government to actually deliver. I am driving along – with well Luke is driving, I am sitting next to him –  on the Tiger Brennan Drive at the moment. When I was the Minister of course we came up and delivered many hundreds of millions of dollars to fix up infrastructure here around Darwin. We did Tiger Brennan. We did an upgrade of the port. We did an upgrade, a revitalisation of the CBD and around the waterfront precinct got money.

LITTLE: Yes.

ALBANESE: But there’s a drought of course in lots of Australia, but there is a drought when it comes to dollars coming into Darwin from the Federal Government.

LITTLE: It looks that way. Would you agree that the City Deal was sort of something shiny to distract us from the fact that they were cutting other investments?

ALBANESE: Well I think it is. When you look at the figures, this year the Northern Territory will get $222 million for infrastructure. That falls each and every year across the Forwards down to $61 million in 2021-22. So they are taking three in every four dollars essentially away from the Territory. And that means that other projects that they have announced, like the Central Arnhem Road and others, where the funding is all off into the Never Never. Now this Government’s struggling to survive on a week-by-week basis.

LITTLE: Yes. It seems that way.

ALBANESE: The idea of making promises for something in five years’ time is just absurd and you can see the difference that investment makes. I can see it literally driving on it right now and the difference that has made not just to travel times between Palmerston and the Darwin CBD, but of course road safety as well. Literally, it saves lives.

LITTLE: It does indeed. Unfortunately in the Northern Territory our road toll at the moment isn’t great. We are actually, I think, above anybody else in the nation, which is not a number that we are proud of.

ALBANESE: Yes that’s right and we need to bring it down. I can report that Luke Gosling is a very good driver though.

LITTLE: Don’t pump up his tyres.

ALBANESE: A great local member but a good driver. I am just saying good. I’m not saying great. Because what you want is good drivers who stick to the speed limit and obey the road rules. You don’t want anything fancy.

LITTLE: I don’t think he’d be brave enough to do anything silly while he’s got the Shadow Minister for Transport sitting next to him.

ALBANESE: Exactly. I’d have to report him.

LITTLE: Brilliant stuff. And so what is going to happen in Palmy today? What are you doing?

ALBANESE: Well we are catching up with the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor and some of the other business leaders …

LITTLE: Lovely.

ALBANESE: … and others. We are having a bit of a lunch at Rydges there.

LITTLE: Oh, gorgeous.

ALBANESE: After we have a meeting, so it’s all good. I always try to get out and about when I am in this fine city and one of the things that attracts people to come here is just people are really welcoming. I really always find that. It’s a really good culture here of people just coming up and saying G’day. I had a beer before the dinner last night with Hendo at a pub in the CBD and people were just coming up and chatting to him and chatting to me. It’s a good thing.

LITTLE: It’s a great thing and we are super glad that you have taken time out of your incredibly busy schedule to come and say G’day. Hopefully there will be a few more in Canberra that take sort of a leaf your of your book and maybe make their way to the Northern Territory, especially Scomo. We’d like to see him.

ALBANESE: That’s right. He should travel up here. But he should travel up here during an election campaign

LITTLE: Shouldn’t he?

ALBANESE: I do think it is time for them to pull the trigger and give the Australian people a say in who the Government is.

LITTLE: Yes.

ALBANESE: I think you know they gave up governing last week. It was pretty extraordinary and one of the feedbacks I get unfortunately is it doesn’t reflect well on all of us as politicians. I think it is an honourable profession. But people are shaking their heads, and I don’t blame them frankly.

LITTLE: No. No it has been a little bit messy but hopefully things will start to calm down. But I think you are right. I think the Australian people deserve the opportunity to elect our Prime Minister, rather than just take what we are given after what I can only describe a very childish kindergarten behaviour in our Parliament.

ALBANESE: Absolutely and I noticed just a little while ago Julia Banks, who is a Liberal MP from Chisholm, down in Victoria – she won that seat off the Labor Party; it’s the only seat that the Government won off Labor at the 2016 election. And she has basically said: “I’m out of here’’. She was one of the people who were intimidated last week over to sign petitions and to engage in the chaos that happened and Julia has basically said “this isn’t for me,’’ which is a pity because I think she is a very decent honourable person.

LITTLE: Yes.

ALBANESE: And I think she has shown that with this action.

LITTLE: Yes, absolutely Albo. Thank you so much for your time this morning. We are pretty close mates now so I am going to call you Albo. You can call me Melza. It  would be great.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

LITTLE: Enjoy the rest of your day with Gossaz and yes we will talk real soon.

ALBANESE: Thanks I can still report that Gosling is right. Eyes on the road. He’s focused. He’s worried about what I am saying of course because he can’t hear what you are saying. It’s worried him a bit that he has got the radio off but as soon as we hang up the radio will be back on.

LITTLE: Good on you. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

ALBANESE: See you.

LITTLE: Bye.

[ENDS]

WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST, 2018

Aug 29, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Darwin – Wednesday, 29 August, 2018

Subjects: Ports Australia conference, Labor’s City Partnerships policy, population, Liberal leadership spill, Tony Abbott.
LUKE GOSLING: G’day everyone, thanks for coming down here to the Darwin Convention Centre. It’s been great to have Anthony in town once again. Albo’s a great friend of Darwin and just gave a cracking speech to the Ports Australia conference, talking about those big infrastructure issues for our country and more specifically I know he has a passion for infrastructure for Darwin, the northern capital of Australia. Obviously to our north not only have we got billions of people, we’ve got the fastest growing economies in the world and Darwin is perfectly placed with the right attention from the Federal Government to reach the potential that our city has and that the Northern Territory has. So it’s great to have Albo in town. Last time I think Albo was here we were in a crocodile cage, he was doing his bit in another part of his portfolio in tourism and we certainly really appreciate Albo’s frequent visits to the north and for sharing some time with us today. Thanks mate.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Great, thanks very much Luke and it’s been good to be able to address the Ports Australia conference today. We know that Australia has the fifth largest freight task in the world and that almost all of our exports and imports go through our ports. They are important pieces of infrastructure and we need a national approach which makes sure that we preserve corridors, both rail and road to our ports, that we make sure maximise the economic value of our ports. And here of course in Darwin, the city which is closest to, as Luke said, the growing populations and the dynamism that is the Asia Pacific-Indian Ocean region, we have enormous opportunity and Darwin as a city can benefit substantially, which is why we will do a City Partnership with Darwin. We know that it’s now 498 days since the Government announced its City Deal for Darwin but not a single dollar has flowed as a result of that announcement.

What we’ve seen is ministers come and go, but no action. What we need is real action to give support to a relationship between the local government here in Darwin and Palmerston, between the Territory Government and with our national Government. At the same time as we’ve seen nothing happen with the City Deal what we know is that the recent Budget on infrastructure would be devastating for the Northern Territory. This year there’s some $222 million allocated for infrastructure grants to the Northern Territory. That falls over the Forward Estimates down to some $61 million by 2021-22. What that means is less jobs in the short term, but importantly it means that that delay in infrastructure where the Government simply isn’t putting the dollars into either Darwin or into regional Northern Territory will have real consequences for economic growth in the long-term.

JOURNALIST: There’s been a lot of discussion about population recently and Alan Tudge, the new Minister, has said the other day that we need to get more people to move to the regions. What’s Labor’s plan to get people to move to places like Darwin?

ALBANESE: Well we certainly support regional economic development and one of the ways that you do that is by making sure that there are jobs and growth in the regions. The INPEX proposal of course was driven by the Northern Territory Labor Government and what we did when we were in office as well was to provide support through infrastructure investment. That’s the way in which you expand job opportunities. If the opportunities are here in the Territory people will come. I met with Eva Lawler, the new Transport Minister, just yesterday to talk about ways in which we can co-operate as an incoming Labor Government if we’re elected, either in a month or in a few months’ time, to make sure that we’re in a position of preparedness for that. And certainly Labor understands that we need to take pressure off Sydney and Melbourne. We’ve been saying that for some time – that there are some parts of Australia that are suffering from urban congestion while other parts of Australia are crying out for increases in the population and we would work with the Territory Government to make sure that that happened.

JOURNALIST: How much money would a Labor Government commit to a City Deal for Darwin?

ALBANESE: Well what we would do – we’re going to wait and see what it is that comes out of this process, if anything, from the current Federal Government when it comes to its City Deal. What we’ve said is that we’ll honour anything that is put on the table, but we’ll sit down and we’ll enhance it. We don’t want to just throw money at anything with a blank cheque. What we’ll do though is sit down and talk with the councils and with the Territory Government about what is missing from any City Deal that’s done and work with them and work in an independent way as well – we’ll have guidelines. There are no guidelines at the moment for the City Deal. What we’ve got at the moment is a headline of a City Deal coming and then nothing to back it up and Luke Gosling has done an amazing job of raising in the national Parliament on a weekly basis the fact that the City Deal hasn’t led to anything.

JOURNALIST: The Territory Government’s asked for $100 million. They’ve put on the table. Would you honour that?

ALBANESE: Look we will honour any deal that’s done. But we’ll also sit down at appropriate times and make announcements on the basis of when we see what’s actually in the City Deal that the Government has said they’re proposing. It’s the case that we can’t get ahead of that because we’re not the Government. So we’ll wait and see what’s on the table there. But we’ll work with as well – one of the things that I know the Territory is looking at is a revitalisation of the CBD, that’s important. We know that a vibrant CBD is important for a city and they’re looking at all sorts of things, including the way that the roads are configured, the greening up of the city, they’ve of course begun construction on moving some of the car parking underground. They’re all good measures but we’ll sit down and talk with them and develop a true partnership between the three levels of government. I think that is good policy and that’s something that people want to see.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Indigenous envoy role for Tony Abbott?

ALBANESE: Well this would appear to be a make work program for Tony Abbott to keep him out of trouble, to send him away from party room meetings. We have a ministry, we have a cabinet, then we have an outer ministry, then we have parliamentary secretaries who’ve been renamed assistant ministers. It would appear that Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have been appointed to these roles to give them travel rights, so that they’re travelling away from Canberra and their own party members. Now I understand why members of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government Cabinet would want these people away from them, but I think that Indigenous affairs is a serious issue. There are real issues out there and one of the things that I think people will be concerned about is Tony Abbott’s comments about people who live in communities taking lifestyle choices that shouldn’t be given appropriate funding.

And his attitude towards that was patronising towards those communities and I think they will react with some concern that this uncertain role for Tony Abbott has been created at a cost to the taxpayer. I’d rather that the money that will be spent as a result of creating this sort of fourth tier now – not quite a parliamentary secretary – for someone who was a former Prime Minister adds nothing. I think it’s very unfortunate.

JOURNALIST: If this is a job to keep aspiring leaders away from the main game does that mean you’ll be taking it on if Labor wins the election?

ALBANESE: Well I don’t think that’s a question that is deserving of an answer.

JOURNALIST: Do you still have aspirations for the leadership of the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: The fact is if you’ve been paying any attention at all in the last fortnight you’ll see two sides of politics. One side that’s a rabble; that’s engaged in chaos and in-fighting and another side that’s united; that has people that are doing their job. This Ports Australia conference was titled, my speech, ‘A view from the other side’. That assumed that there would be a Government minister here to present the Government view.

There is no government minister here. There’s no government presentation here. This is a conference that takes place every two years about Australia’s ports and the Government is so in chaos that they can’t send anyone to address the conference. What I have done, and will continue to do, is do the best of my capacity and the job that I’ve been given. And that job of Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and Shadow Minister for Tourism. There’s only one thing I want in terms of a title and that’s to get rid of that nasty ‘shadow’ word at the beginning of my title. That’s something that I do constructively each and every day and I think the internal functioning of the Labor Party contrasts substantially with the chaos that is in the Coalition Government.

JOURNALIST: You said in your speech though that the events of the past week have done damage to all politicians, both sides. How much damage do you think it’s done to your side of politics? Not just the events of the past week, but the events of the past eight years.

ALBANESE: I’ve said a number of times that the events of 2010 were regrettable. I said at the time that we would do damage to two Labor Prime Ministers on that night. I stand by that statement. I think that statement has been proven to be correct. The judgement that I put on that night has proven to be correct. The fact is though, that the past week, what a whole lot of people have looked on at is they’re angry with the Government. But I think it would be a triumph of hope over reality for any politician to think that the standing of the political profession has been uplifted in the last week.

The fact is that we’ve all been marked down because what Australians have seen is a Government that’s given up on governing. That’s why I think there’s a need for a Federal Election to be called because Scott Morrison does not have a mandate as Prime Minister. You now have the frankly quite strange circumstances of former Prime Ministers and former Deputy Prime Ministers being declared ‘envoys’ in order to keep them busy. You had the Parliament shut down last week for the first time in history, as far as I’m aware since Federation, just shut down. That was the Government putting its hand up and saying this governing business is too hard for us. Well it is too hard for them; that’s why they should call an election.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask on the envoys again, what does it say about the Federal Government’s approach to indigenous affairs if they see it as something to keep Tony Abbott out of the office?

ALBANESE: I think it’s very unfortunate that the Federal Government thinks that this is something that is just a way to distract Tony Abbott and I wonder what Nigel Scullion, the Minister, thinks of this. What’s the relationship between the two? Does Tony Abbott have any authority as an envoy? We don’t have envoys in this country. We can’t just make up titles. Government has structure – there’s a Prime Minister, there’s a Cabinet. There’s an Expenditure Review Committee process. There’s an outer ministry. There are assistant Ministers now. This is a very strange decision by the Government but every action of this Government is driven by its internal processes, its internal chaos. It’s not driven by the needs of the Australian people. It’s not driven by the national interest and that’s why the Government should go to an election because they quite clearly are incapable of governing in the national interest.

Now it’s all just about how do we keep a lid on these internal divisions, the anger that we’ve seen. You had Four Corners on Monday night, the next working day, literally from when we had a change of Prime Minister and a change of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, on the record putting it all out there that division. And people like Concetta Fierravanti-Wells putting on the record her view that the needs of the Australian people aren’t what should drive the Government; they’re the needs of the so-called base. And when they’re talking about the base, what they’re really talking about is the hard right members of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party who have a view of Australia, and indeed the world, on social policy, on economic policy and on climate policy that is so far removed from modern Australia that it just puts them totally out of touch. And that’s the view that could lead people to have an insurrection against a Prime Minister who was preferred Prime Minister in every poll in which he led the Liberal Party with a guy in Peter Dutton who can’t reach double figures as preferred Prime Minister. These people are completely out of touch.

JOURNALIST: In this climate though, where the general public is so fed up with Prime Ministers being rolled by eternal warring parties, does it hurt your side of politics that the man who is in charge – Bill Shorten – was instrumental in the removal of Kevin Rudd and then of Julia Gillard?

ALBANESE: I think people are focused on what happened in the last fortnight. In the last fortnight, what they’ve seen is that the Liberal Party has engaged in the tearing down of a Prime Minister and of a Government. What the Labor Party did in 2013 is change our rules, when I was the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party very proudly, to give all our members a say, to establish a process and, more importantly, a culture. The culture of the Labor Party has been that we’ve worked each and every day as a team. I’m very proud to be part of that team and we’ve been working in the national interest. Bill Shorten deserves credit as the Leader for that as does, though, all of the Labor team whether it be Luke Gosling here in Darwin, working for the interests of the people of Darwin, working for his electorate. That’s what we’re focussed on. That’s what we’ll continue to focus on. Thanks very much.

WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST, 2018

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