Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
May 26, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Balmain

Subjects: Small business, One Nation, Malcolm Turnbull, Labor Party

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s been great to be able to open the Google Digital Skills Workshop that’s taking place here in Balmain today. Small businesses reply upon digital connectivity to talk to customers and to expand their businesses.

That this forum has been full to capacity shows that here in the Inner West we have many dynamic small businesses who want to work with the local chambers of commerce who’ve organised today’s forum along with Google.

Small business is the engine room of the national economy, creating jobs, creating opportunity and this forum is important so that our local small businesses can maximise the potential that they have for growth.

JOURNALIST: Just having a look at some of the issues of the day, One Nation are obviously under investigation by the Electoral Commission which has basically said this morning that for the first time they’ve had to use coercive powers to draw out information. How concerning is it that we’re at this stage?

ALBANESE: It’s of real concern that One Nation, it would appear from the evidence before the Senate Committee, haven’t been prepared to cooperate in the way that parties have traditionally always have.

This is the problem with One Nation. Many people support One Nation out of their views that they’ll somehow be different from the mainstream political parties.

What we see is Pauline Hanson seeming to have a pattern of relying upon these powerful unelected figures like David Oldfield and John Pasquarelli.

Now of course, the latest example is Pauline Hanson relying upon an unelected staffer, James Ashby who has had an interesting past, to say the least. What we have here is a political party that has a history of being elected and then unravelling, and it appears that it is unravelling before our very eyes.

These are some very serious allegations about One Nation. The recorded conversation, the One Nation response from James Ashby seems to be to a discussion about the way in which the conversation was recorded. Well, the issue here is that the conversation took place.

The issue here is that there was a conscious debate within a political party about how to rip off taxpayers. That is why there is an investigation. That is why Labor Senator Murray Watt called for the investigation.

It’s a real concern that Malcolm Turnbull and everyone in his Government appears to have not taken any action, not even referring this to the appropriate authorities.

JOURNALIST: The fact that coercive powers are having to be used, is that a concern politically for the wider political spectrum?

ALBANESE: It’s good that the authorities have the capacity to use these coercive powers, but they shouldn’t be required. Political parties should cooperate with the appropriate authorities.

There are some serious allegations that have been made and a political party such as One Nation, that has representatives in the Australian Senate, should be fully cooperating with any inquiry. We shouldn’t need these coercive powers.

JOURNALIST: We are looking at record or very strong economic growth, is this an indication that the Government is in fact on the right track?

ALBANESE: Well it’s an indication of the hard work of Australian businesses such as those that are represented here today. The Australian economy is very resilient. But what we need to do is to make sure that we have mechanisms in place that ensure that continues into the future.

The fact is we have an increase in debt of over $100 billion. The deficit is ten times higher today than it was when the Government introduced the so-called temporary deficit level.

Under-employment is a real issue in our economy. Many Australians are really struggling due to housing affordability issues and as well, the fact is that we have effectively a decline in real wages.

A decline in real wages means a decline in living standards and that is of real concern because those people who are low and middle income earners tend to spend most of their income.

That will have a dampening impact in the medium term on our economic growth unless we do something to lift real wages.

But this government’s response to that is to support a cut to penalty rates for some of the lowest paid workers in Australia.

JOURNALIST: With some of these issues you are just talking about there, escalating debt etc., can you really push the Government to increase more school funding; is that achievable?

ALBANESE: School funding is an investment in our future. School funding is an investment in creativity and making sure we maximise the potential of every young person. Two things will increase our future economic growth in this country.

One is investing in productivity boosting infrastructure. The second is investing in education, training and skills of our people, and that is why Labor has always regarded education funding as an investment.

JOURNALIST: Labor is doing reasonably well in the polls, perhaps on the leadership front not so good, is that a concern for you?

ALBANESE: Labor is doing well in the polls. We’re on 53 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote, and that is an indication that this Government is out of touch. Malcolm Turnbull seems to be someone who hasn’t implemented the policies that people thought that he would.

He came to the leadership of the Liberal Party and people thought he would bring a breath of fresh air to that leadership.

But what we’ve seen is him turn his back on policies that people know that he holds; turning his back on marriage equality; turning his back on support for actually investing in public transport not just talking about it; turning his back on advancing an Australian republic.

These are all issues that have led people to be very disappointed in Malcolm Turnbull and I think the Government is being judged harshly for that.

One of the important issues of real concern to the people at this forum today is access to high speed broadband. What we know is that Malcolm Turnbull on his watch as the former communications minister has purchased some 15 million metres of copper wire.

This is fraudband, not broadband and Malcolm Turnbull is being judged because of his bad performance as a minister as well as the disappointment in his Prime Ministership.

JOURNALIST: So it is more a reflection of the Liberal Party or the Coalition’s issues as opposed to leadership of the Labor Party as to why the polls are going so well?

ALBANESE: We’ve held the government to account and we’ll continue to do so. We’ve put forward positive policies. To take one issue of concern to Australians on housing affordability, we have been prepared to have the courage to advance, from opposition, changes to capital gains tax and negative gearing regimes aimed at housing affordability.

The Labor Party is leading from opposition because of the vacuum that the government’s creating because Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t have the courage of his conviction. What Australians want is politicians and leaders who will stand up for their principles and stand up as conviction politicians.

They want authenticity. They know that in Malcolm Turnbull, they haven’t got the authentic Malcolm Turnbull. They’ve got Malcolm Turnbull who’s constantly concerned about what Tony Abbott and his supporters think.

JOURNALIST: And again this comes back to the strong leadership of Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: Bill Shorten has had the courage to take on issues like negative gearing and housing affordability and I think that has been reflected in Labor’s strength in the polls.

JOURNALIST: And just finally, is this with regards to the Labor leadership, is now or never an opportunity for you as far as potential leadership of the party?

ALBANESE: I’m concerned about being a good shadow minister and then a good minister in a Labor Government. I have always put the Party first. I’ve always put the interests of my electorate first.

The fact is that you do the job that you’ve been given at the time to the best of your capacity. That’s what I did as Leader of the House and a senior minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments.

That’s what I’m doing now as an opposition frontbencher and I’ve been campaigning very hard to hold this government to account. As the Infrastructure Shadow Minister, what we saw in the Budget is a $1.6 billion cut in infrastructure investment in the Budget.

What we’ve seen is a failure to fund important projects like the Cross River Rail in Brisbane, Melbourne Metro, AdeLINK light rail, nothing for Western Sydney rail. I was at Campbelltown earlier today and the fact is that we need that rail line from Campbelltown up through the Badgerys Creek airport site, up to St Mary’s and onto Rouse Hill if we’re going to maximise the opportunities through the new airport.

So they’re the sort of issues that I’ve been concentrating on. I’ll continue to concentrate on policy issues and playing my role as a senior member of the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: So not an issue?

ALBANESE: I’ve been continuing to do the job that I’ve been given. It’s a great honour to be a Member of the House of Representatives, to represent my electorate here in the inner west of Sydney but it’s also a great honour to be a senior member of the Labor Party and I don’t take that for granted. I do the job for the team each and every day. I’ll continue to do so.

[ENDS

May 26, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Manchester attack, Labor Party 

LISA WILKINSON: Shock and revulsion over the Manchester bombing continues to be felt around the world. Here it’s prompted authorities to review how major events are policed and the role we can all play in being vigilant. Joining me now for more is Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Good morning to both of you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

LISA WILKINSON: Excellent to have you both together.

ALBANESE: Congratulations on your ten years.

PYNE: Absolutely.

WILKINSON: Thank you. But it is appropriate that you two are together, because that’s the one thing that we want to come out of this Manchester attack. It’s for people to unite against evil. But Christopher, people are nervous, what is the Government doing right now to make sure that the Australian public is safe at large public gatherings?

PYNE: Well, Lisa, when something terrible like this happens, as happened at Manchester Arena, the Government immediately responds by reviewing whether we have all the legislative powers in place that our security forces need, agencies like ASIO and ASIS and the Australian Signals Directorate as well as the Australian Federal Police.

We have mechanisms, apparatus in place to work with the all the state police forces so if there is anything more we can do to add to their powers we will do it. And fortunately, it is a bipartisan area, so if we propose more changes to the law Labor almost always supports those.

The second thing of course we can do is to make sure that our security forces are properly financed, properly funded by the Government and we think we have got those things in place. And of course, we think about how we can support Britain in this case with intelligence and with support, just moral support.

But no government can guarantee that all of our public are safe all the time, and the Manchester Arena bombing is particularly heinous, because the suicide bomber blew himself up not inside the stadium, so there were no bag checks that could have stopped that happening. He waited until the end of a concert, until people were leaving and he was outside the venue. So it’s a very evil act.

WILKINSON: Anthony, do you think the Government is spending enough right now on fighting terror?

ALBANESE: The Government and the Opposition are as one. This is a time where the government is not the Liberal Party, the government is us, on behalf of the nation. That’s the way it should be. It’s the way it was when Labor was in government, it’s the way it is today. All Australians are horrified by the attack and anyone with a child just thinks of the tragedy of parents wondering where their kids were, who went to that concert.

All of us have a responsibility, not just government I think, but civil society as well, to engage as one. I think the best scene that I saw in Manchester was that amazing gathering of what looked like the entire city of Mancunians coming out in public, in solidarity, to say we won’t be defeated, we won’t be cowered.

WILKINSON: Christopher, in the wake of the Lindt siege cafe findings the NSW Police Commissioner wants shoot-to-kill laws so that his officers can take a life to save a life. Do you agree with that?

PYNE: Well, I’m surprised that those laws don’t exist at the NSW level already. I’m sure in some guise they actually do, because obviously the police have the power to shoot to kill in a situation where people are in danger. It’s been happening for many decades in Australia. In fact, there’s been criticism that sometimes certain police forces have been too ready to do so. So, I’d need to actually get the detail of what more he thinks he needs to do. That’s, of course, a matter for the NSW Government, but obviously if the NSW Police had acted even sooner in Lindt, apparently ten minutes earlier, it may have been a different outcome.

But as the NSW Police Commissioner himself said that wouldn’t guarantee there won’t be causalities because when you have guns and crazy people in a situation like that you cannot guarantee that everyone is safe.

WILKINSON: There are currently six Victorian youths who are considered at risk of violent extremism. What more can we do to make sure that these people don’t act? How close is the surveillance of these people?

PYNE: The most important thing we can do is collect as much intelligence as possible and work with the communities that are at risk, if there are communities at risk.

WILKINSON: But what about monitoring these people in particular?

PYNE: Well we are monitoring those people. Let me tell you, in the last little while we have interdicted 12 attempted terrorist attacks in Australia, we have arrested 63 Australians, only last week we arrested another South Australian person on this occasion. So, our forces are very effective.

Now, I can’t guarantee that we will never have a terrorist attack like the one at Manchester Arena, but we have been very lucky in Australia and one of the reasons is because our security forces are really on top of this and our intelligence gathering is second to none.

WILKINSON: Alright, well let’s sincerely hope that’s the case. And Anthony, I just have to say to you quickly it’s great to see you talking. Barnaby Joyce says that you’ve been silenced by Bill Shorten, what’s going on there?

PYNE: He’s mute.

ALBANESE: Not true, of course. I’m happy to be here in Campbelltown, Mike Freelander country here.

WILKINSON: You haven’t been silenced by Bill Shorten’s office?

ALBANESE: I’m here on The Today Show, I’ll be on another program on a non-commercial network tonight.

PYNE: He’s on the campaign trail.

ALBANESE: Just to give the ABC a plug as well. I’m out there doing my job.

PYNE: Before we go, can I just say it’s been a great pleasure to be working with you for the last five years on The Today Show.

WILKINSON: Thank you Christopher.

PYNE: So congratulations on your 10 years. It’s been a wonderful time.

WILKINSON: Thank you. And we always appreciate you coming on every Friday. It’s lovely to work with both of you.

ALBANESE: It’s been great.

PYNE: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good on you Lisa.

WILKINSON: Thank you.

 

 

May 24, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Manchester, Labor Party 

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us on the line right now and there is really one story that is dominating the news cycle of course at the moment. It emanates out of Manchester of course and we’ve spent much of the program reflecting on how our nation’s politicians as has the United Kingdom’s on those developments. Upgrades to terror levels, changes to things like bag checks at ANZ Stadium for the Liverpool – Sydney FC game today, and more.

Let’s get into all that now with Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.

CHRIS PYNE: Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning gents.

HOST: We’ll start with you if we can Chris; I’ve just been reading a bit in the London Sun, we’re getting more of a picture of the bomber in this atrocity. He’s a 22 year old man, Salman Abedi, his parents were refugees from Libya, came out to the UK to escape Colonel Gadaffi. He was just a run of the mill uni student, didn’t finish his degree, but then he dropped out, fell in with a bad crowd, became radicalised.

Now there’s a significant number of young men in Australia who could potentially fit into that same category, you know. Guys who, for whatever reason, end up with a chip on their shoulder. How confident can we be as a society that the sort of deradicalisation programs that we’ve got in place are working, or do we still need to do more.

PYNE: Well David nobody can ever say that there is no possibility that an attack like that at the Manchester Arena can’t happen in their society or their country. What we do in Australia, and we do it very well is we put a lot of effort into interdicting these kinds of attacks before they even get started. And our defence forces, our security forces, our police, have done so on numerous occasions over the last few years, and that’s sad that they’ve had to do so, but they have done so.

And there have been of course attacks of this kind, not obviously as serious as this dreadful incident in Manchester, but there have been these kinds of incidents in Australia. We’re going to get the coroner’s report today, in fact, on the Lindt Cafe siege and that is one of the examples of where we didn’t successfully interdict a problematic person in our society. But you don’t hear about all the times when our defence forces and our security forces do stop these kinds of attacks in their tracks before they get started, and we don’t really want to worry the public about these potential attacks. And we do it on a regular basis.

We do it by collecting a great deal of information, by having close relationships with those kinds of, as you describe them, the bad crowds. We try and find as much information about those as possible, and we do a very good job of it, but we wouldn’t want to be complacent about it. What the Manchester Arena attack tells us is that somebody with that kind of intention can bring about an attack.

The particularly awful aspect of this, of course, is that even bag checks would not have prevented this attack, because the suicide bomber blew himself up after the concert when people were leaving, at the merchandise store on the way into the Arena, when people were coming out, as opposed to being inside the concert. It’s a particularly evil attack targeting young teens. I think that has particularly touched everyone around the world.

HOST: To you, Albo, do you think that we need to have a broader conversation about the manner which our sort of, small ‘l’ liberal values can be used against us by people who have no intention of ever subscribing to them. I know that as one example, I know that you in the past have been very critical of the organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir which is still a legal organisation in Australia, but often sounds like nothing other than blatant apologists for groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Do you think that we need to muscle up a bit more in terms of the levels of tolerance, uncritical tolerance that we extend?

ALBANESE: Well I certainly think we need to call out groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir. They are apologists for the Islamic State and for actions such as this, I think that bring home to people the sheer horror of the mentality. I mean it’s almost beyond comprehension how someone could plan to detonate a bomb, kill themselves but take young girls, in particular, out with them. In this case at least one eight year old girl has been murdered.

We need to be very clear about our language, be clear about those people who would seek to do us harm and I’m confident though that the authorities are very competent in this country. I’ve sat in the National Security Committee of the Australian Government as well and we do have agencies that do their best to keep us safe. Now, can you guarantee that an individual can’t do something like this? Of course no government can do that but what we can do is work together as a nation, which we do.

I mean these issues aren’t partisan. These are issues where all of us in leadership positions need to do everything we can. A government’s first responsibility, and Parliament’s first responsibility is to keep our citizens safe. And I have confidence in the Government doing that, and in the agencies that do such remarkable work. Really, the number of, you might recall, just a few years ago the attempted plot on the MCG that was foiled; there are a number of others that we never hear about, as Christopher said, that are foiled because the agencies are ever vigilant. Now one of the things that we also do, is that when there is a tragedy, as there was in Martin Place with the siege, we have proper transparent investigations and learn from these incidents, and we need to continue to do that.

HOST: We’ve spent a bit of today talking about our response and people’s responses to what took place yesterday, here in Australia. I’m interested to get an insight about you two personally, about when something like that happens yesterday there is a feeling of generally disenfranchisement or sort of helplessness amongst the general public.

It’s why we get hashtags and people angrily ringing into talkback radio and things like that because people feel like they can’t influence, they’re a victim of what goes on. You guys come on every week because we want to speak to two of the most influential politicians in this country. When you turn up at work the day after something like this taking place, do you have a desire or do you feel like you want to turn up and do something about it? Do you feel like something needs to change? Do you feel like you have to play a role influencing the dialogue, the debate, the language that gets used? Or is it your role to go about business as usual?

PYNE: Well I can go first if you like. There are three things that leap to mind to me. The first is that I immediately think how lucky we are in this country that security issues are bipartisan, that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and the National Party are as one on the protection of our citizens and how to go about doing that. Sometimes there are nuances, but by and large we work together, because it’s the most important thing that any government can do, and no one tries to play politics with it.

The second thing I think about is to make sure our agencies, our security forces have all the powers that they need, because that’s of course where the Parliament comes into play; not only do we fund of course the agencies through the Budget, and both political parties do that, but we also have to give them the powers that they need to be able to protect our citizens.

And the third thing I think about is how to engage more with those communities where we need to be aware of the kinds of people who might carry out such an attack in Australia. I’m not one of those people who thinks we should demonise particular communities for a cheap headline. I think we should engage with those communities as much as possible, because I can tell you for a fact that is where most of our information comes from.

ALBANESE: Yes, look the first thing that I think that it does, and I’m sure this is the case for everyone regardless of what they do for a living or where they are at a particular time, it does create perspective.

We in this place have our arguments over issues. Something like this happens and at the beginning of Question Time, both the Prime Minister and Bill Shorten made outstanding contributions, and it really put some of the argy bargy that goes on into proper perspective, and that is important.

The second thing that I think of, I always, I must say, think of my responsibilities, not so much now because I’m the Shadow Minister, but as the Minister for Transport, I’ll always think about immediately, did we do everything that we could? We did full body scan. It was very controversial potentially; we had the harshest regime in the world. We have a no scan no fly policy that was supported by the Opposition in a bipartisan way when we were in Government. We did that in response to the undie bomber when that happened over Christmas of that year. We respond when there’s an issue, we respond, and we respond in a bipartisan way, that’s a good thing.

But the third thing, as much as you feel inevitably down, I don’t think anyone can feel anything but depressed by what’s happened, is that I was uplifted when I saw a photo on social media of the amazing gathering of what looked like hundreds and thousands of people in the main square of Manchester, basically saying we won’t be defeated, we won’t be scared. We’re going to celebrate life and our civilised society, and come together regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, gender, we’re together as one, as Mancunians. And I just think that was incredibly uplifting and I think at times like this it shows that terrorism doesn’t win. People don’t go into their shell, that’s what they want, and people getting out there into the streets, in a public place, just saying, it was an act of defiance and a magnificent scene.

HOST: We made the point earlier guys that 15 years after 88 Australians were among the 202 people who perished in the Bali bombings; there are now record numbers of Australians going to Bali for their holidays and for different reasons. So the fact that life goes on is the ultimate middle finger to the ISIS set.

Hey look just before we let you go, and just quickly Albo, and taking your point about perspective in the scheme of things and everything we’ve just discussed, I don’t want this to sound frivolous but there is a piece in the SMH today, other people have written about the Labor leadership focusing on your comments about the Budget and also the 457 visa ad. Is anything going on, do you have any designs on Bill Shorten’s job?

ALBANESE: Look I’m just doing my job and I think I’m doing a good job of holding the Government to account. I want to be a Minister in the next Labor Government, that’s my focus. And on the ad, I called it as I’ve saw it; I think that one of the reasons why you have Christopher and myself on your program is that we don’t talk in pollie-speak, and I think that’s a good thing. I think people are over people giving words that are managed to every single issue. And it is a pity; that’s one of the reasons why politicians speak off the script that they’re given from on high is that whenever you actually say what you think, people try and read other things into it.

HOST: So nothing’s going on?

PYNE: But if the opportunity presented itself you would take it of course.

ALBANESE: I’m just doing my job.

PYNE: You wouldn’t knock the crown back.

ALBANESE: I’m just doing my job and we’re on 53 per cent of the vote.

PYNE: I think I know the answer to that question.

HOST: Thank you guys appreciate your time this morning, thanks Chris, thanks Albo.

 

May 19, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Labor Party; Budget Reply

KARL STEFANOVIC: Anthony Albanese just tipped an enormous bucket on Bill Shorten. Well, that’s how the Huffington Post described their clash over the budget response. Anthony is here and Christopher Pyne joins me now from Adelaide. Gentlemen, good morning. Start your engines.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

STEFANOVIC: Anthony, have you spoken to Bill Shorten since you tipped the bucket on him?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. That was ridiculous. This is fake news, to quote a prominent American.

STEFANOVIC: You’re now quoting Donald Trump?

ALBANESE: The fact is that the speech was approved in advance by Bill’s office. It was perfectly consistent with what Bill said in his Budget Reply which is that the government has adopted some of the rhetoric of Labor’s, speaking about needs-based education funding, speaking about the importance of Medicare, the importance of infrastructure, but they’re not actually doing it. There’s no conviction, and no substance and that’s why there is – to take education – $22 billion of cuts.

STEFANOVIC: You said, and I quote “Budget 2017 was an overwhelming victory for the ALP. It was the budget of ideological surrender”. Bill Shorten said “make no mistake; this is not a Labor budget.” They are poles apart, both those statements.

ALBANESE: That’s not right. If you look at the substance of the two speeches, they’re identical in terms of the narrative that’s there, which is we think the government has tried to adopt a Labor narrative but because unfairness is in their DNA, it’s an unfair budget. I went through in the speech, in detail, Medicare, education, infrastructure.

STEFANOVIC: You’re saying there’s no rift between you and Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: Not at all.

STEFANOVIC: And there’s no difference of opinion on this?

ALBANESE: The only rift in Australian politics is on the other side between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull who are at war with each other. Tony Abbott has gone out there and again said that the 2014 Budget is the gold standard and we know that that’s what the Liberals actually think.

STEFANOVIC: Are you getting ready to have a tilt?

ALBANESE: I’m getting ready to be a minister in a Shorten Labor Government and that’s what I’m working for in the next two years. Because this government is out of ideas. That’s why they’re trying to take on some of Labor’s narrative. Because they know that Australians won’t cop the unfairness.

STEFANOVIC: Are you sure you’re not getting ready for a tilt?

ALBANESE: Karl, good try. But the truth is that the only division in Australian politics is on the other side.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, you must be delighted that Anthony liked your budget so much.

PYNE: Well Karl, Anthony’s thrown Bill under the bus this week and that speech marks the beginning of Anthony Albanese’s campaign for the Labor leadership because Bill Shorten’s numbers in the polls are so bad and have been consistently so bad that he’s holding back the Labor vote. Anthony knows it and so does the rest of the Labor Party. The truth is that what Anthony said this week is exactly what the government’s been saying, that’s it’s a centrist, pragmatic budget that is sensible, dealing with the issues as they arise, paying for the NDIS, reducing taxes, and Anthony Albanese’s completely endorsed the budget whereas Bill Shorten tried to attack it.

ALBANESE: Absolutely untrue and you know it. Christopher. It was a damning indictment of the budget.

PYNE: I didn’t interrupt you once. But if you read your –

ALBANESE: I wasn’t talking nonsense.

PYNE: If you read your speech you went through ad seriatum the items in the Budget and said that they were centrist, pragmatic, sensible and that Labor should –

ALBANESE: No I didn’t. I went through and spoke about the gap between the rhetoric and the reality.

PYNE: …opposite of what Bill Shorten said and as you know it, you fired the starter gun this week. And good luck to you! You’ll be much better than Bill. At least you believe in things. At least you’ve got some conviction.

STEFANOVIC: I like this.

PYNE: It’s a compliment.

ALBANESE: Christopher, all the division is on your side of politics and you know that that’s the case.

PYNE: You can’t wriggle out of this.

ALBANESE: You know that that’s the case.

PYNE: You’ve fired the starter gun.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Christopher.

PYNE: You’re out of the blocks!

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Christopher. You’re talking about Bill Shorten’s ratings but yours aren’t too flash either. Your twelfth consecutive poll loss. Things are pretty bleak.

PYNE: Not at all.

ALBANESE: You’re on 47 per cent!

PYNE: The budget has been well received. You know, John Howard spent much of the time of his eleven years in government behind in the polls because the only poll that matters is election day. We only have to make a sale every three years. So therefore we don’t have to worry about the polls.

STEFANOVIC: That’s not necessarily true. Malcolm Turnbull blamed the polls for getting rid of Tony Abbott so there’s obviously a bit more to it.

PYNE: No. Not really.

STEFANOVIC: Of course it was.

ALBANESE: Yes, it was.

STEFANOVIC: Righto, we’ve got to go.

PYNE: That’s a rewriting of history.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you, gentlemen.

[ENDS]

May 18, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Perth, Western Australia

Subjects: Infrastructure funding, Budget Reply

MATT KEOGH, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BURT: It’s excellent to be able to stand here on Denny Avenue after two years of campaigning through a by-election and a federal election and personally for many years before that. We’re now going to start to see some action on fixing this terrible traffic snarl.

Anthony Albanese and I were standing just over the road here about a year ago talking about this exact problem of all of these traffic lights, a level crossing and the accidents that happen here at least once a month.

It is not only one of the most dangerous level crossings in Western Australia, it’s one of the most dangerous roads [inaudible] over 200 meters long so what this really is a testament to is not only a long period of Federal Labor campaigning to make sure that this gets fixed but also the great work that’s happened with the McGowan Labor Government, working together with Federal Labor to see this Federal Government move that funding away from the Perth Freight Link and into the projects that Western Australians actually want that money spent on.

Fixing Denny Avenue here, bringing forward the duplication of Armadale Road, building the new Armadale Road Bridge to relieve congestion around the freeway and of course extending the Thornlie Railway line to Cockburn Central with two new stations in Canning Vale. All critical pieces of infrastructure and public transport for these very rapidly growing south eastern suburbs that have been ignored by Liberal Governments for too long.

But it needs to be seen in the context of course that while we’ve had the re-allocation of funds, there’s been no new spending on infrastructure under the federal budget that was just handed down last week, which is terribly sad for Western Australia. But also, while they gave us $226 million in GST compensation which Western Australia desperately needs, it’s only a one off payment, and in the same budget, they’ve taken over $500 million out of the state budget in terms of health and education funding. So whilst they’ve given a small amount with one hand, they’ve taken much more out with the other hand.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is a victory for Matt Keogh. I stood here on this very corner across diagonally a year ago during the by-election and Matt Keogh had this as a priority and it’s not surprising because the Automobile Association here in WA has identified this little section of road as the most dangerous in a survey of motorists. So it’s good that it’s being fixed – Armadale Road and the extension to the Thornlie Rail line.

But the fact is that this is only happened because of pressure from Labor. It’s WA Labor that worked with us. It’s consistent with all of the promises that we made in the Federal election campaign. We recommitted to projects such as this during Canning by-election. But at the same time there’s not a single new dollar for WA. This is simply transferring funds from one project, Perth Freight Link, the flawed project that didn’t go to the port, to other projects.

What Western Australia needed and what the government said it would do is invest in new infrastructure. Make additional investment. And indeed in this year’s budget we’ve got an over $200 million cut in WA. Last year’s budget said there would be $842 million on WA infrastructure this financial year. The budget papers show it will in fact invest $616 million. So more than $200 million cut.

That’s a part of the $1.6 billion in infrastructure cuts that are made just this financial year and it’s no wonder that peak industry organisations like Infrastructure Partnerships Australia have been quite angry in their response to the budget because budget actual investment has fallen off a cliff under this government and will fall to a total nationally of just $4 billion in 2020-21.

REPORTER: So in your speech to the TWU you were quite harsh on the Coalition, do you think that Bill Shorten should have been harsher during his Budget Reply?

ALBANESE: I think what I said was perfectly consistent with what Bill Shorten did in his Budget Reply. This is a government led by Malcolm Turnbull that says now that it supports universal health care through Medicare. But it hasn’t actually put the funds in. It’s maintaining the Medicare freeze which is leading to a decline in bulk billing. They say they support needs-based school funding, but they’ve cut $22 billion of funds for education.

They say they support the NDIS but they’re pretending it wasn’t fully funded when they know full well that it wasn’t just the Medicare surcharge increase, it was also changes to fringe benefits tax, to tobacco excise, to a range of measures that we made. Tough decisions in government to make sure that the NDIS was fully funded. When it comes to infrastructure, it’s a bit like their infrastructure agenda where they say they’re going to do something about roads and railways and ports.

They spoke about good debt and bad debt. When you look at the budget, the only new road funded anywhere with new money is $13.8 million for the Far North Collector Road near Nowra. The fact is that this Government hasn’t been able to take the fight up to Labor about the need for Medicare, about the need for needs-based funding in education, about the NDIS, about the need to invest in infrastructure, but they’re not putting these principles actually into practice.

There’s no substance there and that’s why it’s only Labor that can actually deliver the reform and the programs that Australia needs – genuine commitment to needs-based school funding, genuine commitment to Medicare as the basis of our healthcare system, genuine commitment to building nation building infrastructure.

REPORTER: So you don’t think your speech just said (inaudible)?

ALBANESE: Not at all. It’s perfectly consistent with what he said in the Budget Reply. Indeed, the speech was given in advance to Bill Shorten’s office.

REPORTER: So you’re happy with it? You don’t think you should have been stronger considering what the Coalition put out and how it did capitalise with a lot of Labor sort of ideas?

ALBANESE: The fact is that they’re trying to capture Labor ideas because they don’t have any of their own. Because their ideas of wrecking Medicare, of not supporting nation building infrastructure, of having education which entrenches privilege rather than creates opportunity is an agenda that is out of touch with what the Australian public want.

What the Australian public want is a Government that’s as good as they are and that’s why it’s only Labor that has that agenda and has the substance, not just the rhetoric and the headlines, is able to put the substance on the policy headline to give the detail that Australians need.

REPORTER: So Bill Shorten for 2019, you’re still behind that?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. We’re a team and I’m committed to doing the best I can on infrastructure, transport, regional development, cities and tourism. And might I say, today, here we are at a road project that was announced by Matt Keogh and myself during the by-election campaign.

It was recommitted to during the federal election campaign, and even though we weren’t successful, it’s now happening. That’s about Labor getting things done. The fact is the Labor Party is leading from Opposition.

REPORTER: Speaking of that, there’s been plans to upgrade this area for fifteen years. That’s both Labor and Liberal parties in federal government. Why is it only now that it’s been sorted out?

ALBANESE: The fact is that this area hasn’t had an advocate of the quality of Matt Keogh. That’s the difference. Matt Keogh has made sure that, in terms of the priorities that have been done for this growing region, he’s brought it to the attention, won the support of his colleagues as priority announcements, and clearly has won the debate nationally as well.

The Coalition Government here in WA were rejected with their Perth Freight Link plan. That was something that Malcolm Turnbull says was not negotiable. Before the election campaign he was running around; didn’t commit to any new public transport funding. No new roads funding.

The only projects that are currently underway in Perth that have federal money in them, or have been recently completed are ones that were funded when I was the Minister in the former Labor Government. So projects like Gateway WA that’s been completed. Projects right around the state. Projects like the Swan Valley Bypass, which they renamed NorthLink, but it’s the same project that was funded by us when we were in government in the 2013 Budget.

KEOGH: Can I just add, the lack of action on the Denny Avenue railway crossing is directly attributable to Liberal Governments. The previous state Labor government was moving forward in this project before it came out of Government in 2008. When the Liberal government came in in 2008 the project got scrapped.

There hasn’t been, until we’ve seen both the re-election of a state Labor government and the pressure that’s been applied at a federal level by federal Labor on the federal government who have realised that Western Australians are sick of being taken for granted by Liberal Governments that we’ve seen action come about. The Liberal Party is directly responsible for the lack of action that we’ve seen here.

[ENDS]

May 17, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Budget 2017; infrastructure investment; Bank Levy. 

HOST: Today they join us for Two Tribes, good morning to you both.

PYNE: Good morning Will, good morning David, good morning Anthony.

ALBANESE: Good morning team, you should get that bloke to do the interview instead of you two.

HOST: Be careful what you wish for. He would have kept the PM on his toes that’s for sure. We will start with you if we can Chris. It’s a week since the Federal Budget was brought down and I want to ask you broadly about the reaction to it. I don’t think there is a conservative commentator in the country who has applauded this Budget. It’s been described as a high-taxing, high-spending, Labor-style Budget that is wholly designed to win you guys the next election. What do you make of that criticism?

PYNE: Well John Howard has praised the Budget and last time I looked he was pretty conservative.

HOST: He hasn’t praised the Bank Levy.

PYNE: He’s certainly praised the Budget. He said it was a very good document, a very pragmatic Budget. We’ve been criticised by the Far Right, we’ve been criticised by the Far Left. It probably means we’re doing a good job. We’re getting the things done that people want to have done and that is to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is critically important that it be funded.

We’re (inaudible) tax relief, which we’ve continued to do to reduce the deficit that was left to us by the Labor Party, to live within our means and to create jobs by massive infrastructure projects like the one that Malcolm Turnbull and I announced yesterday at Osborne for $1.2 billion of infrastructure in Adelaide.

So we’re just getting on with the job and criticisms come and go in politics I think. These days, given the way the media is set up and the obviously, the knife fight, between social media and print media and radio and so on, a lot of these commentators are simply trying to find a market share and I don’t necessarily think they are as angry as they sometimes appear when I watch them.

HOST: To you Albo, the criticism that’s been made of Labor is that, politically, you’ve been confronted with a Budget that is more in the Labor tradition. It includes a whopping new tax measure in terms of the Bank Levy. It doles out vast amounts of money for infrastructure …

ALBANESE: No it doesn’t.

HOST: It increases the Medicare Levy for the rich and in response, as Turnbull has tried to win back the centre, Bill Shorten is taking Labor further to the Left.

ALBANESE: What we’ve seen is the Government capitulate about ideas and policy frameworks that it, at its core, doesn’t support. It supports now the framework of Medicare, being the foundation of our universal health system. It supports now, rhetorically, needs-based education funding. It supports now, rhetorically, infrastructure even though, of course, it hasn’t delivered a single dollar for a new road or a new rail line, or the light rail project in Adelaide.

And even through it cut $1.6 billion from this year’s infrastructure Budget it supports it rhetorically. But it can’t bring itself to actually put in place the policy details and mechanisms needed to actually deliver those things of needs-based education, support for Medicare, where they’ve delayed removing the freeze on Medicare co-payments for another couple of years.

On infrastructure where Malcolm Turnbull talks about public transport but still won’t fund it and now isn’t funding roads either. The fact is that this is a pretty poor Budget when you look at the detail and that’s why it’s unravelling day by day and just like the 2014 Budget and all of their other Budgets that they’ve brought down it, doesn’t really have either a macro-economic frame for growth and jobs.

HOST: I want to give you both an opportunity now to answer this question because I think it affects you both equally. Westpac Chief Financial Officer Peter King speaking in the Australian this morning has responded to, I guess, the Government’s desire for banks not to pass this levy on by saying well, hang on, what assurances do we have that this isn’t the thin end of the wedge and that every single time that either a Labor or a Liberal Government wants to raise some money to fund a promise it doesn’t become the Bank Levy that goes up. He is saying that one way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to guarantee the levy rate in the letter of the law as opposed to using regulation. Is that a reasonable request Christopher Pyne?

PYNE: Well obviously we can always look at these requests from the banks, but quite frankly the banks have a Government guarantee. The large banks have a Government guarantee and as a consequence they are the best investment for any shareholder or investor in the world. They are the most profitable banks in the world and they are making tens of billions of dollars of profits between the five largest banks including Macquarie Bank, and the idea that they can’t make a contribution to the Budget repair is quite frankly ludicrous.

HOST: Ok, let me put it this way Christopher Pyne. Is it not incumbent upon your Government if you might trust your use of a levy like this, but do you trust Albo’s mob when they come into Government?

PYNE: Well of course I don’t trust Albo’s mob.

HOST: Isn’t it incumbent on you then to build something into this to make sure that it can’t be raised?

ALBANESE: Come on Christopher that was a chance to say something nice.

PYNE: Well I trust you Anthony, of course. I quite like you in spite of all your faults. But the problem is you’re in a team.

HOST: You fell in with a bad crowd.

PYNE: It’s kind of asinine suggestion because even if the levy rate was put in a piece of legislation, you can always just turn up and change the legislation and Anthony knows, you know, just because it is in legislation or regulation doesn’t mean it can’t go up or go down. So it’s just again the banks trying to throw up a smokescreen and quite frankly, I think they should stop it. I think that they should make their contribution. They are the most profitable institutions in the country. The taxpayer is giving them a guarantee. Yesterday the smaller banks’ representative, Jamie McPhee, was pointing out that the Reserve Bank estimated that as being worth $2.8 billion a year to the banks – this implied Government guarantee, this effective guarantee. And as a consequence I don’t think the Australian public have any sympathy for the banks complaining about them making a contribution to Budget repair.

HOST: Asinine is your new favourite word isn’t it Christopher?

PYNE: Yes, I quite like that.

HOST: You used it yesterday with regard to the minimum ship-building expenditure in South Australia. I’ll give you an opportunity to answer that question too Albo. Is it a reasonable request from Westpac and the banks to have something built in that at least makes it slightly more difficult to raise this levy in future?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a non-issue. If they actually know anything about legislation with regard to taxation, the normal course of events would be the rate would be included in the legislation. That’s just normal practice. Otherwise, guess what? Governments could change rates of taxation without having appropriate parliamentary scrutiny. So I see that as business as usual, not a big deal. I do note that when we proposed a bank levy of one tenth of what the Government has proposed, there was going to be, you know, pestilence and drought and the locusts were going to come and the world was going to end. And Christopher and his team were all a part of that cheer squad for the banks. We’re not playing politics with this. We’ll back it in. But we are concerned of course that the banks make sure that it is not passed on to customers and that is a job to make sure that the Government holds them to account.

HOST: Good stuff. Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up. We’ll let you both go and we’ll do it again next week.

ALBANESE: See you gentlemen. Did you note my statesmanlike ending there?

HOST: It was very statesmanlike Albo, uncharacteristically so.

ALBANESE: Christopher should try and meet that benchmark next week.

HOST: He was all right today.

PYNE: I didn’t point out they are playing politics with the NDIS because I wanted to avoid partisan politics.

HOST: We can tolerate the outbreak of love and affection every so often.

ALBANESE: I’m just about to speak at my old school.

HOST: Which school is that Albo? Marrickville?

ALBANESE: St Mary Cathedral in Sydney.

HOST: Sydney’s Inner West – good part of the world. You’d get to St Ignatius a bit for school reunions and stuff wouldn’t you Chris?

PYNE: Absolutely. Definitely. Yes, I am a very proud St Ignatian.

HOST: Good stuff. Good on you guys.

May 16, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Launceston

Subjects: Turnbull Government cuts to tourism funding; Turnbull Government’s failure to invest in Tasmanian infrastructure; Eric Abetz, Labor Party leadership.

ROSS HART, MEMBER FOR BASS: Thank you everybody for joining us here today. I have great pleasure in welcoming Anthony Albanese here to Bass and Northern Tasmania today. We have been up in the north-east of Tasmania looking at the best that the north-east has to offer, in particular focusing on a craft brewery. Anthony is the Shadow Minister for Tourism as well as being Infrastructure Shadow Minister. He has a real interest in seeing what can assist regional Tasmania and regional Australia generally in exploiting their benefits and exploiting their key advantages, driving tourism and driving business growth. That is particularly important here in northern Tasmania. Anthony, welcome to Bass.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks Ross, It is good to be here. This morning we visited Little Rivers Brewery in Scottsdale – a fantastic local small business started by a husband and wife – a family business that now is employing fellow Scottsdale residents and it is the centre of community activity but importantly also is a real tourism attraction. And it is those sort of niche tourism attractions that can bring people to regional towns like Scottsdale, that can provide a real boost to the economy. We know that tourism is so important for our economy. It employs some one million Australians right now. But we know the potential is enormous. We live in a part of the world which is seeing the greatest explosion in the middle class that we have ever seen anywhere in the world throughout human history. And what that presents is an opportunity. But it is an opportunity that is being lost. The Budget last week saw not just no dollars into tourism; it actually saw a cut of $35 million to Tourism Australia funding. Now in terms of its role in promoting Australia to the world, in promoting Tasmania to the world, it plays a critical role and to cut funding with no notice whatsoever is extraordinary. In addition to that we saw an impost of additional visa charges on visitors to Australia, again undermining our competitiveness as a tourism attraction.

We also saw here in Tasmania no money for any infrastructure projects – an extraordinary Budget where it was as if Tasmania was left off the map. No road projects, no rail projects, no port projects, no new airport projects, nothing at all for Tasmania. And that’s pretty consistent with what has happened under the Abbott and Turnbull Governments. We’ve had now four years of neglect, four years where they have relied upon the funding that was already in the Budget for projects like the Midland Highway, even though they cut $100 million from it, projects we had of course, funding here for the first stage study of the Launceston bypass. We had an approach to nation building that saw jobs created in the short-term, that saw the safety on our roads improve in the medium term, but importantly also saw productivity benefits as a result of our investment in Tasmanian infrastructure. And we are not seeing that from this Government. Whether it be transport infrastructure or tourism infrastructure, this is a Government that is ignoring Tasmania.

REPORTER: Do you have an explanation for them (inaudible) ignoring Tasmania?

ALBANESE: I think one of things that happened during the last term was that they had some pretty ineffective members of Parliament who the Tasmanian people themselves passed judgement on at the last election by electing people like Ross Hart here in Launceston. It’s pretty clear that they just don’t understand Tasmania and the Tasmanian representatives who are still in the Parliament for the Liberal Party like Eric Abetz – is more interested in fighting Malcolm Turnbull than he is with actually achieving outcomes for Tasmanians.

So the Labor Party will continue to present the evidence of why we need that investment here in Tasmania. The only things that we have seen, which weren’t Budget announcements, were during the last election campaign. The UTAS development – a good development, one which we initiated and we said we would fund and they matched and called it a City Deal. But that is all that we have seen from the Government. And it’s very disappointing. As the Infrastructure Minister I know that each and every single time I was a part of a Budget process over that six years there was there was money for Tasmania, money for new projects. That means money for jobs and it means money for the Tasmanian economy.

REPORTER: There’s a Tasmanian Regional Jobs and Investment fund. How long would you expect that to be wound out? It was announced in the July election last year and appeared in the Budget. What would be your expectation?

ALBANESE: Well that was an election announcement but it pales into insignificance compared with the regional development funding that was created by the former government. Indeed, much of it is just a repackaging of that. What we haven’t seen is new initiatives and what it needs are some new big initiatives from the Government. If you look at the work that we did on the highway here in the north of the state but also the most important road – the Midland Highway – we had that commitment to deliver.

REPORTER: You mentioned Eric Abetz before. He has come out today criticised the CFMEU and said they will take Tasmania back to the stone age with jobs and all that if they continue having more power. Do you think Eric is out of line to make those comments?

ALBANESE: Well Eric Abetz continues to almost be a parody of himself. That’s up to him to explain his own comments. What Eric Abetz would be better off doing is actually making some representations to the Coalition Government to actually give support to Tasmania. Clearly he failed in the lead-up to last week’s Budget because there just weren’t any new initiatives and that is quite extraordinary in a Budget where the Government is trying clearly to turn its fortunes around. They have failed dismally when it comes to support for Tasmania.

REPORTER: When it comes to the fortunes of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten’s popularity continues to slide. Can you see yourself perhaps stepping up to the main role as leader?

ALBANESE: Oh look I want to be part of the team and that is the role that I play. I’m very satisfied to be the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism. I’ve got big responsibilities and I am perfectly satisfied being part of that team and making a contribution and I will continue to do so. That is what I am doing here in Tasmania. I was doing it in Victoria yesterday. I will be doing it in NSW tomorrow and I will be doing it in Western Australia on Thursday.

I’m absolutely committed to getting rid of the Turnbull Government because it is a government that frankly is out of ideas. They are now trying to adopt Labor ideas so they are now saying that they support needs-based funding for education but they are not putting the funding in. They are saying they support Medicare but they are not providing the support that is required to actually support Medicare and they are not doing it soon enough. They are maintaining the freeze on the rebate for a period of time. They say they are interested in infrastructure but they are cutting $1.6 billion from the infrastructure budget just this year. So what I am focused on totally is holding the Turnbull Government to account.

REPORTER: What about Bill Shorten then. Is his current popularity dragging the down party as a whole in your eyes?

ALBANESE: Look we work as a team. Bill Shorten is the Leader, everyone doing the task that they have been given by Caucus. And we are being I think very effective at holding the Government to account, at forcing the Government into temporarily walking away from its own beliefs. We know that they, at the first possible opportunity, would bring back those zombie Budget measures to punish people who are on benefits or punish the most unfortunate people due to no circumstances of their own. We know that this a Government that is out of ideas and it is really out of time and I look forward to the next election.

REPORTER: I want to ask about Tanya Plibersek. She’s proving to be quite a winner with the voters as well from what the polls are suggesting. Do you think that it’s maybe for a woman to be in charge of the Labor party again?

ALBANESE: We have leader. Our leader is Bill Shorten and people are doing the jobs that they have been given.

REPORTER: So you are quite satisfied with the status quo right now?

ALBANESE: Yes. Bill Shorten is the Leader. He is performing. He gave a Budget reply last week that took it up to the Government and every one of our team is out there doing our job, focused on the needs of Australians. That’s our focus. The Labor Party isn’t focused on ourselves. What we are focused on is the needs of the Australian people, the need to fulfil our vision for better educational opportunity, better health care, better jobs, investing in infrastructure and investing in people. Thanks.

May 15, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Melbourne

Subjects: Victoria dudded on national infrastructure investment; Regional Rail Link; asset recycling.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am pleased to be here this morning with my Parliamentary colleague Jacinta Allan, the Victorian Minister, and what I am here for is to say that once again Victoria has been dudded by the Federal Budget last Tuesday night. Victorians have one in four of the Australian population and yet they are not even getting one in ten of national infrastructure dollars. Last Tuesday night we saw insult on top of the previous insults that have come from Canberra towards Victoria. Victoria is entitled to $1.45 billion of the Government’s Asset Recycling Funds. It’s the Federal Government’s own policy. They handed over that money to NSW, they handed it over to the ACT, and yet Victoria was once again short-changed.

In addition to that Victoria had its budget cut across the board when it comes to infrastructure. Some $150 million is being spent less this year than what the Coalition Government under Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison said they would spend last year. That declines from some $740 million that they committed this year – we know they only got $590 million. But it gets worse each and every year.  By 2020-21 Victoria will receive just $280.7 million from the Commonwealth Government for nation building infrastructure. And we saw those cuts across the board – cuts to the Black Spots Program, cuts to the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, cuts to the Bridges Program.

All this Government has been prepared to do is put back some money in recent years that they themselves had previously cut – funds for projects like the M80 that they cut in 2014, put money back in 2016 and somehow pretended that it was new money.

The Regional Rail Package, put together by Jacinta and the Victorian Government, is a credible package. It’s one that will benefit people in regional Australia, including in Darren Chester, the Infrastructure Ministers’, own electorate of Gippsland, and it is quite extraordinary that Victorian Government has been dudded again. But of course they are not just dudding the Victorian Government, they are dudding each and every Victorian – punishing them for not electing a Coalition State Government, punishing them because Malcolm Turnbull has a Sydney-centric view of the world. It’s based upon the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I say that as a proud Sydneysider.

When we were in Government, we funded Victorian infrastructure – the M80 and other road projects but most significantly the Regional Rail Link – the largest ever public investment from the Commonwealth in a public transport project. We are very proud of that record. It’s about time that the Federal Government got with the program and actually funded infrastructure instead of what we saw last week, which was a $1.7 billion cut in infrastructure investment nationally just this year.

JACINTA ALLAN, VICTORIAN MINISTER FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT: It is good to join the Federal Shadow Minister Anthony Albanese here this afternoon at Southern Cross Station and of course Southern Cross Station is the heart of the regional network with every regional train running in and out of this station. And what we are wanting to do in Victoria is to build a stronger, better regional public transport system and we are simply asking for the funds that we are entitled to through the Asset Recycling Initiative. We are simply asking for these funds to come to Victoria because this is not Malcolm Turnbull’s money. It’s not anyone else’s money but Victorians’ money and we are simply asking for the funds that Victoria is entitled to. And I’m so pleased that Anthony Albanese and the Federal Labor Opposition are taking up the case for Victoria because we need those voices in Canberra. We need those voices in Canberra reminding this Sydney-centric, Sydney-focused Liberal Federal Government that we continuing to be dudded. We do have 25 per cent of the population here. We are getting far short of our share of funding in infrastructure and even worse, were are having money that is entitled to Victoria taken off us at the same time.

Anthony symbolises a strong contrast to Malcolm Turnbull and his team and he spoke of the Regional Rail Link. That is a fantastic project that is delivering real results. Anthony was the minister when that money was first allocated back in 2009. This is a project that opened in 2015 and we have seen a boom in terms of the number of people using our regional public transport services. The Andrews Labor Government wants to build on that. We want to go into the next stage of a regional rail revival, building on the traditions of Labor Governments in the past. It is only Labor Governments that invest in regional rail and we will join with our Federal colleagues to fight for each and every dollar, each and every dollar that firstly we are entitled to under the Asset Recycling Initiative and then secondly, each and every dollar that we are entitled to as part of a fair share of funding that should come to Victoria.

REPORTER: (inaudible).

ALBANESE: Well what Malcolm Turnbull has done is reallocate some $30 million for the study into the link to Tullamarine, but at the same time of course he has given nothing whatsoever to the Melbourne Metro project which was essential as a pre-condition for having the Airport Rail Link and at the same time he is ripping out almost half a billion dollars that should have been allocated under the Asset Recycling Scheme. And the thing about asset recycling is that is under the Government’s own logic it is money being handed back to the states as a result of a revenue increase to the Federal Government as a result of assets changing hands from government ownership to private ownership. So what that means is that they are actually making a profit of almost half a billion dollars from the sale of the ports here by the Victorian Government. It is an outrageous positon that Malcolm Turnbull and his Government have.

ENDS

May 15, 2017

Address to the Institute of Transportation Engineers Australia and New Zealand RMIT University, Melbourne

I want to firstly thank you for giving me this opportunity to address such a distinguished group of experts about an issue I am passionate about: nation building infrastructure that makes our economy stronger and improves the quality of life for this and future generations of Australians.

And the timing couldn’t be better given that infrastructure has in recent days again emerged as a central theme in the national political discourse.  In particular, last week’s Federal Budget kicked off an intense debate over the role of the national government in the provision of infrastructure and how that infrastructure can best be paid for.

But let me start by saying: good government is about planning and building for the future.

That means that it is not secondary to other elements of a successful economic strategy.

It is central.

Indeed, in the highly competitive, globalised world of the 21st Century, the prices consumers pay, the profits businesses make and the export income Australia earns will more than ever depend on the quality and adequacy of our roads, railways, sea and air ports, electricity grids, and telecommunication networks.

Good infrastructure ensures that when we flick the switch the lights come on; when we turn the tap the water flows.  It gets workers to their jobs and food to our shops.

It enables businesses to trade, and to grow.

But it’s not just about commerce.  It’s also the networks that power our smartphones and enable us to stay connected with our family and friends.  It allows us to travel and explore our nation and the world; to live our lives as we choose.

And it can allow us to live where we want to live.

As noted recently by the Governor of the Reserve Bank Phillip Lowe:

“Investment in transportation infrastructure can also play an important role in addressing housing affordability, which is an increasingly important issue.”

Put simply, infrastructure matters.

And yes, some of our infrastructure works well.  But there are also significant areas of deficit.

And the truth is, infrastructure investment has been in decline in recent years, with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures confirming that for every one of the Coalition’s quarters in office, total public sector infrastructure investment has been lower than it was in every quarter under the former Labor Government.

This means we are falling behind our competitors internationally.

And it also means we are falling behind the great nation building tradition established by our predecessors – visionaries such as Prime Minister Andrew Fisher who gave us the transcontinental railway; Ben Chifley who turned the Snowy Hydro dream into a reality; and Sir Robert Risson who protected Melbourne’s trams from those who wanted the lines ripped up in the name of ‘progress’.

Here in Victoria, right now, Melbourne’s roads are increasingly gridlocked, with Infrastructure Australia forecasting that the cost of this traffic congestion will rise more than threefold to $9 billion a year by 2031 if nothing is done.

On top of that, the City’s trams are more crowded than ever and its passenger train network is near capacity.

Meanwhile, beyond Melbourne, the State’s regional rail network is inadequate and ageing.

And this is the situation even before we get to the challenges that lie ahead.

FUTURE CHALLENGES

Consider this: over the next several decades Australia’s population is expected to grow by some 400,000 people a year.

In the words of the former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry:

“In infrastructure terms, that’s like building a new city the size of Sydney every decade; or building a new city the size of Newcastle or Canberra every year.”

And where are all those people going to live?

Most likely, Sydney and Melbourne will become home to many of them.

Melbourne alone is growing by about 100,000 people a year – a trend that is expected to continue until at least mid-century.  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this population surge will see Melbourne overtake Sydney as the nation’s biggest city by 2056.

That will change the shape of this City in ways that are difficult to imagine today.

And Victoria’s cities and towns will change shape for other reasons too.

Chief among them being the ageing of the population, with the number of people aged 65 or older projected to increase by 77 per cent between 2012 and 2031 to 5.7 million.

This will have implications for housing design and urban planning.

And ensuring these millions of older Australians can remain mobile and stay connected with family and friends, as well as to the health and aged care services they will require, will place new demands on our transport systems.

Managing this population growth and demographic change will not be easy.

But one thing is certain: a failure to plan and build the infrastructure that will be needed will leave many people and communities socially isolated and economically disadvantaged.  And that would inevitably harm the overall productivity and performance of Victoria – and Australia.

So we can see the challenges.

The question now is how to respond.

THE RESPONSE

There are three key ingredients to an effective and ultimately successful infrastructure policy.

They are proper, long term planning, financing, and political will.

Proper, long term planning

Infrastructure has to be got right if we are to maximise its social, economic and environmental dividends.

By that I mean the national government’s investment and policy decisions need
to be guided by a strategic, comprehensive and systemic vision, one based on an objective, evidence-based assessment of the nation’s immediate and long-term infrastructure needs.

That is why one of the first things Labor did when last in government was to restore national leadership via the appointment of Australia’s first ever Federal Infrastructure Minister and the creation of a Federal Infrastructure Department.

And we established Infrastructure Australia.

This independent body brought all levels government together with the private sector to overhaul and drive lasting improvements to the way our nation assesses, plans, finances, builds and uses the infrastructure that will drive growth and productivity in the 21st century.

And it quickly got on with job of doing precisely that.

Infrastructure Australia:

  • Completed the first ever audit of the nation’s infrastructure;
  • Put in place a National Priority List to guide investment into nationally significant projects offering the highest economic, social and environmental returns;
  • Developed national Public Private Partnership (PPP) guidelines to make it easier and cheaper for private investors to partner with government to build new public infrastructure;
  • Published the National Port Strategy and the National Freight Strategy: the first ever long term blueprints for a truly national, integrated and multimodal transport system capable of moving goods around as well as into and out of Australia quickly, reliably and efficiently.

But importantly, as well as identifying the new infrastructure Australia needed to build, Infrastructure Australia also did a lot of work on how we could use our existing infrastructure better.  I know I don’t need to convince anyone in this room, but technology can help unlock significant efficiency gains.

That’s why, for example, we invested heavily in the Managed Motorways Program, which provided funding to install entry ramp signalling, variable speed limit signs, lane control, CCTVs, and digital message signs that provide live updates on traffic conditions and delays.

Here in Victoria we committed in our last Budget $9.9 million to upgrade the Intelligent Transport System along a 4.1 kilometre section of the Monash Freeway.  While in the scheme of things that was a relatively small amount of funding, it would have, according to Infrastructure Australia, generated an extraordinary $10.50 of benefits for every $1 invested.

Of course, it was cancelled by the incoming Coalition Government at the same time that they withdrew funding for the Melbourne Metro and the M80 road project.

As well as restoring national leadership when it came to infrastructure planning and provision, the former Federal Labor Government ended the Commonwealth’s self-imposed exile from our cities and re-engaged with the states, territories and local government.

As one of the most urbanised nations on the planet, we understood that Australia’s continued prosperity would largely depend on how successful we are at making our cities work better.

Importantly, our approach to building more productive, sustainable and liveable cities involved investing in both their road AND rail infrastructure.  That’s why we doubled the roads budget and committed more funding to urban public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined.

In addition, we:

  • Created the Major Cities Unit;
  • Established the National Planning Taskforce;
  • Required state and territory governments to have strategic plans for their capital cities as a condition of future Federal infrastructure funding;
  • Commissioned an annual State of the Cities report.
    Above all, our decision to establish institutions such as Infrastructure Australia and the Major Cities Unit was driven by our determination to break the link between the three or four year electoral cycle and the investment cycle.

Financing

Everyone knows that building good infrastructure isn’t cheap.

And while it is of course the responsibility of government to set out an assessment of the Australia’s future infrastructure needs, it is also the case that rebuilding and modernising Australia’s infrastructure is ultimately a task too big for government alone.

So when it comes to the question of financing, we need to use the power of government to unlock the ingenuity of the market.

That’s why in government we explored new and innovative ways of attracting greater private investment into public infrastructure, particularly urban rail.  These included value capture, Australia Government guarantees and ‘availability payments’, instruments that reduce risk for private sector investors by making it cheaper to raise capital and guaranteeing them with a fixed long-term rate of return.

In fact, as a result of the decisions we took, projects collectively worth over $25 billion were set to go to market, offering investors and superannuation funds a great opportunity to be involved in the financing of Australia’s long-term infrastructure needs.

But equally, it’s wrong to think that the job of funding Australia’s infrastructure challenge should fall mostly on the shoulders of the private sector.  At the end of the day, governments – both state and federal – must be prepared to contribute where appropriate.

Over time, investment in good infrastructure will pay for itself.

Political will

But this talk of financing brings me to the last ingredient of a successful infrastructure policy: political will.

Being in government is all about setting priorities and making choices.  And unfortunately, governments will always be tempted to choose short-term recurrent expenditure over long-term capital expenditure.

Or as former British Prime Minister David Cameron succinctly put it:

“In any political argument about the allocation of resources, the voice of the present can be louder than the voice of the future.”

Plus, the decision to build a new road, rail line or airport will at times be met with opposition from vested interests or local community resistance, particularly when you are attempting to retro-fit that type of infrastructure to our already built-up and busy cities.

But building for the future involves making difficult decisions.

It takes political will to put aside short term unpopularity and to look over the horizon and provide what the long-term national interest demands.  But championing the national interest is what good governments do.


2017 FEDERAL BUDGET

So you may ask: did the 2017 Federal Budget contain the three ingredients of an effective, successful infrastructure policy?

In a word: no.

When it comes to proper, long-term planning, the Budget continued the Government’s efforts to sideline the independent Infrastructure Australia.  In recent years they have…

…threatened to cut its funding by 25 per cent;

…committed billions of dollars to mega-road projects before it has had a chance to assess them;

…and now they have stripped it of its role of advising government on how projects can best be financed.

However, it must be said that Infrastructure Australia has fared better than the Major Cities Unit.  Indeed, one of the first acts of the current Coalition Government was to abolish it and again retreat from our cities.  On top of that they removed all funding for public transport projects not already under construction, including the Melbourne Metro.

In the eyes of the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the challenges confronting our cities were someone else’s problems to fix.

Regrettably, while the current Prime Minister’s rhetoric may differ from that of his predecessor, his Government nonetheless continues to ignore the planning needs of the four out of five Australians who live in our cities.  The 2017 Federal Budget delivered no new policy initiatives and no new investment in our urban infrastructure, most notably public transport.

That brings me to infrastructure funding overall.

And here the numbers tell the story.

They expose the chasm between the Government’s rhetoric on infrastructure investment and its actual performance, namely their chronic inability to do the detailed planning that’s necessary to get projects from the drawing board to construction in a timely manner.

In the current financial year alone, they have cut funding for projects, big and small, by $1.6 billion.  Specifically, at budget time last year – just twelve months ago – they promised to invest $9.2 billion in 2016-17.  However, this year’s budget papers revealed that they will actually spend $7.6 billion.

Worse still, Federal infrastructure funding – the money that goes to the states, territories and local government to build things – will fall off a cliff over the next four years.

It will collapse from $7.6 billion this financial year to $4.2 billion in 2020-21.

In the assessment of the peak industry body Infrastructure Partnerships Australia:

“Foremost, the Budget confirms the cut to ‘real’ budgeted capital funding to its lowest level in more than a decade – using a mix of underspend, re-profiling and narrative to cover this substantial drop in real capital expenditure.”

Indeed, the only new on-Budget infrastructure investment over the next four years anywhere in the country is $13.8 million for the Far North Collector Road near the NSW town of Nowra in the marginal seat of Gilmore.

This is a project most people had never heard about until Budget night.

And in the case of Victoria, things are set to go from bad to worse.

Despite being home to 25 per cent of the Australian population, the state of Victoria currently receives a pathetic 7.7 per cent of the Federal infrastructure budget – and that figure is set to decline further, with funding to fall from around $800 million in 2017-18 to as little as $280 million in 2020-21.

They are cutting funding for major road and rail projects.

They are cutting funding for fixing dangerous blackspots on local roads.

And they are cutting funding for building new roadside facilities such as rest stops for truck drivers.

All up, Federal infrastructure investment per Victorian has more than halved from $201 under the former Federal Labor Government to $92 under the current Turnbull Government.

But don’t worry, the Government thinks it has found the “silver bullet” to make up for the cuts they are making to the traditional sources of Federal infrastructure funding – an Infrastructure Financing Unit which will be created within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

According to the Department’s website:

“The new agency will work with Commonwealth Agencies, the private sector, states and territories on funding and financing opportunities such as public private partnerships, concessional loans, equity injections and value capture.”

I hate to break it to the Prime Minister, but his Government is doing nothing more than attempting to reinvent the wheel.  Firstly, as I said earlier, this function was already being performed by Infrastructure Australia.

Secondly, state governments have long been pioneers in the development and implementation of these types of “innovative” financing mechanisms – and so too was the former Federal Labor Government.

Just look at the long-talked about, much-needed Melbourne Metro project.

In our 2013 Budget we announced that together the Federal Government and Victorian Government had developed an innovative solution that would have allowed this rail project to be delivered in partnership with the private sector.  It was to be funded through a combination of up-front and availability payments, with the Federal Government contributing 50 per cent of the cost of each.

It would also have had an element of value capture.

Yet this project was shelved by the current Government.

Let me give you another example, one that’s real, up and running right now – and is a success.

That project is the Gold Coast Light Rail, or as the locals affectionately call it: “the G”.

This transformative piece of infrastructure has helped change the way people get around the Coast.  Costing $1.2 billion, upfront funding for the project was provided by the Federal and State governments as well as the local council, with a consortium awarded the contract to build and operate it for 18 years under a Public Private Partnership.

And since its commissioning in July 2014, the number of people using “the G” daily has been more than 25 per cent higher than what was expected in the original business case.

And this great outcome for the Gold Coast was achieved without the need for the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Financing Unit.  The fact is the expertise to utilise innovative funding arrangements like this already exists within government, particularly at a state level.

As I previously said: yes, the private sector has a role to play in closing the infrastructure funding gap.  But governments cannot avoid the fact that they will have to stump up taxpayers’ dollars if they want projects, particularly urban public transport projects, to happen.

As Infrastructure Partnerships Australia has pointed out in recent days:

“Value capture and innovative finance have been talked about as a silver bullet for decades, but haven’t been widely implemented because they are a hard way to raise not very much money.”

In their view:

“Commonwealth Government funding support is needed for infrastructure – Commonwealth financing is not.

“If the budget seeks to materially increase the pace, quality and scale of national infrastructure investment we respectfully submit that Government policy needs to return to real options, which include grant funding…”

The bottom line is: the IFU is more a budget fiddle than a real solution.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, we all know that the quality of our infrastructure impacts on the everyday lives of all Australians – and the challenge of getting it right is both urgent and complex.

It calls for collaboration between governments and with the private sector.

But above it requires bold thinking and long-term vision.

In short, Australia needs real leadership.

But be it the transcontinental railway, the Snowy Mountains Scheme, or the Sydney Harbour Bridge, history has proven that Australians do have the courage to dream big and build the physical infrastructure that’s necessary to realise our nation’s full potential.

And I am confident we can do that again.

May 12, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject: Coalition bank levy, NDIS

LISA WILKINSON: Bill Shorten last night promising higher taxers for high earners but also confirming that Labor will back the planned bank levy. It’s all sparked claims of class warfare this morning. To discuss this and more is Labor’s Anthony Albanese, and filling in for Christopher Pyne – Josh Frydenberg. Good morning to you, gentleman.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

LISA WILKINSON: Albo, we’re going to go to you first.

ALBANESE: We’re ready, Lisa. We missed out on the graphic.

LISA WILKINSON: Good.

ALBANESE: We missed out on the graphic so we’re ready.

WILKINSON: Whatever that means.

ALBANESE: This is a live graphic.

FRYDENBERG: This is a low blow, too.

WILKINSON: Excellent. Alright, moving on. Bill Shorten has confirmed that Labor will be supporting the banking levy, Albo, and yet he has also warned that if the banks do pass on a single cent of that levy to customers then Malcolm Turnbull has to go. Well, the banks have already threatened that they are going to pass it on. So on that reckoning, Bill Shorten is going to have to go too.

ALBANESE: No. That is not right, Lisa. This is the government’s bank levy that they put on, on Tuesday night. We are saying to the banks, do not pass it on. We want to give the banks a Royal Commission. That is what we want. That is what we went to the election campaign on. That is what the Australian people want as well, to make sure that we have proper assessment.

I think it is actually in the banks and financial institutions’ interests. They should embrace it and say, yep, let’s see how we can get better and have better relations with our customers and the general public, because at the moment no one has much sympathy for them.

WILKINSON: Okay, but the thing is, if Labor is going to support this and pass it through Parliament, that means that you are just as responsible as the government will be, if they do pass it on. But on that note, Josh, the opposition has been pushing for a banking Royal Commission for a long time now. Isn’t it time we really a took a long hard look at them with a Royal Commission?

FRYDENBERG: We have put in place a number of processes to increase the accountability of banks, and indeed Scott Morrison not just putting in place this bank levy where we will have the ACCC as the cop on the beat to make sure it doesn’t get passed on to consumers in an unfair way, but he has also put in place an accountability mechanism, Lisa.

So for the top executives they can lose their bonuses and we will be watching very closely to make sure that they behave. You see, what we have seen over time in the banks is poor processes where the public have lost out. As well as that, the banks rely on an implicit guarantee in times of crisis on the government. So it is only fair that they have now got this levy to pay.

WILKINSON: Yeah, we do know they can be very sneaky. Let’s move on. Albo, the National Disability Insurance Scheme your party introduced, but were never fully able to fund it. There is currently a $3.8 billion hole there. Where are you going to find the extra cash?

ALBANESE: That is just not right, Lisa. The fact is that Labor is the party of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We are very proud of the NDIS joining great Labor reforms like compulsory superannuation, like Medicare, like accessing education or educational opportunity for young people. We created the NDIS. We support the NDIS.

What we did last night was outline a fair package, rather than millionaires getting a $16,400 tax cut while ordinary workers earning $22,000 and above getting a tax increase. We said let’s be fair about this, let’s acknowledge that those people on those low incomes are already suffering from low wage increases.

We have real pressures on household budgets, and last night our response to the Budget by Bill Shorten was a Labor response.

FRYDENBERG: Well Lisa, can I just say 460,000 people will who will be relying on the NDIS will be scratching their heads this morning because what they will be saying is why didn’t the Labor Party fully fund the NDIS like the Coalition has committed to do?

Just a few years ago Labor supported an increase in the Medicare levy for all income earners, because they they knew it would fund the NDIS. Now they want to pick and choose that Medicare levy. We have fully funded the NDIS, like we have fully funded our schools commitment, like we have fully funded our infrastructure commitments and our health commitments, as well as planning a path back to surplus.

Labor didn’t do any of that. Not only are they going to hike the taxes as you say on households, but they are also going to hike the taxes on small business and that’s going to be a real problem for the economy.

WILKINSON: Alright, we are going to have to leave it there but gentlemen, I am finding it very uncomfortable you two standing next to each other like that. Can you give each other a hug or something? The body contact needs to be there as well. Aww, there you go.

ALBANESE: We’re tennis partners.

FRYDENBERG: That’s right.

ALBANESE: We do pretty well on the doubles court together.

FRYDENBERG: I must say as a doubles partner, Albo makes a very good politician.

ALBANESE: How mean! I said something nice.

WILKINSON: Look at that. It’s lovely to see.

ALBANESE: Believe it or not, I play forehand so I’m on the right.

FRYDENBERG: Good to see you.

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Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

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

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