Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Feb 17, 2016

Transcript of radio transcript – FIVEaa Adelaide

Subjects: Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission; negative gearing

HOST: Do you think Christopher Pyne or Anthony Albanese have ever written poetry? I reckon they probably both would have in their day. We can ask them that and more as part of this segment. But good morning to both of you, Anthony and also Christopher. Poetry aside, we wanted to kick off by getting your views on the Nuclear Cycle Royal Commission. The recommendation has come out that we should look at setting up a nuclear waste dump. The figures in terms of revenue that it would bring in are enormous.

Starting with you if we can Anthony, because Labor’s had the most fraught policy position over the years on uranium mining and so forth, Bill Shorten yesterday seemed to say if it creates jobs and it can be done safely then it might be a good thing. Is that a view that the Left of the party would share?

ALBANESE: Well, I’m not a fan of the nuclear fuel cycle and I think interestingly the report yesterday ruled out as uneconomic Australia expanding into the nuclear industry. There are far more jobs and far better economic outcomes by doing what South Australia has been leading the nation on, which is in renewables. With regard to any proposal to take the world’s nuclear waste, I would be very cautious about it. We’ll examine the proposals. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the full report. I’ve just read the reports of it. But of course when someone – in this case a serious commission – makes findings, then you should examine it and all the implications and there should be a community debate about these issues.

HOST: Bill Shorten seemed to be sort of saying yesterday that, you know, it might actually be a good thing. But historically your faction the Left of the party has agitated most strongly on it. Bill Shorten seems to be sort of positioning the federal party so that you guys could almost run dead on this and say: Look let’s almost leave it to the states, let them thrash it out, let the community within that state have the discussion. But you seem to be saying well, you know, maybe you should be taking more of an interventionist approach.

ALBANESE: Well this of course has been a South Australian Royal Commission, not a national one and therefore it’s up to the South Australian Government in the first instance to respond. But the community will have a debate. One of the problems created by the nuclear fuel cycle is waste and something has to happen to that waste. That is part of the concern is the externalities if you like that are created as well as the process itself as we saw with Fukushima.

HOST: To you Chris Pyne, you were a member of the Howard Government when the Pangea proposal was kicking around in the late 90s and John Howard, initially at least, was looking upon that quite favourably. In this end it was steam rolled and Mike Rann played a pretty important part in killing that off as a don’t turn SA into a sort of dumping ground slogan that resonated with people. Do you think that times have changed and could you see the Coalition supporting this?

PYNE: Well good morning David and Will and Anthony and I think times have definitely changed. Kevin Scarce has done a great job with his Royal Commission report. Nobody could accuse Kevin Scarce of being a patsy for either side of politics whether it is Labor or Liberal. He has not ruled out, but said it’s not likely, that building nuclear power stations or enriching uranium would be economic. But he has said that South Australia is extremely well placed to be the world’s storage facility for nuclear waste because of our geology, our skills, our stable political situation, our climate, our very large spaces in the north and the mid-north of South Australia and he has put a figure on it which says we could be amongst the wealthiest people in Australia in terms of royalties and support for our state if we were to take up this opportunity.

So I think he has thrown out a challenge to the South Australian public and now is the opportunity to bring the community into this discussion and to bring them along. I must admit I am very open-minded about it. It is very difficult for Anthony because of course the Left of the Labor Party have a strong policy position against nuclear of any kind. But I was very disappointed with the Conservation Council of South Australia yesterday talking about how this would be the battle of a lifetime, the fight of a generation – all of this kind of nonsense they were talking in the 60s and 70s and 80s.

We have to have moved on from the flower power era of the 60s and 70s when people demonised this kind of energy because climate change is such that nuclear power is a very clean source of energy. The rest of the world has it. We have the capacity to make money out of storing the waste from it. And as South Australians, regardless of the fact that we have the highest unemployment in the country, we can do something for the world. It also earns us revenue and improves our standard of living and creates jobs for young people.

HOST: Chris Pyne, can we change the subject matter for a moment and talk about negative gearing and potential changes to it in the May Budget? Members of your backbench seem to be wavering in support. The Property Council has run a fairly sophisticated campaign targeting marginal seats and saying that so many of the people who would be affected by negative gearing changes live in those parts of Australia. Is your resolve being tested by that campaign?

PYNE: Well I don’t support Labor’s proposals for negative gearing because they want to only apply it only to new housing. And the danger in Labor’s proposals is that it will increase rents because people will need to increase their rent to get the same return that they would have had if they’d had negative gearing.

HOST: What about your position with regard to investment?

PYNE: Hang on. I haven’t finished.

ALBANESE: Remember, you are the government Christopher.

PYNE: Labor are the only people with a policy to change negative gearing.

HOST: OK.

PYNE: There is no policy from the Commonwealth Government to alter negative gearing. Let’s deal with the facts.

HOST: OK. So that won’t change in May then?

PYNE: Well it might. But I’m not talking about that.

ALBANESE: It could change at lunchtime.

PYNE:  I am talking about the only policy that is on the table, which is Labor’s policy, which will push up rents and depress property prices because it will reduce demand for existing housing. Now, what the Treasurer has said and what he will outline today at the press club is that there probably are areas that we can tighten up negative gearing where it is being excessively used. But Labor are the only party that want to attack negative gearing and push up rents and push down property prices and I don’t support that.

ALBANESE: Get off talking points Christopher for goodness sake. You are the government and you have just said we have no plans until lunchtime until Scott Morrison addresses the National Press Club.

PYNE: You are the only party with a policy to attack negative gearing and that’s a fact.

ALBANESE: Scott Morrison will be announcing changes that he supports at lunchtime. I mean I hope he has something to say and doesn’t just stand there mute. You know you were elected to govern and on every issue – the GST we had months and months of you saying: Oh, we have no proposal until you did and then you didn’t. There is no leadership under Malcolm Turnbull. The issue of cost of affordability of housing is about supply. If you concentrate negative gearing on new homes you will have additional supply which will therefore put downward pressure on housing costs.  It’s not rocket science. It’s about demand and supply.

PYNE: The Labor Party’s big policy is about new taxes and increased taxes. That’s always the Labor Party’s (inaudible) policy is.

ALBANESE: Get off the talking points Christopher.

PYNE: It’s a lot more sophisticated than that. Now if Labor’s policy comes into play …

ALBANESE: What’s your policy? What’s you policy?

PYNE: I’m talking about your policy.

ALBANESE: You are the government. You are the government right now.

PYNE: Your policy wants to increase rents because people have to get their return on their investment by increasing …

ALBANESE: Rubbish.

PYNE: … their rent on existing housing and secondly there will be less people buying existing housing so property prices will be depressed because there will be less demand for property.

HOST: We’ll be getting more clarity around this later today when Scott Morrison gives his first address to the National Press Club as Treasurer and the brawl can resume  next Wednesday between the pair of you Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. But look, we thank you both for joining us this morning.

 

 

 

 

Feb 17, 2016

Transcript of media conference – Marrickville

Subjects: Infrastructure Australia report; public transport; High Speed Rail Authority Bill; road user charges

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today’s release of an update of Infrastructure Australia’s report serves to underline the absolute failure and three wasted years of the Abbott and Turnbull Governments. Infrastructure Australia went more than a year without a Chief Executive Officer.

The report goes through a series of policy recommendations that will examine, as well as identify 93 projects that are worthy of support. What the report highlights is the need for cost benefit analysis and proper economic decision making when it comes to which infrastructure projects are chosen by government and the need for proper planning. All of that has been absent from the Abbott and Turnbull years.

What we know is that upon coming to government, Tony Abbott cancelled funding for construction of all public transport projects that were not already underway. Cancelled funding for the Melbourne Metro, cancelled funding for the Gawler Line Electrification, and cancelled funding for the Cross River Rail projects as well as public transport projects in Perth, both light and heavy rail.

This report serves as a condemnation of those actions of the Abbott Government. Now, into its third year of office, we finally have a report that should have been produced two years ago. A report that says you need to fund public transport projects as well as road projects.

A report that says you need a National Freight Strategy even though one has already been produced by Infrastructure Australia in 2012 when it produced both the National Ports Strategy and the National Land Freight Strategy.

The problem is this Government has ignored those important recommendations just like it ignored the important work done by Infrastructure Australia on northern Australia’s infrastructure needs that was produced on its watch just last year.

This is a government that has talked big about infrastructure but has failed to deliver. And when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott just six months ago, he said that he would prioritise cities.

What we’ve seen is the dumping of the Cities Minister last December and a failure to replace him in the reshuffle of just last week. A downgrading to just merely a Parliamentary Secretary role. A failure to reinstate a Major Cities Unit or any bureaucratic structure to support cities policy.

A failure to reinstitute the Urban Policy Forum that was established by the former Government. A failure to fund public transport projects in our capital cities or our major cities around the nation with the exception of a small amount of funding for the Gold Coast Light Rail Project Stage 2 that was taken from savings that have been made from the Moreton Bay Rail Link.

What we’ve seen from this government is three years of infrastructure failure. This report should be a wakeup call because it serves as a reminder of a failure to invest, a failure to have proper analysis before projects are supported. A failure to ensure that we have good public transport as well as good road projects to deal with the scourge of urban congestion in our cities.

So we believe that this report should be examined and should be responded to by the Government. It should be the basis of action after proper analysis and we’ll be examining all of the recommendations in this report following as it does from previous Infrastructure Australia reports.

REPORTER: So to emphasise what you’ve said, is this just building on previous reports that there’s been a complete failure to act on this current Government’s standing?

ALBANESE: Well, this is building on previous reports. But what we’ve seen from the Government is ignoring those reports in its actions. It chose to cancel projects that had been approved by Infrastructure Australia such as the Cross River Rail project, the Melbourne Metro and the Gawler Line Electrification and instead fund projects that hadn’t been through proper analysis. Projects like the East-West road project in Melbourne that we now know had a benefit of just 45 cents for every dollar that was invested.

We know that it walked away from supporting our cities and of course, the infrastructure portfolio remains in the hands of the National Party who historically have been concerned simply with regional roads and not interested in what is going on in our cities. The failure of the Turnbull Government to have a Cities Minister for more than two months is quite extraordinary.

It highlights that Malcolm Turnbull has been all promise and no delivery. People were quite excited by the fact that Malcolm Turnbull, when he swore in his new Ministry, approved a Cities Minister.

He said that they’d be engaged in urban policy and instead of that, we’ve had no change in policy direction and we’ve had a failure to appoint a minister with responsibility for cities or to establish a structure of government such as a Major Cities Unit to make recommendations on these issues.

REPORTER: From a Sydney perspective at least it looks like there’s a huge focus, an overwhelming focus on public transport to ease congestion and to free up some of those at least inner corridors. Is the federal government lumping too much responsibility onto the states in this setup?

ALBANESE: No, I think it is reasonable to say, as Infrastructure Australia has, that the states and territories have not done the work that’s necessary in terms of planning work. But also the Commonwealth has a responsibility to assist that process

Take High Speed Rail. As Infrastructure Australia has emphasised, High Speed Rail will require the cooperation of the Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and ACT Governments if there is to be a high speed rail line down the east coast of Australia.

The Commonwealth has a role in coordinating the preservation of that corridor. The proper planning today so that we can get the infrastructure that we need of tomorrow. That’s why I have a High Speed Rail Authority Bill before the Parliament.

A High Speed Rail Authority is needed to coordinate intergovernmental action, to make sure that the preservation of the corridor occurs, so that High Speed Rail, which after all is being rolled out in Europe, in South America, North America and in Asia, can occur here in Australia particularly in the densely populated corridor between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

This would be a game changer in terms of regional economic development as well as boosting productivity of our east coast capital cities. That’s why the corridor should be preserved.

Instead of that, the Abbott Government took the money that was allocated for the Authority as a saving in its first Budget and hasn’t proceeded with the recommendations that had previously been made by the committee that included Tim Fischer and Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia.

When Australians in the infrastructure sector have a look at this report, what they’ll be reminded of as they read it on issue after issue is how much time has been wasted by the Abbott Government’s ideological approach.

Infrastructure Australia should be given the support that it needs and yet in the last Budget the Government has cut the future funding for Infrastructure Australia from next year.

Infrastructure Australia should be upgraded, not downgraded.

REPORTER: So have they got this right, the plan?

ALBANESE: What this shows is the three lost years of the Abbott and Turnbull Government. This report, which emphasises the need for public transport funding, not just funding for roads if we’re going to deal with urban congestion, is vital for our capital cities including Sydney.

REPORTER: Is this just another plan, are we going to see anything out of this?

ALBANESE: Well, the problem is of course that this report, when you read it will serve to remind everyone of the lack of action by the Abbott and the Turnbull Governments. We’ve had all funding for public transport projects cut.

We’ve had the Major Cities Unit abolished. We’ve had the appointment of a Cities Minister for just two months and then Malcolm Turnbull not bother to replace Jamie Briggs in that position and downgrade it to a Parliamentary Secretary role.

What we need to do is to take these reports seriously as a guide for action, not just as an academic exercise.

REPORTER: Are the states doing enough?

ALBANESE: The states clearly need to do better. And this report highlights the need for proper planning to take place and for the work to be done so that you have proper funding of projects that have been through cost-benefit analysis. Here in Sydney we’ve seen a blowout of the WestConnex project from $10 billion to $16.8 billion.

In Melbourne we saw the East-West project funded even though it would produce a return of 45 cents for every dollar that was invested. That shows that the Commonwealth Government must accept responsibility for getting it wrong. For not doing the planning first, before the funding was allocated.

And indeed in many cases, transferred to the state governments before any cost-benefit analysis had been produced, which is why it’s been criticised so strongly by the national Auditor-General.

REPORTER: What does this mean for high speed rail?

ALBANESE: It emphasises what Labor has been saying. That we need to preserve the corridor for High Speed Rail between Brisbane and Melbourne. That’s something that Labor put funding in the 2013 Budget to achieve and was cut by the Commonwealth in 2014.

If we don’t plan today for the infrastructure of tomorrow, we’ll rule it out by inaction and by the development that will occur along that corridor. This is a common sense plan which should be adopted by the government and they can just vote for my High Speed Rail Authority Bill that’s already before the Parliament.

REPORTER: In terms of priorities for the country, how does Sydney come out of this? Is it getting enough attention?

ALBANESE: Well, clearly, we need to deal with urban congestion in our capital cities. That means support for public transport and the Commonwealth Government has failed to deliver a dollar for any new construction of public transport. Indeed, they’ve cut more than $4.5 billion of money that was already in the budget for such projects.

REPORTER: Finally, we’re a bit late here because we were stuck in the good old Sydney traffic, there’s talk of overhauling the way it’s done, a user-pays system essentially. How do you think Sydney would cope with that?

ALBANESE: Well, that’s worthy of discussion but what we need to make sure is what the impact of such a change would be, and the concern that I have is that it’s people in the outer suburbs of Sydney, who don’t have access to public transport who’ll be forced to pay more tolls.

We need to make sure that we examine very carefully what the impact of any change would be to make sure that those people who can least afford it aren’t hit with an extra bill and those people who don’t have access to public transport don’t get hit with an unaffordable bill just for driving to and from work or looking after their family.

REPORTER: Thanks Mr Albanese.

ALBANESE: Thanks very much.

 

 

 

Feb 17, 2016

Transcript of radio interview on RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas

Subjects: Infrastructure Australia report; public transport; Malcolm Turnbull; Gary Gray; Labor Party

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Welcome back to the show.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, Patricia.

KARVELAS: How much of this plan has your support?

ALBANESE: We’ll examine each of the recommendations. Certainly, what it highlights is many of the things that Labor has been saying over the last two and a half years of inaction.

We’ve spoken about the need to deal with urban congestion by investing in rail, not just roads, and half of the priority projects that have been identified, of course, rail projects, and it speaks about the importance of public transport.

It’s identified the need to preserve the corridor for the High Speed Rail Line between Brisbane and Melbourne as the sort of example of the long term planning that’s required and that’s something that I have a Private Members Bill before the Parliament on.

It’s emphasised the importance of proper planning and we’ve been very critical of course of projects like the East West Link project in Melbourne which had a benefit of 45 cents for every dollar that was invested in   it.

So it was a project that simply didn’t stack up. So this is a report that has many worthy recommendations. It seems to me that it emphasises a bit too much the sale of assets which is an easy short term fix but can create longer term fiscal problems for the Government’s position.

KARVELAS: You just mentioned the East West Link, so I’d like to go there. It has a delay cost of $73 million. The Victorian Labor Government cancelled that project when they came to power. Would you encourage Daniel Andrew to have a rethink given that?

ALBANESE: No. It’s a dud. It has 45 cents return for every dollar that’s invested. You know, if you give me $100 the next time we see each other, and I promise to give you back $45 the next time we meet, I reckon you wouldn’t be in that for a deal.

That’s precisely what taxpayers are asked to do for the East West Link project. The priority project for Melbourne that we’ve identified for Commonwealth investment is of course the Melbourne Metro.

KARVELAS: But on the East-West, is Infrastructure Australia wrong then?

ALBANESE: The fact is that there’s a cost-benefit of 45 cents for every dollar that could be invested from taxpayers in it. So it’s a project that simply doesn’t stack up.

KARVELAS: What about the proposal which we’ve seen before of a user pays approach to road funding? Specifically to get there within 10 years and get rid of fuel excise and vehicle registration fees. Now, the Prime Minister says it has to be equitable and fair. Can it be? Is it a proposal that’s at least worth looking at?

ALBANESE: Well, that’s the big weakness. This is a government that of course with the East West Link, the money didn’t come as new investment. That was money that was taken from the Melbourne Metro.

The Melbourne Metro would have been under construction right now had Tony Abbott not stopped it when he came to office in 2013. So in terms of investment in public transport relating to a user pays system, if you have people in the outer suburbs of our capital cities who don’t have access to public transport, asking them to pay higher and higher tolls can be very inequitable indeed, whereas people in the more inner suburbs such as where I live, that do have access to public transport, that do have those options, of course means that it’s possible to travel by rail or light rail or bus.

So I think whilst the theory is there, part of what politicians need to do is to take the report of Infrastructure Australia, independent experts and apply it to the real world.

And in the real world, people in our outer suburbs simply don’t have the same alternatives in terms of not using the private motor vehicle and of course a flat tax which is regressive such as a toll or a user pays system, used right across the network could have very negative consequences indeed and that requires of course further analysis.

KARVELAS: If you’re just tuning in, my guest is Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, commonly known in political circles as Albo. Our number here, 0418 226 576. One of your most senior colleagues, Gary Gray has announced he’s leaving politics, as you know. And he doesn’t think you can win the election. Here he is.

GARY GRAY: Governments get re-elected in their first time round. And that’s why – you can’t beat the averages, Jeff. No, it’s not defeatism. It’s absolute pragmatic realism. You don’t want parliamentarians who live in la-la land.

KARVELAS: Do you live in la-la land, Anthony Albanese?

ALBANESE: Put Gary’s theory to Daniel Andrews who got elected as the Premier of Victoria after just one term of chaos with the Victorian Coalition.

Or more markedly, I think, talk to Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier of Queensland who couldn’t put together a cricket team in the last term. They were on single figures, and they had quite an extraordinary result.

Politics is far more volatile than when Gary Gray came in. He’s been a good friend of mine since the days he was a party official in the national office, the world is a faster moving place and politics reflects that as well, and recent election results have shown just that.

KARVELAS: You really think that Bill Shorten’s going to beat Malcolm Turnbull?

ALBANESE: Look, the truth is that of course, oppositions after one term aren’t favourites. But to suggest that it’s not possible –

KARVELAS: Well, anything’s possible. I mean, I could, you know, become an athlete I suppose. Anything. I could do something really sporty. Anything’s possible. It’s really unlikely though, right?

ALBANESE: You could get a puppy, Patricia!

KARVELAS: You brought it up. Anything is possible. But it’s unlikely, isn’t it? That’s what I’m really getting at.

ALBANESE: Well, what do you reckon the chances would have been that Tony Abbott, after his election victory in 2013, wouldn’t make it to Christmas 2015 as Prime Minister? I reckon you would have gotten pretty good odds about that.

The fact is that that change did occur. It moved very quickly. The Coalition moved to someone who most of them still don’t like in Malcolm Turnbull. So politics is much more volatile than it used to be. I think that is part of what makes our life very interesting.

KARVELAS: Is it so volatile that you could, for instance, become the leader, either before or after the next election?

ALBANESE: We’ve made that decision, and I think we can win the next election. I think I could be a minister in a Shorten Labor Government and that’s what I’m working each and every day towards. But on the issues, I think there’s been an enormous let down from Malcolm Turnbull.

They did expect something different, including on infrastructure and cities. There was a lot of talk about public transport. Malcolm was there in Melbourne riding on the trams. He’s good at taking selfies on public transport. People actually had an expectation he’d fund it, not just ride on public transport.

I think on a range of issues, on climate change, on marriage equality, there’s a great deal of disappointment between the Malcolm that people thought they were getting and the Malcolm that’s actually there, one that is essentially just presiding over Tony Abbott’s policies.

KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese, thank you for joining me tonight.

ALBANESE: Great to be with you.

KARVELAS: And that is Anthony Albanese. He is the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. You’re listening to RN Drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 16, 2016

Transcript of media conference – The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour

Subjects: Turnbull Government funding cuts; Government advertising campaign; Pacific Highway upgrade; Luke Hartsuyker; Coffs Harbour bypass

ALBANESE: Well it’s great to be back here at Coffs Harbour, the Big Banana, for a statement about Pacific Highway funding.  What we saw from the last Budget was a cut of $130 million in Pacific Highway funding based upon the Government’s own figures from its first Budget in 2014. Funding for this financial year is now down to some $542 million from the Federal Government. It was $1 billion in the last year in which we were in office for that financial year. And what that has meant is a slowdown in construction. All of the actual construction projects which are now underway or are completed on the Pacific Highway were funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

And what we see now, rubbing salt into the wounds, is an $18 million advertising campaign coming from existing infrastructure funds that were confirmed in Senate Estimates of last week. Now, it is one thing – and I think it would be pretty cynical – to fund $18 million in an advertising campaign during an election year over just a few months. But the fact that that money has been taken from the Budget that was allocated to actually building infrastructure makes it even more offensive.

Now, we have a new Infrastructure Minister who will be sworn in on Thursday – Darren Chester. His first act should be to cancel this advertising campaign because every time that North Coast residents see that ad on their TV screens or read it in their local paper they will know that that funding has come from existing Budget funds that were allocated to actually build things, not advertise the fact and try and claim projects that had very little to do with the Federal Government.

REPORTER: Where did the funding for your road advertising during the last election come from?

ALBANESE: We didn’t have an infrastructure advertising campaign. We didn’t have one. We spent money on actually building infrastructure, not on a massive advertising campaign to claim projects. Whether you go south of here to the Kempsey Bypass, north of here to the Woolgoolga to Arrawarra section – all of those projects of course were funded by the former federal Labor Government. Again, the projects around Urunga were funded by the federal Labor Government.

What we will see here is a campaign that purports to suggest that the funding has somehow come in the last couple of years. Residents aren’t silly. They know, and I notice in a survey done by the Coffs Coast Advocate, that most residents recognise that it is the former Labor Government that actually put money into infrastructure in this region.

REPORTER: The Labor Government actually only wanted to do a 50-50 split (inaudible) for the highway build.

ALBANESE:  Well, let’s be very clear here. There was a mix of projects. The Howard Government instituted the 50-50 funding. What it has meant is because projects like the Frederickton to Eungai section, the projects around Warrell Creek and Urunga, are all 50-50. They are proceeding on the basis of 50-50 funding.

What it means is that the Commonwealth Government haven’t put any additional money into the projects and the State Government won’t have to contribute any money at all for the further upgrade of the Pacific Highway.  Now this was the National Party rolling over federally to their mates in the National Party in the State Government. Now, Duncan Gay if he could get away with that, good luck to him. But he played Luke Hartsuyker and the other National Party members for fools and it is little wonder that Luke Hartsuyker was dumped by his own party, because you don’t gain respect if you just roll over and don’t fight for your electorate.

The fact is: Labor – $7.6 billion for the Pacific Highway, allocated during the six years that we were in office; the Howard Government – $1.3 billion over 12 years of neglect. They are the facts that are there. That’s why people on the North Coast won’t be fooled by an advertising campaign.

REPORTER: Just on that advertising campaign, Luke Hartsuyker says it’s in the public interest to know what is going on.

ALBANESE: Well, nothing’s going on. It’s in the public interest for something to happen, not for an advertising campaign pretending that something is happening. There isn’t a single new, major infrastructure project that has been funded on the Pacific Highway that has begun since the change of government in 2013 that wasn’t funded by the former Labor Government. And that compares with the sort of work that was going on from the north down to Newcastle – Banora Point, Glenugie, Devil’s Pulpit, Woolgoolga to Arrawarra, Kempsey Bypass, Buledelah Bypass – all of the work that was going on along the highway – new projects beginning each and every year – that has not happened since the change of government. The people of the North Coast and the Far North Coast know that that’s the case. And that’s why spending 18 million is a massive campaign – that is more over than period of time than Coke or major companies will spend on their advertising during that four months of the rollout of this intensive campaign.

REPORTER: Mr Hartsuyker says you spent double that or more.

ALBANESE: Well, it’s an absolute nonsense. This is $18 million and people will know, people will know just like they know that Mr Hartsuyker has failed to represent the people of the North Coast, the people of his own electorate – it was all funded by the former Labor Government after the years of neglect when the Howard Government was in office. I mean, Mr Hartsuyker, of course, has made one promise that then withdraws then he makes and then withdraws. I expect it will be made again in the lead-up to the election for the Coffs Harbour Bypass. And then, in the world’s shortest ever policy commitment, Tony Abbott came to this electorate, promised it in the morning and reneged in the afternoon. That’s the sort of record that they have. People will know when they see the saturation advertising that will occur if this goes ahead, that that is their taxpayers’ funds. But what’s more they will know that that came because money that was allocated to infrastructure was reallocated.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) the Bypass is the major issue for Coffs Harbour. Everywhere else has got a bypass. We’ve got sort of a through pass. I mean the highway goes right through the middle and the congestion is just terrible. At Christmas time it’s 50 minutes to get just through a few kilometres through town. If you win, what are you going to do about the bypass in Coffs Harbour?

 ALBANESE: Well, the first thing we will do is do what we said we would do over a long period of time – not make promises in the morning and then renege on them in the afternoon – which is the full duplication of the Pacific Highway. We will accelerate the process. We will ensure that the State Government does its fair share – not refuse to put in any money. I stand by our record on the Pacific Highway. People of Coffs Harbour know that prior to 2007 there was no action around Coffs Harbour whether it be to the north or the south prior to my swearing in as the Infrastructure Minister.

 REPORTER: So will it be before 2020 if you get in – the Bypass?

 ALBANESE: I am not committing to the bypass today. I am not making commitments that will be made, like the Abbott Government made them, in the morning and then reneged in the afternoon. What I have said is the full duplication of the Pacific Highway is an absolute priority. We showed that when we were in government. And what the Federal Government has done is given the State Government an absolute leave pass.

The fact is that projects like Frederickton to Eungai, that were begun after the Kempsey Bypass was completed under us,  construction begun – are 50-50 funded projects – welcomed by the State Government at the time.  Now somehow what the Government has done federally is try and make the issue of whether the State Government should make a common commitment with the Federal Government the issue, whilst winding back and slowing down the process. They have slowed down the process. There isn’t a single infrastructure project on the Pacific Highway that they can point to that was not funded by the federal Labor Government.  What that means is that we have had three lost years between 2013 and 2016. We need to do much better than that. And they could start – there’s $18 million additional funding that could be available right now if they stopped this absurd advertising campaign and put it where it was meant to go – put it into actually building infrastructure, not advertising.

Thanks very much.

 

 

 

Feb 14, 2016

Transcript of press conference – Sydney Town Hall

 

Subjects: Darren Chester; Government’s infrastructure propaganda campaign; cities portfolio downgrade; political donations

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for coming. I want to make some comments about the appointment of the latest Turnbull Government Ministry. Firstly, I congratulate Darren Chester on his appointment as the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

If he’s going to have credibility what he needs to do as his first action is cancel the $18 million propaganda campaign, where money was taken from an allocation in the Budget that was meant to build infrastructure, in order to fund a campaign about what the Turnbull Government hasn’t done when it comes to infrastructure.

$18 million to be spent between March and August of this year. It is no wonder that Australians are cynical about politics when you have this cynical move by the Turnbull Government, which on top of its failure to actually build infrastructure is actually taking some of the money that was allocated for construction and spending it instead on an advertising campaign to hide that very failure.

Secondly, when it comes to the appointment of the Cities Minister. Malcolm Turnbull said that one of the big differences between himself and Tony Abbott was attitude towards cities and urban policy and his attitude toward public transport.

What we saw was the appointment of Jamie Briggs as the Cities Minister. And people welcomed that. But what we know now was that that was just window dressing.

The fact that Malcolm Turnbull has downgraded that position to that of a Parliamentary Secretary and appointed someone who doesn’t live in one of the major cities of Australia, where 80% of Australians live, says it all.

It’s gone from a position of a ministry to just merely being a Parliamentary Secretary, even though Malcolm Turnbull is calling it an Assistant Minister.

What’s extraordinary isn’t just that I think that. Kristina Keneally sent out a tweet earlier today condemning this downgrading and it was ‘liked’ by the former Cities Minister, Jamie Briggs.

It says it all when Jamie Briggs knows that the rhetoric used by Malcolm Turnbull to ascend to the Prime Ministership, that he would take cities policy seriously, he would take urban policy seriously, has now been downgraded to just a Parliamentary Secretary who also has responsibility as Parliamentary Secretary for Communications.

There’s still no cities department. There’s no major cities unit. There’s no urban policy, and there’s no funding of urban public transport except for a small allocation from the Moreton Bay Rail Link in Brisbane towards the second stage of the Gold Coast Light Rail project.

This shows graphically how Malcolm Turnbull was all about just grabbing the job for power’s sake, not to actually change any of Tony Abbott’s policies and if he was fair dinkum, why bother having a Parliamentary Secretary in that position?

REPORTER: The money that you say was taken out for what you describe as propaganda purposes, how do you know that?

ALBANESE: It was put in the Mid Year Economic Forecast at the end of last year and in questions in Senate Estimates we confirmed that that $18 million was taken from the existing infrastructure budget.

It was done by a committee that was overseen by Christopher Pyne. He chaired the Cabinet committee that decided that money should be spent on propaganda and advertising. It will go across television and print advertising. There will be advertising nationally but also regional campaigns.

We know that millions of dollars has been spent of that $18 million on research, on testing of the ads which has all been done, and the ad campaign will conveniently be rushed out between March and August.

Now, if the Government was fair dinkum about a long term infrastructure advertising campaign, then it wouldn’t be during just the lead up to the federal election. That shows how cynical that campaign is.

The fact that it was approved by Christopher Pyne, who has nothing to do with the infrastructure budget, and the fact that the money was taken from the Budget that was meant to be for actually building infrastructure, instead, in a cynical manoeuvre, is being used to advertise the government’s failure when it comes to infrastructure development.

REPORTER: Can I just ask, there are some anonymous quotes in Fairfax Media today about Shorten’s leadership. Do Labor MPs still think he can win?

ALBANESE: I certainly am committed towards winning the next election and I believe we can win. I think people are very cynical about Malcolm Turnbull. We have a reshuffle every couple of weeks. We’ve had Ministers come and go. Malcolm Turnbull said that he’d make a difference.

When Tony Abbott lost the Prime Ministership, Australians were entitled to breath a sigh of relief. They expected something different on climate change and they haven’t got it. They expected something different on social policy such as marriage equality, and they haven’t got it. They expected something different on urban policy and cities, and with the reshuffle, they now know that Malcolm Turnbull isn’t even pretending that this is a priority.

REPORTER: But the polling doesn’t suggest that voters are cynical.

ALBANESE: People gave Malcolm Turnbull the benefit of the doubt. Increasingly, we know that there’s chaos within the Government’s ranks on personality issues. More importantly, there’s chaos when it comes to issues of substance.

We saw last week the leaking of documents and letters to Tony Abbott from Stuart Robert that showed that he didn’t identify what the purpose of his visit to China was. That came from within the Government.

But we’re also seeing when it comes to policy issues, cities go from being a big distinction between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Now, I think those people in the sector will be very, very disappointed with the announcement that’s been made over the weekend that Malcolm Turnbull is walking away from any pretence of engagement with our cities.

Fixing urban congestion. Dealing with urban design. Dealing with the amenity and quality of life for those 8 out of 10 Australians that live in our cities is no longer a priority for the Turnbull Government. There’s a bit of window dressing in appointing Jamie Briggs as the Cities Minister. They failed to replace him for two months and now we know they’ve failed to replace him at all.

REPORTER: Do you think Coalition ministers have learnt not to misbehave now, after everything we’re seeing after Jamie Briggs and Stuart Robert?

ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see, but there’s a certain arrogance behind the Coalition. The fact that Stuart Robert thought it was acceptable to just stonewall answers in Question Time this week. The fact that we had ministers wait until the gap between Christmas and New Years for the announcement from Malcolm Turnbull about the replacement.

There was no need for an inquiry into Stuart Robert because Stuart Robert gave himself up. His defence was ‘I was acting in a personal capacity’. Well, it’s that very defence that breached the ministerial guidelines which says that you can’t be a minister and go and make representations on behalf of a private company. And it just happens to be a private company with a key figure, who’s swanning around at these private meetings in China, who donated more than $2 million to the Liberal Party.

REPORTER: Can we just ask, Foley’s announcement today about real time political donation disclosures, so-called real time, should that be implemented federally, do you believe?

ALBANESE: Luke Foley’s announcement today is a very significant one indeed. It follows Bill Shorten’s announcements that Labor federally supports a reduction in donations and declarations to $1000 from the $13,000 where it is at the moment. It follows the significant reforms that federal Labor has supported about disclosure.

We’ll have a look at this proposal which has only been announced by Luke Foley, but Labor consistently has supported transparency when it comes to declarations of donations and when it comes to all of these issues.

It’s the Liberal Party that have changed those positions and have failed to come to a consensus. These issues need to be dealt with.

REPORTER: [inaudible] musical chairs at the moment, would you be surprised if we saw another reshuffle before the election?

ALBANESE: I wouldn’t be at all surprised. These are a group of people who don’t have any policy coherence, who don’t have any agreement with each other. These are people who don’t like each other, who are sitting around the room, who are fighting over who gets to sit where.

It’s musical chairs when it comes to the Turnbull ministry and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the leaking continues, if the undermining continues and if we see the policy and organisational chaos continue under the Turnbull Government. It’s been a chaotic period since Malcolm Turnbull took over.

REPORTER: I just want one more question on the donations. Do you think it has merit?

ALBANESE: Of course, any transparency measure has merit. I think the challenge from Luke Foley today is for Mike Baird to support this transparency. And he should.

After all, the first period of the Coalition Government of which he was a part saw ministers and backbenchers lose office as a result of the lack of transparency around donations. Thanks.

 

 

 

Feb 10, 2016

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

Subjects: Nauru asylum seekers; GST campaign; tax reform; Greens political party; Stuart Robert

PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese, Christopher Pyne, good morning gentlemen.

ALBANESE: G’day.

PYNE: Good morning Anthony, David and Will. Good to be with you.

PRESENTER: Now, guys, thanks for joining us again, we want a good clean fight today. It got a little bit chaotic last week and we were having trouble hearing, you both got so spirited.

But we want to kick off with what’s been one of the bigger stories of the last few days, which is the intervention by state Premier Daniel Andrews and also Jay Weatherill here in SA on the question of asylum seekers, where they’ve said that despite the High Court’s ruling last week upholding the validity or the constitutionality of offshore detention, the states have offered to house the asylum seekers who are here rather than sending them back to Nauru.

Are you comfortable with the position the government is taking on saying that they are still going to send them back to Nauru? And are you feeling any heat from your electorate over the issue?

PYNE: Well, David the first thing is of course anybody with a medical condition that requires them to stay in Australia will be appropriately looked after here in Australia. No one will be sent back to Nauru who is in a medical state that would preclude them from being sent back to Nauru.

So we’d need a warm heart, a big heart, but we also need a cool head. And we haven’t had any boat arrivals for two years. We put the people smugglers out of business, and I think the approach of Jay Weatherill and Daniel Andrews is, to put it mildly, muddle headed. Because we all know what will happen if the people smugglers think we’re open for business again.

The boats will be arriving; there will be thousands of asylum seekers. When we got elected there were 2000 children in detention under Labor. There are now less than 100. There were 50,000 illegal arrivals under the Rudd and Gillard Governments after the Howard Government had stopped them so yes, we’ve had two years under the Coalition where the boats have been stopped.

But the approach of Daniel Andrews and Jay Weatherill, while it might seem generous, would be a green light to the people smugglers that if they get children particularly to Australia, then they’ll be able to open up the door again. And that is not what we want. We don’t want deaths at sea. So yes, it’s a tough policy, but governments have to be cool headed. We can’t just react to an emotion.

PRESENTER: What about your position on this, Albo? You must have had some dark moments about this issue. There was the well documented stand which Bill Shorten took at the ALP National Conference where he effectively embraced Tony Abbott’s stop the boats mantra. Are you comfortable with the way Federal Labor is handling this?

ALBANESE: Well, I don’t think it’s a matter of politics here. I think that anyone with an ounce of humanity wouldn’t be completely comfortable with this whole issue. I think I speak for Christopher there and yourself and your listeners.

This is a difficult issue. It’s one that we grappled with in government. It’s one where there aren’t any easy answers. I believe that you can be tough on people smugglers without being weak on humanity.

The Premiers across the board, I mean Christopher chose to name just the Labor Premiers but Premier Baird has had exactly the same position in my state of NSW, as Premier Andrews and Premier Weatherill has, as has Will Hodgman, the Premier of Tasmania.

And it’s not surprising that people, when they see the photos of those little babies on the front page of the paper want to have a humane response. And I might say that the government has said that they will examine the personal needs of those children and no one will be sent back to a dangerous position.

That is what they’ve said in the Parliament and I don’t believe that it’s possible that anyone could regard any children being in detention as a good thing. I think that’s the starting point. But there aren’t easy answers to this.

What we do know is that the people smugglers are an evil trade. They trade in people, literally. They see them as a commodity and we need to do much better than that and do everything we can so that trade is stopped, but also so people are treated with the respect and dignity that every individual is worthy of.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, we appear to now be living in a post-GST debate world. That being the case, does the path to delivering personal income tax cuts now come through the Australian Greens? Is that your focus now?

PYNE: Well, the Greens have reached out to the Government yesterday around tax reform which is more than the Labor Party has done and I welcome the Greens approach.

Now, under Richard DiNatale the Greens have been showing a great deal more interest in coming up with solutions to the issues that the country faces rather than simply playing politics.

The latest is to sideline Labor in the tax debate, so the Greens have said that they will talk to the Government about reform around superannuation or negative gearing or other areas of the tax act.

We haven’t agreed with anything that the Greens have proposed yet but we are happy to talk to them, whereas Labor simply says to the public, which I think they know is not right, Labor can keep taxing spending and borrowing.

I think the public think, goodness, we’ve been down that track before, it didn’t work last time, that’s why we elected the Liberals to fix it, at least the Greens are open to talking about it, but happily we’ve also gotten to the point where the case for the GST has not been made by the business community who wanted company tax cuts.

For me, my view personally is that any increase in the GST would be a very significant step because it falls heaviest on those who are least able to pay it and I’m all in favour of income tax cuts and company tax cuts but paying them out of a GST rise to me, rewards those with more and punishes those with less.

ALBANESE: My goodness, Christopher!

PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese, can the Federal Opposition afford to sit this out?

ALBANESE: I mean, my goodness. We’ve been having this debate including on this show for months now and every time it’s been raised before today Christopher has said oh yes, we want a debate but wouldn’t put any position at all on the GST. Now he’s finally acknowledged that it’s a regressive tax and that he’s opposed to an increase. So we have a breakthrough here.

PYNE: I never said that I was in favour of increasing the GST.

ALBANESE: He’s adopted Labor’s plan.

PYNE: You haven’t got a plan!

ALBANESE: And he can adopt Labor’s plan as well of our crackdown on the overgenerous superannuation concessions that are there, that are being abused essentially for tax evasion rather than for savings in retirement.

He created these loopholes but when they came into government in 2013, they immediately reversed the changes that Labor had on track to crack down on those superannuation changes and indeed took away the low income support for superannuation that Labor had in place. They could do that.

They could crack down on multinational tax evasion that Labor has very specific plans that we’ve put forward for, fully costed, through the Parliamentary Budget Office, so it is incredibly disingenuous for Christopher to say ‘Labor’s not engaged in this debate’ but somehow the Greens are. For goodness sake, Christopher. Sitting down with the Greens doing tax policy.

PYNE: It amazes me that the Greens are more sensible about tax reform than the Labor Party. I mean, Bill Shorten just says we can keep borrowing, we can keep taxing –

ALBANESE: We don’t say that at all.

PYNE: And they use the same dollar for savings over and over again like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s household budget.

ALBANESE: It wasn’t that funny the first time you used that line Christopher. If you keep using it, it won’t get better. People are Googling who Zsa Zsa Gabor is!

PRESENTER: Righto, no one’s Googling punch lines at the moment. You’re both off. Now listen, I need to ask you about the South Australian context because we have a premier here in South Australia who’s been amongst the more passionate and forefront advocates for an increase in the GST to make up for revenue shortfalls in the state.

Now, without revisiting history and talking about the money that was taken from the states, can I just get a sense from each of you, your position on whether the federal government has a role partnering with the states to make up for the revenue shortfall or whether this is entirely Jay Weatherill’s problem and it’s within his purview to solve it.

PYNE: Well, Jay Weatherill is an advocate for increasing the GST to 15%. I have to give Jay full marks for his honesty. I read his speech last week when he said we should stop demonising tax, and I thought that was a very courageous statement from a politician and he wants to spend that extra money that he raises on health and on education, and that’s a position which the public can determine whether they agree with over the course of the next couple of years.

The point that Malcolm made on Friday was that the States have got their own tax base and if they want to increase their revenue, then they can increase their own taxes rather than asking us to do it for them.

PRESENTER: Is that your position as well, Anthony Albanese, that it’s up to the states to solve this issue?

ALBANESE: What nonsense. This is an $80 billion cut from the Commonwealth to the states. So we can’t say that the Commonwealth have nothing to do with it, which is why we’ve put forward our plan of increased funding for education, and for schools.

PYNE: Where is the money coming from?

ALBANESE: You know where the money’s coming from. It’s been fully costed and approved by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

PYNE: Which you used before.

ALBANESE: Christopher, if you keep interrupting it won’t change the fact that this is fully costed. It has been through the Parliamentary Budget Office and ticked off.

PRESENTER: Hey guys, I want to change tack here, just quickly. Stuart Robert, is he still going to be in the ministry when we speak next week, Christopher Pyne?

PYNE: Well, the Prime Minister took immediate action to ask the Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson to give us some advice on this matter.

And really, I will be waiting on Martin Parkinson’s report to the PM. That’s the appropriate thing to do. And honestly I think the public are much more interested in jobs and growth and what we’re going to do about the economy, which the Liberal Party is focused on, than these issues.

Labor spent all of December talking about Mal Brough and they went backwards in the polls, Labor.

PRESENTER: I think the public might be interested in today’s story though, Chris Pyne, which is that if Stuart Robert has run this line of defence, namely it was a private trip, he was there as a private individual.

The Australian is reporting this morning that he claimed $900 from the taxpayer on his way out of Australia to China to go to Sydney the night before he left. I mean, the public would be interested in that.

PYNE: He was probably working. That’s what Ministers do. They work. Now, he’ll answer that question at some stage today but he was probably working. I’m sure the public understand that when you’re travelling to China on a private trip as he says he was, and used a tourist visa and his personal passport, which has now become apparent, so Labor’s run into a dry gully there, that doesn’t mean the day before he wasn’t working. He was probably working in Sydney.

PRESENTER: I’m sure it’s going to dominate Question Time again today, as it has for the last two days. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for that.

ALBANESE: David, he reminds me of the parrot in the Dead Parrot sketch of Monty Python. This parrot is dead. It’s over, Christopher. Because the guidelines are very clear, which is that a minister cannot support the private interests of a company, they can’t say oh, I’m just doing this on a personal basis. They can’t.

The ministerial guidelines are very clear and Malcolm Turnbull is waiting until Parliament gets up before he sacks him, just as he waited for Mal Brough between Christmas and New Year, when he thought no one would notice.

PRESENTER: It’s a long time until Christmas, so he’s going to have to make up his mind sooner rather than later. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us this morning.

PRESENTER: If he wasn’t nailed to the perch, he’d be pushing up the daisies according to Anthony Albanese.

 

 

 

Feb 5, 2016

Transcript of media conference, Melbourne

Subjects: Public transport; Melbourne Metro, Malcolm Turnbull, police action against maritime workers in Newcastle; Labor costings.

MICHAEL DANBY: Can I welcome you all today and thank my good friend Anthony Albanese for being here. This is a key piece of public transport infrastructure behind us – the proposed Domain Interchange. This is where many people from all over the east and the south-east of Melbourne trying to travel into the universities and hospitals from this place and connecting to the trains and the trams is such a great idea. Some people have photo opportunities taken on trams when they visit Melbourne. Other people are interested in making sure that there are funds for public transport in Victoria and we are very pleased this morning to have Anthony Albanese, who is the Labor spokesman on infrastructure and who has developed a reputation as Mr Infrastructure all around Australia. Great to have you here this morning Anthony and also with our candidates for Goldstein, Matthew Coote and Carl Katter from Higgins. Over to you Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Michael and it’s great to be back in Melbourne with Michael Danby, our member for Melbourne Ports, Carl Katter, our candidate for Higgins and Matthew Coote, our candidate for Goldstein at the upcoming federal election.

The Melbourne Metro will be Labor’s number one priority for federal funding for Victorian infrastructure if we are elected to government in 2016. Labor understands that you need good road as well as public transport infrastructure if our cities are to function effectively. And there is no project more important than the Melbourne Metro and that’s because it will provide an increase of capacity for the entire network.

I understood that when I negotiated with previous Victorian governments about support for the Melbourne Metro. Of course, the Coalition Government here walked away from the Melbourne Metro when Tony Abbott said that an incoming coalition government would not fund public transport infrastructure.

We’ve had a change of government but we haven’t had a change of message or, more importantly, a change of funding. It’s the same old policies. And Malcolm Turnbull likes riding on trams. What the people of Melbourne and Victoria want isn’t someone who travels on public transport; they want a Prime Minister who will fund public transport and Bill Shorten will do just that.

And we stand by our record.  We funded the largest indeed funding of any public transport project in the nation since Federation  – was the federal contribution to the Regional Rail Link, that was opened in June of last year – opposed by the Coalition as part of the Economic Stimulus Plan but supported and funded by Labor and built and now opened and functioning as a result of that investment.

But unless you fix the Metro, you won’t fix the capacity constraints on the Victorian system, which is why this is such an important project. It’s quite extraordinary that upon coming to office the Abbott Government cut funding for all public transport projects that were not already under construction. But it’s even more extraordinary that Malcolm Turnbull has kept those policies in place. He had a Minister for Cities for a while. He’s gone and not even replaced because, of course, that minister didn’t actually have area real job. There was no department; there was no Major Cities Unit; there was no program of funding for him to deliver. It is very clear that if Australians want to tackle the challenge of congestion in our cities and the need to fund public transport, then it is only Labor that offers that support at the Federal Government, in partnership of course with state and territory governments, in partnership here with the Andrews Government that has made it clear their support for the Melbourne Metro but also of course upon the recommendation and consistent with the position adopted by Infrastructure Australia that said that this was a priority project prior to our funding in 2013 that was placed in the Budget.

REPORTER: How much are you prepared to offer them?

ALBANESE: Well we’ll be sitting down, we’ll be making our full budgetary announcements at an appropriate time. But what we will do is take advice from Infrastructure Australia, sit down with the Victorian Government and ensure that this project can proceed. But we’ve made it clear that this is the number one priority. It was in the Budget in 2013 and taken out of the Budget and it is simply unsustainable that Victoria is receiving 8 per cent of the national infrastructure budget. That’s 8 percent at a time where public sector investment in infrastructure has fallen by 20 per cent since the change of government federally. Now that means at a time where you have the mining boom coming off, where infrastructure investment should be increasing, not decreasing, that’s having an impact on jobs in the short term, but it’s also having a significant impact on future economic growth.

REPORTER: There’s a big gap there. It’s about $6 billion to $7 billion. How much of that are you prepared to fund?

ALBANESE: Well I’ve said with respect to your question, and you’ll get the same answer, that we’ll make funding announcements after discussions have taken place and when they are fully funded as part of our program. What we are saying though, is that this is the number one priority for federal Labor. That’s consistent with the approach that we had in government. It’s consistent also with the announcement that Bill Shorten made in Brisbane when he gave his speech to the Media Club where this was identified as one of our top priorities. And we believe that you can also get some private capital to invest in this project. We put together that prior to 2013, because there’s no doubt that governments alone can’t fulfil the requirements that are there in terms of infrastructure investment. There needs to be that private investment as well and we would give consideration to appropriate funding mechanisms in partnership with the Victorian Government.

REPORTER: So would you consider paying a third?

ALBANESE: You’re not going to get a figure from me today because what we do is not make announcements on the basis of the media timetable. We make announcements on the basis of having them fully funded and that is what you would expect.

REPORTER: What do we tell the public? I mean, should we tell them that you care going to put in a big whack or a small whack? I mean how do we phrase this? Is this billions of dollars or just hundreds of thousands?

ALBANESE: You can tell them that it’s our first priority in terms of funding of investment in Melbourne  and you can point to, as we will be doing, pointing to our record of investment. What Victorians will be saying to themselves is: Why is it that we are being punished for having a Labor Government? It is quite unsustainable for a Federal Government to have the attitude that if you are Labor we won’t negotiate with you. They cut funding for the Melbourne Metro. They cut funding from the M80 project. They cut funding for the Managed Motorways Program in terms of Monash and here we have a circumstance whereby on the Melbourne Metro, we’ve seen no response from the Federal Government. Some of the other projects – take the Managed Motorways Program when it comes to the Monash Freeway – that was funded in the 2013 budget, they cut it in the 2014 Budget, in 2015 Greg Hunt made an announcement as if it was a new idea and there was new funding when they put some of the money back and pretended it was a new project.

Well, Victorians are on to this government. They recognise that fact that in spite of the fact that here has been a change of prime minister, there has been no change when it comes to their attitude towards funding infrastructure here in Melbourne and, indeed, throughout Victoria.

REPORTER: Do you think Malcolm Turnbull may beat you to the punch? He may come up with a figure and you’ll have to go above that.

ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see. He is the government. He can do it tomorrow and, indeed, should do it tomorrow. I mean, you have the $1.5 billion that was paid in advance of the East-West Project that was the subject of the scathing report of the federal Auditor General and the ANAO that was tabled in parliament just this week.  And what they found was that there was no request or no need to fund that in the 2013-14 financial year because even if that project had gone ahead, it wouldn’t have gone ahead for some period of time. And $1 billion of that advance payment was for Stage II. So it’s little wonder that the Auditor General was scathing of that approach.

Now there’s another $1.5 billion that they committed for a project that isn’t going ahead. They should do something with that funding. They should commit to increased activity in Victoria as we did when we were in office when we doubled the roads budget and we increased the rail budget, in terms of passenger rail, by more than ten times. We delivered on jobs. That feeds through to increased economic growth and productivity.

There was a sigh of relief when Tony Abbott was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull last year. Now I think Australians are increasingly starting to ask themselves well, what was that about? There’s been no change on climate change, no change on public transport funding, no change on marriage equality, no change on a republic. They are starting to ask themselves what was that about other than having a different person occupying in the Prime Minister’s chair. And the reports over the last two days of more than 100 jobs going of climate scientists working for the CSIRO, is something that Tony Abbott would be proud of, but it is beyond belief that Malcolm Turnbull, who says he cares about climate change, is presiding over that cut just as the actions that occurred this morning in Newcastle where police frog-marched off seafarers off the Melbourne, that was docked there – people who were told that they had lost their jobs, that they would be replaced by foreign workers on a foreign-flagged ship, just as occurred here in Victoria in the Portland just a couple of weeks ago.

This is industrial relations conservative style under Malcolm Turnbull. It’s an extraordinary action for the people of Newcastle who understand the importance that seafarers and Australian shipping have played in that city and as we speak there are protests going on against that action this morning and against the decision of the Federal Government to allow this to occur by granting a temporary licence to a foreign ship to do the work that is domestic freight, previously undertaken for many years by an Australian ship, with an Australian flag with Australian seafarers.

REPORTER: Have you and Bill Shorten discussed how much you will put in or promise for the Melbourne Metro?

ALBANESE: Well Bill has made a very clear commitment, as he made at the Brisbane Media Club. We’ll make our funding announcements at the appropriate time. I mean, there is a Budget between now and when the election is, unless they hide from the Budget in terms of a with a double dissolution election. So you would fully expect for that Budget and those economic figures to be in place and for us to be able to examine them before you get final figures about funding for particular projects.

Thanks very much.

 

 

 

 

Feb 3, 2016

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

Subjects: Parliament, election timing, Trade Union Royal Commission, shipping policy, education, GST, Christopher Pyne’s ute.

HOST: Right now it’s time to turn our attention to the federal political scene with our guests Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Good morning, Anthony.

ALBANESE: G’day.

HOST: And Christopher Pyne.  Good morning Mr Pyne.

PYNE: Good morning Will, David and Albo. It’s nice to be back.

HOST: Guys, it’s great to have you back. Yesterday was the first Question Time for 2016 and also the first party room meeting and caucus meetings for both the Liberals and the ALP.

At that meeting, Christopher Pyne, Malcolm Turnbull raised the prospect of a double dissolution election – a full Senate election – later this year. Do you think that he is trying to call the bluff of the independents or is the Prime Minister genuinely prepared to go to the polls in a double dissolution?

PYNE: Well, a double dissolution is live option for a couple of reasons. One, because the crossbenchers – Labor and the Greens, but particular Labor and the crossbenchers  –  are combining routinely to stop government legislation, even legislation for which we had a mandate at the last election.

Now, the latest example of this is the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Registered Organisations Commission, both of which we took as policies to the 2013 election and it really surprises me that Labor doesn’t want to clean up the union movement given the findings of the Royal Commission of Dyson Heydon and it surprises me that the crossbenchers also are prepared to continue to allow thuggery and standover tactics to be continued unabated in the union movement.

So yes, if the Senate won’t pass legislation that is vital for which we have a mandate there very few options available for a government. One of them is a double dissolution election and if that happens well, the cards will fall where they fall.

HOST: Would a double dissolution election fought on industrial relations, Albo, be a dangerous one for the ALP given that I think quite rightly Chris Pyne has identified some of the pretty tawdry and, in some cases, criminal conduct of some unions in the Royal Commission and would be the basis of a very effective campaign for the conservatives?

ALBANESE Well, there’s your point, David. Criminal conduct should be dealt with by the criminal law and proper prosecution taken. And anyone who breaks the law should face the full force of it.

There’s agreement across the board there.

What this government is about of course is avoiding scrutiny for its Budget. If there is a double dissolution election, it will only be because they do not want to bring down a Budget in May. They are all over the shop when it comes to economic policy.

They changed the prime ministership at the end of last year, and nothing has changed. We’ve got the same climate change policy, we’ve got the same policy on marriage equality, we’ve got a GST that they don’t know if they are introducing an increase or not.

They are sort of having a faux debate but every time someone takes a position, they say ‘oh, we are not doing that’. And they are running from the Australian people.

They should bring down a Budget. We have three-year terms and they should be judged on the basis of that.

When it comes to industrial relations, I’ll be meeting today with the five people who were marched off their ship the MV Portland that took freight from Western Australia to Victoria in a regular way for more than – one of the blokes I spoke to yesterday worked on that ship for 25 years.

What’s going on there is them being replaced by foreign Labor being paid $2 an hour.

PYNE: Anthony, this isn’t a Shakespearean soliloquy.

ALBANESE: $2 an hour.

PYNE: This isn’t the opening of [inaudible]

ALBANESE: That’s their policy.

PYNE: You’ve got to give someone else a go.

ALBANESE: They want to get rid of unions and they want to get rid of working conditions. That’s what they are about.

PYNE: You’ve got to tighten up you answers, fella, or we’ll be here all day.

ALBANESE: At least I turned up. You didn’t turn up last week mate. And I’ll give you the big hint, it was a better program last week.

PYNE: What about the week before?

ALBANESE: It was a better program.

PYNE This is commercial radio. You’ve got to keep it moving, Anthony.

HOST: Free drama classes from the member for Sturt, Albo.

ALBANESE Well, I’m not as big a show pony. I will say that.

PYNE Let me just talk about this economic policy for a moment. Last week Labor confirmed what everybody knew, which is that they are still the tax, spend and borrow party that they were under Gillard and Rudd. But apparently they have $37 billion to spend on education which no-one else has, but they’ve got it.

So Labor’s going to this election with a policy to increase taxes on cigarettes on superannuation, on multinational corporations. They’ve got a policy to increase tax, not reduce any taxes and increase spending. Now, I don’t know about Anthony’s electorate, but when I go around my electorate they don’t want heavier taxes and more spending, they want …

ALBANESE:  They want schools funding and they don’t want a GST of 15 per cent. That’s what’s they want in my electorate and in yours.

PYNE: They know there is a lot of money being spent on education and they want outcomes.

ALBANESE: Do you support a GST of 15 per cent Christopher?

PYNE: They want teacher quality, they want school autonomy, they want a better curriculum, they want more parental engagement. They know there’s a lot of money being spent in schools. But whether it is being spent on the right things is the question.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, when are you going to make a definitive statement, the Federal Government that is, with regard to your position on if they’re increasing the GST or keeping it the same? Because at the moment it appears that you’ve outsourced the entire debate to state and federal Labor parties.

PYNE: Well, the GST is a state tax, that’s the first thing, so therefore, they’re having their own ding-dong argument between Jay Weatherill and Bill Shorten. It’s collected by the federal government and given to the states.

ALBANESE: Under federal legislation.

PYNE: It goes straight to the states.

PRESENTER: Semantics aside, you’re the people who have to decide what the rate is, don’t you Chris Pyne?

PYNE: No, because the law requires the states and the territories and the Senate and the House of Representatives to all agree. So we can’t just change the rate, no.

We can’t do that. So Jay Weatherill is having a ding-dong argument with Bill Shorten about it, because Bill Shorten wants to play politics, and Jay Weatherill wants to find a way of increasing revenue.

PRESENTER: We do know all that, though. We know that they’re having a fight. We’ve been covering it every day for the last two weeks. What do you reckon, what are you going to do?

ALBANESE: You’re the government!

PYNE: Well, you’ve worked that out. How long’s it taken you to work that out?

ALBANESE: Well, act like it.

PYNE: You were over in the ministerial wing today, you lost your way!

ALBANESE: What’s your position?

PYNE: What were you doing on our carpet?

ALBANESE: What’s your position?

PYNE: Trying to relive old glories.

ALBANESE: Lots of the Tories want to talk to us.

PYNE: We’ll have a tax White Paper this year, in the first part of the year and that will make it very clear where the government is heading in terms of tax policy.

But at the moment we’re very happy to have a debate. We should be mature enough as a country to have a national conversation, and we’re having one.

ALBANESE: You’ve got to say what your position is, before you have a debate. You’ve got to have a frame for the debate.

PYNE: We’re not going to fall for the rule-in, rule out politics of [inaudible]. I mean, you want to –

ALBANESE: A government that doesn’t want rule in or rule out things in terms of tax policy.

PYNE: We don’t want to rule anything in or rule anything out at this point. We want to have a national debate about it, and that’s what’s going on, which is –

ALBANESE: What’s the frame of the debate?

PYNE: About tax and whether we need to increase taxes, reduce taxes, reduce spending. You want to increase spending, you want to increase taxes, you want to increase borrowing. We want people to work, save and invest.

ALBANESE: We do want to increase taxes on multinationals, I’ll give you the big tip. We want them to pay something. We want people at the high end in terms of superannuation

PYNE: What about the tradies? Why do you want to tax the tradies even more?

ALBANESE: Now you’re just talking nonsense. You’ve never met one.

PYNE: I’ve got a truck!

ALBANESE: Oh, you’re a tradie now?

PYNE: I drive a ute! That’s what I drive! You’ll have to come to my electorate and have a look.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, Laurie Oakes reported last week that there’s a likelihood that the White Paper could effectively be the next federal budget, where it spells out this is how Australia could operate under a GST of ‘x’.

Judging from your comments just then, this White Paper will be explicit, won’t it? It will have, whether it’s along the lines foreshadowed by Laurie Oakes or not, it will have a number in it which is a GST of 10, or 12.5, or 15 per cent, or whatever. It will settle somewhere, won’t it?

PYNE: Well, the white paper will outline the options for tax reform in the same way as there will be a federation white paper which will outline what can be done to make the Federation work better.

There will be a defence industry policy statement over coming weeks which will also indicate how we’re going to grow the defence industry in Australia and use our procurement dollar to create jobs and growth, which I’m very much looking forward to as a South Australia.

But we’ve got a lot on our plate, we’ve had the National Innovation and Science Agenda which I’m responsible for in December, which I’m now implementing. I mean, the government is getting on with the job and first and foremost, it’s about jobs and it’s about growth.

This is an election year so of course there will be static throughout the year, which we’re already seeing from Anthony this morning, but the bottom line is this government knows we have to grow the economy.

We know that people are most concerned about jobs. They’re still concerned about cost of living, and that’s why we have to keep working to keep prices down, we have to keep government spending restrained and obviously work within the parameters that we’re given by the Parliament in terms of the collection of revenue.

ALBANESE: It’s interesting that a 50% increase in the GST will not keep prices down.

PRESENTER: The shadow boxing will have to stop at some point and it sounds like that will be next week when the White Paper comes out.

PRESENTER: Yeah, you guys are going to have to tighten up next week.

PYNE: Yeah, he’s going to have to tighten up.

PRESENTER: We like a bit of circus but that was the full zoo this morning.

PYNE: Well, you’re absolutely right, I’ll have to take him aside this week.

PRESENTER: Have a conference. Alright, thank you Albo, thank you Christopher.

 

 

Jan 29, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show, Nine Network

Subjects; Labor’s education package, Tony Abbott, FebFast

LISA WILKINSON: Joining at us now on our regular Friday look at politics it’s good morning to Christopher Pyne who is in the studio in Adelaide for us and here in the studio Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: Good morning Lisa, happy new year, welcome back.

WILKINSON: And to you, good to see you two back together as well. Now, Anthony, Bill Shorten has also pledged to reverse the government’s $30 billion reduction to school funding that was announced in the 2014 Budget. So, how are you going to pay for all this?

ALBANESE: Well, we’ve already announced $70 billion of savings through measures such as closing the loopholes that are there on superannuation concessions at the high end, in terms of cutting down on multinational tax avoidance.

In some of the measures that we’ve announced such as not proceeding with the government’s new baby bonus scheme, in getting rid of its Emissions Reductions Fund that we don’t believe is effective in tackling climate change.

We’ve announced all this which has given us the space to make this very significant announcement because nothing is more important for our future than making sure that every Australian child has the best opportunity to succeed through a good education.

WILKINSON: Well, Christopher you were the former education minister. Here is what Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis had to say to you yesterday.

KATE ELLIS: This is about restoring accountability and transparency that Christopher Pyne ripped away when he was Education Minister.

WILKINSON: How do you respond to that Christopher?

PYNE: Well, Kate doesn’t really know what she’s talking about, unfortunately. What’s really important is the outcomes for students. It’s not huge, unfunded spending commitments that Labor are trying to do to try and get the agenda back from Malcolm Turnbull. What we need to focus on in school education is teacher quality, parental engagement, the autonomy in schools and the curriculum. That’s what the government’s been doing federally for the last two years.

The States and Territories deliver education through schools, because they are responsible for it. Now, Labor has come up with a $37 billion policy over 10 years and are using the same savings they have announced for a whole lot of other spending measures as well for this one, too. Now, it would be nice if you could use the same dollar over and over again to do the same thing, to do different things as well but you can’t.

Now, Labor has no economic credibility. What I want to see in education is not a focus on throwing money at the problem. We’ve already spent 50% more on education in the last 10 years than we did in the previous 10 years. What I want to see is a focus as the government is on the things that really matter, teacher quality is preeminent amongst that.

That’s what I was doing when I was Education Minister.

WILKINSON: But when you cut that much money out of the 2014 budget –

PYNE: We didn’t cut any money out of education.

WILKINSON: You cut $30 billion out.

PYNE: No, no. We didn’t cut any money out of education, Lisa. Spending on education increases every year. What we did was we went back to the four year funding agreements with the states and territories, the Catholics and the independents and so that’s why it looked like there was less money but in fact over time there is much more money going into education. Labor is trying to pretend they have $37 billion. Now, that’s not real world and the public know it isn’t.

ALBANESE: It looked like was there was less money because there was. Christopher Pyne and the Coalition went to the election with every polling booth having billboards saying every school will get the same amount of money whether Labor or the Coalition are elected.

PYNE: And they are.

ALBANESE: They got elected; they stopped the funding for years five which and six for the Gonski formula which is the $4.5 billion that the states and territories had signed up to. And then they said, oh, we’ll just renegotiate it all for years five and six, took it as a massive saving in the budget and walked away from the important formula that had been worked through. This wasn’t something just thought up overnight.

This was an extensive process about how we get that long-term certainty for education funding that values every single child regardless of their background.

PYNE: Lisa, Labor always thinks that if you throw more money at a problem it will solve it.

ALBANESE: They said they would do exactly the same thing. They lied to the electorate. They said one thing before the election and another after.

PYNE: That’s not true.

WILKINSON: Alright.

PYNE: As a parent myself I know than there’s a lot more to education than just spending money.

ALBANESE: There is, but I tell you what, it helps if a kid has a problem with numeracy and literacy if they’ve got that one on one teaching. That’s what this formula provides for. That’s why the states and territories, including right here in New South Wales, to give credit where credit’s due, Adrian Piccolo has called out Christopher Pyne and the Federal Coalition Government on this from the time the cuts came in.

WILKINSON: NAPLAN are certainly saying that our standards are falling. Let’s move on. Tony Abbott is currently in the US where he will address a conservative body that opposes abortion and wants to end gay marriage. it’s called the Alliance Defending Freedom. Christopher, the PM has said that Tony Abbott can talk to whoever he wants to. But Tony Abbott’s clearly taking a stand here, isn’t he?

PYNE: Well Lisa, it’s a democracy in in Australia and Tony Abbott can say whatever he wants to whomever he wants. That’s called freedom of speech. I’m happy for him to do that. I don’t necessarily agree with the views of that organisation. Obviously I don’t but it’s a free country.

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott can certainly talk to whichever group of right-wing nut jobs in the United States he likes. Whichever one. ‘Cos there’s lots of them as we’re seeing at the moment with the right wing of politics in the US.

WILKINSON: Alright. Finally now Christopher we hear you are taking part in FebFast this year.

PYNE: I am.

WILKINSON: To support disadvantaged youth. Tell us, what are you giving up for the month?

PYNE: Alcohol.

WILKINSON: Simple as that?

PYNE: Simple as that. After the Christmas and new year period I think it would be good to spend February doing something good for myself and other people. So FebFast raises money for addiction amongst young people whether it’s alcohol or drugs. I’m spending the month without drinking any alcohol at all.

And Parliament is sitting for three weeks of that so hopefully I don’t start over eating instead. So I’m going to give up alcohol, so we need people to sponsor me so that we have lots of support for young people who have addictions of their own.

WILKINSON: And I gather you have a challenge for Albo.

PYNE: He should be joining me. Why doesn’t he join me? I join you every Friday morning. That’s enough. Give me a break!

WILKINSON: He needs a drink after meeting up with you on a Friday, by the sounds of things Christopher.

PYNE: Exactly.

WILKINSON: Well, well done.

ALBANESE: Yes, good on you Christopher.

WILKINSON: That is a really good cause. Thanks very much. Good to see you Albo. Thanks Christopher.

 

 

 

Jan 28, 2016

Transcript of media conference – Unity Hall, Balmain

Subjects:  Grayndler electorate; federal redistribution; Malcolm Turnbull; Joel Fitzgibbon; GST; Jay Weatherill; Greens political party; Julie Bishop comments on Israel trips; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; AMA hospital report

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Welcome to the Workers Bar at the Unity Hall here in Balmain. This is the very venue where the first ever branch meeting of the Australian Labor Party took place some 125 years ago. We’re a party with a proud history, and I’m proud to have represented Grayndler in the Australian Parliament for the last 20 years come the second of March. I’m here today to announce that I will be renominating as the Labor Candidate for the electorate of Grayndler at the upcoming federal election. I do so as a proud inner west resident.

The recent redistribution has cut off an area of Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, Hurlstone Park, Newtown and Camperdown that I have formally represented. It is disappointing to lose areas that you’ve represented and that you know well. But I’ve picked up areas, including the Balmain peninsula, that I know well and that I’ll be very proud to be a candidate for. I’ve lived in this community my whole life. I bring a passion and a commitment to be a local representative as well as someone who makes a contribution in the national political debate.

I’m in the Australian Labor Party because it is one of the two options of forming government. It is the party that produces progressive advances for Australia’s future. Whether it be in education, whether it be in health, whether it be in making sure that we have an economy that’s not just about growth, but about inclusive growth. An economy that’s about jobs and opportunity for all Australians so that when we look at an area like the inner west, many people come from relatively humble backgrounds are able to enter university, are able to make a contribution and to maximise their potential in life.

It’s the Australian Labor Party that’s made that possible, whether it be Gough Whitlam’s great advances on tertiary education, whether it be the contribution of the Rudd and Gillard Governments in on education with the Gonski reforms about creating opportunity, the healthcare reforms supporting public healthcare, or whether it be in the area of social policy. What we’ve seen is a great deal of disappointment with the incoming government.

Tony Abbott of course was someone who not only was stuck in the past, he wanted the rest of Australia to go back there and keep him company. And that was the problem. Someone who was an effective Leader of the Opposition, who never moved beyond saying no. So he was rejected by his own party earlier in his term than any previous elected Prime Minister in Australia’s history.

But what we’re seeing from Malcolm Turnbull is that he now leads a party that is divided within itself. It’s at war with itself over a range of issues between the conservatives and the moderates within the Liberal Party. That’s not the problem, however. The problem is that Malcolm Turnbull is at war with himself. Malcolm Turnbull is at war with the position that he has held over a political lifetime – on the republic, on marriage equality, on taking serious action to avoid dangerous climate change.

When he lost the leadership of the Liberal Party he said he would not be prepared to lead a party that wasn’t prepared to take climate change action seriously. And yet today we have the exact opposite of a conviction politician. Someone who’s traded all of his principles for the keys to The Lodge. And that will be the battle at the election this year. A battle between Labor, committed towards advancing Australia’s future – on education, on health, on a fibre to the premises NBN, on marriage equality, on all of these issues and Malcolm Turnbull and a divided Liberal Party.

Of course, in this area as well, we’ll have a third force. But the Greens political party candidate who’s been chosen in this electorate has spent more time in the International Socialist organisation than he has in the Greens political party, and if he was fair dinkum, he’d run as an International Socialist and see how many votes he got there. It’s unfortunate that the Greens have been captured in this area and in New South Wales by people who have a history in Socialist Party of Australia or the International Socialists or the Socialist Workers Party and want to use the Greens banner to advance an agenda that’s about anything but the environment.

It will be interesting to see. Two tests for the Greens candidate in this seat; one is to actually mention the Liberals, because normally they don’t. The second of course, is to actually mention the environment. The last two election campaigns I’ve had as the candidate for Grayndler, the Greens candidate hasn’t got anywhere near environmental issues.

So I stand on my record as a local representative, but also my record in the national parliament representing the views that are strongly held by this community and I’m confident I’ll be returned as the Member for Grayndler, but most importantly, I want to be returned as a member of a Labor Government, because it is only in government that you can make a real difference in changing the nation.

REPORTER: You’ve just said you’re confident, but how confident are you, because you’ve just made some fairly strong criticisms of the Greens candidate. Have you got a big fight on your hands against them?

ALBANESE: I have never taken this electorate for granted. But if you look at the pendulum, I think you’ll find it’s really easy to find Grayndler. At the last election the Greens political party ran their state president, Hall Greenland in this seat. He at least had a record of involvement in issues like Callan Park. The current candidate has no local involvement, no local record, nothing to point to whereby they’ve engaged in the local community.

I’ve been around a long time, lived in this community my whole life. I’ve never seen him at any event or anything else, but then again I haven’t been to International Socialist demonstrations against global capitalism in the last few years so maybe that’s why I’ve missed him.

REPORTER: Nevertheless, will it be harder than ever to win this seat?

ALBANESE: This seat is a seat which cannot be taken for granted. This is a demanding seat. That is as it should be. It’s a politicised seat. People are active in their local community. That’s a great thing. That’s one of the things that inspires me to keep going. I’m very proud of the history of this area. The history in terms of the Labor movement that began in this very hall and continues today. I’ll be very pleased to continue that tradition if the people of Grayndler have their confidence in me as they have in the past. But I’ve never taken it for granted. I’ve always treated this seat as a marginal seat even though if you look at the pendulum, it is not.

When I first ran in 1996, Malcolm Mackerras wrote in the Herald that the seat was over. I wasn’t going to win, the No Aircraft Noise Party were going to win. I think people are looking for authenticity in politics. People might disagree with me, but what you see is what you get. I stand up for my beliefs. I put my hand up when it counts. People know what they’re getting. People should have a close look at what the alternatives are in this electorate, what their real views are. Just Google the candidates. It’s amazing what pops up.

They’ll see the views, for example on the environment. I’m very proud that as Labor’s environment spokesperson, I was the person who wrote the policy for the renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020. I wrote the policy to ratify Kyoto and introduced Private Members Bills. I wrote the policy for the Green car plan. I wrote the policy for an emissions trading scheme. I wrote the comprehensive plan to deal with climate change that ended up being implemented once we were in government.

Of course, the difficulty that we had was that the Greens and the Liberals combined in 2009 to stop there being a price on carbon. Remember that. The CPRS, putting a price on carbon and an emissions trading scheme would have been, in my view, today still policy. The debate would have been over had just two Greens senators stood up and walked across the floor. Two Liberals did cross the floor.

If the Greens had have voted for it, in the Senate in 2009, it would have been policy. There would have been a price on carbon – and it was an economy-wide price – that would have applied, and of course that would have put us in a stronger position because we know that the earlier the action the cheaper the cost.

REPORTER: What will happen to your colleague Joel Fitzgibbon given his seat is being taken away?

ALBANESE: Well, I’m sure that Joel will be a candidate at the election. He’s a valued candidate. He’s one of my best mates in the Parliament as a fellow class of ’96 member. There aren’t that many of us. There’s Joel and myself and Jenny Macklin, we’re all elected in 1996. Joel, I’m sure will make a great contribution to the next Labor Government.

REPORTER: [inaudible] move to Barton, did you consider that?

ALBANESE: What I had to do depended on the boundaries. They shifted substantially. In the draft boundaries they put my home, my office and the place where they make Albo Ale – very importantly – all into Barton. So I didn’t move. The electoral commission moved the boundaries around me. I always said I would wait for the final boundaries.

A range of journalistic colleagues have said over the period that they never change them from the draft. Guess what? I’ve been around a while, and I know sometimes you just have to wait for the final decision. It was always my preference to remain as the candidate for Grayndler. The decision though, was which new area I would seek to represent. The original draft of course, was to put the Drummoyne peninsula into Grayndler so it was a very different seat.

As it is, Grayndler still has been carved up into a range of other seats, some has gone into Barton, Sydney, Watson and Reid. So it is a very radical change in the electorate. I believe though it is closer to the area that I have represented over that period of time and I think people look for some consistency in terms of their representation. I know it’s become fashionable, a bit in the national parliament in Canberra for changes to happen at regular intervals. I think though, people want consistency in terms of their local representation.

The overwhelming majority of my old seat is now in the new Grayndler – including my electorate office which I’ve chosen to run here. Frankly, I’m very much looking forward to campaigning in the new areas of Balmain and Rozelle. I know this area very, very well. I used to visit here up until the 26th of January last year when my dear friend and mentor Tom Uren passed away, I would visit him, down in Gilchrist Place once a fortnight when I could, but at least once a month.

I’m very familiar with this area. I’m familiar with the community based organisations. Annandale, I’ve represented in the past for most of that 20 years and I look forward to once again visiting Annandale Public School and Annandale North Public School and engaging with that community, which is of course around the corner from where I grew up in Pyrmont Bridge Road, Camperdown.

REPORTER: Do you think Joel Fitzgibbon will want to move to Pat Conroy’s seat?

ALBANESE: With due respect, I’m here at Unity Hall to talk about Grayndler and to speak for myself. Joel Fitzgibbon, I’m sure will be a candidate for the next election. I’ve been concentrating on where the boundaries and the maps are in this area and that of course is the appropriate focus that I’ve had.

REPORTER: Would Barton have been an easier proposition for you? Have you been asked to stay here by the party because they think you’re the only person who can fend off the Greens?

ALBANESE: I don’t think that the Greens political party are taking this seat seriously with their choice of candidate, frankly. I think they do this area a great disservice. There are a whole range of activists in this area. Environmental activists who are involved in the conservation movement and none of them have been selected.

Every time, the Greens political party have gone for an apparatchik from within the Greens party. The Greens have factions, there’s a big one here in New South Wales, and it’s opposed to the national leadership of the Greens. Hall Greenland, my last opponent described the Canberra leadership of The Greens as “Liberals on bicycles”. That’s their view.

It runs counter to the views of people who might be thinking, will they vote Green or will they vote Labor at the election. I think those people, as they have in the past in Grayndler by a considerable majority, will ask who has a serious record in taking action on climate change, on environmental issues? Who can be most effective as their representative in the Federal Parliament as a voice on environmental issues? If you’re serious about environmental issues, then I’m your candidate at the election.

REPORTER: Do you believe that Jay Weatherill has the right to keep voicing his support in principle for Labor to keep looking at the GST increase option or should he be hushed up, as some people in the party seem to be wanting?

ALBANESE: Jay Weatherill is a friend of mine and I think he’s a great Premier of South Australia. Jay Weatherill is voicing the concerns that any Labor Premier would have about the need to fund education and health. That’s the views that he’s put. He said he wants to look at options of how you do that. Now, Labor’s view is very clear. One of those options is not increasing the GST. The sort of options that we’ve put forward are progressive options such as on superannuation, closing those loopholes, and on multinational tax avoidance.

I think that Australians are very concerned every time they read an article such as that about Apple yesterday. Every time they read an article that says there are these big corporates that they know are making a lot of money and they’re paying a lot more tax than they are, even though as a percentage of their income, even though they’re only average weekly earners, in some cases below average weekly earners.

REPORTER: But should Jay Weatherill be gagged or bound?

ALBANESE: Jay Weatherill is a Premier. We’re not a Stalinist party. Jay Weatherill is entitled as the Premier to put his views on behalf of the South Australian Labor Government. He’s entitled to do that. In spite of the commentary that’s out there; I’ve actually seen the interviews as opposed to the reporting of those comments.

What Jay Weatherill has said is he just wants options about the funding of education and health and that’s in response to the cuts that are there from the Turnbull and Abbott Governments where we’ve changed the spokesperson but we haven’t changed any of the policies.

What policy has changed since Malcolm Turnbull took over the leadership of the Liberal Party? I frankly was flabbergasted by Malcolm Turnbull’s position on the republic this week. I mean, if there was any semblance of integrity left in Malcolm Turnbull, how he could come out with that position is a complete repudiation of a lifetime of political engagement.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, Julie Bishop said on Sky News this morning that any ban for Labor MPs going on Israel trips would be prejudiced.

ALBANESE: Who’s talking about it? I mean seriously.

REPORTER: Labor’s Friends of Palestine are talking about putting that forward at the next conference.

ALBANESE: We’ll see. Or is it again reporting of things third hand? I mean, Julie Bishop is more worried about getting photos in various magazines than in actually being a serious foreign policy spokesperson. Labor has a very clear position on the Middle East. Our position is a balanced position. It’s one I share.

I support a Palestinian state, side by side with an Israeli state. People working together. These places are the difference between Balmain and Marrickville. You’re talking about very small distances, whereby it’s simply not possible for any solution other than people to live side by side with mutual respect, with security, with support for a peaceful resolution in the Middle East.

If not, Palestinians continue to suffer in those refugee camps, as they have for far too long. But Israeli citizens suffer as well, because of the insecurity.

REPORTER: So should Labor MPs be banned from having sponsored travel to Israel to express that they disagree with Israel’s continuous expansion of its settlements?

ALBANESE: I’m opposed to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. I support UN resolutions and international conventions on those issues. I think anyone who visits the Middle East should have discussions with both the Israeli side and the Palestinian side. There’s a need for balance here and there’s a need to make sure that we don’t reinforce a division that is not in the interests of either Israelis or Palestinians. So the attempt to play student politics with this on either side is something that our serious national representatives should not do.

REPORTER: So the motion won’t get up, you’re saying?

ALBANESE: I don’t know that there is a motion, frankly. I don’t know that people are not just jumping at nothing. That is usually the case with the Liberal Party. The idea that the Australian Labor Party can ban people from going to countries is frankly absurd. Last time I looked, you didn’t get a visa through the ALP national office to travel overseas.

REPORTER: Sponsored travel, though, we’re talking about.

ALBANESE: That’s up to people, what they do, in terms of sponsored travel. But I think that people should be balanced. I can’t put it any other way than that. It’s not complex. I’m not trying to wedge anyone. I’m not trying to play politics. Julie Bishop should do the same. Julie Bishop has a responsibility as the Foreign Minister to do the same.

The Australian Government, as we did while we were in government, should ensure that it has a balanced position at the United Nations. Not be a cheer squad for one side or the other, because frankly that just reinforces the hawks on one side or the other. What Australia needs to do is to be on the side of the doves, both Palestinian and Israeli, not the hawks, because that does not serve the interests of either Israel or Palestine.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, the AMA has said this morning that public hospitals will be the biggest financial challenge for governments, both state and federal in 12 months. What’s your take on that report? How should it address the shortfalls?

ALBANESE: It’s a huge challenge because the Commonwealth government is slashing funding for health and education. Yes, it is a huge challenge. I’ll tell you what; first step, elect a Labor Government.

 

 

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