Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Jul 13, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Bolt Report, SKY News

Subjects: Anti-establishmentarianism, cost of living, fuel standards. 

ANDREW BOLT:  Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Andrew.

BOLT:   Before we get to the business of the day, I just want to get your take on what’s happening around the world and here. I mean, you are seeing in the western world trust in the big institutions collapsing. Here you are seeing trust in the main political parties collapsing. I think 30 years ago you would have got a third more of the primary vote than you are getting now. The same is true for the Liberals obviously. What has happened?

ALBANESE: I think we have seen, particularly post-Global Financial Crisis a light has been shone on the impact of globalisation and people don’t feel like they are getting their fair share. So what is interesting is that the response in the US can be seen to be a response to the right, of Trump, in the UK, Brexit, and then Jeremy Corbyn exceeded all expectations that were there in the election campaign.

In France, Macron, his rise both as an individual but also establishing a party basically with no structure and winning a majority, an overwhelming majority of seats. I think there is a big anti-establishment push whereby people don’t feel like they are getting heard on economic issues, on social issues, on a range of things.

But I think fundamentally politics does come down to the economy and how people are being impacted. We are seeing displacement of people in terms of work, they can see all of these technological changes.

BOLT:  You are putting it mainly in terms of the economy like the GFC, and obviously living standards per person have barely risen here in the last three years.

ALBANESE:  We’ve got real wages effectively in decline.

BOLT:  It’s extraordinary. But it’s not just that is it?

ALBANESE: No, it isn’t. But fundamentally if people feel they are doing well in their hip pocket – all politics comes back to that as an essential frame – then they don’t look at other issues as well so …

BOLT:  But what about you then? I can understand with that analysis why the Turnbull Government’s vote has gone through the floor. But why is Labor still very low? You primary vote is still only 36. It used to be like 45, 48, 49.

ALBANESE:  Sure. All the major parties are suffering around the world from a perception that traditional allegiances have broken down. Here in Australia, of course, many people will have grown up in households whereby Dad worked and was a member of the trade union and you had that traditional allegiance to the Labor Party. Now the nature of work has changed. The nature of allegiances …

BOLT:  So you think it’s nothing about the way you guys are conducting yourselves too? It’s not about your leader?  Thirty–six percent? Once if you had 36 percent you would think you can’t win the election. Now of course you are in the hunt because you’ve got the Greens preferences and that fact that Turnbull is even worse.

ALBANESE: Well of course we always need to examine what we are doing. There’s no simple answer to this. I think that we need to make sure that we connect with the interests that people have about their own lives.

BOLT:   Well everyone wants to do that.

ALBANESE: So issues of the nature of the work. We need to address issues like housing affordability. I think we are in touch when we talk about penalty rates. It’s a big issue out there.

BOLT:  I think for some it is but of course for small businesses it’s the opposite side of the spectrum. But you talk about costs and this is why the news of the day I think is the big news of the day. This is the so-called carbon tax on new cars. The Government has put, one of its departments has put out a paper that suggests there are ways to make people use cars that emit less carbon dioxide and it is being interpreted as a carbon tax on the gassier cars. The Government has now ruled that out, denies it wants that, but it still wants tougher emissions standards. Do you? Even though it’s going to raise people’s living costs?

ALBANESE: The industry does as well. The interesting thing about this paper is that there was a consultation process with the Australian Automobile Association and the industry bodies. Then this paper came out without any consultation. It wasn’t one of the things that was on the agenda. A paper is distributed from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport without giving it – I am still to see the paper as the Shadow Minister – and it is typical of a government that hasn’t engaged. You see, if you do the right thing on fuel standards what you can actually do is reduce costs because you would have more efficient fuel usage.

BOLT:  But the point is …

ALBANESE: The industry understands that, which is why they are supportive of it.

BOLT:  They just want to sell more new cars. But the point for consumer is if it is going to save me money I will buy it. You don’t need to mandate anything. But this is about mandating – forcing people on to cars and it will increase the average price of a car. I am just wondering why you would want to do that for people.

ALBANESE: There have always been mandated standards of course as well when it comes to fuel efficiency and a range of other safety standards.

BOLT:  Safety.

ALBANESE: Standards on cars are regulated and that is an appropriate thing.

BOLT:  But the reason …

ALBANESE: This has been appalling. It has been badly handled.

BOLT:  I accept that the process is appalling. I accept that. But you are basically in favour or higher standards too, even though it raises the costs.

ALBANESE: But it doesn’t necessarily raise the costs Andrew. That’s the point. If you have fuel that is more efficient, it can reduce costs.

BOLT:  Basically you will pay more because the cheapest car that actually meets these standard is $50,000.

ALBANESE: Well, that’s actually not necessarily the case. These standards clearly are overegged.

BOLT:  So you would want lower standards than these?

ALBANESE: This has been rejected. There hasn’t been proper consultation.

BOLT:  You want lower standards than this paper?

ALBANESE: Than what the paper is? Well, I haven’t seen the paper as I have said Andrew. But what I want is a balance to be got, as happened when I was the Minister. There were none of these issues and we dealt with the industry over six years. We produced good outcomes for industry and for consumers.

BOLT:  All right well let me get back to, tie this into what you were initially talking about – people are really upset with their standard of living and really thinking the political class is disengaged from their particular interest. Here we have a proposal that Labor supports tougher fuel standards.

A $50,000 car is the cheapest one that meets them. One would assume that some way or other cheaper cars would become more expensive to meet these standards. All this is for a reason and the reason we are doing this is to stop the world from global warming. This actually makes about zero difference to anything.  This is just symbolism. If you are telling people for no reason, you are paying more.

ALBANESE: No, that’s not right Andrew. There’s a range of reasons why you want more fuel efficient cars.

BOLT:  And what would they be?

ALBANESE: One of which is particulates, Andrew. We regulated – years ago there were cars driving around this city of Melbourne…

BOLT:  This is about carbon dioxide emissions. It is specifically about…

ALBANESE: It’s not just about that. As I said, I haven’t read the paper because the Government has chosen to not actually try to engage with the Opposition on these issues. But there is a range of reasons why cleaner fuel and fuel standards are important. One of them is climate change and dealing with emissions. But there are others as well.

BOLT:  Here we are seeing, we have really seen electricity turning into a luxury item for the poor because of global warming policies which Labor supports.

ALBANESE: That’s not right, Andrew. It’s because of a failure of the national energy market as a result of there being uncertainty. Tony Abbott undid the carbon price. Remember that? Prices were going to go down. Instead wholesale electricity prices have actually doubled and what industry is saying – all of the energy providers, the Business Council of Australia – everyone is saying we need certainty going ahead in order to get that investment.

BOLT:  There is no certainty. That’s full stop. Look I won’t get into that argument because I think the certainty argument is stupid. There will be no certainty. But if you go out the door here and just down the highway you will see a moth-balled coal-fired power station. It was one of the country’s biggest, responsible for 20 per cent of the power in Victoria alone and it has been mothballed because of global warming policies. Now, that has made it uneconomic. This is what I am saying.

ALBANESE: Because it was at the end of its life, Andrew.

BOLT:  Yes but, no, it wasn’t just that. It needed…

ALBANESE: Because it was at the end of its life and there was a commercial decision. The Government didn’t make a decision to shut it down.

BOLT:  It was made uneconomic to refurbish. You guys, when you were in office were saying this had a long period left ahead of it. It’s been made uneconomic by global warming policies. This is what I come back to. Life for Australians has been made much, much harder by global warming policies, now even threatening to affect the price of a car. What makes you so convinced that all this pain is worth the gain?

ALBANESE:  Well if you have a look at the actual impact of climate change policies on issues like energy, for example, I think very firmly that what’s needed is certainty in order to attract that investment.  Australians have actually voted with their own wallets by putting solar panels on top of …

BOLT:  No they did it with our wallets because they were subsidised.

ALBANESE: …on top of houses that is producing renewable energy. Renewable energy has enormous support in this country. The fact is that this is a process that won’t just be turned around, that will continue, because as renewable energy has been used more and more around the world the costs have come down. It’s now of course not just…

BOLT:  The costs have not come down on people’s power bills. They just went up 20 per cent this month.

ALBANESE:  That’s right, under the Abbott-Turnbull formula.

BOLT:  I’m not denying that. But you guys have made it worse. You’ve got energy targets up the wazoo.

ALBANESE: We haven’t made it worse. The thing that made it worse was the actions of the Abbott Government in coming in, getting rid of the price on carbon, pretending that that was all you had to do without looking at supply and without looking at what impact that would have on investment.

BOLT:  I don’t know why we’re doing this when you get even the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, who is a global warming believer saying that even if we scrapped all our emissions in total, 100 per cent, what did he say to the difference it would make to the climate? Virtually none. He said that to a Senate hearing the other day. I don’t know why we’re doing this.

But to your own portfolios; transport, infrastructure, Shadow Minister for Cities. You said today that Victoria needed $3 billion more in funding just to keep up the infrastructure with population growth over the next four years. Now we’re growing so fast, got to spend more. And I guess you would make that same claim in Sydney and in Brisbane, you’ve got transport projects there. My question here is; why have we got such huge population increases through immigration, 200,000 people a year nearly, when it’s costing us this insane amount of money just to keep up?

ALBANESE: Well of course, migration has been good for our economy. Migration helps to add to economic growth. We have an ageing population…

BOLT:  Not per person. The figures are actually, we did this segment yesterday showing in total you’re quite right, but when you break it down to per person, felt in your own pocket, our growth rate is only a little bit ahead of Japan’s which has got a virtual no immigration policy and way behind other countries, like Portugal, that have got no immigration and very little population growth.

ALBANESE: It’s certainly true that under this Government growth has stalled and is below trend. One of the reasons for that is a failure to invest in infrastructure. Infrastructure creates jobs and economic activity in the short term, but in the long term helps boost productivity and produces revenue for Government and a return to the national economy.

What we’ve seen in Victoria in particular is that infrastructure investment, even after the recent announcement by Malcolm Turnbull about Regional Rail, over the Asset Recycling Fund is now 12 per cent. Now, Victoria is 25 per cent of the population. Victorians are being punished for having a Labor Government. And indeed, over the next decade, here nationally, the Parliamentary Budget Office have produced this paper that shows that infrastructure investment will fall from 0.4 per cent, as a percentage of GDP, to 0.2, so in half. That will have a devastating impact on growth in the economy. This Government talks about infrastructure, but the figures don’t lie. The figures show that there are massive decreases.

BOLT:  I accept that, but the point is it wouldn’t be so devastating if we didn’t have a massive population intake through immigration that we need to cater to. You wouldn’t need to build the more roads, the more rail, the more this, the more that, the more schools, everything if we didn’t have such a wild intake of immigrants.

ALBANESE: But of course migrants aren’t just a cost, they produce economic activity as well, and they produce growth.

BOLT:  Some think they produce crowded cities. I don’t understand why we’re doing it.

ALBANESE: Here in Victoria, we had under the former government, when I was the Minister, we had above $200 per capita, per head, spending on infrastructure. By the year 2020-21, that figure drops to $40 per head, per Victorian.

The Commonwealth is withdrawing funding from infrastructure and that’s a bad thing.

BOLT:  Just when we’re running out of money. When the debt is what it is and I don’t know that’s going to be solved much. Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you as always.

Jul 12, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – ABC Gippsland Drive

Subjects:  Victorian infrastructure investment, Regional Rail Link, Fuel standards

NICOLE CHVASTEK: Well the fight over infrastructure funding for Victoria is in the spotlight again today, ten days after the Prime Minster announced a $1.6 billion injection into Victoria’s ageing regional rail network:

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It’s about $1.6 billion going to regional rail right across the state and I think we should be, I think everyone should be, delighted. I think that Victorians will be delighted.

CHVASTEK: Well someone who isn’t delighted is Anthony Albanese, who is in Victoria. He is Labor’s Transport and Infrastructure Spokesperson, Anthony Albanese, good afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good afternoon, good to be with you.

CHVASTEK: $1.6 billion dollars into regional rail, that’s a pretty good outcome.

ALBANESE: Thanks to the Andrews Government that was money, of course, that the Federal Government reluctantly handed over. It wasn’t that amount. They are counting the state contribution there. But that was reluctantly handed over as part of the asset recycling agreement that was a signed agreement between the Commonwealth and Victoria. The Commonwealth took a couple of years to actually hand it over and that has lifted the Commonwealth contribution to Victoria to 12 per cent of the national infrastructure budget.

Now one in four Australians live in Victoria. Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city. You have fast growing regional centres throughout regional Victoria, and what you’ve had is a lack of funding across the board. When we were in Government we funded the Princess Highway East Upgrade, duplicating sections between Traralgon and Sale, we funded upgrades of bridges across Gippsland, 44 black spots, $3.5 million for boom gates at high-risk level crossings.

CHVASTEK: But how about you contextualise it, you’re saying that according to your analysis Victoria is only getting 12 per cent of the federal infrastructure budget, even though it has a population which is 25 per cent of the Australian population. How much of the infrastructure budget did Labor fund?

ALBANESE: We funded more than 25 per cent of the budget went to Victoria including, to put it in context; we put $3.225 billion into the Regional Rail Link Project, into one project. That was vital to the largest ever Commonwealth contribution to a public transport project anywhere in Australia. We had $3 billion in the budget for the Melbourne Metro Project, that was of course important not just for inner Melbourne, but that increases the capacity of the entire rail network throughout Victoria. We funded projects like the Geelong Ring Road, projects like the Princess Highway East and West, projects right around Victoria including the M80, the Outer Ring Road here in Melbourne, we had substantial funding.

Indeed, when we were in office each and every Victorian received $201 to put it in real terms, actual dollar terms, for every Victorian, that was our infrastructure investment. By 2020-21, that figure will be $46, or almost four in five dollars being cut out, compared with when we were in office.

CHVASTEK: Darren Chester, who is the Infrastructure Minister and the Member for Gippsland, says that you are scaremongering and Victoria does not only receive 12 per cent of the Federal Infrastructure Budget. It receives around 21 per cent.

[Broadcast Interrupted]

CHVASTEK: The Federal Government has offered Victoria $3 billion if it builds the East West Link and it says that this is included in its infrastructure spend.

ALBANESE: That’s just nonsense. There is nowhere in the Budget Papers where that appears in terms of forward estimates at all. This is a con. The East West Link Project is not going ahead. It had a cost benefit of 45 cents for every dollar. I have said to Darren Chester, if he gives me $100, next time I see him after that, I am happy to give him $45 back, if he thinks that is a good deal.

It’s nonsense, and it is an insult to Victorians, for them to say that this money is available at some time in the future, when quite clearly the project is not going ahead. The Andrews Government was elected with a mandate for it to not go ahead and it is just extraordinary that they are playing politics with that issue, as they have done for four years now.

CHVASTEK: The Andrews Government wasn’t elected to not build a road and then pay $1 billion…

ALBANESE: They were elected on a mandate that it wouldn’t go ahead. It is quite outrageous that the Coalition Government here in Victoria, signed a contract in the dying days of the Government knowing full well that this was a controversial issue, knowing full well that Tony Abbott and the Victorian Premier had said that the state election would be a referendum on the East West Link.

CHVASTEK: Still, Daniel Andrews prior to the election also said that he wouldn’t be providing a cent to the consortium, and it ended up blowing $1 billion of our money.

ALBANESE: He wasn’t privy to all of the side deals and arrangements that clearly had been made by the Coalition Government, in a desperate attempt to get contracts signed. Outrageous contracts it must be said. It would normally be the case that there certainly wouldn’t have been any compensation given. That the project had never been through a proper business case, it was underprepared and, as I said, it would have produced 45 cents for every dollar that would have been invested in it.

What we need is investment in good infrastructure projects and of course the Commonwealth funding for that project was taken away from the Melbourne Metro. It wasn’t new funding; it was cut from the Melbourne Metro, cut from the M80 and cut from the Monash Freeway and other freeways Managed Motorways Program.

CHVASTEK: What sort of undertakings are you giving if you are elected as the opinion polls say you will be? What sort of undertakings are you giving to Victoria to redress what you say is an underfunded infrastructure spend by the Federal Government?

ALBANESE: Well the last election campaign we committed funding for the Melbourne Metro. We also committed funding for a range of road and rail projects, and we would work cooperatively with state government and also with local government. When we were in office last time, we established a direct relationship with local government and we think that local councils are in a good position to know what the priorities are in their local communities.

CHVASTEK: You complain about a 12 per cent infrastructure spend by the Federal Government, by the Liberal Coalition. What will the percentage be under a Labor Government?

ALBANESE: Roughly the percentage should reflect the rough population demographic across the nation…

CHVASTEK: You’re guaranteeing a 25 per cent…

ALBANESE: No, I said exactly the words, deliberately; that you wouldn’t say 25.0 per cent would go to Victoria. What you would say is that roughly the proportions would be appropriate according to population. But that also you would take into account whether projects had been through proper business cases, been through Infrastructure Australia. In East West Link’s case, they took money from a project that had been through Infrastructure Australia, the Melbourne Metro had a business case, and gave it to one that didn’t.

So you do want proper accountability to be made, you also want milestone payments to be made, so an end to this idea of advance payments being made. Such as what happened with the East West Link, I stopped that when I was the Minister. Here you had $1.5 billion made in a cynical fashion, just as the Government signed off on a contract cynically at the state government level. Federally, money went out the door in the 2013-14 financial year, as an advance payment, simply to make the Budget deficit from Labor’s Budget of 2013 look worse and make the future Budgets look better.

Now that sort of manipulation does nothing to actually build anything.

CHVASTEK: I’m speaking to Anthony Albanese, the Opposition Transport and Infrastructure Spokesperson. Anthony Albanese can I ask you about fuel standards? The Coalition has denied today that it’s considering a carbon tax on cars.  Can you tell me whether or not you would or wouldn’t support financial penalties for car manufacturers who don’t reach emission reduction targets?

ALBANESE: To go to how this has happened; there was a review that was handed to the Commonwealth Government in 2014. They’ve sat on that review and then had a period of consultation with industry, and then this paper – that I haven’t seen – that just arrived at the automobile dealers; was sent to them with a plan that had never been raised as part of the proposals for emissions reductions.

What the original proposals were doing, as I understand it, is to essentially align us with American standards.  Now they’re not overly onerous, and that is where the world is moving. There are US standards and there are European standards – or Euro standards as they’re known – and what the review was doing was seeking to align Australia with those standards.

Given that Australia doesn’t produce now, or won’t be producing very soon, our own light vehicles, our own motor vehicles, for passengers, then that would appear to make some sense. Now the way that the US system works though is that it’s a bit like a trading system; if some vehicles are over the emissions amount that can be balanced out with vehicles which are under. I think what might have happened here is that some bureaucrats have gone; oh no, that looks like carbon trading, I know, we’ll whack a penalty on them.

I was the Minister for six years, for transport, I never had a proposal past my desk saying that we should whack penalties on car dealers for selling a particular type of vehicle in relation to emissions, to have a punitive regime. So I don’t know where this idea has come from. It is typical of a Government that doesn’t seem to be able to organise anything at all in a competent way and be able to consult any sector about any change.

CHVASTEK: Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time this afternoon.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you.

Jul 12, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – 3AW Drive

Subjects: Victorian infrastructure investment, Regional Rail Link, Penalty rates, Fair Work Commission

NICK MCCALLUM: Mr Albanese, thanks indeed for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

MCCALLUM: Your chance to speak to him, and obviously about anything about Federal Labor and federal politics. The big issue here in Victoria is infrastructure. I presume you’ve hopped on a tram, have you? Like the Prime Minister always does when he comes to town?

ALBANESE: The difference is I support funding public transport, not just riding on it. I did catch the 86 tram here from up the top, Spring Street, and it got me here on time, efficiently. It’s a good system and I think it’s a fantastic decision that the Andrews Government made to have free tram travel around the city. It should be matched in other cities.

MCCALLUM: Now, Mr Andrews and Mr Turnbull have been having a long running war about infrastructure and the fact that Victoria doesn’t get its fair share of the tax pie, the Federal tax pie. Do you agree with Mr Andrews?

ALBANESE: I certainly do. Victoria is getting 12 per cent, even after the Regional Rail package that was, I guess, forced upon the Federal Government out of the asset recycling money. Victorians, if you look at what’s ahead, it’s even worse. Over the next four years funding will decline from $791 million this year down to $280.7 million. That’s the total funding. Now when we were in Government the funding for each and every Victorian was $201 when we were in office and it falls down to $46 by 2020-21. That is four out of every five dollars gone. And that’s not fair, Victoria represents 25 per cent of the population, Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city. The regional cities are growing and it’s simply not on that Malcolm Turnbull seems to have punished Victorians for having the temerity to vote Labor.

MCCALLUM: Do you think that, in a nutshell, you’re from Sydney yourself…

ALBANESE: I am.

MCCALLUM: Clearly the New South Wales Government doesn’t have the same problems, do you think it is as simple and as shallow minded as, we don’t like the Andrews Government, or is it East West?

ALBANESE: No, well when they first came into Government in, prior to the 2014 Budget, they cut money out of, $3 billion from the Melbourne Metro project that had been put aside. They cut $500 million from the M80 road project. We’d funded the first couple of stages of that project. They cut funding. The Melbourne Metro was a part of Tony Abbott’s view that there shouldn’t be any funding for public transport from the Commonwealth. He also cut funding in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane for the Cross River Rail line. But what that meant is that Victorians missed out.

We funded projects like the Regional Rail Link here in Victoria that goes of course from Southern Cross Station, across the road, to Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong. That was the largest ever Commonwealth funding for a public transport project and that was completed under the current Government, in the last year or so. But essentially there has been no new funding. There was an obsession with the East West Link that didn’t stack up; it produced 45 cents return for every dollar that would have been invested. And then there wasn’t a consideration of projects like Melbourne Metro. In some cases, the M80 project, funding that was cut was put back and they pretended it was a new announcement.

MCCALLUM: So will, if you win the next election, whenever that will be, presumably around about 2019, will you then look at helping out with the Metro tunnel?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. We’ve said at the last election campaign, just last year, we committed funds. We of course will make the 2019 announcements closer to the date, rather than this far in advance. But certainly we’re committed to working cooperatively, not just with the Victorian Government, but with all State and Territory Governments. That’s what we did when we were in office. I was able to work cooperatively with the Baillieu and Napthine Governments and it’s a pity that the Turnbull Government, like its predecessor, the Abbott Government, haven’t been able to do that.

MCCALLUM: Okay, Steve is on the line. Steve you’ve got a question for Anthony Albanese?

STEVE: Yes, good afternoon gentlemen. Mr Albanese, just a question in relation to, and no disrespect intended, but all sides of politics, you have to divide by two and half again sometimes what you guys say. Now, I think back to the penalty rates issue that’s going on at the moment. Now please correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that the Labor Party was in Government at the time that the review was commenced and sanctioned by the Labor Party. They then lost the next election and the Liberal Party or the Coalition ends up in power and leading on to the next election that Mr Turnbull and the Coalition won 18 months ago or whatever it was, 12 months ago.

I was listening to this station and Mr Shorten was asked a direct question by Neil Mitchell, it was will you accept the umpire’s decision in regard to penalty rates if you become the next Prime Minister? And Mr Shorten, black and white, categorically said it, two or three times if my memory serves me correctly, yes I will support that decision.

MCCALLUM: Okay, that’s a very good point Steve.

ALBANESE: Of course it’s the case that we’ve had industrial arbitration in this country for 100 years since the Harvester Judgement. There has never been a decision before this one that took wages away from a group of people without putting anything in return, without any compensation.

MCCALLUM: But that’s not the question, though Mr Albanese. The question is why did Mr Shorten say he would abide by the umpire’s decision and renege on that?

ALBANESE: What Bill Shorten would have thought I’m sure, like other Australians thought, like the Labor Government thought, there were reviews of industrial conditions all the time, would have thought that they’ll either be a neutral decision or an improvement. There’s never…

MCCALLUM: He didn’t take into account that the umpire could have actually gone against him?

ALBANESE: Given that it hasn’t happened for 100 years that you’ve had actual real wages cut. That someone earning $200 is told, no you’re going to earn $150. That hasn’t happened in any of the decisions that have been made by arbitration commissions, no matter who was in government over 100 years. Common sense tells you that at a time when real wages are falling, when the Reserve Bank Governor has said that we need to increase wages, indeed Ministers in the Government have said that, that it’s an economic problem. The idea that you’d take money from some of the poorest people is something that wasn’t countenanced at the time.

MCCALLUM: Okay, a lot more people want to speak to you Mr Albanese, we’ll be back after the break… Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure is in the studio. Your questions for him. Hi, Tim?

TIM: G’day. Mr Albanese, I’m a bit disappointed that you’re just pushing this spin about the East West freeway. You know as well as I do, I’m sure, that Mr Andrews repeatedly lied about the state of the fictitious legal advice over the contracts before the election and that the reason for cancelling it was to try and sandbag inner city seats from being lost to the Greens.

ALBANESE: That’s not right. He made it very clear. I was here, I’m a regular visitor to Melbourne and I know full well that before the election he made it very clear that it wouldn’t go ahead if he was elected and indeed there were front page stories here saying that he would cancel it beforehand. So he made it quite clear. And what’s extraordinary is that the Coalition Government rushed to sign contracts when they were virtually in caretaker mode. There was a fixed date for the election and to sign a contract to commit another Government to something was, I think, not on.

MCCALLUM: But Mr Andrews did say the contract was not worth the paper it was written on and clearly that was wrong if he ended up having to pay a billion dollars.

ALBANESE: Well he didn’t pay a billion dollars, that’s an exaggerated amount. But yes, there were some payments necessary, but he made it very clear that he wouldn’t be supporting the project and the analysis made very clear there was 45 cents return for every dollar invested. With regard to the Commonwealth funding the National Audit Office has been scathing in a report about advance payments, not just for stage one, but there were advance payments for stage two as well. A total of $1.5 billion forwarded to Victoria in the 2013-14 financial year, so basically in June, which is contrary to the Government’s policy. That is, that you should make milestone payments, that is pay for infrastructure as it’s being built, not give this advance payment for stage two which was years away.

MCCALLUM: James has a question; hi James.

JAMES: G’day Nick. Mr Albanese, Mr Shorten obviously a potential Prime Minister. My question is; how can we accept that he can come across as an honest individual when on this radio station there has been two instances where he’s said something that hasn’t been the truth and also I mean in terms of the royal commission, the questionable answers he gave. I don’t want any finger pointing as far as what the other camp are doing, but coming back to (inaudible)…

MCCALLUM: About the interest rates in particular…

ALBANESE: I’m not sure…

MCCALLUM: Penalty rates, sorry.

ALBANESE: Well I’ve answered that. Bill Shorten is an honest man. I’ve known Bill Shorten for a long period of time. He’s someone who is very committed to making a difference in this country and in particular to working people. He has spent his life defending working people when he was Secretary of the AWU. He’s now gone into Parliament and is, I think, making a difference.

MCCALLUM: But there is no doubt he said, I mean it’s on tape here, he said he would abide by the umpire’s decision on penalty rates and he’s reneged on that. There’s no doubt, you can caper around it but there’s no doubt.

ALBANESE: I’ve given what I’ve heard him say his response was and his reasoning for saying that at the time. That he didn’t envisage a circumstance and I can understand that as someone who has followed industrial relations as he has for a long period of time, that he just didn’t envisage the possibility that you would have a decision that would cut the real wages of some of the poorest people in our community.

MCCALLUM: Okay, we are going to have to wrap it up but it was great to have you in the studio.

ALBANESE: Great to be here.

Jul 11, 2017

Transcript of television interview – SKY Newsday with Peter Van Onselen

Subjects: Liberal Party; Robert Menzies; Malcolm Turnbull; marriage equality; infrastructure.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: As promised I am joined now by the Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Thanks very much for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: A bit of chaos on the Liberal Party, is that the fair way to describe it? They are trying to work out whether Menzies was a moderate or a conservative. What do you reckon?

ALBANESE: It’s pretty bizarre that they are debating what happened in the 1940s and 50s when it is a crisis today in the 21st century that they have to deal with right now. So I think these philosophical debates are rather interesting, but that’s all they are. I would have thought that they needed to get is some practical outcomes rather than academic debate across the other side of the world.

VAN ONSELEN: What I find weird about it and I wonder if to think the same on this is labelling someone like Robert Menzies conservative because his views then would be conservative now is as ridiculous as talking about anyone from that time injected into today. I mean even radical lefties in the 50s would look conservative in today’s time.

ALBANESE: It’s absurd. Marx said that he wasn’t a Marxist while he was still alive. Because people and things change so a political philosophy of a particular time, if you try and translate it, whether of the Left or the Right, on to modern times, existing circumstances, then you will run into bother. You end up, I think, largely having an academic debate, but more importantly, getting some quite bad outcomes because you distort what the debate is today. Who knows, the truth is, what Menzies would be like today? He would respond, one would have thought, as someone who was able to change different views over a period of time. He’d do the same thing and the modern economy is very different. What we do know is that Malcolm Turnbull is certainly no progressive. You can’t say that you are progressive if you are not doing something about marriage equality; if you have a report on climate change, the Finkel Report, where you come up with the one recommendation that matters, you’re not prepared to actually engage with your party room on.

VAN ONSELEN: We might get there eventually. It is under consideration. I want to get you on the marriage equality one though – a poll in The Australian:  have a plebiscite 46 per cent; have politicians decide only 39 per cent.

ALBANESE: Well, that’s not surprising. If you ask them do you want to decide what your tax rate should be I reckon it would be a bit higher than 46 per cent. If you asked them do you think you should decide what education funding should be, I reckon that might hit 80, 90, 95 maybe. That’s just a fact of life. I mean what a rather cute question to ask, knowing what the answer is. People will always say yes I should decide as a default position. But the truth is that politicians decide the whole range of measures. The other thing is hitting up against reality. There’s not going to be a plebiscite. The Senate is not about to wake up tomorrow and change. Labor won’t change our position. No-one …

VAN ONSELEN: Even though people want one?

ALBANESE: People want a change. Ask them about health funding. See what answer you get. Ask them about media reform and see what answer you get.

VAN ONSELEN: Don’t get me wrong. I editorialised earlier that the question didn’t include that it was a non-binding plebiscite and if it had done that it would have had a different result.

ALBANESE: The truth is there will be a Parliamentary vote. It’s a matter of whether …

VAN ONSELEN: It’s a plebiscite that precedes it or not?

ALBANESE: Well there is a plebiscite. It’s called Newspoll. It’s called a range of polls that indicate there is overwhelming public support. I will say this about marriage equality – there are many people including parliamentarians, senior people on both sides, who used to oppose marriage equality who have changed their mind. There is no-one I know who used to support marriage equality who says now I have changed my mind, I think it’s a bad idea. History is headed one way here.  We are falling behind the rest of the world. In Germany of course Angela Merkel just decided. She voted against it, but she decided let’s get on with it, have a vote of the Parliament, have a free vote. And it happened. And guess what? The sun still came up in Germany. Life went on. It didn’t affect any existing relationships. It will be the same thing here. People will wonder what the fuss was about. But what it is doing is defining the inertia of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership. That’s why the smarties in the Coalition, including some of the conservatives, want to get this off the agenda because it’s this absolute hand brake on Malcolm Turnbull showing that he is in charge. He never supported a plebiscite. He doesn’t now. The only reason why a plebiscite was ever put on the agenda was a blocking move by Tony Abbott. We should call it out for what it is, get on with the vote.

VAN ONSELEN: Well I don’t disagree with any of that. Let’s move into a portfolio discussion. Rare moments of bi-partisanship are on display around the country but there was bipartisanship over at state level in Western Australia between the Labor Premier Mark McGowan and the Liberal Opposition Leader Mike Nahan that as a state their share of GST funding which is so low – 34 cents in the dollar – means that they can’t build the kind of infrastructure they would like to support another mining boom and there are all sorts of flow-on negative effects for the national economy. Why won’t Federal Labor commit to fixing that?

ALBANESE: Well what Federal Labor did when we were in government of course was to build  infrastructure, was to give substantial support be it the Perth City Link Project, the Gateway WA project …

VAN ONSELEN: So on that can I just ask you, does WA get disproportionately larger sums of infrastructure spending from the Commonwealth, or  did it under Labor, than other states, because it would need that presumably to make up for the GST shortfall?

ALBANESE: They did when we were in Government. We had a separate WA infrastructure fund and so projects like …

VAN ONSELEN: Is that still in?

ALBANESE:  Well we committed at the last election for projects like Perth METRONET – opposed by the Coalition Government. Now there is some funding flowing through because reality has hit WA. WA needs to get the planning done right for projects and needs to be given support.  Across the board I think there is a case for more infrastructure spending. There was a report last week from the Parliamentary Budget Office that showed that as a proportion of GDP – the size of the economy – the proportion spent on infrastructure over the next decade would fall from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent. That is half. That will have a devastating impact on the economy if that is allowed to continue. We know that in the forward estimates infrastructure spending will fall from a predicted $9.2 billion – what it was supposed to be this year – in actuality or in 2016-17, in actuality it ended up being $7.6 billion. But that falls to $4.2 billion in 2020-21.

VAN ONSELEN: Is that because they are trying to make the books look better into the future?

ALBANESE: They are, which is why you had this rhetoric about not being a post box for the states and territories in terms of applications. I was in South Australia yesterday, that isn’t getting its fair share. I will be in Melbourne tomorrow. Victoria is getting under 10 per cent of the national infrastructure budget.

VAN ONSELEN: Do you think so that federal governments might not be inclined to try to make the forward estimates look better, do you think that infrastructure should be quarantined from the books, I mean, a little bit like our businesses do their budgeting?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. I think there is a distinction to be drawn between expenditure on capital investment that produces a return to government and one that basically is a cost, just an expenditure. That’s not to say that is not worthwhile.

VAN ONSELEN: Sure.

ALBANESE: In some areas like education it produces a return but it is much less tangible …

VAN ONSELEN: But it is recurrent expenditure so you need to be able to fund it, essentially.

ALBANESE: The difference between recurrent and capital expenditure is there and the Government before the Budget made some noise about that. But all they have done is to establish this absurd body, the Infrastructure Financing Unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet which is looking to fund things that the private sector won’t fund. Now there is not a shortage of capital available in this country for good projects, whether it be from the private sector or whether it be from superannuation funds. Part of my concern with the Government’s rhetoric is what it means in practice is that they will just fund toll roads that produce that return. Now that distorts the market. A rail line mightn’t produce an income in terms of through the fare box if you like, but it produces a return due to opportunity cost when you take into account the improvements of the health system from reducing emissions from less car accidents; the reduced amount that has to be spent on road maintenance. There is a range of things that means that expenditure on public transport is the key to dealing with urban congestion.

Malcolm Turnbull said he’d deal with it before he became Prime Minister – he’d overturn Tony Abbott’s ideological objection. But he hasn’t done it. So I want Malcolm Turnbull to stop taking selfies on trains and trams and buses and start funding trains, trams and buses.

VAN ONSELEN: Anthony Albanese, I always appreciate you joining us on Newsday. Thanks once again.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

Jul 10, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa with Tony Pilkington

Subjects: Christopher Pyne, Marriage Equality, Gawler Line, Federal investment in SA infrastructure

TONY PILKINGTON: Anthony Albanese joins us now. Anthony, good morning, nice to meet you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Pilko.

PILKINGTON: How did you…I’ll put your microphone on, that is going to make it easier.

ALBANESE: That would help.

PILKINGTON: Why aren’t you called Tony?

ALBANESE: When I was a young lad I can vividly recall any time someone called me Tony my mother would say, if I had wanted him to be called Tony I would have called him Tony; it’s Anthony.

PILKINGTON: And it has stuck ever since?

ALBANESE: That’s it.

PILKINGTON: I mean you have been called lots of names…

ALBANESE: I get called lots of names, some of them that you can’t say on air. But none of them Tony, no one calls me Tony.

PILKINGTON: Really? Okay.

ALBANESE: Ever.

PILKINGTON: Alright Tony. You were raised by a single mum. Tell me about those early days? That must have been tough. An only child, or were there more kids in the family?

ALBANESE: No, there was just me and mum. She travelled overseas, met my father, had a relationship with him, came back and had me. I thought that my father had died until I was old enough, I guess, in her mind for her to tell me the truth, which was that I had been born out of wedlock.

PILKINGTON: In those days, not wishing to be rude, but I am at times. That would have been considered really a bit of a stigma, as illegitimate…

ALBANESE: Absolutely, which is why she adopted the name of my father and said that he had died. So I grew up thinking that my father had died before I was born. I was due to, as was the fashion at that time, I was due to be adopted out. So the story was going to be a sort of neat story; her husband had died and out of shock she had lost the baby, she then comes home and life continues. But she was handed me by the nuns at the hospital, at St Margaret’s there in Darlinghurst in Sydney, and she didn’t give me up.

PILLKINGTON: Was she under pressure from her family to say, look this child is illegitimate, you’re a single mum, it is going to be a lot easier if you adopt him out?

ALBANESE: There is no doubt that is why the story was put around and I guess why she adopted my father’s name and why I grew up thinking that he was dead.

PILKINGTON: How old were you when mum levels with you and tells you the truth?

ALBANESE: I was about 14 or 15.

PILKINGTON: Were you traumatised, shocked by that? Did you have any inkling at all that this might not be the real story?

ALBANESE: It’s funny, when I look back now of course, the fact that there were no photos of him, ever, I never saw a photo of him…

PILKINGTON: It was never talked about?

ALBANESE: He was not talked about. You don’t know what you’re missing if it’s never been there. I just grew up with mum, she was a great mother; she gave me all the love that I needed. She was quite sick too, she had rheumatoid arthritis, she was crippled-up quite badly.

When I was very little she used to look after me during the day and then clean offices at night, in order to get an income. She had a tough life. But then she couldn’t work.  She died in 2002, she was only 65, and when people say what did she die from, I say she was just really spent.

PILKINGTON: Just hard work.

ALBANESE: Very unhealthy, tough life.

PILKINGTON: Did you ever meet your dad?

ALBANESE: I did, I met him for the first time in 2009.

PILKINGTON: Really? By that stage you were how old?

ALBANESE: By that stage I was 46.

PILKINGTON: Was he pleased to meet you?

ALBANESE: He was. It was quite amazing. When my mum told me I was a pretty headstrong tough little teenager, who had grown up under tough circumstances, I said, oh well I don’t want to search for him he…

PILKIINGTON: He didn’t bother to look for me.

ALBANESE: He didn’t worry about me, so life moved on. But as you get older, you want to know what your origins are. People too, when I went into politics of course, with a name like Albanese, a very Italian name, people say, where is your father from? And you can’t really say I don’t know. I thought he was from Naples, which is where the ship came from that he worked on. But in the end I had a search for him and found him in 2009. I got to meet not just him, but I got to meet my half-brother and a half-sister. My father passed away in 2014, but I still have contact with the family. I have made a few visits over there.

The turning point was one day I was with my son at my mum’s grave. My son was born in 2000, and we were there and he said to me, he would have been about four or five, and he said to me, where is your dad? And it sort of struck me, he has got my surname. I had a bit of a responsibility for him, as well, about his origins. So from that point on I became more determined to find my father, and he was very generous, there was nothing negative, we welcomed each other in the spirit that we had found each other.

PILKINGTON: That’s a great story Anthony.

ALBANESE: It was an amazing thing that I found him in this little village, a little town in Puglia which is on the Southern Coast, where the heel bit is in Italy, Barletta. It was fantastic meeting. He walked into the room and we embraced.

PILKINGTON: Were there tears?

ALBANESE: There were a lot of tears, a long discussion and in walked behind him two other people, my half-brother and half-sister. Apart from my son, the three closest blood relatives I had in the world were in that room, and I was meeting them for the first time.

It was pretty remarkable and I went back, that was in December 2009, in Easter 2010 I went with my son and we had Easter there. Then the following year I went back with my wife and son again, and then again just before 2014, he died in January 2014. It was clear that he was not long for this world, and I went to say goodbye to him essentially, in December 2013.

PILKINGTON: We’re talking to Anthony Albanese, we’re supposed to be talking politics, this is a bloody sight more interesting, I have got to tell you. Would you like a special coffee? You’re supposed to say yes.

ALBANESE: Yes. Si.

PILKINGTON: Okay, we’re back in a tick. At 9:22AM, our guest for this half hour or so is Anthony Albanese here in Adelaide. Anthony, just getting off the family issues for a moment or so, married with a 16 year-old son.

How do you get along with Chris Pyne? Do you fake it or do you genuinely like each other?

ALBANESE: No, we get on okay.

PILKINGTON: Well that makes two people; his wife is keen on him. Go on.

ALBANESE: His kids like him. Probably.

PILKINGTON: So you can sit down, in say the Qantas Lounge or wherever, and actually enjoy his company? He is a good operator.

ALBANESE: Well we can sit down in each other’s offices and have a glass of red. It’s funny you know, one of the things that people say, sometimes I will get stopped on the street and I have said this to him, I’m sure he probably gets the same. They will say, that Christopher Pyne, I hear you on the radio, you know 5AA every week, do you really get on? And I say, yes he’s alright.

PILKINGTON: That’s as far as you can go? Oh he’s alright?

ALBANESE: No, look we have different beliefs, but he is good company. He has a joy of life. Look I’ve got to say he has had a hard couple of weeks, to say the least.

PILKINGTON: You’re loving every minute of it aren’t you?

ALBANESE: You know I’d rather it be him than me, that’s the truth. But he has come through it; a lot of people would be destroyed by something like that…

PILKINGTON: He has got a hide like a rhinoceros.

ALBANESE: He battles on.

PILKINGTON: He thrives on it.

ALBANESE: He battles on, and I’ve got to say during all of that week, the fact that he fronted up for the 5AA interview, he fronted up to…

PILKINGTON: He didn’t say much though.

ALBANESE: He didn’t say much. The Today Show, he fronted up. We’re on there on Friday mornings and to his credit he didn’t hide. He went out there and faced the music. He knows that what he did was a bit silly, but he thought he was talking in a closed…
  
PILKINGTON: You have got to be careful these days as a pollie. You appear somewhere and you know that somebody is going to record it.

ALBANESE: That’s right and that is a reality of modern life. I have got to say that the intrusion into everything being public, there being no private sphere, is I think unfortunate. I didn’t think it was a good thing that Malcolm Turnbull’s speech to the Press Gallery Ball got recorded and broadcast.

PILKINGTON: But times have changed Anthony. You know these days nothing can be off the record.

ALBANESE: That’s true, but what it will do is change that event forever. Because the sort of speech that you give, with insider jokes essentially, will be different if you think that people in the broader public are listening to it. And Malcolm Turnbull’s speech that night was a very good speech, he did very well, but it was aimed at a particular audience, and I just think it is a pity that you can’t have that sort of discussion, that there is no private sphere. Just like, I’m sure that there are things that are said outside the studio here, before people go on air, or after they are on air.

PILKINGTON: Yes that’s true.

ALBANESE: That probably should stay private.

PILKINGTON: Now, my producer, Lee Forest, has listened [inaudible] she is supposed to be talking to Mr Albanese about the issue of the trains and all the rest of it.

ALBANESE: The trains and roads.

PILKINGTON: The trains and roads. Entirely off of the point, I want to chuck one in, same sex marriage, where do you stand on that?

ALBANESE: I support it.

PILKINGTON: Support it?

ALBANESE: Yes, and I think when it’s done people will wonder what the fuss was about.

PILKINGTON: Anthony I reckon you are right. And this bit about a plebiscite, that is a load of, that is load of, yes.

ALBANESE: You almost got there.

PILKINGTON: I nearly got there. I sometimes forgot that I’m on the wireless.

ALBANESE: It is a complete nonsense. The truth is that we make decisions that do impact on everyone’s lives, about pensions, education, health. We don’t have plebiscites on any of them, why should we have a plebiscite? Essentially that will be seen, rightly or wrongly, as people judging other people’s relationships, and I reckon that people should be allowed to love whoever they do. That’s up to them.

PILKINGTON: Okay. Now you hear about the trains and the trams and- you can see I have researched this pretty carefully haven’t I?

ALBANESE: Well today there is a big front page story in the Advertiser, about how South Australia is getting short-changed on infrastructure investment from the Commonwealth. Today I will be with Stephen Mullighan, in a little while, commencing or recommencing the Gawler Line electrification.
That is one of the projects that was cut by the Federal Government when Tony Abbott became Prime Minister; he cut all of the rail funding that he could out of a range of projects nationally.

PILKINGTON: And Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t reversed that cut?

ALBANESE: Hasn’t reversed it, clearly it is ready to go, and South Australia is being short-changed by a few billion dollars. The funding over the next four years falls in 2020-21, it falls to $61 million from this year, or next year it is $174 million. So it is really falling off a cliff.

There are a range of projects that are ready to go here in South Australia, a range of road projects at Port Augusta and here in Adelaide. The completion of the South Road Upgrade, but importantly as well there is the AdeLINK light rail project that can be rolled out, that will make a big difference to the quality of life of people here in Adelaide.

PILKINGTON: If Labor were to win the next election, you would reverse that decision immediately?

ALBANESE: We committed at the last election to reverse the Gawler Line electrification cut, and also to fund the AdeLINK light rail project.

PILKINGTON: So that is an absolute must do? You would stick to that?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. We have committed to public transport projects like Noarlunga to Seaford, we funded that when we were in Government. We funded important road projects like the South Road Superway, the Torrens to Torrens section of South Road, the Northern Expressway. We funded important rail freight projects like Goodwood to Torrens.

What we need to do at this time when the mining boom has gone from the investment phase, where people are getting the mines ready, to the production phase. Employment has gone out, construction has gone down and at a time when governments, for goodness sake federally, can get interest rates at record lows; now is the time to be stepping up infrastructure investment because it produces a return to the taxpayer and to the community.

PILKINGTON: Anthony, before we let you go, are you nearly feeling sorry for Malcolm Turnbull? With Tony Abbott out there with a machine gun, shooting him every time, I mean Abbott has got to be the best thing you have got going for you at the moment?

ALBANESE: Well I have got to say I do almost feel sorry except for one thing. When Malcolm Turnbull took over I think there was a sigh of relief around the country. But he took over in name only; he hasn’t actually implemented what he believes in. So because of that he has left this vacuum, where Tony Abbott feels like he can snipe every day even though he has said that he wouldn’t. I think his behaviour doesn’t help the body politic in general.

PILKINGTON: What’s he like Tony Abbott?

ALBANESE: One on one he’s not a bad bloke, but I think politically he has this destructive streak. This method of operating…

PILKINGTON: He was a brilliant Opposition Leader. He somehow or other didn’t make the transition into the Lodge.

ALBANESE: Because he stayed the same. He had a plan to get into the Lodge, which was to blow everything up and then when he got there he kept blowing things up and now he is on the backbench he is still blowing things up.

PILKINGTON: [Inaudible]

ALBANESE: It’s not a way in which you can run a country, and I think Oppositions have to be responsible and have to plan for what they will do in Government because otherwise you have this happen. Malcolm Turnbull’s problem is that he had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott, but then when he got there he didn’t have plan to govern either. So we have got a bit of a vacuum and Tony is filling it.

PILKINGTON: Anthony Albanese, we’ve never met but I have enjoyed the last half hour.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you.

PILKINGTON: Alright, and good luck to your South Sydney team in the NRL. They got done on the weekend.

ALBANESE: We got done.

PILKINGTON: You’re pretty shitty about that aren’t you?

ALBANESE: I am mate.

PILKINGTON: The only thing worse would be to find out if Christopher Pyne barracks for the Roosters.

ALBANESE: He wouldn’t know. I think he struggles to follow AFL, that’s a good sledge. No, he’s a Crows man I know that.

PILKINGTON: Albo, nice to meet you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you. Go the Rabbitohs.
 

Jul 10, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Adelaide

Subjects: Gawler Line Electrification; infrastructure; public transport.

STEPHEN MULLIGHAN: It’s great to be here this morning with Anthony Albanese as well as Nick Champion and Tony Piccolo to announce the recommencement of the electrification of the Gawler line. As we’ve said previously, we budgeted for this project to start again this year and getting on with the tender process; calling for expressions of interest on this critical project for Adelaide’s northern suburbs will mean the start of a huge boost to this part of Adelaide’s metropolitan area.

It’s great to have Mr Albanese here. Of course he has funded more infrastructure projects in South Australia than any other Federal Minister and this is why we are so keen to see the return of a Federal Labor Government and that’s to keep that strong relationship going between the State and the Federal Government to get these infrastructure projects funded, to see hundreds of people employed, delivering these projects, but also to provide a massive boost to the South Australian economy for many years to come.

The Gawler electrification project isn’t, of course, just a project about construction jobs while it’s being delivered. It’s also about improving transport services to those growing parts of the metropolitan area. We’re expecting more jobs out north and that’s particularly important once Holden stops its manufacturing operations in only a couple of months. And of course all of the housing developments that are due to occur out in the northern suburbs, not just up in Gawler, but also along the spine of the Gawler line. That’s why we’ve got Nick Champion, the Federal Member for Wakefield and Tony Piccolo, the Member for Light in the State Parliament, here supporting this critical project.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is great to be here with Minister Stephen Mullighan and also with Nick Champion and Tony Piccolo here in Adelaide, once again, talking about Federal Labor’s commitment to Adelaide infrastructure. Today in the Adelaide Advertiser it outlines very clearly the belated responses that we got to questions from Senate Estimates. That shows that Adelaide is being short-changed. It’s been short changed to the tune of billions of dollars because what we’re seeing is a Federal Government that even before this Budget in May, which delivered not one new dollar to Adelaide, was already short-changing Adelaide and South Australians.

We had a rather pathetic response from Paul Fletcher this morning in the paper saying that projects weren’t ready. Well here’s a project that is ready – the Gawler Rail Line Electrification that received from Federal Labor some $293 million of Federal funds in our budgets. Of course some $76 million of that funding was cut by the incoming Coalition Government when they came to office. This is a project that is ready to go and the Government has no excuse for not putting those funds, at least, back into the Budget that they took out, that they stole from South Australians. They could also fund the AdeLINK light rail projects. Those projects – that extension of the light rail network is also ready to go. The Federal Government has relied upon the opening of projects that were funded and commenced under the former Federal Labor Government. But what we’re seeing is now, some four years into office, a Government that lacks direction, a Government that is too interested in its internals to actually deliver the infrastructure and transport that South Australians need. Here at this station of course we see a couple of platforms down, the Noarlunga to Seaford rail, an extension funded and delivered by Federal Labor in partnership with the State Labor Government here in South Australia.

Of course, on the way up to the northern suburbs we see the Northern Expressway, we see the South Road Superway. We see the Goodwood to Torrens rail freight project -all projects funded and delivered by the former Federal Labor Government, working with the South Australian Government in the interest of South Australians.

Now is the time when infrastructure investment should be stepped up. But what we see over the forward estimates is infrastructure investments falling by more than half in South Australia from the Federal Government up to the year 2020-21. It’s simply not good enough and that’s why the Government should step up and fund projects like Gawler, fund projects like the AdeLINK light rail project, fund projects like the completion of the South Road works that are so important for productivity and jobs in the short term but also for the South Australian economy in the long term.

REPORTER: Was this a project that was ready to go in May?

ALBANESE: This is a project that has been ready to go for some time. The Federal Government delayed, withdrew the funding that was in the Budget, when they came to office, in their Budget MYEFO statement in late 2013. It’s one of the first things they did, was they cut out every dollar of rail funding that they could from the Federal Budget. They could have put it back at any time. Federal Labor recommitted our funding that had been taken out in the 2016 election campaign. They could have done it then, they could have done it in the Budget, they should do it now.

REPORTER: This could be seen as, for people who live on the Gawler line, a bigger drama than Wolf Creek.

ALBANESE: Well this is a big deal for the people who live on the Gawler line. There is an expectation that this will be delivered and the Federal Government needs to be prepared to partner with the South Australian Government. I think it’s terrific that Malcolm Turnbull comes to Adelaide and travels on trains and trams and takes selfies. What we want him to do is actually fund them. That is what is more important than taking selfies on public transport. At the moment there’s not a single dollar from the Federal Government going into South Australian public transport projects.

REPORTER: So could this be about the only thing that Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott agree upon – to put South Australia at the bottom of the heap?

ALBANESE: Well quite clearly, whether it has been Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull, South Australia has come last. They have been too busy playing politics in attacking the South Australian Government at the expense of the interests of South Australians. This is too important for partisan politics, which is why they should take up this opportunity and start funding projects here in South Australia.

REPORTER: Minister, so you are saying that this project was ready to go and it was ignored by the Federal Government in the Budget?

MULLIGHAN: Absolutely. The Federal Government has had everything they have needed to get back on board and fund this project and they continue to refuse to. It is incredibly frustrating not just for the South Australian Labor Government, but it’s frustrating for the people who live in the northern suburbs of Adelaide. These are massive improvements to our rail services and the Federal Government needs to get behind the people of South Australia and the people of the northern suburbs and fund this project again.

REPORTER: Will Stage II not be going ahead then if the Federal Government doesn’t come forward?

MULLIGHAN: What we’ve said is we have made money in our State Budget to recommence the project, to electrify the rail line out to Salisbury. But we want to finish the project. We want to get all the way out to Gawler, make sure that we not only have a complete line, but that we have all those services for the full length of the line as well and we need a federal partner for that and it is unfortunate that the Federal Liberal Government refuses to commit to this important project.

REPORTER: Without that funding what impact will that have on delivering the project?

MULLIGHAN: It massively slows it down, just like it has slowed it down for the past few years. And it means that the people in the northern suburbs, not only are they having to put up with Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott chasing Holden out of Australia, but they are now not committing to improvements to rail investment and that is a terrible thing for the people who need these public transport services improved, that need them out servicing their communities.

REPORTER: Do you think that the people of the northern suburbs, sick to death of this over a number of years, say they don’t really care about the politics, they just want to see something done and they might start pointing the finger at you, saying well you know at the end of the day you are the Transport Minister – make it happen.

MULLIGHAN: Well our money is on the table. In order to finish this project and finish it a lot more quickly we need a federal funding partner. You know it’s OK for Liberal administrations in other states and territories to pick up project funding from the Abbott and then Turnbull governments. What’s the problem with funding projects in South Australia? We’ve done all the work. We’ve put the submissions in. They are ready to be given a tick. But as we have heard today, they are not funding infrastructure properly across this country and they are punishing South Australia as a result.

REPORTER: Were those submissions in in May?

MULLIGHAN: Not only were they in in May, they were in several years before that as well. This project, the Gawler Line Electrification, the first business case went in in 2008. Another one went in in 2012. We resubmitted documents earlier this year. We resubmitted them again after the Federal Budget. I mean, there is no excuse for this Federal Government not to be funding this project. It just seems to me a matter of spite now that Malcolm Turnbull is too interested in running around taking pictures on public transport rather than funding it.

REPORTER: What explanation or justification have you been given for not receiving the funding when you put in those applications?

MULLIGHAN: There is no justification that has been given by the Federal Liberal Government. They were out there trying to claim after the Federal Budget that we hadn’t submitted business cases, which was patently wrong. And yet when it was pointed out to them that they were funding projects in Western Australia that hadn’t even commenced work on a business case, they were caught completely red-faced and that was the reason why we finally extracted a commitment from them to redirect some project savings into the Oaklands Rail Crossing. But what we need is new funding so that we can get on with these projects.

REPORTER: Is this above politics?

MULLIGHAN It absolutely should be above politics. I mean the Federal Liberal Government has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal automotive assistance and they should be redirecting that money back into the communities that are most affected by the closures of these manufacturing operations and this sort of project is an obvious one to get in behind.

REPORTER: Why did you submit a new business plan last month?

MULLIGHAN: Well, so that they had absolutely no excuse not to be funding this project. They have had submissions on this project time and time and time again. Each time they claim that they haven’t received documentation, they haven’t received a business case. We know now that they have received these business cases on an ongoing basis since 2008. That’s over a nine-year period. So as I explained at a previous press conference, we did all of those things which seemed to be important to the Federal Government. We changed the date on the front so that they’ve got no excuse not to fund this project.

REPORTER: (inaudible).

MULLIGHAN: Oh yes of course. The date has changed on the front. We had to change who it was addressed to. We also had to update the costings, given that we are seeking project funds in 2017, several years after we started asking the Coalition Government to fund this project and that has unfortunately meant that we have had to change some of the costings as of course the increased price of materials and labour increases over the years.

ALBANESE: It’s no accident either that you have seen no grant funding for any projects in this year’s Budget from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth says itself that they don’t want to be just a provider of grant funding. They want something that produces a return. Now what produces a return is toll roads. You don’t have toll roads here in South Australia. The Federal Government is saying they will only fund toll roads. So when you hear them talk about not just wanting to be a post box for applications for grant funding, what you hear in reality, what that means, is no funding for public transport and no funding on the basis of the contribution that such projects make in terms of the economy.

REPORTER: If there isn’t any funding from the Federal Government would you consider private funding at all?

MULLIGHAN: Well we think that the privatisation of South Australia’s public transport networks have been a massive detriment to people who use public transport here in South Australia. We only saw recently with the re-contracting of the buses that were privatised under the former Liberal Government the sort of dislocation and downgrade of service that that caused for people catching buses. The last thing we want is for that to occur to our rail services.

REPORTER: Aside from the delay if you don’t get funding from the Federal Government, will this project every happen at all?

MULLIGHAN: What we are announcing today is that we are getting on with the process to deliver our share of the Gawler Electrification Project – the electrification of services out the Salisbury. But what we want to do is finish that job.  We want to get all the way out to Gawler. But we need a Federal funding partner to do that. Federal Labor is prepared to join with the State Government. What we are asking is for a Coalition Federal Government to do the same.

ALBANESE: Thank you.
[ENDS]

Jul 7, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects; North Korea, Tony Abbott  

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Well, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has this morning flown into a G20 storm, as the major global powers struggle to agree on how to deal with the North Korea nuclear threat.

Here at home in the meantime, the Acting Prime Minister has exposed confusion from within the Government about all of this, Barnaby Joyce yesterday backing sanctions on China.

But that idea was very quickly shut down by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join me now, good morning to you both.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Sylvia.

PRESENTER: Christopher, let’s clear this up first of all, for now Australia says no to sanctions on China. But what about sanctions on Chinese companies that deal with North Korea?

PYNE: Look, I think the Labor Party tried to exaggerate those comments yesterday. The reality is that Barnaby Joyce’s comments weren’t out of line, we don’t plan to have sanctions against China.

What we are planning to do though, is to continue to put pressure on China, to take steps with respect to North Korea.

China is North Korea’s largest export partner, largest economic partner and of course only military ally in the world. So if any country has influence over North Korea it is China, and even that of course is not as extensive as we would like it to be, because North Korea is essentially a rogue nation, and that is why they present such a serious threat to us all.

JEFFREYS: Christopher, how do you politely ask China to impose sanctions or to ask North Korea to stop shooting off missiles without any leverage?

PYNE: The whole world has leverage, because nobody wants a nuclear armed North Korea that is threatening its neighbours, or the United States or Australia. China don’t want that to happen either. So all of the countries of the world are working on this, but it is a very difficult issue because North Korea, as I said, is a rouge nation. And they have proven themselves in the past to be not susceptible to international pressure.

But we will continue to do everything we can to support the United States, Japan, South Korea and even China in putting pressure on that regime, rather than allowing it to spiral out of control.

JEFFREYS: Well if that is the case, Donald Trump this morning is certainly ramping up his threats against North Korea, also China. So if America sends military in, if they are looking at military action, do we follow suit?

PYNE: Sylvia we are a very long way from that eventuality. What President Trump is doing is making it very clear, as his Ambassador did in the United Nations yesterday, that the United States will look at their full gamut of opportunities to put pressure on this regime.

Neither the United States, nor Australia for that matter, want North Korea to have missiles that can deliver a payload to either Alaska or Northern Australia. It is a very serious matter and we support the United States in the pressure they are applying to that regime.

ALBANESE: This is serious. That’s why we need a serious response and that’s not what you get from Barnaby Joyce. I think it is becoming the case, that when Barnaby Joyce is Acting Prime Minister, Australians hold their breath.

Yesterday’s comments were just stupid, that’s why he was slapped down by Julie Bishop and by Mathias Cormann.

What we need is a peaceful resolution of this conflict. North Korea does represent a threat. It is a rogue state.

It needs the world, including our friends in the United States and China, to work together to ensure that there is a peaceful resolution to that threat.

JEFFREYS: There is certainly no coordinated approach to how to deal with North Korea at the moment, so there is a lot up for discussion. In Germany today, let’s move on.

Tony Abbott has officially become the Voldemort of the Liberal Party, the problem who shall not be named.

Christopher, it is impossible for anyone, with all the headlines right now, to forget Tony Abbott’s name. So why does Malcolm Turnbull avoid using it?

PYNE: Well I think that is a tenth, twentieth, hundredth order issue Sylvia. We have the G20, we have North Korea. In my area, I am working on jobs and investment and economic growth, in defence industry and national security. I’m not even going to entertain that question.

ALBANESE: He managed to give an answer without saying Tony Abbott at all. Just reinforcing the point.

JEFFREYS: Can you say his name, Christopher?

PYNE: Look, I’m not going to get into this sort of…

JEFFREYS: Can you say Tony Abbott?

ALBANESE: Bingo.

PYNE: It’s just silly.

JEFFREYS: What is his name?

PYNE: Oh stop it, this is ridiculous.

JEFFREYS: Who was the Prime Minister before Malcolm Turnbull?

PYNE: Tony Abbott was.

ALBANESE: This isn’t a hundredth order issue, this is an issue that is dominating every waking hour of the Government.

It is a distraction. You can’t govern when you’re so focused on internals, and when you have the former Prime Minister out there, engaging like Fight Club.

Except it’s not a movie. It’s an ongoing series, a drama, and it’s becoming a bit of a comedy.

JEFFREYS: Do you know what? It’s been a tough week, it’s been a tough fortnight for you in particular, Christopher Pyne.

ALBANESE: He has had a better week this week.

JEFFREYS:  I say we ramp things up into the weekend with a bit of a pump-up song, what do you say?

PYNE: I have had a great week.

JEFFREYS: Are you familiar with this one, Christopher?

[Say My Name by Destiny’s Child plays]

JEFFREYS: Nothing, not a Destiny’s Child fan it seems. Alright. Well done gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: Thank you.

JEFFREYS: Okay, Karl Stefanovic?

KARL STEFANOVIC: We want to see him dance. We need to see Christopher Pyne dance a little bit. Give us a little bit of a – come on!

ALBANESE: He’s clocked off!

[ENDS]

Jul 7, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – 702 ABC Sydney

Subject: High Speed Rail 

JOSH ZEPPS: Anthony Albanese is Federal Labor’s spokesperson on infrastructure and transport. Anthony, g’day.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

ZEPPS: What do you make of this report?

ALBANESE: It’s a very sensible contribution to the debate. We set aside, when we were in government in the 2013 Budget $54 million to start creating the High Speed Rail Authority.

That was a recommendation of a group of experts including Tim Fischer, the former Deputy PM and Jennifer Westacott, the head of the Business Council.

They recommended that what you needed to do was to have an Authority that was able to coordinate the planning of the line and begin the process for preservation of the corridor.

ZEPPS: It’s just gone twenty past seven, I’m Josh Zepps with you on ABC Radio Sydney.

I’m speaking with Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor’s spokesperson on infrastructure investment about this new report that’s about to be published by Infrastructure Australia.

It says that the governments of New South Wales and Victoria really need to get in early and buy land along any proposed rail corridor for a High Speed Rail link between Sydney and Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane otherwise the costs are going to grow maybe four-fold as those areas get developed.

But Anthony, you just said you earmarked $54 million in the 2013 Budget but these guys are talking about $720 million now or $3.5 billion later. It’s a drop in the bucket.

ALBANESE: Yeah, and that would make sense. The $54 million was just the start of course, but it does make sense.

In general, Infrastructure Australia’s role was to provide that long term advice at arm’s length of government. One of the issues that we’ve suffered from in Sydney and indeed throughout our cities is a lack of planning.

That last mile that can create a big issue with regard to cost blowouts if you don’t preserve infrastructure corridors for the long term. Now, that’s got to be the first step.

The review that we did showed that for Sydney to Melbourne, it would produce for every dollar of investment a $2.15 benefit. So there is a great deal of benefit for High Speed Rail.

One of the things that’s happened is because it’s being rolled out in Europe, in Asia, in North America, is that the cost of High Speed Rail is coming down. The technology’s getting better and better.

But if we don’t preserve the corridor what will happen is at a future time when a decision is made, oh, let’s get on with construction, the costs will be prohibitive.

So that’s why that first step but you need the Planning Authority. I’ve got a Private Member’s Bill before the Parliament to do that because you do need to coordinate across four jurisdictions; Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT.

ZEPPS: If you were a betting man, Anthony, do you reckon we’re going to have a High Speed Rail Link in 20 years?

ALBANESE: I think we will. I think it will happen.

Increasingly what’s happening is that people who travel from Paris to London or from Beijing to Shanghai or for many years of course in Japan come back to Australia and go, why don’t we do it here?

It certainly does make sense including for the shorter journeys, Sydney to Canberra or Sydney to Newcastle, which become essentially journeys of under an hour.

That changes if we want to address issues like regional economic development, if we want to address issues including housing affordability.

Why wouldn’t you want to live outside of Sydney if you could get into the CBD in a lot less time than it takes now?

For people even in middle range suburbs who now drive into the CBD, it’s a transformative project.

It’s not something that will happen in the next couple of years.

You can’t make a decision today and then get on a train tomorrow. What you can do though, is plan today for tomorrow.

ZEPPS: Anthony Albanese, good to talk to you. Thanks for calling in.

ALBANESE: Thank you.

[ENDS]

Jul 6, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – 4CA Cairns

Subjects: Tourism, Great Barrier Reef, infrastructure, State of Origin 

JOHN MACKENZIE: Just a few months ago I had this bloke in the studio for a ten minute interview, a ten minute chat and it went for an hour and 20 minutes and I almost lost my bloody job. And now he’s back in town again. Albo, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day John. That was, I think, the world’s longest interview but it was very enjoyable, mate.

MACKENZIE: I thought so too. I thought it was bloody fascinating and funny. Now, where are you at the moment? What are you looking at?

ALBANESE: I am sitting in the cafe here at Green Island and I’m looking at jobs in the form of tourists walking past, particularly there’s a very large school group from Japan here and that of course is good news for Cairns. Every visitor means money for the local economy and for jobs.

MACKENZIE: I’m so pleased you’ve given me the perfect introduction because one of the problems we’ve got with preserving our jobs on the reef is this bullshit that’s being spread particularly through Europe but all around the world by people in the Green movement, let’s call them unscrupulous people in the Green movement who say the Great Barrier Reef is dead, and I’m counting on someone with the persuasive abilities of yourself to get out there after you’ve seen some beautiful coral out there and say it is far from dead. The reports of the death of the Great Barrier Reef are grossly exaggerated.

ALBANESE: I met yesterday with Tourism Tropical North Queensland there, just round the corner from your studios and I think the tourism sector’s Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef proposal is incredibly exciting. The idea that what you’ll have is people signing up as global citizens to support the Great Barrier Reef, to get that message out there that yes, it needs protection but it is a wonderful asset for this region. One of the Seven Wonders of the World and with good reason.

I think engaging people directly, which is what the tourism sector want to do, is a good thing. I met the chair and the people who’ll be running it. It’s a pretty lean, mean, outfit. Just a few people I met with last night from the Citizens idea. It’s not a campaign.

It’s more a permanent presence so that people can, one, get the message out there around the world that this is a wonderful place to visit, that the reef remains a fantastic natural wonder, but of course at the same time we do need to make sure that we protect it. There have been a couple of bleaching incidents in the last couple of years.

We met with the ranger here this morning, Pat, and talked with him. The numbers coming out here to Green Island of course remain very positive. They’re on average almost 1000 people every day and of course international visitor numbers to Cairns are up, which is a good thing and domestic numbers are a bit down unfortunately, but the international numbers are continuing to increase and direct flights from southern China, from Guangzhou through China Southern Airlines are going to be a big boost for this region as well.

MACKENZIE: There’s a lot of good news out there, I know, but I hope you take on board what I asked of you to begin with.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

MACKENZIE: In fact, if you don’t mind. You’re renowned as being even handed, Albo and also have a very good antenna for ideology sometimes impacting on what masquerades as fact. So I’m going to send you an interview, in fact, it will be on your internet when you get home, from a gentleman who was on this program I think it was last Monday week actually.

He’s very highly qualified, in fact, he’s a Professor of Physics for the Marine Geophysics Laboratory at James Cook University, Professor Peter Ridd and it’s a real eye opener because some of the information that’s getting out there masquerading as scientific fact is dodgy and I’d like you to hear it and it’ll be on your internet when you get home.

ALBANESE: Thank you for that, John. Look, one of the things about this visit as well is that there’s Mark Butler, our climate change spokesperson and Tony Burke, our environmental spokesperson. Claire Moore was here yesterday as well, the Duty Senator for the electorate of Leichhardt and a good Queenslander.

One of the things is sometimes people say oh, well, is it the environment or tourism and one of the reasons why we’re all here together is to send a message that it’s not one or the other but the two assist each other. That we do need to protect our natural assets.

One of the ways that we protect them is for people to be able to see them. To understand why it’s important that it be preserved so that protecting the environment leads to stronger tourism, which leads to protection of the environment, if it’s done properly.

There’s a synergy there and you live in a wonderful part of the world and it is a great asset but you are so reliant upon tourism which is why we need to get the message out there, particularly in the wake of the cyclone as well that occurred earlier this year that in terms of the reef and the assets that are here, this is a fantastic place to visit. We need to give support to the operators who are working damn hard, who are employing Australians, who are contributing to the national economy.

MACKENZIE: Well I’m thrilled to realise you’re not delivering the sermon that we so often have from visiting politicians, Albo. Now, I need to take you to another front and centre matter. I was really enthused to read on page 8 of today’s Cairns Post that Anthony Albanese will head to Smithfield to see where the National Highway comes to a screeching halt.

This has been an issue for years because when we’ve needed funding at the federal level, of course, it doesn’t comply with the requirements, it’s not part of the Bruce Highway, it’s a missing link if you like and there’s some wonderful things that could develop if indeed we had some access to some federal funding, eg. there could be some help in getting the Smithfield bypass underway and easing the gridlock that so many of those northern beaches motorists cop every weekday through the year.

ALBANESE: That’s right. One of the things about Cairns that I think our national parliament sometimes doesn’t recognise is that you have a population of a little bit under quarter of a million up here, a bit over 200,000 but the visitor numbers on any particular day there can be 50,000 people here. Now, the ratepayers of Cairns can’t afford to pick up all of that bill.

There needs to be a recognition that that is a contribution to our national economy and without Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and Far North Queensland we’d gew far fewer visitors, not just here, but in other places as well, when they combine a trip to Brisbane or Sydney or the rock, or somewhere else in this fantastic island continent that we live on. So there is, I think a national responsibility.

When I was the transport minister as you’d recall John, we put record funding into the Bruce Highway, we put $6.7 billion in under those 6 years. The Howard Government put $1.3 billion in over 12 so we more than quadrupled the funding over half the time.

But it has historically stopped around – it’s been seen as access essentially to Cairns Port. And with the growth that’s there in the northern beaches, used not just by locals with an expanding population but of course tourists travelling on the road up to Port Douglas and to Mossman Gorge and other areas of FNQ.

There is I think an argument about extension and that’s why I’m meeting with Craig Crawford. He’s organised for the main roads officials to brief me this afternoon or at lunchtime and I think that has to be borne in mind.

The study’s been done by the State Government, the one of the Smithfield bypass has been done by Building Queensland and that has either been released or is about to be released, but essentially the planning’s been done so that’s ready to go.

In general I think there’s an argument that Advance Cairns have been advocating for extending the definition of the M1, the idea of that east coast highway into the northern beaches at least in order to secure some federal support in terms of funding.

MACKENZIE: So if we get you over the line hopefully that will tip the Coalition Government over the line. It’ll be our salvation.

ALBANESE: That’s right. It’s another example I think of Labor leading from opposition. This government’s been relying upon for the last four years on opening projects that were funded when I was the minister so they need to do a bit more.

There were figures out yesterday from the Parliamentary Budget Office which show that the proportion of money spent on infrastructure as a proportion of GDP will fall over the coming decade by half, from 0.4% to 0.2%. That’s a disaster for Australia. We need to invest in roads and railway lines, not just as an end in itself because they create jobs while they’re being built of course, but for the long term health of our national economy.

We rely upon that infrastructure and I’ll certainly be putting pressure on the current government but also preparing I would hope for a change of government but regardless to put that pressure on to get those jobs being created in the short term when they’re needed.

MACKENZIE: Albo, I reckon you’re old enough to remember the Newcastle Song and the message of the Newcastle Song was never let a chance go by.

ALBANESE: It was a very good song indeed. I think it was in brackets, the Newcastle Song.

MACKENZIE: His name was Bob Hudson, I think.

ALBANESE: Yeah. Bob Hudson, that was a cracker of a song, never let a chance go by.

MACKENZIE: You’ve been living by the message ever since.

ALBANESE: I do my best, John, because it’s always fantastic to be able to talk to your listeners about the issues in Far North Queensland. This is an important part of the world and one of the reasons why we’ve put tourism together with infrastructure and transport is because of the link that’s there.

We’ll have a successful tourism industry when people can get around and people have good infrastructure. That’s what people look for when they come into the great city of Cairns.

MACKENZIE: Now, next time you’re up here, for God’s sake, put ten minutes aside and we’ll go for another hour and 20 minutes and I’ll risk my employment again.

ALBANESE: Well indeed. I’ll certainly be paying attention. There’s a very important tourism event in a couple of weeks where my beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs are having a home game here in Cairns.

MACKENZIE: You should come up.

ALBANESE: I’ll be watching that on the telly. I think that’s Sunday week. That’s a great example of innovation in tourism. I happen to know that up to 3000 Souths supporters will come up here, and they’ll come up not just for a day, they stay for a week or two.

MACKENZIE: It’s a wonderful atmosphere.

ALBANESE: It’s been a fantastic initiative and it’s an example of the private sector, essentially, using non-traditional ways of getting people to come here and of course, once you come here, you come back because it’s such a fantastic part of the world. It’s just a pity I’m only here this time for one day.

MACKENZIE: It’ll help you recover too, watching the Bunnies on television next week after you’ve lost the Origin series yet again.

ALBANESE: Oh, John. No Jonathan Thurston. You know, I think that will have a real impact on…no JT and no GI.

MACKENZIE: And no Matt Scott.

ALBANESE: And no Matty Scott. A good North Queensland local. Although Greg Inglis of course is hardly a local given he’s actually from near Kempsey in New South Wales.

MACKENZIE: So you’ve been listening to the words of that silly song, too.

ALBANESE: That’s In Queensland, that’s a great song.

MACKENZIE: Albo, it’s been a pleasure as always but come into the studio next time you’re in town.

ALBANESE: I certainly will mate, great to talk to you.

MACKENZIE: Anthony Albanese, he’s the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Cities and Tourism.

[ENDS]

Jul 6, 2017

Partial transcript of doorstop – Cairns

Subjects: Bruce Highway, infrastructure, tourism, Great Barrier Reef UNESCO decision 

CRAIG CRAWFORD MP, STATE MEMBER FOR BARRON RIVER: Well it’s a pleasure to be out here today on the side of the road at Smithfield, with Anthony Albanese, our federal Shadow Minister  for Transport, Infrastructure, Tourism and Regional Development, and Allan Dale, who is our own Regional Development Australia Chair, for this part of the world.

Today we have been meeting in relation to the current road situation of the Northern Beaches of Cairns, particularly around the federal funding models that currently apply in the Cairns area.

For those that aren’t aware, the federal funding for the roads, the highways, in and around Cairns, essentially stop at the Port of Cairns, in the centre of town and doesn’t extend any further north. So it doesn’t take into consideration anything on the Western Arterial Road, nor on the Captain Cook Road, and certainly not on the Kuranda Range.

So today we have had a briefing for Albo from the Department of Transport and Main Roads about the current state of play as well as a briefing from Allan about what the big picture situation is in relation to the roads. So I will let Albo talk and we will have a bit of a workaround with questions.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Craig, and it’s good to be here with Allan. I’m very proud that when I was Regional Development Minister I created Regional Development Australia, and we did that to create an organisation at arms-length from government, that could be responsible for providing a coordinated regional planning approach.

Coordinated planning looking at the long term, ensuring that there was coordination across the three levels of government, but also with the private sector and engaging with the community, and the RDA has done that here successfully in Far North and North Queensland.

This road circumstance that we see behind us, is one that does need to be addressed. The truth is that Cairns has a population of just above 200,000 people, but each and every day there are around 50,000 visitors to this great city, placing pressure on the infrastructure.

The National Highway goes up the Bruce Highway as far as the Port of Cairns, but doesn’t extend any further north. When we were last in Government we addressed the southern approaches to Cairns, but here in the north what we see with the Northern Beaches in particular, is a growth not just in terms of locals with an expanded population, but real pressure due to the visitor numbers who come here.

Now those visitor numbers are contributing to the national economy, and that is why the circumstance, whereby the national government doesn’t play a role in the highway for the area north of the Port of Cairns, needs to be addressed.

Of course it doesn’t even go as far as the airport, and clearly the existing legislation speaks about networks to intermodal transport, and of course are there as an important freight hub not just a passenger hub. The role that Cairns Airport plays needs to be recognised.

But further I think, the role of tourism and the number of people who use the area in the Northern Beaches means that, that pressure should be a responsibility in part also of the National Government.

So I am calling upon the federal government to give proper consideration to extending the recognition of the National Highway north of the Port of Cairns.

Certainly at least to the airport, but in my view also, you could give consideration to it going right up to Ellis Beach, so that the area of those Northern Beaches, which are used by tourists could benefit from that national support.

PROFESSOR ALLAN DALE, CHAIR OF REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUSTRALIA FOR FAR NORTH QLD & TORRES STRAIT: Today is a bit of a chance to celebrate the real progress that has been made over the last seven years.

About seven years ago the RDAs from all of North Queensland, together with local government, worked very hard with the state and the federal governments, back in Anthony Albanese’s time, to really get a big set of strategic priorities on the table.

Out of that came the major investments into the Bruce Highway that we’re now seeing, significant investments into Cape York Peninsula Development Road, and on recent developments around the North Australia White Paper, we have seen big investments into the Hann Highway and the Ootan Road.

So we’ve seen some great progress over the last seven years, it’s now time to start thinking about the next generation of big things, and as Anthony has been saying and Craig has been saying, that ring of transport and freight issues around Cairns needs to be addressed.

Access to the Tablelands, completion of the Peninsula Development Road and some of the issues of access around Mourilyan Port, they are the big next strategic issues that we need to face.

So one of the ways forward has to be, I think, local government, RDAs, the community, state and federal governments coming together to start some of that planning for the future so that we are really able to have that long term strategic and stable influence on budgets both from state and federal governments.

Today has been a great chance to brief Anthony around that, and I am really looking forward to working across the players, continuing to work across the players, to see that next generation of big strategic investment in our road infrastructure network across Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait.

REPORTER: Why stop at the Northern Beaches? There is lots of local frustration about the road, the Captain Cook all the way up to Port Douglas, west on the [inaudible] range all the way up to the Tablelands.

ALBANESE: Sure, and that could be considered as well. What I am suggesting is that there needs to be consideration by the national government of a gradual extension. The first stage immediately should be to the airport, but also I think further to the Northern Beaches is where the pressure is on.

Past there, in terms of the road to Port Douglas it’s difficult to expand that further due to the nature of the geography . But the pressure that is on in terms of the traffic into those Northern Beaches is a real issue.

Can I say this; we haven’t seen a single new dollar put into road infrastructure from the government that has now been in office for four years. This government can’t continue to simply point towards projects that were funded as part of the package put together with Regional Development Australia, when Labor was last in government federally, in partnership with the Queensland Government and local government.

The Cape York Roads Package was put in the budget in 2013 and announced in 2013. Just because the current government has reannounced it multiple times doesn’t make it a new project.

One of the things that I got briefed on today about that, that I’m very proud about, is that Indigenous employment on the Peninsula Development Road and the other roads that make up that package has been between 20 and 25 per cent.

That provides an upskilling in the short term, employment for Indigenous people but giving local Indigenous people, particularly young people those skills, that training, that opportunity.

That is a by-product of good infrastructure development; it produces a short term outcome on employment and skills and training but in the long term opens up opportunity.

Yesterday we met with the Indigenous rangers from the Cape. Now, that opportunity for growth in tourism on Cape York has been improved substantially through that improvement in infrastructure. So, long term job development as well as those short term jobs.

REPORTER: Have you been given an indication about how much upgrades to this road here might cost the federal government should it take the project up?

ALBANESE: Well of course, what we’re talking about is a cooperative approach. There are upgrades and ongoing maintenance issues on the highway. When we were in government we contributed $6.7 billion over six years to the Bruce Highway.

We inherited a circumstance whereby only $1.3 billion had been committed by the Howard Government over 12 long years. Now, the government isn’t spending the money that it itself budgeted for the Bruce Highway, said would be spent over the last year.

There have actually been underspends. When you have this need on the Bruce Highway which is of course Queensland’s most important road, then that should be addressed by the Commonwealth Government.

What we’re saying is there’s a national responsibility here, in particular because of the pressure that Cairns as a gateway to Northern Australia has that the national government should step up.

REPORTER: Doesn’t it set a bit of a precedent if this were to happen, I guess any state government that didn’t want to pay money for certain roads could wash their hands of it and it falls under federal responsibility?

ALBANESE: No. There are very clear definitions of the National Highway and for example, the National Highway has a definition in it about key intermodal transport.

Now, it stops at the port rather than the airport. That’s really just an accident of history. The fact is that whether it’s called Sheridan Street or Captain Cook Highway or the Bruce Highway, it’s the same piece of road.

Everyone knows that that’s the case. Everyone knows that the Bruce Highway is a critical piece of national infrastructure. Now, the government may choose to just make a contribution.

Certainly the Cape York Roads Package was not about including it in the National Highway network and of course it shouldn’t be in the National Highway network.

We made a decision though as a government that it was a priority in terms of opening up economic opportunity on the Cape and it’s been extremely successful.

Those figures of 20 to 25 per cent Indigenous employment on that project. $215 million with of course a contribution from the state government lifting that entire investment up to over a quarter of a billion dollars.

An investment that will produce a long term economic return but also a short term return in terms of uplifting the human capacity of the Indigenous population along the Cape.

REPORTER: Funding for roads has been a particularly sore point between this state and the feds on several occasions over the last couple of years. Is this throwing another road into that mix actually going to see any results?

ALBANESE: The federal government needs to stop having a view that Australia stops when you cross the Tweed River. This government in spite of the fact that a majority of seats in the federal parliament from Queensland are held by the LNP has ignored it.

They’ve relied upon when it comes to infrastructure the former Labor Government funding whether it be to the south here of Cairns, the roads around Townsville. I was at the opening of the Townsville Ring Road. The Mackay Ring Road is progressing.

That was all money that was provided by the former Federal Labor Government. This government has ignored the interests of Queenslanders. It is presiding over a halving of infrastructure investment nationally.

The Parliamentary Budget Office just yesterday produced an outlook over 10 years of the budget. What they found was that infrastructure investment as a proportion of the national economy, of GDP will fall from 0.4% to 0.2%.

That’s a disastrous outcome that would have real consequences for economic growth over that period of time. Good infrastructure development requires that longer term planning. As Allan said, we sat down and planned the Cape York Roads Package to be rolled out over five years.

The Bruce Highway Package was a long term proposition over the forwards. That money is in decline in future years and that needs to be reversed.

The government needs to recognise that investing in roads, investing in railways, investing in ports produces a return to the budget by expanding the national economy.

REPORTER: Albo, can I get you on one other thing quickly. Just since we spoke yesterday [inaudible] UNESCO’s decision to not change the status of the reef. Do you have a take on that?

ALBANESE: This is good news. We need to make sure that the Great Barrier Reef is protected. It is threatened by climate change.

But the fact is that there’s a great economic asset so it’s good news that UNESCO have made a decision to maintain the existing status of the reef.

It is so important for employment in Far North Queensland and also important for the national economy as well as of course being a source of great pride that one of the Seven Wonders of the World is just off our coast.

REPORTER: The Climate Council’s been out today saying that both the Turnbull Government and the State Labor Government are a bit too focussed on this particular UNESCO listing and not looking at the broader picture of climate change and the reef.

ALBANESE: Climate change is important but it’s also important to welcome good news when it comes, and this is good news. Thanks.

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(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

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

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