Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Nov 15, 2017

Transcript of television interview – SKY News

Subject: marriage equality.

DAVID SPEERS: Another supporter of same sex marriage, Anthony Albanese, who is with us, actually not from Sydney but from Melbourne this morning. Thanks for your time. Your electorate, not surprisingly, voted fairly strongly in support. What do you make of the overall result?

ALBANESE: This is a great day. We’ve said that it’s time for equality and that time is here. Now, we need to legislate and we need to to get it done as a matter of urgency, it’s time to stop the games now. The fact is that today’s result – notwithstanding the fact that Lyle Shelton is still holding out hope of resistance down the track – human rights progress and they progress in one direction. From time to time there is pushback, an attempt to hold that progress up. From time to time reactionaries even try to push it back, but the truth is that the march towards equality and removing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, does go forward and marriage equality is unfinished business.

In my first term, I introduced a Private Member’s Bill to give same-sex couples equal rights on superannuation. I couldn’t even get it debated properly and voted upon on the floor of the Parliament. It was seen as radical legislation. We got all that done in the Labor Government, with some 84 pieces of legislation that removed discrimination in immigration and health, in social security, a range of areas. But this is the last piece in the puzzle, it needs to be fixed and it will be.

I congratulate those senators from across the spectrum. Dean Smith has put forward this Bill, it has been through a process of the Senate committee. To get a unanimous recommendation is pretty hard in the Parliament today, given the adversarial nature of politics. But it’s there, it’s been considered it has protections in it, let’s just get it done.

SPEERS: Let me just ask you on those Labor seats in western and south- western Sydney, who voted very strongly, perhaps the strongest against same sex marriage – seats held by the likes of Jason Clare, Chris Bowen, Tony Burke and so on. Is that because of the strong Muslim population there do you believe?

ALBANESE: It’s not just the strong Muslim population. The Orthodox Christian community in particular had a very strong position about this issue and advocated strongly for a No vote. I think it reflects in areas like Parramatta as well, it reflects the diversity that’s there. But essentially the religious-based, faith-based organisations, whether they be Islamic or Christian, campaigned strongly and had those views. The issue of religious freedom is …

SPEERS: In those communities now, what sort of protections should they have to maintain that religious view? You know those who may be servicing, potentially servicing, same-sex weddings?

ALBANESE: They don’t have to under the Smith bill of course. They don’t have to – be it religious ministers, don’t have to solemnise a marriage between same sex couples. Religious-based structures, churches or mosques, or even buildings, don’t have to participate.

SPEERS: And that goes far enough? You wouldn’t extend that to the people who aren’t actually of the cloth?

ALBANESE: No. I think the protections that are there in the Smith bill have been thought through. I’m a strong supporter, as you know David, of a conscience vote being a process. I’m a strong supporter of religious liberty. I think the question of religious liberty should be viewed very separately from the issue of marriage equality. You know it’s not just about the rights of gay and lesbian people and whether religious institutions have a right to have views. I think that it is unfortunate that those issues have been mixed up, or attempted to be mixed up by Senator Patterson, who frankly, I had barely heard of – puts up a Bill that no one, I certainly haven’t seen, he hasn’t attempted to show anyone. I don’t know whether there is a bill or not. But Senator Smith’s Bill has been around for many months. We now have had a survey that’s produced exactly what we thought it would do. I think one of the things that will happen here David is that – I will make a prediction to you. If I’m on your program, which I hope to be in a few months’ time, we won’t even be talking about this issue because it won’t impact most Australians. It won’t impact people’s right to practise their faith.

All it will mean is that some people who now don’t have the opportunity to celebrate their lifelong commitment to their partner, who happens to be of the same gender as them, because of their sexuality, will be able to do it in front of their family and their friends. Won’t that be a great thing? I look forward to going to more weddings in the next year.

SPEERS. I’m sure, Anthony Albanese, there will be plenty in your electorate. We just flashed up the results for Grayndler and 79.9 per cent voting yes, about 20 per cent voting no.

ALBANESE: My local council, David, under the Mayor Darcy Byrne, has decreed that within 100 days of the legislation being passed, all the council buildings, town halls etcetera, will be made available free of charge for same sex weddings. I think it will be very good for the economy and for jobs as well, in terms of – as the Shadow Tourism Minister, Australia has now become a great destination once the legislation has passed, and won’t that be a good thing.

SPEERS: Anthony Albanese we will have to leave it there, but thank you very much for joining us this morning as this result is digested.

ALBANESE: Thanks very much, it’s a great day.

Nov 15, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects; Bennelong by-election, marriage equality.

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us, good morning gentlemen.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Melbourne.

HOST: Now guys, bombshell news yesterday that the former premier of New South Wales Kristina Keneally will be Labor’s candidate in John Howard’s old seat of Bennelong at the upcoming by-election caused by the dramas over John Alexander’s citizenship. Kicking off with you if we can Chris, would you describe Mrs Keneally as a political asset or a liability?

PYNE: Well she is certainly a celebrity candidate and we have seen a lot of celebrity candidates come and go in politics over the last couple of decades. She has a profile; there is no doubt about that. But she comes with very significant baggage and she is not John Alexander. John Alexander is doing a great job as the Member for Bennelong. He is very well liked. He won that seat from another celebrity candidate Maxine McKew and he has turned it into a 9.5 per cent Liberal seat. So he works the electorate very hard, particularly the ethnic communities there and he is well liked, whereas Kristina Keneally seems to be having a flight of fancy. She is obviously bored in the media. Goodness knows how she could get bored in the media and she is obviously looking for exciting opportunities. Well that is not what Bennelong should be used for. We’ve got a good local member and he should be re-elected.

HOST: Albo, you have spent much of your working life at war with Kristina Keneally’s former faction as the most senior member of the NSW Left faction. You have railed against the influence of the likes of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi for decades. What does it say about her judgement that she threw in her lot with that crowd?

ALBANESE: Well Kristina Keneally is, I think, a very good human being and she certainly dissociated herself and gave important evidence against them before the Independent Commission Against Corruption. There has been no suggestion ever of anything other than her being absolutely above board at all times.

HOST: Didn’t she sort of owe her political existence to them?

ALBANESE: Well Kristina Keneally is her own person and one of the things I think that will reflect very badly on the Government is if they run this line that she is somehow this weak woman who owes everything to a bunch of blokes. She will teach them the hard way. She certainly is her own person. She showed I think incredible fortitude in the lead-up to the 2011 election. She was the Premier. My wife, to declare an interest, was the Deputy Premier at the time – Carmel Tebbutt – and they campaigned right up to election day knowing full well that there was no prospect of success at the end of that after 16 years in office. But Kristina, I think, always engages well with people. She showed yesterday her class yet again in the media conference where her candidacy was announced and I think she is a formidable candidate and what we are really seeing here is that the Labor Party is saying we are going to have a crack. The easy thing for us to do was to say “Oh well John Alexander is high profile, he’s re-running for the seat. There will be a lot of sympathy for him given the circumstances of his resignation because his father who came here more than 100 years ago had given him British citizenship.” But we are not doing that because Kristina and Labor want to see the end of this Government and it can’t come too soon.

HOST: We are about 45 minutes away from having the result of the same-sex marriage postal survey revealed and in the event that Yes does get up, which appears to be the likely outcome, all attention turns to the legislation governing same-sex marriage. Chris Pyne, are you a supporter of the Dean Smith bill or the Patterson bill that is conservative backed?

PYNE: Well the Dean Smith bill has already been through a committee process. It has cross-party support across Liberal, Labor, Greens, cross-benchers and the Senate is sitting so my understanding is if there is a Yes vote Dean Smith’s Bill will be introduced later today formally. The Second Reading debate will begin tomorrow in the Senate and basically go until it is finished while the Senate is sitting and then by the end of the week of the 27th of November they will just keep sitting open-ended until it is done, assuming there is a Yes vote in the plebiscite. And of course James Patterson and anybody else in the Senate, it’s open to them to move any amendments that they want. What emerges from the Senate is then a Private Member’s Bill which has probably been amended or not as the case may be, depending what the Senate decides. It comes down to the House of Representatives where we get a report and then we begin debating that report from the Senate. That is the process.

HOST:  Do you believe the ultimate piece of legislation, the one that comes back to the Lower House, will be one that features any of the sorts of religious protections that appear in the Patterson Bill?

PYNE: Well I haven’t studied James Patterson’s Bill closely. I have read the Dean Smith Bill and I am quite comfortable with the religious protections that it embodies because it means that churches and religious civil celebrants and churches with function centres or buildings will not be required to marry same-sex couples and neither should they be required to do so. But I don’t support allowing businesses to refuse service to gay couples. I’d ask people who think that is a good idea to cross out the word gay and insert black or Jew and see how they would go with that.

HOST: Albo, to you then, are you as confident that the Bill, should the Yes vote ultimately get up in about 45 minutes’ time, are you as confident that the passage of the Dean Smith will be as smooth as Christopher Pyne has outlined?

ALBANESE: I think that he has outlined it very eloquently as the second-best Leader of the House there’s been in recent times. Look, I reckon that the ongoing attempts, and I don’t cast aspersions on Senator Patterson’s bill or motives because I haven’t seen it, but for goodness sake, people are sick of this debate. We’ve had the vote of the Australian people. We’ll know at 10 o’clock what it is. If it is a Yes vote, let’s just get it done and stop the blocking tactics. We’ve spent $122 million of taxpayers money to find out what we already knew, which is that Australians do support marriage equality. When Yes gets up today at 10 o’clock there won’t be more gay people. There won’t be more lesbian people. It will be exactly the same as it was at 9.59. People want this to happen. There are strong protections in the Dean Smith bill. They have been through a process, as Christopher said, a Senate process, submissions. I think the sooner this gets done, and you know what, next year we won’t be talking about this because it won’t have any impact on the overwhelming majority of your listeners. It just means that there will be a little bit more activity, in terms of economic activity. It will be good for the economy. It will be good for tourism and people can just express their lifelong commitment to each other in front of their family and friends and won’t that be a good thing.

HOST: To quickly wrap things up guys, you’ve got almost 50 years of parliamentary experience between you and you have seen plenty of elections, federal and state, and also referendum questions come and go. Your quick tip – what is the result going to be? You go first Chris.

PYNE: I think it will be a Yes vote and I think it will be 60 per cent plus.

HOST: Albo?

ALBANESE: Yes 61.

HOST: No worries. You heard it here. Gamble responsibly.

PYNE: We’ve got to stop agreeing. Stop agreeing with me all the time.

HOST: You guys are on a unity ticket on this one. That’s why we get Cory Bernardi on from time to time in the interests of fairness.

ALBANESE: That wouldn’t be Two Tribes. That would be called barking dogs or something.

HOST: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese for Two Tribes.

Nov 14, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – Drive with Rafael Epstein, ABC 774

Subjects; Bennelong by-election, Turnbull Government, marriage equality, citizenship.

RAF EPSTEIN: Albo, good afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day Raf.

EPSTEIN: You’ve got a star now potentially in your party room to outshine you.

ALBANESE: Well, Kristina is an outstanding candidate. She’s a good friend of mine. She is someone who I think showed a great deal of courage as the Premier of New South Wales in the lead-up to an election where everybody knew that Labor wasn’t going to win. But she kept campaigning right though to election day and I think she earned a great deal of respect for that. She’s someone who has a great breadth of policy interests. She also happens to be a South Sydney rugby league supporter which is always a plus.

EPSTEIN: The seat is in the north.

ALBANESE: Yes, but it’s always a plus. There are South Sydney supporters everywhere.

EPSTEIN: Can I ask you whether or not it is a mistake? Peter Beattie, former Queensland Premier ran, it was the Kevin Rudd federal election. That didn’t work at all. It’s dangerous isn’t it, running a former Premier in this way?

ALBANESE: Well, we are having a crack. That’s the thing here. We could say Bennelong is too hard, but the truth is that people are pretty tired of the Turnbull Government and Kristina will be someone who will be able to articulate a Labor policy at the election. She’s an experienced politician. She has now had, over more recent years, experience in the media.

EPSTEIN: Forgive me Albo, but isn’t that the problem? They are going to be going through every time she ever criticised Bill Shorten on Sky and running those ads in a social media campaign.

ALBANESE: Well they will always do that sort of thing. You will have some negativity from the Government. But I think what people are looking for from the Government is for them to actually start acting like it rather than as an Opposition in exile. That’s the problem.

EPSTEIN: But if she has criticised the current Opposition Leader that is completely valid, isn’t it? And she has done it, sort of uphill and down dale. That is problematic no?

ALBANESE: Well people will no doubt drag out things that people have said from time to time, but the truth is of course that Kristina Keneally is a Labor loyalist. She is someone who is putting herself forward. There’s not much in this for Kristina frankly. She could have sat back and said: “I am interested in running for Federal Parliament at some stage. Is there is a safe seat somewhere?’’ She’s from the dominant faction of course in the New South Wales Labor Party. She hasn’t done that. She is running for a seat in the context of a by-election where we were determined to ensure that Labor ran a strong campaign and there’s no doubt that she has got extraordinary campaigning capacity.

EPSTEIN: What about her call for a Royal Commission into children held in custody on places like Manus and Nauru? That’s a bit problematic isn’t it, for Bill Shorten to back a candidate like that?

ALBANESE: There will be a whole range of issues that will be raised no doubt. But the big issue is that she wants to be part of the Labor team under the Leader, Bill Shorten, for this by-election. The Government can’t continue to act as though they are an Opposition in exile. I mean, someone has got to lead in this country and Labor is determined to do so.

EPSTEIN: Anthony Albanese, the bill that Alice Workman was speaking to us about – there is a bill proposed by a Government Senator – Dean Smith. It’s the minimalist position if I could call it that. If we receive a Yes result on the survey tomorrow, it basically allows churches to say “no we won’t marry two men or two women’’ and not change too much else except of course the Marriage Act. Will that stop a debate on the floor of Parliament around much tougher, more conservative changes to the Marriage Act?

ALBANESE: No. nothing will stop a debate on the floor of the Parliament and that is a good thing. These issues should be raised on the floor of the Parliament. But the thing is about the Dean Smith bill is that it is not something that has been dreamt up just by him. It has been though a Senate process. It has been through a process whereby, unanimously, a Senate Committee, quite remarkably, put forward these proposals. So it has been through a consultation process, unlike those people who are really just opposed to marriage equality and will come up with any excuse to put it off. I think the Australian public will treat very harshly the idea that having been through this $122 million opinion survey to find out what we already knew, that a majority of Australians support marriage equality and want to just get it done, they are sick of talking about it. They want people to enjoy the same rights that they do.

EPSTEIN: But let’s say it’s a 60/40 split, Anthony Albanese, we‘ve got to take into account the 40 per cent don’t we?

ALBANESE: We’ve done that, by listening to their capacity to have this survey. We’ve done that and listened to a minority, to the tune of $122 million worth. We need to get on with this. The truth is that it won’t impact – everyone who is opposed to gay marriage won’t be forced into it. If there is a Yes vote tomorrow, I’ll give you the big tip Raf, there won’t be more gay people or lesbians in Australia.

EPSTEIN: You’ve got two Labor MPs who didn’t receive the documents from the British before they were elected. Do you really think they are going to be able to stay in the Parliament without having their cases heard by the High Court?

ALBANESE: Absolutely, in terms of – whether they’re heard by the High Court or not …

EPSTEIN: They’re going to have to go to the High Court to get the – I mean you say that it’s just a rubber stamp, but they’re going to have to go to the High Court aren’t they, those two Labor MPs?

ALBANESE: That will be a matter for the process that’s been established and I am not going to pre-empt it. People will table their documents on the 1st of December. But let me say this – John Alexander found out that he had an issue last Friday night at some time. He resigned on Saturday and he is going to be able to renounce his citizenship within the case of a few days. That is a good thing, that that is able to occur. If the High Court were to rule against someone who has put in their papers, paid their money, done all the processes and it’s been sat on for whatever reason, bureaucracy, and not processed over a period of weeks, what they’d be doing is giving another country the power to determine who sits in the Australian Parliament.

EPSTEIN: They could just be saying, sort your stuff out before you run for Parliament? That’s what they could also be saying …

ALBANESE: It was sorted out, that’s the point.

EPSTEIN: It’s not sorted out if you haven’t got the paperwork.

ALBANESE: The paperwork was. They had done their bit. What the High Court has looked at is …

EPSTEIN: That’s like me complaining to the Tax Office that I had gotten my tax return in late and I’d got a penalty.

ALBANESE: No, that’s not right. You have a date in which to put in your tax return. If the Tax Office – this is the equivalent Raf – you getting your tax return in on time; the Tax Office taking a couple of months, because of whatever reason, someone was off sick, Sally at the Tax Office who had your form, went off for a couple of months, came back …

EPSTEIN: Sally?

ALBANESE: Sally or Bill, there you go.

EPSTEIN: Anthony Albanese, I don’t want to dive into analogy or metaphor, but if you’re not an Aussie, if you’re no longer entitled to British Citizenship when you nominate, that’s a pretty hard and fast date. It doesn’t matter whether or not you try. What matters is whether or not you had a right to a British passport on the day you nominated. Your two Labor members weren’t.

ALBANESE: With respect, Justice Raf, the High Court have said, what they have said is that they will look at whether you have made the effort to do so, whether you’ve done that. It’s quite clear that our people make reasonable efforts because we have a process in place. The people who have been bowled out made no effort, either in John Alexander’s case – because he didn’t know, wasn’t aware, or because simply well – that’s up to them to explain why some of them made no effort. It’s up to the party officials to explain why they didn’t have any process in place at all to deal with these issues, because the Labor Party does.

EPSTEIN: Thanks so much for your time

ALBANESE: Thanks Raf

Nov 13, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – Kelly Fuller Program, ABC New England/North West

Subjects; Citizenship, Barnaby Joyce, New England by-election; road funding, NBN.

KELLY FULLER: The citizenship saga continues to dominate all politics. We are hearing this morning the Federal Government has secured the support of the Greens to unilaterally send Labor MPs to the High Court over the citizenship issue. What impact could that have?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it’s a very dangerous precedent for a Government to seek to use a majority vote to alter the make-up of the House of Representatives. But we are very confident of our position. The circumstances are that the seven people who were referred to the High Court – who the High Court determined the eligibility for to sit in either the House of Representatives or the Senate – of those people only one even suggested that they had made any effort to renunciate their citizenship of another country and that was the One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts who sent an email to a non-existent address, received no confirmation and was gone for all money and that was perhaps the most obvious of the cases put forward. In the Labor members’ cases every single one of them made the effort to renunciate any other citizenship that they had as part of our processes. We ensure that that occurs. So the High Court, if it were to determine that they weren’t eligible, what they would be saying is that another country could have the ability to go slow on the renunciation of a citizenship and therefore have an impact on the Australian Parliament. We are very confident that that won’t be the case and that is the big distinction between the position Labor is in and the position that the other political parties are in who have made no effort at all to deal with this issue.

FULLER: Barnaby Joyce says it is unfair that he lost his job while others who are also likely dual citizens are still in Parliament. Is it hypocrisy for Labor to be refusing to refer members that have questions?

ALBANESE:  Well Barnaby Joyce did nothing about his citizenship.

FULLER: He didn’t know about though it he says. He maintains that he didn’t. How can you do something when you don’t know?

ALBANESE: Well he was certainly aware of the background of his parents and under those circumstances they are the questions that Labor asks of people prior to them nominating for preselection. That is part of our processes. So whilst I might have some sympathy for Barnaby Joyce personally, it is a failure of the National Party here to deal with these issues and Labor has said very clearly that we want every single member of the House of Representatives and the Senate to table all of their documentation including what efforts that they have made prior to December 1 and then it can be dealt with in the Parliament as a normal matter the following week. That’s what we have called for – proper transparency. Malcolm Turnbull is saying that people should put forward their information after Parliament rises on the 7th of December. That is all about him avoiding transparency. And then if there are issues arising from that tabling, Parliament will have to be recalled at great cost to the taxpayer. Let’s get on with dealing with these issues.

FULLER: You said you had sympathy for Barnaby Joyce. Do you agree with his call for there to be a sort of an omnibus of referendums including a change to this section of the Constitution?

ALBANESE: That has been in the Labor Party’s policy platform for some period of time. I doubt, however, frankly, that the Australian public would vote for a change. That is my view. Constitutional change is very difficult to achieve. What we need to do is to get through this issue and to get through it as soon as possible because the Australian people clearly are sick of this dominating the issues. The Government had stopped governing beforehand; now they have completely stopped.

FULLER: Anthony Albanese is with us on ABC New England-North West – of course he is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. He is on his way to the New England as we talk politics. The by-election of course rattles on and is attracting a lot of attention. There’s a record 17 candidates for the New England by-election. How would you describe that field and the number of candidates that don’t even live in the seat?

ALBANESE: It’s a big field but there are two serious candidates – Barnaby Joyce and David Ewings, the Labor candidate. We believe David is a very serious candidate. When he ran in 2016 he said he was in it for the long haul.

FULLER:  Barnaby Joyce has said that with a field that size he doesn’t think anyone will get remotely close to 50 per cent of the primary vote. There’s a lot of people coming into the region who don’t have much connection with it at all just to play games with the by-election process. Do you think that is appropriate?

ALBANESE: No I don’t think people should be nominating just out of playing a political game. I think there are serious candidates and they are obviously Barnaby Joyce and David Ewings and people should give consideration to whether they would want this Government to continue on, the rolling calamity that it is and they have an opportunity to do something about that.

FULLER: What chance do you think David Ewings actually has? There’s a sense in the seat that Barnaby Joyce can’t lose.

ALBANESE: Well look, the truth is that our vote was in single figures the last time around but David Ewings is in it for the long haul. He is committed to the area. He is a local. He is a local who has worked in the local community. He is committed to the New England region. He and his fiancee live in Scone and they are committed to making a difference and I think this is an opportunity to send a message to the Government. Barnaby Joyce has taken his seat for granted. I found it astonishing that projects like Bolivia Hill, that was funded in 2012, the planning work for that project, was put in the Budget, fully federally funded $80 million, in the 2013 Budget and nothing happened on it in 2014, 2015 or 2016. Nothing happened on it until we got to 2017 and Barnaby Joyce was facing a by-election and then tenders were called. And a similar story with the Scone Bypass and a similar story with the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass. If you want a real wake-up call to the Government and a message that New England can’t be taken for granted, then there is an opportunity to do that by voting for David Ewings in the by-election.

FULLER: Is it just a vote though in Opposition? I mean, what’s the Labor Party’s vision for the area? We haven’t heard much in terms of concepts or plans or ideas except criticism and I guess telling us that Barnaby Joyce has taken the electorate for granted. What’s the Labor Party got on the agenda for the region if they were to win?

ALBANESE: Well our vision is for proper road funding for a start in my area – making sure that the funding for projects like the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program, the Black Spots program, that Bolivia Hill and these projects do actually happen where the money is in the Budget. Our vision is for a National Broadband Network that actually works; that consists of fibre, not a three-tiered system …

FULLER: Do you get to keep throwing criticism without actually putting any plan on the table?

ALBANESE: Well I just did in terms of proper road funding for projects, for the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program …

FULLER: That’s pretty broad though.

ALBANESE: Well The National Broadband Network is pretty specific. Our vision is for a first-rate system, a system that does it once, does it right and does it with fibre. That is our vision for the National Broadband Network. Our vision is for proper health services. Our vision is that schools will get funding according to need, not the cuts that the Government has in its school funding program. Our vision is to stop the attacks on Medicare and to make sure that bulk billing is available and to make sure that the health care needs of the people in New England are assisted and we have a proud record there. The work at the Tamworth Hospital was extraordinary while we were in Government.

FULLER: Anthony Albanese there on his way to the New England as the by-election campaigning continues.

Nov 13, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Tamworth

Subjects; New England by-election; road funding, road safety.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be here in Tamworth with David Ewings, Labor’s candidate for the New England by-election and it is great to be back in New England. I was here just a couple of months ago in Armidale delivering the Sir Earle Page lecture at the University of New England. I have continued to visit this region on a regular basis and when Labor was in government, we delivered for this region, unlike Barnaby Joyce.

It has taken a by-election to get any movement at all from Barnaby Joyce. I was shocked frankly when just in the lead-up to Barnaby Joyce being ruled to be ineligible because of this New Zealand citizenship the Government announced tenders for the Bolivia Hill Upgrade and also for the Scone Bypass and as well confirmed that they were still interested in the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass. Now Bolivia Hill – I drove along the New England Highway here and had a look for myself at Bolivia Hill – a dangerous black spot with more memorials to tragedy than any spot I have seen in Australia, and I say that as someone who was the Transport Minister for six years. It was very clear what the problem was – a straight road that is flat along the New England Highway all of a sudden leading to a windy road up and then down Bolivia Hill with dangerous curves in that road. There had been so many fatalities at that site that we, immediately I looked at it, committed to fully fund the upgrade because the New South Wales Coalition Government weren’t interested in providing support because the seat was held by the Independent Member Tony Windsor.

So we put $80 million in the Budget after we funded the planning work for it – in the Budget since 2013, the planning work funded in 2012. It was ready to go. Nothing happened for the rest of 2013 except that the money got taken out of the Budget and then put back in a couple of years later after a delay. And nothing has happened. lt is now 2017. That project should have been completed. The Scone Bypass was funded by the former Labor Government. The Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass was funded after a visit to Tenterfield by myself as the Transport Minister.

It’s a bit like the National Broadband Network when it comes to infrastructure, where, when I visited Armidale I heard from people at the university and involved in providing job creation for the New England region about what an advantage Armidale has because it has the fibre-to-the-premise National Broadband Network, unlike Tamworth, which has a second-rate system. So Armidale has 21st Century technology; here we have fibre-to-the-node – 20th century technology with then copper to the home – unacceptable wind back because this area has just been take for granted by Barnaby Joyce.

Imagine the impact that it would have if David Ewings is elected as the Member for New England at this by-election. You would see more visits from Government ministers than you have ever seen before from the Coalition. It’s about time that the people of New England said they are not going to be taken for granted; they are going to take this opportunity to send Barnaby Joyce a message that his performance simply hasn’t been up to scratch and it is not good enough to wait until a by-election is around the corner before you see some action. David …

DAVID EWINGS: Yes, thanks Anthony. It’s great to have our Labor Shadow Ministers visiting regularly in New England, not only just in a by-election but, as Anthony mentioned, on a regular basis whenever they can to make sure they are on top of the issues in the regions and I might just pick up where I started in the campaign, which is to reiterate what Anthony said. The National Party takes the regions for granted. What we want is action in the regions. We already face disadvantage in these areas through our education funding and our health system and we’ve got a Government that is attacking penalty rates.

They don’t care about ordinary people. They don’t care about students. They don’t care about the battlers out there doing it tough and the Nationals are not delivering on these big infrastructure projects, particularly in road transport, making sure that our roads are safe and we have seen the Government I believe getting rid of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal as well.

Once again it is great to have Anthony here but I might just touch on a couple of figures just to make my point about the lack of activity from Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals in the regions. When you look at Black Spot Program you are talking about $70 million budgeted with a spend of about $30 million. And then moving on to other projects you are seeing for roads, you are seeing budgeting for about $60 million – spent $14 billion.

Now what people need to understand is that this is a Government that has in its sights to give $65 billion worth of tax cuts on a plate to big businesses. This is how these things are paid for – cutting from important infrastructure projects; cutting from our social security systems; cutting from our health and education. We can’t tolerate it. I won’t tolerate it. The Labor Party won’t tolerate it.

And, as Anthony said, this is an opportunity that all New Englanders should take to send a message to Malcolm Turnbull who frankly is in all kinds of trouble. He is not leading. He is not leading the nation. He is not leading his party room and you know it is anybody’s guess how much longer this Government will continue, but we need change here and I fully intend to do a far better job of delivering for the regions and for the New England if I am elected.

REPORTER: What is Labor proposing to do to fix these black spots?

ALBANESE:  What Labor will do for a start is we won’t leave spending that is allocated in the Budget unspent. That is what is happened with programs like the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program and the Black Spots Program. Here in New England there is money that was allocated that they simply haven’t had their act together to spend.

Now today we are the Truck Drivers Memorial here in Tamworth. It is a memorial to those people who have lost their lives doing their job that they love doing – sacrificing for their family so that their family can have food on the table; so they can school their kids. This is Government that isn’t showing appropriate care when it comes to actually delivering on transport issues and that is having a real impact in regional Australia, particularly here in the New England, where you have major projects where the money has been in the Budget like for Bolivia Hill and you have smaller projects like Black Spots and the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program, programs that were created with the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program when Labor was in Government, where they haven’t spent the money.

It is quite extraordinary. But it is typical of this Government – the cuts that have happened to school funding here as a result of their reneging on the Gonski funding agreements; the cuts to the National Broadband Network roll out; the cuts to health that we have seen from this Government. This is a Government that doesn’t care about Australians. It just cares about itself. It is so mired in conflict between the National Party and the Liberal Party and Malcolm Turnbull’s supporters and Tony Abbott’s supporters that they don’t know whether they are Arthur or Martha. So things are not getting done. It’s just not a competent government.

REPORTER: Can you be more specific more specific about how the money will actually be spent to help fix the black spots?

ALBANESE: Well, we what we will do is allocate the money for Black Spots and make sure it is spent. What that will mean is that the most dangerous black spots identified by the local community will be fixed under a Labor Government. We will also get on with making sure that Bolivia Hill actually happens, not is talked about for years and years that the money is there in the Budget, that it is spent and invested, creating jobs in the short term as well as making a difference in the long term.

We will make sure that the National Broadband Network is actually rolled out in a way that actually delivers a difference to Tamworth and this region. We’ll make sure that schools get the proper funding that they were promised and don’t get the cuts that have occurred under this Government. For the region in terms of universities, we won’t have the sort of changes that have been proposed to impose higher fees on university graduates which will place more pressure particularly on people from underprivileged backgrounds. We think that is critical. One of the things about regional Australia is that it does have less income than those people in our capital cities. That is why regional Australia is deserving of additional support. We did that when we were last in Government. We’d do that again. But there’s an opportunity for New England to get, if you like, a pre-showing of what a Labor Government would be like by getting rid of Barnaby Joyce. This is a guy who is not sure whether he supports New South Wales or Queensland in the State of Origin. It’s no wonder that he is struggling to represent this area.

REPORTER: Do you think the Government is holding off doing the Bolivia Hill alignment for political benefit – as a bargaining chip for a rainy day?

ALBANESE: It’s quite extraordinary that they cut the funding that was allocated when they came to office. They then put the money back, but not all of it. It was $80 million. One of the reasons why it was fully federally funded was that we didn’t want any delays over argy bargy between New South Wales and the Commonwealth. We said this is a danger, we will fix it – fully funded $80 million. They have put $55 million back into the Budget and are requiring a contribution from the New South Wales Government. The New England Highway is part of the national network. It is a responsibility that we have.

People in this region have benefitted from the Hunter Expressway that was completed when we were in Government. That was a $1.7 billion project – the largest infrastructure project for one section of highway that we have seen from a Federal Government in New South Wales – $1.5 billion of that was Commonwealth money. Now, that was talked about during the Howard Government, but nothing happened. It took Labor to get elected to make that a reality, to cut travel times from this region down headed south to Sydney and Newcastle. So we think that this needs to be done.

As for the Government’s motives it is really beyond belief that press releases started to come about the Scone Bypass, Bolivia Hill and the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass, only after Barnaby Joyce had been referred to the High Court of Australia. There is no doubt that that was a part of the preparations for this by-election. It was a cynical move and I think the people of New England have an opportunity to send a message that they are better than that, that they won’t cop that sort of cynical behaviour and opportunism from the National Party.

REPORTER:  There is still a lot of support for Mr Joyce and there is a massive field of candidates for this by-election. What do you think your party’s chances are of getting in?

ALBANESE: Well we’ve got a great candidate. We’ve got a candidate who ran in 2016. He has a broad range of experience. David has been a Royal Australian Airforce serviceperson. He’s worked in mining, He’s worked in steelworks. He is someone who, when he ran in 2016, said he was here for the long term and he is doing it again. He is fronting up to run. He lives with his partner, his fiancé, in Scone in the electorate. I think he is an outstanding candidate. We are very pleased to get him. He was pre-selected unanimously by the party to contest this by-election and if he wins here I will tell you what, there will be no doubt about whether he will go to Queensland to get a seat like Barnaby Joyce swapped states. There’ll be no doubt about him swapping Houses. There’ll be no doubt about who he supports in the State of Origin, and, more importantly, there will be no doubt about how he will deliver for the New England region because he is committed to making a real difference. And he will have the voice of people in Government, because the truth is that Malcolm Turnbull; it’s a matter of how long he can limp on for at the moment. His own party don’t have confidence in the Government. They are falling apart at the seams and I think the quicker a transition to a Labor Government happens the better and the people of New England have an opportunity to assist in that.

REPORTER: David, we have seen a couple of Labor heavyweights come into the electorate so far. Are we going to see more as the party throws resources at this electorate?

EWINGS: Sure. As far as resources go, we are still running a grassroots campaign. We are going to get out and do some more door-knocking. We did a lot of door-knocking last time. We will continue to do that and get our message out there. But it is always great to have people like Anthony Albanese and our other shadow ministers – Matt Thistlethwaite, Doug Cameron come along.  They are the ones we have had to date so far. Joel Fitzgibbon of course is always up here lending his support to the campaign. So yes, you will see other shadows here leading up to election day.

REPORTER: And what’s the response from the door knocks been like?  It is a traditionally National or independent or conservative seat. What’s the response been like from door-knocks?

EWINGS: It has been really positive. I think people are really pleased that we are out and about. It’s always going to be hard. I have said this from the outset – we are the underdog candidate – or one of them. But people are pleased that there is that alternative voice getting out there and they want that. They want that choice. They want a decent choice between the person they have had delivering nothing at all for them for the last four, nearly five, years and they want maybe the chance to give someone else a go that really wants to get in and have a crack and I have got to say that it is really great to be part of the Labor Party and the labour movement because we govern for everybody. That’s what the Labor Party does. It doesn’t matter who is the incumbent member. It doesn’t matter. We get in there and we make those assessments based on what the communities need and they get done as Anthony outlined with some of those other projects. So people I think are starting to understand that and they are pleased that we are out there having a go and the response has been very good.

ALBANESE: Thanks you very much.

Nov 11, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Sydney

Subjects; Greens call for Governor General to intervene in citizenship crisis; Malcolm Turnbull; Manus Island protest.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yesterday Greens Leader Richard Di Natale made an extraordinary comment for everyone who remembers the attack on democracy that occurred on this day in 1975 by calling for the Governor General to consider intervening in the current citizenship crisis. There is no role. For anyone who remembers Whitlam’s dismissal – an elected government was dismissed by the Queen’s representative which represented an attack on our democracy and Richard Di Natale’s opportunistic writing to the Governor General will, I think, upset many of his supporters and all those Australians who understand that that action in 1975 was wrong and should never, ever happen again.

REPORTER: Are we heading into dangerous territory?

ALBANESE: The idea that Governments can be dismissed by the Queen’s representative using his reserve powers is something that I find completely unacceptable and I would have thought that anyone, particularly on the progressive side of politics, would understand that that is the case.

REPORTER: Given there are now a number of Labor MPs now with a question mark over their citizenship, wouldn’t it be the best decision to refer them to the High Court?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that Labor has put forward a practical plan of ensuring that everyone puts their details before the Parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate – by the first of December. You would then have an orderly consideration of that in the final week of sittings and then the High Court could consider anyone who the Parliament saw fit to be referred to it. But let’s draw an important distinction here – there are no Labor members that just sat on their hands, that weren’t aware of the Constitution, that weren’t aware of Section 44 and didn’t do anything about it. The High Court determination dismissed those people from the House of Representatives and the Senate who had taken no action with regard to their citizenship. There is no-one in Labor in that position. The only person who said they had made any effort was Malcolm Roberts and his effort was to send off an email to a non-existent address that was received by nobody, so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that the High Court ruled him to be ineligible. We are very confident that Labor’s representatives do comply with the Constitution because we have those processes in place to consider these issues prior to an election being held, not afterwards.

REPORTER: Does the Governor General have any role to play in this Constitutional crisis?

ALBANESE: Well I think that as someone who understands the impact that Gough Whitlam’s dismissal had in 1975 on the fabric of our Australian democracy; all those people who had a look at those events said a long time ago never again should a Governor General dismiss an Australian Government. I find it extraordinary that Mr Di Natale doesn’t seem to get that message and I would suggest that Greens Party supporters will give it to him pretty clearly the next time that he takes a street walk or talks to people who regard themselves as part of Gough Whitlam’s generation.

REPORTER:  Do you agree that something extreme needs to happen here to resolve this issue once and for all? It has been dragging on for a long time.

ALBANESE: What needs to happen is an orderly examination and that people need to put their information before the Parliament. It needs to be done transparently. In John Alexander’s case I find it extraordinary that John Alexander says that he hasn’t received all of the information from the British High Commission. We know that in Senator Parry’s case that information was given within a couple of days. My concern there is what is the delay? If Mr Alexander does have that information from the British High Commission then he should tell the Australian people and importantly his electorate what the basis of that information is.

REPORTER: If there was a by-election in Bennelong how do you think Labor would go?

ALBANESE: Well I’m not going to get ahead of it but the truth is that I think in general people have had enough of this Government. People know that this is a Government without a narrative, without a plan and that Mr Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Mr Abbott; he just doesn’t have a plan to govern. There is no sense of purpose. There’s no sense that he is there for any other reason other than to occupy the Lodge. He might think that it is an exciting time for him. I think for the Australian people it has been a pretty miserable time under the Turnbull Government.

REPORTER: What was your response to Christine Forster being attacked by Manus Island protesters last night?

ALBANESE: There is no place in Australian politics for demonstrations which are violent or which are aimed at intimidation. People can put across their views by all means, but it should be done peacefully at all times and I think the images that I have seen of last night’s demonstration bring credit frankly to Christine Forster for the way that she handled it. But she looked quite disturbed by the intimidation that went on, and that just doesn’t have a place on anyone let alone a woman entering into a public event, or a fundraising event, with her partner.

REPORTER: Tony Abbott today tweeted saying that the protesters infringed on the rights of an Australian in support of the rights, the supposed rights, of asylum seekers. What do you make of that sort of comment?

ALBANESE:  Tony Abbott I think has lost the plot some time ago. I think you can talk about the events being entirely inappropriate, as they were last night, without further vilifying people who are thousands of kilometres  away on Manus Island or Nauru. The people who were responsible for the inappropriate activity at last night’s demonstration are those people who did it, not others.

REPORTER: Just turning back to citizenship, the Government says it has advice that Justine Keay and Susan Lamb should be disqualified. Should that …

ALBANESE: Well they don’t have that and they don’t even say it. If you actually look at the advice it’s got more qualifications than anything I have seen for a long time. It’s a nonsense and the advice itself has all these qualifications from the lawyer who is paid to give the Liberal Party advice. You know, I think that it really was a waste of time and I am surprised that the lawyer concerned embarrassed himself by putting that forward. Thank you.

Nov 10, 2017

Transcript of television – Today Show

Subjects: Manus Island; citizenship.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the program. You are watching Today across the country. Well take a look at these images: mould-infested showers; no running water; filthy bathrooms and wells made out of wheelie bins – absolute squalor. These are the conditions on Manus Island. Close to 600 men refusing to be moved from the centre to new facilities, citing fears for their safety. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning guys.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, have you seen that footage?

PYNE: I have, yes.

STEFANOVIC: Disturbed by it?

PYNE: Well, Manus Island is closed Karl. All those people on Manus Island who are at that Detention Centre are effectively squatting there. They could go to East Lorengau or West Lorengau, Hillside House. They could go to Nauru, the United States, they could go home to their countries and many in fact have done so. The Papua New Guinean Government has closed Manus Island and those people who are still there are there illegally effectively squatting. Activists in Australia telling them to stay there and they will get to Australia are lying to them and that is unfortunately the situation they have put themselves in it.

STEFANOVIC: They do believe and they fear that they will be attacked if they are moved.

PYNE: Well the Papua New Guinean Government is protecting all of those people. Many people are already at better facilities at East and West Lorengau, at Hillside House. Many have taken the option of returning home. Some are in Nauru; some have gone to the United States. There are other options for them than the Manus Island Detention Centre. Those people who are still in the Manus Island Detention Centre have chosen not to take the options that the Government has made available to them and that is because many have been told by Australian activists to stay in Manus Island and they will get them to Australia. The message from the Government is very clear – anyone who has come via people smugglers will not end up in Australia.

STEFANOVIC: Do you have any sense of humanity?

PYNE: Of course Karl and I’m very sorry for those people.

STEFANOVIC: It doesn’t sound like it this morning.

PYNE:  No. In fact, Karl, those people could be in new, fresh detention centres in West and East Lorengau and Hillside House. They are choosing to stay in those conditions. That is the fact of the matter.

STEFANOVIC: Anthony, these people, they could move. They fear for their own safety. The PNG authorities may well go in, in the next couple of days, and forcibly remove them. That has disaster written all over it. Will you support that move?

ALBANESE: The fact is that Manus Island was supposed to be a processing centre. Instead it has become a place of indefinite detention and it is no wonder that you have this frustration after years of indefinite detention, which for many of these people they don’t see hope in terms of a place of settlement in a third country. The Government looks at these people and doesn’t see human beings deserving of respect; they see a political opportunity and they have left them there for year after year.

PYNE: It is not true.

ALBANESE: Christopher in his response this morning has said that an option is to go to the United States. I tell you what, I bet you every single person there who was told, “You can leave now, get on a plane and go to the US’’ would do the just that.

PYNE: But they are not.

ALBANESE: But the truth is, the Government hasn’t provided options of third country settlement for these people.

PYNE: That is not so.

ALBANESE: New Zealand have made an offer and the Government rejected it. They would rather have this stand-off and it is time that the politics ended …

PYNE: It is not true.

ALBANESE: … and that the Government actually put in place a plan …

PYNE: You have to deal with the facts.

ALBANESE: … and took some responsibility.

STEFANOVIC: Talking of politics, let’s move on. Christopher, are you going refer to Labor MPs with citizenship issues to the High Court? Simple. Yes or no?

PYNE: Well yes, if they have citizenship issues we will.

STEFANOVIC: Are you going ahead with that now?

PYNE: I just said that if we have evidence that there are Labor MPs with clouds over their citizenship I don’t care if Labor wants to cooperate or not. Bill Shorten is trying to blow up the Parliament. We are trying to solve the issue that the High Court has created for us. If Bill Shorten thinks you can carve out Labor MPs from the same rules that apply to everybody else in the Parliament, he has another thing coming. We won’t be doing that. This is a situation he has created because he wants to blow up the Parliament. We’ve offered him an olive branch. He has rejected it.

STEFANOVIC: So the Prime Minister indicated that he might be doing this. You are saying this morning that you are doing this?

PYNE: If there are Labor MPs with citizenship issues that we have enough evidence to refer them to the High Court and Labor doesn’t intend to cooperate, we will refer them without Labor’s support. And if Bill Shorten refuses to cooperate, that is a matter for him. But we know that he is not a statesman. He is no John Curtin or Bob Hawke. We tried to work with him in a bipartisan way. He rejected that.

STEFANOVIC: OK, it’s now war.

ALBANESE: Well the fact is, this is a Government that is melting down before our very eyes. Malcolm Turnbull – we saw on the Today Show earlier this week the state that he is in. He is incapable of providing leadership. Labor has put forward a constructive proposal.

STEFANOVIC: But why don’t you put forward the documents on these MPs? What are be you hiding?

ALBANESE: We have said it should be done sooner rather than later.

STEFANOVIC: Why don’t you just do it now?

ALBANESE: We want to do it. We want to do it – table them in Parliament the first week back and then of course the Parliament will deal with it as appropriate. That’s our plan. Their plan is to bring Parliament back. Why they want the Parliament to look that there is an even bigger crisis than there is is beyond me. They want to on December 18. We are saying December 1.

STEFANOVIC: There’s no deal. Any kind of bipartisan relationship is now gone. It is now war.

ALBANESE: There is no leadership from this Government. Someone has to lead and Labor is showing leadership from Opposition.

PYNE: It is quite the opposite, absolutely the opposite. Labor’s wheels are spinning. Only a few months ago Bill Shorten refused to his release his own documentation about his citizenship. He said no other Labor MP …

ALBANESE: And did it on the day in the Parliament – tabled it in the Parliament after  Malcolm Turnbull …

PYNE: Rubbish.

ALBANESE: …after Malcolm Turnbull had stood up and said that he had questions to answer and ran this whole game just like Malcolm Turnbull is the guy who stood in the Parliament and said “the High Court will so find’’ about Barnaby Joyce.

PYNE: He had to be dragged kicking and screaming.

STEFANOVIC: I think we’ve got resolution on this issue.

PYNE: We are the ones dealing with it.

ALBANESE: It’s all looking good under this Government.

PYNE: We are the ones dealing with it.

ALBANESE: It’s going well for you Christopher.

PYNE: Labor is just playing politics.

STEFANOVIC: Will you two stop yelling at each other?

ALBANESE: And we are friends.

STEFANOVIC: …and just get it sorted.

PYNE: We are. We are. We are the only two left. We are the last two friends standing.

STEFANOVIC: That’s the admission his morning from the Government. All right. Thank you guys.

Nov 10, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Lateline, ABC

Subjects; Manus island, citizenship, Greens.

MATT WORDSWORTH, PRESENTER: To discuss what can be done on Manus and the continuing citizenship crisis, I was joined by Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, and Labor frontbencher, Anthony Albanese, for the Late Debate. Gentlemen, welcome to Lateline.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be here.

PAUL FLETCHER, URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER: Thanks.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The situation on Manus Island, let’s start there. There could be a confrontation as early as tomorrow when the men who are there, refusing to leave, they could be forcibly removed. Is this on both of your parties or is this the men’s decision? Minister, can I just start with you.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, certainly it is the men on the island and the activists including Greens Senator, Nick McKim, who are irresponsibly encouraging those men to stay in the Manus Island Detention Centre which has now been closed for some days following an order or a decision of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court. There is alternative accommodation available for those men and they certainly should move to that. The East Lorengau, West Lorengau and Hillside House facilities, they should certainly move to those. That is the safest course of action and there they will have food, water, sanitation and so on.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Minister, I’ll talk to Anthony Albanese about his view in a second but just this morning GetUp! released those pictures because they went over there, looked at the conditions and said the men are just too scared to go to this new accommodation because they fear attacks from the locals. What do you say to them?

PAUL FLETCHER: What I say is that there is alternative accommodation available for them and unfortunately Australian political activists, for their own purposes, including Nick McKim and the Greens, are deliberately inciting this behaviour, which is very unhelpful. What is in the best interests of those men is to go to the alternative accommodation and, of course, for those who have been found to be refugees, they have the option, should they wish to go to Nauru or to be considered under the arrangements that we have struck with the United States. This is a problem we inherited when the Labor Government established this facility. We have been working systematically to go through the number of people there, identify whether they had a refugee claim or not, and it’s very unfortunate that political activists, for their own reasons, are choosing to inflame the situation. As a Government, we are working calmly and methodically to resolve it.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Anthony Albanese, does Labor take any responsibility for the being the ones that reopened Manus?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Manus was reopened as a processing centre. The problem is people haven’t been processed. They’ve been left in indefinite detention now for more than four years and people can’t see a resolution to their predicament, even though some of them, a majority, have been found to be refugees. The Government can’t continue to say, “This is the fault of something that happened in 2013.” They have had a responsibility to find a third country of settlement. There are offers on the table that they’ve rejected for years, such as New Zealand’s, that was reiterated by Prime Minister Ardern just last weekend.

MATT WORDSWORTH: But do you think those men should move to the alternative accommodation for their own safety, for their own hygienic security?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I am not there on the ground but certainly the men need to look after their own interests with regard to if they’re in an area that isn’t safe, that is unhygienic and there are facilities that will improve their living standards today, then, of course, they should take up that option. But the longer-term issue has been the failure to provide certainty for these people and that’s created a climate of mental anguish, a climate whereby it’s understandable that these men are incredibly frustrated and are acting in a way, perhaps Paul’s correct, in terms of the actions of some more concerned with scoring political points. I’m concerned about …

MATT WORDSWORTH: So you blame the activists as well here?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. Well, I’m primarily concerned with not allocating blame. I’m concerned with getting a solution in the interests of humanity rather than scoring political points. My concern is that the Government has used these people essentially as political footballs, as a political opportunity, have not done terribly much to provide any solutions so that they can continue to point towards them and say, “Look, when Labor was in office people came here as unauthorised arrivals seeking asylum.”

MATT WORDSWORTH: Paul Fletcher, can I get your response to Anthony Albanese here saying it’s your fault for not finding a third country resettlement option for these guys.

PAUL FLETCHER: Let’s be clear, when the Howard Government left office we did not have a border protection problem in Australia. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government comprehensively mismanaged this issue, totally mismanaged border security issues. As a result, some 50,000 people, unauthorised arrivals, came by boat. At least 1200 that we know of died. And, of course, it takes a long time, it takes time to re-establish order and to send a very clear message to the people smugglers that they will not be able to reopen their trade. That’s what we are determined to do. Obviously we want these men to have safe alternatives available to them. There are alternative facilities on Manus Island. East and West Lorengau, Hillside House – these facilities are available. But what we are also determined to do is maintain the strong border protection arrangements that we have put in place so that we do not once again see people encouraged to make the dangerous trip to Australia by boat which tragically under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor Government saw 50,000 people arrive unauthorised and 1200 at least die at sea. But, of course, you can’t trust Labor on this because the left wing of the Labor Party, and the moment they got the chance, you would see them seeking to remove the strong border protections that we put in place.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No-one wants to see, no-one wants to see the people smugglers’ trade start again. No-one wants to see that. But the same time we don’t have to give up our humanity in doing so and the fact that these people have been left there for far too long, and the Government, when these issues are raised, they just go back to blaming someone else other than themselves. They’ve been responsible for this for a period of time. They’re the people who voted against the Malaysia solution when we were in Government and they’re the people that had Cambodia as a solution which has cost $50 million to place one person in Cambodia.

MATT WORDSWORTH: I want to move on before we run out of time. Citizenship crisis sucking basically all the oxygen out of Canberra at the moment. John Alexander reportedly close to quitting. Minister, that’s your next-door neighbour electorate, not just your colleague. You got any intel on whether John Alexander is going to walk?

PAUL FLETCHER: Look, John Alexander is a great member of Parliament, he’s a great Australian. We all remember his triumphs on the tennis court and he’s served the people of Bennelong extremely well. He’s in the course of taking advice. He’ll, of course, have more to say when he’s done that, but he’s a great Australian. He’s made a great contribution, and I’m …

MATT WORDSWORTH: “He made” – past tense. You think it’s all over?

PAUL FLETCHER: I’m very confident that he’ll continue to make a strong contribution.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Sounds like a valedictory, Paul.

PAUL FLETCHER: What we need to make sure of is that we have a proper process to establish certainty across the Parliament. That’s what the Prime Minister announced on Monday. We’ve then been working with the Opposition, seeking to engage in good faith with the Opposition Leader who unfortunately seems to have more of an interest in spinning this out rather than coming to a resolution. But we have established a process, we have announced a process under which members of the House or Senators would be asked to make a declaration, where appropriate provide appropriate evidence. That would be on a register, publicly available, and then it would be open to the House or the Senate to make referrals to the High Court where there was a judgement that there was uncertainty about the status of a particular individual.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Just on that topic, obviously we have already had five MPs booted, more referrals are looking likely. Let’s take a listen to Christopher Pyne speaking to you, Anthony Albanese, this morning on Channel Nine.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE, DEFENCE INDUSTRY MINISTER: If there are Labor MPs with citizenship issues that we have enough evidence to refer them to the High Court, and Labor doesn’t intend to cooperate, we will refer them without Labor’s support. And if Bill Shorten refuses to cooperate, that is a matter for him but we know that he’s not a statesman. He’s no John Curtin or Bob Hawke. We tried to work with him in a bipartisan way. He rejected that.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So Anthony Albanese, it looks like things are getting political. Could there just be a tit-for-tat thing going on in Parliament now, referring people to the High Court?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s just tin pot dictatorship stuff saying you’ll use a majority to make decisions about who has a right to sit in Parliament and who will be referred off to the High Court. What we need is a mature response here and a bit of leadership and it has been Labor that has been showing leadership. We’re the ones who said there should be a full disclosure before the Parliament and now we’re saying let’s do it while Parliament is actually sitting. There is no reason why, on November 10, we can’t say that people can document their backgrounds, of parents and grandparents, by December 1. It is three weeks away from today that they have and they’ve known about this for a long time. Get the documentation in and then Parliament, the following week, in an orderly way, not with special sittings of Parliament at cost to the taxpayer, can refer anyone who Parliament sees fit to, but in an appropriate way, not as this tit-for-tat business, that the Government is threatening to engage in.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Paul Fletcher, is this descending into just a partisan score contest here?

PAUL FLETCHER: Absolutely not. This is an issue that we know affects all parties, major parties, crossbenchers. Labor has been saying for months, “It doesn’t affect us, we’ve got better vetting processes.” It’s very clear it does affect the Labor Party as well. So what we have said, as Christopher Pyne said this morning, as the Prime Minister has said, is that if there are issues about members of Parliament where there’s a significant doubt about their eligibility to serve, that should be referred to the High Court. Now what Mr Shorten has been trying to do is in some way carve out from the process the consideration of the status of Labor members like Justine Keay and a number of others. Well, that’s simply not appropriate. We need to have a process that looks objectively at every member and every senators’ circumstances and that’s what we want to do. So far from being political, this is about having a proper, objective process that looks at the facts and certainly doesn’t give Mr Shorten the kind of special carve out deal that he seems to want. We’re of Government, we’re about delivering the best possible and most certain outcome here, getting on with the job. Mr Shorten, of course, is doing what he’s always doing, which is trying to spread confusion.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No-one is argue for anything other than uniformity. The difference is we’re saying let’s get on with it and do it sooner rather than later because I don’t understand frankly why the Government doesn’t seem to understand that it can’t get oxygen or traction on anything, that this crisis is damaging the political fabric of our democracy. All sides are being damaged by this. Parliament looks bad, the Australian democratic system looks bad as a result of this. So, let’s resolve it as soon as possible.

MATT WORDSWORTH: On that point…

PAUL FLETCHER: That’s why we put forward a sensible process.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: You want to sit on December 18.

PAUL FLETCHER: Mr Shorten is to come to the party …

ANTHONY ALBANESE: You want to sit just before Santa Claus arrives.

PAUL FLETCHER:and engage on a sensible process rather than playing delay games for very transparent political reasons.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, you’re the ones trying to delay it though, Paul. You’re the ones who want to sit on December 18 just before Santa Claus arrives, have the High Court sit in February next year.

PAUL FLETCHER: The Prime Minister has made it clear; the Prime Minister has made it clear that we’re proposing December the 7th.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: After Parliament rises.

PAUL FLETCHER: December the 7th …

ANTHONY ALBANESE: After Parliament rises.

PAUL FLETCHER: … as the time …

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And when does Parliament rise, Paul?

PAUL FLETCHER: … when we ask people to provide this evidence and we’ve got a clear process to move forward.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: When does Parliament rise? December 7. That’s an absurd proposition.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Well, let’s just hear another suggestion because the Greens leader, Richard Di Natale looks like hitting the panic button on the entire Parliament. He’s revealed he’s writing to the Governor-General. Let’s take a listen.

RICHARD DI NATALE, GREENS LEADER: We know the Governor-General, when it comes to a constitutional crisis, has played a role in the past and a very famous example of that. We need to know what all the options are available to us in terms of bringing this issue to an urgent resolution.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Anthony Albanese, that sounds like he wants the dismissal, part 2.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He stands condemned for that suggestion. Anyone who was around on the 11th November, commemorated tomorrow 1975, and the damage that did to our democracy. The idea that this bloke would call for the intervention of the Governor-General to dismiss a Government, you know, I’m not a fan of this Government, but I don’t want to see ever again the Governor-General’s powers, reserved powers, be abused like they were in 1975. And that’s precisely what Senator Di Natale appears to be suggesting. It’s opportunist and it’s achieved its objectives, which is it’s got his head on the news tonight on Lateline.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Paul Fletcher, do you think he’s serious, that he wants the Governor-General to intervene here?

PAUL FLETCHER: I think Senator Di Natale’s contribution on this is about as useful as Senator McKim’s contribution on Manus Island. It’s not helpful. It doesn’t advance the position at all. It’s just designed to be bit of a circus and a side show. The Government, led by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has put forward a clear considered way forward on this. We have reached out to Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, who’s promised to be bipartisan. So far performance hasn’t matched word, but we have a clear way forward. We can get on with that. We don’t need the help of the Greens.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And Paul Fletcher, just before we go, I gotta mention leadership, because you’ve got the commentariat saying Malcolm Turnbull is in terminal decline. What do you say to those people out there who are reading stories? There could even be a challenge to his leadership.

PAUL FLETCHER: I say it is absolutely ridiculous. Malcolm Turnbull is strongly backed by the parliamentary party. He’s doing a great job and he’s getting on with important things like working on trade outcomes for Australia to deliver jobs and prosperity across area after area. We’re working on delivering jobs growth, on rolling out infrastructure – $75 billion we have committed to spend on infrastructure between 2016-2017 and 2026/27 across the country, across portfolios. We’re working on delivering outcomes for the Australian people.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What’s very clear is that Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott but he doesn’t have a plan to govern. That’s clear for everyone to see.

MATT WORDSWORTH: All right. We’re out of time but Anthony Albanese, Minister Paul Fletcher, thank you so much for being on Lateline.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PAUL FLETCHER: Thank you.

Nov 9, 2017

Transcript radio interview – Tassie Talks with Bryan Carlton, 89.3 LAFM

Subjects; Tasmanian infrastructure, Sam Dastyari, Citizenship

BRYAN CARLTON: Anthony Albanese welcome to Tasmania Talks, how are you going?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks mate, beautiful day here.

CARLTON: It’s a cracker isn’t it mate? You’d want to come down here more often Albo it’s …

ALBANESE: I’m claiming credit mate.

CARLTON: It’s a lovely joint. It’s a fantastic joint.

ALBANESE: It’s always nice when I come down. I’m back tomorrow, next week, sorry. I’m in the south next week so put that in your diary, it will be a nice day next Tuesday.

CARLTON: Alright, will do. You’re probably right actually, just having a look at the forecast. Tell me, what brings you to the fair city of Launceston today?

ALBANESE: Well I’ve been here with Ross Hart talking infrastructure for this part of the world. It’s one thing – It’s good that Darren Chester comes down and inspects projects that were funded when I was the Minister, back from over 2013 …

CARLTON: Albo, who’s Shadowing who here?

ALBANESE: He’s got to fund something new mate! There is not a single project underway in Tasmania, that wasn’t funded by the former Labor Government, and that’s a big problem.

CARLTON: I think Andrew Nikolic would probably take issue with that, but anyway.

ALBANESE: There was not a single new project funded by Andrew Nikolic in Bass. It was all the Midland Highway work, they actually cancelled some of the funding that was in the budget to do further work on the Launceston Bypass. All the other work, including some of the tourism infrastructure projects, got cancelled.

Indeed, even the lower amount that they said they would spend, of some $415 million over three years, they underspent, the budget figures show, by $92 million. So the first thing they did when they came in was cut $100 million from the Midland Highway, they cut over $100 million from the Rail Revitalisation Program for freight rail. And they haven’t even spent what the lesser amount is that they said they would.

Over the next four years, it gets even worse. It falls from $175 million this year, to $62 million in the last year of the forward estimates that show up in the Budget, that is 2020-21.

I think a lot of work can be done here; clearly in Launceston there is further work that is needed in terms of sewerage works …

CARLTON: Let me just stop there if you can, because prior to the last election the Labor Party pledge was for $75 million to sort of kick start the Launceston sewerage and stormwater issue. Is that $75 million still on the table?

ALBANESE: Well we want them to do it. We don’t want to wait until after the election, so one of the things …

CARLTON: But the election is likely to be in January or February next year at the rate we’re going, come on. Is it still there?

ALBANESE: I don’t think that’s right. What you’ll see is, we’ll make the specific election commitments prior to the election; we will certainly do that. But what you will see is further investment …

CARLTON: So that $75 million that was on the table is not necessarily now?

ALBANESE: We make commitments from election to election. If we’re elected they are implemented. But you can be sure that Ross Hart will ensure that we’re going forwards not backwards …

CARLTON: So you know the spin I can put on that Albo, on the headline, Labor Hedges on $75 million water sewerage commitment for Launceston.

ALBANESE: You can do that, but that will be okay because then, when it’s all announced and confirmed and it’s a figure, might even be a higher figure, then you’ll have to give it another run.

CARLTON: I will, and I’ll look like an idiot yes, I’m happy to wear that.

ALBANESE: Remind everyone about our commitments.

CARLTON: Totally happy to wear that. See Albo all I care about is outcomes here, you guys can deal – bugger around with the process. All I want is the outcome.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

CARLTON: Tell me, there’s lots of talk for, in and around Launceston at the moment, about a second river crossing, a second Tamar crossing. Is that something that you’ve been discussing in any way?

ALBANESE: We have actually; we were just on the site, with Ross Hart. The idea of having a crossing over to the north that would provide support for some of the infrastructure that is going on there.

You have the new hotel and the silos there that are being built, and that is precisely one of the things that Ross was briefing me on this morning. He is a strong advocate, you always feel like his hand is in your pocket and that’s a good thing. That’s what good local Members do.

CARLTON: Okay, look, I can’t let you go without discussing a couple of things quickly, the Sam Dastyari issue. Clearly he’s been rounded up on by a a bunch of thugs that probably neither you or I, Albo, would probably like to sit down and have beer with, by any stretch of the imagination.

But is, have we got too far into the identity politics here? When you see a politician in public who has taken stands on behalf of a range of what you might call minority communities or minority issues, and doesn’t seem to be representing everyone. Is this an inevitable outcome of identity politics, this kind of nastiness on the street?

ALBANESE: No, I don’t think there is anything inevitable about this. I think people can have differences of opinion, but treat people with respect. I’ve always tried to treat people with respect, whether they be Coalition Members, Greens Members, it doesn’t matter, there’s no place for abuse.

We’re in a democratic country where everyone gets their say, and the sort of intimidation and stand over tactics that we saw in that pub, from a bunch of people who weren’t there to have a beer, they were there to film it. And why they thought that putting that on film would bring them some kudos, says a lot about the mentality that they had. I think whether it’s the extreme right, the extreme left; there is no place for that sort of behaviour.

CARLTON: Okay, the citizenship issue again, we need stop down here, you are in Tassie Territory. Right now Justine Keay is at the centre of this. By her own admission, she has been elected as a dual national. She has got to go doesn’t she?

ALBANESE: No, if you look at her circumstances, they are very different from the circumstances that were dealt with by the High Court already. There is only one person who claimed to have made a declaration of getting rid of their renunciation of their citizenship of another country, and that was Malcolm Roberts. Who sent an email to an address unknown, that was never received by anybody …

CARLTON: I’m familiar with that, but the guy’s got two functioning brain cells Albo. I credit Justine Keay with a little more smarts than that. Quite a lot actually.

But seriously, she’s admitted, Albo, by the letter of the High Court decision, and I know it’s a black letter call, I understand all that. But by the very definition handed down by the High Court a couple of Fridays ago, she is disqualified.

She should not have been there because she was, on Election Day she was a dual citizen. Close of nomination she was a dual citizen. She should have been clean, a single Australian Citizen on both of those occasions, she wasn’t, she’s got to go surely?

ALBANESE: No, what you have to do is read the High Court ruling based upon what was before them, and the cases that were before them were either people who made no effort at all …

CARLTON: But it didn’t rely on them at all, the decision had nothing to do with effort – That was the point of the High Court decision, was to take the effort out of it. It’s whether you were or not, and she’s a dual national.

ALBANESE: That’s not right, and the High Court precedence in Cleary and other cases is about …

CARLTON: Completely redundant by the decision a couple of weeks ago Albo, with respect.

ALBANESE: That is not right. It’s redundant, with respect, based upon what cases were before it, and of the seven people that were before it. Six of them had made zero effort; the only person who said that they had made an effort was Malcolm Roberts.

So in terms of the circumstances, the truth is that courts make decisions based upon what is before it, and what we need to do here is a have a process whereby everyone tables their paperwork in the Parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Whether it be Jacquie Lambie, Justine Keay, myself, everyone else, Ross Hart. Everyone tables their documentation, and then the Parliament can determine a way forward on these issues. But it needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency, It is undermining faith in our Parliament and in our democracy.
That’s why I don’t understand why Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t want to deal with this as a matter of urgency, rather than have – A special sitting of Parliament will just add to the sense of crisis which is there.

CARLTON: Has Bill Shorten handled this appropriately?

ALBANESE: I think Bill Shorten has, these are circumstances not of his making of course, and we’ve said we’re prepared to be constructive about these issues, and we’ll continue to be …

CARLTON: Oh come on you can’t’ say he’s being constructive when he’s playing an obfuscation game, for the – at least three Labor Members that have been, that are publicly ousted on the front page of the bloody Australian today, he’s been playing a rear guard for them. How can that be helped?

ALBANESE: No, he’s trying to get this resolved sooner rather than later. I think he is providing Malcolm Turnbull with some pretty good advice let’s get this tabled on December 1 not December 18, I mean why would you recall Parliament?

CARLTON: But then why wouldn’t you agree to – Mr Albanese, why wouldn’t you agree to an audit?

ALBANESE: Because we are not the government, we haven’t …

CARLTON: No, but you know that if Bill Shorten went into that meeting yesterday and said, hey we’ve got to do the full audit here to clear the decks, we have to do this, it’s the only thing we are prepared to accept. He would have pushed Malcolm Turnbull into a corner who would have had to agree.

ALBANESE: I don’t think that is right and because, at the end of the day, the only body that can make final determinations is of course the High Court of Australia. An audit with all the process around of, who would conduct it over what period, asking for information that they have, what’s the legal status of the audit; it would still end up at the High Court

CARLTON: Ok, even under your plan we are going to end up under the High Court because there is no legal compulsion for any Member to come forward with the documentation that they are being requested. There’s just no compulsion to do so, at all.

ALBANESE: If the Parliament passes a resolution unanimously, then it is a breach of the Parliamentary Privilege Processes if they don’t come forward. And then obviously the Parliament would take action. I would be amazed if that action wasn’t a reference to the High Court

CARLTON: Ok, I just think that this is going to end up looking in a very real sense, actually worse for your leader than it may for Malcolm Turnbull, only on the basis that Turnbull has not been as vigorous – he has, but not as vigorously out defending the Members whose citizenship is under question. I think that’s a misstep by Shorten and it will eventually come back and bite him.

ALBANESE:  I think Malcolm Turnbull is the fellow who stood up in Parliament and said, and the High Court will so find …

CARLTON: Oh yeah, I know, but you guys are still thinking about this. Albo, Albo you guys are still thinking about this in partisan terms, it is an us versus them thing. Let me tell you, the population is seeing this as an us versus them thing too, it’s us versus all of you guys.

ALBANESE: I agree with you absolutely, which is why you need certainty. Which is why you need the processes to be done, if anything needs to be referred to the High Court it will be, and that should happen.

When Parliament has a fortnight sitting, the first week they can table their documents, the second week can deal with the reaction to that.

CARLTON: Is there likely to be, in that first Parliamentary week, some attempt to claim government from the Coalition?

ALBANESE: Sorry?

CARLTON: Will you be manoeuvring to try and win government on the floor of the House?

ALBANESE: That’s not possible.

CARLTON: Well, on the numbers at the moment, but the numbers we might be dealing with then could be significantly different

ALBANESE: No, because I for one won’t have dealt with anyone and the only …

CARLTON: But hang on a second, Parry is gone, that didn’t go to the High Court, he just quit.

ALBANESE:  The Government is formed in the House.

CARLTON: Yes, I understand that, but you are a very brave man suggesting that every Member of the Lower House will be there in two weeks’ time.

ALBANESE: I think they will be, I think you will see that John Alexander will stay there. And other people will stay there until such time a court orders them otherwise, and that’s appropriate. I mean, they have been elected, John Alexander is in unfortunate circumstances I think, people are entitled to think that someone who was Davis Cup Captain for Australia is an Australian Citizen, and is loyal to the country.

CARLTON: Jacqui Lambie told me a little bit earlier, in fact a couple of weeks ago, that neither Malcolm Turnbull nor Bill Shorten would be leading respective parties by Christmas. Should there be an issue, are you going to whack your hand up? Because you did win the popular vote didn’t you Albo? You won the mob.

ALBANESE: I’m very happy with the job that I have, and a team only has one captain, but it needs all the players to play as part of the team, and that’s what I do, each and every day. That’s what I did in Melbourne yesterday, I’m doing it in Launceston today and what’s what I will be doing in Hobart next week.

CARLTON: Alright, good to talk to you, appreciate it. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Thank you, good to talk to you mate.

CARLTON: Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and Tourism, in Tassie today.

Nov 9, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Launceston, Tasmania

Subjects; Tasmanian infrastructure; tourism funding; citizenship; Sam Dastyari; rise of far-right; One Nation. 

ROSS HART, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BASS: Well welcome everybody here to sunny Launceston. I’ve welcomed Anthony Albanese here today to talk about infrastructure. We have a particular issue here in Launceston in the sense that we’ve finally got private investment flowing into this city which is a fantastic development. We have tourism developments occurring around this area and of course we’ve got the massive investment, government investment in the university project, the university transformation project which Labor committed to in the 2016 election.

The issue that we’ve identified however is the fact that there’s a delay in the rollout of public investment, public infrastructure here matching the private infrastructure. We strongly believe that government needs to lead and provide for this public infrastructure to enable the private sector to invest, particularly in tourism, particularly in the education area, with the UTAS investment. We’ve got the Charles Street Bridge here, adjacent to this site here which is going to be an infrastructure bottleneck. We’ve got the Tamar River sewage, which is a perennial issue. Labor made a commitment at the last election around funding UTAS but also funding important infrastructure with sewerage here. Now Anthony, welcome here to Launceston.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be here, Ross and it is good to be back in Launceston once again on this fantastic sunny day. It’s a sunny day, but it’s a day whereby Darren Chester is coming to Launceston again without any funding commitments from the government. And indeed, in its first three years the Federal Coalition Government has underspent its own infrastructure budget here in Tasmania by some $92 million over that period. Over the next four years, if you look at the Budget, infrastructure investment in Tasmania will fall from $175 million down to $62 million in 2020-21. That represents funding falling off a cliff. That’s less jobs, less economic infrastructure, and less growth here in Northern Tasmania. And it’s important that the Commonwealth Government do its bit.

There’s not a single major infrastructure project underway in Tasmania that was not funded by the former Federal Labor Government way back in 2013 or earlier. That’s not good enough. The sort of cuts that we’ve seen are one thing. The fact that they’re underspending their own underwhelming Budget by $92 million over their first three Budgets is an indictment of their approach.

It’s one thing for Darren Chester and other Coalition Government ministers to come here to inspect works that were funded by the former Federal Labor Government as Mr Chester will do today. It’s another thing to actually come here and put some real money on the table. That hasn’t happened and it’s one of the reasons why Tasmanians have rejected the Coalition and they rejected them at the last federal election, and they need to do much better for Tasmania.

REPORTER: So are you saying that the Labor Government funded the $500 million infrastructure upgrades on the Midland Highway?

ALBANESE: We funded absolutely, $500 million we put into the Midland Highway. That’s been cut by the current government by $100 million in their first Budget and that means less works can be rolled out on that project. Remember that Tony Abbott said the whole project could be duplicated for $400 million? He did that on the back of a coaster during a meeting when he came to Tasmania without any proper analysis. It’s quite clear that that wasn’t the case.

The $500 million that was in the Budget was for priority projects and the first thing they did was cut it. They cut money for the rail revitalisation scheme. They cut money from tourism infrastructure projects that had been funded. And they haven’t put any dollars back. At the last election they did match Labor’s commitment for UTAS here in Northern Tasmania but they did that reluctantly, dragged kicking and screaming because of the commitments that Federal Labor had already made.

REPORTER: So what specific federal, what specific major infrastructure projects would Federal Labor commit to?

ALBANESE: Well, one of the things that we know in this city that’s required is increasing work around the riverfront here related to sewage. We funded some works when we were in government. We committed to more further works at the last election. That’s an example. We put money in there for further studies on the Launceston Bypass that was cut by the government. We put additional money and said we’d put it back, the cuts that were there for the Midland Highway. Tasmania needs good infrastructure.

One of the things in particular that it needs is infrastructure related to tourism. You can see this beautiful setting here this morning. I flew in with people who were coming to this part of Tasmania to play golf, some of them said they were here for the weekend. I reminded them that it was Thursday and they said that’s exactly right. That’s a Tassie holiday weekend of four days. That’s dollars. That’s jobs being created. And there are proposals here from great Tasmanians like Mr Chromy and others putting their money in, their dollars, private sector infrastructure investment to boost tourism. What we need is the government to do its bit.

We at the last election of course committed to a substantial grant for Cradle Mountain. Cradle Mountain in the centre of Tasmania is a key drawcard. The walks around Tasmania that exist right around are increasingly an international destination. People will come and not just do one, they’ll come and do more than one at a time and then they’ll come back to do others. It is ridiculous that the Three Capes walk goes to two capes. We funded that project. It needs to be concluded in the south. But there are projects right around Tasmania that need that support. They’re the sort of commitments that we’ve been sitting down with the tourism sector about on an ongoing basis. I’m back in Tasmania next week talking to the tourism sector. I’m a regular visitor here because this state is so important for the national economy.

REPORTER: Some questions on citizenship, is Labor serious about being bipartisan on this?

ALBANESE: Labor is absolutely serious about this. This of course isn’t a product of Labor’s creation but Bill Shorten sat down with the Prime Minister yesterday and participated in a constructive manner. What’s very clear is that regardless of what people’s political opinions are, Australians who I have met, and I’ve been in three states in the last 24 hours, they want this cleared up. They want certainty.

That’s one of the reasons why Labor is saying don’t put it off and have special parliamentary sittings. Let’s get it done, there’s plenty of time between now and December 1 for members and senators to submit their paperwork in a process through the parliament and then let’s see where those cards fall.

REPORTER: What about sending Justine Keay to the High Court, would you nominate her to be referred to the High Court?

ALBANESE: We don’t believe there’s an issue with Justine Keay. Justine Keay has been very transparent about her circumstances.

REPORTER: She hasn’t released the documents.

ALBANESE: She’s been very transparent about –

REPORTER: That’s not transparent. She hasn’t released –

ALBANESE: She has been totally transparent about the dates and what occurred with her circumstances. The fact that she submitted all of that documentation well prior to the election because Labor has those processes in place. So let’s get the process done through the parliament for every member and senator so that we don’t have the ridiculous circumstances which are occurring now, which is you know, name an MP and throw out suggestions that someone’s from outer Mongolia or wherever and ask them to provide proof. The appropriate circumstances and what Labor will support is a process through the parliament as a matter of urgency.

It’s now November 9. There’s plenty of time between November 9 and December 1 for people to have their documentation in order and then it can be dealt with in the following normal sitting of parliament that’s happening next week. Why the government thinks it’s in its interests to create a climate of crisis by having special recalls of parliament, by putting these issues off, frankly is beyond me. That goes to Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement, and that’s the problem with this bloke who happens to be the Prime Minister, is his judgement is just so bad when it comes to dealing with these political issues and showing leadership.

REPORTER: So is it a case of double standards in relation to Justine Keay?

REPORTER 2: So he should resign then, in your opinion?

ALBANESE: One at a time. Of course Justine Keay has just been elected and is doing a fantastic job as the Member for Braddon. I expect she’ll be there for a long time yet.

REPORTER: Is it a case of double standards though in relation to Justine Keay?

ALBANESE: No, it’s not at all. Double standards where? With whom? In relation to who?

REPORTER: In relation to referring others to the High Court.

ALBANESE: Who, in particular? You’ve suggested there’s a double standard. There’s no double standard here. People who’ve referred themselves to the High Court who have had a doubt over them –  in Malcolm Roberts’ case, that was pretty open and shut frankly – he sent an email vaguely to somewhere that no one ever received and that was the extent of his work. The two Greens senators hadn’t made any effort at all. Barnaby Joyce hadn’t made an effort at all and so the circumstances are very different in Justine Keay’s case.

REPORTER: Are Labor’s processes all they’re cracked up to be? Justine Keay was preselected on June 28, 2015 by Labor. She didn’t get her letter away ’til May 13, and then didn’t get it back until after June 9 when nominations closed. Now, you and Ms Plibersek the other day have relied on Labor’s processes as a reason for no doubt not doubting Justine but your processes aren’t as good as you think, are they?

ALBANESE: Our processes are transparent. They’re there. You just said there wasn’t transparency with Justine Keay but then you outlined precisely dates on which things occurred. That shows that the transparency is there and it shows that people have made the effort prior to nominations and in terms of the case that’s been dealt with in the past, that’s the precedent that was there.

Now, with regard to the recent High Court decision, they haven’t made a decision based upon circumstances such as Justine Keay. There is no parallel between any of the seven people who were before the High Court and Justine Keay. So they haven’t made a determination or a precedent based on that. What they’ve done, the only High Court decision that’s been made in similar circumstances to Justine Keay is one that says that she’s operated absolutely in accordance with the processes by submitting her documentation well prior to the election being called.

REPORTER: What do you made of the situation with Jacqui Lambie’s citizenship?

ALBANESE: Look, I’m not aware of those details but that’s why, and I’m not one who has gone around and pointed the finger at any member of parliament, but that’s why we have the processes need to be established and they need to be done as a matter of urgency, settled, so that the Senate can adopt a resolution when it sits next week about Senators having a process and Members can have a process by December 1 and then the parliament can act in the week afterward.

Let’s do this in an orderly, methodical, mature way. At the moment, what we have is a series of ‘what about person A, what about person B’. You know, I showed my birth certificate very early on when people raised questions about my circumstances. Indeed, there was a whole book written about my circumstances, available in all good bookstores including here in Launceston.

So you know, the sort of Josh Frydenberg circumstances I just think is absurd, that his circumstances have been questioned. But let’s get it in order in a mature way, get it done and why Malcolm Turnbull as the Prime Minister doesn’t see that that’s not just in the government’s interests, that’s in the parliament’s interests because that’s what the Australian public want and expect.

REPORTER: In relation to your processes, Susan Lamb as well didn’t write to the British Home Office until May either. Less than a month –

ALBANESE: The election was in July, mate.

REPORTER: – less than a month before –

ALBANESE: The election was in July and you just said, and you just said –

REPORTER:  – the nominations closed, less than a month

ALBANESE: With due respect –

REPORTER: – when it has to be done so your processes aren’t much good either.

ALBANESE: You’re condemned by your own question.

REPORTER: No I’m not.

ALBANESE: You are. You say she wrote a month before nominations closed.

REPORTER: It wasn’t long enough obviously and it wasn’t long enough for Justine Keay.

ALBANESE: Why wasn’t it?

REPORTER: Because –

ALBANESE: We believe it is long enough.

REPORTER: But it didn’t come back in time.

ALBANESE: And the processes you have just outlined make it very clear that both Susan Lamb and Justine Keay submitted their paperwork well prior to nominations being called.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister says Labor is playing political games in relation to citizenship. What do you have to say about that?

ALBANESE: Well, I’m here answering questions in a transparent way and putting forward a proposition not for Labor, not for Liberal, not for Jacqui Lambie, not for the Greens, but for every member and senator to put forward their paperwork, they submit it, it’s concluded by December 1, that’s a common sense position, surely. And that’s what Labor’s position is.

I don’t understand for the life of me why the Prime Minister would establish a process that allows this to drag on longer than it has to. Is there any suggestion that something that can be done on December 1 needs until December 1 to be done? Is there any suggestion that that is the case? I don’t think there is.

He hasn’t put forward an argument for it other than he came up with this random date. He needs to be sensible about this and we need a resolution which is adopted unanimously by the House of Representatives and the Senate. We can have that if Malcolm Turnbull just shows a bit of common sense.

REPORTER: There’s a push for a new Private Members Bill on same-sex marriage from conservative Liberals. Is Labor prepared to look at that?

ALBANESE: There is a Bill put forward by a Liberal member, Dean Smith, that’s the result of a Senate inquiry and a unanimous report of Senators who examined the detail of Mr Smith’s Bill. Here, once again it’s not us being partisan, I’m talking about a Liberal Senator’s Bill from WA that should provide the foundation for legislation. What we’re seeing here is that the reason why we’re having this $122 million voluntary postal vote was all about delay.

So you had Cory Bernadi on the record multiple times quoted in The Australian ‘Cut & Paste’ section today saying this is all about a vote and we should listen to the people and if the majority of people want this to happen then it will happen. So we’ve had this voluntary postal survey. We’ve got the result that everyone knew that we will get, I think is the prediction. Polls these days are pretty accurate, so the polls suggest that there will be a strong majority for a yes vote. I expect that to be the case as well.

Guess what? The no people expect that as well. They’ve exposed the fact that they’re all about politics, people like Cory Bernadi and there will be every reason for delay that they can think of. This should be done and dusted. It needs to happen in the last fortnight. That’s the commitment from Prime Minister Turnbull. We didn’t like this survey. We didn’t vote for this survey but Australians have participated. Eighty percent. Eight in every ten have voted. That’s an extraordinary high turnout. Australians have had their say. We should get the legislation done and not keep coming up with excuses.

I noticed Cory Bernadi today saying because of the citizenship issue then we should delay the marriage equality legislation. Well, he said he’d support the outcome of the poll as have just about everyone else. To be fair to Eric Abetz, he’s shown his contempt for democracy throughout this process and has said that he’ll just maintain his position. But those people who have said they will be bound by it, we should get it done. It should take a day and guess what, this time next year we’ll be standing here and I’ll make a prediction; anytime next year from January on I will not get a question about marriage equality. Because people will wonder what the fuss was about. Won’t impact anyone’s existing marriage. Will just mean there’s a bit more tourism in Tasmania as people come down and hold really good parties and really good celebrations of their lifelong commitment to their partner in front of their family and friends. Let’s get it done and stop the nonsense.

REPORTER: What do you think of the men who confronted Sam Dastyari yesterday?

ALBANESE: Well, I think they’re condemned by their own actions. I worry about politics in Australia. I worry that people think that it’s acceptable to engage in such racist vilification – and tape it, and be proud of it. So it’s the two actions. It’s the fact that they actually think that this is acceptable in 2017. I think that Sam Dastyari was incredibly patient and showed a great deal of maturity. But that hurts. That hurts. Names hurt. And you know, people who engage in that sort of activity of far-right politics, there’s no place for it in Australia.

I had a guy called James Saleam who spent some time in jail in later years for violent crime including with guns. He was the leader of National Action. He’s still active in Sydney. He stood against me when I was at Sydney University. He was engaged in that sort of racism and violence and intimidation. It was an attempt to intimidate Senator Dastyari. I think he and Tim Watts deserve absolute credit for the way that they handled a difficult situation.

REPORTER: Do you think that type of activity is due to the rise of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation?

ALBANESE: I think that there is in general, there’s a whole range of factors that are leading to people thinking that it’s okay to scream and shout and that that’s the way we should conduct political discourse. I don’t think it’s just of the right. I think that there are some extreme elements across the political spectrum who think that it’s okay if you just yell enough then people will be intimidated.

I want to bring respect back to politics and I think that is really important and this should be a wakeup call. Anyone who looks at that footage should have a think about the way that they conduct themselves in political life. It’s fine to have different views and they can be put strongly but they should be put courteously and there’s no place for that sort of activity whatsoever.

REPORTER: The men were wearing clothing that advertised they worked for Toll. The company says they’re investigating. Should these workers, should they lose their jobs?

ALBANESE: That’s a matter for Toll, but if they worked for me I know what I’d do.

REPORTER: Just on Justine’s situation, Mr Albanese again, she’s relying on taking reasonable steps as her defence. Hasn’t the High Court more or less knocked that on the head in its decision?

ALBANESE: No, it hasn’t at all. It hasn’t at all.

REPORTER: It was a black-letter decision though, wasn’t it?

ALBANESE: No, it wasn’t. It was a decision about specific cases that were before it. The cases that were before it, the person who argued that they’d made some steps was Malcolm Roberts. Malcolm Roberts, who’d sent an email out into the twilight zone that hadn’t landed anywhere let alone got a response before the election. That is the circumstances in which the High Court ruled about the specific cases that were before it. The High Court will rule about specific cases when they’re before them.

Let’s get the evidence before the parliament, before the House of Representatives and the Senate and then the parliament can make a determination. But this sort of ongoing speculation with respect, on a wharf in Launceston, isn’t how laws are done in this country.

What we’ll have is the documentation produced. We think it should be produced on December 1. You’ve got a whole range of dates it appears. Every galah in the pet shop has a view of these issues, they’re in the paper every day. All the facts are out there. Let’s get them tabled in Parliament and just act with a bit of common sense.

Thank you.
 

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