Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Jun 28, 2017

Transcript of television interview – SKY Newsday

Subjects: Infrastructure; Liberal Party, Christopher Pyne; Labor Party.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: My guest now is the Infrastructure Shadow Minister within the Labor ranks. I’m talking about Anthony Albanese. Thanks very much for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: What did you make to the Prime Minister crowing about the tunnel today with the Snowy Hydro scheme and all of their successes on infrastructure?

ALBANESE: Well there’s nothing to see here as far as the Prime Minister is concerned.

VAN ONSELEN: I bet he would love to get in that tunnel as quickly as possible. And they could seal it for him.

ALBANESE: I think there’s people queuing up to seal him in a tunnel to never be seen again. Look, I do feel maybe even a hint of sympathy for Malcolm Turnbull. The real problem though is that because he and Tony Abbott are caught in this cage fight where they are sort of wrestling each other in this downward spiral, they are taking the Government with them and it is pretty clear that the Government isn’t able to actually govern in the national interest because it’s completely distracted by its own internal division.

VAN ONSELEN: Hang on a second Anthony Albanese. I’ve got to draw a comparison here because you guys had your fair share of troubles in government between Rudd and Gillard but you argued repeatedly at the time that despite all of that fomenting behind the scenes, you were continuing to be able to govern effectively. It goes both ways, doesn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well we got things done.

VAN ONSELEN: So did they – Gonski 2.0.

ALBANESE: Look at the Clean Energy Package. The Clean Energy Package that was put up after the Finkel report has 50 recommendations. The Government say they have agreed with 49 of them. The one though that matters, the Clean Energy Target, has been put off into the never-never. You have circumstances whereby on marriage equality, I mean, for goodness sake, the Government tried to implement its policy of a plebiscite. It was rejected by the Parliament. It will be rejected next year if it is put. It will be
rejected next term if it’s put. It will be rejected next decade. It isn’t going to happen.

VAN ONSELEN: But Anthony Albanese on that though from your perspective I know that you are an advocate for marriage equality so I am just talking about the politics here, not the policy. I know you would like to see it enacted sooner rather than later. But it’s got to be manna from heaven doesn’t it, if that is going to be a continuing issue – a crown of thorns around the scalp of the Coalition?

ALBANESE: Which is why, if anyone has half a political instinct between them, the Coalition will get this done and get it off the agenda and everyone will wonder what the fuss was about because existing marriages and relationships won’t be impacted by this at all. What you will see is jobs created in the tourism sector by the fact that people who happen to be of the same gender can marry each other and there’ll be an economic bonus from this with no downside and that’s why the Parliament should vote. It’s absurd that a majority of the Parliament supports this reform. The Government has in my view very clearly tried to honour its commitment which of course just a fix anyway to placate its own internal divisions. No-one seriously can suggest that we need a plebiscite on marriage equality, but not on the Gonski reforms on education, not one on the NDIS, not one on action on climate change, not one on the Budget. But the one issue we are going to take to the Australian people is marriage equality. I’m a supporter of marriage equality but I don’t think it is more important than the future of the economy or the future of the planet.

VAN ONSELEN: Now you are a former Leader of the House as is Christopher Pyne now. You two do various segments together in the media. Do you think that he should be sacked as conservatives are saying for what transpired at that Black Hand function and subsequently leaked?

ALBANESE: Well I think that Christopher Pyne has a greater knowledge over the functioning to the Parliament than many of the people who are no doubt out there backgrounding against him and attempting to undermine him.

VAN ONSELEN: So is that a defence of him?

ALBANESE: Some of those struggle to find the chamber Peter. That’s the truth of the matter. You have ministers who don’t have a clue about the way that the Parliament functions and the idea that this bitterness and the attacks that are there against Christopher Pyne and against each other, really, I just wish they’d stop and actually govern for the nation.

VAN ONSELEN: Let me pull you in on this one though Anthony Albanese. I mean, come on, you know you can cross the aisle for an opinion on this. Do you think that Christopher Pyne deserves to be demoted for what has happened or do you think he deserves to stay on?

ALBANESE: No I don’t. No I don’t and I say that objectively. You know, it probably is, you know in the politics 1A rule book never miss a chance to kick an opponent. But the truth is the Australian public are sick of it. They are sick of bickering between the parties and they are sick of bickering within the parties and what we are seeing here is a bunch of people who are disgruntled, who take every opportunity to background against each other. I mean people like Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott for that matter. I mean Tony Abbott is out there with this alternative manifesto which doesn’t resemble at all what he did when he was the Prime Minister. He was the Prime Minister of this nation who put in place the existing renewable energy target for example, and now he is out there saying it is all doom and gloom and it should all go and really having a manifesto that is from the 1950s. It would take this country back. It’s angry. It’s nasty and it’s about time that he got over himself frankly and that the group of disgruntled people around him got over themselves as well because they are doing a great deal of damage and I’m concerned that we do need to have a responsible debate over issues like the Clean Energy Target and to get a responsible position on climate change. Labor has been constructive on this.

VAN ONSELEN: Let me jump in Anthony Albanese before we run out of time. I want to steer you to another topic. It was the way that the Government tried to close out the last sitting period last week. They got Gonski through, sure. But they were also targeting Bill Shorten over the CFMEU, saying that he wasn’t strong enough to attack that Setka character from the union movement and you know kick him out of the party. Do you think he should be kicked out of the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: Well that is a matter for the organisational wing. But I will say this about Bill Shorten. Bill Shorten does have strength of character. He is able to bring the fact that he has a record in the trade union movement to bear in terms of the issues that are really of concern for Australians and this big announcement of course in the last 24 hours is about penalty rates. That’s the IR issue that Australians are interested in – the fact that so many low paid Australians are going to get a real wage cut from this weekend and that’s something that we’ll continue to campaign on. Bill Shorten has said that he will restore that and I think that is a policy that will receive a great deal of support rather than arguing about what some obscure individual did. Quite clearly his comments are unacceptable. They were opposed by various people within the Labor Party from Bill Shorten down and of course that is entirely appropriate.

VAN ONSELEN: All right Anthony Albanese. We are out of time now. We appreciate you joining us on Newsday though. Thanks for your company

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Peter.

Jun 28, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Liberal Party Division, Clean Energy Target, Marriage Equality

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us on the program. Good morning to the both of you.

PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good morning. I think it’s two different tribes this week. I’m sort of redundant to the tribes going to war.

HOST: No, we’ll get to you shortly Albo. Well look, obviously enough, we will start with you, if we can, Christopher Pyne. Obviously the last few days has been dominated by the fallout from the comments that you made in that speech, which was tape recorded after the Liberal Council meeting in Sydney on Friday night. Do you now regret making the speech that you made?

PYNE: Well David, I dealt with these matters on Monday night on QANDA, comprehensively, in front of 900,000 viewers and 200 people in the studio audience and my intention is not to canvass them again but simply get on with the job.

HOST: Well this is your first interview with an Adelaide audience and people here have been captivated by the fallout from this, which is very much continuing. So I apologise for continuing to ask you a few more questions about it. It’s been reported this morning, Christopher Pyne, that your position as Leader of Government Business in the House is now under threat and that there are people in the Coalition who are urging Malcolm Turnbull to remove you from that position. Are you aware of that push and do you think that it might eventuate?

PYNE: Look, David, I think the Australian public aren’t very concerned about the machinations of the Government in Canberra, what they are concerned about is the Government’s policies; things like ending the school funding war that’s bedevilled the country for decades, bringing back the rule of law on construction sites, regulating the unions in the way that we’ve done, delivering company tax cuts and income tax cuts and childcare reform, vocational education and training reform and in my own area, of course, more jobs in the defence industry.

HOST: But this is why Christopher, this is why people are interested in it, because right now no one has any faith that the Federal Government is focusing on those issues. All they hear are these internal ructions.

PYNE: I don’t think that’s true.

HOST: I’m telling you it is the case; it’s what we hear every morning on the program.

PYNE: Since the Budget, which has been very well received, the Federal Government has been focused on delivering higher wages, better outcomes, lower inflation, lower interest rates, (inaudible), bringing back a surplus, all those things we’re getting on with.

HOST: Well with respect, this is filibustering. This is you filling the gaps by talking about other things to avoid talking about the very real fact that your Party appears to be paralysed by factionalism. We saw yesterday, that the immediate past Prime Minister Tony Abbott, totally provocative act, went out and issued his own manifesto for good government. The question, and can you please answer it, how does the Liberal Party move beyond this factional infighting?

PYNE: Well I have answered the question, with great respect, David. I said I’ve dealt with this comprehensively on Monday night on QANDA and I don’t intend to canvass it any further because I think the South Australian public would much prefer we were talking about jobs at Osborne in the submarine and ship yard project that I’m running down there for our state and our country and I think they get very sick of these internal discussions about politics inside the bubble, whether it’s Labor, or Liberal, or the Greens. I see Lee Rhiannon is being attacked in New South Wales, internally in her Party and I just don’t think the public switch on. I heard the Prime Minister on Neil Mitchell the other day in Melbourne and all Neil Mitchell wanted to talk about from what I could gather was these same issues and the Prime Minister said let’s go to phone calls.

HOST: Well how about you leave it to us to determine what our audience is interested in.

PYNE: You don’t have to be aggressive about it Will.

HOST: You keep telling us what our audience wants to hear. We’re getting tweets and texts at the moment.

PYNE: Well I have a (inaudible) idea of what people want to talk about. I represented them for 24 years.

HOST: Sure, but we’re getting tweets and texts to the contrary at the moment. One right now, Tim Cummings, saying wrong Christopher, we are interested. So we’re going to have to stick with this for just a moment. It looks like the Government’s position and Malcolm Turnbull’s position is becoming untenable.

PYNE: Look I’ve answered these questions. I’m getting on with the job and I’m not dealing with internal machinations on 5AA radio.

HOST: Can I just ask you Christopher, almost on a non-political level here; how do you keep doing your job when you wake up and someone’s called you treacherous, someone’s called you two-faced, someone’s called you disloyal, untrustworthy, a pest, someone who never graduated from student politics – is it wearing you down?

PYNE: Well that’s a charming way of trying to get me to say something new on the subject in order to keep the story going but I won’t be doing so.

HOST: Well let’s go over to you, Anthony Albanese. This is probably the most you’ve ever enjoyed the Two Tribes segment. But that said I’m not so sure you should, because it strikes me that every single time the word faction gets mentioned in Australian politics, a voter for a non-major party is born. How in the hell do we move beyond this fixation with the inner working of Australian major political parties that we seem to have at the moment?

ALBANESE: I think that what we’re seeing here is the fallout from knocking off a first term elected Prime Minister. We went through something very similar; I know how this movie ends because I’ve been a part of it. And watching Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull in this cage fight of a downward spiral that they’re in, they are dragging the whole Government with them and the truth is that there are issues, Christopher is right, there are issues that are far more important than the personalities of politics. Issues like the fact that penalty rates will end this Sunday at a time when Christopher has acknowledged that we actually need wages to increase and the opposite is occurring.

The Government had a recommendation about a clean energy target. They agreed to 49 of the 50 recommendations except for the one that actually matters and they’re hamstrung there by their internal divisions. On marriage equality; I mean for goodness sake, the Government actually tried to implement its policy of a plebiscite. It failed. It failed; it delivered its commitment and now I don’t see there’s any breach of Liberal Party policy for there to be a vote of the Parliament and then people will wonder what the fuss was about.

HOST: Just on that point, sorry to jump in Albo. On that point of marriage equality, can I jump back to you Christopher? Not trying to resuscitate or return to the comments you made on Friday night but can I ask; is there any kind of renewed push within Coalition ranks to force Malcolm Turnbull to change position over the manner in which we would get to same-sex marriage being legalised?

PYNE: Well we would probably have marriage equality now if the Labor Party and Bill Shorten had supported the plebiscite.

ALBANESE: No one wants it.

PYNE: That was to be held in February, and assuming it was carried, and I think it would have been, then we could have had the law in by February/March. The only person who has stopped marriage equality in this Parliament is Bill Shorten. The reality is that we had a policy to give everybody a say, and I think that was a good policy, so that if marriage equality came about, the whole country could feel they’d been part of the decision. Not just the people with a vote in Canberra, and unfortunately Bill Shorten blocked that.

HOST: Is that a fair assessment Albo?

ALBANESE: That’s just nonsense. Its rot and Christopher knows it. He doesn’t support a plebiscite, nor do most people in the Liberal Party. This was just a fix to avoid internal divisions. We’re not having a plebiscite about the clean energy target, about education funding, about penalty rates, about a whole range of things that actually impact far more people than the marriage equality decision will. This is a Government that is just hamstrung by its internals. That’s the problem here, and that becomes a problem for the nation. And now you have people going after Christopher Pyne. I would welcome Christopher Pyne not being Leader of the House because half their front bench struggle to find where the Chamber is let alone know how the Parliament actually functions.

You’ve got people mouthing off against each other, mostly anonymously, and that is what they’re concentrating on. They’re not concentrating on the needs of the Australian people and that’s why the Government continues to trail in the polls.

HOST: As you alluded to though Albo, this is something that was not only invented but mastered by the ALP, during the Rudd-Gillard period. It’s tragic that it’s occurring again, albeit on the other side.

ALBANESE: It certainly is not good for the Australian body politic, you’re right. Will alluded to the issue of the impact on the major parties and, having a look at these internal divisions, there’s no doubt that it is having an impact. It had an impact on us when we were in Government; it’s having a massive impact on the other side of politics. I don’t think it’s healthy for the way that politics is conducted and, frankly, Tony Abbott’s hypocrisy over issues like the renewable energy target, which is the precise target that he presided over, and now he just wants to pretend it had nothing to do with him. That’s the sort of dishonesty and opportunism in politics that puts people off.

HOST: Chris and Anthony; thank you for joining us this morning, and Chris in all sincerity, we do wish you well in trying to put a line under this, because we are with you. We spend 90% of our program talking about things like power bills, talking about the impact that the bank tax is going to have.

We do, as a general rule want to talk about issues that do affect our listeners very, very much so, but when it gets to a point where the fighting looks like its preventing the Government from doing its job we do feel duty bound to explore those issues with some energy too. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always a great segment, thanks very much for joining us today.

PYNE: It’s a pleasure.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you guys.

Jun 23, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Education; MPs’ pay; The Muppets 

LISA WILKINSON: Good morning gentlemen.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY: Good morning Lisa.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning I think.

WILKINSON: Christopher finally some good news for the Government?

PYNE: Yes Lisa a big win last night on school funding. It’s a terrific reform. It will end decades of arguments about the school funding wars. It’s a needs-based model. Everyone is treated consistently across the country. No more 27 secret deals that the former Government did – the former Labor Government did – and it’s a terrific outcome and the crossbenchers supported it. We passed it this morning at 2am so Anthony and I are a little bit wan this morning.

WILKINSON: And Albo’s not very pleased because Labor remains strongly opposed to the plan, don’t you Albo?

ALBANESE: Well we are opposed to the plan because we don’t think it puts enough money into the system. We adopted a needs-based funding model. The Government has adopted the rhetoric but not the investment and that’s why we will continue to argue for more funding for schools, particularly for needy schools.

PYNE: He’s got the flu this morning, which is why he sounds a bit thick in the head. It’s $23 billion …

ALBANESE: Now you are just being mean.

PYNE: No it’s true. You’ve got a flu. He has been sick for two weeks actually.

ALBANESE: For the entire fortnight, I have had the flu and struggled through.

PYNE: It is $23 billion more money – $23 billion. We all know there is so much more to a good education than the funding, but we are still putting in $23 billion more, ending the school funding …

ALBANESE: That’s only compared with Tony Abbott’s cuts.

PYNE: I hadn’t finished.

ALBANESE: Well you are finished Christopher. The Government’s finished, let’s face it. It’s just limping toward its end.

PYNE: We’ve got two years before the election.

ALBANESE: It’s just limping away there.  Struggling.

PYNE: It’s wishful thinking.

ALBANESE: Limping through to 2am.

PYNE: Nobody believes it. Go back to bed.

ALBANESE: We are becoming more and more like the Muppets.

PYNE: We shouldn’t be put together in the same studio.

WILKINSON: While we are talking money gentlemen let’s move on to the pay packets of federal politicians because they are certainly making headlines this morning after it was revealed you guys are going to receive a 2 per cent pay increase from next month, leaving some MPs $4000 a year better off. Albo, at a time when wages for everyone else are stagnant, are you comfortable with the pay increase?

PYNE: That was to you. Didn’t you hear it?

ALBANESE: No, sorry. My microphone is not happening at all.

WILKINSON: Can you hear me Albo?

PYNE: I’m happy to answer.

ALBANESE: You are coming in and out I am sorry.

WILKINSON: Albo, wages are going up by 2 per cent. Are you comfortable with that when everyone else’s wages are stagnant?

ALBANESE: Well what I am comfortable with is politicians not determining our own pay; it being at arm’s lengths from us. The first I knew about that was when I was told just before we can on air. It is appropriate that all our pay and conditions are not set by us but set by an independent tribunal.

WILKINSON: You could always resist.

PYNE: Well in fact we’ve had a pay freeze for the last couple of years Lisa, so the reality is that we don’t make these decisions.

WILKINSON: But so have most voters. You know they don’t have the possibility of choosing to or not to accept a pay increase. Most wages are remaining stagnant at the moment Christopher.

PYNE: Well in fact the Fair Work Commission has just increased the average wage for workers in a decision again, an independent decision, by the Fair Work Commission. They good thing about the way our salary and remunerations are set is that we actually have nothing to do with it. We are not asked out opinion about it. The Remuneration Tribunal sets it. We’ve had a couple of years of a freeze and quite frankly Anthony and I don’t do this job for the salary. We do it because it is a wonderful way of helping the society in which we live and we’d do it, even if we weren’t paid. I think we would probably have to get paid.

ALBANESE: Otherwise we would struggle.

PYNE: Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to live. We obviously don’t do it for the money.  These decisions are made by the Remuneration Tribunal and we really have nothing to do with it.

WILKINSON: All right. I think you two need to go back to bed.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yep, definitely.

PYNE: Well he can’t hear. Anthony can’t hear.

KARL STEFANOVIC: He can’t speak either.

PYNE: He’s got the flu.

ALBANESE: I can always speak. If I don’t know the question, I can give an answer.

PYNE: I will get him a Lemsip.

STEFANOVIC: The way you two look like this morning it has become very obvious to all of us here watching, do you remember, on the Muppets, Statler and Waldorf? I think we’ve got a photo here from inside the Muppets Camp.

PYNE: I’m going to get him a little Lemsip

ALBANESE: I don’t know what you just said, but I know it was probably bad.

PYNE: They are making fun of you.

ALBANESE: Why are you making fun of me?

PYNE: They are making fun of you.

ALBANESE: Here I am I’m turning up for work, unpaid. We could have 100 per cent increase on our Today Show salary.

PYNE: That’s true. That would be a nice change.

ALBANESE: It wouldn’t make much difference really.

WILKINSON: Fresh air and love, that’s what we give you.

PYNE: We’ve been offered money by other networks.

ALBANESE: We are in demand.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you. Very committed aren’t they.

WILKINSON: They certainly are, sort of.

Jun 22, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Richo Program, SKY News

Subjects: Citizenship changes; Gonski and schools funding.

RICHARDSON: Our next interview is Anthony Albanese –Albo – a great mate of mine I confess. I have known Albo for too many years, I guess. But a terrific bloke, if Bill Shorten was to be challenged it would be this bloke but he looks pretty happy to me and for Labor he does one hell of a job. So here he is, Anthony Albanese. Anthony Albanese, welcome to the program.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you, Graham.

RICHARDSON: Let’s start with the big news of the week as far as Labor is concerned and that’s this decision to oppose some of the new citizenship rules. Now I wrote in a column today that it was basically about caucus management, about not taking the left a bridge too far. Is that a fair description of it?

ALBANESE: No, you’re wrong on this occasion Graham. You get most of the caucus analysis right most of the time but one of the things, particularly in New South Wales, Members are incredibly strong, it’s Tony Burke who has led the charge on this issue as the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs. You might have met young Tony…

RICHARDSON: I have a few times, yes. I taught him all he knows, you know.

ALBANESE: He is a very committed person to multicultural Australia. He’s someone who led the charge over the changes that were proposed to water down race hate laws by the Coalition and on this issue he has been absolutely right. The Government was proposing changes, or is proposing changes, that would see some of its Cabinet Ministers not be able to pass it. I mean Barnaby Joyce, I’m not sure what language he speaks during Question Time but it certainly isn’t university level English. And, indeed, I saw a tweet from Peter Dutton that was corrected, in 140 characters, five times with correct English grammar yesterday and yet they’re setting this test that is far higher than what common-sense suggests should prevail. There is already a test; people expect conversational level of English so that people can participate in their community, in work, in Australian society. But what we don’t need is a test that would see a whole lot of people, essentially, ruled out.

RICHARDSON: Tell me though, the claim that comes out of Labor is that this is basically a university level entrance degree of English, which is unfair and yet the Liberals tell me the opposite. Some of the journos are writing the opposite, that that’s simply not true, that’s an excuse rather than a reason.

ALBANESE: Well the Tories are wrong. If you have a look; Tony Burke’s issued a very good media release, tonight indeed, looking at the entrance level of, I think it’s called the International English Language System, or something like that. Level six is required for a whole range of universities, or a minimum of 5.5, and that’s listed by Tony Burke. Take this point Graham, the Adult Migrant English Service that teaches people English and teaches people English to a level whereby they can participate in society and in work; they teach up to level four. And the Government’s proposed this change without suggesting any change to that system, without any additional funding or support there. So the Government’s just got this wrong. There are only two explanations; they’ve made a mistake or they’ve deliberately put something up to fail so that they can then run around and try and play wedge politics with this issue.

RICHARDSON: I think there’s no doubt about it, it’s meant as a wedge. We’ll see if that works but of course I saw today Tony Burke quoted in a number of newspapers out of, I think a 2005 or 2006 essay he wrote, saying that there should be more difficult English tests applied now.

ALBANESE: We support a common-sense outcome here; a common-sense outcome so that people can participate. We’re also concerned about the delay that’s retrospective to people being able to apply for Australian citizenship. Can I say this; as a local Member, one of the best days to be a Parliamentarian is Australia Day every year whereby I rock along to Canterbury, to Marrickville, to Ashfield, to Leichhardt and participate in citizenship ceremonies. There you have people from all over the world pledging allegiance to our nation. We are an incredibly successful multicultural nation, we should be proud of that.
In my local community, the inner west of Sydney, people live in harmony side by side, of different religions, different ethnicities and we’re all the richer for it. My son was learning Mandarin in primary school, Italian in secondary school, participating in Harmony Day, participating in the Chinese New Year celebrations. We are so enriched by the fact that, with the exception of Indigenous Australians, we’re all sons or daughters, or grandsons or granddaughters of migrants. I myself am half Italian, half Irish stock. The only thing that’s certain about that is that I was raised a Catholic and that’s a good thing.

RICHARDSON: I think I’d have to agree with you about that generally, I’m not sure if the last statement was correct or not, that’s up to individuals to make up their mind on. Now what about yourself? I keep reading this criticism that you’re not asking questions in the Parliament on your shadow portfolio.

ALBANESE: I got a couple of questions last week and I had a Matter of Public Importance the week before that Parliament sat. I don’t think anyone can argue that I’m not out there with opinion pieces, I had one this week in the Australian, I’ve had one in the Huffington Post today, I’ve addressed the Australian Logistics Council, I’ve addressed the Australian Local Government Association, I’ve just addressed a group of people involved in the maritime sector. I’m very active in my portfolio. Question Time is one element; we have been concentrating this week not surprisingly on the education proposals of the Government. I sit as a member of the Tactics Committee of the Labor Party Caucus and certainly I participate in the decision making about who gets questions and what those processes are.

RICHARDSON: Tell me, after all this, because I don’t understand really what is happening in all of this education situation, who’s up who in the zoo here? Who is going to vote where? Because I can’t work it out.

ALBANESE: Well it’s a bit all over the shop. The Greens it would appear made a whole lot of demands which were met, so therefore they are now voting against it. I think that’s what has happened with the Greens, which is rather surprising. And because the Greens demands have been met, other people including One Nation, are voting for it. So, it’s difficult to see. What is very clear is that there are cuts to education funding, and today one of the concerns that I have is that today Josh Frydenberg, who represents the Education Minister in the House of Representatives, was quoting a whole range of figures of what would happen to schools in a particular electorate. When Tony Burke, as Manager of Opposition Business, asked for that information to be tabled so that there was some transparency there, Josh Frydenberg wouldn’t do it, he said it was confidential information. Surely what we need here is a bit of openness, the Government has refused to do that and it is beyond belief frankly that the Senate crossbenchers would vote for a system without knowing what the outcome was. But I think that is what has happened, it appears that the Government has the numbers to get their changes through the Senate and it will come back to the House of Representatives, which is a bit of a fait accompli.

RICHARDSON: It’s interesting to me though, are you, or do you subscribe to the theory that the Catholic school sector had a special deal, which gave them more than they were entitled to, and that the Government were entitled to pair that back somewhat?

ALBANESE: Well one of the things that I know about the Catholic school sector, is that some of the analysis that suggests overfunding of some schools, isn’t quite the way the system works. See the way that funding occurs, is that it goes to the Catholic system as a whole, and I know that the Catholic school system then applies its social justice principles, frankly, to where funding goes. I know that when I was a student, and this is outlined in my book, available in all good bookstores by Karen Middleton …

RICHARDSON: Even in some bad ones they tell me.

ALBANESE: In about Year Five, I was going to have to move, because simply my mother, we couldn’t afford school fees. The principal of the school found out that I was going to move and so had my mum in, she was a proud woman she was too proud to go and tell the principal literally that we couldn’t afford any school fees. It was my local school in the inner city, St Mary’s. From that point on they waived fees and told my mother to just pay what we could. I know that’s not an uncommon thing and certainly I received the education, for better or worse, that made me, or contributed to who I am today. So I think a lot of the system; one of the things that we tried to do with the reforms that were introduced by the Gillard Government, is to get away from the old private school, public school system. I very proudly, our son is at the local public school and is receiving a good education and has been through that system. He is in Year 11 now, we will wait and see how it goes, next year is a big year …

RICHARDSON: It is indeed.

ALBANESE: But I am a supporter of a parent’s right to choose. We have chosen the public school system for our son, but both myself and Carmel went to our respective local Catholic schools.

RICHARDSON: I find this whole argument fascinating. Usually the Catholics are faster out of the box than they were this time. They were slow, but they have made up a bit of ground. But you are saying that, after all the comings and goings this week, the Government will get it up and get it through the Senate.

ALBANESE: They will get it through; I’m pretty confident about that. There is talk of people crossing floors but I think they, at the end of the day, will get that outcome through the Senate, and people will have to judge what the reality is on the ground as a result of that legislation being carried.

RICHARDSON: Indeed they will, Anthony Albanese thank you very much for your time.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you Graham.

RICHARDSON: Good on you Albo.

Jun 21, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – 3AW, Neil Mitchell Program

Subjects: Citizenship; CFMEU, ALP.

MITCHELL: On the line senior Labor frontbencher, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, good morning.

ALBANESE: G’day Neil.

MITCHELL: Thanks for your time. What’s the problem with the English test? We do want, but I’m thinking nearly half your electorate is born overseas, which is a good reason to be talking about it with you. What do you want from it, what’s the problem with the English test?

ALBANESE: There’s no problem with requiring people to be able to speak and converse in English. That I think enables people to participate fully in society and that’s what we want. The problem here is that there’s a test that I reckon Barnaby Joyce wouldn’t pass. The test of level six is quite absurd, it’s university level English and that’s not what people want. That’s about trying to marginalise people and the Government hasn’t been able to say how many existing applicants wouldn’t be able to pass the test, let alone how many of our own citizens.

They’d be people who were born here who would struggle to pass the test that the Government’s proposing and that’s why we think they need to think again about this issue.

MITCHELL: I must say, I read part of the test that they’re talking about and one of them is grammatically incorrect anyway and very hard to understand. So okay, how do you get…

ALBANESE: I was going to say Peter Dutton; there was quite a funny thing on Twitter yesterday where Peter Dutton, they corrected six English grammatical errors in one of his tweets in 140 characters so I reckon even the Minister himself might struggle a bit.

MITCHELL: I think we all would because English (inaudible). So how do you get the right system? How do you get a system whereby you say, look we want you to be proficient or sufficiently proficient to be a citizen. How do you sort it out?

ALBANESE: There is a test now and I reckon you could pick half a dozen of your listeners who have a bit of common sense about them and sit them in a room and they would come up with something that met everyone’s expectations. What this proposition though, along with the other provision which is making people wait even longer to become full citizens, even retrospectively applying that so people who’ve been here and are participating in jobs. I’ve got a lot of letters from people in my electorate saying, hang on; they’ve moved the goal posts there. We want to pledge allegiance to Australia. And as a Federal Member of Parliament, I don’t think there’s a better occasion than a citizenship ceremony and places like Australia Day; it is such a fantastic coming together of the nation.

MITCHELL: You’ll be amazed to know our Lord Mayor Robert Doyle is a former English teacher, apart from being a former conservative politician as you well know, supports you. He thinks this test is nonsense.

ALBANESE: He’s a common sense bloke. You know I get on pretty well with him from the time I was Local Government Minister, but I just think this is, let’s be sensible about this. Let’s not put barriers to participation up that can’t possibly be met.

MITCHELL: So in a broader sense, what should we expect from our citizens? What do we want? We want some proficiency in English, we don’t want them to be crooks, what else?

ALBANESE: We want loyalty to our values as well. The Australian values that include tolerance and respect for each other, regardless of our origins. I think that’s what we expect as a nation and by and large we should celebrate the fact that we are an incredible, successful multicultural nation. I’m half Italian, half Irish.

With the exception of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, we’re all sons, or grandsons, or granddaughters or daughters of migrants. And by and large we have been incredibly successful. We can be a bit of a microcosm for the world. In my electorate you have people of different faiths who live together in harmony. It’s a pity that that’s not the case in other parts of the world, but it’s something we should be proud of.

MITCHELL: One of the things I think concerns me about citizenship is that it’s so hard, and I understand why, but it’s so hard to lose. We do have people who abuse it once they get it and if they haven’t lied to get it there’s nothing you can do about it.

ALBANESE: That is a problem but of course if people break the law they should be charged and go through the appropriate authorities.

MITCHELL: Yes, but they’re not going to lose their citizenship, are they?

ALBANESE: No, that’s right. There are provisions of course that passed the Parliament for people who are dual citizens to have their Australian citizenship removed, but there’s also of course; the problem is if they don’t have dual citizenship then that can’t happen. But some of the problems we’ve had with people who don’t have the same values as other Australians are of course some people who are born here, regardless of their origins and ethnic makeup. The truth is that some people aren’t as good as the general Australian character.

MITCHELL: Look it’s good to talk to you. I wanted to ask you, you are a good union man, why don’t you just phone up John Setka and say hey Mate, you stuffed it up. Apologise and fix it.

ALBANESE: I haven’t got his number.

MITCHELL: I’ll give it to you.

ALBANESE: Yes but quite clearly I think that would be entirely appropriate. I think that the thing that struck me more than anything else is the reference to kids. That loses me, let me tell you. Anyone who invokes family of people, let alone the general tenor of the language is entirely inappropriate, to raise that is just not on.

MITCHELL: Well he gives you $1 million a year, well his union does. Do you think you should knock it back?

ALBANESE: Well look the fact is that we do represent the interests of construction workers along with other sections of the CFMEU and let me tell you that the average construction worker, including members of the Victorian branch, go to work every day, they work hard for themselves and their family to put food on the table, they work hard for the community.

MITCHELL: I agree with you.

ALBANESE: They care about their fellow workers in terms of occupational health and safety.

MITCHELL: I agree.

ALBANESE: After the London fires there’s a big issue out there about construction materials. It will be the workers of course are people who have drawn that to the attention of authorities and perhaps haven’t been listened to enough in the past about building materials.

MITCHELL: I agree with all that, but if they don’t repudiate these comments, which are offensive I think to most sensible, most decent people, if they don’t repudiate them, should you accept money from them?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that the relationship between Labor and the unions is a structural one. It has been there since 1891. That doesn’t mean that you should agree with each other all of the time. I’ve made my comments very clear about Mr Setka’s comments.

MITCHELL: I know, but it doesn’t come down to a financial decision? It’s not bad enough to say, no, take you money and stick it?

ALBANESE: Well look, in terms of the engagement with the union movement, one of the things that is very positive when I go to a Labor Party conference is the representation of workers who are connected up with their local communities and let me tell you that in the NSW branch, for example, I have been active on issues like …

MITCHELL: This is riveting. But it’s not to the point. I mean, you’ve had unions disaffiliated in the past. Here we have a union that is a bit of a rogue union, they are giving you $1 million a year. Should you accept it? Not you, the party?

ALBANESE: Well that is a decision for the organisational wing but what the affiliation of unions to the party does is give us a direct connection with people who are working people and (inaudible) over issues including occupational health and safety, over issues including the impact of asbestos and other building materials that have been inappropriate. The connections that the CFMEU do throughout the community – raising money for children’s hospitals and for a range of charities, you know you’ve got to look at the role that they play. I think the trade union movement plays a very important role in our society. We had comments from the Reserve Bank Governor the other day speaking about the need to increase wages. Well, get rid of unions and what you will see is far more exploitation, far more accidents on building sites.

MITCHELL: Thank you so much for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you Neil.

Jun 21, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes

Subjects: Citizenship tests; CFMEU.

PRESENTER: Good morning to Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

PRESENTER: Now we’re going to change the batting order today. We normally start with Chris because we always defer to him as the Minister of the Government of the day, but we’re going to reverse the order.

ALBANESE: It’s pathetic isn’t it?

PRESENTER: Well it’s your turn today Albo.

ALBANESE: It’s about time you evened-up. You must have something difficult to ask.

PRESENTER: Well we want to talk about the citizenship test, because when the Government flagged the changes a few weeks ago, Labor seemed to be offering broad, sort of, philosophical support for it, but yesterday came out and said that the English language tests for people who are permanent residents are too onerous. Has Bill Shorten been rolled by you and the Left on this?

ALBANESE: No, absolutely not. This is a unanimous position of our caucus. We think that what has actually been proposed goes too far, and perhaps it is the case that because Labor said we would be prepared to look at something constructively, they worked to find something that was completely indefensible and unsupportable. Some of the Cabinet wouldn’t pass this English test. I mean Barnaby Joyce would be deported. This is…

PRESENTER: You can’t say that.

ALBANESE: Of course you can. Have you heard him in Question Time? I don’t know what language it is, but it isn’t English. This is university level English. We support, as current requirements are, for people to be proficient in English. That is a common sense idea that has support from across the Parliament so that people can participate with appropriate levels of conversational English. The Adult Migrant English Service provides those services up to basically level four. This is asking for level six – basically a university sort of test. We don’t expect that people will be able to do a PhD in English in order to be citizens and we think this is frankly just snobbery on behalf of the Government. The other thing is, delaying the eligibility of citizens will create, potentially, the two measures together, will create this almost permanent class of people who aren’t able to vote in elections. I’m pretty suspicious about what the aim of this is. Why would you delay it further? Don’t you want people to participate in Australian society as citizens?

PRESENTER: To you Christopher Pyne, do you think that there is a risk that by putting the high-jump bar so high, you can think of a number of great Australians, I’m thinking of someone like our Governor Hieu Van Le who came here from Vietnam and spoke limited English. There is a whole bunch of people who we might miss out on getting by putting the test too high?

PYNE: Well the problem for the Labor Party is that they don’t understand it. They are pretending that it is university-level English when in fact it isn’t. There are two kinds of IELT tests (International English Language Testing System Tests) IELTS Six Tests; one is for university, one is for competence in the general community and the one that we have introduced is for the competence in the general community. It isn’t university-level English and Labor just doesn’t understand it. Amazingly Tony Burke in 2006, the Shadow Minister for this in Labor, twice wrote columns for the Daily Telegraph calling for it in Sydney and is now opposing it, because I don’t think he understands what he is doing. Two months ago Bill Shorten said that this was fair enough, to quote him, it was fair enough, and now he is opposing it. The reality is that the Left have always been soft on these kinds of issues and they have rolled Bill Shorten. All we want people to do is …

ALBANESE: You just quoted Tony Burke and Bill Shorten …

PYNE: All we want people to do is to take the citizen – yes in, in fact I quoted them supporting these measures and now having changed their mind…

ALBANESE: The Left, they’re not in the Left.

PYNE: They’ve been rolled by you and the Left Anthony, that’s the point. So don’t try and confuse people. Obviously we know Burke and Shorten aren’t in the Left. They have been rolled by the Left and changed their positions from the past. All we want people to do is to take their citizenship seriously and being required to be able to speak competent English is the least people could need to do to become an Australian citizen, which is a really serious and important right to be gained in Australia. We also want those people who are being blocked out in the community, and they are out there now and not being allowed to learn proper English, in order to be able to control those people in the community, we want those people to have the right to become Australian citizens, to speak English, to be able to report domestic violence easily, to be able to traverse government websites easily, to be able to be full members of the community, not people who can’t actually take part fully in the community because that is what citizenship should require.

PRESENTER: Changing tack Albo, I want to get your thoughts on the comments made by CFMEU boss John Setka at a rally in Melbourne. It’s been covered extensively in the Herald Sun this morning in which he has threatened to expose the personal details of Australian Building Construction Commission inspectors. I will read a couple of quotes. He says: “When we come after you better be careful. We will lobby their neighbourhoods. We will tell them who lives in that house. They won’t be able to show their face anywhere. Their kids will be ashamed of who their parents are when we expose all these ABCC inspectors’’.

ALBANESE: Well, completely unacceptable comments. I find it extraordinary that any Australian would raise kids in particular. That just made me very just, just shocked that anyone would raise people’s families for goodness sake, of people who are employed in work. I just think the idea that people should be targeted is completely reprehensible. It has been reported to the police, my understanding is, and that is appropriate.

PRESENTER: Why does Labor continue to have a relationship with the CFMEU though, Albo? I mean, it’s not the first time things like this have happened in that union?

ALBANESE: Well there are some nutters in the Liberal Party too. You know, there’s people, there are individuals …

PRESENTER: I don’t know. I can’t recall an instance like this with Libs saying … I can’t remember, say the Chamber of Commerce and Industry saying it is going to release the names of union leaders and their home addresses so that blokes in cufflinks can hide in the alley way waiting to beat them up at night.

ALBANESE: Well no. Well, they didn’t say that, so let’s not extrapolate David. The comments are bad enough in themselves without putting words into people’s mouths. The comments are offensive.

PRESENTER: But clearly the purpose of releasing the names is to identify the people?

ALBANESE: The comments are offensive. I completely repudiate them. I can’t do more than that. I don’t know the bloke.

PYNE: Well I hope that Bill Shorten will repudiate them and what I wanted to know is why does the Labor Party keep taking donations from the CFMEU? Why are they still part of the ALP conference in Victoria and nationally and why does Bill Shorten allow the CFMEU to be part of the policy-making process of the Labor Party when they are a lawless organisation. The Heydon Royal Commission should have been enough for the Labor Party to distance themselves from the CMFEU and this latest outrage … what is required for Labor to give up on their umbilical cord-like relationship with this organisation?

ALBANESE: Well, let me tell you this, the average CFMEU member in the construction branch, which is what we are talking about here – there’s a range of branches of the union – is someone goes to work, someone who cares about occupational health and safety for themselves and their fellow workers; someone who wants to earn a decent day’s pay to put food on the table of their families; someone who cares about issues such as the shonky building practices that are now being examined as a result of the tragic fire that occurred in London. You know the average construction worker is a good man or woman.

PYNE: Sure.

ALBANESE: … contributing to the nation and they’re people who are represented in the Labor Party and participate in the Labor Party.

PRESENTER: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, always a rollicking conversation, thanks very much for Two Tribes again today.

Jun 16, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Gun amnesty, Midwinter Ball 

Ben Fordham: Welcome back to Today. Well, in just two weeks’ time Australia will hold its first national gun amnesty since the Port Arthur Massacre. It comes just weeks after the shooting of the Queensland police officer Brett Forte. Joining me to discuss all of this, is the Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, who is in Adelaide and here in the studio the Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese. Albo, good morning and Christopher, good morning to you too.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Ben It’s nice to see you again.

FORDHAM: Let’s start with you Christopher, great to see you as well. Why now, we’re just all wondering? It has been a long time between gun amnesties.

PYNE: Well the government made a decision a little while ago, that now was a good time to renew the amnesty in order to ensure that a whole swathe of weapons, particularly illegal weapons if they are out there, are taken out of the market. You might remember during the last few months of the previous government there was a movement of Glock pistols through Sylvania Waters post office.

That was one example of attempts to get illegal weapons into Australia, so we are putting an amnesty in place, in order to ensure that anyone who does want to hand in those kinds of weapons and any other weapons, can do so without any kind of penalty to get them out of the system. Because obviously if they are not in the system, they can’t kill people like the very tragic death of the police officer Brett Forte recently in Queensland.

FORDHAM: Albo, they believe that there is 260,000 illegal firearms currently in Australia, that’s a lot. It is going to be fascinating to watch just how many are out there and how many people respond to this call for them to be handed in.

ALBANESE: Well we would certainly encourage people to do the right thing and to hand them in. One illegal firearm is one too many, the fact that there are so many out there is an issue of concern. It is a good thing that this amnesty is happening and it certainly has bipartisan support.

FORDHAM: Let me move on to the other issue that has got everyone talking this morning, and that is the Midwinter Ball in Canberra. This is a time when the journalists and the politicians all get together and have a bit of a laugh at their own expense and also, it turns out, at the expense of United States President, Donald Trump.

Malcolm Turnbull delivered a light-hearted speech and it is supposed to be off the record, but it has ended up being leaked. It was on Instagram, there was a part of the speech that was revealed and then Channel Nine’s Laurie Oakes, who was not present at the dinner, and therefore didn’t feel like he was bound by the confidentiality. He revealed this part of the tape yesterday afternoon on ninenews.com.au:

MALCOLM TURNBULL [clip]:  It was beautiful. It was the most beautiful putting-me-at-ease ever. The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much. We are winning like we have never won before. We are winning in the polls. We are! We are. Not the fake polls. Not the fake polls! They’re the ones we’re not winning in. We’re winning in the real polls. You know, the online polls. They are so easy to win. I know that. Did you know that? I kind of know that. They are so easy to win. I have this Russian guy. Believe me it’s true, it is true.

FORDHAM: So, Christopher Pyne, this has now been picked up by the American media. How do you reckon that this is going to go down with President Trump?

PYNE: Look, I don’t think it is going to worry him or anyone else at all. The truth is, that the reason Bill Shorten’s speech wasn’t leaked was because it was such a stinker. On the other hand, Malcolm Turnbull’s was very funny. The whole point of the Midwinter Ball speeches, is to be funny, and I think it is great that the Australian public got to see a side of Malcolm Turnbull that I see on a regular basis. Which is that he is really a very fun and funny guy, and I don’t think anybody is going to take this too seriously at all.

FORDHAM: Albo, I’m guessing you were there, were you having a laugh like most people in the room?

ALBANESE: I was. I think that it is unfortunate that it has leaked. Because I think it will dampen the potential for people to go along and have a laugh at themselves, at everyone and both Malcolm and Bill did that. There are ethics here and I think they have been breached by whoever taped Malcolm’s speech, and I don’t think it should have happened.

I don’t want to see the spirit of larrikinism that is part of the definition of being an Aussie, disappear, and one of the things that happens when people get together is that we have a joke at our own expense, sometimes at the expense of others. Malcolm did that, Bill did that, I hope that the Press Gallery Ball continues to exist and raise money. We raised $350,000 for charities on Wednesday night.

FORDHAM: The thing about it, it is an interesting kind of dilemma isn’t it, because Laurie Oakes takes the view that he has never believed in these kind of nights where everyone signs up to be keeping their mouths shut about things. When really he believes that you owe it to the public, to tell the public what is going on.

But you’re right, that larrikin side of Australia, it means that wouldn’t it be better Christopher if we were all able to actually, like they do in America where they have the Correspondence Dinner, the politicians can still take the mickey out of themselves, but we should all still be able to see it, shouldn’t we?

PYNE: Look I have got no problem with that, the White House Correspondents Dinner is the equivalent in Washington, everyone gets it in Washington. That is why neither President Trump nor anyone around him is going to take offence and you know, the guys in the media, the guys and gals in the media can’t really on the one hand say, that we politicians are washed out, one dimensional and not very interesting. And then when we prove that is not the case, like Malcolm’s very amusing speech, turn around and criticise him.

You know you can’t have it both ways, so I think we are going to just have to suck up the fact that it has been leaked. It is very unfortunate and Laurie Oakes can say whatever he likes but the truth is it has damaged politicians’ belief in the Midwinter Ball being somewhere they can let their hair down. Obviously that is not the case, and it is a pity but that is just the reality of politics these days.

FORDHAM: No one would ever describe you guys as one dimensional. Albo and Christopher have a great weekend.

 

Jun 14, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Finkel Review; Jeremy Corbyn. 

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, in Two Tribes, good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Now we’ll start with you if we can.

ALBANESE: Why? Start with me for a change.

HOST: No we are going to start with Chris. He is in power for now. But Chris Pyne …

ALBANESE: For ever? Until the end of the week?

HOST: That’s right, President for life. Now Chris, this meeting yesterday of the Coalition party room, it has been described as a bitter and personal meeting. Tony Abbott was apparently told to stop interrupting and to show some respect. There were about 20 MPS who spoke out quite forcefully against the Finkel energy review. Is the clean energy target dead in the water?

PYNE: Well I was at the meeting and I can tell you that the media characterisation of it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the reality of it. It was a very sensible and serious discussion about energy with the one priority in mind, which is to reduce the cost of electricity to make our energy supply stable, which it isn’t, and to meet our emissions target. That’s the three things that the Government wants to do and the Finkel Review, which was handed to the government last Friday, state and federal, needs to be properly considered. And yesterday was the first chance for the Coalition party room to talk about it and discuss it. There’ certainly weren’t 20 people speaking against the Finkel Review, as has been characterised. But there were people of course asking questions, as they should. That’s what good Members of Parliament should do and I think the public are really over the old politics of the Government must have an announcement instantaneously for the television news that is hard and fast. I think they want us to consider, that we are on their side, listen to what the public wants and respond positively and that is what we are doing.

HOST: Isn’t this going to come to a crunch point? It did look like it is very much heading towards that crunch point on the basis of some of the robust exchanges that have been reported out of yesterday’s meeting.

PYNE: Well there weren’t robust exchanges. I was there and there weren’t robust exchanges. There was a very sensible, considered discussion and the Government doesn’t have to make an announcement about how we are going to take the Finkel report forward today.

HOST: So Tony Abbott wasn’t told to show some respect?

PYNE: Well everyone should show respect to each other but I am not going to comment on the actual meeting and what happened in it. But I can tell you what the Government is doing, is by bringing in export controls on gas we are going to make sure that the price of gas is forced down and as a consequence that will help with electricity prices. We are taking immediate action to reduce electricity prices and to stabilise the system and what is perfectly clear out of the Finkel Review is that the South Australian model, which is to helter skelter put up wind farms and rely on solar power to the point where 50 percent of our energy comes from that intermittent source of power, has been a failure and what we need to do of course is invest in  storage and if only the Weatherill Government had required wind farms and solar farms to invest in storage South Australia wouldn’t have the most expensive and unstable power in the country.

HOST: To you Albo, Labor’s been talking a lot about consensus. Bill Shorten has been saying that he wants to work with the Coalition on this. Is the danger that if Malcolm Turnbull ends up sort of making enough concessions to conservatives within his party and comes up with a proposal that is so far from Finkel that it bears no resemblance to what was recommended last week, that Labor will withdraw that offer of consensus?

ALBANESE: Well it’s not a blank cheque, obviously. What Christopher continues to do to an audience playing there in Adelaide is to pretend that this is a South Australian issue. The fact is there is a national energy problem. Prices are going up right around the country. NSW, which relies upon coal, had outages for industry and for homes just a couple of months ago. What everyone is saying in terms of the experts, be it Dr Finkel as a scientist, be it the energy providers, be it economists are saying, is that you need a market-based response, you need that certainty there in the system so that people can invest. That is what is required. Now there is a responsibility on both sides of politics to do what we can to achieve an outcome that has cross-party support. Now that’s important because part of the problem here is that when governments have changed, policies have changed and people have made big promises. The Coalition said when they got rid of the carbon price that prices would go down. That was four years ago. Prices have gone up. Wholesale prices have doubled and you haven’t had the investment that’s required.

So I think it is reasonable what Christopher says about his party room having a mature debate about it. I don’t think they should be expected to come out with an immediate response. There is obviously push back from some of the more conservative elements of the Liberal Party and the National Party about this but they have a responsibility. They can’t continue to blame someone else and what we’ve said is that Finkel provides a framework. It’s not our ideal position; we think it should be an emissions intensity scheme, but nonetheless if you get to the same destination in a different way then that’s a good thing. And that destination is lower emissions, lower prices, and more stability.

PYNE: He’s become a statesman and he is no fun anymore.

ALBANESE: I chose not to smash you up, Christopher.

PYNE: No, you were so polite.

HOST: I think he is just enjoying the fight.

PYNE: Very statesman like, I’m very proud of you Anthony.

HOST: Hey guys, Albo actually, we were having a conversation a little bit earlier in the program about the fallout from the UK General Election and how it came to pass that Jeremy Corbyn this Labour guy who was loved by root-and-branch supporters came to challenge a conservative that was having some difficulty defining precisely what that leader stood for and we thought whether the Corbynese effect might be something that branches between our two great nations. Just wondering whether you see that as a now political movement – Corbynese? You might see that you play a distinct role in that.

ALBANESE: Who are you asking?

HOST: You – the ‘ese’ part.

PYNE: Now he doesn’t want to have a go.

ALBANESE: The truth is that the Australian and the British political systems are very different. The British Labour Party is different from the Australian Labor Party. You can’t draw parallels.

HOST: Which one do you like the most?

ALBANESE: I like Australian Labor because we have our own history and quite often I think people, whether it be people in the Labor Party or people on the conservative side who tug their forelock to the UK do us a disservice. It was Hawke and Keating who modernised Labor here well before the British Labour Party was modernised but Jeremy Corbyn, I’ve met Jeremy, he is a very likeable fellow. He’s someone who has strong convictions and I think his authenticity shone through in the election campaign. I wasn’t surprised that he did well.

HOST: What did you say Chris?

PYNE: Sounds familiar, sounds like you’re describing yourself.

ALBANESE: No, that’s up to others to describe my characteristics.

PYNE: I’m not sure of Corbynese. Corbynese is almost as bad as Albo-lanche.

HOST: We need to one up Albo-lanche.

PYNE: Which I launched here on your program a couple of weeks ago, the Albo-lanche.

HOST: It’s taken the world by storm. People have been using that term just walking down the Rundle Mall, you’d be surprised the extent to which it’s got traction.

ALBANESE: Maybe they’re Pyning for Corbynese.

HOST: There you go, we’ve come full circle.

PYNE: He’s a poor man’s Jeremy Corbyn, Anthony Albanese.

HOST: That’s a bit harsh.

PYNE: Well Jeremy is much more left wing than Anthony Albanese.

ALBANESE: That’s true.

PYNE: Anthony is a pale imitation. Certainly he’s to the left, but Jeremy is a real red ragger from what I’ve read.

HOST: Well it was statesmanlike and consensus driven for a while there but it was never going to last. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up, we’ll do it again next week. Thank you.

Jun 9, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Energy, Finkel report, terror laws, COAG, Saudi soccer team 

LISA WILKINSON: The shocking price we are all paying for our energy bills will be front and centre when the Prime Minister meets State and Territory leaders in Hobart today. On the table a proposal which could eventually see household bills fall by hundreds of dollars a year.

Joining us is now is Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne from Adelaide and here in the studio Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

WILKINSON: Christopher, I am going to go to you first, of course everyone wants to see energy bills fall. But this proposal is going to take until 2030 to have an impact. People want be action right now.

PYNE: Well Lisa the Finkel report will be released today by the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. I think it’s a seminal moment for Australia in terms of energy prices and stability.

Certainly there will be effects from the recommendations of the Finkel report felt long before 2030, in fact felt almost immediately, if the Government and the opposition can work out a way of forward where we end the 10 years of argument we’ve had about energy pricing and energy stability and work forward with Alan Finkel’s report in a way that is positive for both businesses and households and most importantly the stability of the energy grid.

Because in a country like Australia we shouldn’t have these issues around energy. But we’ve got to get the policy settings right and I think this is a real opportunity to do so.

WILKINSON: Well let’s hope you’re right on the unity ticket but Anthony, the average household is spending $2200 a year. There are warnings this morning that this year alone that could go up by $600. People just can’t right afford these increases.

ALBANESE: That’s right Lisa, but we were told by the government when they got rid of the price on carbon that it would bring prices down.

PYNE: It did.

ALBANESE: What we’ve seen since then is a doubling of wholesale electricity prices. Christopher saying that it did is an insult to all those people out there who know what has happened to their power bills. So we need to get a plan that gets some of the politics out of it.

This government’s been prepared to play politics with it. What we’re saying is that we are prepared to be cooperative and get certainty into the system. An emissions intensity scheme is what should happen.

That’s what all the energy sector, that’s what all the economists say should happen. If the Government isn’t prepared to do that, but comes up with a second-best option then we’ll consider it in a constructive way.

PYNE: Lisa, since 2007 energy prices have gone up 140%. Almost all of that was under the Rudd-Gillard Government. The only time it’s come down was when it dropped after the carbon tax was abolished, so that’s the facts.

ALBANESE: Christopher, the problem you’ve got here is people know what has happened to their bills.

PYNE: I’m telling the facts. Since 2007 energy prices have gone up by 140% and the only time that energy prices dropped was when the carbon tax was abolished.

ALBANESE: People know what has happened to their bills. Don’t treat people like fools, Christopher.

PYNE: You can talk over me all you like Anthony but that’s what happened.

ALBANESE: It didn’t drop.

PYNE: It was the biggest single drop in 10 years.

ALBANESE: You’ve had a doubling of wholesale prices.

PYNE: You can talk because you know I’m telling the truth.

WILKINSON: Christopher, the problem is they’re going to go up 30% this year alone is the prediction.

PYNE: Because of the mechanism put in place by the Labor Party the price –

ALBANESE: You’ve been in government for four years.

PYNE: We are going to fix that with the Finkel report and I’m very disappointed that Anthony  immediately started attacking the Government rather than realising that people are sick of that and what they want is the parties to work out energy prices so we can either embrace the Finkel report, we can reduce energy prices or Labor can keep fighting about it when business doesn’t want them to and households don’t want them to.

WILKINSON: Alright, let’s move on, the threat of terrorism is high on the agenda today. This morning we have a new plan being put forward by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews who wants new federal maximum security prisons to hold Australia’s most dangerous terrorists. Now Christopher, are you going to support this?

PYNE: Look, Daniel Andrews is trying to push off to the Federal Government what is the responsibility of his own government. The truth is that the awful incident that  occurred in Melbourne earlier this week which cost the life of an innocent man was the result of a person being out on parole under Victorian laws that should not have been.

The Premier and the chief ministers and the Prime Minister are meeting today at COAG, the Council of Australian Governments and Malcolm Turnbull will talk very clearly with the state governments and chief ministers about the need to reform their parole laws and apply them in many cases. Daniel Andrews can try and push it off to the federal government but that man who murdered the innocent man in Melbourne this week should not have been on parole, and neither should have Man Haron Monis in NSW in a similar incident a few years ago.

WILKINSON: Alright, we are going to have to move on. I want to get a final word on the situation in Adelaide Albo. We saw the Saudi Arabian soccer team refuse to honour the minute’s silence for the two Australian women killed in the London terror attacks. Your response to that?

ALBANESE: That was a just a disgraceful lack of respect for not just the two Australians who were killed, one of whom was a young South Australian, but also all of those victims of that terror attack in London. There is no excuse here. This isn’t about culture. This is about a lack of respect and I thought it was disgraceful.

WILKINSON: I think most Australians would agree with you. Christopher, we are out of time but I figure between the two of you, you got about 50/50 today.

PYNE: Absolutely.

WILKINSON: Thanks very much, we’ll see you next week.

ALBANESE: See you then.

[ENDS]

Jun 7, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes Segment

Subjects: Terrorism

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

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will and good morning David and good morning Anthony.

ALBANESE: Good morning team.

HOST: We’ll start with you if we can Chris as the member of the Government of the day. Just to what Theresa May said, if you think about it in the context of terrible events in Melbourne in the last 36 hours, what are we doing? What can you as a member of our national government do to make sure that we no longer have this completely intolerable situation where someone who has A, been charged, albeit acquitted, with very serious terror charges, and subsequently has become an ice addict, a violent criminal roaming the streets attacking people at random, still evidence that he is radicalised, that he subscribes to radical Islam, ends up on parole. It just seems to be an utter failure at every single level.

PYNE: Well I agree in relation to this particular individual and the Victorian parole system that it has been an utter failure. For example the assailant in Melbourne, he got out on parole the day that he could have got out on parole. It was almost automatic. I know there is a process for parole and I am sure there is in Victoria as well. But he got out virtually automatically the day that his parole became available to him and I think that is a complete failure. The Prime Minister has said at the last COAG meeting – the Council of Australian Governments meeting – the Prime Minister said that he wanted the states and territories to review their parole laws. This Friday again the states and territories and the Commonwealth are meeting and I think the Prime Minister is going to take a very clear line that we need a nationally consistent approach to parole and the idea that violent criminals, and certainly criminals with terrorists convictions, would be able to access parole as seemingly as easily as this individual is clearly a failure of policy at the state level in Victoria. In terms of what we are doing nationally, I will give Anthony an opportunity to respond and then perhaps we could talk about that.

HOST: Albo to you, if you had to summarise what Theresa May said in that  grab we just played it is almost like all bets are off, we need to just tear up the rule book, start afresh and, you know, to put things on the table that may have been unpalatable five years ago. How far is Labor prepared to go in having this conversation?

ALBANESE: Well look quite clearly Christopher is right that it was a policy failure with this individual in Melbourne just like it was a policy failure with Man Monis in Sydney. What we need to do is to examine, as we did with the Man Monis terrorist action in Sydney, have a proper examination of how that went so wrong including the fact that he was able to be in Martin Place at that time given his long, long history of violent actions towards people, including people he was close to. And clearly though we need to uphold the rule of law – I mean that is one of the things that distinguishes us from those who support Islamic terrorism and so I think we need to be sober in our reflection. It’s certainly understandable the climate that is there in London at the moment and it’s not surprising that you are having a debate as we will on an ongoing basis. We in Australia, I think, have benefitted from the fact that we have a bipartisan approach to these issues, that when legislation has been brought forward it has been examined in detail by Senate committees and by processes that are established. There are joint committees that have looked at it, made improvements and made sure that we’ve done all that we can to keep Australians safe. One of the advantages I think that we have in this country is that we do have at the national level very good security agencies.

HOST: Phil Coorey is writing this morning in the Fin Review Malcolm Turnbull wants the Federal Attorney General to have the final say in granting parole to prisoners who pose a terrorist risk. Now it has been reported on Sky News now Chris Pyne that George Brandis the AG is unveiling some parole changes today. Is that one of the powers that the Commonwealth is looking at implementing?

PYNE: Well David I wouldn’t want to pre-empt the Attorney General’s announcement, certainly in area as sensitive as terrorism. But I can tell you that Australia has the toughest laws in terms of terrorism of any country in the world and since the Turnbull Government was elected we’ve gone even further. We now have power to take away the citizenship of people convicted of terrorist offences who have dual citizenship. We now under Malcolm Turnbull have extended the capability of our military in Iraq and Syria to hit the terrorists who aren’t necessarily on the front line in whatever they are doing, whether they are in logistics, whether they are in information gathering, whatever they might be doing, sitting on their computers sending out messages to people, to kill these individuals. That is the Government’s policy and it is working and I must say Labor has supported us in these measures.

HOST: Can I move on to something more contentious and something where last week both of you were lock step with the head of ASIO about the nature of our refugee program and any links to terror events. Can I get both of your thoughts now, where do you stand in the conversation that a lot of our listeners I reckon want us to have? Say with a country like Somalia where Yacqub Khayre, the bloke in Melbourne originally came from, should we as a country have a conversation where we say perhaps for a while, or even in the medium term, it is simply too dangerous to take people from a failed and highly radicalised nation such as Somalia through our refugee program?

PYNE: Well David, I’d say two things to that; firstly I’d say being a refugee doesn’t mean you are a terrorist.

HOST: No of course not.

PYNE: And terrorists are radicalised extremists who have become terrorists and we’ve had in our country examples of that of people who are born in Australia with no background in particularly the country that you’ve mentioned. Secondly I’d say that having that conversation as you put it, it might satisfy the whims of certain people, but one of the most important things we can do to stop terror attacks in Australia, and it’s working, we have disrupted 12 terror attacks in the recent past and arrested 63 suspected terrorists, is the intelligence we gather from the communities from which these people come. Now if we push those people to the extremities of the debate and treat them all as the enemy we will not get that intelligence. So we have to be sensible and sophisticated about how we respond to these threats.

HOST: What’s your take on it Albo?

ALBANESE: Well Duncan Lewis, the head of ASIO, didn’t make those comments from a position of ignorance. He made those comments on the basis of evidence and fact. This individual in Melbourne came here as a child. The evidence here is that he was radicalised much later on and that seems to be the pattern of whether they be Australian born or people who’ve come here as children. They seem to be young men, some of whom are converts to Islam from an Anglo background, over there fighting in the Middle East with IS. What we know that they have in common is a commitment to a fundamentalist Islamic ideology that is extreme and supports actions to destroy our way of life and that they’ve been subject to hatred from particular preachers. And one of the things that ASIO is doing at the core of its charter to keep us safe is engaging within those communities to make sure that they can keep on top of these issues.

HOST: We’re out of time. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese it’s a long conversation and one that’s going to continue, sadly for quite a long time.

ENDS

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

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