Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Sep 8, 2015

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Warren Truss’ statement that Australian job losses are “trivial issues”; Senate shipping inquiry; Bill Milby; Tony Abbott’s plan for WorkChoices on Water 

ALBANESE: (First 20 seconds omitted due to recording malfunction)  … from his department, Judith Zielke. Mr Milby asked Judith Zielke, how can I possibly compete with foreign ships paying foreign wages in competition with me on the coast? He was advised that the best thing to do was to reflag his ship with a foreign flag, sack his Australian workforce, employ foreign workers paying foreign wages, and that would also save the bill when it came to training that he currently conducts for Australians.

He was shocked by that. Mr Milby is a proud Australian. Mr Milby stated that it was very important for those people, whether they be Australians or overseas tourists, who get to visit the Kimberley on the True North, his vessel, to actually have Australian crew there. That was part of the experience in this iconic part of Australia. So he asked for a further meeting. He came to Canberra. At that meeting, he met Judith Zielke and he met Michael Sutton. Once again he was given the same advice. Now, Mr Milby put that forward in his written advice to the Senate inquiry. Tony Abbott, in the electorate of Canning a week ago dismissed that advice and said “that’s just not true”.

Warren Truss didn’t bother to have any major inquiry into these incidents as to whether they occurred or not. He said in Parliament yesterday that he asked his Departmental secretary, and said that it didn’t happen and it wouldn’t be possible. Well, Mr Milby last night gave very clear evidence.

He was asked, not by a Labor Senator, but by Bill Heffernan and I pay tribute to the way that Bill Heffernan conducted himself as the Chair of that Committee last night. A fair dinkum Australian who actually does support Australian jobs and just wanted to get to the truth. Bill Heffernan said this:  “So Milby was telling the truth when he said that you’d discussed with him the option of going offshore, etc.?” Judith Zielke, “Yes.”

Then, he went on a said, “does that mean no one is telling a lie?” ” “I understand Mr Milby heard the conversation and reported what he understood the conversation to cover.”

Bill Heffernan went on to ask Michael Sutton, who is Judith Zielke’s boss in the department. He said this; “I don’t like what I just heard from the previous witness, and I don’t give a rats who’s in government, and who’s not, and neither does this committee. Emphatically, are you going to deny the words Milby just said in the previous evidence?”

Michael Sutton said: We discussed the options available to all shipping operators, one of them being to retain their current operations. One of them is the reflagging option.”

On any reading of last night’s evidence, anyone who has a look at Mr Milby, who says by the way that he was only given one option, which was that if you want to compete, reflag your vessel. For Tony Abbott today to just dismiss these concerns, for Warren Truss to show contempt in the way that he dealt with these issues and dismiss these concerns of Mr Milby and ignore the fact that he misled Parliament yesterday, very clearly an open and shut case, is quite extraordinary. But it gets even worse.

Because Warren Truss today in Parliament described the concerns that businesses and seafarers have, as well as local communities about the loss of jobs and economic activity, as “trivial issues”. He actually described that in the Parliament, that we were raising “trivial issues”.

Well, I don’t think there’s anything trivial about whether there’s an Australian shipping industry around our coast as an island continent.

I don’t think there’s anything trivial about replacing Australian workers with foreign workers on our coast and paying them foreign wages.

I don’t think there’s anything trivial about Australian businesses going out of business because they’re competing against a ship that has a foreign flag paying foreign wages in direct competition with them.

It is completely unacceptable, Warren Truss’ response, in the Parliament this afternoon. We attempted to censure the Deputy Prime Minister today in the Parliament and the response in the Parliament was to shut down that debate.

It’s very clear; this has got a long way to go. A very long way to go. And we are determined to pursue these issues. There are three things that should happen.

Mr Abbott should be big enough to apologise to Bill Milby – a decent Australian who employs his fellow Australians.

Warren Truss should correct the record in the Parliament for his mislead.

Thirdly, the Government should withdraw this flawed legislation that would destroy the Australian shipping industry.

REPORTER: Mr Truss was suggesting Mr Milby wouldn’t have much difficulty continuing his business under the new regulation.

ALBANESE: Good old Warren, sitting there, when he’s awake, in Gympie, Queensland, suggesting he knows more about Mr Milby’s business than Mr Milby, up there in the Kimberley, operating out of Broome.

What’s more, is that as Mr Milby made clear last night, and Labor made clear as well; we don’t blame the officials for giving that advice. Because that is the absolute logic of anyone who looks at the legislation.

The legislation that provides for foreign ships to operate side by side but on a cheaper cost basis because they have foreign standards and they have foreign wages and conditions being paid.

Of course, the Australian business will not be able to compete. That’s the very purpose of this legislation. The purpose of the legislation as came out last night; 88% of the savings, according to the Government’s own Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), part of the Explanatory Memorandum, are simply because of the replacement of Australian workers with foreign workers. That’s what came out in the inquiry last night. It’s there for all to see.

REPORTER: Doesn’t it make sense though, that if you were to reduce the costs on these ships, that you would have more ships and you would have more economic activity on land?

ALBANESE: It’s not hard. A ship won’t get its costs reduced unless they replace the Australian flag with a foreign flag, and that foreign flagged ship employs workers on foreign wages. They don’t pay tax to the Australian system – either the workers or the companies. That’s a loss to our national economy. This is short sighted. This is extraordinary.

It would be like allowing you journalists here to be replaced by Filipino journalists on Filipino wages, use Filipino standards in terms of qualifications etcetera, and say that you’ll compete. No industry could compete on the basis of a race to the bottom.

REPORTER: Can’t Labor and the crossbench defeat this legislation anyway, Mr Albanese?

ALBANESE: We sure can, and we’re going to do everything we can to defeat this legislation. And the crossbenchers last night, I think some of them were quite shocked by some of the answers that came forward.

Senator Lambie asked a question about how it is that the modelling in this legislation doesn’t take into account any loss of Australian jobs in terms of the economic impact.

What the person from the Department remarkably said was that it is assumed that everyone who loses their job will find another job. Absolutely remarkable statement to make, particularly given many of these jobs are skilled jobs in the maritime sector.

If there aren’t Australian flagged vessels, and the legislation assumes, by the way, that there won’t be Australian based vessels. That’s the purpose of the legislation, is to replace Australians with foreign workers being paid foreign wages.

REPORTER: Do you draw no difference at all between a bureaucrat giving someone two options and discussing those two options, you conflate that with that bureaucrat advising someone to undertake –

ALBANESE: They didn’t given them two options. They gave them one option. If you speak to Mr Milby, he’s quite happy to go on the record. They gave them one option. Well, the two options are there, to be fair, there are two options.

Option one, keep it the way it is, and go out of business. Option two, reflag your vessel, employ foreigners, replace your workforce, and then you’ll be able to compete.

They’re the two options that are before industry as a result of this legislation and the bureaucrats after being directed by Warren Truss the Minister to talk to Mr Milby, indicated just that, and they did so in a pretty honest way. Thanks very much.


Sep 7, 2015

Transcript of doorstop, Canberra

Subjects: Senate shipping inquiry; Workchoices on water; Bill Milby; China free trade agreement; Syrian refugee crisis

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today in the Senate there will be a legislation committee looking at the government’s draconian shipping legislation.

This shipping legislation is designed to destroy the Australian shipping industry. The evidence that’s been put forward shows that this will destroy Australian jobs and mean that the Australian based shipping industry simply cannot compete against foreign ships.

The legislation does two things.

Firstly, it removes any preference for Australian ships above foreign ships operating around our coast on domestic freight.

Secondly, it ensures that those foreign ships competing side by side versus Australian ships for these jobs can pay foreign wages.

That means that the Australian ships simply aren’t competitive. You wouldn’t allow an Australian truck travelling from Sydney to Melbourne along the Hume Highway for Toll or Linfox to have to compete with a foreign truck with Filipino standards, including Filipino safety standards, Filipino wages and conditions being paid to the truck driver behind the wheel of that vehicle. Nor should that be allowed along the blue highway if people choose to take freight by sea rather than by road or by rail.

We saw that earlier this year, with an attempt by the government to remove cabotage, or Australian preference for aviation in northern Australia, that was abandoned by the government. They should abandon this too.

There are two key sets of evidence before the committee.

One, Australian shipping operators saying that they cannot compete and they will be forced to take a foreign flag. Worse is the evidence of Bill Milby. He operates a ship in the Kimberley, True North.

He was advised by a departmental officer to, and I quote, “consider taking our ship, True North off the Australian shipping register, reregister the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew”.

It is unconscionable that a senior Australian infrastructure department representative who will be quizzed today before that committee has advised an Australian based company to sack their Australian crew but importantly to take the Australian flag off the back of that ship.

They want to replace the Australian flag on the back of our ships with a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs.

This is Workchoices on Water.

This will lose Australian jobs and conditions.  It is ideology gone crazy.

Another piece of evidence before the committee concerns SeaRoad, a Tasmanian company that has invested $100 million in two ships, a total investment of $200 million based on the existing legislation.

If this current legislation before the House is carried, that investment will be wasted, those jobs and that investment lost to Australia and importantly to Tasmania.

I call upon the government to abandon this ideological crusade that they have against Australian based shipping.

REPORTER: The department says it didn’t provide that advice to Bill Milby and Warren Truss last week cast doubts on the veracity, was the word he used, of the evidence. Are you concerned that ultimately this important debate might come down to Bill Milby and the cruise line’s word against that of Tony Abbott or Warren Truss?

ALBANESE: No. You have to look at the facts.

The fact is, if you have two ships, one of them with an Australian flag on the back, paying Australian wages and conditions and the other one with a foreign flag from a flag of convenience, often third world countries with no preconditions whatsoever paying third world wages, what are the competition implications of that?

The policy implications are clear. What industry is saying is very clear, and Bill Milby has the courage to call them out and he’s called them out for calling him a liar. He has very specific dates in May and June. When he was first given this advice he travelled here to Canberra, he met with the Department and they gave him that advice.

Can I say this, as someone who was Minister in that Department. I know there are people in that department who say it doesn’t matter whether there is an Australian shipping industry or not. What matters is just goods being carried around the coast as cheaply as possible.

What Bill Milby has done is expose the reality of the advice that he was given. That advice makes sense with this legislation. That is the logic that this legislation draws you to. It’s as simple as that and Australian companies, if you look at the Australian peak body organisation that has put forward Australian Maritime industry, they have said all of their members, it’s consistent with what people have said who have come through the door.

But they don’t want to say it as publicly as Bill Milby has, but they are all saying exactly the same thing and common sense tells you the same. If you allowed a foreign truck to go from Sydney to Melbourne with Filipino standards, without any of the safety things that we have put on trucks that are registered here and you allow them to pay a third world truck driving wages and conditions to compete against Linfox, Linfox would go out of business.

There would be implications for safety on our roads; there would be implications for jobs. There would be implications outside the industry just as there are implications and I refer you to Pasha Bulker and all the other incidents that have occurred with foreign ships around our coast.

There are implications beyond just carrying cargo for having a free for all around our coast, as well as national security implications, but that is the logical consequence of what the government’s policy positon is. Warren Truss, I’m pleased he woke up for long enough to actually make a statement on this because he had gone missing.

REPORTER: Is this resonating with anyone in the Coalition side?

ALBANESE: It certainly is. There are many in the Coalition who understand the idea of saying that Australians do not care whether there is an Australian flag presence around our coast and around the world. They understand that this is an ideological position.

It’s a pity people like Paul Neville aren’t in this Parliament anymore because Paul Neville was a co-author of the report that was unanimous that led to the existing shipping legislation being in place.

This was not partisan legislation. This was worked out over a period of time as a result of a unanimous parliamentary committee. For those people in the National Party, for those people in the Liberal Party who care about jobs, they should, just as the cross benchers have, examine this legislation and reject it.

REPORTER: On the China free trade deal, and the legislation the government says needs to be passed by December so the tariff cuts can come in from January. Will Labor be supporting the Free Trade Agreement legislation?

ALBANESE: We support free trade. We support increased engagement with China. We are simply saying that the government should sit down and do what they say they support. They say they support Australian jobs. They say they support labour market testing to make sure that any jobs that are created out of the free trade agreement, that there is potential for Australian employment before foreign employment is allowed to take those jobs.

Let’s have a bit of common sense here and let’s get a good outcome. I don’t think that should be beyond the wit of the government to do, but it’s the government that prefers to play politics with this rather than sit down and have common sense discussions.

REPORTER: So if Labor can’t get those extra safeguards put into the enabling legislation…

ALBANESE:  I’m not the Shadow Trade Minister, so I’ll leave it to the Shadow Trade Minister. I have stated what our positon is. I have stated what my positon is very clearly.

REPORTER: Just on the refugee crisis, do you think Labor should put a figure on how many Syrians should be accepted and should it be this one off separate allocation sitting outside of the annual intake?

ALBANESE: We are not the government, of course. But what Australia should do and what Labor is saying they should do is take Syrian refugees over and above the existing humanitarian intake.

That would be the right thing to do. Tony Abbott can’t say we’re doing our bit and then in the next sentence say there’ll be actually not a single additional refugee taken as a result of a government decision.

That’s not doing our bit.

Have a look at what is going on. This is the largest humanitarian refugee crisis since the Second World War. Our European partners Germany are doing an extraordinary amount and I think that Australia should certainly do more. They should listen to other world leaders, people like Pope Francis and the statements that he has made, that are so strong, and do our bit.

Anyone who has a look at what the situation is knows that we need to do more, not just say, we’re going to displace some people and take Syrian refugees in place of people who would have otherwise been accepted here in Australia.

That’s consistent with our approach we adopted at the National Conference where we said we would increase the intake.

May I say one thing on the two-year anniversary of the election of this absolutely hopeless government. When Tony Abbott was elected he said very clearly that within one year there would be cranes in the sky and bulldozers on major infrastructure projects.

He talked a lot about infrastructure prior to the election and in the early stages. You don’t hear him talk about infrastructure much at all now. Two years on, there aren‘t any bulldozers, there aren’t any cranes in the sky. It’s just bulldust, that promise of the Prime Minister.

Thanks very much.




Sep 4, 2015

Transcript of television interview – Today Show, Nine network

Subjects: Citizenship laws; the economy; infrastructure financing; debt; Canning by-election, China Free Trade Agreement

KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, hasn’t it been a big week in appearing politics again with Bill Shorten appearing to be isolating himself from the Labor Party and Tony Abbott fighting for his future. So it’s a good morning to Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese and the Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. Good morning lads. Nice to see you this morning.



STEFANOVIC: Josh, to you first up, there are reports in the Tele, some of our most notorious terrorists will have their dual citizenships revoked and be sent back to where they came from. Is that happening?

FRYDENBERG: Well, look, we really hope so. Today we’re getting a report from a parliamentary committee. This is an area where both sides of the Parliament want to ensure we do everything to protect Australia and we’ve got some serious problems. ASIO tell us there are 400 high level terrorist related investigations going on here in Australia and more than 20 Australians have already been as killed over in Syria and Iraq and as you know, we’ve got our men and to women in uniform over there trying to make the world a safer place. So we hope to act soon on this dual citizenship legislation.

STEFANOVIC: You know it’s going to get stuck in the High Court perhaps?

FRYDENBERG: I hope not. Let’s hope the lawyers get out of the way here because this is too serious an issue to delay too much longer.


ALBANESE: Well, I think the changes that I hope the committee will recommend improve this legislation. We have no sympathy, nor should anyone, for people who are out there fighting against Australia on behalf of this extremist organisation. But at the same time, we want to make sure that inadvertently people aren’t caught up and I hope that the committee – my understanding is the committee report is unanimous. That’s a good that thing because we need to make sure that national security is above partisan politics.

STEFANOVIC: High Court needs to move aside do you think or what?

ALBANESE: No, no, I don’t think it is up to politicians to tell courts what to do and I think that’s an important principle as well.


FRYDENBERG: I think Albo likes to tell the Royal Commissioner to do. But let’s put that one aside for a minute, Karl.

ALBANESE: What? Like not attend have Liberal Party fundraisers. I would have thought commonsense tells the Royal Commissioner what he should do.

STEFANOVIC:  We’re moving on with all that. We’re moving on. Economic news now, it’s been a bleak week. Josh, when is the GST going up?

FRYDENBERG: This has been put forward by the most impressive premier in the country, namely Mike Baird. He raises a good issue there.

STEFANOVIC: You’ve got problems with the others, but when is it going up?

FRYDENBERG: Well look, this is something the states are pushing. As you know, all the states would have to agree and right now all the states don’t agree. So let’s just see where the debate goes.

STEFANOVIC: OK. If you don’t do that, how do you get control of the spending?

FRYDENBERG: Well, we’re already cutting spending significantly. We inherited 3.5%. …

STEFANOVIC: The Budget is a bit of joke at the moment you know. It’s only getting worse.

FRYDENBERG: No, no, no that’s not right. We are paying back Labor’s debt. We know that Albo today is talking about increasing the debt.

STEFANOVIC: Your debt is getting worse.

FRYDENBERG: No, no, don’t believe that.  Actually we’ve been cutting the deficit.

STEFANOVIC: Well no. It is. It’s a fact.

FRYDENBERG: No. We inherited a deficit, Karl, of $48 billion.

ALBANESE: And you’ve doubled it. And you’ve doubled it. Debt up, deficit up, unemployment up, economic growth down. You’ve had a shocker.

FRYDENBERG: No, no, no, we inherited a deficit of 48 billion. It’s now $35 billion. It will be $7 billion in three years’ did time. We’re doing what Labor never did which is pay back that debt.

ALBANESE: No. you doubled it to $48 billion as your first act of government.

STEFANOVIC: Now Anthony, just back to you, Anthony, you don’t have a problem with debt. You don’t mind have seeing more debt?

ALBANESE: No, I do have a problem with debt. What I want to see though is the government recognise the difference between capital debt – debt for infrastructure – and recurrent debt. We need to get the budget under control, but all debt isn’t the same. That’s the truth. You and I you wouldn’t have ever had a house if you didn’t borrow from the bank in order to secure long-term economic growth.

STEFANOVIC: This is a tough sell in this environment though?

ALBANESE: Yes. It is just about having a sophisticated adult debate, the sort of thing Josh just showed he wasn’t up for with that comment. It is precisely what the business community are calling for.

STEFANOVIC: The problem is you have to get the other debt in control first otherwise you are just going to spiral into more and more debt.

ALBANESE: Absolutely. We have a medium and long-term problem with the budget deficit. We need to get recurrent expenditure under control. At the same time, we need to not do what infrastructure has happened which is that infrastructure investment has collapsed. You’ve had a 12% decline in infrastructure investment. That creates long-term problems for both fiscal policy and economic policy.

FRYDENBERG: Karl, can I just say that Albo doesn’t mind increasing the debt because he never paid it back. The last time the Labor Party paid back the debt or came with a Budget surplus was 1989.

ALBANESE: And how are you going with that, Josh? You’ve doubled it, mate. You’ve doubled it.

FRYDENBERG: 1989 Bon Jovi was ruling the air waves. Mate, you were living on a prayer. That’s what happened back then.

ALBANESE: The figures are up there, Josh. You’ve doubled it. And you are the Assistant Treasurer.

FRYDENBERG: 1989, that was your last surplus.

STEFANOVIC: Either way, there has be some resolution because at the moment it seems to be getting sicker, the economy. Bill Shorten, is he playing politics with the FTA, with China?

ALBANESE: No, Not at all.

STEFANOVIC: What is he that doing?

ALBANESE: Well, Labor’s a party, one, that supports free trade. Secondly, we’re about we’re not going to be lectured Labor about the relationship with China. It’s relationship Labor that forged the modern opposition relationship with China against the opposition of the Coalition. We started the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement. We have a simple principle which is to make sure there is labour market testing. Essentially all that means is if there are jobs created, see if Australians can do them first before you allow overseas workers to do them.

STEFANOVIC: OK is that in the FTA at the moment Josh?

FRYDENBERG: The FTA makes no changes whatsoever to our workplace relations law or to our 457 visas.

STEFANOVIC: And so what’s the problem, Anthony?

FRYDENBERG: So there’s no problem with it. That’s the issue.

ALBANESE: Well, there are issues. If there are no problems, then sit down and make sure that that’s made explicit. That’s all we’re it asking for with this. A bit of common sense.

STEFANOVIC: He is saying that there are no changes at the moment.

ALBANESE: Well, there are changes in terms of the wording of the Free Trade Agreement. There are changes all in terms of skills recognition and all we’re saying is, look, there’s enough conflict in politics without trying to make conflict up and that’s what we’re concerned about here. We support free trade. We support increasing our relationship with China, but let’s make sure it’s in the Australian national interest.

STEFANOVIC: Josh, can you guarantee that there’ll be no Aussie jobs lost as a result of this FTA?

FRYDEBERG: Absolutely. Tens of thousands of new Aussie jobs will be created. It will be great news for guarantee the dairy farmers.

STEFANOVIC: You can guarantee they won’t be lost though?

FRYDENBERG:  Absolutely. We can guarantee it. What this means is Australia as a country of 23 million people will be linked to an economy and a country of 1.2 billion people. It great is great news for the dairy farmers, great news for the wine producers, and great news for the health workers. Ninety-five percent of everything we export will be tariff free to China. Labor’s just playing to the tune of the CFMEU here.

STEFANOVIC: Josh, we do have to go. You have put done all right today. You going to in put your hand up if you get beaten got in Canning?

FRYDENBERG: We are going to win Canning and we’ve got a great candidate in Andrew Hastie and Tony Abbott was there just this week and will be there again.

STEFANOVIC: There have been no leaks this week. What’s wrong with you all?

ALBANESE:  They haven’t had a cabinet meeting.

STEFANOVIC: On that note, we will say goodbye. Thank you, Josh, thank you, Albo.






Sep 4, 2015

Transcript of press conference, Sydney

Subjects; Infrastructure cuts; Bureaucrat’s advice to cruise company to replace Australian flag with foreign flag; lack of rail to Badgerys Creek airport; China free trade agreement

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve just addressed the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Conference. This is an important body for the construction sector and other parts of the Australian private sector who are engaged in infrastructure development. What we know is that there’s been a massive decline in public sector infrastructure investment since the election of the Abbott Government.

In the order of 19 per cent since 2013. We also know that for 12 consecutive quarters there has been economic growth below trend. We know that unemployment is rising and now has a six in front of it, getting closer to seven than it was to six. Indeed, there are more unemployed people now than there were during the global financial crisis. That’s why it makes sense for governments to invest in infrastructure, to support growth, to support jobs and to make sure that over the longer term, you actually get a fiscal and economic return from good infrastructure investment.

That’s why you need to draw a distinction between governments having capital investment in our roads, our railway lines, our ports, our airports and other infrastructure, that will produce a return to government, and the issues around recurrent expenditure that clearly need to be reduced if we are going to deal with the issues of budget deficit. That is what sensible investment would produce, and that’s part of what I outlined in the speech today.

Secondly, today I emphasised our continued opposition to the Government’s support for changes to shipping legislation. That legislation would do two things. Firstly, it would remove any preference for Australian flags on the back of ships. Secondly it would allow any ship competing with the remaining Australian fleet to pay foreign wages rather than Australian wages. That means that the Australian industry would be uncompetitive.

This week we’ve had revelations from Bill Milby, who operates the True North ship in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. He was advised that in order to stay competitive he should remove the Australian flag, replace it with a foreign flag and foreign registration, and replace his Australian workforce with foreign workers that would reduce his wage bill but also remove any requirement for training of Australians to undertake that task. Now, Mr Milby is not a political person. He’s made it very clear that these are the changes that will occur as a result of this legislation that’s before the Parliament if it’s carried.

Today we’ve had revelations of a Tasmanian operator who has invested $100 million in a new ship, backed by ANZ Bank, funding secured, investing in Australian jobs, investing in the future and particularly in Tasmania. That investment is jeopardised by these changes that are before the Parliament and I’d call upon the Federal Government to rethink its strategy. This is ideology before common sense. It makes no sense to replace the Australian flag and Australian jobs with a white flag when it comes to supporting Australian jobs.

REPORTER: In light of your address, how would you characterise the State Government’s decision not to provide a rail link to the airport at Badgerys Creek?

ALBANESE: Well, quite clearly that is a very short sighted approach. Badgerys Creek airport needs a rail line. It needs a rail line for the airport to function effectively. But more importantly, the Badgerys Creek site needs to be more than just a runway and a terminal. It needs to be a driver of economic growth for Western Sydney.

It needs to be a precinct similar to Macquarie Park precinct in terms of creating high value jobs in the logistics sector, in the tourism sector, in the transport sector, in other areas engaged in our trading sectors as well. And it can certainly be that with a bit of vision.

Part of that is connecting up the rail line from Leppington through Badgerys Creek to the western line. That will create a loop line around Sydney and that would create benefit not just for those who work at the airport, those in local industries and those who are travelling to and from the airport, but for other people in Western Sydney and for the Sydney transport system as a whole. It’s time that the State and Federal Government ended their blame game on this and understood that there was a need to invest and make sure that western Sydney airport does have a rail line operating from day one.

REPORTER: This morning Martin Ferguson criticised the CMFEU and criticised people from all parties who attack the China free trade agreement. He said it had racial overtones. What’s your response to that?

ALBANESE: I didn’t hear his address, so I’m not going to respond to it. I’ll say this though about the free trade agreement. Labor supports free trade. Labor supports relations with China being improved, as we always have.

It is Labor that recognised China. I was in China just two and a half weeks ago. One of the things that happens when you meet with people in any region of China is that they always go back to the courageous decision of Whitlam.

Here in New South Wales, the courageous decision of Wran, where he made agreements leading to coal exports going to China.

We believe in free trade. We also believe that if the government says that Australians will benefit in terms of jobs, why is it they’re not prepared to have a discussion about how we can ensure that when jobs are created through a free trade agreement, Australians will be able to benefit from that through Labor market testing as it has to occur currently under 457 visas. That is what Labor is saying.

The current government should not look for conflict where it isn’t there. I think people are sick of that form of politics and I believe that we need to make sure that we get these arrangements right and that’s what Labor is saying.

REPORTER: I suppose, in light of your visit to China, do you think Labor’s opposition to the FTA could damage Australia’s reputation?

ALBANESE: Labor hasn’t said it’s opposed to the FTA. Labor has said we support free trade. Labor has said that we support our relationship with China. What we’ve said though, is that we need to get the details right and we need to make sure that the arrangements benefit the Australian community, the Australian workforce, and assist in creating jobs for Australians arising out of this agreement. That’s what we’ve said. At no stage have we said that we’re opposed to this agreement.

REPORTER: Are you concerned that there are elements of the Opposition, that there are some sort of racial overtones to it? Do you see that at all?


REPORTER: You’ve been critical of the government’s boat turn back policy before. How do you think it’s had an impact on our global reputation given the New York Times?

ALBANESE: We had a debate at national conference. Those issues were resolved. We had an opportunity as ALP members to state our views about what should or shouldn’t be in the ALP platform, but can I just say this about the ALP platform. It would provide for a much more humane response to the issue of asylum seekers than the current government and that is why the platform, indeed the amendments that were adopted at the national conference are something that I support.



Sep 3, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – ABC Sunshine Coast with Annie Gaffney

Subject/s: Bureaucrat’s advice to cruise company to replace Australian flag with foreign flag; China free trade agreement; Australian economy

ANNIE GAFFNEY: An Australian cruise company has been advised by a government bureaucrat in Minister Warren Truss’ Department to register its ships overseas so that it can hire cheaper crews.

You have to wonder what’s going on. The Prime Minister said that’s not true. The man at the centre of the controversy, Bill Milby said this last night on Channel 10 in response to the Prime Minister’s comments.

BILL MILBY, NORTH STAR CRUISES: If that’s what he’s saying, he’s basically calling me a liar. And I’d like to say to him I am not a liar, I do not lie. I know who I spoke with. I know what they said and it wasn’t just said once. It was said at two separate meetings.

We’re very concerned because it doesn’t just affect North Star Cruises, it will affect all of the Australian owned, and operated, and crewed ships around the Australian coast that do similar things to what we do.

GAFFNEY: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, amongst his many other portfolios. Mr Albanese good morning, welcome to the coast. What can you tell us about the legislation underpinning this situation?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The legislation does two things, Annie. First, it removes any preference for Australian ships as opposed to foreign ships in terms of doing a domestic freight task. So if you want to take freight from Brisbane to Sydney you have to check to see if there’s an Australian ship available to undertake that task.

This would remove any preference whatsoever for the Australian flag, but secondly and most importantly, it would also allow the foreign competitor to pay foreign wages and conditions. And that means, put simply, that the Australian industry would simply be unviable and would need to, as this bureaucrat has advised Mr Milby, replace the Australian flag, and in his words from the advice he was given, “consider taking our ship True North off the Australian shipping register, re-register the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew”.

What that has done is highlight exactly what the implications of this legislation are. Already, in anticipation of this legislation, the Coral Princess that operates in Far North Queensland has done just that – removed the Australian flag, become a foreign flagged vessel, and it’s extraordinary that any government would contemplate what is unilateral economic disarmament. No country in the world in terms of a G20 country behaves in this way.

GAFFNEY: The Prime Minister has said it’s untrue. Is it possible he’s unaware of the situation or the possible results for workers in this field?

ALBANESE: It’s possible he just doesn’t get it. One of the issues with shipping is that because it happens off our coast, then it’s sight unseen. We saw the Four Corners program expose basically the loss of life of three seafarers off our coast on a foreign vessel and the investigation that’s occurring into the death of those three seafarers.

So it’s possible that he doesn’t get it, but what he should understand is that if I wanted to take goods from Brisbane to Sydney via road down the Pacific Highway, I’d have to have an Australian truck, it would be registered here, and it would have Australian safety standards.

It would have an Australian truck driver with qualifications being paid Australian wages and conditions. Under this system, if people chose the blue highway, rather than the Pacific or the Bruce Highway, then it can be a free for all. It can be a foreign ship with foreign standards with foreign workers paying foreign wages.

That is quite an extraordinary proposition. No one would suggest that would be appropriate on our roads or on our rail system or in construction or anywhere else for that matter, and yet the government is essentially saying, this is fair game.

They tried it on earlier this year in aviation as well, where they wanted to remove cabotage, which is the term for Australian preference. They wanted to allow foreign airlines, paying foreign wages to compete with Qantas and Virgin in the north of Australia, which would have simply meant that those operators and the smaller operators as well such as Air North would have become unviable when trying to compete against foreign wages.

GAFFNEY: When is this legislation relating to shipping going to come into effect, and what’s Labor doing about it?

ALBANESE: The legislation is before the Parliament now. This submission from Mr Milby is consistent with all of the submissions from industry. There’s one from Peter Cadwallader, he’s the head of Intercontinental Shipping Group. He’s been a member of the Liberal Party for 50 years and points out how anti-jobs this proposal is.

Maritime Industry Australia Limited, which is the peak organisation for Australian shipping, has pointed out the flaws in this legislation and there will be a Senate legislative inquiry into the bills on Monday.

Really, this legislation should be scrapped. No one’s saying that the current system is perfect. If there are some measures that are needed, that are practical, then Labor and I’m sure, the crossbenchers would be prepared to consider them. But this is extraordinary legislation.

These are explosive allegations whereby Mr Milby, at a meeting at the launch of the policy on the 20th of May, raised his concerns and was told that by the bureaucrat.

He was shocked, so he organised a meeting in Canberra, travelled to Canberra, met with the Department of Infrastructure’s senior bureaucrats on the 16th of June and was given the same advice to essentially remove the Australian flag and put up a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs.

GAFFNEY: It’s sixteen to nine on ABC Sunshine Coast. I’m Annie Gaffney. My guest is the opposition spokesperson for infrastructure and transport, Anthony Albanese.

Mr Albanese, that brings us to the free trade agreement with China. The unions are very worried about workers and jobs for Australians. In light of this, and  with so many Labor Premiers and former leaders like Bob Hawke saying the deal should go ahead, can you explain the Federal Opposition’s position on this?

ALBANESE: We support free trade. We think there is a case for greater involvement with China – with what will be the world’s largest economy to our north and a very significant relationship with Australia, going back to the Whitlam Government as people have pointed out, which recognised China.

Labor has always recognised that we need to engage in our region. But what we’re saying is that the Government needs to make sure that everyone benefits from this free trade agreement. Labour market testing that currently occurs for 457 visas, if people want to use a foreign workforce rather than an Australian workforce; it has to be tested whether Australians are available to do that particular task.

What we’re saying is that Australians need to benefit. It’s as simple as that. We’re certainly not anti-free trade. Far from it. When in government, we advanced this agreement, but we will always look towards making sure it was in Australia’s national interest. We’re just calling upon the government to sit down and be cooperative and see if we can come up with solutions to the issue that have been raised.

GAFFNEY: Beyond jobs, I mean the ABC’s Fact Check unit has said the deal will threaten jobs. It’s a little bit hard to understand what exactly the position is. So what are some of the other sticking points for the Opposition on this?

ALBANESE: That certainly is the major sticking point – who benefits. Then there’s the issue of the ability of countries to, as a result of trade agreements, undermine the sovereignty of national government decisions. At the moment there’s a case against plain packaging laws, for example. We think that any agreement shouldn’t undermine the rights of sovereign states, such as Australia, or China for that matter, to make decisions such as that.

GAFFNEY: Why do you think, then, that so many Labor voices are chorusing at the moment for the deal to go through?

ALBANESE: What they’re saying, if you look at the detail, I don’t think there’s a great difference here. It’s nuanced. They’re saying at the end of the day, they want this deal to happen. We want this deal to happen to. We just want to make sure that it’s the right deal and that the details are looked at, not just given a tick without ensuring that Australians and Australian jobs will be enhanced as a result of this deal.

GAFFNEY: The CFMEU says there are lots of workers in Australia working illegally. We’ve also seen 7-Eleven breaching the rules and underpaying workers in some franchises, United Petroleum as well. Are we as a country able to afford the wages we pay workers?

ALBANESE: We have to, because we enjoy living standards that are part of our way of life. That’s the big issue here. It’s there with shipping; it’s there across a whole range of areas.

Do we as a nation compete in our region on the basis of our skills, our knowledge, providing high value jobs, which ensure that we have growing living standards into the future, or do we engage in a race to the bottom when it comes to wages and conditions?

Quite simply, we cannot compete on the basis of wages and conditions. We shouldn’t try to. That is the wrong approach – and those people who usually advocate that approach are people who are on exorbitant salaries themselves in the big end of town. Australians understand that they value our way of life.

They value the fact that we have a society which doesn’t have the same levels of inequality that you see in some other nations but the truth is in the last couple of years that inequality has grown. Living standards are falling. And this is a government that speaks about jobs and growth. Well, unemployment is growing and economic growth is declining.

GAFFNEY: Anthony Albanese, thanks for giving us so much time this morning.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you.


Sep 2, 2015

Transcript of radio interview with John McGlue – 720 ABC Mornings, Perth

Subject: Bureaucrat’s advice to cruise company to replace Australian flag with foreign flag & Australian workers with foreign workers

JOHN MCGLUE: Bill Milby is the company owner’s representative, North Star Cruises is the name of the company and he’s here now, Bill good to talk with you.


MCGLUE: So what are your concerns about this legislation first up?

MILBY: The legislation, if it passes the way it is written at the moment allows any foreign ships, provided they meet the navigation regulations, to ply their trade on the Australian coast.

By doing that foreign ships will obviously come in with foreign crew, that’s what they do. Foreign crew, especially from certain countries around the world are paid a lot less money in wages than what Australian crew are paid. We compete against them then obviously we become uncompetitive.

MCGLUE: Right, and what representations have you made to the federal department in relation to this which led to these extraordinary comments from the bureaucrat? What were you seeking to do?

MILBY: Well, this legislation, changes to the Navigation Act, has been tinkered with by two different governments and I’ve been involved from our company’s point of view to make sure we can protect not only our operation but the operations of other coastal crew coming here around Australia and protect the wages of our Australian workers.

But this Bill, which is before the Parliament now, allows any foreign ship to come in and operate against us and that’s why I sought briefings. That’s why I went first off to the public launch by Minister Truss of this legislation at which I asked some questions and got some answers and then I had a meeting with two bureaucrats in the Department about three weeks after that.

MCGLUE: Some time later. Ok well let’s go back to that day it’s the 20th of May this year. You’re in Sydney at this function, Warren Truss is there launching this piece of legislation and afterwards you spoke to a bureaucrat. Tell me about that conversation.

MILBY: Well I did query Minister Truss in the question and answer session, “how do expect companies like North Star Cruises and others to be able to compete when you table this legislation?”

He said he thought it wouldn’t be an issue and that was the end of the conversation with him. So then I sought out the person from his Department and asked the person the same question. “Ok, this is what you are going to do, how do you expect North Star Cruises and other to compete?”

And they said “well you’ve got to realise that you are in an international marketplace now so you have to take steps to become more competitive”.

And I said “well how do you suggest I do that?”

And she said “well maybe you should consider taking the ship off the Australian registry, reflagging it in a different country and then hiring a foreign crew”.

MCGLUE: Bill Milby, just let me get this right, this is a federal government bureaucrat giving you advice to ditch your Australian workers and to hire cheaper labour from overseas.

MILBY: Correct.

MCGLUE: What was your response?

MILBY: I was gobsmacked. I said to her, I can’t remember the exact words but words to the effect of “I cannot believe those words are coming out of your mouth.”

I was gobsmacked. So much so that I said to her that I would really like to continue this conversation elsewhere in your office in Canberra. And she agreed to that and we met three weeks later in her office in Canberra, not only with her but with one of her managers as well.

MCGLUE: Ok, so tell me about that meeting because you were obviously taken aback by what you heard at that function in Sydney so you make your way to Canberra three weeks later to sit down with the grown-ups from the department. Tell me about that conversation.

MILBY: We virtually continued on where we left off in Sydney. I stated our case that we believe that should this legislation as it is written be passed then it would seriously threaten out operation and the operations of other operators all the way round the Australian coast who have Australian ships, Australian crew, who build Australian ships in Australia for their operations, I said “you affect a whole lot of people and you also effect the regions where these ships operate out of”.

MCGLUE: And they said?

MILBY: Not a lot. They reiterated the fact that if we wanted to stay competitive then we should take the ship off the Australian registry, sack our crew and put on foreign workers.

MCGLUE: Ok. Where does it go next? What do you want the Government to do?

MILBY: I want them to look at this legislation, this draft legislation, well it’s not draft it’s now before Parliament. It’s wrong and in my submission I actually said that they are taking a machete to fix something they should be doing with a scalpel.

They should be very careful as to how they frame this legislation.

I’ve argued for the last 6 years that freight and passenger trade around the Australian Coast are two different businesses, therefor it should be covered under two sets of different rules and regulations.

I’ve argued that point for 6 years but they don’t listen.

MCGLUE: Ok, well I wonder what’s going to happen now. This is quite an extraordinary sequence of events. Bill Milby, thank you so much.

It really sounds quite incredible. North Star Cruises, they operate the True North, up off the Kimberley coast. Some extraordinary comments and engagement with the Federal Government. That’s Bill Milby.

Anthony Albanese is with me – the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. Good day to you.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you John.

MCGLUE: Good to talk with you too. What do you make of what you heard there from Bill Milby?

ALBANESE: Well the Department is just being honest about the implications of this legislation. The submission from the Maritime Industry Australia Limited, which is the peak Australian shipping body, is consistent with the opposition that’s there across the board to this legislation.

If you allowed from Perth across to Sydney, a foreign truck in to carry goods that allow them to employ someone on Filipino or third world wages and said, here you go, Toll and Linfox and the Australian trucking industry – you compete with them. Guess what? They’d go out of business as well.

The Hume Highway shouldn’t be any different from the blue highway, but what they’re saying is that in industries that compete against each other, the only way that they can be competitive is to take ships off the Australian registry, register them in a foreign country, replace the crew with foreign crew, and pay them foreign wages.

In the submission from Mr Milby it speaks about how he was given advice as well that the foreign crew would be trained in a foreign country not Australia, saving money. This is ideology gone mad. This is about replacing the Australian flag on the back of ships with a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs.

MCGLUE: What do you want to see happen now?

ALBANESE: I want to see this legislation rejected. This is unilateral economic disarmament. No country in the world that’s advanced just says let’s have a free for all on our coast and allow for foreign wages, and they do that with good reason.

But for an island continent such as Australia, which doesn’t have any land borders, the shipping industry is particularly important and those skills that are important for our national security.

There’s a relationship between the merchant fleet and our Navy. It’s important for our environment in terms of the standards that Australian ships are kept to. It’s important for the way that our ports and harbours operate and where the skills come from the shipping sector.

The idea appears to be that we’ll just give up an Australian industry because the Government can’t see beyond their own ideology.

Australian ships might have union members on them, and therefore the way to get rid of those union members is to get rid of the whole industry is just ideology gone mad.

MCGLUE: It’s good to talk to you today. Thanks for your time.

ALBANESE: Good on you John.


Sep 2, 2015

Transcript of press conference, Sydney

Subjects: Australian shipping industry; Bureaucrat’s advice to replace Australian flag with foreign flag

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT:  Good morning. The Federal Government has introduced legislation that would decimate the Australian shipping industry. As an island continent, Australia depends upon having a strong shipping sector for reasons of our economy, our environment and also for national security reasons.

The legislation that is currently before the Parliament has been subject to a review by a Senate legislation committee. The submissions make interesting reading indeed. Every single one of the Australian shipping industry’s submissions, whether it be from the peak organisation, Maritime Industry Australia Limited, or from individual shippers, supports the current regime but suggests some changes or consistently opposes the proposals that have been brought forward before the Abbott Government.

National governments understand that it is in the national interest to have a shipping industry. That’s why in nations such as the United States, in order to do a freight task domestically from LA to San Francisco or anywhere else around the US coast, the ships have to be US flagged, they have to have US seafarers on board, and indeed, in the United States the ships actually have to be built in the United States.

Australia has a very open system indeed. But it’s one that provides for a preference if an Australian ship is available to be used, and secondly requires that for domestic work in Australia, Australian wages and conditions have to be observed. This legislation before the Parliament would remove any preference for Australian based ships, and secondly would allow for foreign wages to be paid on those ships which are competing with Australian flagged ships.

It’s no wonder that this has been characterised as WorkChoices on Water. No Australian industry could compete side by side with a foreign industry if they are allowed to pay foreign based wages.

If you want to take freight on the Hume Highway by truck from Sydney to Melbourne, you have to pay Australian based wages and conditions and you have to be on an Australian registered vehicle with the appropriate Australian safety standards.

If you decide to take that freight by ship rather than by road on the blue highway rather than the Hume Highway, you should also have to pay Australian wages and conditions on that route. It’s a very simple principle.

But the Abbott Government wants to support unilateral economic disarmament. It’s no wonder that it’s been condemned by submissions including from Intercontinental Shipping Group Chairman, Peter Cadwallader, who has said that as a 50-year member of the Liberal Party, he regards this as against the Liberal Party’s stated objective of supporting Australian jobs.

But the most significant submission is from North Star Cruises, from Bill Milby. He outlines his attendance at the launch of this policy on the 20th of May. It was launched at the Shipping Australia hosted event.

Shipping Australia is, in Orwellian speak, the ships that actually aren’t based in Australia but are foreign flagged. Mr Milby says in his submission that he attended the function, where he advised the Executive Director of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport and Regional Development that, and I quote “allowing foreign crewed passenger vessels into the Australian coastal expedition cruise sector would effectively result in our operation, as well as that of many other Australian coastal maritime operators being uncompetitive.”

The Executive Director’s advice to them was quite extraordinary.

“The Executive Director advised that we should consider taking our ship, True North, off the Australian shipping register, re-register the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew, and hire a cheaper foreign crew.”

A quote from the Department, from people in charge of the implementation of this policy, to an Australian operator.

Then the operator chose to meet with the Department and actually flew to Canberra for a meeting on Tuesday the 16th of June. They put their case to the Department about the problems that would be created for this cruise company, which operates in the Kimberley in Western Australia.

They got told again, to “take True North off the Australian Shipping Register, register True North in a foreign country and reflag our ship True North with a foreign flag, then replace the Australian crew, apart from the captain and chief engineer, with foreign crew who would not be governed under the Australian labour laws and the Australian Fair Work Act. The foreign crew would also be trained in a foreign country, not Australia, saving money.”

When asked to justify this position, the bureaucrat said this “Australia is part of the international market and we have to compete with international operators”.

This is an absolutely extraordinary position. The Abbott Government wants to replace the Australian flag flying on the back of our ships with a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs. This is an outrageous piece of legislation that would destroy a vital Australian industry for our economy, our environment, and also for national security.

REPORTER: In regards to the Caltex issue in Tasmania, a Caltex spokesperson actually said similar to the bureaucrat you’re referring to that this is an issue where Caltex need to compete against hundreds of other shipping companies that are also paying foreign workers. How do you suggest that Australian companies compete if they’re not prepared to pay for foreign workers?

ALBANESE: We need to recognise that the wages component is a very small component in terms of the shipping costs. So the differential between the Australian based wages and foreign wages, when you look at the overall capital costs of a voyage, are not the major part of the costs.

The truth is though, that if you apply that logic, why wouldn’t you allow a Filipino truck operator to compete with Linfox and Toll on the Hume Highway with a Filipino registered truck, with the standards that are accepted in the Philippines but not here, in terms of safety and environmental considerations, and allow them to employ a Filipino truck driver paying Filipino truck wages and conditions?

There are costs to the national economy as a result of not having an Australian shipping industry. I’ll give you just one. The environmental cost of incidents such as the Pasha Bulker, the Shen Neng, the Pacific Adventurer, were all substantial for the Australian economy.

An Australian flagged ship has not been involved in any of the major incidents that have occurred off our coast. The Australian taxpayer, the Queensland taxpayer, and industry have borne the cost of those incidents. There is a reason why the Australian shipping industry is so well regarded internationally.

Because of the standards that we have, because of the skills of our workforce, and that’s why, when we sat down in developing the policy that the government is trying to remove, we sat down not just with the workforce through unions, but with employers, with peak organisations, with the Navy, with organisations including ports and others who are involved in the maritime sector.

If you lose an Australian based shipping industry, you lose those maritime skills that are so important for an island continent such as Australia. So yes, it is cheaper to employ someone on foreign wages than Australian wages. That’s the case across the board.

That would be the case if you had two construction sites next to each other and on one you’re allowed to pay third world wages and on one you pay Australian wages but guess what?

We in this country pride ourselves with the standards that we have, and it cannot be a race to the bottom. But that is what is being admitted by the Departments who are responsible for implementing this policy.

We’ve already seen a major cruise ship operator in Cairns take the Australian flag off their ship and put a foreign flag on, employ people on foreign wages rather than Australian wages, is what they would like to do, but they’ve done that in anticipation of these changes – in order to compete with those ships that will operate in terms of competitively with a foreign flag.

So all that we’re asking for, and all that Australian industry are asking for, is a genuinely level playing field. We do not have protection here in this country in terms of the Australian coast. There’s an important role for foreign ships around our coast. But they should compete on a level playing field with Australian industry otherwise the Australian industry themselves are saying that they will leave the Australian coast.

More importantly now, the people responsible for the implementation of the policy are quite extraordinarily advising Australian industry to sack Australian workers, employ foreign workers, remove the Australian flag, and put a foreign flag on the back of those ships. That is an extraordinary position to be in, in 2015.

REPORTER: With the next election coming up, with regards to this incident, particularly in Tasmania, will the topic of Australian jobs and protecting Australia’s own financial interest really in and amongst it?

ALBANESE: Australian jobs are vital. This is a government that has no plans for Australian jobs. In this case, they’re actually promoting a policy that will result directly in Australian based seafarers being replaced with foreign based seafarers being paid foreign based wages,  doing domestic freight tasks.

If you take that logic there, to other industries, then that is why this legislation must be defeated. The government will say this is about the unions. This isn’t unions making this submission. It is employers.

It’s Australian based industry that have invested their capital in having Australian ships operating on our coast. It is them who are saying so strongly that this is unacceptable legislation.

So I say listen to Maritime Industry Australia Limited, the peak organisation. Have a look at their submissions. They’ve made it very clear that this is ideology before common sense. Common sense tells you that you need to have an Australian based shipping industry if you’re an island continent. Thanks very much.




Sep 2, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – FIVAA with Leon Byner

Subjects: Australian shipping industry; Bureaucrat’s advice to replace Australian flag with foreign flag

LEON BYNER: Let’s talk to Shadow Transport Minister, federally, Anthony Albanese. Anthony thanks for joining us.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Leon.

BYNER: What do you make of this explosive allegation by the cruise shipping company?

ALBANESE: Well this is quite extraordinary. But what it indicates is the true aim of this legislation. If this legislation is carried, then foreign ships doing domestic freight tasks around our coast will be able to employ people paying foreign wages and conditions, and of course the Australian industry can’t compete.

And what’s occurred here, as you’ve said, is not a vague allegation. It’s named the Executive Director of the Department of Infrastructure as saying to Mr Bill Milby, who runs North Star Cruises that operate around the Kimberley, on the 20th of May in Sydney when he said I can’t compete with foreign flag vessels if they’re allowed to pay foreign wages doing the same routes.

And the advice he was given was, to quote,” ‘consider taking our ship True North off the Australian shipping register, reregister the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew,’ unquote”.

Now he was so shocked by that so he went to see the Department on the 16th of June in Canberra and he was given the same advice with even an additional component which was that the foreign crew could be trained in a foreign country, not Australia, saving more money.

This is so short sighted that the Government legislation would simply see the Australian shipping industry disappear. So that instead of having an Australian flag on the back of Australian ships, this is a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs.

BYNER: What do you propose to do about this?

ALBANESE: Well we’re opposing this legislation and we’re calling and have been talking to the crossbenchers about making sure they oppose the legislation as well. This is unilateral economic disarmament. No country, which is advanced in the world, says you can come onto our coast; you can go between Adelaide and Melbourne for example. If you go on the highway you of course have to have an Australian registered vehicle, have to have Australian safety standards, you pay Australian wages to the truck driver. But if you go on the blue highway they’re saying it’s fair game. We’ll remove any preference for Australian ships and you can pay foreign wages.

For which case the businesses, and this is where the bureaucrat has told the business correct advice, which is the only way that they can compete is to become one of them. That’s a disastrous consequence for Australia in terms of having a skilled workforce as an island continent that relies upon ships for our exports and imports and also around our coasts.  If we remove that industry the consequences, for not just our economy, but for national security, for the environment, will be dire indeed.

BYNER: Will the crossbenchers support what Labor is doing here to block that legislation?

ALBANESE: Well I’m hopeful that they will. This is a common sense test. No Australian industry could survive if next to it its competitors could pay foreign wages in Australia. That’s what we’re talking about here, and there are consequences. It’s so short sighted. One of the things that I’ve said is that every time there’s been a disaster off our coast; the Pasha Bulker, you might recall off Newcastle, the Sheng Neng off Queensland, they’ve all been foreign flag ships. Not Australian ships that have good standards and have good safety records. Every time one of those instances happened the costs have been tens of millions of dollars. And yet this short sighted approach is let’s just pay people foreign wages rather than Australian wages. I mean if we lose an industry then the relationship between people who are in the navy and people who are in the merchant fleet in terms of skills, the people who run our ports and our harbours, we will lose all those skills, which as an island continent we simply can’t afford to do.

BYNER: Anthony, thanks for joining us.




Sep 2, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – ABC Radio National

Subjects: Tony Abbott’s attack on Australian shipping; China Free Trade Agreement; Canning by-election

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The transport and infrastructure spokesman is Anthony Albanese. He joins me now, Anthony Albanese, welcome to the program.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Michael.

BRISSENDEN: Isn’t this a case just like the waterfront dispute a few years ago where we need to change work practices to remain internationally competitive?

ALBANESE: Not at all. This is about the Australian national interest and whether as an island continent we have an Australian shipping industry. These changes will destroy that Australian industry and what this senior bureaucrat, the Executive Director of the Department of Infrastructure is advising Australian shipping operators in response to their objection to this legislation is, to quote them hire foreign crew.

Mr Milby, of North Star Cruises, was advised to “consider taking our ship, True North, off the Australian Shipping Register, re-register the ship in a suitable foreign country, and lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew.”

That’s what they’re being advised as the only way they can respond to this act of unilateral economic disarmament. No country in the world operates in the way in which this legislation envisages because it would simply destroy the Australian shipping industry.

BRISSENDEN: You’ve got other industries, of course, who want this change. You’ve got big aluminium companies, for instance, saying that it’s vital, particularly for those that are in Tasmania. I mean to keep those industries competitive, other jobs might have to change mightn’t they?

ALBANESE: No Australian industry can expect to compete with a foreign competitor if they’re allowed to pay foreign wages. If you take freight from Sydney to Melbourne down the Hume Highway you have to have an Australian registered truck and you have an Australian truck driver paid Australian wages and conditions.

If you take that same freight domestically down the blue highway from Sydney to Melbourne you should also be paying Australian wages, otherwise the Australian company simply can’t compete. And that’s the case whether it’s in construction or in the trucking industry or in rail or any other sector of the Australian economy.

The government is trying to do out of sight, out of mind. We know there are major problems with some of the foreign shipping companies in terms of their practices and their standards when there have been environmental issues created with ships such as the Shen-Neng 1 or the Pasha Bulker off Newcastle. They have all been foreign flagged ships.

There is a real reason why it is in Australia’s national interest to have a shipping industry. No other country does this. In the US, if you want to go from LA to San Francisco in terms of freight, it has to be a US flagged ship, it has to have US seafarers, and the ship actually has to be built in the United States as well.

BRISSENDEN: Presumably, we’re talking about being competitive in our region though, aren’t we?

ALBANESE: This is Workchoices on Water. This is about undermining the Australian national interest by bringing in legislation that will simply mean the Australian shipping industry can’t compete and can’t survive. And they’re all saying that in the submissions to this Senate legislation inquiry. The bureaucrats in the department have responded pretty honestly by saying the only option you have is to get rid of the Australian flag, put a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs up, and go offshore, have a foreign flag, with foreign workers and foreign wages.

BRISSENDEN: How many jobs do you think are at risk here?

ALBANESE: Well there are at least 10,000 jobs in the Australian shipping industry, and this will mean that that industry simply can’t survive.

And the shipping industry is so important for our national security as well.

We hear a lot about ships around our coast and national security issues. If there’s no merchant fleet you don’t have people trained in terms of the shipping industry. well

The Navy were a part of the review that came to conclude our legislation that this is trying to change, because there was a recognition of the importance to national security of having a skilled maritime work force as well as the environmental issues, but most importantly our national economic interest.

If you don’t have an Australian industry, you’ll simply have the costs go up once that Australian industry disappears.

BRISSENDEN: Okay, speaking of jobs and reform, of course the China Free Trade Agreement is an issue that’s very much in the spotlight at the moment.

Now Bob Hawke, Bob Carr, Daniel Andrews, Jay Weatherill and now Opposition Leader in New South Wales, Luke Foley, all urging you to sign it as it is. Why won’t you?

ALBANESE: Well, I support, as does Labor supports free trade. What we want to make sure is that this agreement is in Australia’s national economic interests.

BRISSENDEN: But they all think it is.

ALBANESE: If you look at Luke Foley’s comments, and I saw them this morning, he has made it clear as well that it is reasonable for the Opposition to consider the our national interest when it comes to Australian jobs.

BRISSENDEN: What if China walks away from this? Because that’s what the Government is warning and as you heard in the previous set-up piece, Geoff Raby, a former ambassador, says that this is an agreement that’s been negotiated over decades and once you start to unpick one element the whole thing will unravel.

ALBANESE: Well, we of course were a part of those negotiations. And what we’re always a part of is making sure that Australians could benefit from the benefits that will come from the China Free Trade Agreement.

There’s no doubt there will be benefits from free trade but you need to make sure there are simple provisions that mean Australians for example can benefit from the jobs that are created, that’s the objective of the free trade agreement.

It’s not some ideological thing in itself. It’s about real, practical benefits. And we want to make sure that those practical benefits go to Australia and to Australian job creation in particular.

BRISSENDEN: Okay. Can I just ask you quickly about the Canning by-election which is the first big electoral test that’s coming up shortly.

Now yesterday Penny Wong said that effectively 2.5 to 4 per cent swing to you would be acceptable. You’d be hoping – Labor would be hoping to do a lot better than that in Canning, wouldn’t you?

ALBANESE: If you look historically, when there’s a by-election after the death of a sitting member, in this case a very popular one, Don Randall, it’s hard to get a swing. It’s not a normal by-election.

BRISSENDEN: Sure, but aren’t bigger issues at play here? I mean, the Government’s had bad polls now, negative polling now since the first budget.

ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see. But this is an opportunity for the voters of Canning to do a favour for the whole of the voters of Australia, which is to send a big message to Tony Abbott that his Government simply isn’t up to scratch.

And when I was in Canning with our terrific candidate Matt Keogh that was the case. We’ve listened to the voters of Canning. We have an infrastructure package to fix Armadale Rd and the connection with Cockburn. We have a plan for job creation in that electorate and the whole of Western Australia.

And it’s interesting in my portfolio there is not a single new infrastructure project which is underway in WA that was not begun by the former Federal Labor Government.

BRISSENDEN: Okay, Anthony Albanese, we’ll leave it there. Thanks very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.





Sep 1, 2015

Transcript of press conference, Marrickville

Subjects: Australian shipping industry; Workchoices on Water; Deyson Heydon; Border Farce; Four Corners; Labor Party  

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for joining us. This is a government that we know puts out talking points about jobs and growth. What we know though, is its practice particularly with regard to shipping, is about destroying Australian jobs and destroying the Australian shipping industry.

As an island continent we rely upon having a strong shipping industry. It’s important for our national security, for our environment as well as for our economy. And yet the government has legislation before the parliament that would see foreign ships being able to operate around our Australian coast on the domestic freight task on a free for all with no preference for Australian flagged ships whatsoever.

What’s worse, is that those foreign ships that are given a free for all would be allowed to pay foreign wages. Cheaper shipping costs from those countries which allow flags of convenience on the back of ships, but also cheaper labour costs.

If you want to take freight from Sydney to Melbourne, there are a few options that you have. If you go down the Hume Highway, you have to use an Australian registered truck. You must have an Australian truck driver and pay Australian wages and conditions. Under this proposed system the competitor going down the coast on the blue highway will have a foreign ship paying foreign wage and conditions. And because of that, it will be impossible for the Australian flagged ships to compete with the foreign ships.

This is unilateral economic disarmament.

There is no industrialised country in the world that allows this to happen. In the land of the free market, the United States, if you want to take freight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you not only have to have a US flagged shipped, with US seafarers on board, but the ship has to be built in the United States.

That’s because they understand the important connection between the domestic shipping industry, the merchant fleet and their national security issues. For an island continent such as us, to simply give up the Australian flag and instead have what Tony Abbott wants, which is a white flag on Australian jobs, is simply unacceptable.

The Senate inquiry has exposed this. In a submission from the Intercontinental Shipping Group to this inquiry, Peter Cadwallader, Chairman of the company, he says this:

“As a long-time member of the Liberal Party (nearly 50 years) I am aware that the focus of Coalition policy is jobs and growth. Both of these objectives will be sacrificed by this Bill in direct contradiction of Coalition policy. I therefore urge you to scrap this Bill in its current form.”

That is symptomatic of the submissions that are before this Senate inquiry. If they won’t listen to Australian shippers, they should at least listen to people, who in this gentleman’s case, have a 50 year association with the Liberal Party, and scrap this terrible legislation which would see the end of an important Australian industry and the end of Australian jobs.

REPORTER: Mark Dreyfus has said that Labor will petition the Governor General to remove Dyson Heydon. Doesn’t this further muddy the reputation of the Royal Commission given that he’s handed down his judgement?

ALBANESE: This is a Royal Commission that has been muddied by its own actions. A Royal Commission that’s been muddied by circumstances such as the different treatment of Kathy Jackson from other trade unionists who’ve appeared before the Royal Commission. A Royal Commission in which the Royal Commissioner took more than a week to decide if there was a perception of political bias before handing down his decision yesterday.

We know that it’s a political exercise – that’s been shown for Australians to see and that’s why the Senate proposition that will be dealt with next week asking for the Governor General to intervene is an appropriate response.

REPORTER: We’ve read today that Border Force is building to 6000-strong members and this would result in doubling the number of armed personnel. We’ve already seen by Friday’s reaction to the operation that was planned for Melbourne that Australians don’t like Border Force. Why is Labor supporting this?

ALBANESE: We’ll have a look at what propositions are there, but can I say this about last Friday. Friday was extraordinary. It’s now of course, an orphan. Tony Abbott says he didn’t know anything about it. Peter Dutton says his office didn’t read the detail about the action that was proposed on the Friday, and the head of Border Force says that it was a junior officer that was involved in this.

What Australians know is that national security is important, but it is also important that national security not become a political issue, that it not be used to try to create fear in the community. And this is a government that was a shambles on Friday. This is a Minister who today has tried to blame the media for what occurred on Friday.

What occurred on Friday was a spontaneous action from people responding to the idea that people would be searched at random. I mean, what would the basis of those searches be? Who would be picked out to ask for their visas or not? We know that the greatest numbers of visa overstayers in this country are actually from the United Kingdom.

REPORTER: Isn’t this a sign of things to come, and why isn’t Labor standing up against it?

ALBANESE: The government has said itself, and this is a government without peer when it comes to leaks, that they want a different national security announcement every week between now and the federal election.

National security shouldn’t be treated as a political exercise by the Cabinet of Australia. Issues should be dealt with on their merits. We will deal with issues on their merits but I believe it’s appropriate when something like Friday happens, it’s called out for what it is. That’s precisely what Labor has done and that’s what I did last Friday.

REPORTER: Four Corners last night exposed wage rorting at 7-11s. But it was said in that program that the Government already knows about it, Fair Work already knows about it and nothing’s been done. What is Labor going to do about this?

ALBANESE: Australians will be asking themselves about a Royal Commission that’s supposed to be looking into industrial relations. What is the Royal Commission doing about employers engaged in this sort of conduct?

It is outrageous that people would be exploited in such a way, that the Four Corners program has exposed, and it’s important that the Government take up these issues. Labor will be pursuing these issues, as we always do. It is an extraordinary proposition that people could be working in this country without being paid and having to stand outside these stores that are making a lot of money for a select few.

There is a fundamental difference between Labor and our political opponents. Our political opponents see workers and working people as fair game, that it’s not their role to provide protection for them.

Labor sees that the government has a role in making sure that our industrial relations system is fair and that people aren’t exploited. It shouldn’t have taken the Four Corners program to expose this exploitation.

REPORTER: There was another profile of you in the weekend papers talking up your leadership potential. Would you like Bill Shorten’s job?

ALBANESE: We went through a process after the 2013 election. Bill Shorten was selected as the Leader. One of the things that I’ve always done – I did under Kevin Rudd, I did under Julia Gillard and I’m doing under Bill Shorten is to support the team and to make sure that we move forward in a way that maximises the potential to defeat this rotten Abbott Government.

I would rather be a minister in the Shorten Labor Government than the Leader of the Opposition. That’s the bottom line and I made that clear once again in the article that appeared on Saturday. Thank you.




Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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