Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Jan 2, 2015

Transcript – Media Conference – Coffs Harbour

 SUBJECTS: Pacific Highway, tourism, Tony Abbott’s cycling, funding cuts, tax

 ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Today I’ve inspected the Sapphire to Arrawarra section of the Pacific Highway that was newly opened. It’s a part of the $7.6 billion the former Labor Government invested on improving travel times on the Pacific Highway but most importantly making this highway safer. By investing in the Pacific Highway we’ve reduced travel times but we’ve also saved lives. That is why this investment is so critical. Holiday makers during this season have benefitted from the Kempsey Bypass, the Ballina Bypass, the Buladelah Bypass and also from upgrades at Glenugie, at Banora Point and at Devil’s Pulpit. But there’s more to be done between Arrawarra and Ballina. This Budget must see the Federal Government invest in the Pacific Highway. Every year we pumped additional money into the Pacific Highway and that effort was abandoned by the incoming Coalition Government. A completion date of 2020 is not good enough. What we need to see in this year’s Budget – in 2015 – is a renewed commitment to deliver on the Pacific Highway and that final investment and that final timetable so the missing section of the Pacific Highway duplication is funded this year.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible)

 ALBANESE: There’s no doubt it’s a matter of priorities and it’s a priority to save travel time but also to save lives on the Pacific Highway. It’s not good enough for the National Party MPs to turn up at openings such as the Sapphire to Arrawarra section. They have to actually put in the investment and not just talk. And they know that for 12 years the former Coalition Government neglected the need for new investment for the Pacific Highway. With the return of the Coalition, we’ve seen as a return of that neglect.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible)

 ALBANESE: The final sections that are needed for investment are between Ballina and Woolgoolga or Arrawarra where the current new section has been completed. To the south of Coffs Harbour construction is underway on the missing sections that was fully funded by previous Budgets of the former Labor Government. What is needed is new investment. The Coalition now, more than a year into office, has not put a single new dollar into the Pacific Highway. It is simply not good enough for them to take people for granted here on the North Coast.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

 ALBANESE: They need to invest in the Pacific Highway. In this year’s Budget it’s got to be an absolute priority to complete the full duplication of the Pacific Highway to save travel time but also to save lives.

 QUESTION: Under your watch, what would happen?

 ALBANESE: Under our watch we’ll return the Pacific Highway to a top priority – the top priorities for regional roads have to be the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway. We have a record of investment. It’s shown with this new section between Sapphire and Arrawarra here on the NSW north coast, that we didn’t just talk the talk. We put real money into building projects that created real jobs and are making a real difference.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible – relates to proportion of funding to road projects provided by commonwealth and states.)

 ALBANESE: Well of course it is 50-50 now. The sections which are under construction such as Frederickton to Eungai, such as the section around Urunga are all funded on a 50-50 basis agreed to by the Federal Government and the State Government. What the National Party is doing now is letting their state National Party colleagues off the hook and because they’ve got that 50-50 investment in the existing construction projects, they don’t have to invest any money into the future projects. That simply isn’t good enough.

 QUESTION: The Minister for Tourism couldn’t buy a coffee in Coffs Harbour yesterday. Obviously tourism is very important.

 ALBANESE: Tourism is vital for Coffs Harbour and the North Coast region and we need to make sure that we give the proper support to the tourism industry. It is Australia’s second-largest service export. It’s a huge creator of over a million jobs here in Australia and Australia doesn’t even have a federal tourism minister. It’s not good enough. The Federal Government has to prioritise tourism. They could start by appointing a tourism minister.

 QUESTION: How do we open up tourism on a public holiday in Coffs Harbour?

 ALBANESE: In terms of the tourism sector we need to provide that support for jobs. Here in Coffs people expect to be able to have access to those services no matter which day it is on and it’s important that people do have access to those services.

 QUESTION: Are penalty rates the reason why Coffs Harbour was closed yesterday?

 ALBANESE: I think that in terms of penalty rates people would expect that if you are going to attract workers to give up their time on days like Christmas day and New Year’s Day then you pay a little bit extra for those workers. People do expect that that will be the case.

 QUESTION: What do you think of the reports that the doctor has told Tony Abbott he should stop riding his bike?

 ALBANESE: Tony Abbott likes to stay fit and that’s a good thing. My question though, is whether he’s fit to actually lead the country. Yesterday in his answer in front of the Australian and Indian cricket teams – where he said he can’t bat, he can’t bowl and couldn’t field, he could only sledge –  to me that says a lot about the way he runs the country. It appears he runs the country the way that he used to play cricket – not actually doing anything constructive, just sledging.

 QUESTION: Inaudible. (Relates to Abbott Government funding cuts to welfare organisations)

 ALBANESE: Just before Christmas we know that organisations such as peak bodies looking after deaf people, looking after homelessness services – were all cut in terms of their funding. And we now find revealed today that in the fine print, just before Christmas, the Government has stopped its plan to give proper tax treatment of foreign companies at cost of some half a billion dollars to the Budget. A $500 million cut for overseas companies but a cut to the funding services dealing with important issues such as Deaf Australia, dealing with Down Syndrome, dealing with homelessness services. All of those peak organisations having cuts says a lot about this government’s priorities.

 QUESTION: The Coalition says your promises to the highway were never funded.

 ALBANESE:  Our commitment to the highway was not only funded, but resulted in real jobs being created, real construction. People are driving on it right now, such as between Sapphire and Arrawarra, the Ballina Bypass, the Kempsey Bypass with Australia’s longest bridge, the Glenugie Upgrade, the Banora Point upgrade, for work that is now under construction – Frederickton to Eungai – was all funded by the former Labor Government. What we’ve seen from them is just excuses and being prepared to try to take credit by re-announcing what already exists in budgeted projects.


Dec 18, 2014

Transcript of press conference on East-West Link

Subjects: East-West Link, Infrastructure Australia, Perth Freight Link, public transport, infrastructure, Martin Place siege, gun control, George Christensen 

ALBANESE: Today I’ve written to the Commonwealth Auditor-General to demand that he conduct an inquiry into the farce that has become the funding by the Commonwealth Government of the East-West Link in Victoria.

What we know from documents that have been released this week by the Victorian Government is that this project simply doesn’t stack up. The cost-benefit analysis that was done by the Victorian Government for this toll road project showed a benefit of 0.45. What that means is 45c of benefit for every dollar that’s invested. That is a shocker of a project.

What’s worse is that then the Victorian Government, according to these documents, which are its own, decided to keep that information from Infrastructure Australia because they knew that anyone who has a look at this will say this project doesn’t stack up.

Now in spite of that Tony Abbott and the Federal Coalition promised $3 billion for this project and put it in the Budget in May.

What’s worse is that they made an advance payment of $1.5 billion for this road. $1.5 billion at a time when they say there was a budget emergency, but put forward for a project with a benefit of 45c return in every dollar. Put forward for a project that these documents show would have taken over 50 years to pay back. Put forward for a project which these documents show 9 out of 10 vehicles would have suffered more congestion if this road had have been built than if things stay as they are at the moment – an extraordinary proposition.

They didn’t just commit the $3 billion in the budget. They took it from projects that had been assessed by Infrastructure Australia – the Melbourne Metro rail project where $40 million had been spent making sure there was a proper business case and a proper plan, the M80 road project in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, which is underway and has a positive cost-benefit analysis, and even the Managed Motorways project, including on the Monash Freeway, where you had a cost-benefit analysis of 5.2, or $5.20 return for every dollar invested.

The Victorian Government made a conscious decision not to tell Infrastructure Australia and the Abbott Government made a conscious decision not to ask. So they funded this through this don’t-tell-don’t-ask policy, this dud project, whilst not funding projects that we know stacked up.

Tony Abbott since then has insisted that the Victorian Government should break its promise or it will lose $3 billion in funding, when we actually know they took more than that off existing projects if you add up the Melbourne Metro, the M80 and Managed Motorways projects from the Victorian Government. So he wants to punish Victorian voters for voting Labor at the last election and electing Daniel Andrews as Premier.

This is in spite of the fact that Tony Abbott repeatedly told the House of Representatives and anyone who would listen that this state election was a referendum on the East-West Link. They are his words, not ours, and he needs to accept the outcome that was there.

This also draws attention to Tony Abbott’s approach to infrastructure. He promised that he’d be a builder. We haven’t seen any bulldozers, just bulldust – a series of re-announcements around the country, pretending that projects are new when they’re already under construction.

Even the Majura Parkway project, which every politician passes to and from the airport he pretended was somehow a new project. We’ve seen re-announcements, renaming of existing projects pretending that they’re new, reallocation of funds from public transport where every dollar has been removed,  public transport projects that stacked up to fund road projects to fund road projects that don’t.

It’s as simple as that. When it comes to infrastructure, his credibility has been obliterated by this fiasco around the East-West Link.

QUESTION: Have Victorians dodged a bullet?

ALBANESE: Victorians will have a look at this and say we knew there were problems because they wouldn’t release the business case. It’s not just Victoria where that’s happening. We haven’t seen the full business case for the Perth Freight Link project, for Westconnex, and that’s why you need this transparency.

You need transparency so the public can have confidence that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively. We created Infrastructure Australia to break the nexus between the short term political cycle and the long term infrastructure investment cycle. That’s why we funded all 15 Infrastructure Australia projects that were recommended.

This East-West Link was not recommended by Infrastructure Australia and this is a case study in what not to do. If you want to see what can go wrong – just have a look – academics will be studying this universities around Australia from next year into the future. If you want an example of what not to do with a project, this is it.

QUESTION: What do you expect to get out of the Auditor-General’s report, if in fact he goes ahead?

ALBANESE: It should go ahead. The Auditor-General has a responsibility in my view, to look at the use of taxpayer’s funds. The Auditor-General needs to have a look at what the Government’s policy is. The Government’s stated policy is two things.

One, that projects of value above $100 million need to be assessed by Infrastructure Australia and that there will be a published cost-benefit analysis. That didn’t occur.

Their other policy is that in order to avoid money being shovelled out, milestone payments need to be made upon the achievement of construction targets as a project is constructed.

If that is so, how is it that a billion and a half dollars was forwarded last financial year for a project the Stage 2 of which wasn’t due to commence for many years into the future? That is bad fiscal policy under any circumstances.

Under the circumstances when you’ve got a budget of broken promises, massive cuts to pensions, the ABC, the SBS, cuts to health, cuts to every dollar of public transport, why is it that all this was occurring but a billion and a half dollars could be found as an advance payment without any business case being presented for the East-West Link project?

QUESTION: What do you make of the 30-page summary on the Perth Freight Link and do you think what’s gone on with the East-West Link means it is now beholden on the Government to come forward with the full cost-benefit analysis?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. This is a summary. There’s a lesson here. If you have a look at the documentation from Victoria, what’s extraordinary is the explicit decisions being made to keep information from Infrastructure Australia, to keep information from the former federal government in which I was the minister.

Conscious decisions – minutes being taken saying don’t tell Anthony Albanese or Infrastructure Australia what we’ve found because then it will present issues with regard to funding. So we’ll just release what’s convenient without any of the work around it. What this shows is that the full business case for all projects has to be released.

With regard to Perth Freight Link they can’t even say what the toll will be on the project. So how can you have a cost-benefit analysis without knowing what your revenue stream will be from the toll that is anticipated to be put on that project?

I mean, when we asked about this, when this was funded in the May Budget, the parliamentary secretary in Western Australia said that there wasn’t any case or documentation worthy of any public scrutiny that they were in a position to release.

This came as surprise and this stands in stark contrast to projects like the Gateway WA Project, where proper cost-benefit analysis was done. We know what the benefit will be. It’s employing thousands of people in Perth and providing a real difference to Perth.

The Roe 8 project – this is just another example where they’ve just changed the name – the Roe 8 project has previously been considered by the government and it ended up that they walked away from it. So we need to know why it is that the business case has changed if it has. That’s why all the documentation needs to be released for this project.

QUESTION: inaudible (relating to gun laws and the Martin Place siege)

ALBANESE: At the heart of this is that we need to make sure that politics doesn’t get in the way of federal and state authorities making their investigations as is appropriate at a time like this. I don’t intend making any political points. I intend waiting until the proper investigations and the facts are known and then people can make an assessment and when they make that assessment it is very important that this be an issue that is above partisan politics.

QUESTION: What is your opinion?

ALBANESE: My opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is the opinion of experts. What matters is that people don’t just talk so they get a grab as part of a news bulletin. This is an enormous tragedy. I went and visited Martin Place yesterday as a citizen of Sydney and the outpouring of grief was quite extraordinary and my heart goes out to the two families that have been affected by the tragedy.

QUESTION: What do you make of Senator David Leyonhjelm’s comments about gun control?

ALBANESE:  I think he would have been well kept to take the previous advice I’ve just given. I heard him on radio this morning and why he chose this particular time to intervene so he gets a grab up and gets some publicity… I understand that minority parties need to sort of get themselves out there and get a bit of media coverage. But you know, he should really think about it and think about whether it is appropriate for him to be playing that card to try and get publicity. I am a supporter of gun laws in this country. I think that one of the things that John Howard did that I totally agree with was his response to the Port Arthur gun massacre. Australians know less guns means less victims.

QUESTION: What about George Christensen’s criticism of the hashtag I’ll ride with you?

ALBANESE: Well, George Christensen. You know, seriously. I’ll play at my own level, thanks.


Dec 10, 2014

Transcript of radio interview ABC 702 Sydney

Subject: Mike Baird’s sell-off of Millers Point social housing

LINDA MOTTRAM: Anthony Albanese, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Linda.

MOTTRAM: This is politically hot, the Liberals sell off public holdings, recycling the capital, Labor oppose it. That’s really the problem with this story, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: The problem is two-fold. One is the impact on the individuals. The lack of respect shown to a gentleman who lives in a house for 84 years and gets an eviction notice just shunted under their door without notice. The uncertainty that families are facing prior to Christmas. What is important about this analysis by SGS Planning is that it looks at the impact on the productivity of a city and the impact of having an approach taken to its logical conclusion which is you sell housing where the value of that housing is greater than the average of the inner city. So the logic of selling Millers Point would also point you toward selling the housing that’s on Sydney’s North Shore, the Glebe Estate, the public housing in Redfern, Waterloo, Woolloomooloo, and the impact that it has on a city’s productivity. What the research says is that the city needs a mix. That successful cities economically are those that are socially inclusive, that contain suburbs that have a mix of incomes in them. There are some real social reasons why you want that but there are also economic reasons. If you exclude people of lower incomes from the inner city then in terms of the work that needs to be conducted – in childcare, in cleaning, the work that takes place – you won’t have a workforce that doesn’t have to travel to do that and that doesn’t make any sense in terms of long term productivity of the city.

MOTTRAM: Ok and this report says that it could actually be a negative for the city if it goes in that direction. But what is to say that a government could not address that by providing the appropriate mix of housing reinvested in the inner city area as well as in other areas?

ALBANESE: It points towards that Linda and this is a very pragmatic report. I call upon the Baird Government to really give this proper consideration. What you have in Millers Point is some houses that are very large that have high maintenance costs, and this report does suggest there is a case for selling off that housing, but for reinvesting the money into social housing in the area. The logic of the Baird Government’s position is undermined by the sale of housing such as the Sirius building which people would be familiar with – as they cross the Harbour Bridge – there’s those wonderful houses that look like Lego boxes –purpose built social housing for people with disabilities and other special needs. If you just sell that off and it’s replaced by people who can afford that level of private housing then you lose those people from the community but you also lose what is a contributor to having that affordable housing mix in the inner city.

MOTTRAM: But it’s not as if the Baird Government doesn’t have a view on the need for affordable housing. I’ve spoken to state ministers before who have said yes, that’s part of what we’re looking at, making sure that we can provide affordable and social housing in the places that we need them.  Presumably as you’ve read this report, as we’ve all had these discussions about the mix of our cities – any sensible government would go down that path?

ALBANESE: They’re not being sensible, that’s the point. What they’re doing is selling off housing at Millers Point and not giving people any certainty other than that they’ll be moved somewhere else. They’re not talking about reinvesting in the city; they’re talking about people being shifted out with that uncertain future that those residents face in the lead up to Christmas.   Now, if this was an example of public policy that the Government was proud of they wouldn’t be having these secret auctions that take place almost James Bond style where you have to get a special code and go to a place –

MOTTRAM: But that’s a commercial reality isn’t it, because it’s in the hands of commercial salespeople.

ALBANESE: No, that’s being driven by the government. The commercial reality would be that the commercial interests would be out there wanting as many people as possible to participate. That’s not the way this is being run, Linda.

MOTTAM:  Ok, Millers Point has been very contentious. We know that, and all those discussions about the social effects – they’ve been terribly tragic stories. But cities, just to argue the case, cities have to undergo change. People are moved out of inner city areas all the time in cities. It’s happened before. It’s happened here before. In this city before, under governments of your side. We can’t keep things stationary, and there is a huge demand, I mean 58,000 people on the waiting list.

ALBANESE:  What you can’t have are enclaves of advantage and disadvantage. That is a recipe for disaster. And we know in the past indeed – where you have concentrations of social disadvantage, concentrations of social housing where people didn’t have jobs, the former state governments of both persuasions it must be said intervened to make sure there was a mix of housing in that area. The whole community housing movement arose out of that need for a mix of people so that a city functions effectively. That’s important socially. We have people in Millers Point who’ve lived for generations, who’ll be moved away from their social connections. There will be a cost to that. If you don’t have the neighbour who knocks on the door and checks on how you are, then we’ve had some really tragic examples in this city unfortunately of people being found a long time after they’ve passed away because they’re totally isolated from their community.

MOTTRAM: But that’s also happened where people have lived in their communities where people have lived for a long time when the community has changed around them, and it is terribly unfortunate, but the sad fact is still the hard economic one from the government’s perspective. I wonder if Labor in government wouldn’t do the same thing – that there is a lot of money tied up in Millers Point.

ALBANESE: This report does suggest that some sell-off of housing is appropriate. It doesn’t argue for no change. It argues the economic case for making sure that change is managed in a way that benefits not just looking after the individuals and pays them some respect. It also makes sure that the interests long term economically of the city are looked after. As the Shadow Minister for Cities that’s one of the things I’m very concerned about, what makes a successful city. In the United States you had a retreat from the inner cities and you had these gated communities and now you’ve had people move back into the inner city, and public policy makers decided that essentially in order to be successful you needed that inclusion and the inner city is made up of a mix of housing. Places like the Glebe estate and Woolloomooloo are really important. When I’ve shown people who’ve been visiting from overseas the serious social housing there at the Rocks and said, that’s what makes Australian an egalitarian society, we don’t have a class based society that’s not entrenched in the same way as say the UK is, that’s an important thing we should hold on to.



Nov 26, 2014

Transcript of radio interview -Radio National Breakfast, ABC

Subjects: Medicare co-payment, Abbott’s barnacles, paid parental leave, Budget, East-West Link, infrastructure

FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Anthony Albanese, welcome back to Breakfast.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, Fran.

KELLY: We’re going to get to the Victorian election in a moment and that letter from the Prime Minister about the funding for the East-West Link, but can I ask you first about the Medicare co-payment. Has the Opposition seen any sign, have there been any discussions or any understanding that the co-payment’s going to be dropped, or that the Government’s not going to bring it into the Senate and have another go?

ALBANESE: The problem here isn’t that there are barnacles on the ship. The problem is the captain. Everything Tony Abbott does with regard to this Budget has just reinforced that it’s a budget of broken promises. He’s now trying to say he didn’t do that famous interview on SBS TV. With regard to the GP tax, Australians don’t want it. Australians support the universality of Medicare.  They know deep down that this $7 GP tax would be a first step and it would rise in the future. They know in their heart of hearts Tony Abbott, just like John Howard, just doesn’t like Medicare, that they don’t support the principle of universality, that people pay through the tax system and then get healthcare according to need.

KELLY: If the Prime Minister does move to cut off these barnacles, let’s call them,  drop these policies, and Labor still remains there blocking a number of other policies that come up, are you concerned that Labor can be the one that the voters start turning their negative attention to because we did hear from the head of Treasury, Martin Parkinson yesterday on the program who said again that Australia has a revenue problem, I think there’s no dispute about that, but he says our biggest  problem is spending. In other words, he says that some of these policies in the Budget that are proposed to cut spending are really what’s required, we need to get our spending in check. Do you agree with that?

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott is proposing more spending. He’s proposing a paid parental leave scheme that’ll impact the Budget by $20 billion over a four year period of the budget estimates. All he’s talking about now is modifying it. Tony Abbott has rejected revenue measures such as making sure that the top end who use superannuation as a way of evading their proper contribution to the sustainability of the Australian economy, he got rid of that. So they have a real credibility problem here Fran. Of course budgets always have to have savings measures in them – we had that. What this government did as one of its first acts was double the deficit through measures like removing the changes to superannuation at the top end that we had, through removing some of the tax avoidance measures for corporate tax evasion that we’d put in place –

KELLY – yeah, but talking about credibility problems that’s what Tony Abbott used to say about Labor, you have a credibility problem, and I’ve noticed the Coalition has now started to remind people through the Parliament of some of the issues that beset the Rudd-Gillard Governments. Wayne Swan as Treasurer for example, promising Budget surpluses that never came about. Credibility has been a problem for your side of politics as well.

ALBANESE: Government isn’t as easy as they thought it was, is it Fran? They had a plan to get into government. They don’t have a plan to govern. The hypocrisy of Joe Hockey speaking about revenue write-downs – we had revenue write-downs due to the Global Financial Crisis. Australia weathered that global financial crisis better than any of our international competitors. And at the same time – to segway into the topic of my choice, of infrastructure – in government we went from 20th in the OECD for infrastructure investment to 1st for infrastructure investment.

KELLY: Let me come to infrastructure, you are the Shadow Minister, that is true. On the Victorian Election, the East-West road link is really one of the key issues for voters to choose on. There is a clear difference between the parties. The PM has now written to Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews saying and I quote “I want to make it absolutely clear to the people of Victoria that the $3 billion the Commonwealth has committed is for one purpose only and that is to build the East-West Link.  Let me repeat, the $3 billion is only available to build the East-West Link.” In other words, Labor’s promise to scrap that contract if it wins – it’s the Prime Minister’s right isn’t it to dictate how the $3 billion in federal money is spent?

ALBANESE: What he’s attempting to do is not so much to intimidate the Victorian Labor Party, he’s trying to intimidate Victorian voters. He’s saying, if you elect Labor you won’t get your fair share of infrastructure dollars.

KELLY: Well you won’t get $3 billion from the East-West Link to be spent somewhere other else.

ALBANESE: Let’s be clear here about the timeframes. The Government in which I was a Minister entered into an agreement – we sat down, we had discussions with Transport Minister Mulder, with officials from Premier and Cabinet – and we agreed on a process of funding the Melbourne Metro. $3 billion from the federal government, $3 billion from the state government, and then we had a proposal that had attracted interest from private sector funding in addition to that. What occurred was that then we got Tony Abbott, who has this view, as he outlines in Battlelines, that simply there is no role for public transport. He says, quite simply, that “there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads”.  That is what his view of the world is. So therefore, the Victorian Government went along with their Coalition colleagues, in spite of the fact that the Melbourne Metro had a positive CBA, in spite of the fact that $40 million had already been contributed and had funded the planning for this project, they came up with the East-West project  that still has not been assessed by Infrastructure Australia, that doesn’t have a published cost-benefit analysis, that the only analysis that has been published of it said there would be a return of fifty cents and at most eighty cents for every dollar that was invested. And then the Abbott Government this year, you spoke before about Budget emergencies. Well let me tell you what, Fran. There is $1.5 billion sitting in the Victorian Government’s bank account for a project in which there has not been so much as a hole dug.

KELLY: Alright Anthony Albanese thank you very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

Oct 22, 2014

Transcript – Doorstop Interview, Parliament House

Subject: Gough Whitlam   

ALBANESE: Good morning. Yesterday we saw the Australian Parliament at its finest as it paid tribute to the passing of a great Australian. A great Labor man – Gough Whitlam.

Since then, we’ve seen the Labor family express our sorrow at the passing but also celebrate his life and his contribution to the Labor Party and to the nation.

People across the political spectrum, including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister delivered outstanding tributes to Gough Whitlam yesterday in the Parliament and since.

Also yesterday, the Greens political party put up, authorised by Lee Rhiannon on a website, an image of Gough Whitlam, ‘Vale Gough Whitlam’ next to the Greens Party political logo.

I think that is cheap, opportunistic and offensive, given that Gough Whitlam was a Labor man his entire life. Gough Whitlam understood that you needed to seize power and be in government to make a difference to this nation and he did just that between 1972 and 1975.

He understood and said very explicitly on so many occasions that he didn’t want to be just a party of protest. He wanted to be a party of government and he sought that mandate from the Australian people both prior to 1972 of course, but in 1974, 1975 and of course in 1977 as the Labor leader.

Right up until he was incapable of doing do due to ill-health he continued to campaign for Labor in every single political campaign. He continued to be active in local Labor party life including as Tanya Plibersek outlined yesterday explained yesterday attending Labor party Christmas parties in his local community.

I’d say to Christine Milne and to the Greens including Lee Rhiannon who authorised this, the Senator from New South Wales and to Adam Bandt, just do the right thing – pull it down and admit that it was an error of judgement. That’s the appropriate thing to do. That’s the respectful thing to do.

QUESTION: What do you find so offensive – is it the fact that they used the image or that they used it with the party logo?

ALBANESE: They are clearly trying to appropriate Gough Whitlam’s legacy for the Greens. Gough Whitlam not only was not a member of the Greens; he campaigned against them. He campaigned for me in my electorate; he campaigned for others who faced conflict with the Greens. We have a proud history. We are Australia’s oldest political party. We’ve formed government. We have legacies – and Gough Whitlam’s legacy was a Labor legacy. Tony Abbott and Warren Truss yesterday paid tribute to that legacy without trying to own the bits of the legacy they agree with.

You can do that to someone who you’re a political opponent of. Gough Whitlam, in terms of his legacy including on the environment, on health, on education – there’s been much said in the last 24 hours – all of it has been quite outstanding – including an appropriate analysis of where mistakes were made. This is not appropriate. They know it’s not appropriate. Anyone who’s looks at it knows that it’s not appropriate.

QUESTION: Have you personally discussed your concerns with Christine Milne?

ALBANESE: No, I haven’t. I see that Adam Bandt has been out there defending this this morning. I’ve seen the coverage. I only saw it during the caucus meeting and I raised it during the caucus meeting as soon as I saw it. It’s one thing, as happened the other day at my local train station, you arrive there and there’s a Greens corflute and it says ‘defend Medicare – vote Greens’. That’s one kind of attempt to pretend that Medicare is somehow a Greens legacy as opposed to a Labor legacy, begun of course as Medibank under Gough Whitlam. It’s another thing completely to use on the day of the great man’s passing, an image of him with the Greens political party logo on the poster. That is entirely inappropriate.

QUESTION: Aren’t you the one trying to score cheap opportunistic political points because all the Greens are doing are saying here is a policy that we are proud a Labor Prime Minister introduced that we are proud of. What is wrong with that?

ALBANESE: Well if I need to explain it to you Latika, then – people will make their own judgements. People will make their own judgements. You get to ask the question, I get to answer it, that’s the system of press conferences. You’ve asked your question. I find it offensive that there is the great man’s legacy with the Greens political party logo on it. I find that inappropriate. I think that is an attempt in an opportunistic way to appropriate Gough Whitlam’s legacy as somehow for the Greens. Gough Whitlam was a great Labor man and it is just not respectful. I ask myself, and I know the answer to this, what would the Labor legend say if the Greens and Christine Milne had said ‘how about we use an image of you and our logo on your image?’. What would he say? You can’t ask him. He would of course say no. His entire political life was dedicated to the cause of Labor. It would be like trying to say that Bob Brown is somehow a Labor supporter. Bob Brown isn’t. He’s entitled to his views. He’s made his own contribution to political life, as have the John Howards of the Liberal Party.

QUESTION: One of your MPs in caucus described it as grave-robbing. Would you go that far?

ALBANESE: I did not hear that description in the caucus.

QUESTION: How angry were people in caucus?

ALBANESE: I think people were pretty shocked. This is a difficult time for those of us who knew Gough and everyone who’s part of the Labor family. Even though he was 98 years of age and in ill-health it came as a shock to the nation, not just to people in the Labor caucus. Do the right thing, concede that it’s an error of judgement and move on. This should not be a major debate but it should be fixed. It should be fixed in a way that is dignified and in a way that restores some dignity to the political debate.

QUESTION: Is this grave-robbing?

ALBANESE: I’m not going to use that term. This shows no respect and is opportunism of the worst kind. I find it offensive and people in the Labor caucus today found it offensive. Thanks very much.


Oct 21, 2014

Transcript – Gough Whitlam – ABC News24


Subject: Gough Whitlam

 JOE O’BRIEN: Anthony Albanese, good morning. A sad day for the Labor Party. How are you feeling?

 ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is indeed a sad day for the Labor Party but more importantly it’s a sad day for the nation. Gough Whitlam was a giant who had a gigantic impact on this country. I think that modern Australian history can almost be defined as pre-Whitlam and post Whitlam. His impact was that significant. In having the vision to envisage a future of a modern Australia but also having the ability to help shape that future.

O’BRIEN: What role did he play in you as a youngster developing a passion for politics?

ALBANESE: I remember handing out how-to-votes as a young kid in 1972 and the happiness and thrill that went through my household and through my community. I grew up in public housing in Camperdown and you voted Labor. And they started you pretty young handing out those how-to-votes. You handed out how to votes and you voted Labor and that’s what you did. It was very much a part of the culture that everyone was in the Labor Party, including my mother and my grandfather who I lived with as well. And so was it was an honour getting to meet the great man in when I was Young Labor. He was always someone who had encouraging words for young people coming through the Labor movement, he was a source of inspiration. He opened what is now my electorate office in Marrickville Road, Marrickville for the then member Jeannette McHugh and I remember that day as the day Marrickville shut down. Gough was greatly loved by multicultural Australia but no group more than the Greek Australian community. He was more popular than any Greek. They all came to talk to him and to be in his presence and to pay homage to him. 

O’BRIEN: What were his policy commitments and achievements that you really developed a respect for?

ALBANESE: Firstly, education – the valuing of education – opening up universities. There is a whole generation of Australians such as myself who are the first in our family to go to university. Gough Whitlam created that in such a short period of time. Secondly, in terms of my own area of policy that I’ve concentrated on – that of urban Australia. He wanted to create a better life for people in our suburbs. Prior to the Whitlam government and the work of Tom Uren you didn’t have sewage in the outer suburbs of Sydney. There wasn’t curbing and guttering. These basic necessities. Support for transport. Jobs in our outer suburbs is what Gough Whitlam drove through. And his support for a more creative and outward looking Australia. Whether it was our engagement in international affairs, of course the historic visit to  China, bringing troops home from the Vietnam War, or whether it be support for arts and culture that flourished under the Whitlam Government. He soared above the political landscape. At a time where so much of politics gets mired in the weeds, Gough Whitlam always was above that. He gave an example of how politics could be inspirational.

O’BRIEN: And health is also named as one of his most significant legacies.

ALBANESE: Yes, the creation of Medicare, now everyone supports it in public anyway – the public health care system. But it was Gough who brought in Medibank and because of that and its popularity essentially over 40 years it’s become a given. But before that it wasn’t. In my household the difference that he made to pensions had a real impact on our standard of living. Before then you really struggled to get by. Gough with free education, universal healthcare, the increases to pensions that he delivered made such a big difference to so many.

O’BRIEN: How did it all fall apart so quickly for him in Government?

ALBANESE: They’d had 23 years in opposition so there was a lack of experience in government. He also of course challenged the existing power structures and the power structures fought back. We had a campaign whereby the newspapers and the media coverage ran a campaign against him, the likes of which perhaps only the last campaign we’ve seen a comparison in terms of consistency. At that time, if you go back to 1975 you’ll see papers being taken off the backs of trucks and burnt. It was a very controversial time and Gough Whitlam did challenge those existing power structures. That’s not to say there weren’t errors committed. Of course there were. All governments do. In that 3 years Gough Whitlam left a legacy that is permanent change. Not for Gough just sitting there and just occupying office. For Gough it was about making a difference and he did every single day.

O’BRIEN: Do you remember where you were on that day they were standing there on the steps in Parliament House in Canberra?

ALBANESE: I certainly do. My history teacher who is now in a Labor party branch in my electorate so he won’t mind me naming him, he’s retired. Vince Crowe came in to my classroom – I went to St Marys Cathedral in the city. And he came in and announced to the class that ‘our Prime Minister has been dismissed and our government has been thrown out’. People weren’t clear what it was. I got into trouble that day. I was twelve years old, I got home pretty late because there were police horses and chaos in the city and we hung about and became observers in what was going on. These were turbulent times. The big demonstration against the dismissal was held in The Domain. I didn’t go to school, we all went across and went to the demo. The good old Christian Brothers, no one got into trouble.

O’BRIEN: As someone who was so passionate about what happened that day, how did you feel when the election was lost, was there a sense of disbelief?

ALBANESE: I think people expected that we’d win, is my memory. Everyone that you knew was angered by the dismissal. It was very disappointing but the thing about Gough is that he didn’t just disappear. He continued to have an impact both in terms of the Parliament but outside the Parliament as well with his leadership on issues, on the environment, on international relations, on education, on arts and culture. He continued to write, he continued to be a very active source of advice for people in the Labor movement, and he continued to be an inspirational figure.

O’BRIEN: Malcolm Fraser lamented this morning that both major parties have drifted a long way to the right. Do you as a member of your party’s left faction hold out any hope that the passing of Gough Whitlam will lead some to re-examine what they want to stand for?

ALBANESE: I think we often romanticise the past. Significant gains have been made because of the work of people like Gough Whitlam. Many of the issues that he championed are now mainstream. Medibank is one that we spoke about. Malcolm Fraser dismantled Medibank. Now you see Tony Abbott while he’s trying to do it by stealth, at least in public supports public health care. History does move forward. Gough Whitlam would have been, if he was in the Labor Party Caucus today would have been there arguing for reform. His legacy has helped transform the political debate. There have been significant advances made. Many of the advances that Gough made. Many of the causes which were championed by Gough Whitlam – anti-apartheid, the end of the Vietnam War, the expansion of educational opportunity, universal health care, the recognition of China, seen as radical at the time – all of these are now mainstream. All of them were opposed by the conservatives at the time.

O’BRIEN: And another of those causes that you didn’t mention there that you’ve tweeted about this morning, that classic photo, of Gough Whitlam with a fistful of dirt, the red dirt of Central Australia, and dropping that dirt through the hands of an Aboriginal man. Tell us about that moment and how that significant that is.

ALBANESE: Well that’s the moment when people look back the path to reconciliation really began. That’s the turning point. From that point there was no moving back. There had been much campaigning as a result of the conflict that had been there on the land in the Northern Territory, the struggle for Indigenous rights and land rights. Whitlam was ahead of his time. He was prepared to push out there, his agenda. Gough Whitlam will be remembered for that. I know that first Australians in my local community regard Gough as being up there on a pedestal. It is a very sad day for so many Australians. Because the thing about Gough is that even though he was 98 years of age and was in ill health, it’s still a shock because we can’t imagine an Australia without Gough Whitlam’s presence. That says a lot about him and the contribution that he made.

O’BRIEN: Thanks a lot for making the time to talk to us.

ALBANESE: Thank you.

Oct 12, 2014

Transcript – Australian Agenda, Sky News, 12 October 2014




 SUBJECTS: National security, Iraq, press freedom, Paid Parental Leave, Budget, Party reform, cities & urban policy, infrastructure, climate change

 PETER VAN ONSELEN: As mentioned off the top of the program we are joined now by Rabbitohs supporter Anthony Albanese.  Thanks for your company. 

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.  Bit different from last Sunday, very nervous last Sunday. 

VAN ONSELEN: I was trying to get you on my show on Monday night but for some reason you weren’t available. 

If we can, we will talk a little bit about what Paul was just talking about, this whole issue of bipartisanship in the national security space.  Joe Hockey has stood by his comments that he thinks that if you’re not supporting the financial measures to pay for national security initiatives then you’re not being bipartisan in those national security initiatives.  Now, Paul Kelly, in a sense, has had a bit of a crack at the PM for not backing his Treasurer up on that.  Is Joe Hockey right? 

ALBANESE: Joe Hockey is wrong and Joe Hockey is wrong because of the nature of the cuts; not just that there are cuts in the budget, it’s the nature of them, it’s the impact of them.  And we saw yesterday that the electorates that will be least affected by these cuts are the electorates of Warringah and North Sydney; the electorates of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.  It is the electorates that will be worst affected, have the greatest impact, were Blaxland and Watson; areas which have higher unemployment, areas that we saw today released from ACOSS Sydney has the worst figures when it comes to poverty in Australia of any regional area around the country and that’s why to say because you oppose a new tax being put on every time you visitor the doctor somehow that draws you to question your bipartisanship, that is where Joe Hockey made not just a strategic error but a fundamental political error as well. 

VAN ONSELEN: I know, Paul, I want to ask you about this as well, but just as a quick follow-up, let me put it another way then, isn’t it incumbent on Labor if it is being truly bipartisan in the national security space to at least have alternative funding mechanisms for the kind of funding that is required in that space, if it doesn’t like the specific cuts, as you talk about? 

ALBANESE: We know that in the Government’s statement at the end of last year they added $65 billion to the budget deficit.  We know that on top of that they have got areas like the paid parental leave scheme, areas of new structural expenditure that will have an impact on the budget that gross over a period of time, so let’s by all means have a debate about the budget but don’t draw into question our position on national security, which is a bipartisan position that Tony Abbott has recognised as such and he is sensible to do so. 

PAUL KELLY: How does Labor think the Iraq commitment ought to be financed; by higher taxes, spending cuts or a higher deficit? 

ALBANESE: Well, we are not the Government, of course, Paul. 

KELLY: But has Labor got a view on this? 

ALBANESE: We will speak to the treasury spokesperson, but we will consider measures on their merits.  That’s what we have done, Paul.  If you look at some of the changes, for example, on the last sitting day of parliament there were some changes made to social security measures with Labor’s support but some others that Labor opposed because of their impact.  We will not support a fundamentally unfair budget that has an impact on those people who can least afford it.  And we won’t be lectured about responsibility by a mob that want to introduce a paid parental leave scheme at a cost of above $5 billion per year that won’t –

VAN ONSELEN: But it’s paid for by a company tax increase? 

ALBANESE: No, that’s the impact in terms of the budget.  There is an impact on the budget as well of the paid parental leave scheme and in addition to that they withdrew measures cutting down on tax avoidance, they withdrew measures – the hysteria that was there when we introduced a measure that said to comply with the FBT rules on cars, if you were getting basically a rebate for using your car for work, you had to actually show for two weeks in every five years that you were using the car for work.  That was met with a hysterical response by the media, it must be said, but also by the now Government when they were in opposition.  There were a range of measures that we put in place that they opposed as soon as they came to office. 

VAN ONSELEN: But isn’t Labor being equally hysterical about the paid parental leave?  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people in the Government that don’t like his paid parental leave scheme but this idea that it is giving money to millionaires and that it’s people on these enormous salaries, 98% of people who would qualify for the PPL scheme are not earning over $100,000.  All that’s going to happen though is that they will have their wage replaced not at the minimum wage level but at their already modest wage level for six months. 

ALBANESE: But Peter, we introduced a paid parental leave scheme and when we proposed that in government Tony Abbott said that he would support it over his dead body, to quote the now Prime Minister himself.  He then came up with an extravagant, unaffordable scheme that rewards those people – the more you earn the more you get out of the scheme – as opposed to our proposition which has been legislated, that is in place, that people are now benefiting from. 

VAN ONSELEN: I know this is a bit of a side issue, but we have got time on this program, it’s one of the things I like about the show, it’s the same as the Public Service scheme.  Anyone that works on your staff, if they have a child they get essentially Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme.  Same for people working in departments. 

ALBANESE: That’s negotiated through, that’s a part of the agreements that are reached and, therefore, are built into overall packages. 

KELLY: Just all this talk of bipartisanship on the Iraq commitment, presumably bipartisanship doesn’t extend to how the commitment is financed. 

ALBANESE: Well, in terms of you, as you know Paul, the idea that you fund an activity, (a) with a tax or a reduction in spending of equivalence is not the way budgets work.  You have expenditures and you have revenues.  You have both sides of the equation and they meet.  So, it’s a false proposition that you have put forward and I suspect you are aware that it’s a false proposition you put forward. 

KELLY: But just on this point about bipartisanship, do you agree that bipartisanship is about the commitment to Iraq, it’s not about how it’s financed? 

ALBANESE: Of course it’s about the commitment to Iraq and what we don’t have in this country is hypothecation of every activity of government; something that you’re aware of and something that, with respect, the opposition can’t be expected, for every single measure that is made by the Government.  That would be an absurd proposition. 

VAN ONSELEN: I’m concerned, frankly, about the speed of some of the bipartisanship as far as things like the anti-terror laws are concerned.  There’s been lots of people, not just on the left, I mean, Greg Sheridan in The Australian really had a red hot go at the Prime Minister over some of the restrictions on freedoms for the media as well as other restrictions from these laws that have just been waved through with bipartisan support.  Shouldn’t we have more debate about this? 

ALBANESE: Look, I think we should Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: So why was it supported? 

ALBANESE: I’m fully supportive of our activity.  I have a view, and there are some people on the left who say “Oh well, rushing into war” .  I’m not a pacifist.  I’m of the view that where you see action that would see essentially people be fair game for beheadings and brutal murder because they happened to disagree with the so-called caliphate of the so called Islamic state is something that the world simply can’t sit by and watch.  So that’s the first point.

VAN ONSELEN: That might be a reason though, with respect, to rush in for the action but I’m talking about the laws that are designed to supposedly make us safer at home.  I mean, surely we can have a longer, more nuance debate about what the unintended consequences of those laws might be but we haven’t had that. 

ALBANESE: Look, I’m of the view, Peter, that the Government hasn’t been at its best when it comes to proper debate, including, I believe there should be more debate on the floor of The House of Representatives, not up in the Federation Chamber, about our engagement.  When we put Australians at risk that should be properly debated.  I’m very supportive of the Government’s position and I would have liked to have seen more debate on the floor of The House of Representatives about that issue.  When it comes to the so called anti-terrorist laws I believe there has to be proper scrutiny of them.  You can be fully supportive of our engagement in the middle east and still say we don’t protect freedom by giving it up and I don’t believe there’s been enough scrutiny.  I believe that the media laws, much of them, are draconian.  When we talk about potential penalties of five to ten years gaol for exposing what might be an error made by the security agencies then I think when people like Greg Sheridan, as you say, are drawing it into question, as well as, I’ve had approaches from the media alliance, you know, we are all concerned as Australians about the gaoling of Peter Greste in Egypt.  Why has he been gaoled?  Because he was reporting, and therefore seen to be somehow supportive of, these actions. 

KELLY: Just on all these issues what’s Labor doing about this? 

ALBANESE: I believe we should be arguing for more scrutiny of these issues.  I think we should be working with the Government on them.  It’s important that they not be partisan issues but I believe it is appropriate that there be greater scrutiny.

KELLY: Essentially what you’re saying, I think, is that Labor has rolled over too far.  That’s what you are saying, isn’t it? 

ALBANESE: No, I think there should be greater scrutiny not just from Labor but from the Government as well at a time like this that security agencies will take every opportunity to impose things that have been in their bottom drawer for a long period of time.  It’s important, I believe our security agencies do a great job for this nation, including ASIO, but it’s also the case that in a democratic country like ours where we are talking about fighting for freedom that we ensure that that freedom is, indeed, protected and not given up. 

KELLY: Can we just clarify here, say in relation to the media, I think what you’re saying is that the proposed changes as they would affect journalists and the media are not acceptable, they go too far. 

ALBANESE: I certainly believe that there are legitimate criticisms of them and I would hope, I would hope, that the Government has a look at what the impact of those changes will be, in practical terms.  When we had a proposition, you’d be aware, Paul, when Labor was in government the response of the media was pretty full on.  These changes are far more draconian in terms of their impact on journalists and anything that was ever proposed, even in draft form, by the former Labor government, so I think in terms of the criticisms that are there are legitimate criticisms and they need to be responded to by the Government.  It’s understandable if sometimes things might have gone too far.  If that is the case then they should be wound back. 

VAN ONSELEN: I mean, I welcome this level of debate about it, I’m sure people that have written about this like Laurie Oakes and, as we have said, Greg Sheridan do as well but let’s just call a spade a spade here.  It’s looking like there needs to be a movement for this kind of scrutiny to happen.  You are the most senior figure on either side of politics to come out and express your concerns about the lack of debate about this. 

ALBANESE: Well, I’m concerned about the rights of journalists.  It’s consistent.  I spoke on a motion in The House of Representatives that was bipartisan about Peter Greste.  I’m someone who I think has consistently supported the rights of media to report.  I’ve also been pretty consistent in calling the media out when I believe it gets it wrong.  I think the media behaviour of particularly the News Limited tabloids, let’s call it, during the last election campaign was over the top. 

PETER VAN ONSELEN: But do you have support from other senior Labor colleagues to try to slow this debate down, to have a proper debate about these laws and whether they impinge on freedoms?  

ALBANESE: Well, I’m speaking for myself, which I do. 

KELLY: Do you think that Bill Shorten shares your views? 


KELLY: Have you discussed it with him? 

ALBANESE: I’ve had brief discussions with other members. 

KELLY: Does he share your views? 

ALBANESE: What I do, Paul, is speak for myself and I don’t discuss discussions that I have with either you or anyone else, as you’re aware. 

KELLY: We might switch to –

VAN ONSELEN: Let’s do that after the break if we can, Paul, sorry to interrupt.  We are going to a break.  Anthony Albanese, appreciate your time.  Stay with us on Australian Agenda.  When we come back we are going to largely move into portfolio areas in the infrastructure and city space with Anthony Albanese and a little later in the program, as already mentioned, Warren Mundine will join us as well.  Back in a moment. 

Welcome back, you’re watching Australian Agenda.  Paul Kelly and I are speaking to former Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.  We are going to get to your portfolio in a moment, I do promise, but first we have got to talk a little bit about Labor Party reform.  You’ve worked with John Faulkner for many years, factional colleague on the left, both been assistant secretaries in New South Wales.  He is big on Labor Party reform and he is worried that the party isn’t going there fast enough, nor far enough.  What’s your view?  There has been change, but do you agree that it’s been too slow? 

ALBANESE: Of course we need to do more.  The change that we have done that some people resisted has been successful.  One of the reasons why Labor, I believe, is in a strong position now is the process that we went through a year ago in terms of opening up the leadership ballot to the rank and file membership of the party.  

VAN ONSELEN: Sections of the right of the party are really worried about that change.  They tell me privately when I talk to them that their big concern is that the membership of the Labor Party is not representative of the membership of the community and the more say that members have the likelihood is that Labor might risk itself lurching to the left in a way that takes it out of the game with mainstream voters. 

ALBANESE: Well, that’s a defeatist position, with respect.  What we do need to do is to grow the membership.  How do you grow the membership so it’s representative and engage with the community?  You do it by empowering them and you do that by taking power off the factional power brokers and giving it to the membership and if you do that, if you have faith in the membership, I believe you’ll get good outcomes, you’ll get that engagement with people coming through.  People nowadays expect something more than just attending a local hall once a month and hearing a report from their local councillor.  People can be engaged in politics through social media in a whole range of ways that they couldn’t previously and they expect that engagement to give them rights and giving the membership increased say over a range of issues –

VAN ONSELEN: So what’s the next step?  What’s going to actually happen next year? 

ALBANESE: I think there needs to be a direct election of conference delegates, a component of that.  Already we’re seeing state parliamentary parties agree and state conferences agree to have direct election of state leaders.  I think we need to ban factional caucuses prior to any of the parliamentary parties meeting with regard to positions. 

VAN ONSELEN: Is that realistic though?  I mean, they will just meet informally, won’t they? 

ALBANESE: The culture whereby people are bound in leads to problems. 

VAN ONSELEN: This is like that old debate, you don’t change culture by formally banning, surely.  Surely you change culture by actually just simply working on the culture rather than putting in place rules? 

ALBANESE: Sure, but you need to recognise what the problem is and the problem when you have factional caucusing and you need to have the numbers within a subgroup of a faction then you have the numbers within a faction, then you have the numbers within a caucus is exactly the problem that occurred here in New South Wales.  How did New South Wales Labor get to the point whereby someone like Eddie Obeid, who has never been on this program, never been on any program, never made a public speech that has been reported anywhere, is a power broker in the New South Wales Government?  How does that occur?  So, you need to recognise those issues and respond to them. 

KELLY: If we just go to two of the main recommendations of John Faulkner.  The first recommendation is that we bust open the 50:50 power sharing arrangement at conferences with unions having 50%.  He wants a new 60:20:20 rule, more direct election and unions going down to 20%.  Do you agree with that? 

ALBANESE: Not necessarily.  I support more direct elections.  It’s a matter of the process rather than the strict numbers. 

KELLY: Do you want to keep the 50% rule?

ALBANESE: Look, I think that’s up for debate.  I think what is more important, for example, is the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in New South Wales before the last state conference had a meeting where I attended, a range of people attended with their delegates and they actually had a participation out there in their work places about what the issues were coming up before that conference and engaged.  The problem isn’t the unions getting a vote.  The problem is a few union secretaries having too much power. 

KELLY: Exactly, and Faulkner made that particular argument, I appreciate that argument, it’s very important, but if we can just go back to the numbers though, you think the 50% rule is open for review?  You would like to see it reduced, would you? 

ALBANESE: No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. 

KELLY: Okay. 

ALBANESE: I’m saying that I want to participate along with people in the unions and bring the whole party along on the journey of reform. 

VAN ONSELEN: So you need the unions to agree? 

ALBANESE: Well, I don’t want to get stuck up on a debate about numbers because I think that’s a distraction from the real issue, which is how do we make party conferences and our processes more representative, more participatory and I think that can occur at two levels.  The union link can be a real asset to the party, if it’s engaging people at the work places.  If it’s just a few union secretaries sitting round over a Chinese lunch then that is not using that link that we have with the Trade Union Movement effectively. 

KELLY: Okay, let’s just go to the other recommendation.  Senate and upper house preselections, he’s saying that she should be by the rank and file. 

ALBANESE: I supported that proposition at the New South Wales ALP conference.  I think you could have a component as well, an industrial component, from the Trade Union Movement but I think certainly in terms of if you had a rank and file component you wouldn’t need for it to be 100%, but you would need, therefore, there would be pressure on people to be able to stand.  What we’ve had in a series of elections is people elected unanimously, not always, but quite often.  If you had a process that opened it up to the rank and file then you could have a much more representative, I think, ticket out there.  I think by and large we have produced very good senators from New South Wales, including John. 

VAN ONSELEN: What about elsewhere around the country?

ALBANESE: Well, I raised issues about the WA election clearly where we ended up just getting one out of six.  If you had that participatory process – one of the things the leadership ballot showed is that, one of the things I got when going round the country, was people thought themselves in the general public they were getting a say.  People were talking about it in their local community and that meant that prior to that being determined we were on 52:48.  This is prior to us having a leader, when Chris Bowen was still acting leader, because people responded to the fact that we were talking positive, that myself and Bill Shorten were treating each other with respect, which contrasted with the image of Labor which was of a fight between Rudd and Gillard. 

VAN ONSELEN: So what or who are the barriers to more participatory selection of senators?  Why isn’t this happening? 

ALBANESE: Factions don’t like giving up their power. 

VAN ONSELEN: Because it’s not just the right, is it, the left are split on this as well. 

ALBANESE: All of the factions and all of the power brokers, myself included, have to accept that we will have less power in order for the many to have more power. 

KELLY: If we look at your portfolio you have just assumed responsibility for cities.  What’s the thinking there, what’s the game plan? 

ALBANESE: Look, 80% of Australians live in cities.  It produces 80% of our GDP.  And yet we have a national Government that isn’t engaged.  Its first actions, abolish the major cities unit, got rid of the urban policy forum, won’t invest in any urban public transport project. 

VAN ONSELEN: It’s a state responsibility though, isn’t it? 

ALBANESE: So are roads, but they’ll invest in roads but not public transport and you don’t address congestion in our cities without having both and The State of Australian Cities Report 2013, the last one that we did, showed this real disconnect for the first time of where population growth is in the outer suburbs and where jobs growth is, because of the decline of manufacturing, the changes in the economy with the growth in the finance and services sector.  Now, what that means is that we’ve got drive in, drive out suburbs.  There’s a lot of discussion about fly in, fly out work force.  Drive in, drive out suburbs where people have no choice but to drive sometimes an hour and a half to work and an hour and a half back. 

VAN ONSELEN: So what do you do about that?  

ALBANESE: What you do about that is a range of measures.  Firstly, you take cities seriously.  You speak about where jobs growth will be, so in some cases measures like the Moorebank Intermodal terminal, the Badgerys Creek airport for Sydney are important in terms of changing where that jobs growth is.  You also need to talk about transport corridors and where they are. 

VAN ONSELEN: You’ve got to do more than that, don’t you?  You need to be willing to embrace, and this is something that both sides at a state level at least have been loath to do in New South Wales, but particularly Labor.  You need to embrace going up, not just going out, don’t you? 

ALBANESE: Absolutely. 

VAN ONSELEN: High rises in the city, ala New York and other international cities. 

ALBANESE: You need higher urban densities around transport corridors. 

VAN ONSELEN: But Labor at state level was very loath to support that when it was in government in New South Wales. 

ALBANESE: Well, I’m talking about the future.  I think Labor did a range of measures to improve that in terms of the planning provisions which are there. 

VAN ONSELEN: Do you think there’s been a change of heart on that front in the Labor Party? 

ALBANESE: I want to engage on the concept of the 30 minute city, whereby for all of your activities, going to work, where your kids go to school, access to health facilities, access to shopping and recreational activity, you should be 30 minutes walk, cycle or public transport from most of the activities in your life.  We need to get back to a sense of community.  There’s too much disconnect out there, I think, between where the growth is and where that community and hard infrastructure is. 

VAN ONSELEN: Given the divide of responsibilities on this front between Commonwealth and state and you making the point that roads also falls into that category is this the kind of thing that you might even want to make a submission to the federation white paper on because it sounds like exactly the sort of issue that requires that kind of umbrella look? 

ALBANESE: Look, without national leadership you’ll have very bad outcomes indeed.  The decision by the federal Government to say “We will only invest in roads and not public transport” means that if you’re a state treasurer and you have two propositions, a road project where you can get co-funding from the Commonwealth and a rail project where you won’t, you’ll go with the road project.  The Productivity Commission has already found that.  Infrastructure Australia have found that.  That will lead to very poor outcomes indeed, because you can’t deal with cities like Sydney and Melbourne that will grow to 8 million people by 2050, you can’t have a city of 8 million people without having an effective public transport system. 

KELLY: Just how ambitious would you like to see Labor be at the next election when it comes to east coast high speed rail? 

ALBANESE: I think it is a proposition that’s worthy of support.  We did a cost benefit analysis. 

KELLY: The idea?  Are you talking about the idea in principle or just a cost benefit study? 

ALBANESE: No, we’ve done the cost benefit study.  It showed that between Sydney and Melbourne there would be $2.15 benefit for every dollar invested.  This is a game changer, not just for the capital cities but also for regional cities and regional economic development for Canberra, for Newcastle, for Wagga Wagga, for Albury Wodonga and for the cities that will grow up the north coast. 

KELLY: So you think this is a viable idea in financial terms, do you? 

ALBANESE: It is, absolutely.  It’s been found to be.  It is very expensive but there is a large return and it can’t be done tomorrow but what we should be doing right now, I’ve got a private members bill before the parliament to create a high speed rail authority that would be responsible for dealing with the inter-jurisdictional issues, given there are a range of state and territory government and local governments, we need to make sure as the first step that we are preserving that corridor for the future. 

VAN ONSELEN: So will Labor look to make a submission to the federation white paper process on this? 

ALBANESE: Look, we are making our submissions out there publicly.  I gave a major speech to the National Press Club.  We’re concerned about the whole direction of infrastructure Australia. 

VAN ONSELEN: You think that the Government are politicising in that space, don’t you? 

ALBANESE: Look, their performance has been appalling up until now.  They have legislation before the parliament that says that once a project has received $100 million of Commonwealth funding then you will do a cost benefit analysis.  They have got it the wrong way round.  You need to do the cost benefit analysis first and that should determine where your investment goes, so that in Melbourne, for example, they have taken money off the M80, which has a positive cost benefit analysis, given it to the east west project which the best case scenario that’s been published was 0.5, if you have an uplift factor it lifts to 0.8 which means you get 80 cents in the dollar return for your investment and they have taken money off the Melbourne Metro project which has a positive return, was recommended by Infrastructure Australia.  So they have got it the wrong way round.  We need to have cost benefit analysis for infrastructure and that needs to direct where the investment goes. 

KELLY: Over the last couple of days Bill Shorten has made it clear yet again that Labor will go to the next election committed to a carbon pricing policy and clearly Labor is committed to the principle of a mining tax.  Is there a risk for Labor the next election that if you are committed to both carbon pricing and a new mining tax you look as though you are locked in to the Rudd/Gillard period? 

ALBANESE: No, you are, with respect Paul, verballing him on the second. 

KELLY: I understand the position on the second, I was just trying to tease you out a bit on that. 

ALBANESE: What he has said and Labor has said is that we take climate change seriously. 

KELLY: What about the mining tax?  I understand climate change.  What about the mining tax? 

ALBANESE: Well, the mining tax has gone and we will be talking about our positions on a range of issues closer to the date. 

KELLY: Are you going to walk away from the mining tax, are you? 

ALBANESE: Well, it’s gone. 

KELLY: You going to leave that to The Greens? 

ALBANESE: It’s gone. 

KELLY: Will it come back?

ALBANESE: It went through the parliament. 

VAN ONSELEN: You don’t look too unhappy that it’s gone. 

ALBANESE: We will have our policies on resources and those issues and the spokespeople will develop them. 

KELLY: I think there won’t be a mining tax then. 

ALBANESE: What we have put out there, Paul, with respect, in our first year, more policy than Tony Abbott had leading up to the election, is that we think climate change is real.  The best way to deal with reducing our emissions is through a market based mechanism.  See, they’re not just climate sceptics, they are market sceptics as well.  We believe the market is the best way to drive that change through the economy.  Now, we will come up with more details about that, obviously closer to the election, but Bill is right, to make it very clear, that climate change is something that goes beyond the immediate.  It’s something we have a responsibility to for our kids and our grand kids because there is a price of carbon pollution.  The question is who pays it?  Do we just pass it on, which will be at a higher cost to future generations, or do we act in conjunction with the rest of the world? 

VAN ONSELEN: All right, Anthony Albanese, you are always generous with your time on this show.  Thanks very much for your company, much appreciated.

ALBANESE: Good to be here. 

VAN ONSELEN: Stay with us here on Australian Agenda.  When we come back Warren Mundine will join us live in the studio.


Aug 28, 2014

Transcript of television interview – ABC Capital Hill with Lyndal Curtis

Subjects: Qantas, national security, Iraq

CURTIS: Anthony Albanese, welcome to Capital Hill.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Lyndal.

CURTIS: Qantas has announced a big after-tax loss. Can the airline keep cutting its wages excess?

ALBANESE: The airlines has gone through the worst. And now, I think can develop quite a significantly better future. It’s made some –

CURTIS: What gives you hope? When some people say part of the problem is its decisions made on its fleet. And that’s something that takes a lot of money and a lot of planning and time to rectify.

ALBANESE: Well there’s no doubt that anyone who looks at the history of Qantas can point towards errors that have been made, commercial errors that have been made including I think its choice of fleet, and in terms of some of the arrangements that it attempted to enter into. But now I think it has certainty, it has legislative certainty, in that the Government accepted the amendments that Labor put forward to maintain Qantas as an Australian airline but to free up some of the provisions within the 49% so that’s done. What’s also done is significant international arrangements with partners including Emirates, China Eastern and that means that in terms of going forward they have significant partners in both Asia and the Middle East of course which is an entry point into Europe.

CURTIS: So if they have the ability with the changes that have been made on ownership structure, if they have international agreements and presumably a better international climate, does the only reason for Qantas not to succeed become a question of management?

ALBANESE: Well certainly I think the management will be held to account. Today’s results are certainly not good but they are slightly better than what market expectations were. A loss in the order of $650 million, the markets had expected that figure to be $700 million. They’ve made some difficult decisions in terms of writing down the value of some of the aircraft, some of the aircraft that were bought, in terms of the A380’s when the Australian dollar was around about 57c so it makes sense to write that down. But let’s put it in perspective. Qantas still has $3 billion in cash. It is still a successful company with a great safety record internationally. It’s important for Australia that Qantas is a successful company.

CURTIS: Do you have faith in the ability of the company to pick things up?

ALBANESE: Well I want that to occur. And I think that government should play its role in facilitating that. We’ve certainly done that both in government and in Opposition, been constructive. We think it’s also important that Virgin whose results come out tomorrow, I wouldn’t expect it to record a profit either. The airline industry is tough and I think what we saw with Qantas and Virgin is some of the capacity conflicts that were going on was that actions that were taking place that weren’t in the interests of either airline or a sustainable domestic aviation industry. That has improved going forward, there needs to be a little bit of common sense there going forward and Qantas is projecting a profit going forward to the next year and I certainly hope that we continue to have what is essentially a two airline situation here, two very successful airlines.

CURTIS: On another issue, do you believe as one of your senators does that the government is using national security to distract from its budget woes?

ALBANESE: I’m going to very much separate out those two issues. I thinking terms of the budget there’s no doubt that this is an extraordinarily incompetent government. It’s incompetent in terms of selling its message. But it’s incompetent in terms of selling a bad message. The way they’ve put together this government, the budget. They went out there and they spoke about budget emergencies. That had an impact on consumer confidence. It was of course nonsense. They inherited a government that had strong jobs growth, low inflation, low interest rates, a triple A credit rating, they talk the whole show down for political purposes, they then made savage and unfair cuts for which they had no mandate, and of course the Australian public have rejected many of the measures such as a new GP tax and the university changes.

CURTIS: Do you have any qualms then about the national security issue, about the government’s extension surrounding terror laws and possibly extension of engagement in Iraq?

ALBANESE: I’ll view national security issues on their merits. When we see the detail I am happy to respond. Of course at the moment we don’t have the detail. I watched an interview on Lateline last night where Senator Johnson didn’t seem to have any of the detail there so it’s pretty hard to respond. But in general of course national security must be the first order of any government, has that responsibility. Oppositions have a responsibility to act constructively where this comes. I’m certainly concerned in very real terms about the threat which domestic jihadists going over to the Middle East and fighting have. That’s something that I expressed in government and I still have that concern in Opposition. And it’s not just Iraq of course. We need to bear in mind that some of the fighters in Syria who’ve gone there, essentially fundamentalists who’ve attacked other members of the different Islamic groups that they don’t agree with and of course, and Christians and other groups as well.

CURTIS: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to talk with you.


Aug 20, 2014

Radio interview Transcript – Steve Price program, 2GB

Subject/s: Westconnex, Pacific Highway, Infrastructure Australia, Moorebank, Clive Palmer

STEVE PRICE: This time last year we were in the closing stages, can you believe it, of the election campaign. I know it seems like a hell of a lot longer. Kevin Rudd was still Prime Minister. Western Sydney, as we know particularly here on 2GB – we were out there for so much of that election campaign – was one of the biggest battle grounds, if not the biggest political battleground in the country. And of course in Sydney that meant promises about jobs and it meant promises about transport especially for commuters from western Sydney who have to come into the city to work. The Westconnex project was central to those promises and at the time (and I was reminded of this today when I saw a piece written by Anthony Albanese) Tony Abbott promised bulldozers would be at work within a year. Well, with three weeks to go it does not seem that that is going to happen. Back then as I said Anthony Albanese was Transport Minister. He’s still the Opposition’s transport spokesman. He’s on the line. Good to talk to you again.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Steve.

PRICE: Do you think that the public are going to remember that promise?

ALBANESE: Well, we’re going to remind them of it because Tony Abbott made it very clear. He said there’d be bulldozers and cranes in the sky within 12 months of an election in Sydney, in Melbourne and in Brisbane.  There’s no bulldozers. There’s just clouds of bulldust remaining from Tony Abbott’s promise.

PRICE: So nothing has happened on Westconnex?

ALBANESE: Nothing has happened on any single project anywhere in the country that wasn’t commenced by the former Labor Government and we’ll hold Tony Abbott to account. Part of that is Westconnex. Part of that is that is that the planning just isn’t being got right. I don’t mind a delay if they get it right but I was very disturbed to read an article by Tony Shepherd just last week about extending the M4 to Haberfield and the M5 to St Peters. Well, that is extending a road to a traffic jam. That doesn’t solve the problems of getting people in to the city or freight to the port.

PRICE: I’m a little confused on Westconnex. I’ve lost my way on whether you were supportive of it in government or not.

ALBANESE: We were supportive of the principle. We said we would make funding available but it was conditional upon making sure that the project had a proper cost-benefit analysis. So we put money aside and said that’s for infrastructure, for roads in Sydney. But we said you’ve got to get the planning right. I mean, I’ve got a constituent in Haberfield who in June got two letters on the same day signed by the same person from the Westconnex authority. One said we’re going to purchase your house, the other one said we’re not going to purchase your house. That just says to me that they don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know where Westconnex is going to start, they don’t know where it’s going to end and extending it from the existing end of the M4 to Haberfield does not solve the problem, it just moves the traffic jam and makes the traffic jam even worse.

PRICE: I’ll get on to the specifics in a second but do you see the irony in the comment you made about cost-benefit analysis? The audience are going to be screaming (as you know they will be) tonight back at you saying: Well hang on, they were the government who introduced a National Broadband Scheme without a cost-benefit analysis.

ALBANESE: No the National Broadband Network did have economic analysis and it showed …

PRICE: On the back of an envelope!

ALBANESE: No that is not right, Steve. That is not right. It showed that it would have a positive economic return. It showed that it would benefit the nation. It was indeed, when we established Infrastructure Australia, that a national broadband scheme was the first of its priority themes that it identified as providing a boost to productivity and a boost to the nation

PRICE: So if you’d won the election last year where would Westconnex be today?

ALBANESE: What we would have insisted was that we worked with the state government to make sure that they got first of all the planning right. I’m very concerned. Anyone who knows anything about Sydney knows the idea that a freeway – the M5 – will stop as St Peters is the extension. I don’t know here the traffic then is supposed to go Steve.

PRICE: Well, we’ve been though those nightmares. I mean, that’s the whole problem of the M4.

ALBANESE: Exactly.  You’ve got King Street, Newtown, which is basically a car park at the best of times, and then you’ve got the idea that you would get traffic to the port and boost freight productivity which was the whole idea of the M5 – that was part of the objective that you’ve got to solve – by dumping traffic on the western side of Sydney airport. It will add to congestion around the airport. I want to work with Tony Shepherd, I want to work with the State Government to make sure that it’s got right. We said this when we were in government. We said we were concerned to make sure that you get it right, we’re prepared to provide funding. It is absurd that the M4 stops where it does and it’s absurd that the M5 wasn’t made wider in the first place.

PRICE: It seems like we’ve been talking about the M4 extension or whatever tag you want to put on it for about as long as we’ve been talking about Badgerys Creek. Nothing ever happens. I’ve got people listening to me who are probably now, late tonight, still on their way home from work because bloody traffic jams in Sydney are a nightmare.

ALBANESE: Absolutely and all that’s going to happen after four years of the O’Farrell and Baird Government is that work will have commenced by next March maybe on adding two lanes to the existing M4 and for that privilege they are going to put a toll on the existing road. That’s all that will have happened in four years. Nothing for any other major road project in Sydney and that is of real concern. I worked closely with Duncan Gay on the F3 to M2 and we got a good outcome there with co-operation with federal and state governments. We signed on with Transurban in June of last year and that project will go ahead. It was got right. We need to make sure that we get this project right because the worst thing that could happen is that in ten years’ time if people actually realise that the M4 problem around Concord and Strathfield has simply been extended a few kilometres down the road to Haberfield and the M5 is dumping traffic out at St Peters, then I think people will find that unacceptable. People are prepared to accept I think the disruption that comes with major infrastructure projects but only if they can see that there’s a positive outcome. Now at the moment a road to a traffic jam isn’t that.

PRICE: Road construction has such a long lead time. I was lucky enough over the summer to drive on one of the road projects you oversaw north of Coffs Harbour and when you drive on one of those brand new roads you think thank god it’s actually been done. Surely road transport, road building, major roads – M5, M4, Pacific Highway it doesn’t matter where – why’s there a need for politics in that? Surely it should be bi-partisan.

ALBANESE: There shouldn’t be.

PRICE: We all want the road, it doesn’t matter if you vote Calathumpian, you want the road.

ALBANESE: Well that’s why we established Infrastructure Australia to get those priorities right. I’m very proud of what we did in government. We built or rebuilt 7500 km of road; the Hunter Expressway – promised built and opened. It’s a fantastic road. The Pacific Highway work that we did that you would have travelled on. Before you got to Coffs you would have travelled on the Kempsey bypass, the longest bridge in Australia, you would have travelled on that area up to the north of Coffs, Woolgoolga, Arrawarra.

PRICE: Woolgoolga and Coffs to Grafton is done now pretty much.

ALBANESE: It’s amazing and it’s saving lives. That’s the thing. It actually reduces travel times but most important it saves lives. I’m very proud of the work we did there and we did similar work up in Queensland on the Bruce, the Ipswich Motorway in Brisbane. We did major work. But here in Sydney it just seems that there is a problem getting the planning right. The money is available. I’ve been constructive about it. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t happen. I’m saying it should happen and it should be got right.

PRICE: What was your attitude to the Moorebank Freight Terminal construction?

ALBANESE: Well, I was supportive of that.

PRICE: I just want to play you an ad. This has been running on 2GB now for a couple of weeks. Let me play this for you:

Sitting in traffic? Think this is bad?, If you’re on the M5, Hume Highway, Moorebank Avenue or anywhere near the south-west, things are going to get a whole lot worse. Freight terminals planned for Moorebank will add 10,000 truck movements to your road every day. That’s an extra truck every eight seconds so don’t just sit there, speak up. Find out more and have your say online at Liverpool listens. Google Liverpool listens. Do it when you get home. Do it now.

PRICE: Seems Liverpool council aren’t happy about it.

ALBANESE: Well they are wrong. What Moorebank Intermodal terminal will do is take trucks off the road and make sure that freight from the Port of Botany can travel to the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal on rail.

PRICE: That’s the opposite of what they say in that ad.

ALBANESE: That’s correct. That is exactly what it is about. This is a vital project for Sydney. Intermodal projects are critical in terms of boosting the amount of freight that travels on rail rather than road. That’s the key to getting trucks off our roads. I am absolutely convinced that this is a vital project. We established the Moorebank Intermodal Authority. It is now bipartisan – similar to the way that support for a second airport for Sydney is now a bipartisan project. We’ve got to get these things done and it will mean massive jobs for south western Sydney, jobs during the construction phases but ongoing thousands of jobs for south-west Sydney.

PRICE: A couple of quick things before you go. The Roads to Recovery scheme: someone tells me that the funding for that has run out and that you’re actually going to have to implement a Private Member’s Bill to get that funding rebooted.

ALBANESE: Well the Government has just been asleep at the wheel here. We extended the funding in the 2013 Budget. But in terms of the legislation, the program exists until June, 2014. Now that’s run out. The government has had ten months to get a pretty simple Bill done that just extends that timeframe. There’s bi-partisan support for it.

PRICE: So they haven’t cut the funding?

ALBANESE: They just haven’t done it. They just haven’t legislated for it. They have cut Financial Assistance Grants to local government. Almost $1 billion has been ripped out and a lot of that will mean reductions in local road maintenance particularly in regional and rural communities. But the Roads to Recovery program is also vital.  They haven’t got it done so I’ve got a Private Members Bill I’ve given notice of and I’ll be pursuing that next week when Parliament  resumes. I hope to get bipartisan support. If they are prepared as the Government to actually front up and move simple legislation, we’ll back that as well. But they need to make sure that this vital program continues so that local government doesn’t get a double whammy – a hit on financial assistance grants and then a hit on Roads to Recovery.

PRICE: Would you have been able to have remained as calm as your colleague Penny Wong did on Q&A on Monday night if you’d been sitting next to Clive Palmer when he called the Chinese mongrels?

ALBANESE: I was watching at the time and I admire her patience. It was such an over-the-top comment, I’m sure that there was an element of shock there. I was shocked by just how crude the statement was. It clearly was not in the national interest. When you are elected to public office you have a responsibility to represent the national interest. Penny Wong represents the national interest each and every day. It’s a pity that Clive Palmer undermined that interest the other night

PRICE: Should he apologise properly?

ALBANESE: Of course he should.

PRICE: Always a pleasure to catch up. Thank you very much Anthony Albanese.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you Steve.




Aug 15, 2014

Transcript of television interview – Sky NEWS

Subject/s: Joe Hockey; Abbott Government unfair budget; Infrastructure.

KIERAN GILBERT: Joining us now to discuss the politics of the day, Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese thanks for your time. First of all I want to ask you about Joe Hockey and his comments. He says he’s simply putting out the facts of the matter and that the wealthy pay more dollars when it comes to fuel excise than those less well off.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR TOURISM: Absolute nonsense. Joe Hockey has had a shocker of a week. He’s in a hole and he’s digging away and you can barely see him.  Today, this morning, Christopher Pyne had six opportunities to say that he agreed with Joe Hockey’s comments and he refused to do so. And no wonder. The fact is that the wealthier people – where I am now talking to you now in Sydney’s CBD, all those company executives, just like myself –  have a company fuel card. They don’t pay for their own petrol. Joe Hockey doesn’t pay for his own petrol. Nor do most of the wealthy. The fact is also that if you live in outer suburban Australia, whether in be in western Sydney or the western or eastern suburbs of Melbourne, or the northern suburbs of Brisbane, northern Adelaide,  you have to travel to work by car. There simply aren’t the public transport options in our outer suburban, let alone our regional, communities. At the same time as Joe Hockey is dismissing this extra tax every time people get into a car, he’s refusing to fund any public transport projects. Every single public transport project that was already funded in the Budget, like the $3 billion for the Melbourne Metro, was cut by  his first Budget. So you take away that option for people and then you basically dismiss the impact that this is going to have on low and middle-income  earners. Joe Hockey doesn’t understand what a progressive tax looks like.

GILBERT: For a  Labor Party that  put in a carbon price though, which was a regressive tax but with compensation –

ALBANESE: It’s overcompensation Kieran.

GILBERT: But the question is it was designed to shape behaviour and to rein in emissions. Isn’t a fuel tax going to do a similar thing in the sense that people will drive less? For a party that delivered the carbon tax, wouldn’t that make economic sense to do that to reduce car emissions?

ALBANESE: Kieran, you might have noticed that in terms of pricing carbon, we didn’t put it on the motor vehicle. We put it on the big polluters. This was a tax on the big end of town. Joe Hockey wants to defend the big end of town at the expense of ordinary mums and dads in our suburbs and in our regional communities. He is so out of touch that he doesn’t even seem to get after 48 hours what a train wreck his comments have caused.

GILBERT: When it comes to those in the outer suburban areas and regional areas that you referred to, obviously infrastructure is going to be very important to them. This is something that is close to your heart. The thing I want to put to you this morning and ask you: is there any way Labor can oppose the billions that the government is proposing to spend on roads. This is just a bit of politics you’re playing around the infrastructure recycling as it’s called – the recycling of assets – because it’s hard to see Labor voting against billions of dollars in spending when it comes to improving the roads for those people your are talking about.

ALBANESE: Where is it Kieran? Where’s the extra dollars? There aren’t any. The only thing that’s being recycled here is existing government funds. Every single dollar in their pro-privatisation fund is taken from the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment fund – every single dollar. There’s not an extra cent from this government regarding this particular legislation in terms of additional expenditure.

GILBERT: You wouldn’t block it then?

ALBANESE: We haven’t blocked it. They’ve blocked it themselves. Why have they blocked it? Because they don’t want to accept an amendment that says before you spend taxpayers’ money on projects you have to have a cost-benefit analysis and it has to be value for money. That’s just common sense Kieran.

GILBERT: Infrastructure Australia already does it. Doesn’t Infrastructure Australia already require that?

ALBANESE: No, it certainly doesn’t. The government is avoiding that accountability. What they want to do is take funds from the Building Australia Fund that under legislation the funding can only be approved after the Infrastructure Australia analysis and after the cost-benefit analysis is published and shown that there is  good value for money. So projects like the regional rail link – the major rail project in Victoria that is transforming western Melbourne and the cities of Bendigo, Ballarat  and Geelong. That for example is one of them. What they want to do its put it into a fund where they can spend it however they like.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office


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