Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Oct 18, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Newsday with Peter Van Onselen, SKY News

Subjects: Urban policy; development; public housing.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: I’m joined live out of the nation’s capital by Shadow Infrastructure spokesperson Anthony Albanese. Thanks very much for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: We’re going to do something unusual this week and presumably next and not talk about energy policy. I’ve got your colleague and friend Mark Butler coming on later this hour to do just that. I want to talk to you about your portfolio.

ALBANESE: Excellent, he’s more than capable of doing that.

VAN ONSELEN: I don’t know if that’s you acknowledging your own failings of knowledge in the area or …

ALBANESE: I’m acknowledging his expertise.

VAN ONSELEN: Fair enough, well we will talk to him about it, we’ll see whether you’re right about that. Look, infrastructure is a portfolio that in government and opposition you’ve held for a long time now. You’ve got a piece in today’s Daily Telegraph, making the point that yes cities need to get denser, in terms of urban sprawl, but without losing the kind of amenities that avoid that becoming a kind of unwanted urban sprawl. How do you do that though? How can government or indeed, I guess, the wider community ensure that higher density around things like railway lines and the rest of it, transport hubs, doesn’t just simply become a lifeless existence in an over-populated city centre?

ALBANESE: You do that with proper planning Peter. The Telegraph deserves, I think, praise for the fact that they’re really encouraging this debate about the nature of Sydney in particular, but a lot of the lessons are there for all of our major cities. Successful cities are inclusive cities; they are ones whereby you can’t determine automatically what income someone earns by just looking at their postcode. So that means a range of challenges have to be dealt with.

One of the reasons why you have that increased density in the inner areas is because that’s where the jobs are. One of the things that we have to do is make sure that jobs are created closer to where people live. Now Badgerys Creek Airport and the concept of an Aerotropolis is one way to do that. Universities can be one way to do that. If you look at Westmead Hospital at Parramatta, it has more PhDs living within a five kilometre radius of it, than any area of New South Wales, except for the CBD of Sydney. That’s because those high-value jobs are created- and people live around that area. Sydney doesn’t work if it’s a hub and spoke approach, if everyone is just going into and out of the city.

VAN ONSELEN: Let me jump in then. Is that you taking on the Government’s concept of the 30-minute city that Angus Taylor and others having talked about? Or is what you are talking about something that fits with that?

ALBANESE: Well I talked about it well before, two years before, as part of our ten-point plan for cities. We did that at the National Press Club on the day, indeed, on which I was appointed the Shadow Minister for Cities, so I’m pleased that the Government has adopted a similar position rhetorically. But what they haven’t done is to do it in policy terms. They haven’t got the planning mechanisms right. They continue to, in spite of the difference between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott on public transport – at least Malcolm Turnbull likes riding on trains and trams, he likes taking selfies on them – he just hasn’t funded them.

So we need, for example, the funding for the north-south corridor of the rail line through Badgerys Creek Airport, but making sure that those jobs in the employment lands, just to the north of the airport and south, are opened up to people in St Marys, Rouse Hill and the Macarthur region. We need that funding. I notice yet another road announcement from the State Government of the F6 proposal down into the end of the southern suburbs. One of the things that you can’t have with a major city that has high-density and medium-density living is reliance upon the private motor vehicle. It simply doesn’t work. You need public transport to be prioritised.

VAN ONSELEN: Well let me jump in there again. I saw that announcement by Gladys Berejiklian’s Government in last night’s news. You raise a broader issue though, which is in my mind do we need to have federation reform here to have clearer lines between the Commonwealth and the states? Because it feels like there is a constant argy-bargy of which project should or shouldn’t be funded or prioritised or gain appropriate due diligence and thus attention as part of that ever present stand-off between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government at any point in time, exacerbated I would argue when political complexions are varied.

ALBANESE: Well we of course set up the mechanism. It’s called Infrastructure Australia.

VAN ONSELEN: You say that’s been gutted.

ALBANESE: It just hasn’t been listened to. It’s been sidelined. So what we’ve had is a section set up within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, it’s not even in the Infrastructure Department, to advise on cities and to advise on financing, another group on financing, which is one of the core components in the Infrastructure Australia legislation, that they advise on financing of projects. But what we need is proper planning, not this ad hoc with Sydney’s road network at the moment. One road leads to another road being created to deal with the congestion created by the first road. You end up never providing a solution. A solution is an integrated transport network.

When you have medium density proposals; there’s a proposal just on the border of my electorate in Marrickville at the moment, Carrington Road, which is proposed for an area that currently has one and two-storey houses and it has some industrial at two and three storeys, of 28 story developments. Now this is an area where there is one road in and one road out. It’s on a flood plain. It’s a massive over-development that has been proposed. Now what occurs then is that you’ll end up getting a rejection of all of it, instead of having sensible planning, increases in density along railway lines by all means, but making sure that there’s open space created for the kids to play sport in, making sure that the schools and the health facilities are there as well.

VAN ONSELEN: On that, one of the other elements of, if you like, diversity and aligning with that community space that you talked about in your piece is not wanting to see what is currently happening in some states, particularly in New South Wales – inner-city, often expensive public housing sold off, relocated to outer suburbs and then the land being used in different ways. To play devil’s advocate on that, why is that important? If you look at the tough fiscal climate that governments are facing, as long as you are replacing the housing in cheaper-landed areas, can’t government then do more with that excess cash?

ALBANESE: It’s important for two reasons Peter. One is successful cities are cities that are inclusive. They are not homogenous. They provide a mix of people. That’s what provides the dynamism in a city and so for the nature of the population in itself, it is all the poorer if it just rich people living in the city and poorer people living in the outer suburbs. That creates a dynamic that is unhealthy and one that doesn’t contribute to the quality of life for everyone in that community.

Secondly, what you are talking about is moving people away from the social and community networks they have. The sort of treatment whereby one gentleman down at Millers Point had a note put under his door, who had lived in his house that used to be Maritime Services Board – it was for working people who worked on the wharves and on the waterfront in that part of Sydney – just telling him he was going to be evicted from the house in which he had lived his entire life – more than 80 years. That lack of respect for people is, I think, quite shocking and we’ll end up with circumstances whereby why wouldn’t you move them right out of Sydney completely because housing in regional communities is cheaper than it is anywhere in Sydney?

Once you go down that road; and I understand that on the surface, if you take people out of the equation yes it might make some sense, but it is people who make a city. It’s not just the infrastructure. It is the people and to destroy those communities, I think, has been a tragedy and we end up, I think, being all the poorer for it.

VAN ONSELEN: Just finally before I let you go Anthony Albanese, can you get to the bottom for us of what’s going on with the whole Michael Danby sickie, trip-to-Israel business? On the one hand I have heard Bill shorten accused of running some sort of white-anting campaign against him. On the other hand I have heard him accused of being weak for not acting to reprimand him. What is going on here?

ALBANESE: I don’t know to tell you the truth and I have got to say I haven’t given it a second thought.

VAN ONSELEN: OK, well I guess that is that then. Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for your company. We appreciate you joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

Oct 18, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – Two Tribes, FIVEaa

Subject: Energy policy.

HOST: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Right, we are going to kick off with you Chris. Now we know that yesterday – the big energy announcement – a lot of it was about making sure that our power supply is reliable. But given the punishingly high bills that people have had to endure, they are looking to a bit of relief in the hip pocket. Do you think that a saving of possibly 100 bucks or so in there years’ time is enough to get the voters excited?

PYNE: Well I think the point is the more capacity we get into the system, which is what yesterday’s announcement was about – more supply of baseload power – then the more prices will come down and the less they will go up. So the forecast price rises are very high over the next few years. We are actually being able to deliver a saving to consumers. Under the business as usual the price will just keep going up. Now obviously if you can bring more capacity into the market through more supply, more baseload power like gas and like coal, like wind, solar when the wind is blowing, the sun is shining, more hydro, like Steven Marshall’s policy for the interconnector with New South Wales and battery storage, then that will bring down the price because that’s the elements of demand and supply. That is what we are trying to bring about.

HOST: Early days for Labor Albo and I know that Bill Shorten said last night that he is waiting to see the detail. But at first blush, what do you make of the Government’s plan?

ALBANESE: Well this is this week’s plan. This follows the plan that Malcolm Turnbull had supporting an Emissions Trading Scheme, before he supported an Emissions Intensity Scheme, before he supported a Clean Energy Target and before now a new plan, a new plan of which there is no modelling and which they say – it’s not three years’ time David, with respect –  it is 13 years’ time.

PYNE: People want solutions Anthony.

ALBANESE:  The saving in three years’ time is, with no evidence, no modelling, at best $25, not $100, $25 for some time in the first part of the next decade and they have no modelling and that was conceded by John Pierce last night in the briefing that Labor received. He’s the dude from the Australian Energy Market Commission. It’s all based upon assumptions. We want to actually see some modelling, see a serious plan and we haven’t seen it.

PYNE: I think what Labor wants is for nothing to work actually. That is their strategy – is about for riding into government on a negative platform.

ALBANESE: That’s rubbish Christopher. Unlike what Tony Abbott did, which was to say you wouldn’t be able to have a lamb roast and the world would end, what we said was we supported, when the Government came out with the idea of the Emissions Intensity Scheme, we said yes that is a good plan, we are prepared to be constructive about it. Then they came out with the Finkel review.

PYNE: I think it is time for somebody else to have a go.

ALBANESE: Well you have got nothing to say mate. That’s the problem.

PYNE: Rubbish. We’ve got a policy that is going to reduce prices, is going to bring reliability into the system …

ALBANESE: You’ve got no evidence of it.

PYNE: … and reduce our emissions and the Energy Security Board, which is entirely independent, which Alan Finkel, the Chief Scientist, asked us to set up, has come up with this plan and we have endorsed it and all you can do is have another political argument about it.

ALBANESE: You have no modelling. You can’t provide any facts.

HOST: Anthony we will come back to you. Is there a chance that this is entirely academic, given that it requires changes to the national electricity market. That means the states need to be on board and it sounds like there is no way in hell Jay Weatherill is signing off on this plan.

PYNE: Well Jay Weatherill wants a fight with Canberra. That is his whole political strategy. He has completely run out of ideas. Now the facts about that is that AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator, has had to intervene in South Australia several times in the last few weeks to keep the lights on in our state and our Premier is saying South Australia, beating his chest, saying we are going to go it alone. How can we go it alone when we can’t even keep the lights on in our state and the energy regulator has to regularly intervene to keep them on and we are in spring? We haven’t even got to the hot weather of summer yet, and our Premier is basically shouting at the moon, angry man lying on his back shouting at clouds, when what he should be doing is working with the Federal Government, which he says by the way is what he wants to do.

HOST: But you need that angry man to get your changes through.

PYNE: Well it’s a national model. I mean if the Premier of South Australia wants to have its own Renewable Energy Target that will simply let other states like Queensland off the hook because it will go into the national grid. I mean, good luck to him, but that means the voters of South Australia continue to have the highest prices in the country …

ALBANESE: But they don’t.

PYNE: … continue to have the most unreliable energy in the country.

HOST: Anthony Albanese, I’ll just turn to you quickly. How can it be the case that the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s optimistic that this is a policy that will bring down power prices but Labor isn’t?

ALBANESE: How can it be the case that the Chief Scientist is asked to come up with a plan – he did that – it was the Clean Energy Target, then it was thrown out months later?

HOST: That was one of 50 recommendations. Forty-nine were adopted and he’s endorsed the plan.

ALBANESE: It was the key one. It was the key one. Well that’s his job, he’s a Government bureaucrat appointed by the Government.

PYNE: The tide has gone out on you Anthony.

ALBANESE: Appointed by the Government. Mate, if you think you’re going well by promising people that maybe, with no modelling, at best perhaps, with no guarantees they’ll get $100 in 2030, then good luck with that.

PYNE: We have a plan, you want business as usual. And as a South Australian, business as usual is blackouts …

ALBANESE: You had a different plan last week.

PYNE: Blackouts and higher prices and unreliable power.

ALBANESE: That’s just nonsense. See what Christopher says, your listeners should know that Christopher says that South Australia has the highest prices but in Parliament they say Queensland has the highest prices, or they say Victoria has the highest prices and, in fact, New South Wales has the highest prices.

PYNE: Rubbish. Rubbish.

HOST: Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time.

PYNE: It’s always a pleasure.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

Oct 13, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – Perth Live, 6PR

Subjects; Morley-Ellenbrook rail line, WA infrastructure 

OLIVER PETERSEN: Anthony Albanese, welcome to Perth. Welcome to the Perth Live studios.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s good to be here – a major refurbishment since the last time I was here.

PETERSEN: Yes, we’ve just opened the studios this week. I suppose I should ask you first, as the Infrastructure spokesman for the Labor Party, what do you make of our new studios?

ALBANESE: I reckon 6PR are doing pretty well. The ratings must be good because the studios have certainly improved. It’s a lot better than 2GB or 2UE over in the east let me tell you, these studios. They are fantastic.

PETERSEN: It is good to know. Now in the vein of being the Transport and Infrastructure spokesman for the Labor Party, you have been sprinkling a bit of magic dust today. If you win the next Federal election you are going to commit a whole heap of money to build METRONET out to Ellenbrook?

ALBANESE: We are – $700 million. It’s part of our $1.6 billion commitment we have made – A Fair Share for WA. WA is not getting its fair share of infrastructure funding. It’s not getting its fair share of the GST. It needs support from the Commonwealth. At the moment the WA share is about 8 per cent of the Federal infrastructure budget. That clearly is not good enough. We have had substantial growth in the size of Perth in terms of the suburbs and we know that when rail has been built here in Perth it has been an enormous success. So this project was first promised by Colin Barnett of course almost a decade ago. We, together with Mark McGowan’s Government, will get on with the business of doing it and it will be in our first Budget in 2019.

PETERSEN: OK. You must feel coming to Perth now the political tide has certainly change for Labor. This is now a red state and obviously the Liberal Party here at a state level here and federally is on the nose. Do you feel the change of winds are the air?

ALBANESE: I think certainly there are real prospects here. I mean Mark McGowan’s Government has begun really well and you can sense that. One of the things that you felt about the Colin Barnett’s Government – I got on pretty well with Colin personally – but they had run out of steam and run out of ideas and were just sitting back and complaining about everything being someone else’s fault. Mark McGowan is a go-to guy. He is getting on with the business. Rita Saffioti – I have been across here a number of times this year – she’s really on top of the infrastructure issues. They’ve got a list and we are working with them and we want the Commonwealth Government to match the commitment that we have made today. Construction can begin in 2019. So this is jobs in the short term, but of course up to six new stations in this growth corridor.

PETERSEN: So construction can begin in 2019 out to Ellenbrook. When will it be finished?

ALBANESE: Around about 2022. They are finalising those plans. It’s at least a three-year construction. They’ve got the geo-technical work taking place now so that’s not a firm date yet. But no doubt what we can see is it’s also picking up from some of the excess that is there in construction because of the mining sector moving production away from the construction phase. This is precisely the time when we should be stepping up infrastructure funding here in WA.

When we were in Government, I’m very proud of the record we have, we did Gateway WA, the Swan Valley Bypass we funded, we did the Leach Highway, we did the Great Northern Highway, the North West Coastal Highway, the roads to Bunbury and Esperance Port and Perth CityLink, where we were today at the press conference. That’s a fantastic project, uniting the city with the Northbridge precinct. So we worked very closely with the WA Government, of both persuasions, when we were in Government. We want to get back into Government so that these promises become actual construction on the ground.

PETERSON: Yes, well look I’m sure everyone will be happy to hear that there is some infrastructure spending commitments here from Labor if you do form Government again when we go to the polls, probably in the next year or so. But the other big question is you know, you get hammered with this every time you come to Perth is; what is Labor going to do to fix our share of the GST?

ALBANESE: We’ll await the review that’s taking place but we haven’t sat back and had nothing to say about it. We know that WA is not getting its fair share and that’s why we’ve committed this $1.6 billion. That would bring it up to the floor of 70 per cent, so there’s more than one way to skin a cat as they say.

PETERSON: Sure – $1.6 billion though only goes about halfway to what we lose. We lose over $3 billion per year and, as you know, we’re not happy.

ALBANESE: That’s right and I understand that but lifting it up to the floor level of 70 per cent is a pretty good first step. From Opposition, of course, it’s hard to fix these things. One of the things that I’m concerned about is that not only is the current Federal Government under promising for WA, they’re not even delivering on what they promised.

In last year’s Budget they allocated, that is in 2016, they said in the coming year we’re going to spend $842 million on infrastructure in WA. The actual amount was $614 million. So about a quarter of that was never realised and that means less money for programs like Black Spots and Roads to Recovery and major projects and it’s unfortunate that the Government hasn’t gotten on board for projects like Ellenbrook.

When I was the Infrastructure Minister we had announcements for WA projects in every single one of our budgets and that meant, some of those works are still happening of course, like up on the Great Northern Highway to Wubin. The Bindi Bindi curves and projects up there to improve road safety and of course the Swan Valley Bypass was funded by us in the 2013 Budget, with construction still going there.

PETERSON: Ok, now obviously there is a feeling as I said of probably confidence, is it fair to say Anthony Albanese when you come to Western Australia, when you come to Perth amongst the Labor rank and file that you’re on track to probably be the next Federal Government?

ALBANESE: Well, we’re not taking anything for granted. One of the things that you do notice when you come to WA is that the other side aren’t here. Darren Chester, I don’t know how many visits he’s made to WA or Paul Fletcher in the last year but I think if you could add up half a dozen of them they wouldn’t have been here as often as I have. Bill Shorten’s here regularly.

PETERSON: Not very regularly on the radio though, it’s got to be said. He’s been requested from our program for mornings. It’s very hard to nail down your leader Bill Shorten.

ALBANESE: Well, you’ve got me!

PETERSON: Yeah, we’ve got you. It’s great to have you here Albo.

ALBANESE: You’ve got me. I’ll tell him. I’ll get him to come on.

PETERSON: Okay. It would be great to hear from Bill. But it’s great to have you here, Albo. We’re not disappointed that you’re here in the studio talking to 6PR listeners this afternoon but it does at times, you know, sometimes here in Perth we do feel a little isolated.

We do feel as though it is a very parochial state, Western Australia. Is it understood though enough in Canberra? Is it understood at the federal level that, hey, Perth is part of the Commonwealth, we exist, we need some help. We’ve been banging on about this share of the GST for years.

ALBANESE: Look, I think the truth is that some people get it and some people don’t. Every time I’m on that plane across the Nullarbor you feel it. You do realise how long it is. Today was very efficient this morning. The last time we ran into headwinds and it took six and a half hours to go across. I was sure we’d miss Perth and hit Mauritius. Every time in a day, which I have done the last two times I’ve come across, about six weeks ago when I did it, I said to myself I won’t do that again, I’ll come overnight, but diaries being what they are you certainly feel it when you do it as a day trip. I always feel very welcome in Perth. I think it’s a great city. I’m a Sydney guy.

PETERSON: Big Sydney Rabbitohs fan.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

PETERSON: Which has made Perth its home away from home.

ALBANESE: It is indeed. I understand they got Round 1 next year.

PETERSON: They do.

ALBANESE: But I think there’s a really great lifestyle here in Perth. I’ve been across to this part of the world to holiday as well. I think the time difference, to me is a great attraction.

PETERSON: Very good. It sounds like we’ve got a door open here and Albo’s starting to understand where Perth and Western Australia is sitting so it’s good to have a dialogue with you Anthony Albanese and I appreciate you coming into the studios and having a look around this afternoon.

ALBANESE: Thank you so much for having us. We’ll chat again next time.

PETERSON: Look forward to it.

 

Oct 11, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Nick Xenophon; Clean Energy Target; High Court

HOST: It’s that time of the week – Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese -Two Tribes. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning. Did you say “that’’ time of the week or “best’’ time of the week?

HOST: I said “that’’ time of the week but I imagine for certain people it’s the best time of the week.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s our highlight. What sad lives we lead.

HOST: I bet you say that to all the hosts. We’ve missed you both terribly last week, Chris and Albo, so it’s good to have you back.

ALBANESE: I didn’t. I was on a beach.

HOST: Oh really? Oh mate, not one of those travel rorts was it?

ALBANESE: I had some time off.

HOST: Personally funded time off.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

HOST: Always good to clarify. Hey we’re going to kick off with you Chris. The big story here politically in South Australia has been a local one over the last few days with the announcement by Nick Xenophon that he is ending his Federal career to run for the state seat of Hartley. Now when we interviewed him the other day he confirmed that at the moment he’s only got candidates lined up to run in seven Liberal-held or nominal Liberal seats, promising to find some candidates for Labor seats. But this is a bit of a nightmare scenario for the Libs isn’t it?

PYNE: Well Nick Xenophon is a celebrity candidate who is leading a shambles of a party. Already he has lost his first candidate and John Darley, his former member, he has also lost him by the way, is pointing out what it’s like being in the Xenophon team. It’s a one-man band and anyone who votes for Nick Xenophon is essentially re-electing a Labor Government for another four years, so it’s a 20-year Labor Government and I don’t think anybody wants to do that. So his shambles of a party lost its first candidate on Saturday. He claims to have all these special arrangements in place to make sure that didn’t happen. His first candidate didn’t even last 24 hours. I think the South Australian public are far too smart to be fooled by this celebrity cult figure and I don’t think that he’ll have nearly the impact that people say because people want to change the Government. They want policies about energy like Steven Marshall released yesterday. They want solutions to their problems. They don’t want more of the Xenophon circus that we’ve seen in Canberra.

HOST: Albo to you, you’ve probably had reasonably limited dealings with Nick Xenophon …

ALBANESE: I was the Leader of the House in a minority Parliament, so I have had a fair bit to do with Nick over the years. I’ve got a good relationship with Nick. I’ve no issues with him. The problem when you vote for parties led by people like, whether it’s Clive Palmer, or Pauline Hanson or Nick Xenophon, is you don’t know what you’re getting except for Nick Xenophon. These parties do have a history of getting people elected and then them abandoning their parties and of course that is the danger. We have seen, as Christopher said, one candidate hit the fence already. It’s pretty clear that the conservative side of politics are a mess in South Australia. You’ve got Cory Bernardi out there with his Australian Conservatives. You now have Nick Xenophon standing against the Liberal Party member, whoever they are in Hartley. And you’ve got Steven Marshall, a Liberal Leader, who called for a vote for Labor just before the last state election. And I don’t think he inspires anyone in South Australia and I think that’s why you have this mess in the non-Labor forces in South Australia.

HOST: But it’s not quite right to describe Nick Xenophon as representing the non-Labor forces, though.

ALBANESE: Well he is not a member of the Labor Party and has never been a member of the Labor Party.

HOST: But he is doing you guys a massive favour here by muddying the waters.

PYNE: He’s all things to all people. That’s the thing about Nick Xenophon. He’s like a frog on a lily pad. He keeps leaping from one lily pad to the next depending on the issue. He’s completely inconsistent. His first partner Ann Bressington, in the Legislative Council, she left him. John Darley has left him, so he’s lost both of his state representatives. He wants us to trust him that he’s got it right this time. He lost his first candidate on Saturday. He’s got Skye Kakoschke-Moore, the Senator, at the moment involved in a similar issue to the one of the candidate he lost.

HOST: No it’s not. That’s just a bit of silliness, though isn’t it? That’s not similar.

PYNE: Part of it is the same …

HOST: He made light of domestic violence.

PYNE: Yes that was the more-serious aspect to that, there’s no doubt about that but the first part of it was the other issue with Toni Collette and yet Nick Xenophon said that’s a big joke, we were supposed to laugh about that. I don’t think that is very funny.

HOST: Hmm.

ALBANESE: We will see it all played out in the fullness of time.

HOST: That’s right.

ALBANESE: One thing about Jay Weatherill is he actually leads a united team. He does have the experience; he is prepared to stand up to Canberra, in particular for South Australia’s needs and to take them on when we see a lot of South Australia bashing going on from the Coalition Government. Not from Christopher, of course, to be fair …

PYNE: Well the front page of the Advertiser today is about how we’re providing eight thousand jobs in shipbuilding, so we hardly not supporting South Australia.

HOST: That is a big story. Can we talk about some things in the Federal political sphere for a moment, namely the future of the Clean Energy Target? Christopher Pyne, does it have a future in your Government?

PYNE: Well what’s important is we get energy policy right. What Steven Marshall announced yesterday is practical methods to ensure that electricity in South Australia is affordable and it’s reliable, in stark contrast to the Weatherill Government, which has given us the chaos that we have at the moment.

HOST: Yes. Steve Marshall was on earlier. We had a long chat about that. What about the Clean Energy Target though, federally?

PYNE: Well the Clean Energy Target is simply one of the options that is available to government. But what has happened of course in the last five or ten years is that renewable energy – solar and wind – has become competitive against coal and other forms of energy – and gas – and we have to consider all that in setting the energy policy by the end of this year, which we promised to do. But the gas mechanism that we have put in place has caused gas prices to start coming down quite dramatically because domestic supply is increasing again, whereas Labor allowed all that to be exported when they were in Government. We are fixing that problem.

ALBANESE: The export deals that were signed by John Howard with China in 2002? The fact is that what we have is the Government asked for a report from the Chief Scientist. They received it. It called for a Clean Energy Target. It’s not Labor’s preferred option, but we have been constructive because we know, like the Business Council have said again just this morning, that what we need is certainty. We need to stop this nonsense of it being a part of the argy-bargy of politics. Malcolm Turnbull knows that. Christopher Pyne knows that too. But they haven’t got the ticker to stand up to Tony Abbott, who is completely off the reservation. He’s gone to London and made this quite frankly bizarre speech about how global warming is fantastic for everyone, completely ignorant of the increase that has occurred in terms of natural disasters and the impact that it is having around the world, not the least of which is in the northern part of Australia.

HOST: Can I ask you Chris Pyne, what did you make of Tony Abbott’s speech about climate change?

PYNE: Look, Tony Abbott’s got his own views. They are not necessarily always the views of the Government but I believe …

ALBANESE: The Government is following him.

PYNE: Of course it’s not. The reality is that Malcolm Turnbull is getting on with the job of fixing the mess in power than was created by Labor …

ALBANESE:  The Chief Scientist made the recommendation months ago.

PYNE: no more stark that in South Australia. That is the reality of it and we’ve lived that here. We’ve got the lived experience of Labor’s policy, which is ideological, whereas ours is a practical, all-of-the-above approach that just wants to create lower prices and more reliable power and that is what South Australian voters are looking for and Australian voters are looking for around the country.

ALBANESE: When you got rid of the carbon price you said that prices would fall.

PYNE: They did.

ALBANESE: Wholesale prices have doubled. They have doubled. You have been in government for four and a half years and you act like you have been in government for four and a half minutes.

PYNE: When we got rid of your carbon tax, it was the biggest single drop to electricity prices in recorded history.

ALBANESE:  Absolute rot. Just keep telling people that.

PYNE: It’s a fact. It’s a fact.

ALBANESE: So, are prices lower now than they were when you came to office? Is that right?

PYNE:  I just said the factual statement that when we got rid of your carbon tax …

ALBANESE: Complete nonsense.

PYNE:the biggest single drop in electricity prices in recorded history. It’s a fact.

ALBANESE: Complete nonsense.

HOST: Speaking of costs to taxpayers guys, I just want to read out some names to you and ask you a question. D.M. Bennett QC, A.L Tokley SC, Flecknoe-Brown, del Villar, B.E. Walters QC, E.A. Bennett, A.N.P McBeth. C.R.C. Newlinds SC, P Kulevski, R.J. Scheelings, B.W. Walker, G.E.S Ng. These are all QCs and SCs that are representing people in the citizenship court case that is going on at the moment. That’s not to mention the Government’s counsel – those representing the Attorney General and the Solicitor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Have we got any idea, has anyone put together any sense of what this is costing the Australian taxpayer to have this going on in the High Court, acting as the Court of Disputed Returns at the moment?

ALBANESE: Too damn much. You know there is absolutely no need for that number of lawyers to be sitting in the High Court for essentially what is … the Government should have been represented. That’s fine. But the idea that you have got each of the people who the Government is arguing – five of them have exactly the same case which is: I was ignorant, don’t blame me. There is no need for this extraordinary waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

HOST: What is your take on it Chris?

PYNE: Well unfortunately we have to get to the bottom of what Section 44 means because this citizenship issue has come up. I don’t know what the cost is to the taxpayer. It’s very unfortunate that we are in this position but the reality is we have to find out what the foreign allegiance to another power exactly means when you didn’t know that you were a citizen of another country. But before we finish can I just clarify my remark before. I wasn’t suggesting for one minute that Rhys Adams’ case and Skye Kakoschke-Moore’s case was the same in all its parts. There was only one aspect of it which was the same – certainly not the domestic violence – making light of domestic violence – issue. But the part about the groping of the wax figures, not obviously people themselves, of Halle Berry and Toni Collette, that’s the part that I was comparing.

HOST: Yes. We get it.

ALBANESE: Now I am more confused.

PYNE: Any inference to the contrary shouldn’t be taken and I would apologise to Skye Kakoschke-Moore if she thinks that. That is certainly not what I was meaning.

HOST: For your benefit Albo, I know you are a Sydney bloke, but it’s become a bit of a thing here in South Australian politics, groping wax figures in you spare time. But you know, we just put that down as one of the little quirks of life in South Australia. You’ve got to make you own fun here in Adelaide. It’s always great to catch up with you both. We’ll do it again next week.

[ENDS]

Oct 7, 2017

Transcript of Doorstop, Rockhampton

Subjects: Labor Party; regional Australia, national security; infrastructure; ICAN Nobel Peace Prize; Bill Byrne, Adani protests; Nick Xenophon. 

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY: This morning 120 Labor Party members joined Bill Shorten and some of our most senior members of the Shadow Cabinet including Anthony Albanese to talk about rural and regional Australia, to talk about Labor’s policy development and to talk about how we can best empower the regions and provide them with the best opportunity to make the best of the economic and social opportunities in the regions. We make no secret of the fact that the Labor Party is determined to make every rural and regional seat across the country contestable at the next election. We are here to win, but not for winning’s sake. We are here to help those local communities. We believe they are being sold short, taken for granted by the LNP. We believe they would be better served by a Labor Government and the progressive policies we bring to the table. We’ll be fighting all the way up to election day and of course we have our sights in particular on Capricornia where we believe Michelle Landry has been completely missing in action.

REPORTER: Are you shocked that the Government wants the ability to detain ten-year-old children or terrorism suspects for up to a fortnight without charge?

FITZGIBBON: Well, as Bill Shorten said this morning, we do our very best always to take a bi-partisan approach to national security issues.  We believe national security issues demand a bipartisan approach and we look very carefully at every proposition put forward by the Government. We will look at the details.

REPORTER: What safeguards would need to be put in place?

FITZGIBBON: We will look at the details when the Government puts some detail on to their proposition.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Can I just make some comments about infrastructure because it is great to be back here in Rockhampton in an electorate I have visited so many times as both a minister and as a shadow minister. As a minister we turned around the neglect that had happened for too long on the Bruce Highway. Over 12 years the Howard Government invested $1.3 billion in the Bruce. In half that time, just six years, we put $6.7 billion into the Bruce Highway and of course we have seen the benefits of that with the Yeppen Floodplain Upgrade – with the Yeppen Bridge and roundabout in particular as well as of course the Peak Downs Highway and other important infrastructure projects that have made a difference; with community infrastructure projects such as the Town Hall at Yeppoon, such as the fixing up of the memorial pool on the south side here in Rockhampton. What we have seen from the current Government, whether under Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull, is neglect and taking this region for granted. There are no major infrastructure projects under way in this area or indeed throughout the Bruce Highway that weren’t funded by the former Federal Labor Government. What we have seen is neglect and taking that for granted and as projects have opened,  that were already under way and under construction, what we are seeing is that investment isn’t stepping up to fill that gap – that investment that creates jobs in the short-term but also produces safer roads and better productivity and a stronger economy in the medium and long term.

REPORTER: I’ve just got a question from Melbourne. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. How important is that recognition for an organisation that has its roots in Melbourne?

ALBANESE: Look that is a great honour and all Australians indeed should be honoured by the Nobel Peace Prize. ICAN are a grassroots organisation. Australia has a proud history of being a part of international engagement. We were major parties to measures such as abolishing land mines and chemical weapons when we were in government under leadership of people like Gareth Evans or Kevin Rudd. Right through as foreign ministers we have a very proud history. This award overnight is a great tribute. I am particularly pleased as the patron of the Tom Uren Foundation, named in his honour, which raises money for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. We can see with the threat from North Korea that is going on at the moment exactly how dangerous nuclear weapons can be in creating instability and quite rightly creating a great deal of international concern. Australia has a role to play but also ICAN’s award is recognising that civil society – the ordinary men and women who engage in politics who want a better and a safer world for themselves and their children have been given this great honour overnight.

REPORTER: So given that threat from North Korea how realistic is a nuclear-free world?

ALBANESE: Well we always have to deal with things as they are rather than as we would like them to be. The threat from North Korea is real. We need to respond to it. But Australia of course has been a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Historically we have played an important role and Australia is, I think, in a bipartisan way playing a constructive role in recognising the threat that’s there from North Korea, calling upon particularly North Korea’s allies in China to ensure that this threat is removed

REPORTER: Do you have any concerns about Julie Bishop’s travel  expenses?

ALBANESE: That is a matter for Julie Bishop.

FITZGIBBON: Can I just very quickly add to (inaudible) tribute this morning to Bill Bryne, my friend Bill Byrne. As a former Defence Minister I am very conscious of his service within the Australian Defence Force. As an Agriculture Minister and more recently as Shadow Minister I worked very closely with Bill on those issues around the agricultural sector. He made an outstanding contribution to his country as a leader of our military forces.  He made an outstanding contribution here as the local state member and he certainly made a great contribution as Minister for Agriculture and a number of other portfolios. We will miss him very dearly. I am sure the community will miss both him and his very, very hard and effective work and I wish him and his family all the very best for the future.

REPORTER: Do you have any opinions on who should replace him?

FITZGIBBON: Oh no. I will leave that for the Queensland party to determine but I do know that we have wealth of very, very effective local members here in Central Queensland, many of them attending the forum this morning, and I’ve no doubt that the Labor Party will put forward an outstanding candidate.

REPORTER: What do you think about the Stop Adani protests that are happening around the country today?

FITZGIBBON: Well we always support the right of people to have their say on any issue and on any project.

REPORTER: Anthony do you have any concerns about Nick Xenophon going back to state politics?

ALBANESE: Well I think this is a decision that those people in South Australia who have voted for Nick Xenophon to serve a six-year term just one year ago will be surprised by – the fact that he is leaving that position so early. What we need in Australia is stability and with the Weatherill Government you have that – a Government committed to jobs and growth in South Australia, a Government committed to making sure that South Australia leads the country in environmental sustainability. Jay Weatherill is doing an outstanding job and really what Nick Xenophon is doing is pointing out once again the fracturing the non-Labor forces in South Australia. You’ve got Cory Bernardi out there with his Australian Conservatives, you have Nick Xenophon standing against a local Liberal Party Member in Hartley and we see once again a vote of no-confidence in Steven Marshall as the alternative premier. This is a guy who himself was advocating a vote for the Labor Party just 24 hours before the last election and I think that said it all when it comes to the incompetence of Steven Marshall and no doubt that’s part of Nick Xenophon’s motivation for moving, or attempting to move to, the South Australian Parliament. Thank you very much.

 

 

Oct 6, 2017

Transcript of television interview – ABC Lateline

Subjects; Nick Xenophon; gun control, security reforms.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And for a look at the week in politics I was joined by Labor frontbencher, Anthony Albanese in the studio earlier. Anthony Albanese, welcome back to Lateline.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW TRANSPORT MINISTER: Good to be with you, Matt.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Firstly what do you make of Nick Xenophon quitting the Senate?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, this is quite an extraordinary decision. We’ll wait and see how it plays out. Nick Xenophon, of course, had spent 10 years in the South Australian Parliament. He then spent 10 years in the Senate and he’s going back or trying to.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Decade on, decade off?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see what the voters think. I think there will be some backlash given that he went before the people of South Australia and asked to be elected to the Senate just a year ago. Of course, with him at the top of the ticket, there were other people elected as well, that probably wouldn’t have happened.

MATT WORDSWORTH: What does it mean for those Senators, you know, Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Stirling Griff. Are they basically toast now?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think most Australians, with respect to those individuals, wouldn’t have heard of them.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yeah, because you think they got in on the coat tails of Nick Xenophon?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: There is no question that that is the case and I think they’d acknowledge that as well. Now they’re going to find themselves negotiating over legislation in the Senate. Of course, the crossbenchers have a lot of influence in the current Parliament. Nick Xenophon, walking away from that, in order to run for a South Australian Lower House seat will, I think, be regarded quite cynically by many people in South Australia. It’s very clear that he won’t be in a position to be a government or an alternative government in himself.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Well, he’s ruled out cabinet positions or anything like that.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What essentially he’s saying is, “Vote for me so I can give South Australia some more instability. Vote for me and I want to be in a balance of power position.” That’s a very risky thing to do. The truth is that it’s the major parties who seek to form government. Nick Xenophon isn’t saying he wants to form government. The Lower House is the house where government is formed.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Do you think he can win that seat he’s going for, Hartley, by the way? It’s Labor, now Liberal, marginal.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, in the past actually, third party candidates have had more chance of winning seats when they’ve run for safe seats because that ensures that they run second. So, it’s a counter-intuitive when you look at where the risk. For example, my seat of Grayndler is, has been potentially seen to be at risk from time to time because the Liberal vote is so low in my seat. So, we’ll wait and see how that plays out. I think South Australians will be very wary, though, of voting for an unknown.

MATT WORDSWORTH: He’s not exactly an unknown.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s unknown as to how he would act if he were elected to the South Australian Parliament and what would happen to the rest of his team. We have seen minor parties, not the least of which is in the recent period, elect the people who’ve gone off the rails, who’ve become independents, who have gone off on a tangent, and contrary to who the leader is of the particular party and so we’ll wait and see.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Okay, can I just move on to gun control. It’s another big issue of this week due to the attack in Las Vegas. Malcolm Turnbull has thrown the pressure on Labor here because he wants a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for gun trafficking. This is what he said this morning.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: Now, Bill Shorten has opposed that now on two occasions and he continues to do so and he’s wrong and he should recognise that Australians expect their leaders to do everything they can to keep them safe. And that means we must send the strongest and clearest signal to people who smuggle or traffic in guns – break the law, they do that, they will go to jail. That’s the message we need to send. We want Labor to rethink their position.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Anthony Albanese, will Labor rethink their support and support five-year mandatory minimums for gun trafficking?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: You know what Australians expect of leaders is a bit of integrity. Malcolm Turnbull is a lawyer. He knows very well the argument about mandatory sentencing which is a pretty simple argument, which is that politicians should decide through the law what the maximum sentences are. They shouldn’t determine or try to determine through legislation what the precise sentences will be. There’s a separation …

MATT WORDSWORTH: He’s saying a minimum should be five.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: There’s a separation, there is a separation, a very clear separation, between the judiciary, the legal system and the political system in this country and that’s why Labor has a problem with the issue of mandatory sentencing as a principle. What Labor has said very clearly is that there should be up to life sentences for people who traffic in guns. We’ve also said, as a constructive suggestion, that the gun amnesty, which has been somewhat successful, in the current climate, after Las Vegas, surely it should be extended out. We know there’s about 600,000 illegal firearms still around Australia.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Malcolm Turnbull said it was more like 260,000-odd, according to his intelligence estimates. You’re saying 600?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, between 260,000 and 600,000, what we do know is that there are far too many and what we should be doing is putting in place the maximum effort that we can to get those guns out of the system and an extension would be a logical thing to do. I find it extraordinary that Malcolm Turnbull is trying to play politics with this issue. This should be a bipartisan issue. He should be mature about it and, frankly, it shows the desperation of his political predicament, the fact that he’s prepared to go down that road.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And just quickly, I want to talk about the national facial recognition database that has now been agreed to by the states, handing over those driver’s licence photos to assemble this database. What about the burqa ban? There are calls now for a ban on the burqa because it would render ineffective any of the surveillance of the CCTV if you can’t capture a face and compare it to a database.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we’ve had that argument and one of the things that we’ve come down on the side of, in a bipartisan way, is that we won’t interfere with, religious freedom is important, and in terms of the issue that’s been put forward, it’s good that there was agreement across the board. I support, and tried to start the process as the Federal Transport Minister, national driver’s licences that would have made, of course, that process far simpler, and I understand that has been on the agenda at transport ministerial council meetings that have been held in the past couple of years.

MATT WORDSWORTH: All right, Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

Oct 6, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

BEN FORDHAM: Welcome back to Today, well the horrific events in Las Vegas have once again put gun control on the agenda here in Australia. Bill Shorten is calling for the government to extend a national gun amnesty until the end of the year and impose tougher sentences on gun smugglers. Joining us, Anthony Albanese from the Labor Party, Christopher Pyne from the Liberal Party, thank you very much.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Ben.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Ben.

FORDHAM: Christopher let’s start off with you, the gun amnesty, the Turnbull Government introduced one this year, very successful, went for three months, lots of weapons handed in. Labor’s come up with a fair point saying okay, in the wake of Vegas, let’s have another one.

PYNE: Well look the gun amnesty’s been a great success and it’s done exactly the job that it was meant to do. We have a bill before the parliament right now for mandatory minimum sentences which Bill Shorten and the Greens are opposing. So it really takes a great amount of audacity to call for tougher sentences when you’re actually opposing tougher sentences in the parliament right now.

FORDHAM: I’ll take that up with Albo in just a moment, but just tell me, on the gun amnesty, it was very successful for three months, we’ve now had Vegas, have another one.

PYNE: Well we’ve just had a gun amnesty, so all the guns that would’ve been handed in, in the last three months have been handed in. Just extending the amnesty is not actually going to solve the problem.

FORDHAM: You don’t think that off the back of what we’ve seen in Vegas in the last week that more people would be compelled to hand in more weapons?

PYNE: I don’t think so, no, I think what would be a more useful thing to do, since we already have great gun laws here, they are not the same as the United States, would be for the Labor Party to support the bill the government already has before the parliament for tougher sentences for firearm offences, for smuggling guns, which Bill Shorten supported when he was in government, when he was a senior minister in government, and he’s now opposing in opposition.

FORDHAM: Let me take that up with Albo right now, now he makes a fair point, Christopher, on mandatory minimum sentences, because Bill Shorten’s come out and said, righto, we want tougher sentences for gun smugglers. The Labor Party has supported mandatory minimum sentences for people smugglers, why not gun smugglers?

ALBANESE: We do want tougher sentences, and one of the things that we’ve said that there should be is up to a life sentence for gun smugglers, but we’ve also said, as a second constructive proposal put forward in the wake of Las Vegas, is that it makes common sense to extend the gun amnesty. It has been successful but we know there are 600,000 illegal firearms still out there. In the wake of Vegas, what harm is there in extending the amnesty and trying to collect a few thousand more.

FORDHAM: Very quickly, mandatory minimum sentences, you’re doing it for people smugglers, why not gun smugglers?

ALBANESE: Judges decide sentences, if we have politicians deciding the actual sentences rather than…

FORDHAM: Bill Shorten’s come out yesterday saying life sentences.

ALBANESE: Yeah but not mandatory, life sentence should be available for people who have engaged in gun smuggling, that is a sensible proposition; we think the Government should take it up.

FORDHAM: Okay, we’ve got two more topics so let’s keep the answers brief. We’re facing an uncertain summer with concerns about power blackouts and fears that lives will be at risk if the elderly are left without air conditioning. Albo, Bill Shorten wouldn’t commit yesterday on radio to standing by that 50% renewable energy target. Are you guys crab walking away from that, are you getting cold feet?

ALBANESE: No we’re not at all. What we are saying is that there needs to be certainty, the Government had the Finkel Review from the Chief Scientist. He put forward recommendations, why doesn’t the Government get on with the Clean Energy Target.

FORDHAM: Okay Christopher, Bill Shorten is being labelled Blackout Bill by you guys, saying it’ll be his fault if the lights go out this summer. But you’re in government, you’ve been in government for a long time, it’ll be on you if the lights go out this summer won’t it? And also what’s happened to Malcolm Turnbull’s halving of gas prices that he was talking about a few months ago, that hasn’t happened.

PYNE: Well Ben, Labor’s all over the shop on energy policy and that’s the dangerous thing about it. The problem we’re facing now about gas is because Labor allowed the gas companies to export as much gas as they wanted to, they didn’t put any controls in place. We’ve changed that, and the gas companies have said they will make sure there is enough gas for the domestic supply over the next 12 months. The reality is that we have an all of the above, practical approach. Renewable energies, wind, solar, coal, gas, and Labor of course just want to have much more renewables; they want to close down the coal fired power stations before we’re ready.

ALBANESE: That’s nonsense.

PYNE: You do! You have a policy to close down the coal fired power stations. That’s your policy.

ALBANESE: Why don’t you adopt what the Chief Scientist said you should do? You’re the Government.

PYNE: You’re always talking in riddles all the time. The reality is that we want an all of the above approach, you have an obsession with renewable power, we can have both, but you don’t want both, you want to close down the coal fired power stations before we’re ready to move to renewable energy.

ALBANESE: That’s nonsense, you’re full of rhetoric, and the problem with this mob is that they’ve actually been in government for four and a half years, and they’re pretending they’ve been in government for four and a half minutes.

PYNE: Gas prices have come down because of the Government’s policies.

ALBANESE: They’ve halved have they? Malcolm Turnbull said he would halve gas prices. That has not happened.

PYNE: Well under you they went up a 100%, so you doubled them.

ALBANESE: That has not happened.

FORDHAM: I didn’t expect that you would agree on that and you haven’t disappointed, have a lovely weekend Christopher, thank you Albo. They’ll be back next Friday.

Sep 27, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: AFL grand final; energy.

HOST: Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Hey, before we get into burning policy issues of the day I just wanted to ask you Albo, you were pretty chirpy this time about a year ago about the mighty Hawks, but I am just wondering how you are enjoying a few weeks off this finals series?

ALBANESE: Well I am actually going on leave on Friday. I am going up to Queensland and I will be watching both grand finals in a pub somewhere and I’m looking forward to it actually. I think the Crows-Tigers game should be an absolute cracker. Your mighty Crows, I thought you were playing for them. You were in the dressing room I noticed last weekend.

HOST: I got a bit excited. I managed to sneak in and give Eddie a bear hug. It was unbelievable.

ALBANESE: You haven’t injured Eddie or anything have you?

HOST: No way, I would not even risk doing that. What about you Chris, are you going along? I know you are a Crows Ambassador.

PYNE: Yes, I am a Crows Ambassador. I was there at the preliminary final with my family. It was very, very, very exciting. The crowd didn’t want to leave. If you remember, we all just stood three singing the song three times the whole way through which was very exciting. But no, I’m not going unfortunately. I am going away with my wife for the weekend for my birthday.

HOST: Good work. Happy birthday to you.

ALBANESE: Well, enjoy the game. I wish you all the best of luck.

PYNE: Thank you.

ALBANESE: I can relate to the poor old Tigers as a South Sydney rugby league tragic. I know what it is like to support a traditional club and wait decades to actually get your team in the grand final. But the Crows of course have got their own story with a bit of tragedy attached to it unfortunately of last year. So I’m very pleased for both clubs.

HOST: Well said, All right, let’s turn our attention to matters emanating out of Canberra, first and foremost.

ALBANESE: Nothing is more important that the grant final.

HOST: Well you will note I didn’t use the words to “something more important’’. Can we talk a bit about, Christopher Pyne, about the gas shortfall and the Federal Government’s response to it? I just wonder has the federal Liberal Party’s faith in the free market ever been at a lower ebb? You have canvassed in recent times purchasing coal-fired power plants, export controls on gas, and challenged market-based mechanisms to deal with climate change. Are you moving away from the purity of the free market?

PYNE: Well I have never been an advocate for a pure free market and I don’t think many people are in this country. I mean, there is obviously a range of views across the spectrum. I have always been a believer that when government needs to act, it should act. However I think some of the Labor people are more on the socialist side of the spectrum and think big government is the answer. I don’t think it is the answer. But sometimes the market requires that government steps in and unfortunately when Labor lifted all these controls on gas exports many years ago, gas flowed out in exports, earning the companies huge profits. But it left the domestic market short of gas.

Now the Government has taken action and more gas is flowing and the companies are coming to the party, which is a good thing and we expect them to do so even more so between now and the end of the year or we will use the mechanisms that are at our disposal to force them to do so. But they are, to their credit, actually responding to the Government’s pressure.

The ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, he pointed out this week that gas, the expense of gas, is one of the driving forces behind high electricity bills. He also pointed out that the networks, the poles and wires, is the largest cost in the electricity price. So I think we are now as a nation understanding a lot better why electricity prices have risen and we are doing something about it and I think that is a very good thing.

HOST: Can I ask you Albo, if you guys are in Government are you pulling a different lever with regard to this crisis or are you just advancing the timeline?

ALBANESE: Well lucky for Christopher that he has only been in Government for a week the way that you hear them talk. They’ve been in Government for a long time. We have been saying that the trigger needs to be pulled when it comes to ensuring that there’s a reservation of gas for use domestically and the Government is still refusing to do so and we don’t quite understand, apart from the fact there’s an issue over Barnaby Joyce with his citizenship issues and he’s the person responsible as the Acting Minister, why this simply hasn’t occurred.

I must say that when the trade union movement in particular were calling for domestic gas reservation years ago, they were derided. And when Labor adopted it as our policy we were criticised by the then Coalition as well as this being a creeping socialism and an anti-market…

PYNE: I hate to inject some facts into this discussion but the truth is…

ALBANESE: I’m pleased the Government has come around.

PYNE: The gas mechanism doesn’t actually operate until January the 1st. So this nonsense that’s Anthony’s talking about to apparently pull an imaginary trigger and everything will be fixed the reality is….

ALBANESE: Yes that’s right. You send the signal by indicating that you pull the trigger then you will get action.

PYNE: And at what figure would you set it? When three months ago we were told that there are about 36 petajoules not in the system (inaudible) and this week we were told it was 107 by the regulator. Now on Labor’s logic you would have pulled the trigger at 36 and it would still be about 70 short so in fact Labor is just running a political argument. We’re actually trying to competently fix the problem (inaudible).

ALBANESE: But you’re pretending you haven’t been in Government for years.

PYNE: You’re the ones who allowed the gas to be exported in the first place.

HOST: Without wanting to sound flippant guys, we’re sure that these are important issues and we’ll continue to explore them at a later date but right now we have to keep talking about the football again. We’re crossing over to Melbourne shortly.

PYNE: I’m very relieved about that.

HOST: It’s not that we’re shallow.

ALBANESE: Enjoy your road trip. Leave Eddie alone.

HOST: Tell you what if last Friday was (inaudible) god knows what would happen Saturday if I laid my eyes on the guy. Albo and Chris Pyne, all the best and we’ll chat again next week, hopefully in the happy afterglow of the Crows’ third flag.

Sep 26, 2017

Transcript of doorstop, Canberra

Subjects; Cuts to Federal infrastructure budget; marriage equality

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Government has today released its Final Budget Outcome for the financial year 2016-2017. What that shows is that the underspend when it comes to infrastructure investment under this Government is even worse than what was indicated at the time of the May Budget. These figures are the Government’s own figures, the Government’s figures it put in its budgets of 2014, 2015, and 2016, about what they said they would do on infrastructure investment. What we see over those first three budgets of the Coalition is a $3.9 billion underspend on infrastructure.

That has a real impact on issues like road safety when you have the Black Spots Program underspent. They said they’d spend $220 million; the actual spend is $105 million. Heavy vehicle safety, they said they’d spend $171 million, the actual spend is just $51 million. What that means in practice is that black spots around the country that should have been fixed, that had money in the budget to fix them, haven’t been done. What that means around the country is that heavy vehicle rest stops, providing an important break on those major national highways, that could have been built, that had money in the budget to build them, haven’t been built. And the Government’s response from Minister Chester yesterday was to say that we were playing politics with this issue. Well, Minister Chester needs to understand that this issue is serious; is serious to the tune of some $3.9 billion.

Now you hear a lot from the National Party, from Barnaby Joyce, as well as Darren Chester, about the importance of the cattle industry. Well here’s a program for you: Improving Cattle Supply Chains, allocated $35 million over the first three years, actual spend: zero, nothing, not a dollar on a program. Why do they have programs if absolutely nothing is happening in them? But that’s what we’ve seen across the board under this Government; a disgraceful performance, one that underlines the fact that they are not serious about infrastructure investment.

The Parliamentary Library has found that infrastructure investment will decline from 0.4 per cent as a share of GDP to 0.2 per cent over the next 10 years. It will be cut in half. That has a real impact on growth, and on jobs.

Just as these effective cuts of some $3.9 billion on the Government’s own figures. We’re not talking here about projects like Cross River Rail where they’ve cut out almost a billion dollars, or Melbourne Metro where they cut out $3 billion. This is the Government’s own figures, what they said they would do on top of the cuts that they’ve made to important projects, particularly to public transport projects. The Government stands condemned on its own figures. And if I was the Minister, frankly, I’d be considering my position if I’d performed this badly, year on year, for budget after budget, in terms of actually delivering on what commitments I’d made in the budget papers from the time that the Government was elected.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Just while we’re on these figures, by tying the spending to the national road toll, are you suggesting that the Government will have blood on its hands if this spending isn’t fast tracked?

ALBANESE: Well look what clearly is happening here, you look at the underspend. The Heavy Vehicle Safety Program is about safety. Supposed to spend $171 million; spent $51 million, a $120 million underspend. They’ve spent just a little bit under a quarter of what they said they would do. The Black Spots Program that targets projects, each one costs around about $160,000. It targets black spots; it targets by definition, the areas which are most dangerous. Northern Australian roads: they said they’d spend $100 million; they’ve spent $12 million. There are other programs like major road investment, there’s a $1.7 billion underspend. A lot of that is on major highways. The Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan has been underspent. Improving Cattle Supply Chains down to zero, not a dollar gone out the door.

The fact is that infrastructure investment is important to make a difference to productivity, but it’s also important in terms of road safety, and the Government just needs to get its act together. This isn’t just one year, if it happened one year you might think, oh well, they’re finding their feet. They’re now into their fifth year, effectively, of government, and we still find that all of these programs, on the Government’s own figures, they just haven’t got their act together.

JOURNALIST: Where do these unspent funds end up?

ALBANESE: They end up back with Finance and Treasury, back in Revenue. There’s no indication they’ve been brought forward, and programs increased in the future to make up for that, and when you’re talking about $3.9 billion, that is substantial. From time to time there will be a weather event that slows down work on a major project. We all understand that happens. But what should occur when that happens, if there’s a slowdown in one area, you increase the speed in another, where if you’ve got your act together and you’ve got your planning right, then you can do that, and what that does is make sure that jobs are continuing to be created, and that you’re getting that activity in public sector construction.

JOURNALIST: Aren’t they contributing to the budget bottom line?

ALBANESE: Well they certainly contribute to the reduction that the Government is talking about on its projected deficit. A pretty pathetic performance of course from the Government, whereby they’re out there proclaiming that somehow these are good figures, when in fact the deficit is three times higher than what Joe Hockey predicted it would be for this financial year, for 2016-17 when he brought down the 2014 Budget. And of course we’ve seen debt balloon out by some $147 billion on this Government’s watch.

JOURNALIST: The deficit isn’t lower than expected as you said, are you saying its not worthwhile if the road toll and things like that keep increasing?

ALBANESE: Well what I’m saying, clearly, is that the Government is not performing when it comes to infrastructure year after year. These are the Government’s own figures; this is a separate question from whether the Government should be funding Cross River Rail, from whether the Government should be speeding up investment on the Pacific Highway. I think both of those things they should be doing. We’re seeing a significant reduction, for example, in the current financial year compared with last, on investment in the Pacific Highway. These are the Government’s own figures, so on this they’re not even doing what they themselves said they would do.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you about Frances Abbott’s contribution to the marriage equality debate?

ALBANESE: Frances Abbott is making this contribution as an Australian citizen. She has said herself that she wants to attend her aunt’s wedding, Christine Abbott, or Foster as she is now. I was on Sydney Uni SRC with Christine many years ago, and certainly, the fact is that so many Australians are touched directly by a friend, a relative, someone who they care about, and they want to see them be able to express that commitment that they have with their life partner in front of friends and family. Frances Abbott is just one of those people, she has expressed her views, she’s certainly entitled to do that independently of the views of other people in her family, and I certainly respect her contribution.

Thank you.

Sep 26, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Newsday with Peter Van Onselen, SKY News

Subjects: Budget; energy, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, marriage equality.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Thanks so much for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: Now I understand, we might just show the image of it, that you tweeted a picture of yourself in a rainbow flag t-shirt holding a poodle. Is that yours?

ALBANESE: That is mine. Her name is Toto, so she likes rainbows, as in – fans out there of Wizard of Oz will recognise where her name derives from.

VAN ONSELEN: Even though you’re an inner city MP, Mr Albanese, I never saw you as a poodle owner.

ALBANESE: Well she’s a cavoodle and she is a lovely dog. And I think when you live in a heavily urbanised community you should get an appropriate dog that doesn’t require a huge amount of open space.

VAN ONSELEN: Fair enough. All right let’s get into some of the issues of the day.

ALBANESE: She’s a valued member of our family.

VAN ONSELEN: I don’t doubt it. I don’t doubt it. And good for people who are allergic to dogs too, if it’s a cavoodle. But look, we move on, we move on. So the big issues of the day; obviously these Budget results, Anthony Albanese. The Government’s got a right to crow about this don’t they? I mean at the end of the day they said the Budget would be one thing and it’s come in with the actuals $4.4 billion better.

ALBANESE: Well this of course has come in at three times the figure that Joe Hockey predicted in the first Coalition Budget in 2014. We’ve also seen the debt increase by some $147 billion on this Government’s watch. And in my area of infrastructure it’s a disaster. You’ve had, over the Government’s first three years, $3.9 billion of underspend on what it itself said it would commit to over the following 12 months.

So areas like the Black Spots Program; they said there would be $220 million, the actual spend is $105 million. The Heavy Vehicles Safety Program; $171 million in the Budget, but only $51 million spent. And the most remarkable program of all I think is the program for Improving Cattle Supply Chains, where you have National Party Ministers who bung on about the importance of the cattle industry; well they had $35 million allocated over the first three Budgets for this program. In May at the time of the Budget they said they would spend $1.2 million of that – that’s now disappeared completely. Not a dollar out the door. So they’ve actually got a program, which for three years, they haven’t spent a dollar on. That of course means that there has been less expenditure. And the problem with less expenditure on infrastructure is that it means less growth and less revenue coming into Government in the future. It’s bad economic policy to cut infrastructure investment and that’s exactly what this Government has done.

VAN ONSELEN: Can I move onto another issue, Mr Albanese, and get your response to what looks like a little bit of ambiguity for Labor about its Renewable Energy Target of around 45 or 50 per cent. Is that a firm target you plan to hit? Or is that an aspirational target that you may or may not get to?

ALBANESE: Look I reckon what will happen, Peter, is what’s happened even with the Renewable Energy Target that we had of 20 per cent by 2020, which will be exceeded in spite of the best efforts of the Coalition Government to destroy the renewable energy industry.

I mean, you have this debate – are renewables good or bad? Well renewables are happening. I went with Bob Katter up to Hughenden and Kidston in North West Queensland. The Kidston Stage 1; 537,000 solar panels, connected up with storage through using the old gold mines to essentially create both a hydro system to back that up to make sure it can then go into the grid and supply energy in a reliable way. Those two projects between them will power a million homes. We’re seeing massive investment and all that we need is some certainty. I don’t for the life of me understand why this Government can’t get on with the business of adopting the Finkel plan. They themselves created the Finkel Review and now they’re mucking around over whether they will implement it or not.

VAN ONSELEN: OK, but Labor has a 50 per cent renewable energy target and a 45 per cent emissions reduction target. Now there is enough question marks about the first of these two targets. The second one, Bill Shorten – he sounds like he doesn’t believe that is going to be achievable.

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that what we’ve got, if we have a whole-of-government approach, if we give support to the transition that is happening in the economy, if we work on energy efficiency; one of the things that defines I think my contribution to politics is I try to be positive and I think that human ingenuity and use of new technology is showing that things can be delivered. The fact is now renewables are the cheapest form of new energy that is being developed out there. Now 15 years ago, that wasn’t the case. More and more what we see is that new products on the market, including the use of battery storage and hydro to make sure that you have that reliability into the system …

VAN ONSELEN: I appreciate all that and obviously the use of renewables is vital to the driving down of emissions and therefore you are hitting your emission reduction target of 45 per cent. But do you really think you are going to hit it or are you guys going to have to let that go?

ALBANESE: No, we have these plans and we want to get into government so we can set about doing it. But the fact is even this Government has managed to hit the Kyoto targets which, remember under John Howard, who refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for all those years – I had private Members Bills in the Parliament saying we should get on with the business of joining the world in ratifying Kyoto – and we have done it in spite of the fact that it took a Labor Government to be elected in 2007 and we’ll be commemorating ten years since that event pretty soon. The first act of the Labor Government was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and that is what set Australia on the road to being a part of the global community when it came to acting on climate change. This Government has sort of got a foot in and a foot out. You know, Tony Abbott talks about renewables, but it is actually his renewable energy target. They talk about the danger of the Paris Accord now, some of Tony Abbott’s friends on the backbench and in industry, but the Government signed up to it.

VAN ONSELEN: But in fairness to Tony Abbott, he inherited a higher renewable energy target than what he ultimately then supported …

ALBANESE: And now he doesn’t support the one that he did support. And now he doesn’t support the one that is his target.

VAN ONSELEN: That is true.

ALBANESE: He is a very confused man.

VAN ONSELEN: But his issue is the Senate, right? Like he would like it to have been brought down more. They had to be realistic about what they could get through the Senate. It was Labor that put the renewable energy target in place. He then brought it down. They would liked to go further, but the reality of the Senate is that it is what it is.

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott now is just playing politics. No matter what Malcolm Turnbull says, you can guarantee that Tony Abbott is against it. There is no doubt that Tony Abbott is a very effective opposition politician, whether it be opposition to the former Labor Government, whether it be opposition to Malcolm Turnbull. But that doesn’t get anything done. That doesn’t serve the nation. The problem isn’t that Tony Abbott is stuck in the past, it’s that he wants the whole of Australia, led by Malcolm Turnbull, to go back there to keep him company. And Malcolm Turnbull seems in capable of saying no, I am not going to return to the past; I am going to embrace the future. And that is why we have so many policies of Malcolm Turnbull, including his reluctance to really get out there and support what is the Government’s own strategy of a voluntary postal survey on marriage equality. Even though Malcolm certainly supports marriage equality, he isn’t going too hard campaigning in favour of it and why on renewable energy and climate change you have some quite bizarre propositions at the moment – that the Government will have publicly funded and subsidised new coal-fired plants that might get going sometime in the decade after next. I mean it is quite extraordinary when we have practical measures that can be taken consistent with the Finkel Report.

VAN ONSELEN: Anthony Albanese I know you are busy down in Canberra for the day. Thanks very much for joining us, finding the time for us here on Newsday. Cheers.

ALBANESE:  Good to be with you Peter.

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