Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
May 21, 2014

Transcript interview – Sky PM Agenda

Subject/s: Budget; Senate; GST.

DAVID LIPSON: We’re joined now by the Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Thanks for your time this afternoon. We will get to the GFC in a moment but I want to start with Martin Parkinson’s speech today. He said that we’re at a critical juncture and pointed to the unpopular reforms of the 80’s and 90’s which transformed the economy and set the nation up for decades of growth. Is Labor getting in the way of tough but important economic reform?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well where’s the economic reform in this Budget? Economic reform isn’t punishing those in the community who are the most vulnerable. Economic reform isn’t inhibiting productivity by cutting gall funding for public transport projects and doing nothing about freight rail. Economic reform is not what we see in this Budget. What we see is a mean spirited, ideological crusade from Tony Abbott, from the Coalition, with all of their prejudices laid bare. If they’re serious about economic reform we’re certainly up for that debate as Labor has always been. But one of the things we see is a retreat from some of the economic reform that is necessary. Martin Parkinson I’m sure would agree that one of the economic reforms that is needed is moving to a carbon constrained economy. This mob want to  write off clean energy from any legislation or any description, they want to wind back on those reforms, and we don’t see a reformist Budget which is why it’s been rejected so whole-heartedly by the Australia people.

LIPSON: Do you think if there is a blockage in the Australian Senate, as appears almost inevitable now, that Australia’s triple A credit rating could be put at risk?

ALBANESE: Well it is of course the former Labor government that delivered the triple A credit rating. That’s in spite of the fact that the Liberal party spent year after year talking down the economy. The problem for the Coalition is that since September they’ve still maintained themselves in that negative Opposition mode. They’ve talked down the Australian economy. They haven’t had a vision for the nation. They have engaged in increased expenditure like the Paid Parental Leave scheme. More than $5 billion each year and growing is the projection there.

LIPSON: But if you’re blocking all their savings aren’t you partly responsible for any of the fallout of such a move, and also, by blocking so many measures, aren’t you just as bad as what you yourself coined the Noalition in the last term of Parliament?

ALBANESE: Well David they are the government. They are still acting like the Noalition. They’ve knocked back saves like, just to give one example in superannuation, if you earned more than $100,000 in terms of income from your superannuation then you would be taxed appropriately. So they’ve gotten rid of the high end for the people who have multiple millions of dollars in superannuation. At the same time they’ve cut the low income superannuation contribution. A very stark example of how they’re punishing the most vulnerable in our community. At the same time it’s a free-for-all if you’re at the top end. That is not the action of a government that is prudent in terms of fiscal measures. There are a range of savings that we made in terms both in terms of last year’s Budget but also in the economic statement that we made prior to the election being called and they’ve just dismissed them all – thrown them all away. I mean remember the fuss over the idea that people who are not entitled to claim for their car for work should have the law apply appropriately.

LIPSON: Let’s stick with the here and now and one of the most prominent areas of the debate is the GST. Now, Tony Abbott says it’s up to the states to make the case. But why can’t we have a sensible adult discussion about the GST because everyone from Tim Costello on the left to Ian McDonald on the right and everyone in between as well are calling for such a discussion.

ALBANESE: Well because what we’ve got is a government characterised by its dishonesty. Characterised by saying we’re not breaking any promises when it is obvious to every mum and dad in the street that they are breaking promise after promise after promise. And then setting it up saying we’re not about increasing GST, that’s to do with the states – what nonsense. The GST is a federal tax. What Tony Abbott has done is rip $80 billion out of education and health. Done so in a way with no notice, done so in direct contradiction to what he said not just at the election time, but even at the COAG meeting that was held weeks ago. The Premiers and Chief Ministers weren’t given notice.

LIPSON: But they would have had the same problems in addressing the structural fiscal imbalance, so that would have had to come from somewhere so why not the GST? Doesn’t matter who’s collecting the tax does it? The states or the federals?

ALBANESE: We introduced measures, David, in the economic statement. They’re measures which the government has chosen to oppose. Not only that but to add on top tens of billions of dollars of additional expenditure through additional measures including the Paid Parental Leave scheme. So in terms of the public, I think they’ll have a look at this and they’ll say the federal government rips all this money out, gets its mates in state governments to say. I mean have a look at Mike Baird, he was going to take on the Federal Government, he was going to stand up for NSW. Two days later he’s there all smiles and cuddling up to Tony Abbott. Then on Sunday he’s doing a press conference saying, oh, well, we really are going to get angry and shake our fist at the federal government. I mean where are they, the Coalition? Have they sat down in a back room somewhere and sorted out this three scene play that we’re seeing acted out by the Coalition? The GST is fundamentally a regressive tax. I tell you what, it doesn’t make a difference to me, but it makes a difference to pensioners and those on low incomes in my electorate.

LIPSON: Anthony Albanese, unfortunately we’re out of time. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.

ALBANESE: Thanks David, pleasure.

 

May 12, 2014

Transcript of radio interview – ABC Radio National with Ellen Fanning

Subjects: Budget, roads funding, WestConnex; fuel excise; home insulation; Royal Commission

FANNING: Well as we just heard the Federal Government is promising the biggest increase in roads funding in Australian history.  $40 billion will be spent over six years on new road construction, matched by another $42 billion from the states and the private sector.

But the Opposition believes that little of that money will be new, and it says three road projects will be funded by taking more than $4 billion out of urban rail projects.

Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and he’s in our Parliament House studio this morning. Good morning to you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Ellen.

FANNING: Mr Albanese, isn’t the proof that this is new money the fact is that it’s funded by measures that previously didn’t exist – Federal and State Government asset sales and private sector money, as well as that regular increase proposed for the petrol tax.

ALBANESE: Not at all Ellen. If you have a look at the announcements that the Government’s been making, they’ve been re-announcements of projects that were already included in the budget. Projects like the F3 to M2 which they’ve just renamed in Sydney- the Northern Link.

Producing a new name does not create a new road and what’s we’ve seen is a series of re-announcements.  They’re ripping billions of dollars out of public transport: $3 billion from Melbourne Metro, $715 million from the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane,$500 million from public transport in Perth, additional money in South Australia and in Victoria they’re ripping money, $500 million out of the M80 road project, now that had been through the Infrastructure Australia process, it has a positive benefit-cost ratio, that is, it will actually boost productivity- and they’re giving it to a road that, the East-West, that has not been through that process, has not received the approval of Infrastructure Australia.

And as a result what we’re seeing, potentially, I’m not convinced there will be any new money tomorrow night, that there won’t simply be more shuffling.  It’s interesting that they’re talking about six years rather than four years of the forward estimates.

Wait for the spin tomorrow night that says, oh yeah the money is there but it’s out five and six years away, rather than actually there in the forward estimates.

FANNING: Nevertheless there are three enormous projects that Labor never funded when you were Infrastructure Minister, the East-West Railway, the WestConnex and the Toowoomba Range Crossing.

ALBANESE: Well that’s not right Ellen. Take WestConnex for example, we funded the work in terms of planning.  $25 million was already spent from us and $1.8 billion was included in last year’s budget for the WestConnex project.

FANNING: The Federal Government leaks this morning suggest the Federal Government is going to announce its share of the funding for Stage One and Stage Two of that road. Now they’re massive new commitments, as well as the East-West and the Toowoomba Range Crossing. They’re new projects.

ALBANESE: Well that’s $1.8 billion for WestConnex. But we did say this Ellen; that it needed to go through the proper planning process as the Government said they would for all projects above $100 million.

And we want to make sure that WestConnex actually took people into the city and freight to the port. At the moment it’s a bit of a road to nowhere, it does neither of those things.  It moves the congestion just down the road from Strathfield on the M4. It puts a new toll on an old road, the existing M4, and it doesn’t go anywhere near the port.

Now, the role of the Federal Government through Infrastructure Australia is to make sure that we get bang for our buck, that we get better value, that you have that proper analysis.

And what we’re seeing from this Government is an abandonment of that, and an ideological position that means that they’re cutting all funding from public transport. Now if you do that, you’re cutting the options that are there, that are necessary, to deal with urban congestion.

And what’s worse, they’re then, whilst taking away the option of public transport for those in our outer suburbs, they’re putting a new tax hike on petrol so that every time working families fill up to get to work, or fill up to take their kids to footy or sport on the weekend, they’re paying an additional tax to the Government.

FANNING: Just very briefly on this, we were speaking earlier to the Australian Automobile Association; the NSW Government has done all the reasonable surveys on WestConnex. It would seem from the outside, that notwithstanding a full cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia, these roads are needed and that once they’re completed in four stages, one, two, three and all the rest of it, they will do what is necessary.

ALBANESE: Well Ellen, what is necessary, with regard to WestConnex, is that freight gets to the port. If the road doesn’t go to the port, indeed dumps out traffic the other side of the airport, an already congested area, than it won’t achieve its objective.

We’re fully in favour of infrastructure investment, that’s why we put aside the $1.8 billion for the WestConnex Project. But we do say that it’s got to be got right.

And of course the East-West project in Melbourne as a result, we now have a very inferior rail project being proposed in Melbourne that appears to have been done on the back of a napkin, as opposed to the Melbourne Metro project where we’d already spent $40 million on getting it right, on making sure that it dealt with the congestion that was there and the city rail line.

Now if you don’t deal with rail issues, you cannot possibly address urban congestion in our capital cities by a roads-only approach. And by the Federal Government not funding rail, that leaves that to zero.

But what’s worse is that it’s saying to State Governments, if you want any Federal money, then invest and prioritise roads not rail. That’s leading to a reduction in rail investment from State Governments. And we saw that in last Friday’s budget in Western Australia where they walked away from previous commitments that they had to rail as well as to light rail.

FANNING: Let’s skip through a couple of issues in the 90 seconds we have left, if you’ll be brief. Will Labor block the increase in the fuel excise in the Senate?

ALBANESE: We’ll have a look at the budget and we’ll make our decisions collectively, as a Shadow Cabinet and as a Caucus.

FANNING: The budget is proposed will abolish or merge another 70 plus Government agencies. Mathias Cormann says Government is way too big. Did it become too big under Labor, just briefly?

ALBANESE: Well the theme of this budget is they don’t like the public sector, they don’t like public health, so they’re walking away from universality of Medicare, they don’t like public transport.

There’s a theme Ellen, it’s that they don’t like the public.

FANNING: The Home Insulation Royal Commission, Kevin Rudd will appear as a witness this week, so too Greg Combet and Peter Garrett.  Is it appropriate they should front up and answer those questions?

ALBANESE: Oh look, they’ve already been eight inquiries on these issues. The Queensland Coroner’s inquiry has gone through extensive examination. What we’ve had is recommendations that have all been adopted. This is a Government that is addicted to playing politics, and they’re continuing to do it on a range of areas. What we will do is not be distracted and continue to hold the Government to account in its budget week.

FANNING: And very briefly, and finally, the Royal Commission into alleged union corruption will hold its first hearings today.  It’ll hear from Ralph Blewitt, the former union official, evidence about the slush-fund scandal that dogged Julia Gillard. How much peril do you foresee here for Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten, just very briefly?

ALBANESE: Well, and again Ellen, the day before Parliament goes back there’s this hearing. One wonders why when apparently it’s then going to adjourn for some time. We’ll be concentrating on the issues of concern to Australians, which is about the cost of living, which is about the impact of the broken promises that will be sprayed out for all to see tomorrow night, and we’ll be concentrating on that and won’t be distracted on what happened sometime at the end of the last century.

FANNING: Thank you very much Mr Albanese.

ALBANESE: Ciao

 

May 12, 2014

Transcript of doorstop

Parliament House doors

Subject/s: Budget, public transport, fuel excise

ALBANESE:  There’s been a lot of talk and rhetoric from the government about infrastructure in the lead up to the Budget.

But what we’re really seeing is that projects that are already funded in the Budget are being re-announced.

Indeed, there have been more cuts coming that we know of than new projects announced – cuts to public transport in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.

You can’t deal with urban congestion if you are cutting funds for public transport in order to provide additional funding to roads.

To deal with urban transport congestion you need to look at transport strategies in an integrated way. That’s why the former government created Infrastructure Australia.

This government knows that. That’s why they said they would have proper cost-benefit analysis for all projects above $100 million.

And yet they are abandoning that principle in the lead-up to their very first Budget.

They’re prepared to provide funding without getting the cost-benefit analysis done for projects such as the East-West Road project in Victoria.

There we are seeing the consequences of the abandonment of Federal involvement in public transport. Not only does in mean that Federal money is withdrawn. It means that state governments, faced with a choice of funding a road project or a rail project are choosing road projects so that they can gain additional funding from the Federal Government.

That leads to a distortion of the market. It also leads to results that do not produce the best results in terms of productivity and in terms of dealing with urban congestion.

We’ve seen it already in Perth with the abandonment of public transport commitments that the WA State Government had given.

We’re seeing it in Brisbane where the Cross-River Rail project has been abandoned for an inferior project that will not deal with the rail congestion issues which are important not just for Brisbane, but for the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

And we saw it last week in Melbourne where the Melbourne Metro project, that had been through a $40 million proper planning exercise that was supported by the former Federal Government and the Victorian State Government has been abandoned in favour of an inferior proposal that doesn’t even take passengers through the city and doesn’t deal with the congestion on the city circle area.

That’s why this government’s approach is very short-sighted. We’re seeing cuts to public transport but without a plan for dealing with urban congestion

REPORTER: We saw yesterday reports of investment of about $80 billion.

ALBANESE: No … you’ve picked up on that figure so I’ll start to pick up the journos already. If you say someone else is going to provide money – the private sector and the State Government – that’s not Federal Government investment. What they’re talking about is a figure that’s very similar to the figure that was already in the Budget.

So I’m not convinced there is any new money at all. They have raised a few new projects – the East-West Project in Melbourne it is true, and the Toowoomba bypass were both not included in previous Labor Government budgets.

But every other project that they’ve raised is already in the Budget, including the WestConnex project.

So forget all the rhetoric. Have a look at the detail of the proposals and what you’ll see is very little additional money for roads but more money than that additional money from urban public transport projects – $3 billion from the Melbourne Metro, $715 million from Cross-River Rail, $500 Million from Perth public transport projects – just to name three.

REPORTER: Are there any suggestions, details from the Budget that we’ve heard so far that Labor will flat-out reject in in Parliament?

ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and look at the Budget as a whole. But what we know is that this is a Budget of broken promises , that this is a Budget that targets the most vulnerable.

Take one area. They say this is a Budget that we need to get back into surplus as soon as possible. Well, why have they intervened to cut measures such as Labor’s measure which would vary the superannuation contributions in terms of tax regimes for those earning above $100,000 from their superannuation investments?

That would have applied to just 16,000 people. You would have to have an enormous amount in super in order for that to occur.

And yet they are abandoning that proposal at the same time as they are abandoning Labor’s government support for the low-income superannuation contribution.

It’s just one example whereby this Government is hitting the most vulnerable.

If you look at the Budget you have public sector cuts that are clearly coming because they don’t like the public sector. You have cuts to public health through abandoning the universality of Medicare because they don’t like public health; cuts to public education by abandoning the Gonski reforms; cuts to public transport; cuts to public broadcasters though the ABC  and SBS.

There’s a theme here. They don’t like the public.

What we see is time after time the most-vulnerable people being targeted by measures in the Budget.

Conservative governments have traditionally been attached to smaller government. What they want is micro government.

They want cuts to the most-vulnerable people in our community with new taxes including a new tax every time working families fill up and the bowser.

REPORTER: How do you think Labor is going to fare with the Royal Commission into union corruption?

ALBANESE: I’m interested in what will occur tomorrow night in terms of the Budget and the impact on working families. That’s my priority and that’s the Labor Party’s priority in this building.

If some people want to talk about what happened last century, that’s up to them.

But what we’re concerned about is working families and the impact that Budget measures will have. We’re not going to be distracted as the government is attempting to do by political exercises.

REPORTER: You said that this Budget targets the most-vulnerable. Do you think that cuts to, or freezing, MPs’ pay rises and cuts to salaries of quote unquote fat cats mitigates that argument somewhat.

ALBANESE: No, not at all. I refer you to Tony Abbott’s comments of 2008.

REPORTER: Regarding the fuel tax increase … the fact that the Treasurer says it will be spent on roads, isn’t that an encouraging sign?

ALBANESE: In a big Budget whenever you talk about money being spent somewhere, what you can do is just reduce the amount which you were going to spend and increase it back to the original level by the hypothecated amount. When you have a significant roads Budget was the Federal Government always does, you can always say that is the case. What working families will know is that just as appropriately it could be that it’s being spent on the unaffordable paid parental leave scheme.

What they know also is that this is a government that is abandoning funding for public transport. That’s leading to state governments reducing funding for public transport. At the same time as they are taking away those options to the private motor vehicle they are whacking a higher tax on that private motor vehicle.

So for those people in our commuter suburbs this is an inequitable measure because if you live in the outer suburbs of our capital cities, or indeed in places like the central coast of NSW and have to commute to Sydney for employment, you in many cases don’t have other options other than the private motor vehicle. And if that’s the case, that is why it is an impost on working families.

The top end of town including MPs, I might say, have petrol cards. They won’t be paying the additional tax hit on petrol. But working families, whether they are going to work or taking their kids to sport on the weekend, will pay it each and every time they fill up.

Thank-you

 

May 9, 2014

Transcript of press conference

Sydney

Subjects: Infrastructure Australia’s independence, Tony Abbott’s broken promises, Budget 2014-15, offshore processing; WestConnex  

Today I’m releasing Labor’s amendments to the Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill 2013. They’re aimed at ensuring that Tony Abbott’s plan to destroy the independence of Infrastructure Australia is not successful. This legislation was rushed through the House of Representatives last year. But it will be debated in the Senate next week.

Labor will move amendments consistent with the recommendations and the input and submissions from the Business Council of Australia and from the Urban Development Institute of Australia, from TTF, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia. Right across the board there has been concern at this attempt to take away Infrastructure Australia’s independence. Our amendments will do two fundamental things.

Firstly it will ensure that the minister can’t direct Infrastructure Australia to not look at certain classes of infrastructure. We know that that’s code for IA not being able to look at public transport projects. If you’re about raising productivity in our cities, then you have to look at an integrated transport agenda. You can’t look at just roads or just rail. You have to look at how a city functions and ensure that you invest according to what will produce the best benefit. Infrastructure Australia was designed to do just that.

What’s more, we will ensure through these amendments that IA processes are transparent. That the publication of the cost-benefit analysis is available for all to see. This isn’t just an academic exercise. It’s about making sure taxpayer dollars as well as private sector investments is directed to where it will produce the most economic benefit. These are common sense changes. These are changes that are in line with the policy that the conservatives took to the last election and therefore they should support them in the Senate. If not, we will pursue them and seek the support of the crossbenchers.

Can I say also that this occurs in the context where we’re seeing some of the consequences of the government’s flawed approach to infrastructure policy being played out in the budget process. In the budget what we’re seeing is a pattern of behaviour. It’s a pattern of broken promises. Day after day leaks have occurred showing that this is a government not committed to keeping the fundamental promises it made prior to the election.

They don’t like public servants, so they’re going to get rid of them. They don’t like public education, so they’re trashing the Gonski reforms. They don’t like public healthcare, so they’re introducing a new tax every time someone visits the doctor, and therefore undermining the universality of Medicare. They don’t like public broadcasters, so they’re attacking the funding and independence of the ABC and the SBS. And they don’t like public transport, so what we’re seeing is all funding already committed in the budget being withdrawn. There’s a pattern here. It seems they just don’t like the public.

What’s more, we’ve seen another one of these broken promises today through the imposition of the fuel tax increase. That is a change that would have an impact on every single Australian family. Every time someone gets in the car to go to work. Every time someone gets in the car to drive the kids to sport on the weekend. For a government which has railed about carbon pricing, this is carbon pricing on steroids. It would have a far greater impact than the existing process, which has no carbon pricing on motor vehicles for personal use. What’s worse about this is that every time we see a broken promise, Mr Abbott is saying that he’ll keep his commitments.

It’s a bit like a Monty Python sketch. Arms lopped off, legs lopped off like the Black Knight, saying ‘it’s just a flesh wound!’. Well there’s more than a flesh wound to Mr Abbott’s integrity because of these broken promises. He can’t keep saying he’s keeping his commitments when legs and arms of his policy fundamentals are being lopped off at a rate greater than a Monty Python sketch. We will hold the government to account in their budget next week.

Today we’ve seen an example of what the implications are behind their infrastructure funding changes. Because the government has ripped out $3 billion of funding for the Melbourne Metro, we now have a situation where the Victorian Government have announced a budget with a metro that’s an inferior proposal, about which their own advocates and infrastructure minister have now confirmed there is no business case made.

He says the business case is just ‘the common sense case’. Well what Australians want is for the state governments, the private sector and the federal government to work through processes led by Infrastructure Australia to make sure there is proper cost benefit analysis. Not flawed projects or second rate projects for first rate cities like Melbourne and Brisbane.

This is very similar in Brisbane where I expect that Tuesday’s Budget will rip away money that’s been allocated for the Cross River Rail project, because the state government is going with an inferior BaT proposal that and won’t solve the urban congestion issues of that growing city.

We do need to get serious about infrastructure, but getting serious about infrastructure means not cutting all public transport funding, not re-announcing previously existing projects that were already funded in previous budgets, and then on the one or two new projects that are being funded, including the Victorian East-West road project, refusing to publish any business case or analysis that says that the project stacks up.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the Budget, where would you have been looking for cuts? There’s not that much to be trimmed. The public service is already meeting efficiency dividends. Where would you find savings?

ALBANESE: The first thing I would have done is not take away the savings that had been made by previous Labor Government decisions. We have to remember that due to the Abbott Government’s decisions an extra $86 billion has been added to costs. They came into government and made a number of changes to tax regulations that had been implemented by the former Labor Government, they then found additional money for the Reserve Bank, and they found $5 billion, growing each year, for their expensive Paid Parental Leave scheme. So the argument about the need to cut does not stack up when at the same time they’re adding to expenditure through a program like the Paid Parental Leave scheme.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned what you wouldn’t do but what cuts would you agree with?

ALBANESE: We made some decisions to ensure we were a responsible government. This government has taken away some of the tax measures that ensured compliance in terms of tax policy. What we will do is look at the Budget and determine as a party what our position on individual items in the Budget will be. We’ll do that after Tuesday night when we’ve seen the Budget, but what we’ve seen already is the failure of the government to have a coherent approach when it comes to infrastructure. Even in terms of some of the infrastructure development that’s there.

Take for example the Swan Valley Bypass project, which we had agreement with the WA Government for 50/50 funding. They are saying that they’ll fund 80/20 even though the State Government of WA only requested half the funding for that project. But then they’re taking half a billion dollars out of public transport projects in Perth. The problem for the government is that you can’t deal with urban congestion in our cities if you say that the government’s role is just to fund roads. They say that frees up money for the state governments to fund public transport.

But if you are a Treasurer sitting in any state government of any political persuasion today, and you know that you have a billion dollar road project and a billion dollar rail project and the road project you’ll only have to put in $200 million because the Commonwealth will fund 80%, or $800 million, so it’s $200 million on the State Government’s bottom line, but if you agree that the rail project is the priority, you have to pay the entire billion dollars, then you are distorting where the investment goes.

And you are not dealing with urban congestion in a way in which Infrastructure Australia, the Business Council of Australia, Urban Development Institute, everyone in this country who is concerned about cities and urban congestion understands that it has to be dealt with.

JOURNALIST: Today there will be a high court challenge to offshore processing. Recently we’ve had the tragic death of Reza Berati. Is it time for Labor to have a rethink of its policy and what it introduced in government seeing as we’ve seen situations like that unfold?

ALBANESE: What needs to happen with regard to immigration policy is transparent. The tragedy of Reza Berati’s death needs to be properly examined. We need to have responsibility in terms of what occurred there.  Confidence in the system requires a transparent process that acknowledges the people smugglers business leads to tragedy at sea, and we need to do what we can to ensure there’s an orderly migration process. I believe we can fulfil our international obligations and at the same time ensure we have due process, and respect every person rather than the way it’s been conducted in recent times, which is a real lack of transparency from the government. So it’s hard even for the Opposition to make some judgements when we’re not being told the facts.

JOURNALIST: Inaudible

ALBANESE: Our Immigration spokesperson, Richard Marles will talk about the detail. But we don’t know, at least as far as I know, about how many of the applicants have been approved, how many have not been approved, what has happened to the people who have been approved, and what has happened to the people who have not been approved. They’re all details that I can’t comment on because we don’t know what the facts are. The government needs to be transparent about this if people are to have confidence in the system.

JOURNALIST: Can I just take you back to the Budget for a minute. The fuel excise, do you think that it should be linked to spending on roads, and if not, any other specific areas [inaudible]

ALBANESE: The Federal Government at the same time is saying ‘we won’t fund Cross River Rail, we’ll rip out $715 million dollars from the budget. We’ll rip out $3 billion from the Melbourne Metro project. We’ll rip out $500 million from Perth public transport light rail and the airport link. We’ll rip out money from public transport in Adelaide. We’ll do all of this which will mean that less people have the option of taking public transport, and at the same time we’ll put up the  cost of private motor vehicles.’

I think there’s a pretty obvious contradiction there. One of the concerns with tax is you have to make sure that it’s equitable. If you are a working family who needs to get to work and you don’t have any other option than a car to get to your workplace, or to travel from an outer suburban community, their petrol costs are higher than people who live, for example in my electorate of Grayndler where there are public transport  options.

So I’m concerned about the equity component here as well. I want to see what the specifics are of the proposal next week. But I firmly believe that there’s a contradiction if the government is increasing the cost of private motor vehicles at the same time they’re ripping money out of public transport and therefore not just making sure that federal government money doesn’t go into public transport, but resulting in inadequate public transport solutions being implemented by state governments as well.

The consequences for the way our cities run really needs to be examined and we’ll be holding the government to account for any proposals that they put forward in Tuesday’s Budget.

JOURNALIST: The budget looks pretty good for NSW in terms of WestConnex and in terms of infrastructure for Badgerys’s Creek. Would you agree?

ALBANESE: Well when’s the money flowing? And with regards to  WestConnex, we have yet to see a business case for a proposal. It also has issues that Labor has raised in government and we continue to raise them in Opposition. WestConnex needs to deal with two issues. One is getting people into the city. The other is getting freight from the port. At the moment the proposal doesn’t get people into the city and doesn’t get freight from the port. So you need to make sure that you take into account proper solutions. That’s why the advice of bodies like Infrastructure Australia, at arm’s length are so important.  The NSW Government set up Infrastructure NSW and the Chair’s gone, the CEO’s gone, and the process has stalled. When was the last time anyone heard from Infrastructure NSW? I think that’s a pity.

 

May 7, 2014

Transcript of press conference

Subjects: Broken promises, Budget, infrastructure, tourism, asylum seekers.

ALBANESE: We have a situation whereby Tony Abbott has broken more promises than any Prime Minister in Australia’s history in his first six months.

He has breached the commitment that he gave to the Australian people and what it shows is that he had a plan to get into government, but he doesn’t have a plan to govern.

Behind us we see Tiger Brennan Drive. We duplicated, with the Northern Territory Government of Chief Minister Henderson, the first section of the Tiger Brennan Drive.

We put into the Budget funding for the third section to complete the full duplication of Tiger Brennan Drive – $70 million from the Federal Government, and there was matching funding of $33 million from the Territory Government.

What we’ve seen since the election of the Abbott Government is just re-announcements. Whether it be that $70 million or the $90 million for the Regional Roads Package that we put into last year’s Budget.

And yet we have re-announcements from Warren Truss as the minister and from other figures in the Abbott Government.

What the Northern Territory needs from next Tuesday’s Budget is new money and new announcements, not just re-announcements of projects that are already fully budgeted for.

But that’s part of the theme of the Abbott Government; letting Australians down by making cuts and any new initiatives not being new at all, just re-announcing old fully funded projects.

When it comes to the Budget what we see is a series of cuts.

This is a government addicted to attacks on the public sector.

They don’t like public broadcasters through the ABC and SBS.

They don’t like public education so they are abandoning the Gonski reforms.

They don’t like public health so next week could well see the end of the universality of Medicare.

They don’t like public transport so they are cutting public transport investment right around the country.

There’s a bit of a theme here, this is a government that doesn’t like the public. It’s a government that established a Commission of Audit, which itself – if it wasn’t true, it might be humorous – went more than $1 million over budget.

And yet that recommendation will hurt some of the most vulnerable people in our community; those that rely upon Medicare, those that rely upon decent funding for education to provide that future opportunity, our pensioners and our retired Australians who are being told that they shouldn’t have a decent standard of living, that it isn’t what they are entitled to.

Those Australians on the minimum wage where the recommendation is that there should be a cut to the minimum wage, not just this year, but next year and every year for a decade.

This is a mean-spirited government and next week they will be judged on all of the promises that they made and how it matches up with what is actually in the Budget.

But perhaps the most obvious example of all is this great big new tax which they are calling a “levy”.

They can’t even be honest and front up to the Australian people and say: “We’re putting on a new tax”.

Having talked up the so-called budget emergency in spite of the fact they inherited record economic activity, compared with the rest of the globalised world. With economic growth, with low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates and a Triple A credit rating, they’re now using it for their ideological attacks on things they don’t like and have never liked.

(TAPE BREAK)

The Commission of Cuts recommended a halving of the funding of Tourism Australia. Tourism creates 16,000 jobs here in the Northern Territory – almost $2 billion of economic activity – and it’s an important part of the economy here in Darwin and throughout the Territory. I think that the combination of a mean-spirited Federal Government with a chaotic CLP Government – it’s difficult to call it a government because it seems to be in a constant state of chaos – that combination I think is very dangerous indeed.

And Australians more and more, including in the last few days when I’ve been in the Territory, are rejecting the fact that Tony Abbott and his team said one thing before September 7 and another afterwards. Nova?

PERIS: I’d just like to reiterate how much Territorians are hurting with the CLP Government coming into power 18 months ago promising Territorians to reduce the cost of living. What they’ve done is increase the cost of living. They’ve cut education, which is the Territory’s future.

It was fantastic to have Anthony Albanese to come here to the Northern Territory to spend the last couple of days with me and to see firsthand how important infrastructure is and how important housing is to our remote communities and how important tourism is to the Northern Territory.

It’s fantastic to have you here in the Northern Territory and you know, we can only brace ourselves for what’s going to happen next week.

REPORTER: Nova, what’s on your wish list for next week? (Inaudible) What would you most like to see funding earmarked for?

PERIS: I think anything to do with primary health. That needs to be maintained. We’ve done a significant amount of work, especially in remote communities, with primary health and we can’t afford to go backwards in that area. Pensioners, we need to look after them, and with regards to education and infrastructure. The Labor Government did put a significant amount of money into infrastructure here in the Northern Territory and we need to maintain that.

REPORTER: For a long time the Liberals claimed that Labor broke their promises, so what kind of lessons do you thing Labor can give the Liberals around the debt levy?

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott talked himself up prior to September 7. There wasn’t a day went past when he didn’t come up with his three-word slogans.

The problem we are seeing is that he promised very little but that which he did promise, he’s breaking. There can’t be any more fundamental promise that he made during the last election because he did it on 150 occasions at least, he said there wouldn’t be any new taxes. And yet what we are seeing is changes to taxation. He said that pensions wouldn’t be affected and yet what we’re seeing is a recommendation from his handpicked Commission of Cuts that would have an enormous impact on Australia’s pensioners, including changing the assets test.

We now know why this 900-page document was kept secret until just prior to the Budget, why they were too embarrassed to release it prior to the WA Senate by-election, because it presents a recipe for that the agenda of this government over coming years.

Now no doubt some of the changes they won’t make in next Tuesday’s Budget and they’ll say: Oh well, we’ve only done half the measures. But what Australians will know now is what is coming and they’ll know that Tony Abbott is prepared to breach fundamental promises that he made to Australian people.

He talks up a big game on infrastructure. Yesterday with the Victorian Budget we saw with the changes that were made to the Melbourne Metro there, what the impact of his cuts is. Throughout the country we’re seeing just re-announcements of old projects such as the next section of Tiger Brennan Drive, which I announced the funding for here with then Chief Minister Paul Henderson  a couple of years ago. That funding is in the Budget from this year, from 2014. It is ready to go. The preliminary work has been done.

What people in the Northern Territory need are new projects going forward and it will be a real test next week to see whether that occurs.

But I believe that Australians are entitled to be pretty disappointed that the government that they thought they were voting for they certainly haven’t got. And it’s a government with wrong priorities.

At the same time as they are targeting universal health care, targeting education, targeting pensioners, targeting the ABC, what they are doing is introducing a scheme worth over $5 billion every year for their unaffordable, extravagant paid parental leave scheme that isn’t necessary – a scheme that comes on top of their opposition for many years to any paid parental leave.

And of course we know that the Labor Government introduced a perfectly adequate scheme that has been assisting tens of thousands of Australian families since it was put into place.

REPORTER: What’s your response to the claims this morning that three asylum seekers were (inaudible) turned back to Indonesia?

ALBANESE: I haven’t seen the detail of that and I think it’s important when it comes to those issues that we respond to the facts.

One of the difficulties here is that the facts have not been clear since September. Australians are entitled to know what is being done in their name.

Scott Morrison‘s lack of transparency when it comes to dealing with immigration issues, his standing behind the military rather than actually fronting up as a government minister should do and answering questions about what exactly is going on, is of real concern.

It’s still unclear about the consequences for their proposed visit to Indonesia, of the Prime Minister, which Tony Abbot pulled out of. What’s very clear is that we need transparency. That is a fundamental requirement of our democracy and it’s not happening at the moment.

Thanks.

 

May 2, 2014

Joint press conference – North Queensland

Subject/s: Commission of Audit Report Release; The Abbott Government’s Twisted Priorities and Broken Promises. Reef at risk under Abbott, Tony Abbott’s broken promises will hurt Far North Queensland

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND TOURISM: Today we want to talk about the commission cuts that released its recommendations yesterday. What this is is a blueprint for to jobs, for lower growth and economy, for trashing the national economy. Far North Queenslanders should brace for cuts to education, cuts to health, cuts to jobs, cuts to support for the tourism sector either in the Budget in a week’s time, or whenever Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have the chance, because we now know that they went to the election based upon a series of lies.

They had a plan to get into government, but they don’t have a plan to govern, except for vicious cuts and a redistribution of wealth from those who can least afford it to those who least need assistance. At the same time as they’re talking about massive cuts, every time you go to a doctor, every time you want your kid to get a decent education, they are implementing a more than $5 billion paid parental leave scheme. The fact is this: They inherited a strong economy, an economy with strong employment and economic growth, with inflation, with low interest rates, and with, importantly, a Triple A credit rating. Ever since they came into government, they have been attempting to create a case for massive cuts so they can put their conservative ideological agenda into practice.

What that means is privatisation of essential services, cuts particularly to regional Australia. Here in Cairns we can see what happens when you have a Commission of Audit made up of people from the top end of town in Sydney and Melbourne. They come up with recommendations that suit the top end of town in Sydney and Melbourne and ignore regional Australia. The commission says there should be no funding for regional support in Australia, that that should be left to states and local government. It comes up with the bizarre recommendation of states implementing their own income tax, and in my area of tourism, they come up with devastating recommendations.

Firstly, an end to all regional tourism grants, an end to the T-Qual scheme which has been cut by the incoming government, and a halving of funding for Tourism Australia.

Tourism Australia is the body out there promoting Cairns and Far North Queensland in India, in China, in Indonesia, and in the US, promoting tourism jobs and economic activity here in Far North Queensland. We know that are 4,000 small businesses here in Far North Queensland relating to the tourism sector. We know that tourism creates some 250,000 jobs in Queensland, 900,000 jobs nationally, 60,000 jobs directly created as a result of the Great Barrier Reef here, one of the world’s great iconic sites. And yet we have a proposition of cutting tourism funding in half, putting it back into the departments so that they lose the expertise and essentially have just a few bureaucrats running tourism agenda for Australia. This is an example of the short-sightedness of the Government’s approach, a short-sighted approach that would lead to cuts now, but much lower economic growth and therefore less jobs in the future. I might ask colleagues to comment.

MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER: Thanks, everyone, for coming along. As Anthony has said, this Commission of Audit report is nothing short of a blueprint for a budget of broken promises and twisted priorities, whether you are an aged pensioner, a working family, a student or even a victim of natural disasters; no-one will be spared from the cuts that flowed from this devastating report yesterday.

In my portfolio of climate change and environment, the Commission of Audit has backed in the Government’s decision to get rid of all programs that seek to respond to the threat climate change and to abolish all independent agencies that are set up to provide governments and the community with good, independent scientifically based advice about climate change. Now, no-one knows more about the impact of climate change than communities in Far North Queensland because the Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, NASA and countless other expert scientific agencies have told us that extreme weather events will be, and are already becoming, more frequent and more intense as a result of climate change.

Yet this Commission of Audit set up by Tony Abbott has recommended that the disaster recovery allowance, an income support payment for families and individuals who are not able to work as a result of the devastation of natural disasters, be abolished. This allowance is already, for example, being paid in the Hope Vale area as a result of Cyclone Ita, and this Commission of Audit has said that people, the victims of natural disasters are not deserving of government support. It’s hard to know where the end would be if aged pensioners are going to be attacked, if students are going to have to pay more to get an education to set up their future, or even victims of natural disasters, overwhelmingly here in Far North Queensland, will not be spared the cuts that flow from this Commission of Audit report. Jan?

JAN McLUCAS, SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: Thank you. Here in Cairns in Far North Queensland, we will be incredibly hurt by the recommendations of this Commission of Audit. As Anthony as described, cutting tourism funding for promotion of our assets would be devastating. We rely on tourism in this town and not being able to promote our product to the world will really affect our economy. We’re still suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis and any further cut will affect our economy dreadfully.

To add to that, to not be able to respond to climate change, as Mark has indicated, will leave us very vulnerable into the future. And particularly the point that Mark made about natural disaster and relief and recovery arrangements not being able to be used by our community, unfortunately a community that is most reliant on those services, will affect our economy. In my portfolio area of housing and homelessness, we see the recommendations from the Commission of Audit exactly mirroring the view of the current government, and that is to vacate the space, to move out of support for housing programs, and for homelessness programs. That will mean across the country that that responsibility will then rest with states and territories and we know that they are not capable and they’re not able with the income that they have, to be able to deliver these programs. These recommendations, if put into effect by the Government, will mean that the costs to the economy, the costs to vulnerable people, will be very difficult to bear.

JOURNALIST: Do you think UNESCO’s assertion that the Great Barrier Reef be declared a World Heritage area would better affect tourism to this area?

BUTLER: Well, there is no question. As Anthony said, there are 60,000 tourism jobs that are directly dependent on the Great Barrier Reef, about $6 billion in economic turnover, much of it for Far North Queensland, but going right down the Queensland coast. So the health of the reef is obviously, from an environmental point of view, a very important thing for Australia. But from an economic point of view, particularly with tourism jobs, it is critical we do everything possible to maintain the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Now, UNESCO has released a draft report this week about a meeting in June that will consider whether or not to place the reef on the endangered list, and we know, and Anthony and Jan and I are talking to tourism operators later today here in Cairns, that if the Reef were placed on the Endangered List, there would be devastating consequences for the tourism industry, devastating consequences for the attractiveness of this part of Queensland, to Reef tourism in the eyes of people all across the world. So this report is a wake-up call to Campbell Newman and to Greg Hunt to get serious about looking after the health of the Reef.

There are three points that this report makes, very point important points. The first point it makes is that it does not support Tony Abbott handing over all of the environmental powers that the Commonwealth has had for decades, going back to the Franklin Dam campaign, to Campbell Newman. Tony Abbott wants to give Campbell Newman entire power to determine what developments take place that will impact on World Heritage areas, including the Great Barrier Reef. UNESCO has said they’re very concerned about that. UNESCO has also sounded a note of caution about Campbell Newman’s decision to reverse a decade of fantastic reforms around land clearing, particularly here in Queensland, and UNESCO has said that that has the potential to have very serious consequences for the Reef. Now, we are happy that UNESCO is not going to place the Reef this year on the endangered list, but Campbell Newman and Greg Hunt should be under no illusion; we are not out of the woods on this. This is just a stay until next year when UNESCO will again revisit the whether the Reef should be put on the Endangered List. It’s time that Tony Abbott got serious about protecting the Reef and reverses his decision to hand over environmental powers from the Commonwealth to Campbell Newman because Campbell Newman has shown he is just not up to the job in protecting Queensland’s environment.

JOURNALIST: UNESCO also criticised the Government’s decision to approve the dredging at Abbot Point. Would you have approved that, given that they have now criticised that and it could possibly lead to the Reef being put on the endangered list?

BUTLER: You’re right, UNESCO has criticised the Government for approving the dredging and dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the marine park area and they’ve done that because we’re still in the process of preparing a Strategic Assessment of the reef, the Commonwealth and the state governments, to go to UNESCO. I wasn’t at the point as Environment Minister in the last government of making a decision about Abbot Point, but just before the election I had released a number of reports that had been prepared as part of the Strategic Assessment that were very concerning to me about the dredging and dumping of spoil in the Marine Park area. In particular, there was a scientific report that cast doubt on the existing advice that I had received about how far the dredge spoil would move after it was dumped and the length of time during which the spoil will continue to move around the Reef and cover up grass and coral.

So I put a halt to consideration of Abbot Point. I asked for advice about that report. That advice obviously hasn’t come to me; it has gone to Greg Hunt because of the change of government. I think it’s important that Greg Hunt is open with the community, particularly the community in Queensland, about what advice he received on that very concerning scientific report. Greg Hunt has said there were no alternatives to the Abbot Point decision. It is very clear, and I was discussing with the proponents before the election, that there was an alternative to have a longer jetty, a longer trestle that would not have required dredging of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Abbot Point area. Greg Hunt has not told the Queensland community whether he considered that alternative, and if he did, why he rejected it in place of dredging that much spoil and dumping it into the Marine Park area.

JOURNALIST: Sorry, are you saying you don’t have enough information to say whether you’d approve it or not?

BUTLER: That’s right. I put those reports out for submissions. Those submissions ended up being made to Greg Hunt. A number of us in the community, the Parliament, and in the organisations and tourism operators have been asking for Greg Hunt to come clean about what advice he received about that report, and other reports, about the impact that dredging and dumping from Abbot Point would have on the Reef.

JOURNALIST: [Shadow] Minister Albanese, the report is very clear, though, that massive budget cuts are needed to save the Budget. What do you believe should be done to save the budget?

ALBANESE: Well, the report isn’t clear about that. What is clear is that Australia has a AAA credit rating. What you always need to do with budgets, is reflect the government’s priorities. This government’s priority is hitting pensioners, abolishing the universality of Medicare, making education less affordable – at the same time as they look after those who least need support through their expensive, unaffordable paid parental leave scheme. That’s what this Government’s priorities are. That’s why they’re wrong. And if you have a series of cuts, such as the cuts to tourism, that will lower future economic growth and therefore lower future revenues to government. Then you are essentially cutting off your nose to spite your face. You are having a negative impact on the long-term of the budget.

JOURNALIST: Do you support any of the recommendations in the audit?

ALBANESE: Look, I’m sure there are some recommendations that I would support. What I’ve seen so far, though, is a series of privatisation cuts, a series of privatisations of organisations such as Australia Post, which provide services to regional Australia. People in Far North Queensland, indeed wherever they are in regional Australia will know, that if Australia Post is privatised, they will lose. They won’t get the same service that they get today. Just as tourism operators know that if you have a halving of funding for Tourism Australia, then what you will have is less paid jobs created, less income tax paid by those people who work in the tourism sector, and a downward spiral in terms of growth.

That’s the problem with this report. This report is essentially just an ideological playbook from the conservatives. In the tourism sector, they shouldn’t be surprised because we don’t even have a Tourism Minister. The Abbott Government showed their hand on Day One that they don’t understand how important tourism is for the national economy when they failed to appoint anyone to be the Tourism Minister. It’s no wonder when tourism doesn’t have an advocate around the Cabinet table.

JOURNALIST: Do you think any cuts need to be made and if they do, where?

ALBANESE: Governments always need to look at their priorities, but what they need to look at is not cuts for people that can least afford it, not cuts which will hinder Australia’s performance in the long-term. If you cut education, for example, and this report recommends stopping the Gonski reforms, if you stop providing that reform, then what you will have is worse education, less opportunity, less ability for people to lift themselves up and to create economic growth in the future. This is a very short-sighted approach from a mean-spirited government that is out of touch with average Australians.

We have seen in terms of the recommendations, in terms of pensions that they’re going to change – they want to change the asset test to tax the family home, they want to introduce a new tax and they’re calling it a levy. I mean, does anyone actually believe that Tony Abbott doesn’t understand that a tax is a tax, and that is exactly what they are proposing. This is essentially a book of broken promises to be implemented by the Abbott Government over a period of time. I’m sure that when the Budget comes out, they will say, “Look, we only implemented half of the cuts or a third of the cuts.” But what people know from this day on is that these are the cuts that are coming if they get a mandate to do it. They’ve already broken so many promises in such a short period of time. No government in Australia’s history has broken cuts across every single one of the portfolios in the first six months. That’s what they’ve done – walking away from all of the promises that they made.

JOURNALIST: [Shadow] Minister, there was evidence in the ICAC hearing yesterday relating to Joe Tripodi and Eric Roozendaal, relating to allegations of smear campaigns and bribery. What’s your response to that?

ALBANESE: My response is the ICAC is doing its job. They will continue to do their job and they should do it free from political interference.

JOURNALIST: Just regarding the link between business and tourism here in the Far North and obviously our links with Asia, two other audit things that came up in the audit were the axing of the Asian business engagement plan and also the axing of industry support for exporters right in the middle of trying to get our cattle export market off the ground. Can you comment?

ALBANESE: This is extraordinary. Here we have recommendations to cut exports, the abolition of all of the export grants, the-abolition of other support that is there for Australian businesses engaging with Asia in our region. This is a a contractionary narrow-minded approach that they have right across the board, and it’s particularly damaging for regional Australia and particularly damaging here in Far North Queensland.

JOURNALIST: Shouldn’t Labor put forward a clear plan of what should be cut, though, in order for it to be a credible Opposition?

ALBANESE: We certainly will be putting forward our positive plans. We’ve done that. Our plan is to not cut pensions. Our plan is to support the Gonski reforms and support opportunity. We support Medicare being universal so that everyone in Australia gets the health assistance that they need. That’s our plan and it’s a plan for economic growth and job creation. Our plan is to support the tourism and the export sector. The Government’s plan is completely devastating, and it is completely in contradiction of everything that Tony Abbott said prior to his won’t election.

JOURNALIST: So you won’t say what you would cut then, other than, for instance, the paid parental leave?

ALBANESE: Well, we’ve put forward our plans and our views are there for all to see; on education, tourism, on the environment, and on housing. We don’t support this cut-to-the-bone approach, which will lead to lower economic growth. This is a very short-sighted approach that the Government has and it is counter-productive because it will lead to less growth with less jobs.

JOURNALIST: Senator McLucas, just a couple more questions if I can specific to Far North Queensland, and the problems faced in certain areas. One is this idea of a leaner dole forcing those who aren’t in work to move to areas of work. Up in the Cape, obviously, this isn’t necessarily an option. Can you speak about how this would affect our Far North Queensland young people, for instance?

McLUCAS: Well, we know that our unemployment rate particularly for young people is over 25 per cent. If you were to take the proposal to its fruition, that would mean that young people in Cairns are forced to move out of our city. Is that a good answer for the economy of Cairns? I don’t think so. But for areas further afield, particularly in Cape York Peninsula, that would mean the decimation of many of the communities on Cape York.

 

 

Apr 16, 2014

Radio interview – Fran Kelly, Radio National Breakfast

Subject/s: Badgerys Creek, infrastructure, Labor Party 

KELLY: Anthony Albanese is Labor’s spokesperson for transport and infrastructure. Anthony Albanese welcome again to breakfast.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you Fran.

KELLY: Tony Abbott says it’s time to get cracking. It’s been shirked and squibbed. Are you embarrassed that he’s going to build the second airport at Badgerys Creek? He’s announced this within seven months of winning government and you didn’t get to start on it. You had nearly seven years.

ALBANESE: What we did was produce the evidence firstly that a second airport would be required through the joint study we commissioned with the NSW government that was chaired jointly by Mike Mrdak from my department and Sam Haddad, the head of NSW planning. Barry O’Farrell of course refused to even receive the report that his own Transport Department had helped to write and said that there was no second airport required in Sydney or anywhere in NSW for that matter.

KELLY: Well he’s been persuaded. He’s been persuaded on this.

ALBANESE: Yes and he’s got to explain what the difference is, why this is just an issue that he took personally in terms of it being about me or Joe Hockey and why he has changed that position is a matter for him. He seems to have a bit of a problem with his memory lately Barry. I look forward to seeing his explanation there.

We then produced a report. It showed that Badgerys Creek was the best site, but also showed that sites, including Wilton, needed to be examined. I worked across the Parliament. I didn’t have a group of Labor MPs, I had briefings for all MPs across the Parliament to make sure that the Parliament was brought with us. Other sites were examined, including Wilton, to see the detail so that you could have the facts there.

The facts are there now. This is a necessary component of the national economy to have a second airport. You do need also the work that is being outlined today. All of the planning work for that of course was done by the former government. You can’t just draw lines on the map. You’ve got to get the evidence and the planning work done. It’s done. It is now ready to commence and I think that’s a good thing.

KELLY: Well you think it is a good thing. Not everyone is convinced. I mentioned before when I was talking to Michelle Jackie Kelly who is a long-time resident of western Sydney. She’s not convinced. One of the things that is concerning residents is this notion of no curfew.

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott said very clearly yesterday there will not be a curfew.

ABBOTT: First because quite frankly people don’t want to travel in the middle of the night and second because we are just dealing with far, far fewer people. If you look at the noise footprint, some 4000 people live within a Badgerys noise footprint. The equivalent at Sydney is 130,000.

KELLY: As you have been telling us Labor is committed to bi-partisan support for this second airport at Badgerys Creek. But your position has been only with curfew restrictions in the past. Are you planning on keeping that promise?

ALBANESE: Well, where have I said that Fran?

KELLY: I understand that that is your position.

ALBANESE: Where have I said that Fran?

KELLY: Is that Labor’s position? Is that Labor’s position in the past?

ALBANESE: Where have I said that?  Well you just asserted that it was.

KELLY: That was my understanding that it was. Am I wrong? That’s fine if I’m wrong. 

ALBANESE: The EIS needs to examine those issues. I have heard some people say also we want the same conditions at Badgerys Creek as occur at Kingsford Smith. There are two issues there, one which Tony Abbott just outlined of the relative numbers of people. The second is that last year there were 3500 flights during curfew hours at Kingsford Smith Airport. So people should be careful about getting what they wish for. These things need to be examined in detail, unemotionally, based upon facts. I think that it is legitimate for those issues to be considered about the operation of the airport as part of the EIS process. Those submissions will occur and it’s important that the issue of the way that the airport operates be considered as part of that process. That’s my view.

KELLY: Let me ask you further your view because you have been thinking about this for a long time now and you’ve had the benefit of those investigations. Is a second airport in Sydney at somewhere like Badgerys Creek only financially viable if it is a 24-hour operation?

ALBANESE: My view is that the real crunch point isn’t what’s happening at 3am. It’s what’s happening right now at Sydney Airport. Right now the roads around Sydney airport will be clogged. People will be urgently trying to get through to the airport. The rail system will also be full that goes to Sydney Airport and there’ll be planes waiting at the gate to push back or planes that have landed waiting to get access to a gate just standing there on the tarmac stationary. That’s the problem at Sydney airport is the peak hours and those peak hours have been extended as time has gone on. It used to last about an hour. Now it lasts for about four hours. And a delay at Sydney airport, because four out of ten flights go through Sydney, means a knock-on impact right around the country.

KELLY: Well nothing is going to change there quickly for Sydney airport at Mascot because it will be 10 years the government says before a plane is ready to land or take off at this second airport at Badgerys Creek. The Prime Minister is going to announce a $3.5 billion road package today. No news yet on a rail link although the suggestion is that the NSW Government will build that. Is a major international airport viable without a rail link to the Sydney CBD?

ALBANESE: No that’s absolutely essential. It’s essential to have a rail link that links the two airports. It’s also essential that the rail link link up with the Greater Western Line and provide big benefit for the infrastructure of western Sydney. This has got to be not just about the airport. It’s got to be about jobs and economic development of related industries and of innovation in western Sydney. Part of that has to be a rail line. I don’t understand this ideological objection that Tony Abbott has to rail. You need rail as well as road in order for this airport to work.

KELLY: And Anthony Albanese, just finally and briefly if you would, your colleague Louise Pratt says she’s ashamed of the deal that saw Joe Bullock elected to the Senate in WA ahead of her, the incumbent. It was a deal between a right-wing union and a left-wing union, that’s your faction. Are you ashamed of the deal too?

ALBANESE: Well I wasn’t a part of it.

KELLY: No, but nevertheless as a senior member of the Left and a senior member of the ALP? 

ALBANESE: I wasn’t a part of it.

KELLY: Was it a bad deal?

ALBANESE: My view is that Louise Pratt is a big loss to the Labor Party. She was a very good senator. She will remain one until June and I just hope to see her back in some capacity in terms of making a contribution to Parliament. She in the past of course was a West Australian parliamentarian prior to going into the Senate. One of the things that we do need to examine is a way in which we make sure that we increase participation in the Labor Party in a way that ensures that you can’t just have a small number of people making the decisions.

KELLY: So rank and file election for the Senate?

ALBANESE: Well I think certainly there is a need for a rank-and-file component. Louise Pratt is very highly regarded in Western Australia and it is a very poor result for the Labor Party that we appear to have only returned one senator out of six.

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

ALBANESE: Thanks Fran.

 

Apr 15, 2014

Radio interview – John Laws 2SM

Subject: Badgerys Creek

LAWS: The Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has previously given his backing for the project. And he is on the line now. Anthony, Good morning.

ALBANESE: Good Morning John.

LAWS: Nice to be able to talk to you again. Are you well and happy?

ALBANESE: I am pretty well although I’ve been trying to get fit and I’ve done my knee and I’ve done my ankle. I was better off when I was a minister and didn’t have time to do physical things. But apart from that I’m fine.

LAWS: People ask me what exercise I get. I tell them I wrestle with my conscience, run up bills and fight depression. That’s the only exercise I get. When you reach a certain age you’ve got to be careful Anthony. I’m not casting aspersions upon your maturity or otherwise, but when you get to a certain age you’ve got to be careful

ALBANESE: Indeed you do.

LAWS: Do you support the use of Badgerys Creek as a second airport?

ALBANESE: Yes I do John. We do need to come to a resolution. I commissioned a joint study between the Federal Government and the NSW Government that reported in 2012. It found that Badgerys Creek was the best site but also found that Wilton was another possibility. We did further examination of the Wilton site and what’s clear is that Badgerys Creek is the preferred site in terms of the land has already been purchased. It is in a location where you can ensure that there is minimal impact in terms of aircraft noise and it will be a significant job generator. In terms of infrastructure development, you’ll need to extend the south-west rail extension that’s happening to Leppington. You just keep going essentially to Badgerys Creek and then you’ll have a direct rail link between the site and the Kingsford Smith site. You also need significant infrastructure investment in roads. They are all issues in terms of a final position that we will hold. We’ll wait and see what the government determines. But as a principle our view has been very clear which is that Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later.

LAWS: OK. So you in fact do approve of what the government is doing, with some reservations.

ALBANESE: Well we’ll just see the details but we certainly approve of the need for a second Sydney airport sooner rather than later. I said in Government that construction should commence this term of government once a site is chosen and I am of the view that politics has got in the way of this project in the past.

LAWS: Well, you are right.

ALBANESE: … that we need to make sure politics does not get in the way again and because four out of every ten flights go through Sydney this is a national productivity issue. It’s not just an issue about Sydney or New South Wales. It is an issue about the Australian economy.

LAWS: Should Badgerys Creek be used for all types of flights – international flights as well as domestic flights?

ALBANESE: It should but that will be over a period of time. It will commence pretty slowly as you’d expect and the existing Sydney Airport will remain the major airport for a considerable time to come. What we need is to soak up the growth that’s there. You have enormous potential for growth in our region in terms of the growing middle class in China, in Indonesia, in India, in Vietnam and there are huge potential job benefits. It needs to be a transport and logistics hub. It needs to be a centre of innovation, and it needs to drive jobs growth in Western Sydney. There are two things you can do for a region. You can give them an airport or a university. The University of Western Sydney has played an important role in terms of driving that innovation and jobs growth, but we need to make sure Western Sydney benefits from considerable infrastructure upgrades in road but also in rail. The rail line needs to be extended through to the Western Line. We want to see that investment there as well. It’s got to be a whole package, rather than just an airport.

LAWS: And how long will all this take?

ALBANESE: Well the land of course is there. A lot of the planning has already been done. There’s a great deal of detail in the joint study and in the further report that I commissioned, that the government now has access to. The total infrastructure spend directly on the airport was estimated to be the $2.4 billion figure. It makes sense to build the infrastructure before the airport, because it’s cheaper. You can build the rail line under the airport now rather than try and retrofit the infrastructure once the airport is up and running. But it should be expedited. We know around Sydney airport the land transport issues are just enormous.

LAWS: Absolutely. It’s a mess.

ALBANESE: And that traffic gridlock come 2015 would be a lot worse than it is now.

LAWS: Yeah. It’s very interesting and it’s also very very important. But I’ll tell you something that I find very good, to hear somebody who generally opposes the government, to be looking at it sensibly as you are, and to be in favour of what the government is doing with certain reservations.

ALBANESE: We have to be constructive. When it comes to infrastructure, by definition it takes more than one term. If it was the case that an airport was announced and simply opposed for opposition’s sake, it would never happen. I’m firmly committed to nation building and infrastructure development. I see it as the key to long-term productivity and economic growth and it’s the key to jobs.

LAWS: How refreshing to hear someone say “I’m not in opposition simply for the sake of opposition”. It’s a good way to look at it, because sometimes bipartisan attitude to something that’s going to make the place better is the best place to go, and obviously you’re going to take that attitude.

ALBANESE: There’s no doubt that when it comes to infrastructure it’s absolutely essential to take a long term view, otherwise nothing will happen. We’ve got to look at the great city of Sydney, which I love dearly. But it can’t continue to be that the jobs are in a band from the CBD up to Macquarie Park where the high value jobs are, and the State of Australian Cities report that I commissioned through the Major Cities Unit, showed that all the jobs growth was in the finances sector and the services sector, and it was all around the CBD and Macquarie Park area. In Western Sydney, you didn’t have those high value jobs. An airport can generate high value jobs because of the transport and logistics sector, because innovation can be built around what needs to be an industrial centre. You have protection, because you don’t have residents built up against the airport. The protections of course have been there since the 1980’s in terms of people building there. What people want is certainty. With regard to issues like aircraft noise, they need to be considered and factored in. And they will be, to the Environmental Impact Statement process, that will allow for community consultation, looking at the detail of flight paths and making sure that noise impact and those issues are absolutely minimised.

LAWS: Absolutely. Anthony I better leave you because of the news we’re about to encounter and I know you wouldn’t want to hold up the news.

ALBANESE: I certainly would not John.

LAWS: It’s nice to talk to you as always and I hope we get to talk to you again soon.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you John.

LAWS: Thank you very much. Anthony Albanese, who’s the Opposition when it comes to Transport but he’s not opposing too much there. Wisely, because what I think is being suggested is good because it’s good for Australia and will good for its people. He’s the Shadow Transport Minister as you know and does a terrific job. But he’s very flexible in his thinking which is pretty important in politicians and let me tell you it is very rare.

 

Apr 15, 2014

Radio transcript – ABC 702 Sydney

Subject/s: Badgerys Creek; infrastructure

LINDA MOTTRAM: We’re expecting the Federal Government to announce the go-ahead for Badgerys Creek. Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Transport Minister and joins me on the line this morning. Anthony Albanese, good morning.

ALBANESE: Good morning Linda.

LINDA MOTTRAM: We’re expecting this announcement, assuming it comes through. Will you be supporting it?

ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see the detail of the announcement but we certainly believe that Sydney needs a second airport. We produced a comprehensive study in 2012 that found that Badgerys Creek was the best site for the airport. The land has been purchased there. Fortuitously, it’s on the extension of the South West Line that began under the former State Labor Government and is being completed now. It just needs to be extended past Leppington up to Badgerys Creek –

LINDA MOTTRAM: – just on that, is it just a matter of extending it, or will the facilities have to be different, given that it will now be servicing an airport, it seems?

ALBANESE: No, the studies that we undertook indicated that you would extend it one stop further to Badgerys Creek, but you need to go further and link it in to the Western Line, and preferably if the state government get it right, the North West Line is another option as well, so essentially you have a rail loop line. The fact that the land is purchased means that there’s a saving by building the infrastructure sooner rather than later because the rail line would go under the airport –that’s the way the study envisaged it. The key is getting the infrastructure around the airport right. The widening that will be needed of Elizabeth Drive which links with the M7. Also getting the planning commenced for the M9 the outer ring road for Sydney will be important. It’s a matter of not seeing it just as an airport, but as a generator of jobs and innovation.

LINDA MOTTRAM: There are a whole lot of issues there, isn’t there? I mean, there’s IT, there are all sorts of things that will need to be thought of. But what about the fundamentals? The cost of parking at Mascot Airport drives people mad and people are texting me about it right now. Are those the sorts of things that the government’s going to have to place a cap on?

ALBANESE:  All of the planning about the function of the airport needs to happen. Noise issues, for example, will be dealt with through an environmental impact statement. That will be required. This will be the first stage today if the government does proceed with this announcement. 12 months notice has to be given to the existing owners of Sydney Airport.  But the benefit of Badgerys Creek is that it is not constrained, the size of it, simply by where it is located. I’m speaking to you from Sydney Airport now. It was gridlock getting to the airport this morning. It took 40 minutes from Marrickville which is not far.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Well we’ll see how that unfolds. Anthony Albanese, thank you for talking to us.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you.

 

Apr 4, 2014

Transcript of radio interview – ABC AM Agenda

Subjects: WA Senate election; party reform; Cambodian talks; Manus Island

CHRIS UHLMANN: Labor is delighted to have a second crack at the Senate in Western Australia because at the first poll it returned just one senator.

Anthony Albanese is Labor’s spokesman for infrastructure, transport and tourism. Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Chris.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Anthony Albanese, what does Labor offer the West because whatever it is the people there don’t seem to be buying it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, of course voters in the West can’t change the Government tomorrow but they can put a handbrake on the cuts that are coming from the Abbott Government.

We know that they’re hiding the Commission of Audit, the savage cuts that are in there. We know that Colin Barnett, who is Tony Abbott’s role model has had savage cuts to education already – some 350 teachers and $180 million.

We know they’re planning a new Medicare tax; we know that they’re contemplating spreading the GST wider and we know in my area of infrastructure, that they’ll cut half a billion dollars from public transport infrastructure that’s already been put in the Budget.

I think people are seeing that Tony Abbott had a plan to win government but he doesn’t actually have a plan to govern.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Can you really be serious in Western Australia when your lead Senate candidate is reported in The Australian this morning as making a speech in November last year where he had admitted that he hadn’t always voted Labor, that the party was full of mad people and that working families don’t trust it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Joe of course is a colourful character, but one thing I know about Joe is that he spent his life standing up for working people as a union official representing shop assistants and I know that if he’s elected to the Senate tomorrow, that I expect him to be, he’ll stand up for working people in the national parliament.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, if Joe Bullock doesn’t vote for the Labor Party, why should anyone else vote for the Labor Party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that of course isn’t the case. Joe said that many decades ago, on one occasion, he didn’t vote for the Labor Party…

CHRIS UHLMANN: In 1975, in 1975 when he voted against Gough Whitlam in an election that was sparked by a constitutional crisis. I mean if you don’t have your mates with you then, when are you going to have them?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What I hope tomorrow is that tens of thousands of West Australians who haven’t always voted Labor, vote Labor tomorrow because they know that this is an opportunity to ensure that Tony Abbott is able to be held to account rather than taking them for granted which absolute power in terms of the Senate would do.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Your number one Senate candidate said Labor hasn’t demonstrated that they’re capable of being trusted and looking after working people and their families, so if that is the case, if he believes that, why should people vote for him?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I think Labor very clearly is putting forward at this election how we’ll stand up for working families and one of the issues of course is penalty rates. That’s vital for people to put food on the table and many families in Western Australia rely upon those penalty rates.

It’s pretty clear that Tony Abbott has an agenda of bringing back WorkChoices by stealth, of undermining the living standards of working families. At the same time of course, he’s prepared to give $75,000 to those people who least need it through his unaffordable Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

It’s about priorities. Labor’s priority is about a strong economy but making sure that fairness is there as well.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Anthony Albanese, I guess we’re talking about what Labor is offering the West. Is Joe Bullock the best person that the Labor Party can offer West Australia?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we have a ticket tomorrow that includes Joe Bullock, Louise Pratt and other candidates who’ll be out there campaigning and have been campaigning for weeks. The Labor Party is a diverse party but in Joe Bullock, he’s someone who stood up for working people. I know Joe, and he’s very sincere in the views that he holds and I certainly know that Louise Pratt is someone who has been an outstanding performer in the Senate, has risen very quickly to be a member of Labor’s frontbench team and I want to see Louse be able to continue to make that contribution in the years ahead.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Bill Shorten has said that Mr Bullock is exactly the sort of person Labor needs to represent workers in Parliament. Do you agree?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we need a diverse range of people and views. We had that in the Labor Party and there’s no doubt that WA’s Labor team tomorrow, if we don’t secure at least two quotas tomorrow then that will, I think be a huge bonus to Tony Abbott. One frankly, that his appalling performance in the first six months does not deserve.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Isn’t Mr Bullock finally, a sign that the Labor Party needs to loosen its ties with the union movement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, my views are very clear which is that our links with the union movement are very important, those connections with working people. At the same time I have a view that we need to empower the Labor Party membership through more direct elections just as we did in what was I think a very successful process that myself and Bill Shorten engaged in, in the leadership campaign including in Western Australia where we had many hundreds of people turn up and participate in that process.

We need to extend that throughout the Party, democratise further and empower the membership.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And have them vote for Senate candidates?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve said very clearly that I believe the membership should have a direct say in all of our public office pre-selections as well as electing our delegates to the ALP national conference and to the policy making processes.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Okay, on another issue, Scott Morrison is in Cambodia for talks. It looks like the Government is working on regional resettlement options at the moment. It that a good thing?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, certainly regional cooperation in terms of the issue of asylum seekers is important. There is a regional dimension to it and it’s not surprising that the Government is having those discussions with countries in our region.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And finally briefly, Ronnie Knight who is the Manus Island MP says that he doesn’t believe there is enough land and resources to actually re-settle refugees in Papua New Guinea. Is that a sign that program, which Labor championed, is not working?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I think what that’s a sign is that there be a diverse range of views within Papua New Guinea just as there are in the Australian Parliament about these issues.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Anthony Albanese, thank you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to talk to you, Chris.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And Anthony Albanese is Labor’s spokesman for infrastructure, transport and tourism.

 

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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