Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Aug 16, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Citizenship, New Zealand, Ship building 

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

PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: We’ll start with you if we can Chris. Now this attempt by the Foreign Minister to sort of suggest that relations between Canberra and Wellington have hit some sort of all time low, that was just a bit of a beat up to distract attention away from the fact that the Barnaby Joyce situation is totally embarrassing for the Government, wasn’t it?

PYNE: Not at all. This is a very serious matter. Now obviously the relationship between the New Zealand Government and the Australian Government remains very strong but what Labor has tried to do is use New Zealand Labour, which is in Opposition, not in Government, to undermine Australia. Now take New Zealand out and insert China or South Africa or Indonesia. I mean can you imagine what the reaction would be in the public and the media if it was the Labor Party conspiring with a political party in any other country besides New Zealand?

HOST: But it wasn’t. But isn’t that the point though, like it’s not Vladimir Putin, it’s the Kiwis? It’s like the seventh state of Australia.

PYNE: No the point is the Labour Leader in New Zealand has described it as disgraceful, unnecessary and appalling that her MP would behave in this way. Now, if it is good enough for the New Zealand Labour Leader to recognise the seriousness and inappropriateness of it, why is it Bill Shorten thinks it’s actually a hilarious joke and allowing his Foreign Shadow Minister, Penny Wong, to get her chief of staff to try and undermine the Australian Government through the New Zealand Labour Party. It’s Labor’s tactic to laugh this off. The truth is New Zealand…

ALBANESE: We are laughing at you.

PYNE: New Zealand is a foreign government and the New Zealand Labour Party has been attempted to be used by Australian Labor to undermine the Australian Government. It is scandalous and the New Zealand Labour Party Leader recognises it. Labor can laugh all they like. If the shoe was on the other foot; if this was a Liberal Opposition doing this; the media would be screaming from the roof tops.

HOST: Albo, given that the New Zealand Labour Leader has criticised the conduct of the MP who did do this, do you think that it was wrong the Penny Wong’s chief of staff did get involved with this covert chat about Barnaby’s citizenship status?

ALBANESE: Oh for goodness sake. Yesterday Barnaby Joyce admitted that he was a Kiwi, Julie Bishop did everything but declare war against the Kiwis and the Government then lost a vote condemning itself over the Great Barrier Reef. They had an absolute shocker and whoever came up with the strategy – I assume that Chris was outvoted, because he is a smart fellow in the tactics committee – whoever came up with the idea that they would try and question our whole relationship; Julie Bishop yesterday actually said that she wasn’t sure that she could work with a Labour Government if it was elected in New Zealand. So she, as the Foreign Minister, questioned, or intervened effectively, in the New Zealand election, which is being held in one month’s time. It was an extraordinary performance by Julie Bishop.

HOST: So you would do it again Albo?

ALBANESE: Her own side was laughing at her.

HOST: You’d do it again?

ALBANESE: Well what’s happened here …

HOST: If your chief of staff came to you and said to you, I’ve got this plan, we’ll get the New Zealand Labor guys to help us out …

ALBANESE: There was no plan. There was no plan.

HOST: That’s what happened isn’t it?

ALBANESE: No, no. What happened was that …

HOST: But would you do it again?

ALBANESE: … Penny Wong’s staffer, who used to be a chief of staff to a New Zealand MP, has mates in New Zealand and was talking to one of his, the people he knows in New Zealand and the issue of, funnily enough, citizenship of Barnaby Joyce came up. The truth is, but he didn’t ask for a question to be put on the notice paper and the New Zealand Government itself, Bill English, the minister responsible, have said that’s not how this issue came up in terms of the New Zealand Government made the statement; that was because of inquiries by the Fairfax press. That is how this story came out and we had yesterday Barnaby Joyce concede that he only tried to renounce his New Zealand citizenship on the weekend.

HOST: Chris Pyne, if the Government is as angry as it says it is over the manner in which this has been conducted is there any kind of formal complaint that you can issue to Wellington about it?

PYNE: Well I think the Foreign Minister has made it pretty clear that the Government is unimpressed, but so has the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Government is as unimpressed with the Labor Party in Australia and the Labour Party in New Zealand as we are. So the two governments are in lock step about the inappropriateness of this. The only people who think this is the hilarious joke is the Labor Party because they see politics as a hilarious joke. It’s all about the game. It’s never about the outcome.

ALBANESE: This Government has been reduced to a joke.

PYNE: While the Australian Government is getting with things like the effects test, protection of small business, media law reform, reducing corporate income taxes, creating 250,000 jobs in the last 12 months, the Labor Party, all they do is play political games.

HOST: Chris Pyne, can I …

ALBANESE: The first answer to any question in Parliament from their own side of ministers, usually begins with something like: “Well the Leader of the Opposition’’, or “Bill Shorten.’’ They have nothing to say about governing this country, they have stopped doing it.

HOST: All right, well let’s turn our attention then directly to an issue that has South Australians intrigued this morning. Tory Shepherd’s written a piece, Chris Pyne, in the Advertiser,  citing tender documents for the future frigates program saying it contains no requirement to use an Adelaide workforce. Is there a danger here that Adelaide workers could be totally overlooked in this program?

PYNE: There’s absolutely no possibility of that. The ASC workers are the most skilled and experienced shipyard workers in the country. We need five thousand workers at Osborne between now and mid-2020. The idea that every one of those people who wants a job wouldn’t get one is quite frankly ridiculous. This is a absurd media beat up. The truth is every single one of the ASC workers who wants a job on the offshore patrol vessels, and the future frigates or the submarines, thanks to this Government will get one and four thousand more will get jobs who want them at Osborne.

HOST: It’s not just a media beat up though. Nick Xenophon is saying that this is a notice of execution for the ASC.

PYNE: Well that is a lie and Nick Xenophon, who used to be a supporter of ship building in South Australia has now flipped and decided he is going to become the chief critic. That’s his schtick, that’s how he gets himself into the media but obviously the Government is not investing $89 billion in ship building in South Australia in order not to employ the current workforce at Osborne. As I said every one of those people who wants one will get a job.

But the Government is not going to mandate that the ASC workforce must work on whoever wins the bid otherwise the union and the workers, but particularly the union would have the successful bidder over a barrel. They wouldn’t need to negotiate at all. They would be able to write their own cheque and that of course would be quite irresponsible. So the Government is doing everything it can to make sure that we have a continuous naval ship building. The first in Australia’s history. And Nick Xenophon should stop being the chief critic because it buys him a cheap headline in the Advertiser and actually get behind the program.

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always a fiery encounter on Two Tribes. We’ll do it all again next week and we look forward to the resumption of hostilities between Canberra and Wellington in Question Time today.

ALBANESE: Let’s hope the Government…We might need those ships.

Aug 16, 2017

Transcript of television interview – PM Agenda, SKY News

Subjects: Citizenship; Game of Thrones.

DAVID SPEERS: Anthony Albanese is with me now. Thanks very much for your time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s good to be with you.

SPEERS: You did say on 5AA that Penny Wong’s chief of staff actually discussed specifically Barnaby Joyce when he spoke to his mate in New Zealand, the New Zealand Labor MP. Did he?

ALBANESE: Well that was wrong. I wasn’t a party to that conversation. It was in the context of a discussion this morning on 5AA – a regular spot that I have with Christopher Pyne – and I said something that wasn’t correct. I have corrected the record as you know, straight away after that. Apparently it wasn’t discussed specifically. It was a general discussion.

SPEERS: They did discuss, as you say, the general matter around citizenship.

ALBANESE: Well they are mates.

SPEERS: And presumably said it would be good to ask a question in the Parliament?

ALBANESE: No, apparently that was not discussed at all.

SPEERS: Just discussed the citizenship matter generally?

ALBANESE: Yes, as you would, like probably heaps of people in the pubs, at P&Cs and at the sidelines of footy games on the weekend will be discussing these sorts of issues.

SPEERS: Was it inappropriate?

ALBANESE: Well it wasn’t relevant. That’s the point David. The fact is that …

SPEERS: Maybe or maybe not.

ALBANESE: No, the New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister, who is the minster responsible here in the conservative Government,, has said that it was inquiries from Fairfax, that Fairfax made, that caused the New Zealand Government to make inquiries and then to make statements.

SPEERS: But the New Zealand Foreign Minister has said something different. The New Zealand Foreign Minister has said: I think you will find his question (the Labor MP’s question) – that prompted the need for the New Zealand High Commission in Australia to approach Barnaby Joyce to tell him about his situation.

ALBANESE: Well as you know David, Barnaby Joyce actually answered questions about these issues and answered them in a way that we now know isn’t true. He said that he checked. He told journalists, his office told journalists …

SPEERS: And that is a fair point. That’s a fair point. But getting back to Labor’s role, I mean you know the Government may have gone over the top in saying treason and treachery and so on, but was it inappropriate for a conversation with an MP, a member of the New Zealand Parliament?

ALBANESE:  Well the big issue, was it inappropriate? Cory Bernardi, I saw on Sky News earlier today speak about members of the Government contacting members of the British Government to say that he shouldn’t be allowed to have meetings and have discussions with Conservative Party people prior to his visit to Britain. We have Malcolm Turnbull has, in Spycatcher, outlined in great detail him providing questions in the Parliament for Neil Kinnock. There are a whole range of issues.


ALBANESE:  Well the issue here, it’s just not the issue. The issue here is Barnaby Joyce’s eligibility to be Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and then the other issue is Julie Bishop, as Foreign Minister, behaving in such a  chaotic way, questioning whether she could work with an incoming New Zealand Labor Government if it is elected in one month’s time, drawing into question whether she could have co-operative relationship with our closest near neighbours there in New Zealand, is quite bizarre. The way that the Government has handled this whole issue David, this is the first time I have ever seen a Government lose Question Time prior to the first question when the Prime Minster came in to the Parliament and gave a response to Yarra Council in Melbourne about the Australia Day issue, a quite extraordinary statement, to take up Question Time.

SPEERS: You don’t think the PM should speak up for Australia Day?

ALBANESE: That wasn’t what it was about.

SPEERS: What was it about?

ALBANESE: It was just about distracting and taking up some time of Question Time. The fact is there’s no-one in the Parliament from the Labor Party or the Liberal Party or the National Party advocating changing the date of Australia Day and if we are going …

SPEERS: The Greens are and councils.

ALBANESE: Well if we are going to respond to, you know, what every sort of Tom, Dick and Harry says in some council in the national Parliament then I would find that quite extraordinary.

SPEERS: Getting back to the question of New Zealand, obviously Labor in New Zealand have said this was wrong, they shouldn’t have done it. Penny Wong has even said it was inappropriate. Do you agree?

ALBANESE: Well I agree with Penny Wong’s statements on these issues, absolutely.

SPEERS: So there shouldn’t be this sort of conversation with the Kiwis about an internal matter?

ALBANESE: Yes. But it’s not a big deal. It’s a distraction. It’s an attempt by the Government to distract from the real issues and to say look over here.

SPEERS: So the real issue is the citizenship?

ALBANESE: And it needs to be dealt with and Barnaby Joyce should do what Matt Canavan has done …

SPEERS: Resign?

ALBANESE: Absolutely and step aside whilst this is occurring. If it is the case that the High Court rules that there’s no issues of course he could return. But why is it that there’s a different standard for Matt Canavan than there is for Barnaby Joyce and the real concern here is, is it at all tenable for Barnaby Joyce to be Acting Prime Minister when Malcolm Turnbull travels overseas? I mean the Government has to deal with this and instead of dealing with it there’s been all this look over here, look over there and some bizarre  performances in Question Time.

SPEERS: The Government is still considering, as I understand it, whether to refer a bunch of Labor MPS to the High Court as well. Do you think that would be a good idea to provide some certainty?

ALBANESE: Absolutely not. The idea that people will be referred by motions in the House of Reps or the Senate against their wishes is quite extraordinary. You think about the precedent there. The problem there is David that if you have a precedent whereby a Government tries to use its majority then any majority Government can refer anybody who is not part of that majority to a court or question their legitimacy. That’s not the way that it works.

SPEERS: So if the Government does this Labor will have a long memory?

ALBANESE: That’s not the way that it works and I don’t think the Government will go there.

SPEERS: What about the idea the Greens and others have said about an audit of all MPs? Not the High Court dealing with it but someone auditing.

ALBANESE: We have one David. It’s called the nomination process. We go through in a great deal of detail all of the eligibility requirements for our MPs before they nominate.

SPEERS: Clearly not every party has been doing this.

ALBANESE: Well that’s their problem, frankly. The rules are clear. It can be quite difficult. We do it every time as well.

SPEERS: But do you think the Australian people would like to see it cleared up once and for all with an audit?

ALBANESE: There’s no doubt that if you were writing the Australian Constitution you would do it in a different way, in my view. And indeed the Labor Party platform calls for reform of some of these issues.

SPEERS: Would you get rid of the way Section 44 applies?

ALBANESE: Well you’d have a debate about what the reform should be and I’m not about to try and rewrite the Constitution on your show.

SPEERS: What do you think personally? Should dual citizens be allowed to sit in Parliament?

ALBANESE: I think there’s a question mark over it. I think that on the one hand, you know, you want people to have absolute allegiance to Australia. I don’t think that is too much to ask that you have allegiance to Australia and only Australia.

SPEERS: But you do that with your oath or affirmation when you take your seat?

ALBANESE: I think there are, where the grey area has come in from my perspective, more relevant, is someone who is a teacher or someone who works at a university. Those sorts of issues of whether they get suspended or whether they have to – those issues are difficult, but they are there. We know what the rules are. We all have to apply to them.

SPEERS: When it comes to dual citizens though, you’ve faced many, many questions yourself about your own citizenship status?

ALBANESE: And I’ve answered them all.

SPEERS: I was going to invite you to remind us once again that you are absolutely certain that there’s no possibility of dual citizenship.

ALBANESE: Absolutely and you indeed have seen my documentation David.

SPEERS: Your documentation where it says father basically has a blank space?

ALBANESE: That’s right.

SPEERS: Without reliving your personal life story here, in some ways you’re kind of like the Jon Snow of Parliament for Game of Thrones fans.

ALBANESE: Well that’s an interesting Game of Thrones analogy there. Perhaps politics in this place is a bit like Game of Thrones at the moment. But look, one of the reasons why I made the difficult decision, it must be said, to cooperate with Karen Middleton doing a biography is that I didn’t want it just sort of slipped out in terms of my origins which were basically that my mother had me by herself.

She met someone and became pregnant. She came back to Australia and had me. I was due to be adopted out and she made the difficult and courageous decision for a young Catholic woman in 1963 to keep me. And under those circumstances though, in terms of my legal status, yes there’s a blank. There is no legal status of a …

SPEERS: Of a father?

ALBANESE: Yes, of anyone other than my mother who subsequently adopted the name.

SPEERS: And you’re not the only Australian in that situation, but it is pretty rare.

ALBANESE: So my position is clearer than most. And I didn’t know the details of my father. I was told that he was dead, which was something that was about, I guess, providing the issue of legitimacy to my origins.

SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, appreciate your time this afternoon and sharing that back story as well for us once more.



Aug 14, 2017

Bills – Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2017, Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (19:07): I rise to speak on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill, to support the second reading amendment and, depending upon the success of the amendment, to support the legislation, which is largely technical in nature. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 as it currently stands contains a sunset clause which has the effect of revoking plans of management where the regulations which give those plans effect are repealed. The changes proposed by this bill are designed to prevent this automatic revocation and they do not have consequences for policy or for the budget of the authority.

Plans of management are one practical tool we use to protect and support the reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, currently has four plans of management in place. They operate in Cairns, Hinchinbrook Island, Shoalwater Bay and the Whitsundays. Plans of management assist with the implementation of ecologically sustainable practices and effective environmental management, especially for at-risk or vulnerable species and ecosystems in need of protection. Of course, the Great Barrier Reef requires much more than this, with experts holding grave fears about its future life span. In an address to the University of Queensland, former United States President Barack Obama had this to say:

The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened … I want to come back and I want my daughters to be able to come back and I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit. I want that there 50 years from now.

I think it says something about the iconic nature of the Great Barrier Reef that then US President Obama went out of his way to ensure that he visited Queensland to give an important speech about the reef, about climate change and about the important responsibility that we have to future generations.

We on this side of the House are determined to take action on climate change and to ensure that the Great Barrier Reef continues to be an extraordinary part of Australia’s national landscape. It is, indeed, a national icon but also an international piece of natural environment that is incredibly significant. It has been recognised as one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the only living thing on earth visible from outer space. This is why the coalition’s inaction when it comes to the Great Barrier Reef is quite astounding.

In 2005, when I was the shadow minister for the environment, I said, ‘The Great Barrier Reef is in danger of disappearing over the next 50 years, but we have a government that is frozen in time while the world warms round it.’ Back then, of course, we had a Prime Minister who refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and who was talking about being sceptical of the science around climate change. When Malcolm Turnbull assumed the prime ministership after the assassination of the elected Prime Minister, the member for Warringah, Australians were entitled to expect a different policy on climate change, given the long-held views that the member for Wentworth had. Apparently, he was prepared to trade in all of that conviction for the keys to the Lodge. That is very problematic and not just because of the chaos that the government finds itself in. More importantly, the policy repercussions of the caving in of the member for Wentworth in order to secure those keys to the Lodge have had real consequences for the government’s approach to environmental issues.

The coalition has been given opportunities to address the challenge of looking after the Great Barrier Reef and climate change, but it has failed dismally with each opportunity. Earlier this year, the independent expert panel, led by former Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, recommended an urgent revision of the Reef 2050 Plan to enable ‘mitigation, adaptation and management of the reef in the face of inexorable global warming’. The simple fact is, if Australia and the world don’t keep global temperatures in line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement, the reef will continue to deteriorate.

In the last 18 months alone, the reef has suffered two unprecedented bleaching events—irrefutable climate change occurring right in front of us. Despite these events, under the coalition government, carbon emissions rose by 1.4 per cent in the last year. Of course, we had seen those emissions decline when Labor was in government, but we have seen that reverse. What is worse is that not just have we seen it reverse but also we have seen the impact on energy prices, with a doubling of wholesale power prices since the abolition of the price on carbon, in spite of the very clear commitments that were given by the coalition. Indeed, the government’s own emissions projection show that Australia will not even come close to meeting our obligations under the Paris Agreement, because of their failure to take adequate action.

It is more than just the experts who are severely worried about climate change impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. The recently released Climate of the Nation survey showed that 74 per cent of Australians have a high level of concern about climate change causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef. But still, it seems, the coalition has a general willingness to sacrifice our natural environment. This is made evident by their attempts to give environmental powers over issues of national importance to the states as well as sustained budget cuts to environmental programs since coming to power.

Earlier tonight, I was at the ARENA showcase. ARENA, of course, is an organisation that the coalition government wanted to abolish all funding for. But now they are prepared to go along. The minister for energy is giving a speech at the showcase, probably at the same time as I am on my feet now, to a body which he believed should be abolished, and voted for it earlier on.

The Prime Minister must be prepared to stand up to the troglodytes in his own party. He must be prepared to do that. You, of course, Mr Deputy Speaker, would know full well why it is so important for the Prime Minister to do just that: because, at the moment, he is pleasing no-one. The Neanderthals in the coalition who don’t believe the science of climate change aren’t giving him any support, and he’s losing support from people in mainstream Australia who understand that they’ve got to respect the science and take action. The fact is that the internals of the Liberal Party room keep winning out over the Australian people and the natural environment time and time again. Instead, in an act of which the reasoning behind is beyond my comprehension, the government revealed its plans last month to wind back protections in our oceans. No government anywhere else in the world has ever removed this many hectares out of conservation before. What we’ve seen throughout history—in particular, at the end of the last century and the beginning of this century—is a greater awareness that humankind must live in harmony with its natural environment, not in conflict with it, and an understanding that we have a responsibility to future generations to protect that natural environment. Yet this government seems determined to reduce the protection of the oceans around our coastline as an island continent.

To make matters worse, the Turnbull government plans to destroy Australia’s shipping industry and turn the Australian coast into a free-for-all, whereby, as much as it talks about national security, it’s prepared to have foreign workers without proper security vetting working on foreign wages around our coast, taking the jobs of the Australian workforce. That has real consequences for the environment as well. The truth is that every single incident around our coast that has led to environmental disaster has involved a foreign-flagged vessel.

The Shen Neng 1 was a ship more than 10 kilometres outside of the shipping lane when it struck the Great Barrier Reef late on the afternoon of 3 April 2010. It scraped along the reef, causing damage of a considerable length. It is the longest known grounding scar on the reef, approximately three kilometres long and 250 metres wide. Why did that happen? Because the captain of the ship simply forgot to turn through the channel. He wasn’t familiar with it, he was overworked, and he hadn’t had proper rest, and the consequence of that was damage to our reef. Some of the damaged areas have become completely devoid of marine life, and it will take up to 20 years for this section of the reef to return to the state that it was in prior to the incident. By 13 April, oil tar balls were washing up on the beaches of North West Island, a significant bird rookery and turtle nesting colony. All up, the spill killed over 400 different species of animals and over 500 different species of plants. The subsequent investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau concluded that the grounding of the ship was caused by human error. Indeed, they found that the chief officer, who was the officer on watch at the time, had neglected to program a required course change in the ship’s GPS navigation system due to fatigue.

That’s just one of the reasons why we simply can’t take shortcuts when it comes to protecting the Great Barrier Reef. We in this place have a real responsibility. It should, frankly, be a bipartisan issue because we know how critical it is. We on this side of the House have announced our Great Barrier Reef plan, which involves more coordinated and efficient long-term management of the reef that is appropriately funded and resourced and includes investment of up to $100 million to review and improve current management practices in the reef, in consultation with relevant stakeholders. It’s further supported by our climate change action plan. Labor will also double the number of Indigenous rangers in the Working on Country program. A number of its projects are in catchment areas. Our doubling of rangers includes the specialised Indigenous ranger program, which aims to improve marine conservation, particularly for dugongs and turtles, along the Far North Queensland coast.

But if I can’t convince those opposite about the environment, surely the economic benefits of the Great Barrier Reef should convince them. A Deloitte Access Economics study, At what price? The economic and social icon of the Great Barrier Reef, found the reef is worth $56 billion in economic, social and icon terms. It supports 64,000 jobs. These jobs are mainly tourism related, but the reef also supports fishing, recreation and scientific activities. It contributes some $6.4 billion a year to the national economy. That’s every single year.

In my time as the shadow minister for tourism, I have held a number of roundtable meetings in Far North Queensland on these issues. Most recently, I met with representatives of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, a new initiative designed to engage the world to support positive action and address climate change through a focus on preserving the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. They are working closely with Tourism Tropical North Queensland, showing that if everyone works together the outcomes can be maximised. That is absolutely critical for the tourism sector.

In conclusion, Labor is committed to working with environmental groups, the tourism sector and experts to ensure that the reef receives the protection that it deserves and needs. You only need to look to what we’ve done to see that we’ve shown our conviction on these matters. That is because we have a responsibility to future generations.

Aug 14, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects; Marriage Equality, Tourism, Barnaby Joyce, the Greens Political Party. 

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Unless the High Court intervenes Australians will have to vote in a postal survey on whether marriage equality will occur. Of course the most important thing about that survey is giving equal rights to people to be able to marry their life partner, whether they are in a same-sex relationship or a heterosexual relationship.

But there’s also an economic case for it. As Shadow Tourism Minister, I know that the tourism sector understands how important this could be for our economy – literally, a boost to our national economy of billions of dollars as a result of ceremonies taking place, honeymoons taking place, people visiting Australia from international destinations as well.

Take for example the fact that 270 Australian couples in same-sex relationships got married last year in New Zealand alone. That’s foregone revenue to Australia of the ceremonies that took place, the after-honeymoons and other activity that takes place. That’s jobs foregone here in Australia. So I think part of the debate that will be taking place as people think about whether they’ll support marriage equality in this postal survey should be not just about the individuals, but about our national economy and there’s a real argument of why it is an important boost to our economy if marriage equality occurs.

At the moment so many Australians are going overseas to marry. There’s the other circumstances whereby people aren’t visiting Australia from overseas destinations in Europe and the United States and others, either to marry, to conduct the actual ceremonies, or to have honeymoons and other after activities. There is very much an economic case for marriage equality as well as a case, primarily, which is about giving human rights to people on an equal basis. Human rights, that currently heterosexual couples enjoy, that should be given to people who happen to love someone of the same gender as themselves.

JOURNALIST: Opponents of same-sex marriage have been in the media today cautioning corporate Australia against campaigning on the issue. Do you think that perhaps this economic argument is one that the big companies could take on?

ALBANESE: Companies are taking it up. Companies, whether they be banks or airlines, or other businesses, understand that their workforce is impacted by this. They also understand that there’s an economic benefit to it. At the moment the fact is that it is revenue foregone for the fact that you don’t have ceremonies taking place in Australia. They’re either not taking place at all or they’re taking place internationally.

As I said, 270 couples in the last year in New Zealand alone. That is 270 times a lot of money. Perhaps the average figure is around about $65,000 for a wedding to take place, that is revenue foregone. The fact is that giving people the right to marry, surveys have shown that a slight majority of same-sex couples would take up the option of marriage if they were able to do so. Business understands that it is good business and equality is good for business.

I find it extraordinary the attempt to intimidate business for speaking up for its workforce, primarily, but also speaking up for its own business interest.

JOURNALIST: Barnaby Joyce referred himself to the High Court over citizenship issues. No one from Labor has been in this boat yet. Is that incompetence on the other parties’ behalf or a good system for you guys?

ALBANESE: I guess the other parties will have to explain their own circumstances. Labor has in place a very rigorous process when we nominate of providing evidence that we’re eligible to nominate and that’s, I guess, one of the reasons, no doubt, why there is no one from Labor caught up with these issues.

JOURNALIST: Have you had any legal advice about your own circumstances given, I guess, the coverage over the years of your family story?

ALBANESE: Well my circumstances as you would know because I am sure you have read Karen Middleton’s book available in all good book stores.  There is a new edition with a new chapter out published by Penguin, by the way, available here in the Parliament House bookshop. The fact is the circumstance of my birth is that I had a single parent; there is a single parent legally on my birth certificate, that was my mother who was born in fact in the same hospital in which I was born at St Margaret’s at Darlinghurst. Her parents were both born here. Their parents were all born here as well. So my circumstances are perhaps a lot clearer than many others as someone who legally had just one parent.

JOURNALIST: St Margaret’s is a great hospital, I agree with that, but do you have any legal advice? Or do you feel like you should get any legal advice given the questions…

ALBANESE: My circumstances, I’ve indicated that it’s 300 page book of my circumstances and they’re very clear, and my birth certificate is very clear as well.

JOURNALIST: Albo on infrastructure, the West Gate Tunnel has come up in Victoria – this is obviously a Labor project – said the report today saying there was deliberate distortion and misrepresentation of some of the figures. Do you still back that from a Federal perspective?

ALBANESE: Well there hasn’t been an application for Federal funding and I’m not the Federal Infrastructure Minister. But can I say this – that Victoria is getting on with the business of building infrastructure, building the Melbourne Metro, getting on with road infrastructure as well, in spite of the fact they are getting less than 10 per cent of Commonwealth infrastructure funding.  The fact is that Victoria is being shortchanged by the Turnbull Government and just as Queensland is being shortchanged by a failure to fund the Cross River Rail project.  They ripped out $3 billion from the Melbourne Metro; they ripped out $500 million from the M80 road project and only put it back a number of years later. They ripped money out of the Managed Motorways Program. Victoria is getting a raw deal from the Commonwealth Government when it comes to infrastructure.

JOURNALIST: Back on Barnaby Joyce. His advice seems to be similar to that given to Matt Canavan and yet Matt Canavan has stood aside from Cabinet. Do you think that Barnaby Joyce shouldn’t be voting or should stand down as Deputy Prime Minister while this is sorted out?

ALBANESE: Well certainly that’s a matter for the Government to give proper consideration of. I don’t wish to politicise this issue.  There’s been a statement made very recently by Barnaby Joyce in the House of Representatives. I wasn’t expecting that statement and I’m sure you weren’t either.  So under those circumstances I think that running commentary doesn’t assist this process, and it’s up to Matt Canavan, and I guess up to Barnaby Joyce, to explain what the distinction is between his case and Senator Canavan’s case.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it’s strange though that there is a rule for one member of Parliament and another rule for another?

ALBANESE: That’s really up to Barnaby Joyce, with respect, to explain what distinction the Government is clearly drawing between Barnaby Joyce’s circumstances and Matt Canavan’s circumstances. Both of them have been referred to the High Court, and I think it is clearly in the Australian Parliament’s interests for these issues to be resolved one way or the other in an expeditious manner, and I’m certain the High Court will do that.

JOURNALIST: Is Labor likely to take up the PM’s offer to refer a block of MPs, anyone who could possibly be under a citizenship cloud?

ALBANESE: I’m not going to – the PM should worry about getting his own house in order. Labor has had our house in order, and I think the referrals that have been made are appropriate. They’ve been made in a self way except of course a One Nation senator – which seems pretty clear cut really – seems to have been reluctant to be referred, but that has been dealt with as well.  It clearly is in the interests of Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan, as well as Senator Roberts – or Senator-elect Roberts perhaps – to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

JOURNALIST: Has the Labor Party as a whole sought any legal advice on the status of some of its members? Tanya Plibersek being another person…

ALBANESE: I’m not going to give you running commentary about individuals. There are 150 Members of the House of Representatives. I’ve gone through my own circumstances; it’s up to others to speak on their own behalf. But the Labor Party has in place a very rigorous process when we nominate for public office.

JOURNALIST: Do you think, does Section 44 need changing, given that foreign citizenship laws seem to be able to be changed, and therefore could alter the status of somebody living in Australia, not even aware of what is happening in another country?

ALBANESE: The Labor Party’s platform, which I’ll refer you to, which I am amazed that no one seems to read. A big tip for journalists in the Press Gallery, go and read the Labor Party platform. On various issues when they come up, you would be surprised what a modern sophisticated political party gives consideration to. Unlike the Tories, who just do a fundraiser, and who knows what the Greens do? I mean, who would know, because their conferences of course are not open to anyone, and they have leadership challenges without anyone knowing. But I’m sure you will see some more on the Greens political party tonight on Four Corners.

JOURNALIST: But on Section 44…

ALBANESE: Well it’s in the platform that we support reform.

JOURNALIST: A referendum?

ALBANESE: We support reform. I refer you to the Labor Party platform; that is better than me saying something; have a look at the Labor Party platform. But of course a referendum is very difficult to get through, both because of the circumstances of the way that our constitution has to be changed. I should imagine it would be challenging to get through a referendum about politicians and whether they are eligible or not. I think that’s a fact.

There are a range of uncertainties there, not the least of which I think the Labor Party platform is primarily referring to the office of profit under the Crown, because that has been a grey area, in some circumstances, over a long period of time. The Labor Party does support constitutional reform in a whole range of areas, but it is difficult to achieve. But back on the Greens, given that you asked…


ALBANESE: The Four Corners program this evening will outline, I think, the conflict that is there, the contradiction that is there in the Greens. A secretive political party who don’t open up their processes, who have leadership challenges without the public even knowing that it has occurred, and who have a bunch of people essentially in my electorate and in others, particularly in the New South Wales branch, who are former members of far left political parties. They have gone into the Greens political party, to give credibility, whereby if they ran as a member of the Socialist Labor League or the Democratic Socialist Party, or the International Socialist Organisation, which is the party to which my last opponent at the election ran for. If they ran under those banners, they would maybe receive one per cent of the vote.

So instead they run as the Greens political party and what is surprising perhaps, isn’t that I am saying that, as someone who has been challenged with heavily funded campaigns by the Greens in my electorate, over a period of time. But what is surprising is that the leader of the Greens historically, Bob Brown, is calling out these members of the NSW Greens. He is quite right in calling out people who have gone into his party but who aren’t really loyal to that party, are loyal to a very different ideological position.

JOURNALIST: You don’t think that there is anyone in Labor who was formerly a member of far left political movements, who have gone into Labor to seek candidacy?

ALBANESE: No, I certainly don’t. I do think that from time to time people change their political views, and that has happened. The distinction here is whether entryism, as a political tactic of Trotskyist groups, as a part of a philosophy of entryism. If you go back and have a look at the work of Leon Trotsky, he advocated that essentially being a democratic centralist model, which would go into political parties, whereby a few people could control an organisation by having a disciplined position.

And what’s happened to the NSW Greens is that they don’t talk much about environmental issues. They concentrate on attacking Labor and trying to replace Labor and they do so in a very unprincipled way. They particularly attack progressives in the Labor Party and the fact is, that has been called out on Four Corners tonight. I look forward to watching the revelations that are there on the record from former leaders of the Greens about what Bob Brown and others think about some of the members of the Greens Political Party. Thanks very much.



Aug 11, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject; Marriage equality survey

LISA WILKINSON: Joining me now for more on this is Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, joining us from Canberra by the looks of things and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, good morning to both of you.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

WILKINSON: Christopher, to you first, don’t you do household surveys on dishwashing liquid, not something as sensitive and significant as this?

PYNE: Well Lisa, we promised every Australian a say at the last election and it’s exactly what we are going to deliver.

WILKINSON: That sounds very flippant, though, to describe it as that.

PYNE: It’s not, actually. We wanted people to have a chance to be part of this major social change. I support marriage equality and I want every Australian to feel that they’ve had a part in that decision. That’s what we promised at the election and that’s what we are going to deliver.

Now, Labor’s voted against a compulsory attendance plebiscite so we’re going to do it the best way we can, which is through a postal plebiscite, and I think that works perfectly well.

Everyone will get to vote. I’m glad that Labor is not proposing that there should be a boycott.

That will return a yes vote I believe because I think people think it’s time for marriage equality and then by Christmas we can have it in this country as we have in so many other western democracies around the world.

WILKINSON: Okay. Can I just read you something that Michael McCormack who is the minister in charge of this postal vote once said about gay people and I’m quoting here, Christopher: “A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behavior don’t become further entrenched in society. Unfortunately gays are here, and if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”

Christopher, is this man fit to be put in charge of this postal vote when he is capable of comments like that?

PYNE: Well first of all, Michael is not the minister responsible for the plebiscite. The Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann is. Regardless of that though those comments are obviously unacceptable.

WILKINSON: He’s head of the ABS which has an overall responsibility for this.

PYNE: No, no. But the facts are… I’m not… I don’t want to quibble about it. The remarks he’s made are quite unacceptable. I don’t agree with them and I think that they are very unfortunate. I don’t know how long ago he made those remarks.

WILKINSON: They were made in 1993. Is he homophobic?

PYNE: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.

WILKINSON: They sound like pretty firmly entrenched views. If somebody thinks that, they think that.

PYNE: Well, it’s a very unpleasant thing to say and I’m sure he regrets it but he isn’t the minister responsible for the plebiscite.

The Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann is but regardless of that those remarks are not acceptable in modern society. I don’t agree with them and he should distance himself from them.

WILKINSON: Albo to you now – there is no other piece of legislation that has ever been decided by a non-binding, non-compulsory postal vote on anybody’s human rights in this country. Why is Labor backing it?

ALBANESE: Labor isn’t backing it. Labor very clearly has opposed this. We think we could have gotten this job done in the parliament by parliamentarians doing what we’re paid to do.


ALBANESE: And eventually that is how it is going to be decided. Everyone needs to understand that this requires a vote of the parliament and that will happen.

Now, the real question is will it happen at the end of this year, if people vote yes in this voluntary postal vote, or will it happen under a Labor government after the next election?

WILKINSON: But your problem is Malcolm Turnbull went to the election promising a plebiscite. He won the election. He had a mandate.

ALBANESE: Oh, come on Lisa. We all know that Malcolm Turnbull has thrown out promises like confetti and it hasn’t mattered at all.

PYNE: That’s not true, actually. Name one promise that he’s broken.

ALBANESE: Oh, come on. The cuts to education.

PYNE: No, no. We’re doing exactly what we promised to do.

ALBANESE: All the changes to social security, the changes in the Senate all the time.

Pieces of legislation after legislation. Malcolm Turnbull says that he believes in marriage equality but doesn’t have the ticker to do anything to actually achieve it and this debate will be divisive.

That’s the truth of the matter. We will see homophobia out there encouraged by this debate. That is one of the reasons why we opposed the plebiscite. But given that theypostal vote is going to happen, we will be strongly advocating a vote for yes.

We’ll be out there campaigning for equality because it’s in Labor’s DNA to oppose discrimination. I spoke in my first speech in the parliament about removing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, but also sexuality and it is time that this got done and that’s why I’ll be advocating strongly for a yes vote and people should get on the roll.

WILKINSON: So Christopher, if this non-binding vote on same-sex marriage does get up, it’s non-binding. What happens next?

PYNE: Well, if the Australian public vote for marriage equality and I hope that they will and I’ll be voting yes, and campaigning for a yes vote, then the parliament will introduce legislation.

It’ll be passed by Christmas and of course, people can always use their conscience not to vote for something that they wish to, but I would have thought it would be overwhelming for politicians to listen to the views of the public on these matters and if they don’t they have to face the public at the ballot box.

But whether it’s binding or not doesn’t really matter. The truth is that the Australian public express a view and politicians then choose not to listen to them, well then they will face the consequences.

WILKINSON: Unfortunately Christopher and Albo, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thanks a lot. Have a great weekend both of you.

PYNE: Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

Aug 9, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: North Korea; marriage equality.

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese are on the line. Good morning to you both.



HOST: Thanks for your patience guys. Now we’re just going to cut to the chase and climb right into this North Korea story. Just reading from the piece that is up on the Australian it says a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army in a statement carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency said the strike plan on Guam would be, quote, put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way at any moment once Leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision. This is a pretty dramatic escalation isn’t it Chris Pyne?

PYNE: Well David, firstly on a lighter note, congratulations on the birth of Charlie to you and Kate.

HOST: Thank you Chris.

PYNE: Welcome back today. But yes, we are living in very serious times and the dangers in North Asia, because of North Korea’s bellicose behaviour, are very serious for us. Obviously the United States have a pre-eminent role in protecting countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea, its other allies in the region and we and them are working together to put the necessary pressure on China to assist in ensuring that North Korea behaves itself and stays within its borders. We’ve heard this kind of bellicose language from what we used to call sabre-rattling from Kim Jong Un in the past and so far he has undertaken tests and not, of course, threatened either Guam, the United States, Australia or elsewhere. But we do have to take this very seriously and the Government here in Canberra is taking it very seriously and it puts into perspective many of the other debates that we’ve been having when of course the Australian public would expect the Government’s first priority to be their national security and their defence. And that’s why as Defence Industry Minister I’ve been working with Marise Payne, with the Government, to build up our defence capability to ensure that we can protect Australia from any threats.

HOST: The only possible non-violent way that this seems capable of being resolved is, as you sort of alluded to, if Beijing starts to put some pretty strong private pressure on Pyongyang to pull back, but are we being too alarmist in saying that in the absence of that the scenario looks particularly grim?

PYNE: Well you are correct to warn against alarmism. It would be wrong to sensationalise this threat. It’s not, of course, in the interests of China or Russia for North Korea to adopt a more threatening posture where they actually put into practice some of their language and one has to question the capacity of North Korea to actually match their rhetoric with actions, but also we wouldn’t want to be complacent and we’re not complacent. But it certainly isn’t in China’s interest for there to be an escalation of tensions in North Asia and so I do think that they will respond and have responded in the past to these kinds of serious situations. And Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, the rest of South East Asia and America, of course, have a very keen interest in ensuring that that happens.

HOST: Albo, is your reading of the situation that Australia is prepared if there was to be a conflict that broke out in the Northern Asia region?

ALBANESE: I think we are. At the moment of course the intimidation, if you like, is directed towards the United States and their statement that the North Koreans have made went on to say that they would take such action if provoked by the United States so there’s a caveat even on their threats. Part of this no doubt is aimed at the domestic audience of Kim Jong Un. That is what dictators tend to do to distract from the fact that there are disastrous consequences domestically from the regime’s failure to even provide basic essentials for its population at the same time as it’s spending money on arms. So we do need to, I echo Christopher’s thoughts on this, we do need to be sober about it, but we do need to take it seriously as well; not be alarmist about it but to give it the consideration that it deserves and to work in diplomatic ways with China. We do have a relationship with China, we have relationships indirectly with countries that have a relationship with the North Korean regime and we should place whatever pressure we can on  them to do the right thing to pull this very strange regime into line.

HOST: Just quickly Chris, we know you’re on a tight schedule, do you agree with Senator George Brandis’ comments last night that Australia could see same-sex marriage being legalised before Christmas?

PYNE: Yes I do. I very much hope the Senate will pass the Bill to have a compulsory attendance plebiscite this week, which would mean that we could have marriage equality by the end of the year, assuming we get a yes vote, and we shouldn’t just assume that will happen. People will need to campaign for it. And secondly, if that doesn’t happen, we will have a postal vote. The postal vote would be held before Christmas and we could in the last sitting fortnight of the year pass marriage equality again if there is a yes vote for the postal ballot. I will be campaigning for a yes vote as I am sure Anthony Albanese will be as well. But we wouldn’t want to underestimate the opponents of marriage equality. They will say anything and do anything to stop it happening and we have to ensure that people understand the facts – that this is simply about giving every Australian the same equal rights to be married as those of us who are of different sexes in marriages are entitled to today.

HOST: Chris we will let you go. We know you have got a meeting to go to. We just want to delve into what Labor’s role in all this is going to be from this point on. So thank you for your time.

PYNE: That’s a pleasure.

HOST:  Thanks Chris. Anthony I am just interested, from the Labor side all the rhetoric about the potential postal vote or what would appear to be an inevitable postal vote to in part potentially resolve this issue has been this is effectively the worst idea ever, it’s not scientific, it’s not binding, it’s pointless, it’s a waste of money. But don’t you own part of ….

ALBANESE: It’s all of that.

HOST:  Yes, Ok. But don’t you own part of that given that there is a still a ball that is in your court and the plebiscite whilst less than ideal from your perspective,  has got to be a better option than a postal vote. So don’t you own the postal vote in part now if that is the path that we go down as a result of the legislation being defeated?

ALBANESE: Oh come on. This is a dumb and a dumber proposition when we could have a vote in the Parliament, do the job that we are elected to do and we are paid to do, this week. We’ve had the proposition put before the Senate for a plebiscite. It has failed. It will fail again. It’s the Government’s responsibility. People in the Government don’t even support it. Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t support it. Christopher Pyne doesn’t support it. They have been put in this position by Tony Abbott and his supporters who raised this for the first time just to try and delay what is inevitable. What I find extraordinary about this is that I think there’s very broad acceptance across the Parliament regardless of what way people vote on same-sex marriage, that this is going to happen. That’s the view. So if we have all of this convoluted scenario whereby the Government is putting up a position that, you know, they will have this vote in the Senate and if it fails they have a fall-back position they have already advanced. If it succeeds there’s be a vote if it fails then there won‘t be a vote …

HOST: Are you risking that predicted outcome to play smart politics on this because it is less scientific than a plebiscite.

ALBANESE: We are doing everything but playing politics with this. We are sticking to the fundamental principle of the way that our democracy works and the way that you change legislation is the way that John Howard changed it; is the way that the Marriage Act has been changed many times before, this hasn’t been a stagnant Act; which is by a vote of the Parliament. And you can have all these things before then but what you get back to is a vote of the Parliament. We know that’s where this is going to end. It will end that way one way or the other. And why should we be hostage to the dysfunction of the Coalition? And what is more important is that the people who are directly affected by it, that’s not that many people. Most people will have their existing relationships, marriages, continue on unaffected by this. The people who are directly affected tell us we do not want other people to sit in judgement about our relationships. And that is a principled position that is very important.

HOST:  Good on you Albo. We will do it again next week. Thanks very much for that.



Aug 8, 2017

Transcript of television interview – 2 The Point, SKY News

Subjects; marriage equality; citizenship.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Welcome to the program.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: I have as much faith in the Government to manage this postal vote plebiscite as I have in everything else that they have managed so far, don’t you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I think that Malcolm Turnbull  has brought all the skills that he showed when he led the republic campaign in the late 1990s and when he was first elected Leader of the Liberal Party to the prime ministership.

VAN ONSELEN: No, he has learned from those mistakes. When he ran the republic he didn’t have faith in a postal plebiscite. He was very strongly against it. Now when it came to the republic, he’s evolved and he can see the value.

ALBANESE: Well I just think it is a humiliation for Malcolm Turnbull. He has shown that he is just not up to the job. This is now a farce whereby we apparently are going to have a plebiscite that will bind if it says no, so there won’t be any vote of the Parliament, but won’t bind if it says yes.

VAN ONSELEN:  That is a joke.

ALBANESE: It is just pathetic.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: The $122 million that the Government is citing – their argument is they are giving Australians a say: to play devil’s advocate, that’s not a lot of money to spend on giving Australians an opportunity or $170 million if they manage to get the plebiscite up.

VAN ONSELEN: Can I take that one? I want to challenge that question.

KENEALLY: I’m playing devil’s advocate.

ALBANESE: I could think of a lot of community-based organisations out there who could fix up their local oval; a lot of child care centres could fix up the access to the child care centre; a lot of local governments could do a lot of local community infrastructure work – creating jobs, doing something. The point about this plebiscite, whether it is a proper one or a pretend one is that, guess what, after it is all over there’s still going to have to be a vote of the Parliament because the way that we change legislation is to vote in the Parliament and I just find it bizarre that of all the other debates we’ll have this week about education and health and social security and everything else, we won’t give Australians a say. But about something that is just giving rights to some people who don’t enjoy them, won’t impact most Australians, we are having this plebiscite.

VAN ONSELEN: Look just moving away – it’s a very partisan combat unfortunately now this issue of same-sex marriage in terms of the mechanism in particular. But stepping away from that for a moment, can you agree with at least, or partially agree Anthony Albanese with this, I didn’t like the plebiscite. Labor didn’t like it. There’s a multitude of reasons why. But, were they to argue that their position now is to take it to the Senate a second time or even take it to the Senate a third time if they want to be particularly belligerent on this, that’s one thing because they took it to an election. I didn’t think they should, but they did. What I have a real issue with looking at it now is that they somehow are trying to morph an election promise to hold a proper plebiscite, whether you agree or disagree with it, into this somehow countenancing the equivalent of sticking to that if they have this disaster that is the postal plebiscite, as opposed to just saying you know what, we don’t like Labor blocking it, we think we had a mandate but hey, we tried three times so now we are going to move on to a free vote and we are still annoyed as hell that Labor didn’t recognise our mandate. I mean …

ALBANESE: It’s pathetic. And the idea that there’s a mandate, the idea that the plebiscite for marriage equality was the reason why the Government won; that people when they went into the polling booths said I would vote Labor but I really want a say on marriage equality, so therefore I will vote for the Coalition, is just quite frankly absurd. They put it up. They lost. Under those circumstances you then move on. They’ve fulfilled the requirement of their commitment that they made. They don’t seem to worry about any other commitments at all. All those people that have had their pensions cut and had their wages cut, had their penalty rates cut; they’ll all be scratching their head going, why is it that this is the one thing that they say they’re going to get stuck on? Let’s face it, frankly it was a stupid idea in the first place. Malcolm Turnbull argued against it in the party room as did anyone else with a slight modicum of common sense.

KENEALLY: Can I ask you on another issue that we understand will be happening in the Senate today; potentially a referral of Malcolm Roberts to the High Court. He’s not producing the documents to show that he was an eligible Australian- only citizen at the time of the election. Do you think he should be referred to the High Court and, secondly, should there be an audit of all senators to determine their eligibility?

ALBANESE: That of course will be a matter for the Senate. Quite clearly there’s an issue with Malcolm Roberts. There’s an issue himself, I’ve seen him, I think it might have even been on Sky, giving himself up essentially about the date in which he renounced his citizenship and when he got the information from the British Government. Under those circumstances of course it’s appropriate for it to be referred.

KENEALLY: Should the Government support that referral?

ALBANESE: That’s a matter for them but the Senate should.

KENEALLY: What does it say about the Government if they don’t support that referral?

ALBANESE: Well the Government’s all over the shop on everything; that it’s inconsistent, that it’s all about politics, none of it’s about policy, none of it’s about substance. This is a Government that has stopped governing. They now may as well just have party room meetings and we can all broadcast that and we can all watch. But the joke’s on the Australian people because it is the Australian people who are suffering from the fact that this Government just simply can’t get its act together.

VAN ONSELEN: Just back on same-sex marriage though, it is a fact, is it not, that if Labor, albeit with regrets, had allowed the initial plebiscite through the Senate we’d have same-sex marriage by now?

ALBANESE: But at what cost, Peter?

VAN ONSELEN: At the cost of avoiding this.

KENEALLY: At the cost of about $170 million.

ALBANESE: The fact is this isn’t our creation; this is the Government’s creation. At a cost of $170 million, but it’s not the money I’ve got to say that most concerns me. That’s an issue, but the real issue is the impact on young gay and lesbians out there coming to terms with their sexuality, a divisive debate…

VAN ONSELEN: I get that, but that debate has happened anyway, and continued, and been elongated as a result of not having done it quickly and sharply and you might not have liked it, and I didn’t like it, but at least it would have been over by now.

ALBANESE: The concentration that will be on whether there’s a plebiscite under voting in booths methodology, or whether there’s a postal vote, will be intense. We’ll see it. I saw it in my electorate during the last campaign. They didn’t worry about the electorate of Grayndler but because of the redistribution I’m in Barton. They thought there was a chance of unseating Linda Burney and quite frankly some of the material that went out in that electorate was just completely offensive and we’re already seeing that offensive material being circulated.


Aug 2, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Two Tribes Segment

Subjects; marriage equality, republic.

PRESENTER: It is that time on a Wednesday morning when we are joined by Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese for Two Tribes. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will, good morning Grant, and Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Will, good morning Commissioner.

GRANT STEVENS, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: Pleasure to be talking to you gentlemen.

ALBANESE: See I know when it’s appropriate to suck up to authority.

PYNE: That’s because you’re used to being in trouble with the law.

ALBANESE: I bet you you’re not in the studio.

PYNE: No, I’m not in the studio.

ALBANESE: Exactly.

PRESENTER: Read into that what you will, let’s turn our attention to issues in Canberra gentlemen, and Christopher, starting with you. Are you expecting at the party room meeting next Tuesday for this potential backbench private members bill regarding same sex marriage to be debated?

PYNE: Well Dean Smith, who’s a senator from WA, has indicated that he wants to have a discussion about a Private Member’s Bill and that’s a matter for him if he wishes to raise that in the party room. We have of course got a policy which is to support a national vote, so that every Australian has a say in whether we have marriage equality. I’m in favour of marriage equality and I would vote yes if there was a plebiscite for marriage equality. But we want every Australian to have a say in that decision because it’s a big social change.

PRESENTER: Christopher can I get a sense then, from what has come out in the media over the course of the last week, there seems to be a very strong feeling within the party that should a Private Member’s Bill be put to the House, and people like Tim Wilson cross the floor, that is an indication that the Prime Minister has lost control over the parliamentary team. Do you except that is a reasonable criticism should that come to pass?

PYNE: No, that’s complete rubbish, and everyone knows that who’s involved in the parliamentary process. When Anthony was the Leader of the House in the Gillard Government, Labor lost 76 votes on the floor of the House of Representatives and the media didn’t even bat an eyelid. So let’s not get too carried away with some of the commentary. The reality is that we have a policy and the policy is that we support a national vote, and we could have one tomorrow if Bill Shorten wasn’t standing in the way. So ironically, the people who actually also support marriage equality, most of the Labor Party, are led by a man who’s actually stopping a plebiscite from occurring by voting against it in the Senate and as a consequence we haven’t got marriage equality. We could have had it by now. We could have had the vote in February.

PRESENTER: To you then Anthony Albanese, should this, the Dean Smith bill eventuate, and with the support of some of the Libs, is the plebiscite going to be something that is just purely an academic debate come a couple of weeks’ time.

ALBANESE: Well it is already. It’s dead. It’s gone. Buried. Cremated. Never coming back. No one supports it. It was a joke when it was put up. It was put up to block a vote on marriage equality. Christopher opposed it being put up when it was put up. It’s not going to happen. Marriage equality will happen after a vote of the Parliament, and even if a plebiscite had have happened, it would still require a vote of the Parliament. There was no point to it except to have a damaging and divisive debate that would hurt people. So the truth is that there will be a parliamentary vote. The real question is does it happen now, or does it happen during the next term, and common sense tells you that it should happen now. The Liberal Party have tried to implement their policy, they’ve tried to get a plebiscite through, and the Senate didn’t support it.

PRESENTER: So Albo then what’s your message to Dean Smith? What’s your message? Introduce it and get this happening?

ALBANESE: Good on you. I think it’s in the Liberal Party’s interests and the Government’s interests to get this issue dealt with. It certainly is in the nation’s interests. This is a piece of legislation that will give some rights to people who happen to be in same-sex relationships who currently don’t have the same rights that I enjoy, and Christopher enjoys, and other people have been able to marry the person that they love. It won’t impact on the overwhelming majority of Australians, and people will wonder what the fuss was about. But it shouldn’t be held hostage to the internal politics of the Liberal Party.

PRESENTER: Christopher Pyne, what’s your personal position on the prospect of a non-compulsory postal vote to satisfy the plebiscite pledge?

PYNE: Well we have a policy to have a national vote. Now how that is brought about is a matter for the Cabinet and for the party room.

PRESENTER: Do you have a view?

PYNE: Well of course I have a view and I express those views internally within the party and will continue to do so. I am sure there will be a discussion about this next week. But the reality is we want to have a national vote. We want every Australian to feel they are part of the decision-making process. It’s a very popular policy. That is what the public voted for at the last election. In fact Bill Shorten indicated that he supported the plebiscite. And Nick Xenophon indicated that he supported a plebiscite. So if anybody has changed their position it is Bill Shorten and Nick Xenophon. They are the two people who stopped it happening.

ALBANESE: That’s a good attempt by Christopher to actually put the blame on us. They are the Government and the fact is there is not a single person in – I represent an electorate that has a substantial gay and lesbian population – there is not a single person has said to me: “Gee I wish you had of voted for the plebiscite”. Not one in my electorate or anywhere in Australia for that matter has said that to me. No-one who is directly affected by this wants a plebiscite.

PRESENTER: Speaking of Bill Shorten Anthony Albanese, I might introduce the Police Commissioner here, Grant Stevens, with in regard to a promise that was made last weekend about an age-old question in this country.

STEVENS: Yes, thank you Will. I am just a bit curious about the views you gentlemen night have about the republic. It is now back on the agenda and it is now a point of discussion. Chris, what are your thoughts?

PYNE: Well Grant I am in favour of the republic. I supported the referendum in 1999, in fact campaigned for it and got a yes vote in my electorate of Sturt and I organised the Coalition republicans at the time in the party room. I think it is an issue that we dealt with in 1999. I am sure it will come back on the agenda at some point, but I don’t think that the public have an appetite for discussing the republic while our head of state remains Queens Elizabeth II. But I think it is some years into the future; they will be prepared to discuss it again.

STEVENS: Albo, what is your view?

ALBANESE: Well I think its time has come and what we are arguing for here is a two-stage process whereby Australians would be asked do they support Australia becoming a republic with an Australian head of state. So you have that settled and then we can have a national discussion about the model. I think it is a common sense position to advance this issue. I certainly have every respect for the Queen. I think she is a remarkable person and I was very pleased to have the honour of meeting her. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that an Australian should be our head of state. So I don’t think the two things are contradictory at all and I think that Australians should be given the opportunity to advance the republic.

STEVENS: Maybe for the benefit of the people listening, how does an issue like this, the republic, find its way into the debate at this point in time? What is the catalyst for bringing this up now?

ALBANESE: I think that fact that it has been off the agenda for a while and someone had to. I mean, someone has got to show leadership in this country and Labor is showing leadership from Opposition. The fact is that it did fail last time. Malcolm Turnbull brought all the skills that he has showed in his prime ministership to running the campaign last time round and simply wasn’t able to get the job done. But it is just time. It is increasingly an anachronism to have someone as a head of state who inherits the position; someone who lives on the other side of the world. We are a very different nation today from the one that we were at the time of Federation and this is a modern reform just as … (inaudible) countries around the world. It is still the case that when you attend a formal gathering as a head of state, there’s something that irks when you toast the head of state of the United States or any other nation in our region, and then the return of serve is to toast the Queen of Australia. It jars with people.

PRESENTER: You phone is dropping out a bit there Albo. We might leave it there. Thank you very much.



Jul 30, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Sunday Agenda, SKY News

Subjects; Infrastructure; High Speed Rail; republic; Indigenous Recognition in the Constitution; inequality; Hawke and Keating governments, NSW Labor conference.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Welcome back. You’re watching Sunday Agenda. I was just talking to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Our guest now is Labor Shadow Infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese. The last question I issued to the Finance Minister was about infrastructure spending and whether it was dwindling off under the Coalition. He outright rejected that. What is your response to that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well have a look closely at what he said. He said “Oh No, we are doing things especially with the private sector”. That is code for we are cutting. The truth is that they were due to spend $9.2 billion in the last financial year. They actually spent $7.6 billion. It declines over the forward estimates to $4.2 billion dollars in 2020-21.

VAN ONSELEN: What suffers as a result of that?

ALBANESE: What suffers is public transport, road funding. You have circumstances that over the decade  – the Parliamentary Budget Office produced figures two weeks ago that show over the decade the decline in infrastructure investment as a proportion of the national economy – GDP – goes from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent – halved. Now that is a recipe for lower economic growth, lower job creation. It means the Government is getting itself into particular dire straits over not investing in projects such as the Cross River Rail in Brisbane that was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012, funded in 2013 by the Federal Labor Government, with an agreement with Campbell Newman’s Queensland Coalition Government, and then cut in 2013 when Tony Abbott came in and he said: “We’ll have no funding of public transport”. So all of that funding was cut, just like the Perth public transport – the airport rail line, just like the Melbourne Metro, just like public transport in Adelaide, it was all cut. The Parramatta-Epping rail line was taken out of the Budget.

VAN ONSELEN: Is this a good reason why we need a new way of structuring the Budget? I mean the way businesses do so that all that spending around infrastructure isn’t cut in the name of, if you like, making the books look they are better than they might otherwise be?

ALBANESE: That is a good idea to draw a distinction between recurrent and capital expenditure. But more significantly this Government actually has a strategy for the withdrawal of the Commonwealth from direct funding. It has established this expenditure financing unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Now it is designed to recommend financing options for projects that will provide a positive return to government on capital. So the only projects really that do that are toll roads. So you end up with a complete distortion of the infrastructure market. You end up with no strategy to actually deal with urban congestion and you end up with a decline.

It is no accident that the drop-off heads to the fourth year of the forward estimates where they are trying to indicate a path a return to surplus. But what you have therefore as well is a politicisation of the program. So in Perth when the WA McGowan Government got elected they transferred the funding from Perth Freight Link to other projects because they realised they were in diabolical trouble in WA. But in Queensland they are still suffering. Victoria is still getting under 10% of the national infrastructure budget with one in four of the population in Australia’s fastest-growing capital city of Melbourne. So you have an infrastructure plan that has been condemned by the infrastructure sector and that is important for our economy. The two ways you can really drive economic growth and jobs are investing in capital infrastructure and or in people through skills and training and developing up the workforce for the Asian century so we can compete.

There is another path of course which is to try and drive down wages and conditions and compete in that way. But that is certainly not a way that is acceptable to the Australian people.

PAUL KELLY: You’ve campaigned for a long time about High Speed Rail. You have introduced a Private Member’s Bill about an authority. To what extent are we losing an opportunity here in terms of establishing the basis for High Speed Rail. How concerned are you that we might we actually be squandering the chance to do something big?

ALBANESE: Well this is critical and Infrastructure Australia has produced a very good report about the preservation of corridors. I am concerned that Infrastructure Australia has been sidelined by this Government. It is their job to recommend financing of projects, not establishing a separate unit in Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is also their job to look beyond the political term, to look at the big picture and they have identified High Speed Rail in particular – preservation of that corridor as being essential. They have identified the future cost as well of not doing that as being literally tens of billions of dollars potentially in terms of the increased costs. At the moment you have a corridor that has been identified but the Government has essentially put it all on the shelf. When I was there as a Minister, I appointed a body that looked at it in real hard economic terms. It included people like Tim Fischer to try and get that bi-partisanship there. It included Jennifer Westacott, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia and other senior representatives. They all recommended unanimously the creation of this authority so that you get the co-operation across these jurisdictions –NSW, Qld, ACT, Victoria, with local government, with the private sector.

I think the government should do that. Start with the preservation of the corridor and also call upon those international consortia who have experience in building and operating High Speed Rail to put forward their proposals. We know there is a great deal of interest in Australia from companies in Japan, China, France, Italy, Germany – they are all interested. The Spanish – they are all interested in engaging in this.

KELLY: If you become minister can we expect to see these plans and these visions actually become a reality? What would be the priority in terms of High Speed Rail?

ALBANESE: In terms of High Speed Rail establishing the authority and mandate them to preserve the corridor. That is the first thing. We need to plan today so tomorrows are possible. That is the concern about the High Speed Rail failure at the moment, is that literally we could find ourselves in ten years’ time saying costs have come down, which they are for High Speed Rail – technology has been improved, we have a whole lot of global experience to draw upon – and now it’s not possible because the cost of simply purchasing homes that have been built along that corridor is too much. And there’s a second potential as well which is opportunity cost. One of the reasons why High Speed Rail stacks up is regional economic development. Along the corridor be it Shepparton, Albury, Wagga Wagga or Canberra – the national capital, the Southern Highlands and then right up the north coast to Taree, Port Macquarie, Lismore. There is potential for value capture along that corridor as well because it will drive growth.

KELLY: So you are talking about Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne. That is the sort of axis you are talking about?

ALBANESE: Yes and the first stage would be Sydney to Melbourne because that in terms of population is the highest. It showed that, the study had a cost benefit analysis showed, $2.15 of benefit for every $1 of cost that we undertook. So we know that that stacks up.

VAN ONSELEN: How quickly do you get there, Sydney to Melbourne on the High Speed Rail?

ALBANESE: Sydney to Melbourne under three hours.

VAN ONSELEN: With stops?

ALBANESE: No, no. What the study showed is it does essentially two things. One is that in the capital city – under three hours Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Brisbane. But secondly you would have regional trains if you like that are high speed so you can get to Canberra in well under one hour from Sydney. That would transform that corridor. It would make Canberra is Australia’s largest in-land city as well as our bush capital, a fantastic place to live. It would deal with economic growth and jobs in the short term. It also is one way of dealing with housing affordability.

KELLY: So in terms of the economics of this, I mean one of the arguments which has always been used against High Speed Rail at the end of the day, that the numbers don’t add up, that the business proposition doesn’t work. Now what is your response to that? Do you think at the end of the day that this can be feasible in financial terms?

ALBANESE: Look at the study that was done. It was done by AECOM. It was a very comprehensive study. It went to the design of the stations. The design of Central Station in Sydney is essentially done underneath the existing platforms which are there. There is a cost. An example of the cost is that, I think it is, from memory, it is 82km of tunnelling required. Sixty-seven kilometres of that is in Sydney. So that is where the big cost is, and obviously a bit of tunnelling required at either end as well in Melbourne and Brisbane. But the big cost is Sydney. But it doesn’t work without Sydney being at the centre of it. But it stacks up financially.

KELLY: If we could just change to the republic. Bill Shorten announced last night to the Republican Movement that there would be a question put to the Australian people at the end of the first term of a Shorten Government, if you like a plebiscite about the issue of a republic. Now this is different to Malcolm Turnbull’s position. Turnbull has said that he doesn’t believe the issue can be prosecuted successfully while Queen Elizabeth is on the throne. What is your response to this? Is this is just a gesture from the Labor Party to get the issue back on the table or do you think it is actually possible to achieve a republic despite the fact that we’ve still got Queen Elizabeth?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a plan to achieve a republic by doing it in that two-stage process, by firstly getting the question asked: do you support Australia becoming a republic? And then later on of course there would been to another process after that.

KELLY: Another plebiscite presumably? You’d have to have a plebiscite on the model presumably?

ALBANESE:  And you would have to have a constitutional referendum obviously is how you change it.

VAN ONSELEN: So two plebiscites and then a referendum?

ALBANESE: No, it’s possible that what you would have in terms of having the debate, is that in the process of having the debate about do you want an Australian republic with an Australian head of state, you would have a consensus emerge about a model and you wouldn’t need to have a third stage.

VAN ONSELEN: Would you really though? You well remember the last one.

ALBANESE: Well you may well, though, have that emerge. So what we are saying firstly, we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. The first question is do you want Australia to be a republic with an Australian head of state. Simple question. Get it out there. Once you do that, then you’ll have …

VAN ONSELEN: Sure, Sure. But if you get a majority that say yes to that, then presumably you will want to put the model options to the people again as a plebiscite? Without that you end up where Malcolm Turnbull ended up.

ALBANESE: We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Well Malcolm Turnbull showed I think the political skills during that referendum campaign that he has brought to the prime ministership and I think some of the people in his party weren’t really paying attention to either that or to his first stint as Leader of the Liberal Party.

KELLY: In his speech last night Bill Shorten also made it clear that Labor’s prior commitment – its first commitment on constitutional reform – is to indigenous reform. Of course this is now on the table. But there is no certainty – there’s no certainty – that the Government will even put a referendum along these lines given what Malcolm Turnbull has said so far and given the recommendations from the Referendum Council. Can we therefore assume that if this referendum is not put during the life of the Turnbull Government, that it would continue to have priority under a new Labor Government and that a referendum would be put under a new Labor Government?

VAN ONSELSEN: And then we could talk about fixed four-year terms being fixed as well as another referendum.

ALBANESE: Well Paul the important thing about the constitutional recognition of the First Australians is that it hasn’t been a partisan issue and it certainly shouldn’t be because it would fail if it is. So what we will do is continue to work constructively with the Government. This is an area where that has happened. To be fair, of all the turmoil that we have seen in politics over recent years, the fact is that whether it is Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull they have both worked with Bill Shorten. They have worked as well with the indigenous members of Parliament who are very engaged with this issue – people on our side people like Linda Burney and Pat Dodson, I think quite rightly regarded as the father of reconciliation in this country, or  people like Ken Wyatt. So these are important issues to be worked through. We want to get an outcome. I think it would be a major setback for reconciliation if any vote was put that wasn’t successful.

KELLY: Well precisely. But I mean do you think it is possible to get a sufficient degree of community-wide support to put the referendum? And one of the reasons I ask this is because some of the senior indigenous figures that you have just mentioned in the Labor caucus have expressed a degree of reservation about this proposal, about the actual recommendation from the council.

ALBANESE: Well they are quite rightly cautious. They have put a huge amount of effort into this and they understand how critical this is. It might be academic for us around the couch here. For the First Australians this is something that goes very deeply to their soul – this recognition. So I believe that we can work this through with a bit of goodwill and I am hopeful that that is the case.

VAN ONSELSEN: You’d need to keep it separate though as a referendum from other issues that could become partisan. The last thing you would want is failure on the Indigenous recognition referendum if it was getting put at the same time as more contentious issues like fixed four-year terms or even a republic.

ALBANESE: You would need to prioritise it. In my view the correct priority is constitutional recognition of the First Australians.

KELLY: If we could just move to the equality debate, or the inequality debate, which Bill Shorten is running on. Do you think Labor can win the next election with inequality as its main theme?

ALBANESE: I certainly think we can win with a comprehensive plan across the board. The equality agenda is an agenda for economic growth and jobs. It’s actually good economic policy to have more equality. Why is it that when someone like Mathias Cormann or any of the others in the Government – Scott Morrison – speak about cuts that are necessary to the incomes of people on low and middle incomes, that is called budget repair; but anything at the top end is called class warfare? Why is it that is the case? They reflect their own prejudices there. The fact is that we do need to deal with the growing inequality in this country. Quite frankly, if the Government wants to continue to argue that there isn’t greater inequality in this country for people out there struggling to become first home owners in their entire lives, some are just despairing about that; for people who have lost their penalty rates; for people who haven’t had a real wage increase for their entire working lives, for people under real pressure to pay their bills, then I think that is a losing position for the Government.

KELLY:  Scott Morrison has said, defending the Government’s record, that the top one percent of income tax earners pay 17 percent of tax revenue and the top 10 percent contribute almost 50 per cent of total tax revenue. Do you think that’s enough or should they be paying more?

ALBANESE: I think they should pay what they are supposed to pay Paul. And the fact is that when that nurses out there are on $50,000 and they know people who are earning many times more than that but paying less tax than they are, then there is something wrong with the system. And all we are saying with today’s announcement that will be made this morning by Bill Shorten is that people should not, because of their privileged position, be able to avoid paying their fair share of tax and the fact is that that is happening. That’s why we are dealing with Capital Gains Tax and negative gearing – a minor reform but I think an important one in terms of housing affordability. We’ve put forward previously the position of limiting the amount which people can claim as a tax deduction for paying their accountants and then today we will have further announcements. That is Labor leading from Opposition and I do notice that Mathias Cormann this morning didn’t rule out himself, changes to trusts. I’ll make a prediction here. Put it in your little computer so that you can bring that back in a year’s time like you bring back Steven Ciobo’s quotes, that they will, down the track, do something about trusts because they know, they know, that it is not fair at the moment. It will be just like on superannuation tax concessions where they said it was a bad idea. They opposed it. This was class envy. Then they did it.

KELLY: Now we can all agree that everybody should be paying the tax that is due to them under the law. Can I just ask you though, in terms of this debate about the top one percent, and there is no doubt that the top one percent have done incredibly well in terms of wealth and income in recent years, have they done too well?  Do you think the top one percent is too rich in this country and is that unhealthy?

ALBANESE: Well that’s the wrong question Paul. The question that I am concerned about is the bottom people, the people struggling to pay their mortgage. The people struggling, who go to the supermarket and, you know, have to make judgments over whether they can afford something other than just mince this week in terms of meat for their kids. That’s a real circumstance that goes on in this country. I have been there. I know what it’s like and they are the people that I am concerned about and I want to make sure that they can get every opportunity in life that they deserve.

KELLY: OK. Now that is not just an equality problem though is it? That’s a problem of economic growth. It’s a problem of stagnant wages. It’s a problem of poor investment and poor productivity.

ALBANESE: Exactly, which is why you need infrastructure investment, why you need to invest in education, why you need to invest in training.

KELLY: Sure. But is it valid for Labor to say that the essential problem, the main problem, is inequality, whereas when you look at the bottom 30 per cent it seems to me very, very clear that what we are talking about here is  poor economic growth, stagnant wages, underemployment, a whole series of factors – not just inequality.

ALBANESE: But one of the reasons why that is happening Paul, is because of the Government’s fiscal position, because some people and some companies are able to evade paying their fair share, which then makes it very hard to then invest for example, in skills and training in lifting people up – in giving people that opportunity. And the next Labor Government should be consistent with the Hawke and Keating governments. There’s been a lot of rewriting of history here and people should read your books on those periods. The Hawke and Keating governments weren’t about economic growth as the end in itself. They were about economic growth so as to create the space for good social policy to lift people up.

KELLY: Very true.

ALBANESE: Lifting up high school education for example. When Hawke became the Prime Minister three out of ten Australians did their HSC. When he left that figure was eight. Compulsory superannuation – brought in by the Hawke and Keating governments that made a huge difference; Medicare; the improvements to the social wage. All of these reforms where there. They were all opposed by the way, by the Tories at the time. The rewriting of history – every time I see the Liberals out there praising Hawke and Keating, I think they should have a look at some of the question times when Paul Keating was treasurer when the mob opposite were opposing. Compulsory superannuation was theft from working people and employers. Now we are not going to cop this rewriting of history. The next Labor Government will be strong on the economy but with a purpose.

VAN ONSELEN: Just final one Mr Albanese. We are talking about how to address inequality. The French economist Thomas Piketty talked about a wealth tax. Do you have any sympathy for that?

ALBANESE: We’ll I am not about to announce new taxes.

VAN ONSELEN: Do you have a philosophical sympathy for it?

ALBANESE: Nice try. What I have sympathy for is Australian solutions for Australian problems and you have seen two of those already, in terms of the cut down on accountants’ fees being deductible and the housing affordability package and today you will see a significant announcement from Bill Shorten on trusts and I think that Labor is leading from Opposition. I mean someone has got to lead in this country because the other mob are too busy fighting each other.

VAN ONSELEN:  Anthony Albanese, we appreciate your time. Just before you go one final one if I can: Labor’s NSW conference; the recognition of Palestine. This is something that Michael Danby out of Victoria is more than a little livid about. Is this a real change of tone for the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: Labor supports a two-state solution. One of those is Israel. One of those is Palestine. We support negotiations on the basis of secure borders. We want a peaceful resolution to the Middle East. It has had a huge impact on the entire region, but you can’t have circumstances whereby for more than 50 years since the 1967 war you have had now generations living essentially without self-determination. I’m a strong supporter of Israel, but I am also a strong supporter of Palestine and I see the two as being consistent. Having security with the current tensions that are there is like trying to say you can have security between Ryde and Marrickville because that is the sort of distance that we are talking about here. So I think there is a common interest of Israelis and Palestinians and Australia should play a role in that.

VAN ONSELEN: Anthony Albanese always appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.


Jul 28, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject; Citizenship 

KARL STEFANOVIC: The gloves are off this morning- dual citizenship; these two words are causing pollies to drop like flies in Canberra and threatening the Government’s majority.

So what is being done about it? Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now, good morning to both of you, nice to see you in person.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl, glad to be here.

STEFANOVIC: How many more are going to go?

PYNE: I think Karl, the High Court needs to make some pretty clear decisions about what Section 44 of the Constitution means, and more importantly when you do or don’t become a citizen of another country.

Because, in the case of Matt Canavan, apparently his mother made him a citizen of another country when he was 25, he wasn’t an infant, without having even signed an application form. On that basis Kim Jong-un could make us all citizens of North Korea and we would all have to resign.

There has got to be some rules. You can’t just make me a citizen of another country without me knowing it, and then apparently I have to resign from the House of Representatives. There has got to be some common sense approaches to this, otherwise…

STEFANOVIC: How would you respond to Kim Jong-un, if he made you…

PYNE: I would reject the offer. I don’t like Pyongyang.

STEFANOVIC: In all seriousness, are you worried about the Government’s majority? This could end it.

PYNE: I think there is a lot of hyperbole about this particular matter. Every member needs to go through their own particular process, whether they are senators or members of the House of Representatives. There are a lot of Labor MPs who are in a similar position to some of the others who found themselves in difficulty. But the Attorney-General has said that we will refer Matt Canavan’s case to the High Court.

STEFANOVIC: How long is that going to take?

PYNE: I assume the High Court will recognise that it needs to be decided expeditiously. I am sure they will make some sensible ruling around it, and that will give us a way forward.

STEFANOVIC: Okay Albo, how many more are going to be lost from Labor?

ALBANESE: Labor has a very rigorous process in place. When you nominate…

STEFANOVIC: You’re not worried?

ALBANESE: No, we check these things out. We have checked out all of our people, all of our people are fine.

STEFANOVIC: You’ve got to be a little bit nervous about it, saying definitively that you’re not going to lose anyone.

ALBANESE: That’s what happens in terms of- when we nominate for parliament you have to produce evidence, your birth certificate, if you’re born in another country you have to produce evidence that you have renounced citizenship. We go through these processes…

STEFANOVIC: So what you’re saying is that they got it wrong?

ALBANESE: What is very clear, is that on Section 44 there is some uncertainty, including over the employment provisions, and Labor has in our platform actually, reform of Section 44.

That’s pretty hard to achieve, constitutional change. But the High Court is going to look at Matt Canavan’s case, I was going to say Senator Canavan but I’m not sure of his status. They will look at his case and come up with a determination.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. The Australian this morning says that 21 members of parliament will be closely looked at. Is that a long way off the mark do you think?

PYNE: Almost all of those people are Labor Members, so Anthony is better to answer that question…

STEFANOVIC: He said that they‘re all safe.

ALBANESE: We have checked it out, we have our processes.

PYNE: He’s obviously done his homework.

STEFANOVIC: But you must be a little bit concerned as well from your side of things given the small majority?

PYNE: I’m a fifth-generation Australian, so it would be hard for someone to claim that I am a citizen of Ireland after 160 years. But maybe somebody will make the attempt.

STEFANOVIC: In all seriousness though, you’re not concerned about any more members of your party?

PYNE: Karl I have not sat down and researched each of my colleagues’ backgrounds.

STEFANOVIC: You’ve got such a small majority that all it takes is one or two.

PYNE: Clearly, but The Australian has a story, whether that is accurate or not I don’t know, most of them are Labor Members.

The High Court has to make a ruling, but there has to be some common sense, and in the case of Senator Canavan, you cannot be joined up to a citizenship of another country without even signing a form to say you want to do it, when you’re 25.

Now maybe if you’re an infant, your mother can sign you up to be a citizen of another country. Quite frankly, what is going on with the Italian Government? That they will make people citizens of their country, without having a signed application form asking to be a citizen.

STEFANOVIC: You have had a go at Kim Jong-un, and now you’re having a go at the Italian Government. Anyone else you want to have a go at?

PYNE: I think we…

ALBANESE: He’s in charge of defence!

PYNE: I think we’ve entered the theatre of the- I think the Australian public are looking at this and thinking, this is the theatre of the absurd, and there has to be some common sense approaches.

ALBANESE: What we’ve learnt this morning Karl, is that Christopher Pyne has thought about Citizenship in North Korea. He’s rejected it, but he’s thought it through.

STEFANOVIC: He might do some good over there too.

ALBANESE: He’s thought it through.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you gentlemen.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office


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