Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Mar 30, 2016

Transcript of media conference – Testers Hollow, NSW

Subjects: Testers Hollow flooding; Hunter Expressway; Bob Baldwin

REPORTER: Can you tell me why you’re here today?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m here to look at Testers Hollow at the invitation of Joel Fitzgibbon and Meryl Swanson, and I’m here because this is an area that was cut off once again for six days last year. This is unacceptable in the 21st century.

We shouldn’t have communities that are isolated because of a lack of practical infrastructure. And seeing something first hand can point you to where the solution is. I want to work with the local members and with the Mayor of Maitland and Mayor of Cessnock who are both here today who want practical solutions to this problem.

REPORTER: So, you’re up against Bob Baldwin, he’s come out today saying you know, that this has been a long time issue as you know and I guess something that you said you’re going to be campaigning hard for because you’ve got the personal experience with it.

MERYL SWANSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PATERSON: I do. My great grandparents grew up and lived over there on Dagworth Swamps. What’s changed in 90 years? They had to have a boat when it flooded, twelve months ago; we were using boats when Testers Hollow flooded. Not a lot’s changed. It is long overdue and time for change here at Testers Hollow, and I will be working hard to be elected as the local member.

REPORTER: What will you do in terms of trying to push for this to happen finally?

SWANSON: Well, Bob said he’s going to organise a meeting. I’ve already gotten that happening. You can see both the Mayor of Maitland and the Mayor of Cessnock are here today. We have the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese here today with Joel Fitzgibbon as well. I’ve managed to get those people together and we’re having constructive dialogue and conversation about how to fix Testers.

REPORTER: You’ve known this is an issue for a long time, being here and this was a part of your electorate. Can you tell me why now it’s important to act on it?

FITZGIBBON: This is absolutely an issue for the state government but we saw what’s been happening here in recent years and particularly in the last 12 months, it’s a community being cut off on two occasions so it’s grown a new level of importance and people are demanding action. So I’m happy to play my role in putting sufficient pressure on the state government to do something about what is a very serious issue.

REPORTER: The reason I say that is Bob Baldwin today put out a media release after yours saying how he is now trying to gather support for it to happen and that there was inaction and although it was a state issue, you may have been able to do more than you have.

FITZGIBBON: Bob Baldwin is all bluster. He’s had almost three years. The last three years in government but he wants to blame others for his failures. Bob Baldwin would be better off getting behind his desk and joining with us in helping to drag the state government to do something about what is a very serious problem.

REPORTER: There’s talk of putting pressure on state government to do something about this, this has been going on a long time. It’s an issue that’s not been addressed by state governments from either side of politics. Is it time that some federal funding could be put toward this?

ALBANESE: We want to see a practical proposal and that’s one of the reasons that it’s good that the Mayor of Cessnock and the Mayor of Maitland are both here today, to get that local input. We’d be prepared to sit down with the other levels of government and talk about what the solution is and what contribution we might be able to make.

I think I as a Minister have a track record in this community of delivering, particularly the Hunter Expressway that I’ve been on today rather than just talking. So when we make a commitment, then it’ll be firm, but we have to have that practical proposal put forward. But clearly, there needs to be a solution. You shouldn’t have in the 21st century, communities cut off for six days.

REPORTER: Sure, so has the state government approached, are you aware of any state government approaches to the federal government in recent years about this problem?

ALBANESE: I think the state government, certainly in the last twelve months, there’s been no proposal towards ourselves, and as far as I’m aware, no proposal to Infrastructure Australia for an assessment, or any firm proposal from the State Government to do something.

It appears that they’re not fulfilling their responsibility. This is a state road. They do have a `responsibility to do something about it on behalf of the residents. Clearly the petition that’s being collected, already with 4800 signatures means that members of the local community know that this situation is simply unsustainable.

REPORTER: Just finally, I saw some fellows over there with some pictures of what it was like here during the floods. Not sure whether it was January or last April, but it was closed for a substantial period of time for both times. What were your impressions after seeing those photos?

ALBANESE: Clearly it’s just unacceptable. You can see practically what the solutions potentially are. You either relocate the road or you do something to lift the road. But it shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of the state government, who have primary responsibility, but if they require assistance from other levels of government to come up with a solution to this we can help.

But clearly what shouldn’t happen is these regular flooding circumstances whereby communities are cut off, and you can see that there’s additional development taking place. We’re standing next to a sign about land sales. Surely given those circumstances the State Government would be getting revenue as well from the new residential properties.

How is it that the State Government’s prepared to accept revenue as a result of new sales but not prepared to put any of that revenue into fixing that road problem for the local community?

FITZGIBBON: Can I just say, and I’ll let the Mayors speak for themselves, but Bob Baldwin outrageously tried to blame the councils, suggesting that the councils, Maitland and Cessnock Councils, had opposing views as to what should be the solution.

It’s not up to the councils to make the final decisions about what the right solution for this area is, it’s up to the New South Wales Government to do that. So, Bob Baldwin has to stop promoting division and get on board with all of us, with all three levels of government to find a solution to this very serious problem.

CR PETER BLACKMORE, MAYOR OF MAITLAND: I was quite taken aback by the fact that – it was a simple phone call. Bob rang me. He was driving out this way and he asked my views and I had – I said have you been talking to Hilton Grugeon about the idea of allowing the roadworks to continue out here?

And then he got onto Bob, and Bob expressed his view and then subsequently the press release came out that both councils should sit down together with the State Minister.

Now, that’s not the answer really. I mean, the problem has been that the state government, through the RMS, the BCR ratio did not come up to an acceptable level. And what do you do about that? You’ve either got to try and get the case that it does come up to that level, because as you’re standing here you can see how many cars go by. Now, just raising it in Parliament is not enough. We need some action.

SWANSON: I think we need to revisit the RMS and the BCR, and the other thing is Bob’s talking about people getting together, well, we’ve got you here together today to talk about it and it’s only through working together with all three levels of government that we’re going to come up with a feasible solution for the community, because we just can’t have people being cut off in this day and age, with the thousands of houses that have been built on either side of the Hollow. It’s an important water causeway. It’s never going to go away. We need to come up with a better solution.

BLACKMORE: It’s got a history, you’ve been publishing the history which goes back a heck of a long time and to be fair, the State Member for Cessnock has certainly been very very involved in this issue as well, [inaudible] but if we keep going the way we’re going, the next time there’s decent rain- something could have happened last night – it would have been flooded again. And it’s the inconvenience it has caused.

Now, former Minister Albanese provided those funds for the Hunter Expressway. And look at these vehicles that are coming off the Hunter Expressway. Coming into Maitland and out of Maitland. Every day, five new people make Maitland their home. Cessnock has a rising population.

People depend on an all weather road here, and so we say we need to get all levels of government sitting down to have a discussion and talk. Whereas in local government we’re probably restricted to what we can do, but we need that extra muscle to come in over the top to recognise it and say ‘it’s a project that should be done’.

SWANSON: The other thing that is really important, and this is the RMS and the BCR, and whether it’s high enough or not, and whether there are fatalities – we don’t want a fatality. It would be terrible to think that someone was killed in a boat or on the road so it shouldn’t take a fatality to have this road adequately addressed. That’s the bottom line. Thanks.

 

Mar 30, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Peter Van Onselen, SKY News

Subjects: Tax reform, tax evasion.

VAN ONSELEN: More now on our top story today – the Government’s proposal to allow states and the territories to levy income taxes. I spoke earlier with the Shadow Infrastructure spokesperson for the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese.

Anthony Albanese thanks very for joining us.  What do you make of this idea of income-taxing powers perhaps being handed back to the states that the government has revealed?

 ALBANESE: Well, this is a government without an economic agenda but with nothing off limits re thought bubbles. We have had a national system of income taxation since the 1940s. The idea that we would make the tax system more complex by introducing a new tax is quite bizarre.

 VAN ONSELEN: To play Devil’s Advocate to that though, the United States does a version of this. They are a very strong Federation. Some of the state premiers have actually been calling for income-taxing powers and they do have a problem funding health and education going forwards. It is more complicated, but is it at least something worth considering?

 ALBANESE: Well, you know state premiers want more money and that’s because they want to provide services in education and health and the Turnbull and Abbott governments have cut funding for education and health. Peter, I have sat in Question Time for the last two and a half years where minister after minister has denied that there are any cuts to education and health. Well, Prime Minister Turnbull has now given that up, has conceded that there are these massive cuts to health. He’s offered to put a little bit back, but not all of the cuts that were there over a 10-year period and he has offered nothing with regard to education in spite of the fact that there was a very clear commitment on every polling booth at the last election that every school would get the same amount of funding no matter who won the election. Well, this is now a desperate government in search of an agenda. What they should do is actually do what they said they would do – not have cuts to education – and health and they could do that by restoring the funding that was there in the Budget.

 VAN ONSELEN: So can I just clarify? From your perspective, the Labor Party just rejects out of hand the proposition of proposition of even looking at income taxing powers for the states or have you got an open mind to it even if you are cynical about why the Government going down this path?

 ALBANESE: Well I tell you what I’ve got, I want to those people who should be paying tax to pay tax and the Government could start, instead of hitting ordinary working people who are already paying more than their fair share of tax because people are avoiding tax, because you have people earning millions of dollars literally employing accountants and lawyers to get around the tax system. You have the rorts that are taking place in terms of high-income earners using superannuation to avoid their obligations. You have multi-national corporations not paying their fair share of tax. All of these measures could be considered by the government before you start looking at a new tax on ordinary working people to be hit at the state level in addition to the share of taxation they are paying already at the federal level. Why is it that this government looks at hurting ordinary working Australians whenever they look at economic policy, instead of having a progressive attitude of maybe those people who aren’t paying their fair share should be kicking the can?

 VAN ONSELEN: Vertical fiscal imbalance, as worthy as that it is, is something that has been a problem for the states for a very long time; they do most of the spending, the Commonwealth does most of the revenue raising. But hand in glove with the proposition is this whole notion of horizontal fiscal equalisation to ensure I guess that unlike the United States our states are relatively similarly prosperous between them all. Is there a worry there do you think that if you have income taxing powers at state level that that equalisation across states could actually be impacted on?

 ALBANESE: Of course it would be Peter. The complexity of introducing different income tax systems at the state level, you could end up with the equivalent of the railway gauges problem, the problems with a lack of a national system across transport regulators that I had to deal with as the minister. What  we need as an economy is a more national approach, is more uniformity so that the accidents of history that are state boundaries don’t determine what services people get and how prosperous people are. Now, if you go down the road of having different income tax systems for state governments, you raise a whole range of issues. We’ve seen the absurdities as well when states will compete for events and offer different levels of subsidies so that the big losers are taxpayers in the respective states. We need to move away from this and the idea that the way that you fix federation is to give states income tax powers is I think quite backward-looking and hasn’t been thought through. I don’t think it’s a serious proposition. I suspect that it’s been raised to hide the fact that Malcolm Turnbull isn’t restoring or proposing to restore the cuts that were made to health and to education and he clearly is on the back foot, particularly over education where we’ve got the 10-year plan to give every child an opportunity to make the best of themselves in terms of their lives through education funding based upon need. I mean, this is an issue in terms of school funding that has been a scar on the political landscape for decades. It led to conflict in the Labor Party in the 1960s. It’s led to argy bargy over too long. Now, David Gonski established a process that would have ended that conflict for ever. All sides signed up to it and then the Government, after it was elected, walked away from it. Now I suspect that this is just a distraction. I can’t believe that serious economic reform involves introducing new taxes that duplicate existing taxes at the Federal level but raise the potential for different tax systems across the states affecting average earners. What are we going to have now? Differentiated GST rates depending upon where people live?

 VAN ONSELEN: Well, let me ask you though, let me just move on. What we are going to have if Labor wins is differentiated classifications in relations to housing with what can negatively geared and what can’t be.  My understanding is that this was a very divisive issue when Shadow Cabinet considered it before settling on the policy, both in terms of the negative gearing side as well as the reductions in the capital gains tax concessions. Does it concern you that Shadow Cabinet, whilst it ultimately settled on the policy, it has clearly leaked that here were disagreements internally.

ALBANESE: Well that’s simply not right, Peter.

VAN ONSELEN Not at all?

ALBANESE: The fact is that we’ve been out there for a very long period of time saying, foreshadowing that we were considering changes to negative gearing and to look at …

 VAN ONSELEN: But I’m talking about the policy that was settled on, Mr Albanese. I am led to believe there was a strong debate within Shadow Cabinet with a number of Shadow Cabinet ministers concerned about the policy script that Labor ultimately adopted.

 ALBANESE:  Well, there is strong support for this policy. It is not something that has divided the Labor Party. Every single member of the Shadow Cabinet, like every Member of Parliament, and indeed might I say, every ALP member who is in touch with their

local communities, knows that one of the big discussions that takes place on the sidelines at the football field where kids are playing sport or at the P&C, or at the local pub, is: I’ve got a house. How can my child or my grandchildren ever get into housing? And that is the issue that needs to be confronted. The Labor Party has come up with a comprehensive plan on housing affordability. There’s more to be released down the track in terms of policies that have been settled upon, but there is a vacuum on the other side of politics and what is extraordinary is that we’ve had this policy out there now for months and what we have from the opposition is still sniping and no tax policy, no economic policy. In the last 24 hours we have this idea of state-based income taxes and they have the hide to talk about new taxes and who is in favour of them.  Well, we know who is in favour of new regressive taxes and they wanted to have the GST to 15 percent. They couldn’t get that through so now they are talking about, rather than fix some of the evasion and avoidance that’s taking place within the existing tax system, they want to hurt ordinary working Australians.

 VAN ONSELEN: Mr Albanese we’ll have to leave it there. We appreciate you time on News Day. Thanks for your company.

 ALBANESE: Great to be with you, I am off to Newcastle.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 29, 2016

Transcript of media conference – Melbourne

Subjects: Infrastructure cuts; Monash Freeway;  Managed Motorways; cities policy; Angas Taylor; ICAC; smart infrastructure

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be here in Berwick with Simon Curtis, who is the Labor Candidate for the seat of La Trobe. And it’s great to be back here in La Trobe where we announced when in government that we would upgrade the Monash Freeway with $69 million between Warrigal Road and Clyde Road for the implementation of smart infrastructure.

This had been examined by Infrastructure Australia and was a part of the Managed Motorways Program. It would produce a benefit of more than $5 for every dollar that was invested and together with the $400 million upgrade of the Monash that has been announced by the Victorian Government would make a major difference to productivity.

We have when it comes to infrastructure and a massive deficit in Victoria from the Commonwealth Government. Victoria has one in four Australians but receives just 9 per cent of the federal infrastructure budget. And that of course is a small infrastructure Budget because it has fallen by 20 per cent since the change of government in 2013.

We actually need a local member here in La Trobe who will stand up for the interests of this community. And the Monash Freeway only received funding from the Commonwealth Government when we were in office. Prior to that, of course, the Commonwealth had no responsibility and didn’t commit any investment and since the change in government they cut that $69 million that was committed in the 2014 Budget. We need to make sure that we build better roads, better public transport and better, more productive, sustainable and liveable cities and it is only federal Labor that is committed to that. And I might ask Simon to say a few words.

SIMON CURTIS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LA TROBE: Well firstly I’d like to thank Anthony for coming out here today and just showing our support in Federal Labor for road projects and infrastructure projects and especially right here in Berwick. We know how much this project means to the people of Berwick and the people that live right throughout La Trobe and so I thank Anthony for coming here today and just confirming Labor’s position and confirming the position of the Liberal Government which is to over their time back in office of taking that money out of the Monash Freeway and putting it on to other projects.

REPORTER: Is the project fully funded already?

ALBANESE: It will be fully funded by us. We had the money in the Budget and it was taken out of the Budget by the Liberal Government as a conscious decision. And I notice that the Federal Member for La Trobe for the Liberal Party refused to say anything at the time of that cut. And of course when it comes to cities, this is a government that is distracted.

We have a new Prime Minister who says that he cares about cities, but the fact is we haven’t seen any investment in cities. We have a Prime Minister who likes to ride on trams but won’t fund trams or trains here in Melbourne or indeed throughout Victoria.

And we have now a downgraded Parliamentary Secretary for Cities, Angus Taylor, who is distracted by the fact that he has been caught up in the scandal regarding the donations to the Liberal Party.

Angus Taylor was mentioned in the ICAC hearings as part of the NSW Liberal Finance Committee has obviously been more concerned about those distractions than with actually delivering a policy change. And it’s very possible that now there is a cloud over the second person appointed for cities by Malcolm Turnbull after the first person of course, Minister Briggs, had to stand aside.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: We are absolutely committed to this project and more. We want to get advice from Infrastructure Australia about further commitments that we would make in terms of road and rail funding. But the problem is that this government actually took money away from projects that had been recommended by Infrastructure Australia.

They took money away from the Monash Freeway here through the Managed Motorways Program. They took money away from the M80 ring road project here in Melbourne and they took money away from the Melbourne Metro, all three of which had been approved by Infrastructure Australia, would have provided a massive boost to the Victorian economy. And that’s why we need to listen to Infrastructure Australia. This specific project:  $5.20 of benefit for every single dollar that would have been invested.

REPORTER: How much time do you think this will save commuters?

CURTIS: I don’t l know precisely how long it will save. I mean the Managed Motorways is all about adapting to the circumstances of the time so different times of day will result in different times for journeys.

ALBANESE: The big benefit here is during peak hour – being able to make sure that the motorway benefits from the infrastructure which is there. This is about being smart with our infrastructure.

At the Sydney Institute just two weeks ago we announced that for every Infrastructure Australia submission, state governments or private sector proponents would have to include in it how smart infrastructure was a part of the project so that the public get the best out of every single taxpayer dollar.

That’s why this project made sense, that’s why this project was recommended by Infrastructure Australia and that’s why it is so short sighted that the Liberal Party cut this funding. We have had three years of lost opportunity when it comes to infrastructure. Three years of cutbacks. Three years of not investing in the productivity boosting infrastructure that we need.

That 20 per cent decline in infrastructure investment from the public sector from September 2013 through to the current time based upon the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. Now that means, that means that we need to do much better.

Here in Victoria in particular, the fact that Victorians are receiving 9 per cent of the infrastructure budget and that Victorian Liberal Party members are not only saying that that’s OK; they are applauding it.

That says a lot about them and says why we need local members that will actually stand up for their electorate. Thanks very much.

CURTIS: Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 23, 2016

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa with David Penberthy and Will Goodings

Subjects: Brussels attacks, national security, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission; Tony Abbott; ABCC

PRESENTER: And as always, as two tribes go to war the ever reliable Anthony Albanese joins us. Albo, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day! I’m always distracted by that song because it’s such a great song. Sort of – dancing away here, you know, in Devonport, Tasmania. Greetings.

PRESENTER: Mate. Bit of a music buff aren’t you, Albo. You memorably programmed Rage about a year ago. That must have been a huge honour.

ALBANESE: It was the highlight of my Deputy Prime Ministership!

PRESENTER: And on the line also the federal Resources Minister, Josh FRYDENBERG in place of Christopher Pyne this morning. Minister, good morning.

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Good morning, nice to be with you, and g’day Albo.

ALBANESE: G’day Josh. Where’s Pyney?

PRESENTER: He’s off for a couple of weeks. Readying himself for an election campaign I expect.

ALBANESE: It’s on. Someone should tell him. Let him know Josh. It’s on!

FRYDENBERG: Well, we’re hoping this legislation goes back through the Parliament, Albo.

ALBANESE: No you’re not!

FRYDENBERG: With your support Albo, it will.

ALBANESE: No you’re not.

PRESENTER: Before we have a stink about matters of a domestic nature, we’re duty-bound to start the segment by asking you both about the situation in Brussels overnight.

The Prime Minister this morning, Josh Frydenberg, he has said that there will be no elevation in the terror warning here in Australia and that people should keep living their lives as they do.

But do you think in light of the fact that we’ve seen airports targeted, railway services targeted, that there could be a rethink and a muscling up of the types of security measures we have in place here?

FRYDENBERG: Well, I think the Prime Minister makes those statements on the basis of the best available evidence to him by our professional law enforcement and intelligence authorities and I know they’re doing everything to protect Australia.

As a government we’re proud of the fact we’ve got through five tranches of counter terrorism legislation, that our military personnel are engaged in Iraq at the moment, trying to defeat ISIS as part of an international coalition, but we are very obviously concerned about domestic threats and that’s why we’ll continue to take the best possible advice from our agencies in regard to what our threat level should be and whatever measures we need to take.

PRESENTER: To you Albo, you’re one of the most senior figures on the left of politics in Australia. You know, your left wing credentials go back to the seventies when you were fighting it out in Sydney.

ALBANESE: I’m not that old!

PRESENTER: Eighties. Eighties! Sorry mate. I added a couple of decades to you there. But look, despite your sort of pedigree, you’ve been really vocal in the past about how maybe we need to embrace a more muscular brand of liberalism, have called for the banning of organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir, an unarmed version of ISIS.

Do you think we still need to do more to stop organisations in our country that advocate in the name of violent jihad but stop short of actually practicing it?

ALBANESE: Well, there’s nothing progressive about these fascists. They’re about destroying our way of life. They’re about attacking us for who we are and we’ve seen just how once again how evil this ideology is, and that’s what it is.

It’s an ideology that says anyone who is different is our enemy and is fair game. That is their approach and I think we have to have a very firm resolve against these groups whether they’re in Australia or internationally.

We need to be very clear and send a very clear message about our resolve and today of course, we need to express solidarity with the people of Belgium and those who’ve been either killed or hurt by this atrocity.

PRESENTER: I wonder if we could just switch attention for a moment to matters, I guess an issue that’s being hotly debated in South Australia but at some point in time that’s going to become part of the federal conversation.

Of course, this is about the prospect of a nuclear waste storage facility, a high level waste storage facility being constructed on the back of what was a fairly positive review put by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s interim report about the economic benefit to South Australia.

There was a slightly contrary report put out yesterday by The Australia Institute which painted a fair less rosy picture about the prospect of importing waste and storing it here in South Australia. Josh Frydenberg, you’re the Energy Minister, the Resources Minister. Which report do you think is closer to the mark?

FRYDENBERG: Well I think the Weatherill Government should be congratulated for commissioning Kevin Scarce to do this major report, the Royal Commission itself into all aspects of a nuclear fuel cycle and judging from the interim findings there does seem to be a strong case for considering the storage of high level waste in Australia.

But obviously it would need a bipartisan degree of political support as well as a broad community consensus and I have noticed that views have changed particularly in South Australia as they look to new industries to create the jobs that your state needs.

The fact is that Kevin Scarce indicated that the storage of high level waste could be worth up to $5 billion a year, create 500 jobs and be an industry for the future.

So that to me is the right way to be thinking about these issues but we are a long way away from a final decision at either a state level or a federal level to go down this path. But it’s certainly an interesting development and the South Australian Government should be congratulated.

PRESENTER: To you Albo, we’re seeing an interesting phenomenon on the state political level, a fracturing within the state Labor Party, there’s a breakaway group that have been invited into Parliament to speak to MPs – people like The Australia Institute. Is the federal Labor Party or the federal Labor movement united in its openness or opposition to the potential for high level storage?

ALBANESE: I think people are always open to rational debate and that’s what taking place here. People have different views and that’s the truth. You should have a proper debate about the facts and the benefits, but also the costs of any proposal such as this.

I myself, historically, have been very sceptical and remain so about any further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle. But that doesn’t mean that I rule out any engagement and I think the contribution of The Australia Institute is a positive one and there should be other contributions as well.

This has to be thought through properly and that’s why Jay Weatherill did the right thing by asking for a comprehensive study such as he did.

PRESENTER: To you Josh Frydenberg, on the question of election timing, we saw this quite uncomfortable situation a couple of days ago where at the same time that Malcolm Turnbull was trying to extoll the achievements and the agenda of his government you had Tony Abbott on Sky News at the same time saying that the Turnbull Government is effectively in a policy sense still the Abbott Government.

How hard is it going to be for you guys going into an election campaign with what is starting to look a bit like what is Rudd-esque sniping from the sidelines?

FRYDENBERG: Well, obviously I’d dispute the premise of what you’ve just said because I think that everyone understands that when you change leaders as both the Labor Party, and the Coalition have done, there’s going to be elements of continuity and change in the policy.

When we talk about the continuity, we’ve seen the free trade agreements that Tony Abbott helped drive with Andrew Robb with China, Japan and Korea which are now creating real benefits for the Australian economy in terms of job growth and investment.

At the same time, Malcolm Turnbull’s put his own stamp on the Prime Ministership with major announcements around innovation, backing small business, against big business with changes to competition policy, Section 46.

Taking on vested interests with major media reform, which again had been in the too-hard basket for too long. And obviously the Defence White Paper which will see hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions of dollars of new investment in South Australia which is a very positive development too.

There is going to be elements of continuity from Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership but there’s also a new look to his team under Malcolm Turnbull and there are some important new policy initiatives too.

PRESENTER: Finally to you Albo, do you think that Malcolm Turnbull is going to be able to land some hits on Labor by fighting the election on industrial relations given some of the more unseemly evidence that we’ve seen in relation to some unpleasant characters from the CFMEU and so forth?

ALBANESE: Well, the problem for him of course with the ABCC legislation that he is saying is so important is that it doesn’t deal with criminality. Criminality is dealt with by the Crimes Act, and by the police. And it should be dealt with.

What we have here is a government that doesn’t have an agenda. That can’t even manage the way the Parliament is run. We’ve just sat for five weeks out of seven.

Five weeks out of seven where the government that controls the agenda in the House of Reps and the Senate actively avoided debate on industrial relations. Its big priority wasn’t doing something for your listeners. It was doing something for itself in terms of the Senate reform legislation.

In five weeks, no mention at all and then we’re brought back to Parliament early because this is a government without an agenda, without a plan, without an idea. They’ve even taken their slogan, “continuity with change” from Veep, the US sitcom series.

I mean, it is bizarre and they are getting sniped at from the sidelines by Tony Abbott and I would expect that that will continue because there’s so much frustration within the government about what happened with Tony Abbott and the fact that people were saying around the corridors last week, ‘I don’t know why we changed leader because this bloke doesn’t seem to have a plan’.

PRESENTER: Okay, thank you for that. Anthony Albanese and Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg joining us as two tribes go to war.

Mar 23, 2016

Transcript of press conference – Latrobe, Tasmania

Subjects: Bass Highway; Tasmanian infrastructure; Labor’s record on infrastructure; Brussels attacks; energy crisis; Midland Highway; Labor’s Tasmanian candidates; election timing

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s great to be here with Senator Anne Urquhart, but also Justine Keay, our candidate for Braddon and Brian Mitchell, our candidate for Lyons, and we are here today at the invitation of Ian and Trudy, of Caltex here, who have collected petitions of more than 2000 people about safety on the Bass Highway, not just here, but in this entire stretch and region. When we were in government we increased infrastructure investment for Tasmania by more than double. We invested along this highway, on the Midland Highway in rail, freight – right across the board – we invested in Tasmania.

Since the change of Government to Abbott and Mr Turnbull we’ve seen not a single new infrastructure project of any significance funded here in Tasmania. Indeed, we’ve seen $60 million cut from the rail freight revitalisation scheme and $100 million cut from the Midland Highway that was allocated in the Budget.

Now this needs to be a priority because this is an issue of safety. And I pay tribute to Ian and Trudy for doing the hard yards collecting the petition, making sure that this is a public issue. And if I am the Transport Minister, this is an issue that will be addressed in partnership with the State Government, because we need to do something about this dangerous stretch which I have witnessed firsthand this morning, right here today.

JUSTINE KEAY: Thank you Albo for coming to Braddon and to Lyons to talk about the importance of this road. The Latrobe Council has spoken to me and told me this is probably one of the most highest volume pieces of the national highway in Tasmania. We have a fantastic highway between Devonport and Burnie but this stretch of road has been neglected. We’ve got an industrial area that can’t grow at the moment because the Latrobe Council have no certainty about what going to happen in the future. It’s about time that the State Government and the Federal Liberal Government actually do something. There’s nothing planned. They have nothing in the wings around fixing this road for safety, for development for this state. We need a fix for the future and I am really proud that Labor are here today to ensure that if we get into government we can look at it and ensure that it is ready for the future.

ALBANESE: Brian.

BRIAN MITCHELL: Nothing could be more important for infrastructure than safety. Road safety is paramount. This is a dangerous highway and needs to be fixed. We’ve got truck here barrelling up the backside of cars that are turning into this service station. That’s just not safe for the motorists or the truck drivers involved. We need a safer road and it’s time to get on with the job.

ALBANESE: Thank you very much. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: How will you improve the safety here?

ALBANESE: Well, what we will do is work with the State Government along of course with the Latrobe Council for appropriate safety works to take place. I am very familiar with this part of Tasmania, as I am with all of Tasmania and when I was the minister, every time I came to Tasmania it was with announcements, announcements for road funding, rail funding, the National Broadband Network, community infrastructure such as the upgrade at Aurora Stadium. What we have seen from this government is neglect and we want to make sure that these issues are fixed. We’ve seen a freezing of Financial Assistance Grants to local government, including in the current financial year. Now that has placed more pressure on local roads. But this is a part of the national highway. This is a major road and it’s a major freight route as well and one of the concerns that I have is the fact that the cuts to rail freight have meant inevitably that there are more trucks on the road rather than freight being carried on rail – a short-sighted approach from the Federal Government of which the State Government here of course have refused to stand up and refused to speak up for Tasmanians.

REPORTER: So do you have a funding commitment to fix this?

ALBANESE: Well, we will fix it. We will fix it. And I stand by my record as a minister and our record in government. We fixed problems where they were identified and we more than doubled funding for infrastructure here in Tasmania. It went from $146 per Tasmanian to $270 per Tasmanian just while we were in office – that extraordinary increase where we identified what was needed. And that’s just road and rail. That doesn’t take into account the other funding increases that we had through things such as increasing the Black Spots Program, increasing the Roads to Recovery Program and community infrastructure funding to local government.

REPORTER: How much would this section of road cost the Labor Government if elected?

ALBANESE: Well of course we would need to do the proper assessments. The planning would need to take place and that would need to take place from the State Government. But what is the cost of not doing this road? The cost is bad for road safety, bad for productivity. I’ve driven along here this morning. We know that trucks accelerate as they are about to go up the hill here and if they are then confronted with a vehicle waiting to turn that is a very dangerous situation which anyone who has a look at this part of the road can identify and that’s why it needs to be fixed.

REPORTER: There are big delays at the moment at the nation’s airports due to the Brussels explosions in the airport there. As Transport Minister would you call on members of Border Force to call off their industrial action at this time?

ALBANESE: Well in terms of aviation, let’s do one thing and one thing very clearly, which is prioritise safety and prioritise national security, not play politics with it. So I won’t be playing politics with it or answering questions that are aimed at making an issue political that should be above politics. We have a bipartisan commitment in this country and today we stand together with the people of Belgium and indeed the people of the world in opposition to what has happened in Brussels, which is an atrocity. These people hate us because of our way of life. These people want to damage our way of life. They want to instil fear but I remain very confident that the Australian people – every one of us – stand against this atrocity and when it comes to national security it has always been bipartisan. I as a minister undertook measures such as introducing full body scanners into our gateway airports – a no-scan, no-fly system – the toughest in the world that I am pleased received bipartisan support and we stand ready to cooperate on any national security issue with the Government and the Government should respond to appropriate advice.

REPORTER: Back to the highway here. If elected, what would you like to see? Can you provide us with an example on the Bass Highway?

ALBANESE: Well, politicians shouldn’t design the safety measures, engineers should. We should take proper advice from the engineers and the people with expertise and make sure essentially that you have a separation is what is required here of turning traffic from the through traffic. So making sure that you don’t have circumstances whereby a truck, heading forward is all of a sudden accelerating but confronted with a turning vehicle into the station here. But it’s not just here. There are other parts of the highway in this section of road that need to be addressed. That’s why the appropriate thing is a full safety audit and then a response from all the levels of government to make sure that it gets fixed.

REPORTER: The biggest issue in Tasmania at this time is the energy crisis. You are the Infrastructure Minister (sic) and the Basslink Interconnector is a piece of infrastructure. Would an elected Labor Federal Govenrment fund or help fund a second Basslink Interconnector?

ALBANESE: Well, show us the business case. If you’ve got it, I’d be happy to see it. What you need to do is to have a business case and the State Government it seems to me, are completely asleep at the wheel here. It is the State Government that isn’t providing a business case. There’s no transparency. So we of course would have to look at any issue of energy security, but the Start Government needs to provide that information to the Federal Government and to the Federal Opposition given the circumstances of where we are in the timeframe and that we’ve got a Prime Minister because he doesn’t have an agenda or a plan for the nation seems to have a plan for an election on July 2.

REPORTER: Would a Federal Labor Government consider financial assistance for Tasmania if the energy crisis drags on beyond the election?

ALBANESE: Well, what does that mean? What does that mean?

REPORTER: Well, I suppose has the ALP at the national level had discussions about the Tasmanian energy crisis?

ALBANESE: Well I’m not the energy spokesperson.

REPORTER: But you are the Infrastructure Minister (sic).

ALBANESE: I’m not the energy spokesperson, I am the Infrastructure Shadow Minister and it would be nice if the Tasmanian Government gave us the courtesy of – they’ve given no briefings and there is no business case and if you’ve got a business case, it should be published and we should actually act upon that. What I did as Infrastructure Minister was act upon independent, expert advice and I acted with funds. I acted with real money, on real projects that created real jobs and made a real difference. This Tasmanian State Government need to do that in a submission to the Federal Government and the Federal Opposition and I call upon them do so.

REPORTER:  You mentioned that you thought July 2 – possible double dissolution election. Is this the beginning of the Tasmanian candidates’ election campaign?

ALBANESE: Well, we think in Justine and Brian we’ve got two outstanding candidates for Braddon and Lyons. Their seats we want to see returned to the Labor fold at the next election because I think Tasmanians will know that between 2013 and 2016 the members who they elected in good faith to the House of Representatives simply haven’t delivered. They haven’t delivered a major road project or a major rail project. All they have delivered is cuts and the other big infrastructure project of course where Tasmania was put first by the former Labor Government was the National Broadband Network. And they will know that under the Coalition they promised that the NBN would be in place to every home and every business right now – that it would be in place. So everyone who doesn’t have the NBN is entitled to send a big message to this government at the 2016 election that I am pretty sure will be on July 2 and say well you ignored us, we’ll send you a message back. And let alone anyone who has a young child at a school, or a grandchild, is entitled to say you promised that you would equal the funding for schools that Labor had committed to and that hasn’t happened. That’s why we’ve had to commit to $4.5 billion in years five and six that were identified by the Gonski reforms. And we have committed a 10-year plan – $37 billion to make sure that every single child gets the best opportunity in life and an education is critical to that.

REPORTER: One major proposal for infrastructure in Tasmania at the moment is by DP World for an international port project in Burnie. Are you aware of that project?

ALBANESE: We haven’t been approach by DP World but certainly we, when I was the minister, provided from memory it was $5 million for an upgrade of the Burnie port. That’s consistent with the work that we did in this part of Tasmania and indeed throughout Tasmania. So we would look at any proposal. We established National Ports Strategy – the first of its kind and a National Land Freight Strategy, which envisaged not just viewing ports as islands, but how you get goods to and from the port. We had a $100 million commitment to projects that were aimed at increasing the export capacity of Tasmanian businesses – projects like making sure that Tasmanian salmon could be semi-frozen in a way that would increase the value of that salmon when it was exported. So we had a range of measures in place aimed at essentially ports and aimed at improving Tasmania’s export capacity. Since the change of government all of that has stopped, the government has been not too bad at going around and trying to claim projects that were funded under the former Labor Government as its own. That has been its major contribution  – has been re-announcement  and claiming the former Labor Government projects as its own.

REPORTER: Prior to the last election he Labor Government had committed $500 million to upgrades to the Midland Highway. Will you be matching or increasing that commitment at this election campaign?

ALBANESE: Well, we certainly have indicated, and Bill Shorten has indicated that the $500 million commitment stands when he spoke to the Brisbane Media Club. It’s extraordinary that you will remember, as I am sure Tasmanians will, that when that when Tony Abbott promised $400 million he said that would duplicate the entire Midland Highway. Now he obviously did that on the back of a light beer shandy coaster somewhere here in Tasmania because that was always a nonsense commitment. So we have $500 million –we had in the budget. That’s just one of the cuts that have been made to infrastructure here in Tasmania along with the cut to the rail revitalisation program and other projects.

REPORTER: Are there any other projects that, if elected, Labor will commit to?

ALBANESE: Oh, certainly we’ll be making announcements during the campaign. We are here today in the area covered by Braddon and Lyons, but I think Labor’s record, whether it be the stadium upgrades, the road upgrades, the rail upgrades, the $50 million for Macquarie Point as a great example of how you revitalise our cities, the funding for the Launceston bypass, the funding for roads and infrastructure right throughout Tasmania, the working with businesses that we did to increase export capacity. I think we had an outstanding record here in Tasmania and were we in government, we would prioritise Tasmania as well and there is no better example of how we were prepared to acknowledge the fact that as the southern island, it has disadvantages with those of us who come from the northern island. That’s why the National Broadband Network was being rolled out here in Tasmania first – to overcome that tyranny of distance and it is extraordinary that Malcolm Turnbull, who is now the Prime Minister, has presided over a con on the people of Tasmania because he said, as the Shadow Minister for Communications and then as the Communications Minister, that it would continue to be rolled out. We know that hasn’t happened.

REPORTER: If there is a double dissolution election all Tasmanian senators I suppose will be having to pitch for their hobs again. How will it be decided what order they are listed on the ballot paper?

ALBANESE:  We’ll deal with that through the ALP’s organisational processes but we have an outstanding team here in Tasmania, not the least of which is Anne Urquhart here, who is so good that her Twitter handle is @AUSenator, recognising that, you know, she could do the Senate job by herself I think. But in Tasmania we have an outstanding team and we’ll sort through those things if and when Malcolm Turnbull announces an election for July 2. But you’ve got to ask yourself this: The Senate as well as the House of Representatives have just finished sitting for five weeks out of seven. During those five weeks at any time there could have been a debate and a determination of the ABCC legislation or any other legislation that the government wanted voted on. Indeed the Government voted against that legislation being determined last week. So this is a con. The Greens were conned by Malcolm Turnbull into going down the road that they did last week. They could have got reform to donations down to $1000, they could have got a range of things through. They went along with the Government and now we have this farcical proposition whereby the government is recalling Parliament because it couldn’t get its act together to run the Parliament. I ran a Parliament as a Leader of the House in the House of Representatives for three years with 70 votes out of 150. You know what, you talk to people on the cross benches. You talk to them and you get discussion and treat them with respect. This is a government that hasn’t treated the Senate with respect. More importantly is hasn’t treated the Australian people with respect. Tony Abbott promised no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions, no cuts to the ABC or the SBS and walked away from that. Malcolm Turnbull is implementing Tony Abbott’s policies, including all of those cuts and I think the Australian people are entitled – entitled – to say this is not the government we voted for and to change their vote at the 2016 election whenever it is called. Thank you very much

 

Mar 18, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Senate reform, election timing, Safe Schools, Nick Xenophon’s pyjamas

PETER STEFANOVIC: We are joined now by Minister for Industry and Innovation, Christopher Pyne in Canberra and Shadow Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

STEFANOVIC: These laws will inevitably pass, why is Labor holding it up?

ALBANESE: We’re not doing that. The Government has set this schedule. The fact is that it says everything about this government that the last thing they do before they rush to an election isn’t something to help average Australians, it’s something to help themselves, a fix of electoral system by the new Coalition, that is the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Greens.

STEFANOVIC: But Labor had basically supported these reforms up until quite recently.

ALBANESE: That’s not right. That is absolute nonsense. The fact is that these reforms will result in potentially one in four Australian’s votes being put in the bin.

Not counting to elect anybody at all. And one of the things that has happened in the Senate overnight is that Labor senators have asked Mathias Cormann, in the Senate, very clearly, will it be OK to advocate a ‘just vote one’ for the Senate, and he’s refused to answer that question.

Because that’s where this is headed, essentially, moving to optional preferential. One in four Australians, whether we like it or not, do not vote Labor, Liberal, National or Greens in the Senate.

This potentially means that all of those votes won’t be counted to elect anyone. That’s not democracy.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, a big laugh?

PYNE: Well, Peter, I mean what Anthony Albanese is saying, he’s trying desperately not to look like a fool, but the Labor Party and the crossbenchers are basically saying that they want to keep the Senate here all day filibustering today and overnight to stop individuals from allocating their own preferences and the crossbenchers are basically admitting that they couldn’t get elected unless they game the system.

That’s why they want to keep the current system as it is. Ricky Muir got 497 votes and got elected to the Senate.

ALBANESE: How many did Anne Ruston get?

PYNE: A lot more above the line than Ricky Muir did. She was on the party vote.

ALBANESE: How many did she get? Who’s heard of her? She’s a minister! Who’s heard of her? Who’s heard of Anne Ruston?

PYNE: Stop shouting over people on morning television, Anthony. Obviously a bit worked up this morning. The truth is, Ricky Muir got 497 votes, everyone knows the crossbenchers have gamed the system.

That is what Labor is fighting tooth and nail to defend, to stop own individuals from allocating their own preferences and allow preference whisperers to keep on gaming the system.

It’s wrong, and that’s why the Government is fixing it.

STEFANOVIC: There is a point. Doesn’t that suggest the system is flawed?

ALBANESE: Look, we don’t argue the system is perfect, far from it. But there are ways to fix it that don’t result in voters having their ballot papers placed in the bin.

For example you could get have a threshold whereby you need to get 3% or 4%, and unless that happens your votes get distributed.

That happens in a range of electoral systems around the world. But what we are seeing with this is the essentially a fix that will help the Coalition and help the Greens, so that they then rush to a double dissolution election which is not necessary, but because of these changes, that’s what it’s all aimed at.

We don’t even know when the Budget is going to be.

PYNE: You won’t vote for the ABCC bringing back the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

ALBANESE: Well, you didn’t vote for it this week. You won’t give us a chance to vote on it.

PYNE: And you won’t vote for the Registered Organisations Commission.

ALBANESE: How do you know?

PYNE: You’ve had a chance for two and a half years.

ALBANESE: How do you know? You’ve blocked debate on it this week. You say it’s important but you’ve blocked debate on it.

PYNE: Anthony, you’ve had two and a half years to vote for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, it was the first bill we introduced in 2013 in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

You’ve been voting against it for two and a half years, you voted against the Registered Organisations Commission, you don’t want to clean up the building and construction industry, you want to stay close to the CMFEU which has given you $7 million since 2007.

That’s what this is all about. If there is a double dissolution election it’ll be because Labor and the crossbenchers combine to stop the cleaning up of the building and construction industry.

ALBANESE: You don’t know even know when the budget is going to be, Christopher.

STEFANOVIC: Let’s hold it there. I’ve got to move on. We’ve got more topics to cover. Christopher, the Safe Schools debate raged yesterday. Conservative backbenchers have the Prime Minister on the ropes.

Certainly seems like that’s the case. Will Malcolm Turnbull give in to the backbench bullies and pull the funding?

PYNE: Well Peter, Simon Birmingham is the Minister for Education and he is handling this issue very sensibly. He had an inquiry by Professor Loudon from WA, not exactly regarded as a lefty liberal, he’s a conservative Western Australian educator, and he will release his report and the Government’s response in due course.

But this should not be decided, quite frankly, by people who want to make an issue out of the sexuality of senior school students who might be struggling with the position that they’re in.

This should be decided sensibly and calmly, that’s how Simon Birmingham will deal with it, and we’ll all know soon enough how it can be tweaked.

Maybe the Safe Schools Coalition program can be improved, can be tweaked, but it was the Labor Party that initiated it when they were in government.

They have a four year contract. I’m getting on with the job of things like the media ownership laws, Senate reform, things like the national innovation and science agenda, and this is something of a distraction from the Government’s main agenda which is jobs and growth.

STEFANOVIC: While I’ve got you there, Chris, a number of MPs who are departing at the next election have made farewell speeches yesterday including Ian Macfarlane, Teresa Gambaro, Mal Brough.

Do they know something? Do they know the election is nigh?

PYNE: Well obviously, it is an election year, Pete. There will be an election, it’s due in August/September. Now, therefore, they’re giving their last speeches because they’re retiring at the next election.

It’s not an unusual timing for them to do that and I’m glad that they had the chance to do it.

ALBANESE: It’s totally unusual, the fact is we are supposed to have a Budget on May 10, then a Budget session where the Budget gets scrutinised over five sitting weeks, and you have today, or last night, you had a range of people give their last speeches.

We don’t know when the Budget will be, we don’t know when the election will be. This is a government that doesn’t have a sense of purpose, that’s lost its way, a Prime Minister without an agenda, that has just fallen on itself in six months.

STEFANOVIC: Just finally fellas, we have a picture of Nick Xenophon in pyjamas in Canberra at the moment.

ALBANESE: No one needs to see that, Peter.

STEFANOVIC: Just a quick answer. Are you a flannelette pyjama type of guy or are you cotton pyjamas?

ALBANESE: That’s between myself and my wife.

PYNE: Hahaha! Good answer.

STEFANOVIC: What about you, Chris?

PYNE: Well, I don’t know if the Loony Tunes pyjamas get him the girls but obviously Nick Xenophon thinks so.

ALBANESE: Could I just say Christopher has been very principled on Safe Schools.

Malcolm Turnbull should stand up to the bullies in his own party, because this is about bullying of young people in schools and should not be partisan.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us this morning, have a great weekend.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: It’s a pleasure. Thanks.

ALBANESE: See you soon.

 

 

 

 

Mar 13, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Australian Agenda, SKY News

Subjects: Liberal-Greens preference deal;

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Welcome back to the program. We’ve been talking to Senator Mathias Cormann. We’re now talking to the former Deputy Prime Minister, Infrastructure Spokesperson now for the Labor opposition, Anthony Albanese. Thanks for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: I want to ask you about something that you reveal during the week that there was a preference arrangement or a deal being done between the Liberal Party and the Greens, particularly out of Victoria but going more widely than that. You were going more critical of it. Labor does preference arrangements all the time with the Greens. What’s the difference?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what we have here is a secret arrangement that Michael Kroger confirmed, indeed, on Sky News on Thursday when he called it a loose arrangement. Well, that’s a euphemism for a deal, and the deal is that the Liberals would give preferences to the Greens candidates in seats where the Greens have a chance of winning.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Seats like yours.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Seats like mine and Sydney held by Tanya Plibersek in NSW and in Victoria the seats of Wills, Batman and Melbourne. But in return, whilst the Greens will go around in my electorate and say, “It’s OK, we’re giving Labor preferences,” what the deal is in return, is in other seats. So, seats which are marginals, currently held by the Liberal Party or ones they seek to win, like Bruce and Chisholm in Victoria, the Greens would issue essentially no direction of their preferences, a split ticket, an open ticket, and that would, of course, substantially increase the chances of the conservative parties winning those seats.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: But that’s just smart electioneering, isn’t it, by the government? I mean I’m sure some of their members might not like it, which is why they’ve tried to keep it secret, but in terms of general politicking, it makes sense.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s duplicitous, is what it is. Because at the same time that the Liberals will be saying that they’re totally opposed to the policies of the Greens political party and the Greens are saying the same about the Liberals, they’re entering into an arrangement which does two things. One, it increases the chances of Greens entering the House of Representatives at the expense of progressive Labor members, so it doesn’t… that in itself doesn’t change the dynamic re the chances of the Coalition forming government. But what does increase the chances of the Coalition forming government after the election are these open tickets. Now, that’s something that the Greens supporters don’t want, the Liberals supporters don’t want Greens in the House of Representatives, so we have an outcome where both political parties achieve the opposite of what they’re arguing publicly.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: One of the reasons that this can be considered or looked at by the Liberal Party is because of the removal of that interdependence between Labor delivering preferences to the Greens in the Senate, if there is electoral reform, vis-à-vis the Greens delivering preferences to Labor in the lower house. We spoke to Mathias Cormann, the Special Minister of State a moment ago, he effectively denied this was part of their calculation when looking at Senate reform. Are you sceptical?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He did something even more bizarre than that. He suggested that it hadn’t been any consideration. Now, the idea that a minister in the Coalition government, deputy leader of the government in the Senate has not given any consideration to the electoral implications of changes to the electoral system is quite frankly taking the electorate for mugs. And it’s absurd and quite clearly, I think that Mathias gave himself up when he gave that absurd answer, frankly. There is no doubt that this is at the heart of these changes and the deal around Senate changes between the Greens and the Coalition, because what it does, historically, in a transparent way ‑ there’s no problem with preferences. I’ve sat down and negotiated preferences with the Greens, with the Democrats, with everyone. We’ve never negotiated with the Coalition because the real game in Australian politics is who the government is. Is it the Coalition or Labor? So we don’t negotiate with the Coalition, but of course we’ve negotiated with other parties and I’ve done it, as a party official. The idea that Greens say, “We decide our preferences locally,” frankly, I’ve sat down in rooms, I’ve had discussions with Greens leaders at state and federal level, and uh, the truth is that they enter into these negotiations.

PAUL KELLY: Now, as a result of this arrangement that you’re talking about, to what extent to you think there is a real threat to some sitting Labor members, such as yourself, such Tanya Plibersek? Is this, is this threat to existing Labor members significant?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s been reduced by the fact that this has been exposed, Paul, which is why I called it out, on this week and publicly ‑

PAUL KELLY: So what’s the effect of this exposure?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think that Greens party members who are weighing up whether they’ll vote for the Greens or Labor will take this into consideration and will say, “Well, maybe, just maybe, these people under Richard Di Natale aren’t the purists that they say they are.”

PAUL KELLY: So you think there might be some sort of grass roots revolt by Greens supporters and voters against these deals?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, there’ll be a big reaction. The Greens candidate for the state seat of Heffron, which is in part in my electorate and in part, a bit of it is in the electorate of Sydney, has been out there, being very critical of the Greens for pretending this loose arrangement is not a deal. So we’ve had that emerge within their party and a whole lot of… I’m not critical of people who choose to vote Green or choose to vote what have you. That’s up to them in the Democratic process. What I’m critical of here is the fact that there was an attempt to hide this from the public, just as Mathias Cormann’s statement of we’ve had no political consideration of the implications is just absurd! But is it equally ‑

PAUL KELLY: Now, now, I guess the question is what’s happening here with the bigger picture? We’ve just seen this deal between the Greens and the government over Senate voting reform. Do you think that under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, we’re likely to see the government moving closer to the Greens on a series of tactical issues? Is this what’s going to happen? And is this a significant change?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s possible but, of course, what you’ve got is Malcolm Turnbull not standing for anything at the moment. I mean he’s, he’s a blank page. He had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott but he doesn’t have a plan to govern and that’s more and more obvious for all to see. Under those circumstances, in the lead‑up to an election, what we’re seeing is more and more arrangements between the Greens and the Coalition, including over so‑called Senate reform. I mean you could have reformed the Senate in a really practical way by doing measures like having a threshold beyond which, if you didn’t reach that, you couldn’t be elected and your preferences were automatically redistributed. There’s a range of measures that you could have done, which weren’t about disenfranchising the more than 20% of voters who choose to vote for neither Labor, Liberal, National or Greens.

ADAM CREIGHTON: Just on the Senate voting changes, in general, just as a matter of principle, wouldn’t it better, if whoever was in government, either the coalition or the Labor Party, that they had a better chance of getting their legislation through the Senate? Because in recent history, it’s been very hard for governments to get their legislation through the Senate, at least the big picture pieces of legislation. So, just as a general principle, would you like to see a voting system whereby the Senate was more aligned with the Lower house in general?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s an argument for a unicameral system, of just one house, and we don’t have that, we have a house of review and frankly, I think the Senate has done its job during this term. The Senate has rejected many of more extreme, and harsh, and unfair measures of the 2014 budget.

ADAM CREIGHTON: It’s more a house of rejection than a house of review.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s not right. Most legislation has got through the Senate. But legislation also gets improved by proper scrutiny and you have two problems, I think. One is the quality of the legislation, which has been pretty poor, which has been quite contrary to what the government said it would do prior to its election. Remember the famous dictum – no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions, no cuts to the ABC. So the Senate has done its job in representing what the Australian people wanted. In other areas, it’s simply been a failure by a government that has failed to transition from opposition.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: But notwithstanding, though, Mr Albanese, notwithstanding that it has done the job in terms of limiting the mandate because of pre‑election comments from the former Prime Minister, Labor can’t seriously feel good about defending the status quo structure, can they, which sees these preference harvesting arrangements between microparties and it sees the likes of Ricky Muir getting elected with an absolute fraction of the vote?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We don’t defend that and I just put forward to you, Peter, a practical and easily implementable way in which you could avoid that to be the case.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Will Labor put that forward, though, as an alternative?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: There’s a fix, Peter, and the fix is in. It’s in between the Coalition and the Greens and it’s a part of a lower‑house deal. They’re trying to pretend nothing to see here, we haven’t considered the politics and frankly they are taking the Australian people for mugs if they think that there won’t be proper scrutiny of this. And the last time, of course, a political party had power in both houses, what we got was WorkChoices. And the chances of both houses being held by the Coalition are significantly increased by this change because Coalition has a higher primary vote just across every single state of Australia than, than Labor. There is a greater chance that as a result of these changes, the Coalition in normal Senate elections over a period of time will get three out of six in every state and one in the territories, which means that the Coalition will be in a position to block legislation at least, and that’s why we don’t think that the Greens political party have thought this through. I mean this is going to lead to a double-D election, one of their South Australian senators will be knocked off and it doesn’t make any sense, unless you look at the deals over the House of Reps versus the Senate by breaking that nexus between the Greens needing Labor preferences to get senators elected and in return the Greens assisting Labor to win marginal seats in the House of Representatives. That’s the real big game that’s been on here. You picked it very early on but the truth is that the Greens and the Coalition are pretending nothing to see here, well, that’s the main game.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: We’re going to take a break here on Australian Agenda. We’re speaking to Anthony Albanese. When we come back, we’ll delve into his portfolio area of infrastructure. Back in a sec.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: You’re watching Australian Agenda where Adam Creighton, Paul Kelly and I are speaking to the former Deputy Prime Minister, current Labor spokesperson for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese, you were saying before the break about the sort of, in a sense, lack of ideas that are coming out of the government and the new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. But during the week he gave, gave some meat on the bones around cities policies, which was relatively substantive, wasn’t it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, he showed that he’d read my cities policy announcement at the National Press Club in 2014 ‑

PETER VAN ONSELEN: You’re not accusing him of plagiarism, are you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, he spoke of it, well, people can look at it and they’ll read into it whatever they think themselves on my Facebook page, but the idea of the 30‑minute city, speaking about drive‑in, drive‑out suburbs, because the state of Australian cities reports have shown that the jobs that are being created are essentially around the CBD and 10km around as we transition, as the growth sector becomes financial services, legal services, other economic activity, as opposed to manufacturing and other areas that tend to be in the outer suburbs ‑

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Can I just ask though, Mr Albanese, it looks like the government’s going to go hard on this. They’re going to see this as part of their mixed innovative and growth agenda. If the Labor Party, if they’ve, albeit via imitation being the greater form of flattery, have taken a lot of what you’ve said on this, they’re still going to get political credit for it and they’re still going to develop a narrative around… grow the economy as a result of this policy.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, if they adopt our policies, we’re happy with that. But they’ll need to, before they get any credit for new initiatives, they need to start with putting the funding back for the Melbourne metro, the funding back for the Brisbane cross river rail project, the funding back for Tonsley Park, the funding back for public transport in Perth, both light and heavy rail, that they cut in the 2014 Budget. That’s before they start with any new initiatives. They’ve got to repair the damage that’s been done in terms of the urban policy agenda that Labor had established in government. They need to set up a body, like we did, the Major Cities Unit, to drive that change, looking importantly, not just at capital cities, but also looking a regional cities and how they can take pressure off, particularly the big capital cities on the east coast. So, the government, we welcomed when they announced a Minister for Cities, but of course that didn’t make it till Christmas due to circumstances that weren’t about policy, but then when Malcolm Turnbull had his reshuffle, he downgraded it to a parliamentary secretary position. We still have no major cities unit or bureaucracy. We still have no urban policy agenda. We still have no significant funding of public transport. The only announcement we’ve had is $95 million for Gold Coast light rail stage two. We, of course, put $365 million into stage one and the $95 million was taken from a saving on the Moreton Bay rail link that was funded by Federal Labor and State Labor. So we’ve had no new initiatives from this government. And, on Friday, the big announcement of Malcolm Turnbull was an aspiration, not a policy. He suggested if you read one of the front pages that we were going to get fast rail to Badgerys Creek which is what we’ve been saying, it needs to be linked, the new airport, to a rail line from day one. But there was no route, no funding, no mechanism, no identification of what sort of rail line it would be. It was really just an aspiration. After three years, he needs to do better than that.

PAUL KELLY: Now, in office last time, you did a lot of work on high speed rail on the east coast. And you’ve argued that this works in economic terms. You said the other day, the question now is whether we’ve got a government prepared to make the big call on high‑speed rail, whether we’re talking Sydney, Melbourne, some other east coast arrangement. Would a Labor government in office make the call?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we would and we have a private member’s bill before the parliament right now to establish a High Speed Rail Authority. That was recommended by the advisory group that I established. It included people like Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia. Tim Fisher, this wasn’t an airy-fairy group. This was a very serious group who looked at the economics of this project and found, for example, from Sydney to Melbourne, the benefit was over $2 for every $1 that would be invested. So what I announced this week, at the Sydney Institute, was that we would take it a step further and task that authority at the appropriate time to call for expressions of interest from global players in the high‑speed rail industry.

PAUL KELLY: In other words, in other words, you’re pressing the starter’s gun on this project?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what we want to see is what these global players have to offer. We have had, and so has the government no doubt, significant players from China, Japan, Europe, coming through our doors saying, “We think we can make this work.” It’s quite clear that we should use that international expertise. It’s clear also that if you look overseas, all of or just about all of the high‑speed rail projects that work effectively are partnerships between government and the private sector. So we think the logical next step is to ask the authority that needs to be established to coordinate through the different levels of government, and with the private sector to call for an expressions of interest at the appropriate time.

PAUL KELLY: No what are we talking about here? We’re talking about a Sydney‑Melbourne link via Canberra? Is that essentially what talking about.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Brisbane through to Melbourne, via Sydney and Canberra.

PAUL KELLY: Will you put this to the election as part of Labor’s campaign ‑

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ve been campaigning on this ‑

PAUL KELLY: I know you’ve said it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ve been campaigning on this for years ‑

PAUL KELLY: Well, there are campaigns and there are campaigns, as you would appreciate. Will you put this front and centre as part of Labor’s election campaign?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We think this is a significant part of Labor’s vision when it comes to nation building and I have no doubt it has significant public support but importantly, also, it has significant support from the business community who understand in terms of… the government talks about value capture. Well, here it is, both in terms of the Badgerys Creek rail line and high‑speed rail. One of the things it would do is transform regional economies. If you could be in Newcastle or Canberra and be within 40 minutes of Sydney’s CBD, that would change the economic game.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Well, give us a sense of how this would work for our viewers that are uninitiated to this? So if we’re talking about a high‑speed rail line between Sydney and Melbourne. It stops at Canberra on the way through. How long does it take to go between Sydney and Melbourne?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: You have two forms ‑ and the study identified this. We spent $20 million doing down to the design of stations. There’s been a lot of work done on this. You would have express routes between Sydney and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. That would be under three hours. But then you would also have routes along the way that pick up, so they’d be slower, obviously, once you start stopping. But Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga, Shepparton, Melbourne and up the north coast from the Central Coast, Newcastle, the major cities along, Taree, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, up to the Gold Coast. Now, what it showed was that it is those two things together that improve the economics of this project.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: And is this the theory that people can therefore live in the regions and with floating workplaces they can work from home, they can…

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Absolutely, and the businesses can establish themselves in the CBD, say, of Newcastle or Shepparton for that matter and be able to be in close proximity so if they need to get to Melbourne or Sydney for a meeting ‑ now, at the moment, if you want to go to Sydney or Canberra, as I know full well and I’ll experience again this week. I live almost at the end of the runway but you’ve got to get to the airport, you wait for the plane, you wait for the gate, it’s quite often late, if it’s at Sydney Airport. You’re then… it’s all dead time. The great benefit of why high‑speed rail has worked around the world is that the convenience travellers vote for and the vote for it with their feet. Very few people now go by plane from Sydney – from London to Paris. What they do is they go on the Eurostar.

ADAM CREIGHTON: But those two cities, they each have a population of about 10 million and they’re far, far closer together than Sydney and Melbourne are. I can’t think of another country in the world with Australia’s basic characteristics, that has such high‑speed rail between its cities. Australia is enormous. There’s what, 1,000 kilometres between Sydney and Melbourne. How is that ever going to be viable when you’ve got both cities with only 4 million people in them?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: You need to get out more, Adam, you need to get out more. Go to Italy, go to Italy and have a look at the rail between Milan, Bologna, Rome. It has taken over the air routes between Rome and Milan.

ADAM CREIGHTON: Those cities are very close together, Milan, Bologna, and Rome. Probably a couple of hundred kilometres.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: They’re not actually. Milan and Rome, are certainly not a couple of hundred kilometres away. Madrid and Valencia, I’ve been on that route. Paris to Lyon. All of these routes are effectively have been taken over in terms of rail travel. Paris to London, in terms of the distance that it used to take, has been transformed.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: But I think Adam’s point. I can see it between for example Canberra and Sydney or Canberra and Melbourne, but then of course you’ve got the lack of population in Canberra which is an issue. Three hours is a trip between Sydney and Melbourne feels like it might just be a little too long.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what the study did was show that rail was competitive with air travel for anything three hours and under. That’s what the study looked at, the comprehensive examples. Sydney and Melbourne are both expected to grow to 8 million in terms of their population. Now, what the big infrastructure challenge isn’t to look at 2016. What do we do now? The infrastructure challenge is to look to the future, help to create it, but also anticipate the future. Get ahead of the game. The problem in this country has been that infrastructure has lagged behind development. What we need to do is make sure ‑ and I’m not arguing the high‑speed rail line would be open in the next term of the Labor government. This is a long‑term project, quite clearly. Our study identified 2031 as the date and that was a 2012 study. So it was looking at the process in terms of planning, but I tell you what, if you don’t establish an Authority now, and you don’t preserve the corridor now, the actions of today will stop what should happen tomorrow because it won’t be possible. And that’s what good infrastructure planning is about. That’s what planning for our cities is about. And that’s what the role of government is.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: It must be getting a lot of resistance. You must be getting a lot of resistance though from the airport authorities, from Virgin and Qantas? They must be lobbying against this scheme.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: In terms ‑ not at all. I think that they understand that they’ve different markets here and the growth in terms of aviation is, is quite extraordinary. We’ve seen a doubling, for example, in terms of the traffic from China in the last, in the last 12 months, that will continue to grow. Our, our airport and aviation facilities would continue to be necessary. One of the things about hubs like Sydney is that they’re important for people who are then travelling on to regional areas, as well. So it certainly won’t… it’s not going to stop the need, for example, for a second Sydney airport and the second Sydney airport study explicitly looked at this, as did the high‑speed rail study. What we are, we’re a more mobile population. If you think about, you know, 20 years ago, even when I was elected to Parliament, there’s been a transformation. My first air trip was as a ministerial adviser to Canberra. Let me assure you, my son, who’s 15, has been on a lot of planes in his life and so have all of his friends. The nature of society is changing. Infrastructure has to, not just keep up with it, it has to get ahead of it. And that’s what a high‑speed rail project is about, showing that vision.

ADAM CREIGHTON: Just on the cities policy in general, you were critical of the government earlier for downgrading the portfolio. What constitutional authority does the federal government actually have over cities? Surely it’s hard for a federal government to make… to micromanage cities. It’s clearly a state responsibility and we have a problem with the federation. I think even Labor admits that. If you’ve got Canberra meddling in the design of railways and so forth, it will further undermine the problem we already have.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Not at all, Adam. What… it certainly is the case, that planning is the responsibility of the states and territories but there’s great examples of whereby the Commonwealth playing a role, showing that national leadership, where four out of five Australians live, where 80% of our economic activity comes from, not from rural or regional areas or mining. 80% comes from cities. That’s why it’s vitally important, for our national economic story, to get it right. There’s great examples in the past of the Whitlam government, of Brian Howe’s Better Cities program, the Honeysuckle development, Pyrmont-Ultimo has been transformed. That would not have occurred without the involvement of Brian Howe and the better cities program. East Perth, right around the country, there’s examples of that, but there’s also examples of funding and state governments come to federal government all the time asking for dollars for transport infrastructure. Well, it shouldn’t be just a case of here’s the dollars and the, the only key performance indicator the Commonwealth is, has the money gone out the door. It should be, OK, you want to talk about a rail line, where are the jobs coming along that rail line? What’s the development along that rail line? How is it improving sustainability of a city along that, along that, rail corridor as well? All of those things mean that the national government can play a key role in partnership with state and local governments and the private sector in shaping the nature of our cities.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Anthony Albanese, we are out of time. We appreciate you finding the time to talk to us here in the studio. Thanks for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Great to be with you.

 

Mar 11, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Election timing, Malcolm Turnbull, Newspoll, Tony Windsor, Barnaby Joyce, Tourism; Queensland; Great Barrier Reef

LISA WILKINSON: Just when will we be going to the polls? For more we are joined now by Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy and Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you gentlemen.

WYATT ROY: G’day.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

LISA WILKINSON: So, July 2, right?

ROY: Well, the only person who knows when it is, is obviously the Prime Minister.

WILKINSON: And maybe an advertising…

ROY: Maybe a couple of advertising agencies, but I don’t think we’re at that point yet. It’s due around August. July wouldn’t be that much before it, but obviously if we did have an early election, there would be the opportunity to deal with the Senate and I think a lot of Australians are very frustrated by that. I think there’s a lot of merit in that argument, but if not, it will be around August or September.

WILKINSON: Anthony, have you got sure your advertising agencies in line yet?

ALBANESE: I’m sure we’ve got everything in line. What the Government don’t have though is an announcement, but it’s everything but July 2. There’s a possibility of shifting the budget forward. I understand that the Great Hall has been booked for a week earlier for a budget night function for the Government parties.

But this is a Government that doesn’t have purpose, that doesn’t have a sense of purpose, it doesn’t have an agenda, it now doesn’t have a budget date, it doesn’t have any policies out there on the economy. It is quite extraordinary that it’s lost its way so quickly.

WILKINSON: Well, Graham Richardson agrees with you, because Wyatt, he writes this morning in The Australian, you have replaced a leader with no judgment, Tony Abbott, with a leader who has no ticker. Have you backed the wrong horse?

ROY: I completely disagree. I mean I think the Australian people have warmed to Malcolm Turnbull and they are not particularly…

WILKINSON: So why are the polls going backwards?

ROY: Well, if you look at the polls, particularly around the preferred leaders, if you look at Malcolm Turnbull compared to Bill Shorten, I think they see in Malcolm a statesmen, they see someone that has a vision.

WILKINSON: But that’s all well and good, but in the end it comes down to what people are going to tick in the poll room and that is the party they vote for and that’s at 50/50.

ROY: Well, we are a few months into the new leadership of Malcolm Turnbull. In that period in my own area, we’ve released over 24 new policies around innovation.

WILKINSON: So why isn’t it cutting 50/50 through?

ROY: I don’t know whether a 50/50 poll you would say is not cutting through. I don’t know whether if Malcolm’s preferred leader at over 50% and Bill is at around 20%, that’s not cutting through.

Modern politics is tough, you have got to get out there and the articulate the case, you’ve got to have the fight.

But I think Malcolm Turnbull has a very clear picture about what our country can be, how the economy is transitioning and ultimately how we hand over to the next generation of Australians a country that has more opportunity and not less and I’m looking forward to that discussion in the campaign.

WILKINSON: Anthony, independent MP Tony Windsor, he’s been out of politics for a little while. He is attempting to unseat Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce. Have you been calling him to shore up his situation when he eventually, if he does, get back in?

ALBANESE: No, I haven’t. But Tony Windsor is a man of integrity. I think he’s putting himself forward because he sees that the Government and the National Party haven’t stood up to the Liberal Party on interests like the Xinhua mine and he is a very committed individual, I think, who has a lot of respect in his electorate.

I of course will be advocating for the Labor candidate in New England but if they don’t get elected, and that’s pretty unlikely, then I hope Tony Windsor does well.

WILKINSON: Wyatt? I mean, you have got to be nervous that Barnaby Joyce could be unseated and he is Deputy Prime Minister.

ROY: Well, Barnaby would never take anything for granted, obviously, but he is a powerful force of nature. He is somebody, I think, in politics where we have lost so much authenticity in it and people keep jumping back to a sound byte. Barnaby is deeply authentic and I think people resonate with that.

It’s a good thing having the Deputy Prime Minister as your local member, he can actually get stuff done.

And I think with Tony Windsor, I mean he really has kind of had his time. I think it’s a rural conservative seat and he did a deal with Julia Gillard and Bob Brown and later Christine Milne to keep the Gillard Labor Government in power.

I don’t think that’s really popular in that rural conservative seat and I think Barnaby will do quite well in the election.

WILKINSON: Albo, even though the polls are sitting at 50/50, what it says is that you’ve got to win back 21 seats. That’s a massive mountain you have to climb and so far the only policy we have heard is about scrapping negative gearing.

That’s not right at all. We have a comprehensive plan out there for schools to fund $4.5 billion additionally in years 5 and 6 for a program that’s about making sure that no kids get left behind.

We have health policy, infrastructure policy. Last night I gave a speech to the Sydney Institute about cities policy.

We have a range of policies out there, fully costed unlike any opposition in my entire time that I can remember. Everything we have said we will do, we have said where the money is coming from.

It is comprehensive policy out there and in my local area, I mean, the Liberals now are relying upon, it would appear, preference arrangements between Liberals and the Greens, who are polar opposites. But that’s where they have got to.

WILKINSON: You’re sounding very confident. Just quickly, we are final day of our We Love Australia Tour. If you could name one place in Australia, that you love, but it can’t be your electorate, what’s your favourite spot Wyatt?

ROY: I love Moreton Island. I get out there in a boat with some mates and we go camping on the beach and have a bonfire most of the time and it’s great. It is the best part of the world and it’s better than anywhere you’d find in the South Pacific.

WILKINSON: Albo?

ALBANESE: Well, apart from Marrickville and the wonderful Cooks River…

WILKINSON: Stop, I said you couldn’t do that.

ALBANESE: It’s got to be the Great Barrier Reef and Far North Queensland. It is just an extraordinary asset for the country.

WILKINSON: It certainly is.

ROY: You’re like an honorary Queenslander.

ALBANESE: I love Queensland!

WILKINSON: And there are some beautiful pictures of it right now. Guys, thanks so much.

ROY: Thanks so much.

WILKINSON: You had better get out there and do some work in your electorates.

ALBANESE: There’s only three nights a year I don’t like Queensland. It’s called State of Origin.

ROY: I’ll get the tissues.

WILKINSON: Okay, thanks a lot.

ROY: Cheers for that.

WILKINSON: Thanks boys.

Mar 11, 2016

Transcript of media conference – Sydney

Subjects: Badgerys Creek rail line; Malcolm Turnbull and Paul Fletcher’s contradictory statements; cities policy; Liberal-Greens preference deal; Pat Dodson; Linda Burney; Barton electorate 

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today if you looked at the front page of one of the major newspapers in Sydney, you could be forgiven for thinking that Malcolm Turnbull had actually discovered a policy and was making an announcement of infrastructure development by supporting a rail line to Badgerys Creek airport.

Of course, this is something that Federal Labor has supported from day one of the announcement of the Second Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. If Badgerys Creek airport is to be a success, it needs to be more than just runways and a terminal.

It needs to be a creator of jobs and economic growth in Western Sydney. And for that to occur, it needs to be done on day one to have public transport access. The government has said it will create a cavity so that a future rail station can be put in there.

And as late as last week, Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Major Projects in the government, was saying that that wouldn’t be possible until sometime down the track.

Malcolm Turnbull is now saying that it needs to be done but in his own words to quote him, “neither the Australian nor the NSW Government can commit today to completing a rail connection by 2026. There is too little known about the route, the cost, the value created, and the sources of funding.”

So apart from the fact they don’t know where it’s going, they don’t know who’s going to pay for it, there’s no Commonwealth Government announcement of paying for it, and they don’t know what sort of rail connection it’ll be, it’s all okay.

This is the big Malcolm Turnbull cities announcement of today after he walked away from having a Minister for Cities.

He also this morning on ABC radio had a bit to say about cities policy and he said this; “we’ve got to work around the idea of a 30 minute city, where people can get to work, to university, to school, to whatever they want to do, all of the things they want to do within 30 minutes. That should be your goal.”

Now, when I was listening to 702 this morning thought that was a little bit familiar. And indeed it is. At the National Press Club way back in 2014 I said this in a launch of our ten point cities plan:

“I’m particularly attracted towards consideration of the 30 minute city concept….this is the simple concept that most of people’s day to day work, education, shopping or recreational activities should be located within 30 minutes of walking, cycling or public commuting from their home.”

I’m glad that Malcolm Turnbull has been paying some attention to what Labor has been saying about cities policy. But this is following, not leading.

And saying that you want a rail line to Badgerys Creek airport without providing any funding, without providing any clear step forward, and without a commitment even that it will be completed in 10 years’ time, is pretty inadequate.

It is symptomatic of a Prime Minister who has disappointed Australians because of what they expected when he took over the leadership from Tony Abbott and the fact that he simply hasn’t been able to deliver it.

So today I call upon Malcolm Turnbull, who’s been part of the government for almost three years, to get on with the job of making sure that this rail line is delivered. To provide funding. To provide certainty and to get on with it so that indeed it is fully completed by 2026.

I called, during the March state election here in NSW with Luke Foley, for this to be funded, in part through value capture. I spoke about at the Sydney Institute last night, I spoke about that at the National Press Club, I’ve raised this over and over again.

It appears now that they’ve been listening as well and going down the road of considering value capture and how it can assist to fund such a project. Malcolm Turnbull’s right to follow Labor’s lead on that issue as well.

Can I say something about the preference arrangements that have been entered into between the Greens and the Liberal Party.

I said on ABC Radio on Wednesday that this arrangement had been entered into and named Michael Kroger as the person who was negotiating the very specific arrangements that have been entered into between himself and Richard Di Natale, and that those arrangements would see Liberal Party preferences delivered to try to replace Labor sitting MPs including myself and Tanya Plibersek in the electorate of Sydney with Greens MPs.

In return, the Greens would issue open tickets in terms of the coming federal election in key seats and therefore provide a greater opportunity for Liberal MPs to either be re-elected or to gain seats off the Labor Party due to the difference in terms of less Greens preferences flowing to Labor.

A number of Greens members suggested that that wasn’t the case. Well, Michael Kroger yesterday conceded in an interview on Sky News with David Speers, said very clearly, that there was indeed, he called it “a loose arrangement” between the parties.

He went on in defence of his new found friend, Richard Di Natale and his position with regard to those issues.

But of course you don’t have to just stick with Labor’s view. Osman Faruqi is a prominent Greens Party member and was the candidate in Heffron, which in part covers my electorate, in the past.

Osman Faruqi has said “very confusing to see Greens members on social media furiously denying preference deal as Liberals all but confirm it.”

And indeed, he’s pointed out quite helpfully, “I can’t think of any marginal seat in 2010 or 2013 where Greens issued an open ticket.”

And indeed, he’s quite right. I’ve been someone who has sat down with the Greens and other progressive parties in the past and negotiated preference arrangements.

I think there’s a great deal of concern from Greens supporters that this arrangement will assist Liberals to be re-elected and from Liberal supporters who are concerned that they’ll support the election to Parliament of people who have very different views from that held by the Liberal Party.

This is cynical opportunism at its worst and it should be rejected by both members of the Greens and members of the Liberals for being exactly that.

REPORTER: Was the High Speed Rail that you were discussing before, is it not fair if the Prime Minister hasn’t achieved a [inaudible] in terms of accelerating this projects, is it not fair to go about and do the costings and work out those finer details to get it started as opposed to just going in [inaudible].

ALBANESE: It is certainly a good thing to get the planning done. The question is, Malcolm Turnbull has been Prime Minister now for 6 months but more importantly he’s been part of a government for almost 3 years.

And just last week his ministers in his government were dismissing the idea of a rail link being available at or around where the airport is opening.

The statement today is an aspiration rather than a policy. That’s my criticism of this government. They have put a handbrake on infrastructure investment.

We’ve seen a 20 per cent decline in infrastructure investment since the change of government and that is of very real concern.

With regard to the rail project, for the Prime Minister to say, as someone who’s in the same political party as the NSW Premier, that essentially, there’s too little known about the route, the cost, the value created and the sources of funding, suggests that this is something that was thought up, this announcement, this week because the Prime Minister was speaking at the conference today rather than doing any considered work on the project.

REPORTER: Pat Dodson’s leaving his position as the Co-Chair of the Indigenous Referendum for the Senate; does that effectively hamper the Council’s functioning in the lead up to the election?

ALBANESE: Not at all. I think that Patrick Dodson entering the Senate advances reconciliation and I noticed that his election has been welcomed by Indigenous Australians and others right across the board.

Pat Dodson can be seen as one of the fathers of reconciliation. Having his voice directly in the Senate directly empowers the reconciliation process and there are of course many very capable people who will be in a position to take up Pat’s role outside the Parliament, but I think the whole movement is strengthened by his presence as a Senator.

REPORTR: On another matter, with regards to Linda Burney switching to Federal Politics, are you worried that some ALP branch members are resistant to her taking on the seat of Barton or being appointed to Barton?

ALBANESE: Not at all. I live in Barton, as has been publicised. I’m an ALP member in Barton and Barton ALP members overwhelmingly are very excited about the prospect of Linda Burney running for Barton.

One of the reasons why I had to choose between which seat I ran in, one of the reasons why I chose to run in Grayndler, even though I now live in Barton, was that that opened up the possibility of getting the first Indigenous woman elected to the House of Representatives.

I’m proud to support Linda Burney. The overwhelming majority of ALP members, there are a couple of people, one of whom I’ve never met, one of whom I think I’ve met once, have nominated for the seat.

That is their right, but the ballot was taking place this morning and I’m very confident that Linda Burney will be successful.

Everyone I speak to, not just in the Labor Party, but outside the Labor Party as well, is very excited at the prospect of Linda Burney entering the national parliament.

They know as the Member for Canterbury, most of which is in the electorate of Barton, that she’s been an outstanding local member as well as a great role model, particularly for Indigenous women, but a great parliamentarian who is characterised by much more than her background.

She’s characterised by the work that she’s done in community services, in education, in health. She’ll be a great asset for the Labor team and I’m confident that she’ll be a very good member for the electorate of Barton.

Mar 9, 2016

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa with David Penberthy & Will Goodings

Subjects: Election timing; Budget; Defence White Paper; offshore patrol vessels; Nikki Savva book; Peta Credlin; Pyne & Abbott’s relationship; voter disappointment in Turnbull; Trent Zimmerman at Mardi Gras

PRESENTER: Without further ado, Christopher Pyne, good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will, good morning David and good morning Albo, I assume.

PRESENTER: Yes, he’s here, Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, it has the feel of an election campaign at the moment. There was you and the Prime Minister and the State Opposition leader, Steven Marshall standing together. Is this is the dress rehearsal, the sort of dry run?

PYNE: Well, there’s an election due in the second half of the year so I guess people are starting to think about the choice between a government that has the team to make the transition in the economy versus Bill Shorten and his team who want to take us back to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period. I guess people are thinking about the election at some stage down the track.

PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese, the second half of the year, I think July 2 just counts by that measure. Are you guys on an election footing?

ALBANESE: Well, the government doesn’t seem to know when the election will be, when the Budget will be, or what it stands for on any economic policy. I think it’s quite astonishing and if they go to an election early, which July 2 would be, that’s because they’re hoping to skate to an election without saying what they stand for.

I mean, this is a government at war with itself but Malcolm Turnbull is at war with himself, with his own positions on climate change, marriage equality, the republic, everything else. The Malcolm Turnbull people thought they were getting, they’re not seeing.

PRESENTER: Is that a fair criticism, do you think, Christopher Pyne, that you guys, you know, aside from all of Albo’s trademark theatrics, the fact that you haven’t actually got a tax policy out, you haven’t got your, well Malcolm Turnbull, what will be his first Budget out, has it created a bit of a vacuum for Labor to capitalise on?

PYNE: Well, we know what we don’t stand for and we don’t stand for Labor’s disastrous negative gearing and capital gains tax policy –

ALBANESE: See? You should say what you stand for, Christopher.

PYNE: …which would smash the economy.

PRESENTER: Let him go.

PYNE: …smash the economy and smash house prices before Labor’s even got out of the box. We know we’re not going to do that to the economy. We’ve got a National Innovation Science Agenda, the Defence White Paper and the Defence Industry Policy Statement, which are great for South Australia, the media ownership law reform, Senate reform, we’ll have a tax package in the next couple of months, we’ll have a Budget in May, and by the time the election is called, the Australian public will face a very stark choice between Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals who know what they’re doing and Bill Shorten’s Labor Party, who want to smash house prices and smash investment through the capital gains tax change.

PRESENTER: Christopher, just on the Defence White Paper, are the SA Liberals all on the same page with regard to the offshore patrol vessels that it’s still yet to be determined where they will be built? We’ve got Simon Birmingham previously saying that they’ll be built here, Matt Williams saying well that’s not the big issue, are you all on the same page with the fact that they should be built here?

PYNE: Well, we’re all saying the same thing and the most important thing is that South Australia wins the subs contract. We’ve already won the future frigates contract.

PRESENTER: What about patrol vessels?

PYNE: Hang on. Future frigates is $30 billion. Submarines is over $50 billion. I think the point that Matt Williams is making which I’ve made, is they’re the two big parts of this Defence spending agenda for Adelaide. Now, the offshore patrol vessels, the only point that I’ve made all along is that sure, Adelaide could win that as part of a competitive evaluation process, and there will be an announcement about that, but that’s $5 billion.

So rather than focussing on the smallest part of the agenda, I’m focussing on winning the two biggest parts, future frigates and submarines, which will secure jobs and growth in South Australia for decades into the future. That doesn’t preclude winning the offshore patrol vessels but I think people who are obsessing about that are missing the bigger picture.

PRESENTER: I’ve got a question for both of you, Chris Pyne and also Anthony Albanese arising from the Nikki Savva book. Now, we’ve got no intention of rehashing the more scurrilous allegations that are made in that book about Mr Abbott and his former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, and I thought Chris that you were well within your rights to bat away any questions along those lines, but I do want to ask you, was it the case that you were convinced that you would lose Sturt if Tony Abbott remained Prime Minister?

PYNE: No, of course not. I mean, I always take my seat seriously. I’m never complacent and neither is Anthony in Grayndler, any Member of Parliament that is doesn’t last two decades like Anthony and I both have, but I’m never convinced that I’m going to win it, I’m never convinced I’m going to lose it, I battle and fight for it right up until 6 o’clock on election day and I think that’s what every good Member of Parliament should do.

PRESENTER: But do you think that having a leader now who’s more in the small-l liberal tradition, that probably fits a bit better with the general political vibe here in South Australia has put you in a better position?

PYNE: Well look, you don’t have to be Paul Kelly, the analyst at The Australian to work out that the government’s fortunes in the polls have improved dramatically since Malcolm Turnbull was leader, now twice as many people want Malcolm to be Prime Minister as Bill Shorten, which makes it very hard for Labor and obviously we were behind in every single Newspoll for two years, and now we aren’t.

PRESENTER: I’ll shift over to Albo, if I can. Albo, I don’t raise this in a teasing sense but I can remember during the Rudd/Gillard period there was that occasion where you became so distressed by the level of abuse and vitriol within your party that you actually broke down at a press conference.

Reading the extracts from the Nikki Savva book this week, and I’d ask you not to give a partisan answer here, is there a disturbing sense where politics has become this really cruel blood sport now in Australia, where it’s changed so much in the last decade that it’s actually making it hard to govern?

ALBANESE: I think a lot of thought has to go into what the changes in the media cycle and the 24 hour view of the world that’s out there, the impact that’s having on politics.

It is quite sad when relationships completely break down as frankly they did with people in the former Labor Government of which I was a part. Quite clearly they have in the current government as well. On a personal level, that has an impact.

Can I say about Peta Credlin that all of my dealings with her were extremely professional. She was a very strong advocate and I had to deal with her as the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, but previously as the Leader of the Opposition’s Chief of Staff, so I feel some sympathy, whilst I don’t have any sympathy for Tony Abbott or Peta Credlin politically, that’s a tough thing that people have gone through and other people who have lost their positions, Eric Abetz and others.

PRESENTER: We’ll jump back to Chris Pyne if I can, Albo. How have you found it Christopher? Because inevitably from transitions like this, it’s been reported that this is currently the state of your relationship with your former boss Tony Abbott.

You do end up with friendships that are just shredded. You can’t piece it back together. How do you continue to work as a government after that has happened?

PYNE: Well, the government gets on with the job and we are a professional group of men and women and we’re getting on with the job.

I never had a difficulty with Peta Credlin ever and that’s acknowledged in Nikki Savva’s book. I found Peta Credlin to be a wonderful work colleague and I didn’t have any of the experiences that other people seem to be relaying.

And Tony Abbott and my relationship has started to repair itself, I mean I think it would be disingenuous to claim to your listeners that obviously having supported Malcolm Turnbull last year Tony’s and my very long standing friendship remained entirely intact and didn’t skip a beat.

Obviously it did skip a beat but in recent weeks it has started to recover and I’m glad it has because I don’t take things personally in politics, I regard it as a profession, as a calling, a vocation if you like and I think everybody wants to do the right thing by their seat, their state and their country, and I think the personal should be kept out of it which is one of the reasons that Anthony and I have got along quite well for more than a decade.

We understand that we both play hard with the ball but that doesn’t mean you have to be hateful towards each other.

ALBANESE: I think one of the reasons for, and I say this in a nonpartisan way, I think objectively one of the reasons for the fall in Malcolm Turnbull’s support is that people did look forward to a break of the old politics.

I do think that Tony Abbott was associated with the politics of conflict. That’s what he did. That was his whole imagery and when Malcolm took over there was a sigh of relief and I think he did quite well in the initial stages at saying he was going to be thoughtful and we were going to have mature policy debates, and I think there’s a sense of disappointment out there that that hasn’t happened.

Some of that is, I think, his fault, some of that I think is an underestimation of the fallout of what was inevitably going to occur when you knock off a first term elected Prime Minister.

PRESENTER: But the contrast of that though, Albo, I mean surely, it wasn’t like the Abbott Prime Ministership suddenly ushered in the uncertainty. I mean, we had the unseemly situation where you had Wayne Swan going on the 7:30 Report to tell the Australian people what a psycho Kevin Rudd was. I mean, it was a continuation of the horrors that the country endured.

ALBANESE: And that’s the concern that people have. I think people don’t want that. I don’t think it’s seemly and I think it puts people off.

It’s the old politics, if you like, and when Malcolm took over and Christopher used to use the term in forums like this that we did speak about now, we’re doing the new politics, but what they’re seeing is the worst of the old politics I think, being played out in a very personal way and I think that is most unfortunate and not what the mob want.

I marched in Mardi Gras on Saturday night with Trent Zimmerman, newly elected Member of North Sydney. Trent’s someone I’ve known for a very very long time, through his engagement with the Tourism and Transport Forum.

He’s the first ever out, or declared, homosexual member of the House of Representatives, that takes a great deal of courage; I thought his first speech was a terrific speech.

And we took a photo on Saturday night together, tweeted it out, it had an enormously positive response, to see a Labor person and a Liberal person standing there, not bickering, engaging in what is a major community celebration here in Sydney, and I think people want more of that and less of politicians yelling at each other.

PRESENTER: Well said. Both interesting insights and you know, a bit of a chip toward Albo there Malcolm Turnbull but I think both Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese were pretty up front then about the personal side of politics. So thanks to both of them, we’ll do it again next week.

 

 

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