Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Oct 3, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – FIVEaa Adelaide, Two Tribes segment – Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Subjects; Afghanistan, Banking Royal Commission, submarines

HOST: Good morning to Anthony Albanese and, back on deck, Christopher Pyne. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen, it’s nice to be back.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. Welcome back, Christopher. Anne did very well last week. I thought your position was in jeopardy.

PYNE: (Inaudible) thought that 5AA were going to bone me.

ALBANESE: I thought they were.

PYNE: Yes, well, they’ve been wanting to bone you for a long time. I keep insisting that they keep you.

HOST: Because he makes you look good, is that the thinking there Chris?

PYNE: That’s exactly right. I don’t want (inaudible) Labor person on the show.

ALBANESE: It takes a lot to make Christopher look good. He looked good in that gear in Afghanistan, didn’t he?

HOST: That was a very smart look.

PYNE: It was a very interesting few days, I must say, in the Emirates and Afghanistan. They’re doing a marvellous job, our soldiers over there.

HOST: How long were you in Afghanistan, Chris?

PYNE: I was there overnight in Kabul, two days, and I was in the Emirates for a day.

HOST: What’s it like going to a place like Kabul? Is it pretty intimidating?

PYNE: Well it’s fascinating. It’s a war zone and it’s a very dangerous one. There were eight terrorist attacks in the area around the protected part of Kabul in the 72 hours before I got there. Missiles fired at our camp at Camp Qargha on the 19th of September, which thankfully didn’t cause any casualties but did a bit of damage…

HOST: So a nice break after the recent party room meeting then?

PYNE: It was actually probably safer in Afghanistan than it was in Canberra (inaudible). There are seven million people living in Kabul now and 17 years ago there were 450,000. And there are eight million children at school in Afghanistan now, 40 per cent of whom are girls. And 17 years ago there were 800,000. So there’s been a lot of change but a lot of work to do unfortunately. It’s not a conflict that’s going to be resolved quickly and it’s our longest running conflict of 17 years that we’ve ever been involved in. So it’s a pretty serious business.

ALBANESE: I think it’s a very good thing that Christopher went. For the troops to see that there’s bipartisan support from the representatives of the Australian people, for what they’re doing over there making a difference. The ways to combat terrorism aren’t just about security; they are about things like education so I’m very pleased that Christopher raised that.

HOST: Hear hear to that. Now enough of the bipartisanship.

ALBANESE: Yes, let’s get into it.

HOST: This Banking Royal Commission – this untoward outbreak of love has to end. We’ve had a lot of feedback, Chris, over the last few days since the interim report on the Banking Royal Commission was produced. What more can the Government do to stop the banks get away with what they’ve been getting away with?

PYNE: Well that’s a good question. Already the Government has established the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, the banking executive accountability regime, given $17 million more to ASIC and new powers to actually regulate the banks. But I think we now need to examine this report closely, which is what Josh Frydenberg is doing, and return with a regime that ensures that banks put the customers first and profit second. I mean the really damning evidence out of the Royal Commission, and they had nine thousand written submissions and it’s the interim report so there will be a final report in the coming months. The really damning evidence was the fact that there was so much greed involved in trying to get money out of customers as opposed to looking after customers’ money, which is what the banks have always been for.

HOST: What’s Labor’s position on this now Albo? Having seen the interim report, you guys are champing at the bit to go after them, aren’t you?

ALBANESE: Well we need to hop into some of these roosters. I mean these people have ripped Australians off. They’ve behaved not just in an unethical way, but in a way that breaches the law, it would appear, in a range of ways. We need to hold them to account. That’s why we called for the Banking Royal Commission. Don’t forget that Christopher voted against the Royal Commission, like Scott Morrison, 26 times. They said it was a waste of time, that it was a stunt.

Quite clearly it was necessary. This is why you have a Royal Commission. Not why they want to have them for, which is always into their political opponents. This has been in the Australian people’s interest and one of the things that we want to see is more of the victims have the opportunity to tell their stories and get their evidence out there and that’s why Clare O’Neil is going to be holding hearings including, I think, today in Adelaide to provide people with that opportunity to tell their stories.

PYNE: Well I’m glad we established the Royal Commission and I think the Parliament was…

ALBANESE: Glad we forced you into it.

PYNE: Well I’m glad we did it.

ALBANESE: 26 times … (inaudible).

PYNE: I mean we could go back in time to when Bill Shorten was the Minister responsible and a lot of these big scandals broke across the financial sector. But I’m not going to be political about it because I think what’s more important is that we did create the Royal Commission, there is a report, it does have recommendations. I’m sure Labor will support the Government in implementing those recommendations and we need to move forward protecting the consumer, who should be our number one priority.

ALBANESE: Well we’ll be leading, not supporting the Government, which is what we’ve had to do on these issues – leading from Opposition.

PYNE: Well I’m not sure to point score. I think political point scoring is passé.

ALBANESE: Because you’ve been –

HOST: Can we move off the politics of the Royal Commission for the moment and move to the future submarines project? Because a lot of our listeners, they rightly, I think, see that it’s an integral project in the economic future of South Australia and there’s some question marks that have been raised by some cross bench Senators, Cory Bernardi and others, Christopher Pyne, in recent days when it comes to the strategic partnering agreement, this thing that needs to be signed before we get underway with the design phase and get the ball really, seriously rolling. And they’re saying given the delay they’d like the see the project be revisited. My question to you is, is there a chance that this agreement won’t be signed before the next election?

PYNE: Well there is a contract. It’s called the design and mobilisation contract and it’s been in place for the last two years and unfortunately a lot of people, of course, don’t understand the intricacies of it. It’s a massive project. There’s a design mobilisation contract which is operating now. The next contract is the strategic partnering agreement, which is over the next several decades and it’s important that it be got right. The submarine project is on schedule and it’s on budget. The planning for the submarine yard and the design of that is underway right now and works will start very soon. The design of the submarines is underway right now. There are 40 Australians in Cherbourg France working on the design and the workforce is starting to be set up at Osborne, through the Naval Shipbuilding College and by Naval Group. So nothing has stopped because of the strategic partnering agreement negotiation. They were always going to take a long time, because it’s the most important part of the project in terms of the length of time – the next three decades. So I’m making sure Australia’s interests are foremost and the French are making sure that they get a fair deal as well and I think that is important. And I hope the South Australian public remember that Rex Patrick, Tim Storer, Cory Bernardi and Stirling Griff lost their nerve and said we should abandon a $50 billion project, which is not only critically important for our economy but vitally important to our national security, and that should be our number one consideration.

HOST: Are we assured of the sustainment work on the existing Collins class subs as they continue to fill the breach until the future submarines hit the water?

PYNE: Well by 2024 there will be 5,000 people working at Osborne. To put that in perspective there are now about 1,800 people working at Osborne. So there’s a huge increase in activity. There’ll be the Hunter class frigates being built next door to the submarines that are being built following on from the offshore patrol vessels and we have no plans to move sustainment and maintenance at this stage from Osborne,  because it’s where it’s being done. But of course we need to have contingencies, depending on what happens over the next ten year, but there are no plans to move that sustainment and maintenance. But you’ll always find an expert in defence, a retired Commodore, Admiral or General or whatever, who all have an opinion about these things. But I’m the person in charge of this project and I can tell you it is on time, it is on budget and it will deliver 12 regionally superior submarines for Australia.

HOST: Albo, the ABC are reporting Federal Opposition sources that suggest if a strategic partnering agreement, this current stage of the process that Christopher Pyne has outlined, if it’s not signed before the next election then you guys could in fact review the entire project. Is that accurate?

ALBANESE: Well it’s not my area of responsibility, of course, so I’m not on top of these issues. That’s the truth. But I think it is fair to say that we have to be bipartisan on this issue. We recognise that this is a very important project for South Australia in particular, but also for the national interest, and I would hope that we would work these things through. And I would hope that what would occur would be any questions that Labor has over these issues should be raised with Christopher directly and worked through. Because we don’t want this to be the subject of any argy-bargy.

HOST: Absolutely, good on you. Anthony Albanese. Christopher Pyne. Two Tribes, done it again.

Oct 2, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 2CC with Richard Perno – Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Subjects; Greg Inglis, The Footy Show, Malcolm Turnbull’s comments, GST, Fuel taxation, Wentworth by-election, Katy Gallagher fundraiser

RICHARD PERNO: There’s your bloke Anthony Albanese. Souths you see. We won, the Roosters got in so chuck your (inaudible) tail between your legs and goodbye.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Don’t be rude about it. Gee you Roosters are good winners aren’t you? The way you treated Billy Slater on the weekend – I thought that was pretty ordinary too.

PERNO: Well I suppose it was ordinary, Anthony Albanese.

ALBANESE: Well he has been a great player for his club, his state and his country. I think that given he’d retired a little bit of generosity wouldn’t have hurt.

PERNO: Now if you could get Greg Inglis in a room Anthony Albanese, what would you say to him?

ALBANESE: I don’t think I could say anything to him that he wouldn’t be feeling himself. He has apologised for what clearly is an error of judgement. He was drinking the night before; he thought he would be okay to drive. It’s a salutary lesson that, as he said in his press conference, everyone needs a plan B. He is, let’s put it in perspective here, he has apologised, he has done the wrong thing, he has paid a heavy price. But that doesn’t change the good things that he has done. You spoke about why was he out in Dubbo. This is a bloke who drove to Dubbo and back to help young Indigenous people. There were 30,000 people at the Aboriginal Knockout Carnival. He paid for the footy jumpers and the gear and stuff for all the kids for that local team. He gave up his own time. He was filmed cleaning up at the ground after the game. He is a very humble bloke and he has my respect. He has made a mistake and has paid a heavy price for it.

PERNO: Yes, I could keep talking about the fact that if he went the wrong way, and he was over the speed limit and over the alcohol limit though Albo. He shouldn’t have been driving, he should have been getting better advice, he should have known better.

ALBANESE: Well that’s right and he has said that. But from time to time mate, if you’ve never made a mistake in your life…

PERNO: Never, never made a mistake.

ALBANESE: Put your hand up and I await your beatification.

PERNO: OK, I’ll stand up. Halo to you all Albo.

ALBANESE: But the fact is that he has conceded, he didn’t try and duck it. He has apologised for it, but this is a guy who has been a great role model. I think the thing that would hurt him most is the fact that he is that role model, particularly for Indigenous Australians. I know him well and he is an outstanding Australian who has made a mistake. That’s what happened and he has not tried to duck it. He has not tried to provide excuses. He was wrong to do it and he has paid a price.

PERNO: OK, so has The Footy Show. It’s gone after a quarter of a century.

ALBANESE: Well I’ve enjoyed The Footy Show over the years but I’ve probably watched it less and less. As time goes on these formats can get a bit stale. They tried various things, changing formats and moving people on but it didn’t seem to work. I think now, one of the reasons why it has suffered probably to be fair to it, is that now people can actually watch football games a lot more than they could in the past with a lot more games being shown on TV. It used to be that you got to watch the Sunday game of the round and, before that when I was young, the Saturday was the big game of the round and that was about it. Now you have footy on Friday night, three games on a Saturday, many of them of course on pay TV but people go to the local pub or club to watch it with their friends. So I think it probably isn’t all that surprising that time’s up.

PERNO: I think those sorts of things that went on in the show didn’t kind of last the test of time. Oh, by the way, Roosters captain Boyd Cordner is going to replace Greg Inglis as captain of the Kangaroos. That’s just come through.

ALBANESE: Yes well Boyd Cordner, of course, did a very good job with the NSW side this year so congratulations to him. I think it’s unfortunate that GI won’t get to fulfil that as a great Indigenous player. I think that when people think about the immortals, Greg Inglis will be a future immortal. He is probably the only player in the current Australian side that’s been named who is in that position.

PERNO: Okay, do you want to talk politics Anthony Albanese?

ALBANESE: Happy to just talk footy mate.

PERNO: Okay, all right. So what did you think about the AFL Grand Final – no I want to talk to you about, who are these ghosts that we’re talking about? Ghosts, these miserable ghosts as Turnbull called them, Rudd and Abbott. Do you agree with him?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is as Kevin Rudd has pointed out; he has been in New York for five years so it’s a bit unreasonable I think to put him in the same category as Tony Abbott. The fact is that Malcolm Turnbull has remained in the public eye and that’s not all that surprising because it must be pretty frustrating for him. He has been removed as the elected Prime Minister and no one will tell him why. More importantly, they won’t tell the Australian people why that happened.

PERNO: Well he could also become a miserable ghost himself Anthony.

ALBANESE: He’s in danger of doing that. It’s understandable that he is disappointed because of the way that the removal occurred – in the end a three way contest virtually. The fact that Scott Morrison keeps saying what a good job Malcolm Turnbull was doing but can’t say why he was replaced. And the fact is that he’s quite right that they were, at the least, competitive. They were on 49 per cent, which for a Government at this stage in the cycle is not a bad position to be in and he had led as preferred Prime Minister in 58 Newspolls in a row.

PERNO: Alright as far as being an ex-Member of Parliament, should they just leave, go away, get out of here, leave? Anthony what do you think?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a decision for them I think, but certainly if you’re someone like Tony Abbott at the moment I think that his colleagues would want him to leave. His colleagues in his local branches, many of them voted for an empty chair to represent them in Warringah rather than endorse Tony Abbott. I think that if there’s a good Independent candidate – if Michael Regan, who’s the Mayor of the Northern Beaches Council, decides to run as an Independent he’ll give that seat a real shake, because Tony Abbott has shown that he’s out of touch with the views of that electorate on the Northern Beaches on issues like marriage equality and climate change.

PERNO: Sure OK, let’s move to the rejig – what could happen, Anthony Albanese – of the GST. How are you reading this?

ALBANESE: Look well we’ll wait and see what the Government actually proposes. They seem to change their mind every week. We proposed whether there needed to be a legislative change with a floor on the GST level that would be given to states and Scott Morrison said it wasn’t necessary and he appears to have a different position when he’s over in Perth. We’ll see what his position is when he’s in the national capital in a weeks’ time.

PERNO: And Albo we’ll see what his position is once the Federal Election draws up and the bribes start being handed out. What do you think?

ALBANESE: Well I’m not sure what you mean exactly by that, but I think that one of the issues with the GST is you can’t say one thing in one state and another thing when you’re in a different state.

PERNO: That’s right.

ALBANESE: There’s a formula there. Quite clearly Western Australians have felt aggrieved at the hands of the Commonwealth. But one of the reasons why that’s occurred, I believe, is that they haven’t got their fair share of support for infrastructure investment from the national Government and that’s something that we’ve been pointing out over the last few years.

PERNO: Alright now 75 cents in the dollar that the states raise they reckon will go back to the states. When are we going to get rid of the double dipping on our petrol Anthony Albanese? We’re paying twice. You can call it a levy, you can call it what you want. We’re paying the GST, we’re paying a petrol tax as well. They’re getting it twice.

ALBANESE: Well the whole issue of fuel taxation, of course, is something that will require some revision over coming years as increasingly we move to electric vehicles. That’s something that Paul Fletcher, the former Minister for Urban Infrastructure, was interested in having a look at and indeed he was talking about having a committee of inquiry to look at it and wasn’t able to get it through his own Cabinet. So we await Government deliberations on that, like a lot of things. The problem with this Government is it’s stopped governing.

PERNO: Stopped governing?

ALBANESE: It’s stopped governing, it doesn’t do anything. It moves legislation in the Parliament and then you don’t hear it again – during the last sitting fortnight I was dealing with legislation that was introduced in 2016 and it just sat there. This is a Government that changes its mind on policy all of the time. It’s hard to keep up with it. So it’s hard to respond some of the time because by the time you’ve read a media release from the Government they’ve changed their policy position, or indeed, they’ve changed their Minister. I’ve dealt with four Infrastructure Ministers in the last couple of years.

PERNO: Yes and maybe who’s going to be Prime Minister next week as well. Two names or two words to throw at you Anthony Albanese – Kerryn Phelps.

ALBANESE: I think she’ll give Wentworth a real shake. She’s a formidable person, I know Kerryn reasonably well since her time with the AMA and as an advocate for marriage equality. We’ll wait and see how she goes in this by-election.

PERNO: But she doesn’t want you, she wants the Libs to be preferenced.

ALBANESE: Well these preferences don’t matter all that much for people who are going to finish, in all likelihood, first or second in the ballot. But we’ll wait and see what happens. But she’s entitled to say that. But of course one of the things that will happen is people themselves get to fill in their ballot paper.

PERNO: They do to, don’t they? Yes, I suppose that’s a democracy. Hey Albo the DJ at Katy Gallagher’s fundraiser on the 17th – you’ll be playing a DJ Albo role at Katy Gallagher’s fundraiser at Balthazaar in London Circuit in the city. Are you a good DJ?

ALBANESE: Some people think I am. So we’ll wait and see, you’ll have to come along –

PERNO: Is it BYO mirror ball or what?

ALBANESE: It’s not up to me to judge. It’s BYO dancing shoes.

PERNO: Are you a good dancer?

ALBANESE: See that’s why I get to DJ you see, because I get to play music I like and impose my taste on people.

PERNO: What sort of music? What are you going to play?

ALBANESE: Well my tastes are very much sort of independent music. I’m going to see The The at the Sydney Opera House tonight. So maybe you can play Uncertain Smile to the 2CC audience.

PERNO: No I’ll pass. No I’ll pass. Sorry pass.

ALBANESE: It’s a good song.

PERNO: Pass.

ALBANESE: They’ll like it. Your ratings will go up mate I promise.

PERNO: No we don’t need any more of those we’ve got plenty of those. Alright so it’s going to be Katy Gallagher’s fundraiser. Who’s the money for?

ALBANESE: I think it’s a fundraiser for Katy Gallagher’s election.

PERNO: Alright OK, it’s a warm and friendly for the warm and friendly.

ALBANESE: It’s a Labor Party event. It’s just a bit light-hearted. It’s better than having a rubber chicken event that so many fundraisers are like.

PERNO: What’s wrong with a rubber chicken?

ALBANESE: You haven’t had enough if you don’t know what’s wrong with it.

PERNO: Rubber chicken, OK. I’ll leave it I think there. Member for Grayndler, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Tourism.

 

Oct 1, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Sydney – Monday, 1 October 2018

SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison admits responsibility for half a billion dollar reef cash splash; quotas in Parliament; the ATM Government neglecting Western Australia

ANTHONY ALBANESE, ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER: Today there are reports that Scott Morrison has taken responsibility for the extraordinary decision of the Government to grant $444 million to in a one-off payment to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

This privatisation of responsibility for Australia’s most precious and vulnerable environmental asset is outrageous. What we have as a result of this is not just bad policy for the environment, this is bad economic policy as well because Prime Minister Morrison has conceded that the only reason why this one off payment of almost half a billion dollars was made was to fiddle the budget figures in terms of returning to surplus sooner than would otherwise occur.

As a direct result of this, you will have Government departments and agencies actually having to apply to a private foundation in order to receive funds to deal with the environmental protection of the Great Barrier Reef. This privatisation of an essential function of government whereby the reverse of normal is occurring that is public government departments and agencies applying to a private foundation to receive what is in effect public funds, is something that requires more than Scott Morrison to do a drop to a paper on the Monday of a public holiday.

The fact is that what governments have done after numerous Audit Office reports is to put in place proper expenditure provisions for government financing. What this payment does is mean that in the order of $11 million will be paid in interest by Australian taxpayers each and every year because of the increased level of government debt.

What we know also is that because this payment was made one off on the 28th of June, in order to get it out before the financial year last year ended, this payment can be seen as just a fiddle rather than representing any rational expenditure of government funds.

Governments ask for milestone payments to be made for any infrastructure project as a result of avoiding that one off payments to make sure that the expenditure is being done for the purpose in which it was granted. What we have with this almost half a billion dollars is that the money can be spent on administration of a private foundation rather than spend on actually fixing up the Great Barrier Reef.

There was no due diligence made prior to this almost half a billion dollars being forwarded. This represents bad economic policy, it’s bad for the environment and it shows that Scott Morrison has no judgement. The fact that he is prepared to take responsibility for this shows that he just doesn’t get how important not just environmental protection is of the Great Barrier Reef but he also doesn’t get how important good economic policy is and good fiscal policy because this one-off payment in order to fiddle the budget figures is not justifiable.

JOURNALIST: So what do you think of the rise of Scott Morrison. Is he a more dangerous threat than Turnbull?

ALBANESE: Well these revelations show that Scott Morrison is pretty loose with public money. The fact that he was prepared as Treasurer to suggest this payment in order to manipulate the budget figures shows indeed that he is not a sound economic manager. It is not surprising that we’ve seen the government debt double on the Coalition Government’s watch for the most time of which he was the Treasurer in the ATM Government, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government. And in this one off almost half a billion dollars we see the ultimate expression of the economic irresponsibility of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, they are truly an ATM in which this private foundation has come along and got half a billion dollars of cash almost out the door in one payment. This is extraordinary.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the idea of having so-called ‘Rainbow quotas’ in Parliament?

ALBANESE: Well I don’t know that anyone has that idea.

JOURNALIST: So you’re opposed to Rainbow quotas, explaining that Bill Shorten thinks that should be on there should be quotas on all things marginal in Parliament that rather than be elected on merit?

ALBANESE: What we need to do is to make sure that we have a Parliament that is truly representative of the people that we seek to represent and Labor is getting on with the job of doing just that. We have almost 50 per cent representation of women. That’s a good thing. We’re stronger for that. We’re more representative for that and democracy is strengthened.

The crisis that is there in the Coalition with regard to women’s representation won’t be solved by trying to raise distractions or issues which simply aren’t there. The crisis in terms of representation is the fact you’ve had Jane Prentice knocked off by a bloke. You’ve had two women say because of the intimidation they have experienced as Federal Coalition members they’re not even going to re-contest in terms of preselections. This is a crisis which the Liberal Party seems incapable of dealing with.

JOURNALIST: Is this a dangerous extension though of what is being called identity politics?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that what Labor has in place is only a target for men and for women to be in the Parliament. That’s a target which has been achieved has been achieved it must be said without setting aside any particular seat that had to be filled by a woman candidate. The fact is we achieved it because of cultural change within the Labor Party. One that recognises good women and good men putting themselves forward for the parliament.

And if you have a look at the Coalition I mean the Coalition have blokes on their backbench who struggle to read the question let alone ever be capable of answering a question. If that is merit based then they should have a good look at themselves and the fact is that a strong woman like Julia Banks has chosen to withdraw as a candidate from the Parliament. The fact is Jane Prentice who would have made a very good minister in my view for cities or urban policy, Jane is someone who has played a role in the Parliament. She was senior on the Brisbane City Council. She is a very capable member of Parliament has just been rubbed out in a preselection by an ambitious young bloke because the culture of the LNP at the moment is one that doesn’t value 50 per cent of the population.

JOURNALIST: The government is clearing off the barnacles in Western Australia, fixing GST revenue. What do you make of this of this trip?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that this is a Government that has difficulty relating to people right around the country. One of those issues has been Western Australia whereby I’ve been to Western Australia eight times this year and one of the things that Western Australians have been concerned about for a number of years is the fact that there isn’t a single new major infrastructure project underway in a way that wasn’t commenced and funded by the former Labor government.

What they’ve done is rely upon the former Federal Labor government’s funding of projects like Gateway WA, like the Swan Valley bypass that they renamed North-Link, but it’s the same project. Like what they did with the Forestfield Airport Rail Link whereby what they did was to take $500 million out of the budget in 2014 as part of their cuts to rail infrastructure that wasn’t commenced and then put $480 million back a couple of years later and called it a new project. West Australians are onto the fact that this government has taken them for granted and the fact that Julie Bishop has been ostracised from the government, the most senior West Australian in the government and someone who was doing I think a job that was respected throughout the Parliament, says it all about why the government is in trouble in Western Australia.

But they’re in trouble right around the country and I think West Australians will also wonder why this advance payment of half a billion dollars was given to a private foundation on the Great Barrier Reef, I mean where does that stop? Are we going to have private foundations funded to look after Ningaloo Reef and to look after our other precious environmental assets?

Thanks very much.

ENDS

Sep 28, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Sydney – Friday, 28 September 2018

Subjects: ABC political interference; Banking Royal Commission.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much for joining me. I’ve decided to hold this press conference as a former Communications Minister, because I know what the responsibilities of the Communications Minister, when it comes to ensuring the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, are. The fact is that we now know that on the 15th of June at the meeting where the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, called in the Chairman of the ABC, Mr Justin Milne, to complain about journalists coverage of various issues, in particular to complain about Andrew Probyn and reporting about the date of the by-election that was held for the Super Saturday on the 28th of July, there was another person there as well and that person was the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield.

Now Mitch Fifield has a particular responsibility as Communications Minister to ensure the integrity of the ABC Charter is upheld, to ensure the integrity of that separation between the public broadcaster and political interference is assured. What we know now, as a direct result of that meeting, Mr Milne felt that so severe was the criticism of the Government that it imperilled funding for the ABC, which he saw and it led to him demanding that the ABC CEO shoot Mr Andrew Probyn. For Mitch Fifield to sit in that meeting is quite extraordinary. Mr Fifield has a responsibility to, during that meeting, say that he respected the fact that the ABC Chairman should operate separate from political interference. Quite clearly that just didn’t happen.

What’s more this morning we know that Scott Morrison has gone on radio in Melbourne and has not ruled out the amalgamation of the ABC and SBS. What we know is that the Government, in its most recent Budget, cut $83 million from the ABC and they set up a process of consideration of efficiencies, but that consideration explicitly rules out the amalgamation of ABC and SBS. It does it for very sensible reasons, that they’re separate organisations with very different roles and responsibilities in the Australian media landscape. So here we have Scott Morrison leaving that open, in spite of the fact that the Government’s own review of the efficiency dividend called for to cover up for the $83 million cut that he has Treasurer imposed on the ABC, he’s now talking openly about amalgamation.

But we know of course that what the Government really wants is what the Liberal Party has explicitly said they want, which is privatisation of the ABC. The attacks must stop and for as long as Mitch Fifield is the Communications Minister then we’ll know that this is a Government determined to undermine the independence and integrity of the ABC. The Government should shift Mr Fifield to a different portfolio and we need a Communications Minister who can uphold that high responsibility that he has.

Mr Morrison has also today appointed an Acting Chair of the ABC and I just hope that due diligence has been done over this appointment, because we know that there’s a real cloud over all the ABC Board members, given that they knew about Mr Milne’s emails to Ms Guthrie for a week and didn’t say anything about it – didn’t appear to think there was anything wrong with it until it was leaked to the media before they were prepared to even raise any criticism. This draws a real question over the entire membership of the ABC Board as it stands. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: So do you support the appointment of Dr Kirstin Ferguson?

ALBANESE: Well it’s not up to me to support it. What it’s up to me to do is to hope that the Government has done due diligence. I think there’s an issue over the entire board membership at the moment and what their role was when they knew this information. They knew about the emails, they saw the emails from Mr Milne to Ms Guthrie clearly, clearly asking, as the Chairman, for interference on the basis of essentially a political request from the Government. They knew that and they did nothing about it.

That’s why we need a full and open, transparent enquiry. That’s what Labor’s called for, that’s what we’ll initiate in the Senate so that this information can all be got out there and I should imagine the ABC Board members will be called before that enquiry. There are other issues as well have been raised about this particular appointment and I just hope the Government has done its due diligence on this.

JOURNALIST: Mr Morrison this morning was saying that he hasn’t seen anything to indicate that the board, the rest of the board, should stand down. I mean, do you think that they should be thinking about their jobs going forward?

ALBANESE: Well of course they should, because as board members they are responsible for ensuring that there’s not political interference in the ABC. And what we’ve had is that various people at the ABC have spoken about – people like Don McDonald – Mark Scott was, of course, in charge of the ABC while I was the Communications Minister and Stephen Conroy -was appointed by the former Coalition Government. He did his job effectively and diligently. Various chairs of the ABC – Don McDonald, Jim Spigelman – all did their job regardless of who they were appointed by in a diligent fashion.

What we have here is board members who receive reports and emails with the detail there clearly, explicitly calling for journalists to be removed in order to appease the political views of those precious petals who make up the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, who don’t like any criticism at all. And let’s be clear about the issue that was raised at the June meeting between Mr Morrison, Mr Milne and Senator Fifield as the Communications Minister. The issue was over whether there was any political input into the choosing of the date of those by-elections. Now other journalists wrote that too. Phil Coorey in the Australian Financial Review today, states very clearly that Cabinet Ministers have said to him, that there was a political choice made to choose that date. Now the Prime Minister, former Prime Minister Turnbull, has indeed been criticised by his own side both publicly and certainly to me privately about the 12-week campaign for the by-elections which follows the longest campaign in political history in 2016. And going to Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement, you have Cabinet Ministers and people who were a part of the Dutton and Morrison challenges to Malcolm Turnbull, saying that it was Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement drawn into question with the choosing of that date. The Speaker we know consults with the Leaders of the political parties before choosing a date, and we know very explicitly that Labor objected very strongly to the choosing of that date. And said it should be held, those by-elections should be held, as soon as possible.

And we know there was inconsistency with those dates and the dates in which Barnaby Joyce’s by-election was called and the Bennelong by-election was called. So for Mr Milne to be hauled over the coals to such a degree whereby he felt that the Government’s ongoing support for the ABC was in question and the only way to avoid that was actually to have journalists sacked, and that he argued that case in writing to the CEO of the ABC, and the members of the board saw those emails and did nothing about it for a week after Ms Guthrie was removed from her position and Justin Milne remained the chair, seemingly with the absolute confidence and support of the board, that raises very real questions here and that’s why we need a full and transparent inquiry.

But that’s why, also, Mitch Fifield’s position as Communications Minister is untenable. The Government should be able to find something for him. He doesn’t have to be made an envoy. They can find something for him where he can’t do damage to the national broadcaster. But I can’t see how he can remain in that position, given he sat in on that meeting on the 15th of June.

JOURNALIST: Do you think there is a sense of urgency in appointing a new permanent Chairman of the ABC? And should the terms of service be looked at?

ALBANESE: Well, they need to get it right, that’s the first thing. So whoever the Chair is needs to be an appointment that will restore confidence in the fact that the ABC is a public broadcaster not a Government broadcaster on behalf of the state. I mean, you know what we’ve seen with all of this, is a Government determined to control reporting of it, which journalists work where – and there’s a word for that. It’s called totalitarian. That’s what totalitarian regimes do. Here in Australia, in a democracy, with a public broadcaster that we cherish, it is vital that it be protected. I believe that the ABC has overwhelmingly the support. That doesn’t mean that everyone in Australia always likes what’s on the ABC. It certainly doesn’t mean that every politician likes everything that’s on the ABC. From time to time, there wouldn’t be any politician that didn’t object or disagree with an angle that the ABC took on a particular story. But that’s not the point. They have a right to complain, what they don’t have a right to do is to intimidate the ABC to the point whereby we essentially have journalists’ jobs being drawn into question.

JOURNALIST: So considering the current situation with the board, I mean, do you think that the entire board should, you know, stand down and leave way for a fresh leadership team at the top there?

ALBANESE: Well I certainly think the questions need to be answered, of why it is that a Board Member could see an email like that from Justin Milne to Ms Guthrie and not believe that was worthy of further action being taken to ensure the ABC’s Charter was protected.

That’s why we need an inquiry. It may well be there’s an explanation, but I can’t see what it would be. That someone would see that email and not understand that made Mr Milne’s position untenable, as he himself saw yesterday and as commentators’ right across the political spectrum have seen.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

ALBANESE: All of their positions are under a cloud at the moment. And every single one of them who saw that email has to explain why it is that wasn’t worthy of further response. And that’s why we need an inquiry. The ABC is a cherished national institution, it plays such an important role in the cultural life of Australia and its worth protecting. And we certainly are prepared to protect it and I’m sure the Australian community want to protect it as well. Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: Just a very, very brief one, just about the Banking Royal Commission, sorry. Your thoughts about the interim report coming out today, do you have any thoughts about what is expected today? Considering that Scott Morrison himself, you know he didn’t want it for 600 days or so. Whatever it was, yeah.

ALBANESE: Well what we see today is a damning indictment of many people, not all, but many in the banking and financial services sector. Labor campaigned for this Royal Commission. We said if we were elected in 2016 we would have called it, it would have been finished by now, not handing down interim reports.

Scott Morrison voted against this Royal Commission on 23 occasions, in the Parliament. He called it a stunt. He argued it was a waste of time. What we know, is that it’s been very valuable in bringing out the facts when it comes to the abuse of power that financial institutions have used against some of the most vulnerable people in our community. And there have been some startling revelations, day after day. What is clear is that Scott Morrison has a lot to answer for for why he objected to this on 23 separate occasions in spite of the fact that there was mounting evidence that this Royal Commission was required. This is a Government that wants Royal Commissions into the Labor Party and into its political opponents. It doesn’t want to use Royal Commissions for what it should be used for, which is to get information about big national issues out there on the table so that reforms can occur. What we need to do is to embark on any changes to the financial regulatory system, to ensure that these sorts of stories can’t happen again and that people can have absolute confidence in the financial services sector. Thanks very much.

[ENDS]

Sep 28, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – The Today Show – Friday, 28 September 2018

Subjects: Inquiry into political interference at the ABC; police chase laws; NRL Grand Final.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Time now to thrash out the week in politics, and hasn’t it been that, with Labor’s Anthony Albanese and, in for Christopher Pyne this week, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Good to see you guys. Thanks for being with us. Peter, you’re alive.

PETER DUTTON: I’m here.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Barely. He’s out of hiding. Good to see you Peter.

DUTTON: Little black eye, little bruised ribs. It’s all going well.

ALBANESE: I’m in Melbourne. I went out last night. It’s safe here Peter.

STEFANOVIC: Anything you want to report?

DUTTON: That’s good Albo, nothing to see in Melbourne? No African gangs there?

ALBANESE: It’s safe mate.

DUTTON: You’re a hero mate.

ALBANESE: Come out to dinner.

STEFANOVIC: Gee it’s on isn’t it, already?

DUTTON: You backing Collingwood or what’s going on?

STEFANOVIC: Hey Peter, you’ve had a couple of weeks now to have good, cold, hard, think about things and Albo did call you a cold character in August, but we’re not going to dwell on that. Have you come to any conclusions yet as to why you did it?

DUTTON: Look I think it’s obvious that the Government has done very well under Scott Morrison. I think he’s got a good story to tell. I think people can relate to him. I think he’s down to earth, he’s talking about issues that are relevant to families and I think Albo, you know, might get a chance to pull a baton out again at some stage. It’s sort of snuck out on a couple of occasions that he’s willing to belt Shorten with it at some point, but hasn’t had the guts to stand up yet. So I’d watch this space. I think the Government’s doing well and I think we’re back in the race, which is a good thing because Bill Shorten would be a disastrous Prime Minister Karl, as we well know.

STEFANOVIC: So Peter, no regrets at all?

DUTTON: No, none. And I believe very strongly that we were well on our way to a significant defeat at the election and I honestly believe that Bill Shorten will be a disaster if he’s elected Prime Minister. Anthony Albanese actually believes that as well. If he’s going to be honest he’ll talk about it. So we’re back in the game and Scott Morrison has done I think very well. I think he’s started strongly and I think the Australian public are listening to what he’s got to say and talking about getting power prices down, talking about issues which are relevant to families. I think the Government is doing well.

STEFANOVIC: Albo, Scott Morrison one on one is belting Bill Shorten. When are you going to make a move?

ALBANESE: The Government is in chaos. And for Peter Dutton to talk about leadership issues does show a boldness that he is known for.

DUTTON: Rule it out Albo, rule it out.

ALBANESE: Look I’ve ruled it out a thousand times Peter. What I’m focused on …

STEFANOVIC: All right let’s keep moving, there’s a fair bit to get through. Albo, Labor’s ABC is a mess this morning. The whole board needs to go now doesn’t it?

ALBANESE: The ABC certainly is a mess and board members who can’t do their job should be considering their position. And what the board needs is people on it who will stand up for the independence of the ABC. It is critical that it be a public broadcaster not a government broadcaster. And what we’ve seen is though a mess of the Government’s making. It’s the Government that continues to try and intimidate the ABC, that is so frightened of any criticism at all. These poor shrinking violets blame the media for their own failings.

STEFANOVIC: Well because Labor in its past has never ever tried to intimidate or bully journalists.

ALBANESE: Well they certainly haven’t done bullying and intimidation of the ABC. It’s perfectly legitimate to have a criticism of a news story and to do that publically and to have that debate. What’s not legitimate is to say that people should be sacked for having a different view over a particular report in the way that the Government has behaved over Andrew Probyn, over Emma Alberici, and perhaps others.

STEFANOVIC: Ok Peter, have you ever put pressure on the national broadcaster or any journalist in particular?

DUTTON: No, but I’ve made complaints to the ABC before and I’ve had on-air retractions because there is a bias within some elements of the ABC.

STEFANOVIC: So should the whole board go now?

DUTTON: Well there’s an investigation that’s underway by the Secretary of the Communications Department at the moment. So let that investigation take place, get to the bottom of it, see what the recommendations are and make decisions from there.

STEFANOVIC: There is some call …

ALBANESE: Imagine what the Government would be like if they had to put up with what Labor has from the commercial media. We just have to roll with it. The front pages, the caricatures – all of that goes on against us. The idea that the media is biased against the Coalition in this country is bizarre. When you have the ABC, that from time to time upsets all sides of politics but is overwhelmingly balanced for most of the time, they get upset.

STEFANOVIC: Do you know what you should do, Albo? You should order one of those Senate Inquiries that couldn’t even get rid of Peter Dutton.

ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see.

DUTTON: Try and get a witness that is credible next time Albo.

ALBANESE: There’s still a doubt over whether he should sit in the Parliament. We’ll wait and see. He won’t refer himself to the High Court. He should.

DUTTON: Albo, you’ll back me I’m sure.

STEFANOVIC: All right, let’s move on. I did want to ask – we are running out of time gentlemen. I did want to ask Peter, on a very serious note if I can, about this Queensland Police Officer who is in a critical condition in hospital after another police chase. You used to be a cop, obviously. Aren’t we at the point now where the country does need uniform rules around chases and different technologies need to be examined now, so that we can stop this from happening from both sides?

DUTTON: Obviously the answer is yes, Karl. As I understand it this police officer has only been in the Queensland Police Service for about four years and he’s in intensive care at the moment. So obviously everybody’s thoughts and prayers are with him. That’s the primary consideration. But we’re commemorating National Police Remembrance Day – a number of us will be going to services today. And it’s just a stark reminder of how dangerous the job is. But yes, we do need to look afresh, I think, at the chase laws allowing people to get into stolen cars knowing that they’re not going to be pursued is a very dangerous outcome. And have a look at the investigation and see what can be recommended as a result of this particular matter. But it is a very dangerous job and we need to remind ourselves that we’re a lucky community, that whilst most of us will flee a dangerous situation, police are running into harm’s way to protect us and we recognise that during National Police Remembrance Day.

STEFANOVIC: It’s such an important day. The police union is calling for engine immobilising technology – let’s look at that, let’s try to get something done, let’s get the national Government involved with this as well as – obviously the state governments to try and get some uniform rules going. Thank you gentlemen so much for this, best of luck with your respective teams over the – oh that’s right South Sydney lost.

ALBANESE: Thanks for the reminder mate. I’m totally neutral now.

STEFANOVIC: You’re like the ABC.

ALBANESE: Yes that’s right. Well, we’re all Melbourne Storm supporters now, those of us who are Souths supporters. So …

STEFANOVIC: All right, good on you guys.

ALBANESE: It’s an alliance between Souths and Queenslanders. I think they’ll all be going for the Storm.

STEFANOVIC: Well, there you go, we’ve finally got you guys together. Thanks so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

[ENDS]

Sep 27, 2018

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

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

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

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Very well thank you Francis.

LEACH: What were you talking about down in Frankston?

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

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

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

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

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

LEACH: There’s significant drought at the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEACH: That would be a lie … fake news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALBANESE: They are playing the Roosters Francis.

LEACH: My enemy’s enemy is my friend?

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

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

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

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

ALBANESE: Thanks Francis.

 

Sep 27, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Melbourne – Thursday, 27 September 2018

Subjects: Expanded car parking at Frankston Train Station; public transport; ABC.

JACINTA ALLAN: It is terrific to be here at Frankston Station this morning and particularly to join the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, and Anthony is no stranger to Victoria or to this part of the world and understands really keenly the need for Federal Labor Governments to join with the State Labor Government in making the important investments in infrastructure to support more people, in particular, to use public transport.

And what we have seen over the last few years here along the Frankston Line is we have been making a lot of big investments to support public transport use along this corridor. Just down the road, I have come from Seaford where today, the Seaford Road will be opened and that marks the 28th level crossing that will be removed across metropolitan Melbourne and, of course, that included Skye/Overton Road here in Frankston as well. There’s 13 level crossings being removed along this corridor, a brand new station here at Frankston and this is all part of $2 billion worth of investment along the Frankston Line.

In doing these investments we also understand that we want to make it easier for passengers to be able to access public transport and we know that parking is a really important issue for passengers. They love the extra services and the new stations but they know that it can be a real frustration if there is not a parking space at their station and we have had a lot of growth on our numbers using the trains from Frankston and as a result that’s why I am pleased to be able to announce today that a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will be committing in partnership with an elected Federal Labor Government to build 500 new car parking spaces here at Frankston Station. That is more than doubling the existing car parking spaces that are here at the moment. And this demonstrates what you can achieve in partnership with Federal Governments and when you have got a team that is wanting to work together to get these sorts of projects done.

The funding for Victoria’s share will come from the $150 million Car Parking for Commuters fund that the Premier and I announced a few weeks ago that is going to give a 20 per cent boost to car parking spaces across our train network in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. I am now really pleased to hand over to Albo to ask him to talk about his contribution to the project.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Jacinta and it is great to be here with Paul, the local State Member, and Peta, the future local Federal Member, for this joint announcement. Federal Labor will contribute half the funding for 500 new car parking spaces right here at Frankston. That will be a $17.5 million commitment from Federal Labor from our $300 million Park and Ride Fund that was announced by Bill Shorten, the Labor Leader, just two months ago.

We support public transport. We understand that as our cities grow you need to deal with urban congestion and the way to do that is through investment in public transport. And one of the impediments to people using public transport is a lack of parking facilities around railway stations. That is why we have created this $300 million fund to make a difference. That’s why we are prepared to partner with the Victorian State Government. I can see, having visited here just two years ago, the transformation in this station as a result of the Andrews Labor Government and its investment in local communities and in particular its support for dealing with urban congestion, whether it be the removal of level crossings or whether it be the upgrade of stations such as this and I am very pleased to be able to partner.

The fact is that Victorians are still being short-changed by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison (ATM) Government. This is a Government which takes deposits from Victorians – one in four Australians; takes deposits from Melburnians – the fastest growing city in Australia – but doesn’t give back through investment. And we know that this week with the final Federal Budget result for 2017-18, Victoria’s share of infrastructure grants that financial year ending in June was 7.7 per cent. Twenty-five percent of the population – 7.7 per cent of the investment, and that contrasts with what we did when we were last in Federal Government, delivering on projects like Springvale up the road, like the Regional Rail Link, like the investment in the Monash Freeway – investing in roads and railways lines here in Victoria and we want to do it again. I’m very pleased that this will make a real difference to people’s lives this upgraded car parking station right here at Frankston. Happy to take questions on this proposal perhaps first.

JOURNALIST: Jacinta, has there been much examination done into the cost effectiveness of extra car parks compared to extra bus services or bike parking?

ALLAN: Well you need to do both. We need to provide passengers with a range of options as to how they can best make their train connection. And so as part of the work we’re doing here at Frankston Station there’s better cycling facilities, bike storage facilities, there’s better pedestrian access and, of course, we’ve been doing work on the local bus network as well, helping that to connect into train services. But also too we know for some people they need to drive to the train station to access that train service and so we also need to accommodate for that as well, which is why parking is an important part of the work that you need to do to encourage more people to catch the train more often.

JOURNALIST: And so this is obviously a highly marginal seat, how are you determining where these car parks are going?

ALLAN: So over the past nearly four years the Andrews Labor Government has added nearly 10,000 car parking spaces to train stations across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. And with more investment going into public transport we’re putting on more train services, we’re building new train stations, we’re wanting to make sure that as we’re seeing more people catching the train more people can have the chance to use that by increasing the car parking spaces, which is why we’ve set up a fund – a $150 million car parking fund.

Also, too, a place here like Frankston, there has been pressure for a little while now on the car parking availability around the Frankston Station and so there’s very clearly a need here, and I think Paul and Peta and the local community would say very clearly there’s a need here in Frankston, to provide more car parking spaces to accommodate the extra people using the services. We’re adding services to the Frankston Line. We want to make sure we can add car parking spaces as well.

JOURNALIST: Obviously Federal support is dependent on Federal Labor getting in. Have you had a similar undertaking from the current Federal Government?

ALLAN: Well just to go back a step, the funding is also part of what a re-elected Andrews Labor Government is offering to the Victorian community. So it’s an election commitment and the determination on this fund will depend on the results of November’s state election and then of course we’d love to see a newly elected Federal Labor Government partner with us.

The sad fact is that we have been short changed in recent times by the Federal Liberal Government. They can make their own choices as to how they want to invest in this sort of project, but I would note that at the last federal election it was only Federal Labor that committed funds to build the car parking here at Frankston. It’s now only Federal Labor, at a federal level, that’s also committed the funding and it’s really up to the Liberal Party to explain why they just keep turning their back on Frankston.

JOURNALIST: And Labor has said they have no confidence in the Chairman of the ABC. Isn’t that also political interference within the organisation?

ALBANESE: No. What we’ve seen is a very explicit intervention by the Chair of the ABC. We’re calling for an inquiry into the circumstances of that. But the ABC is dependent upon its independence for its integrity. The ABC is Australia’s most trusted news source and the idea that you could have a Chair of the ABC intervene as a result, it must be said, of the pressure and intimidation that has taken place from day one that the Abbott Government was elected, right through Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison – the fact is that the Coalition Government have been prepared to intimidate the ABC. They have ensured that their own people have been appointed to various positions on the board of the ABC. They chose to do that. The fact is that Governments that seek to control reporting and news and journalism – there’s a word for them – it’s called totalitarian. What we need in this country, and importantly as part of our democracy, is an ABC that is quite clearly independent and transparently so.

JOURNALIST: So would you have any confidence in a Government inquiry into what’s unfurled here?

ALBANESE: Well we just see that as, essentially, a stalling tactic, which is why Labor is initiating an inquiry through the Senate. That inquiry will have the power to call the Chair of the ABC and, as well, to call other people who are directly relevant and we think that is the way to go: a transparent, open inquiry. The Australian public pay for the ABC. They should have a right to know exactly what is going on, what the circumstances are and if there’s an explanation for what are extraordinary interventions; calling for the dismissal of Emma Alberici, of Andrew Probyn and perhaps others. We’ll wait and see as the revelations seem to be coming each and every day. The Australian people have a right to see it, which is why we need a transparent process, not a departmental secretary behind closed doors reporting to a Minister who seems to be obsessed with attacking the ABC rather than defending it.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident that Labor’s never lobbied against particular journalists?

ALBANESE: Look the idea that a Minister – I speak as a former Communications Minister – the idea that I, as a former Communications Minister, when I had responsibility for that portfolio, would argue that a particular journalist should be removed from their job just wouldn’t enter – or shouldn’t enter – any political office holder’s mind. It is so extraordinary that this would occur. The fact is that the Coalition have a glass jaw when it comes to any criticism of them.

I mean, Federal Labor and State Labor, we ride with the punches each and every day when it comes to news coverage, some of which is extraordinarily unfair, the sort of caricatures and representations that are made by commercial media. We get on with it. We get on with it when the ABC is unfairly critical, in our view of it. And people have a right, of course, to complain about that and I’m sure that people do from time to time. But the idea that someone should be removed from their job in order to assist the ABC in getting federal funding is an outrage. And Australians should be outraged by it. I think they are which is why we need this transparent inquiry.

JOURNALIST: Does Labor intend for the independence and proper funding of the ABC to be a major election issue? Probably for the first time in many years, is it going to be a significant election issue?

ALBANESE: Absolutely it is. We will restore the $83 million funding cut that was made to the ABC. We, when we were in Government, put in place mechanisms to ensure the independence of the ABC. We regard this as very important. It’s important for our democracy, it’s important for a national voice.
You only have to look at the ads, to give the ABC credit, that are taking place at the moment with significant Australian figures like Guy Pearce talking about their experience with the ABC and why the ABC is important to them. The ABC plays a critical role, particularly in regional Australia, in emergency services notification, in providing that voice of Australians, often in a non-commercial way, and in a way though that is valued. It’s a national asset. The ABC structure is important, it’s an independent structure and Labor values that. We cherish it and we’ll enhance it when we’re in Government, if we are successful at the next election.

[ENDS]

Sep 26, 2018

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

Subjects: Australia Day, quotas.

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

ANNE RUSTON: How are you going?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

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

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

RUSTON: Thanks Albo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALBANESE: No.

HOST: Simple as that?

ALBANESE: No.

HOST: Has it been talked about internally?

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

HOST: Did he promise to introduce something like this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOST: Anne Ruston and Anthony Albanese …

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

HOST: Yes.

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

RUSTON: You’ve got a few too Albo.

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

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

[ENDS]

Sep 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ENDS]

Sep 26, 2018

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

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

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

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, David.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPEERS: That’s good.

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

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

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

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

ALBANESE: I think that’s a fair assumption.

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

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

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

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

SPEERS: Just for one year?

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

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

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

[ENDS]

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