Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Sep 17, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – ABC AM

 

Subjects: Libspill; Malcolm Turnbull; Labor Party; polls; China Free Trade Agreement; government’s plan to destroy Australian shipping industry 

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Today marks the end of a tumultuous sitting week for our federal politicians, as Malcolm Turnbull enters day three of his prime ministership.

He’ll spend the weekend reshuffling his Cabinet, as rumours continue to whirl about the likely winners and losers.

The change in prime minister has inevitably shifted focus to Labor’s leadership as well, after early polling following this week’s spill showed a bounce in figures for the Liberal party.

We’re joined now by Anthony Albanese who, back in 2013, unsuccessfully contested the leadership against Bill Shorten, but was the party’s rank and file choice to lead the party.

Anthony Albanese joins me now.

Anthony, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Michael.

BRISSENDEN: Inevitably this is going to have a big impact on your side, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: This will have a big impact on the nation. The nation has changed its prime minister this week and unseated an elected first term prime minister.

Tony Abbott didn’t quite make it to the two year mark and that will have, in the short term but also I think the medium and long term, a big impact particularly on the internal dynamics of the Liberal party and we’re seeing that played out already.

As you said, there will be winners and losers. The losers won’t be happy and no doubt, that is part of the difficulty that Malcolm Turnbull has to deal with.

BRISSENDEN: Yeah, indeed. Early polling is putting Malcolm Turnbull well ahead of Bill Shorten, you’d be aware of that, in the preferred prime minister stakes already, even after a couple of days it’s 50/50. The whole equation has changed, hasn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well, you expect there to be a bounce for a new leader. That is what happens. And on this occasion, though, it’s a bit surreal. We have parliamentary Question Time where you have Joe Hockey sitting there as the Treasurer answering questions and everyone in Australia seems to be of the view that he won’t be treasurer next time Parliament sits.

BRISSENDEN: Does it call into question Bill Shorten’s leadership? It obviously puts some pressure on it, doesn’t it?

ALBANESE: No, look, one of the things that has occurred, and a big distinction in Australian politics is the unity and sense of purpose on our side as opposed to the chaos and division on their side.

BRISSENDEN: Really, really? Certainly at the moment perhaps

ALBANESE: Well, they have certainly seen that. We went through our processes after the 2013 election. One of the things that occurred then that gave us a lift was we had a dignified and mature debate about the future of Labor and where we wanted to take the country.

And from that point, Labor was in a strong position that has gotten stronger and has led to, of course, the Liberal party taking the extraordinary measure that they did on Monday night.

BRISSENDEN: Some might say it’s hamstrung you, though. I mean what happens if the polls do shift significantly and remain a reverse of what we’ve seen over the last 15 months? I mean, you’re in a position now where it’s very difficult to remove a leader that’s unpopular, aren’t you?

ALBANESE: We made a decision and that decision has served us in terms of a unified team going forward.

I’ve made very clear that I want to be a minister in a Labor government, and that is the sense of purpose that every member of our team has – from Bill Shorten as the leader right through to backbench members.

BRISSENDEN: Can you win an election with Bill Shorten as leader?

ALBANESE: We certainly can win an election. Even today’s poll that shows a slight bounce, what’s extraordinary is that it doesn’t show that the Liberal party is ahead.

They’ve changed leaders, they’ve you know, pressed the in case of emergency break glass, they’ve put an axe through that and still they’re not ahead in the polls.

What that shows is that the problem isn’t just one of personality. The problem is the performance of this government. We’ve changed leader, but we haven’t changed a bad climate change policy, we haven’t changed a bad infrastructure policy, we haven’t changed a bad education policy.

BRISSENDEN: Well, it’s only been three days since Malcolm Turnbull’s been there.

ALBANESE: And he’s made it very clear that he has turned his back on things that he has supported for years and years, like action on climate change, water in the Murray Darling Basin, marriage equality, in order to secure the leadership, he has put his own personal ambition before his stance that he used to talk about, him being a conviction politician.

We know that his only conviction was to get to the Lodge.

BRISSENDEN: We know where he stands on those issues though. It wouldn’t surprise you if over time those policies shifted somewhat.

ALBANESE: He’s made it very clear that they won’t.

BRISSENDEN: But it wouldn’t surprise you if they did, would it? And you would have to be prepared for that?

ALBANESE: What will constrain him is that his internal dynamics, the way that he got to the prime ministership has meant that he has had to give commitments – some of which are, quite frankly extraordinary: taking water out of the environment portfolio and giving it to the National Party.

We’ll wait and see. I’ve said Malcolm Turnbull, for example, on public transport is on the record over a decade speaking about public transport issues. He needs to not just get on trains and buses, he as Prime Minister, needs to fund trains and buses.

We’ll wait and see whether he does.

BRISSENDEN: The harsh reality for you – particularly in those inner urban seats, the inner urban seats like yours – is that Malcolm Turnbull is among some Labor voters, more popular than you are.

ALBANESE: I don’t think, I think you’ll find that that’s not the case in Grayndler, Michael.

And I think that in areas like mine, what they will say is “Malcolm Turnbull has said he’s a Republican but won’t do anything about it, has said he supports action on climate change but has this dreadful policy of paying polluters. He said he’s in favour of marriage equality but ‘oh, let’s just put that off and have what will be a very divisive plebiscite” that just weeks ago, just weeks ago, he was on the record saying that was a bad idea.

I think they’ll be concerned that Malcolm Turnbull has had to essentially sell out the principles that he’s held for such a long time in order to secure the prime ministership.

People want politicians who actually stand up for their beliefs.

BRISSENDEN: Okay, some things about politics haven’t changed of course and one of those is the stoush over the China Free Trade Agreement.

Now why are you still taking such a strong stand on this after a parade of Labor luminaries, former leaders and political figures, have all come out saying you should sign up?

ALBANESE: Our stance is pretty clear. We want for Australians to have an opportunity to apply for jobs that will be created through the free trade agreement. We’re pro-free trade, we’re pro-engagement with China.

BRISSENDEN: And pro-CFMEU as the Government keeps pointing out.

ALBANESE: The problem for this Government is that they equate jobs and workers with the union titles.

You only have a union if you have union members. Their solution is to wipe out those jobs. We’ve seen that, Michael, in the area of shipping where you broke the story on this program just a week ago; and we’ve seen there a call for papers that Warren Truss will have to produce for the Senate by 12 o’clock today.

Because we know there, that in order to destroy the jobs of, in this case, MUA, the Government strategy is to replace an Australian workforce on our coasts with a foreign workforce paying foreign wages.

BRISSENDEN: This is the point where you’re being painted as xenophobic and racist by some. I mean, what is your answer to that? Clearly this is a very significant free trade agreement that will have economic benefits for this country and you keep pointing out these things.

ALBANESE: Well, what we point out is that we want Australians to benefit from free trade – not just a couple of people, the nation, and to benefit through the creation of jobs.

All we’re saying here is that labour market testing before your bring in, just as provided for under 457 visas, you have to have labour market testing in order to see if Australians can do the jobs first.

I don’t think that’s a radical position Michael, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

And you’ve got to wonder really why it is that the Government is playing politics with this issue, why they can’t fix the arrangement and be prepared to sit down with Labor and come up with a practical response to the issues that have been raised.

BRISSENDEN: Okay, well leave it there. Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

BRISSENDEN: And that’s Anthony Albanese, the shadow infrastructure minister.

 

Sep 15, 2015

Transcript of doorstop with Matt Keogh, Labor Candidate for Canning – Kelmscott, WA

Subject: WA infrastructure; public transport; Armadale Road; Denny Avenue; Mandurah Train Station; Canning by-election; Malcolm Turnbull

MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANNING: We’re here on Denny Avenue in Kelmscott, a very dangerous and congested piece of road infrastructure in this area. Just this week there was another traffic accident here. There’s been an accident nearly every week of the campaign. There was a fatality at that intersection just down there only a month ago.

What I’m really happy about is to have Anthony Albanese here with me today to talk about Labor’s commitment to fixing up roads like this in the electorate. Labor has committed that in government it will put $25 million towards fixing up this intersection, by closing up this level crossing, which is dangerous with all of the roads intersecting here, and putting in a grade separated underpass, under the railway, so that we’ve got safer roads in our community. That’s vitally important.

This is an issue that the people of Kelmscott and Armadale have been calling to be addressed for a decade. It’s great that as part of this campaign the Labor Party has committed to fixing this issue. This is only one of the many infrastructure commitments that we have made during this campaign, because the Labor Party is about public transport. It’s about investing in rail. It’s about helping people get to their jobs and getting to training opportunities.

That’s why we’ve also spoken about extending the railway down to Byford, so that the new growing areas of Byford where many people now live will have access to public transport, and access to rail.

Today I was at Armadale Train Station and many people that had to catch some of the few buses that come up from Byford were complaining to me about this issue. They were very happy to hear about that extension plan.

We’ve also committed $10 million toward 300 new car bays at Mandurah Railway Station so that people can actually park to get to the train. At the moment, that car park fills up by 8.00am, if not earlier.

For people who need to catch a train later, people who need to drop their kids at school, it’s almost impossible for them to get access to the train and this funding commitment will make it easier for people to use public transport together with our other infrastructure commitment of $145 million towards the upgrade of Armadale Road.

Armadale Road is a vital connecting road for the people in the Armadale/Kelmscott area and Piara Waters and Harrisdale. Out to the freeway, and out to the job centres of Cockburn and Henderson. We’re really pleased to be making that commitment. Not only does it make the road safer, not only does it relieve congestion, but it’s also about creating jobs. We’ll have about 1700 jobs that will come out of that project.

Labor’s committed to making sure that we’re able to provide employment and increase the job opportunities in this area. I’d like to note we’ve had some me-tooism in this campaign where the Liberal Party’s tried to catch up with the things that the Labor Party has said that we’ll do in this area. But I really question now, what do those commitments amount to now that we’ve seen a change in leadership? I’m going to hand over now to Anthony.

I’m really pleased to have him here as part of this campaign to say some more about our infrastructure projects.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Matt. It’s terrific to be back here in Canning and in the great city of Perth in Western Australia to emphasise Labor’s commitment to infrastructure. Here in Canning, and throughout Perth, you can’t deal with urban congestion unless you have projects that deal with roads and rail.

Today the challenge for Malcolm Turnbull is to actually put his money where his mouth is when it comes to public transport. Malcolm Turnbull gets on trains and gets on buses. But he needs to fund trains and fund buses.

The Coalition Government withdrew when they came to office, with Malcolm Turnbull’s support, $500 million that was allocated in the forward estimates in the Budget by the former federal Labor Government. We did that because we understand that if our cities are going to function properly, people, particularly those in outer suburban areas, need access to good, safe, public transport.

That’s why we funded projects like Perth City Link. That’s why we are committed to funding rail here in Perth. That’s why we also of course are committed to road funding. Now, it is quite extraordinary that on Sunday, Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister, purported to open the Gateway WA project.

Of course, that was funded by the former Labor Government in 2011. It’s a project that isn’t completed, in fact, won’t be completed ’til next year, but they were so desperate for an infrastructure announcement after more than two years in office that they had to have an opening for a project that actually isn’t completed.

Now, not only have they not begun a single new infrastructure project since the Coalition Government was elected, be it road or rail here in Perth. The fact is that they withdrew that half a billion of funding. Malcolm Turnbull should today say that half a billion dollars in funding will be put back. Some of that, of course, can be used to extend the rail line to Byford.

REPORTER: Was last night’s biggest loser Tony Abbott or Labor given the unpopularity of Tony Abbott was a big help to you?

ALBANESE: The problem here isn’t who the leader is. The problem is the government. The problem is the policies of the government. Malcolm Turnbull has adopted those same policies. He supported the cuts to education. He supported the cuts to health. He supported the cuts to public transport. You can change the leader, but you haven’t changed the message.

Malcolm Turnbull, in order to secure the support of some of his colleagues in the party room, is now repudiating his own position on climate change, on marriage equality, on all of these issues that he stood up on in the past. I think what people want out of their politicians is people who are fair dinkum. They’re sick of the spin. You can change the messenger, but if the spin is the same, then that doesn’t solve the fundamental problems with this government.

In Matt Keogh, we have a candidate who’s articulate, who’s smart, who’s committed, who is local, and who will stand up for this local community. He made sure that he secured those commitments for this electorate early in the campaign. This is my second visit here in the last few weeks, and I know from talking to people with Matt at Mandurah Railway Station the issues that were there regarding commuter parking, the issues that people spoke to me about at that train station with Matt. Matt’s responded and I believe that he will get an outstanding result next Saturday.

REPORTER: Do you expect Malcolm Turnbull can achieve much policy change (inaudible) through the Senate?

ALBANESE: Well, it’s a bad party. He has a bad party room. That party room hasn’t changed. What’s happened now is that Malcolm has changed. He’s changed his views to suit his party room and he has, I think, put his own personal advancement before the issues that he has advanced for so long.

Malcolm Turnbull has been an advocate of a price on carbon for a very long time. Malcolm Turnbull has been an advocate of marriage equality. Now he says the Parliament shouldn’t make that decision. I think that Australians want politicians who will stand up for their beliefs – through the swings and roundabouts, through the highs and lows, who will be consistent over a period of time.

The challenge for Malcolm Turnbull is to actually be consistent and to come clean about what commitments were given in order to secure votes in the party room.

REPORTER: Is Bill Shorten’s job safe now, or does Labor need to change its strategy?

ALBANESE: Labor is a united party. We are a political party that have gotten on with the job of putting forward our positions in a clear way. This morning I was at a tourism event in the Swan Valley. We’ve had a plan for tourism out there since I became the Shadow Tourism Minister.

On cities, I gave an address to the National Press Club a year ago outlining a ten point plan for our cities. Part of that, of course, was investment in busting urban congestion; the sort of projects that we’ve got here in Denny Avenue; the sort of projects that we have in terms of Armadale Road and the Community Connect South project; the sort of commitments that we have with the $2 million commitment to the Outer Harbour.

The Coalition has a project in terms of the Perth Freight Link, where the state Liberal Government of Premier Barnett is saying that they don’t know what the route is for the final stage. They don’t know where the funding will be. The planning hasn’t been done. Yet they’ve put money in the Budget not this year, but last year, and absolutely nothing has happened. I think people are very tired of this government. They have changed the spokesperson but the issues remain.

REPORTER: Matt Keogh, do you think that your job’s harder now, after the change of leadership?

KEOGH: My job right now is exactly the same as it was before. I’ve been talking to voters yesterday and today. Their issues remain the same. Their concerns are about the cuts that they’ve seen to their schools, the cuts that they’ve seen to their hospitals, the GP tax, $100,000 university degrees. They are things that Malcolm Turnbull has said that he unequivocally believes in and supports.

So my job is the same. I’m going to continue over the next four days of the campaign to talk to voters about the issues that are of concern to them, and taking the fight up to the government in saying, “You’re wrong. Your priorities are wrong, they’re as wrong under Malcolm Turnbull as they were under Mr Abbott.” That’s what people are coming to me about during this campaign.

REPORTER: Given your big commitments rely on a Labor Government being elected, hasn’t your job to deliver for the people of Canning become more difficult over the past 24 hours, given that Malcolm Turnbull is more likely to win an election than Tony Abbott?

KEOGH: Not at all. We’ve given commitments about what Labor will do for this area in Government. The real question is, why has the Liberal Government abandoned this area for so long and done nothing until a by-election is called?

REPORTER: If Abbott was your biggest advantage though, has this cost you votes?

KEOGH: I think my advantage was getting onto the ground, talking to people about the issues that concerned them. The issues haven’t changed at all. They’re still talking about the cuts to education, they’re concerned about education assistance being taken out of their school kids, they’re concerned about the cuts to our hospitals.

Over $2 million have been taken out of hospitals in the Canning area and that’s a key concern. People want to be able to get access to their doctors, and the GP tax makes that harder. It puts more pressure on our hospitals. They don’t want $100,000 university degrees – all things that Malcolm Turnbull supports.

REPORTER: What do you think voters out here will make of last night’s events?

KEOGH: I think they would be really concerned about a dysfunctional government. It’s something that has been coming out through the media over the last few weeks that there’s real dysfunction in this government.

And I think what they’ve seen writ large last night and today is the real dysfunction and disunity within that Government, that really underlies the broken promises and the wrong direction the Government’s been heading in the last two years.

REPORTER: (inaudible) five point bump for the Liberals, what do you make of that?

KEOGH: What I’m concerned about over the next few days is this by-election and talking to the people of Canning about the issues that are of concern to them, as I’ve already outlined.

Those things haven’t changed. I’ve been talking to them yesterday and today. People still have the same concerns about broken promises of this Government.

REPORTER: So how prepared was your campaign for this leadership change? Do you feel prepared for this change?

KEOGH: We’re completely prepared for the change because at the end of the day people are concerned about the direction of the Liberal Government. It’s the same Liberal Government, it’s the same broken promises and our campaign strategy remains the same.

It’s about talking to people about their concerns, the things that they don’t like about this government, it’s broken promises, it’s cuts to their essential services, that they don’t like.

This Government is still committed to those things that they don’t like.

REPORTER: Andrew Hastie has said that voters in Canning are losing faith in the political class – do you agree with that?

KEOGH: I think people in Australia have always had a degree of scepticism about their political leaders and that’s a really good thing about our democracy, that people look at their political leaders and want to make sure that they’re doing the right thing by them.

What they’ve seen over the last two years is that they’ve had a government that stood up in front of them and said we’re not going to cut these services, we’re not going to cut schools, we’re not going to cut hospitals, we’re not going to cut pensions.

That’s what the Government told the people of Canning. And what they’ve seen is cuts to pensions, cuts to schools, cuts to hospitals. They are rightly concerned about the politicians that are leading them in this Government.

REPORTER: Is the Liberal Party now going to try use a leadership switch as an excuse to run away from their previous history of those Budget cuts?

KEOGH: What the Liberal Party does is up to the Liberal Party. What they can’t deny is Malcolm Turnbull unequivocally signed up to the cuts to schools, cuts to benefits, cuts to pensions, their $100,000 university degrees.

Malcolm Turnbull was unequivocal in supporting all of those things that the Government has done.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, are you concerned for a Federal Labor perspective that Malcolm Turnbull could prove to be a far more formidable opponent at next year’s election?

ALBANESE: Regardless of what you think of Tony Abbott, and I was opposed to many of his views, at least he went and fulfilled his commitments on climate change. He was against it. He was a sceptic.

Now we have Malcolm Turnbull and people will be asking themselves – you asked previously about disillusionment with the political class – people will be pretty disillusioned if Malcolm Turnbull turns his back on the policies that he’s held for his political engagement over many years.

We’ve seen that immediately. It’s very clear that the cuts stay, all the bad policies stay under Malcolm Turnbull that existed under Tony Abbott. The difference is, at least Tony Abbott believed in them.

REPORTER: What about the prospect of Scott Morrison as Treasurer?

ALBANESE: That’s a decision for the Liberal Party, but having been through these sorts of issues in the past, and I opposed the change that we did when Labor unseated a first term elected Prime Minister, one of the reasons why I did that in 2010 was I knew what it would lead to in terms of instability.

The idea that it’s business as usual today in the Coalition Government is just farcical. The fact is this is a Government that is at war with itself.

This is a Government where many of the senior members of that Government can’t stand the person that has been elected to lead that political party. It’s very clear that a number of senior members in the Government promised both Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott that they would vote for them in last night’s ballot, which is why Tony Abbott was confident going into that ballot.

Those things don’t just wash through the system. What that leads to is dysfunctional government. They will be a dysfunctional government until the next election when they’ll be put out of their misery.

REPORTER: Are you speaking from experience there Mr Albanese?

ALBANESE: There is no doubt, I’m not talking in retrospect here. In 2010 when we changed Government, it caused ongoing issues. It doesn’t just stop. That’s why it is so vital that now we have a real distinction – a Labor Party that is united, a Labor Party that has a sense of purpose, a Labor Party that is looking to the policies of the future and a Coalition Government that can’t even agree with its own policies internally, that’s hamstrung by political and personality divisions and conflict.

That’s why we’re not seeing a functional government and that’s why last night’s change won’t solve the problems that are there for all to see.

REPORTER: Matt, Andrew Hastie’s now $1.18 favourite according to Centrebet, do you think you can still win this?

KEOGH: I think I can win this election. I think it’s important for the people of Canning that I win this election. People have been coming to me all through this campaign saying that they don’t like the broken promises of this Government.

They don’t like the priorities, they don’t like the cuts to their schools and their hospitals and they don’t like $100,00 university degrees. We can win this election. It has always been a tough fight to win this election but we can win it.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

KEOGH: The key concern here is the people of Canning. There’s been the cuts to their schools and hospitals. There’s been the introduction of the GP tax and $100,000 university degrees.

They’re the things people want to see fixed. They want to see unemployment fixed in this area. Those things are still issues.

REPORTER: But they blamed Tony Abbott for it.

KEOGH: They blamed the Liberal Government. Mr Abbott was the head of that Government. The disunity and dysfunction of that Government now sees Malcolm Turnbull at its head. But he was a member of that Cabinet and he unequivocally signed up in support of all those things.

REPORTER: You maintain that last night’s events won’t neither help nor hinder your campaign?

KEOGH: The key issues in the campaign remain the same and that’s what people I’ve been speaking to while this leadership instability was going on said yesterday and this morning.

Those key issues remain the same and that’s what people are focused on. That’s what I was talking to people at the Armadale Station about this morning. People weren’t coming up to me and saying, “Oh it’s great that Malcolm Turnbull is now the Prime Minister.”

People are saying we’ve just got to get rid of this government.

 

Sep 15, 2015

Transcript of televison interview – Today Show

Subject: Libspill

LISA WILKINSON: And it’s a very good morning to Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, who joins us now live from Perth. Albo, good morning to you. First up, your reaction to the events of the last 24 hours.

ALBANESE: Well it’s pretty extraordinary. 24 hours is certainly a long time in politics. I got on a plane, on the East Coast, and Tony Abbott was the Prime Minister. When the plane landed, Malcolm Turnbull was the Prime Minister.

So it’s been a very eventful and turbulent 24 hours. I’m glad it was turbulent on the ground in Canberra, rather than in the sky on the way to Perth.

STEFANOVIC: You know you’re no stranger to this kind of thing. There’s lots of blood on the floor and there’s lots of people with blood on their hands.

ALBANESE: Well this will be an event that has fall out. That’s what happens and the fall out here of defeating a first term elected Prime Minister in Tony Abbott will reverberate around the Coalition party room, and indeed the rank and file of the Liberal Party as well, I think, for some time to come.

Having said that, I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull on his appointment to the Prime Ministership. It’s an extraordinary honour and the best thing about Malcolm, of course, I think is Lucy and I certainly congratulate his wife, who is a friend of mine, as well.

WILKINSON: You’d be feeling a bit nervous, wouldn’t you Albo. I mean it’s long been said that there are plenty of Labor voters for whom if Malcolm Turnbull did become Leader of the LNP they would vote for him.

ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see how it plays out of course, Lisa. There’s no doubt that this will lead to a change in the political dynamic, but Malcolm Turnbull’s been Leader before and I think had a range of failings shown then, which caused him to lose the Liberal leadership from a position of strength, really. So we’ll wait and see whether he’s learnt the lessons there.

Certainly, it’s up to Malcolm Turnbull to deal with the contradictions that are there between his personal position on issues like climate change, on issues like marriage equality, on issues like public transport.

Here in Perth, he has an opportunity – the Canning by-election is just days away. Will Malcolm Turnbull immediately commit to put the $500 million that was cut from public transport here in Perth back into the Budget?

Now Tony Abbott had this fixation against any public transport, Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t have that same fixation to his credit, but he’s actually got to do something about it. He’s got to not just ride on trains and buses; he’s got to fund trains and buses.

STEFANOVIC: He might end up being a better Labor leader than you lot.

ALBANESE: Well Karl, he is the leader of a team that has not changed. And the problem here as I said, I think last Friday morning chatting to Lisa on the show is that it’s not just the leader, it’s the whole team that’s a problem.

Malcolm Turnbull’s performance as the Broadband Minister replacing fibre with copper doesn’t give him any credit, nor does the $15 billion blow-out in that program based upon their own costings.

Right across the board it’s hard to see an area where this Government has been successful and the fact that they’ve changed leaders, we’ve had the second libspill in the space of a year is quite extraordinary.

The problem here is the whole team, and the Government doesn’t have a sense of purpose, hasn’t had that from day one, didn’t do any hard work from Opposition, to get the policies in place so that they would actually be a good government. And I think they’ve suffered in the polls and they’ve suffered in their own internal dynamics because of that failure.

WILKINSON: Well the numbers have obviously been very good for Labor in recent months in particular. The truth is you would prefer to be going to this election with Tony Abbott as the leader. Bill Shorten’s really got to step up to the mark, being up against Malcolm Turnbull now.

ALBANESE: Well we don’t get to select the leader of the other team, they’ve done that. But we’ve been successful against Malcolm Turnbull in the past of course, and I believe we can be again. We have I think, an added element now which is the internal turmoil that inevitably will come from this.

I think a range of Tony Abbott’s supporters really didn’t see this coming, as in, didn’t think it would happen. They thought that he’d got through that first challenge against the empty chair earlier in the year and they thought that they’d consolidated and quite clearly given the confidence that Tony Abbott had in the numbers there are a range of people who’ve promised their vote more than once.

There were 100 in the party room but it appears that there were 150 votes when it got tallied up between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott.

STEFANOVIC: Albo, let’s level with each other, you’ve always been very frank with us on your favoured breakfast program. At the end of the day, you would have much preferred, you would have much preferred, Tony Abbott taking the Liberal Party to the next election. Malcolm Turnbull leading it- it must have led to all kinds of swear words behind the scenes last night, surely?

ALBANESE: I don’t know, I was on a plane to Perth Karl, so I missed the action. There weren’t any swear words at Perth Airport. I’ve got to say though the big winners last night were the telephone companies because no doubt, what occurred when the plane landed in Perth and they say “you can now turn off flight mode”, there was a ringing beep around the plane as the news went through.

STEFANOVIC: On a serious note though, and just finally, the Australian public, the electorate, felt let down when you did it twice. They feel, I think, aggrieved now that it’s happened again. When are politicians in Canberra going to have respect for the electorate?

ALBANESE: Well I think this is an issue. I think that unseating a first term elected Prime Minister is a very big call. A very big call indeed, which is why there’s no doubt, when you say to be frank with you, as I was asked to be, there’s no doubt that Tony Abbott, I think, was very unpopular in the electorate and was really struggling to connect.

There were a range of issues where I used to have a line, I’ll have to think of new ones now with Malcolm Turnbull but Tony Abbott was stuck in the past and he did want Australia to be held back there, and I think that caused real frustration in the electorate that he wasn’t someone for 2015, he was someone more pre the 1960s era in terms of his social policy and his attitude toward social change.

There’s no doubt Malcolm Turnbull is a much more modern person, but that advantage I think, we’ll need to see how that plays out, because there’s also a big disadvantage, because there’s no doubt that the Australian public will feel, particularly some of the Liberal Party faithful will feel that the wrong thing was done last night. That they worked for an Abbott Government and now, they’ve got something very different from that.

WILKINSON: Alright, Anthony Albanese coming to us live from Perth. You dropping into Canning today, Albo?

ALBANESE: I’ve got a breakfast on this morning at the Swan Valley, a Tourism Breakfast hosted by the City of Swan. And then I will be catching up, funnily enough with Matt Keogh, our candidate for Canning, talking about public transport and the need to fund it, and also infrastructure in Canning.

Can I say this about Tony Abbott. If I can just say one thing to his credit. Something I admire about Tony Abbott is his loyalty. I think it cost him, the fact that he was loyal to Bronwyn Bishop, beyond when it was sensible, in terms of her Speakership and others.

But I have respect for him as person even though I have very strong ideological differences with him and political differences with him. But today, he’ll be doing it tough and I think as a human being I think he deserves a bit of space because it’ll be difficult for him and Margie and the family to deal with what’s occurred last night. I certainly wish upon him on a personal level all the best.

WILKINSON: That’s very well said Albo, and I think a lot of people will join you in those sentiments. Thanks very much for your time and we’ll see you soon, we’ll certainly see you on Friday.

ALBANESE: See you Friday morning with bells on. We can chat and see what role Christopher will play.

STEFANOVIC: Loyalty is a horrible attribute as a politician. It’s going to kill you. See you soon Albo, thank you buddy.


 

Sep 11, 2015

Transcript of television interview – Today Show, Nine network

Subjects: Domestic violence funding, Tara Brown, Cabinet reshuffle, Joe Hockey’s job security

LISA WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. Well, it is an horrific toll. Four deaths this week alone from domestic violence in Australia. That makes IT 62 innocent lives cruelly taken away so far this year alone. When will more be done to stop this national emergency ? Well, let’s ask the politicians. Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning to you both.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa, good morning Anthony.

WILKINSON: Anthony, to you first. Gold Coast mum Tara Brown went to police last Thursday desperate for help. She is now dead. The system just isn’t working, is it?

ALBANESE: This is a national crisis, Lisa, and it requires a response not just from governments at all levels but from the community. It is beyond belief that a woman could go into a police station, show those police officers the text messages that clearly indicated that there was a very real threat to her and she was turned away. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system when that can happen to Tara Brown, and she has been let down. She has a child, I understand. It is just horrific.

WILKINSON: It certainly is. Christopher, three women dead in just four days and not a word from our Minister for Women, Tony Abbott. Why is that?

PYNE: Well, Lisa, I agree with Anthony and I agree with you. The evil of domestic violence which leads to murder is something that we absolutely have to do what we can to stamp out. Governments can’t legislate to do away with evil but what we can do, through things like funding of domestic violence shelters, of legal centres, better policing, having a national register for AVOs, which the Premiers and chief ministers and the Prime Minister agreed on at the last Council of Australian Governments, we can put the structures and processes in place to protect our families from evil attackers.

We can do that, but we also have to change our culture and that’s what Anthony was alluding to and I couldn’t agree with him more. The whole community needs to unite in horror at what has happened this week and make sure we do everything we can to stamp it out. Whenever we see it, whenever we suspect it or hear about it, never turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Always dob in a domestic violence perpetrator.

WILKINSON: But Christopher, a woman like Tara Brown was looking for help, she couldn’t get it at the local police station, she was told to look elsewhere. We know we have got women’s refuges closing around the country due to lack of funding. We have a hotline for women that is not getting answered due to lack of funding. The government is spending billions fighting terrorism abroad but just $30 million allotted to fighting this domestic terror.

PYNE: Well, it is $1.3 billion we are spending on things like shelters and homelessness and legal centres. So that figure is not right. But it’s not, whatever amount of money it is, $1.3 billion or $3.5 billion or whatever it is, the money is not the issue. We need to spend whatever is required to stamp out domestic violence. So I don’t think we should skimp on the funding. But the issue is changing the culture that allows these things to happen and addressing it in lots of different ways- like trying to do something about the scourge of ice and drugs and alcoholism.

All these things that play into domestic violence. They are challenges for all of us. So the Queensland Policing issue you refer to is a challenge for Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier in Queensland. I noticed this morning in the papers she is saying she is going to take action following what has been a horrendous week in Queensland. She is right, we do need to do something about policing as well. All of these things need to happen and all governments need to work together to make them happen.

WILKINSON: Moving on. We are hearing this morning that Tony Abbott is planning a Cabinet purge, six ministers up for the chop. Are you worried, Christopher?

ALBANESE: He wasn’t on the list.

PYNE: Well, I wasn’t on this list, Anthony. I’m sure I’m on somebody else’s list.

WILKINSON: Let’s look at in the list. According to Simon Benson in NewsCorp papers this morning, he names Eric Abetz, Andrew Robb, Kevin Andrews, Ian Macfarlane amongst others on the chopping block. No mention of Joe Hockey. Is his job safe?

PYNE: Look, these stories are speculative, they come and go, they take a journalist ten minutes to write and they do all sorts of distracting damage during the day. But at the end of the day the Prime Minister chooses who his Cabinet and his ministry is. All the people you have mentioned are good men doing a good job and the government is getting on with the job.

ALBANESE: These stories don’t come and go when they are in the Daily Telegraph. That is an annex of the Prime Minister’s media office. They get the drop on every story, much to the annoyance of the rest of the Press Gallery. So I think those ministers who have been mentioned will be very nervous this morning. But the problem with this government starts at the very top. This is a response to Tony Abbott, who is being stalked by Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison and all they are trying to sort out is who the challenger will be.

PYNE: And you are stalking Bill Shorten.

ALBANESE: Absolutely not.

PYNE: You and Tanya Plibersek.

ALBANESE: The fact is that the people who are in trouble in this government start with Tony Abbott and works its way right through the system. This is a government without a sense of purpose, which is why it’s not surprising that they’re looking at a reshuffle.

WILKINSON: I can’t help noticing that Christopher didn’t actually answer my question. Is Joe Hockey’s job safe? The Prime Minister said at the weekend that it was his expectation that Joe Hockey would still be Treasurer leading into next year. That is not exactly resounding support, Christopher?

PYNE: Look, Joe is doing a fantastic job in very difficult financial circumstances in the world at the moment. He is a great Treasurer. I’m sure his job is absolutely secure. But all of us just have to get on with our jobs. So as the Education Minister and Leader of the House, that’s what I’m doing. I’m happy to say our learning potential app has now been downloaded over 80,000 times. It is number one on the Google Store and the Apple Store. So we are getting on with the job.

ALBANESE: Keep distracting, Christopher. See how you go.

PYNE: No, no, we are getting on with the job.

ALBANESE: Your main legislation hasn’t gotten through on higher education.

PYNE: No thanks to you.

ALBANESE: Because it is rotten legislation.

PYNE: You are criticising me for not passing the legislation that you’re not supporting. You should be happy it hasn’t passed.

ALBANESE: I am indeed. So are the students of Australia.

PYNE: You’re just jealous.

WILKINSON: Anyway. I think Christopher is over it now. We will have to leave it there, though. Anthony, thank you very much for that. And you have a great weekend, Christopher Pyne.

PYNE: Thanks Lisa. See you Anthony.

ALBANESE: See you. Go the Rabbitohs!

PYNE: And the Crows.

 

Sep 8, 2015

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Senate shipping inquiry hearing; Bill Milby; department confirms it told an Australian business to replace Australian workers with foreign workers; China free trade agreement; Cory Bernardi comments on Syria

Good morning. Last night saw explosive evidence before the Senate legislation committee. Bill Milby is a decent businessman. He’s a businessman who runs a company, North Star Cruises, which employs Australians to take other Australians and visitors from around the world to see the majestic Kimberley.

When confronted with the situation of the current draft legislation that’s been introduced before this Parliament, Mr Milby said that that legislation would put him out of business. When he enquired as to how he should respond to this, he was given advice by Departmental officials to remove the Australian flag from the back of his ship, replace it with a foreign flag, replace his workforce with a foreign workforce, and that is the way that he could compete, by essentially becoming the same as a foreign flagged ship.

Mr Milby called that out. Then the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister essentially said that he’d lied about what happened. Last night Mr Milby gave evidence under oath before the Senate Committee. He was very clear about what occurred, not once, but twice. Once in May in Sydney, and then in June in Canberra, that he was given that advice as the way for his business to remain competitive.

What’s more, he named the officials involved, Judith Zielke and Michael Sutton. They were next up to give evidence. And they gave evidence and backed up Mr Milby’s case. They said very clearly, when Bill Heffernan asked a question;  “So, Mr Milby, was telling the truth when he said you discussed with him the option of going offshore etc?.” Judith Zielke; “Yes.”.

It was very clear from last night’s evidence that these were the options that were put forward by the Department for his business to survive. The Department said, well, they were just options. Well they were – he had two options. Option A: put a foreign flag on the back of your ship. Option B: go out of business. And as Mr Milby said very clearly, he doesn’t blame the departmental officials and nor does Labor. Last night they told the truth before the Senate Committee.

What they were doing in explaining to Mr Milby his options was also telling the truth; that unless you remove the Australian flag and replace you Australian crew with foreign crew, then you simply won’t be able to compete.

And that’s a message that’s there in the findings also before the Senate Committee where they found that 88% of the savings were due to foreign wage costs compared with Australian wages. They expected that all but two of the ships that operate around the Australian coast would remove the Australian flag and replace it with a foreign flag.

We heard evidence from the Tasmanian operator SeaRoad of that in spite of the fact they’ve invested $100 million in a new ship creating jobs here in Australia. So it’s not just jobs at North Star Cruises. It’s not  just jobs in terms of those people in either tourism or freight sectors, but jobs in manufacturing, in shipbuilding, of SeaRoad’s respective ships.

Yet here we have a government determined to pursue this measure. Determined to see the loss of Australian jobs. It appears their ideology is so extreme that their idea, their sole objective is to get rid of jobs that are currently held by MUA members. The way they do that is getting rid of the Australian shipping industry. They were extraordinary revelations.

Mr Truss misled the Parliament yesterday very clearly, very explicitly when he said that this did not occur. It did occur and the two senior people in charge of shipping in his own department confirmed to the Senate last night that it did occur. He must come in at the first opportunity and correct the record.

Mr Abbott must at the very least apologise to Mr Milby for calling this Australian businessman operating in Western Australia a liar.

The third thing that should occur is that this legislation should be withdrawn. It is flawed. It will result in simply the replacement of Australian seafarers with foreign seafarers, Australian flag with a white flag when it comes to Australian jobs. This is WorkChoices on Water. This is ideology before common sense.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, a few things. Mr Truss has only misled Parliament if he knew about this advice being given to Mr Milby. The second thing is what’s the Department giving advice like that anyway?

ALBANESE: The advice was right.

REPORTER: But is it up to the Department to be giving out that kind of advice? Don’t you have reservations about that?

ALBANESE: Of course it’s up to the department to give honest responses to people who are in industry. This launch of Mr Truss’ where the advice was first given was after Mr Milby had asked a question of Warren Truss. Warren Truss referred Mr Milby to the Department. That was the evidence last night. So Mr Truss refers him to Judith Zielke, who’s the person in charge of this policy area for the response. That implies an authority not just of the Department but of the Minister himself, who launched this policy at the Orwellian-named Shipping Australia.

Shipping Australia are the non-Australian shippers. That is where this policy was launched. They call themselves Shipping Australia because even they know that Australians actually get that as an island continent, it’s probably a good idea if the Australian flag has a presence.

So Mr Milby gets referred, Mr Milby then isn’t satisfied with the answer so asks to see the Department, travels to Canberra, saw Judith Zielke and her superior, Michael Sutton, in the Departmental offices, gets told the same advice.

This issue was around last week. Reported on. Mr Milby was on The Project last week, live on TV, in response to Mr Abbott saying that he was lying. So Warren Truss had all of last week to enquire. He said yesterday he made enquiries of the Department. Why didn’t Warren Truss ask Judith Zielke?

Everyone knew it was her, because in the submission to the Senate enquiry, Mr Milby named Judith Zielke by speaking about the Executive Director and who was present at the meetings. Mr Truss stood up in Parliament yesterday and said this didn’t happen.

What’s more, he said this couldn’t have happened, because he doesn’t understand the policy implications of his own legislation that Departmental officials, from both the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Employment claimed last night.

Now it may well be that ignorance or stupidity is his excuse rather than treachery, but this is treachery when it comes to Australian jobs.

REPORTER: This is only draft legislation though.

ALBANESE: No. This is before the Parliament. This has been introduced in the House of Representatives. This is a Senate enquiry properly called into that legislation. So it’s before the Parliament, there’s been no consultation with industry and all of industry put that forward, a lack of consultation. That was the theme last night.

Maritime Industry Australia Limited, the Australian based shipping industry was very clear about their opposition to this legislation last night. This is not thought out. This would just dismiss having an Australian shipping industry.

REPORTER: Just on the China free trade deal, the Government’s ramping up its pressure against Bill Shorten to back the deal. What else do you need, does Labor need in order to support the free trade deal?

ALBANESE: We need a bit of government common sense. We see from this legislation that’s before the Parliament that this is a government that doesn’t care about Australian jobs. Labor supports free trade. We support increased engagement with China.

What we simply want to make sure in terms of labour market testing is that if jobs are created through this arrangement, then Australians have an opportunity to apply and participate in that employment creation.

REPORTER: The Government says that jobs will be lost if the China deal doesn’t go ahead.

ALBANESE: The government says all sorts of things. This is a government that has forgotten how to govern. This is a government that acts like an opposition. This is a government in which Tony Abbott has put a motion on the Notice Paper, today, like he’s some backbench MP.

Tony Abbott has lost the plot. Prime Ministers don’t move motions on Notice Papers. That’s what Shadow Ministers do, and government backbenchers do. This is a Prime Minister without authority in his own party room and without authority in the community.

The way that he called out Mr Milby last week while he was campaigning in Canning simply said to this Western Australian businessman, who’s created jobs including people who live in Canning and in Perth, that he has lost any authority as Prime Minister. He never made the transition.

He was a good opposition leader. He was good at saying no. He was good at wrecking things. He’s continued to wreck things. He’s forgotten he’s the government.

He’s wrecking his own government with his behaviour, with his childishness, with the way that he’s failed to have a plan to actually govern.

Mr Abbott had a plan to get into government. He doesn’t have a plan to govern. Two years on, that’s very obvious.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, just one more question on refugees. After a moment of bipartisanship in Question Time yesterday, or at least the attempt to have bipartisanship in this area, we saw some comments last night from Cory Bernardi in the Senate. He’s described the refugee crisis in Europe as becoming an opportunistic cycle. What do you think about that?

ALBANESE: Cory Bernardi is an embarrassment to this Parliament. Cory Bernardi should have a good look at himself and the implications of some of the things that he says. I don’t blame his Party in this case. It’s pretty clear that he just goes off but I think probably the best response to Cory Bernardi is to treat him with the contempt that those comments deserve.

 

Sep 8, 2015

Transcript of television interview – SKY News

Subjects: Warren Truss’ statement that Australian job losses are “trivial issues” Senate shipping inquiry; Bill Milby; China free trade agreement; Syrian refugee crisis

DAVID SPEERS: The Shadow Minister joins me now. Anthony Albanese thanks for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

SPEERS: Does this hinge on the difference between a government official giving an option to a businessman versus advice?

ALBANESE: No. It doesn’t. This is an open and shut case. Bill Milby said, how can my business compete, when he heard of the reforms. He was referred by Warren Truss, the Minister, to the official, because Warren Truss had just launched this policy, and the official very clearly said to him, well if you want to compete, then this is what you have to do. Get a foreign flag, replace your Australian workforce with a workforce paying foreign wages and that way you won’t have any training bill either.

SPEERS: But did they say you’ve got to do that, or did they say, these are the options?

ALBANESE: Well, they of course can’t do that. He had the option of going out of business. That’s the other option. Because you can’t compete. If two ships are side by side, and one has a cost structure paying third world wages, and third world registration, and third world tax rates, both income tax rates, and also corporate tax rates, if it’s taken off the Australian register, then of course they can’t compete on the basis of first world wages, which we have here in our first world country of Australia.

That is the whole purpose of the legislation and we heard last night that 88 per cent of the savings, and this is in the Government’s Explanatory Memorandum, are as a result of wages. So, the difference between Australian wages and foreign wages. We know that 90 per cent of the Australian flagged industry will disappear. That is the very purpose of this legislation.

SPEERS: But the Government argues the whole point of doing this is because we are losing more and more business here. More and more shipping freight. They point to figures that between 2006-7 and 2013-14, coastal licences plummeted from 30 vessels to 15. They halved.

ALBANESE: Our legislation came in 2012 and took effect from 2013. That’s what they miss out. That’s why we introduced legislation and it’s working. We had last night evidence from a Tasmanian ship freighting operator, about a $100 million investment that they’ve made on the basis of the new legislation.

Financed by the ANZ Bank. Creating jobs in Tasmania. That’s what it was aimed at. We didn’t bring in a protectionist model. We brought in one whereby Australian based shipping can compete with foreign shipping, by making them pay Australian based wages when they’re working on the domestic freight task.

Just like in any other sector of the economy, if you’re doing work in Australia, you should pay Australian wages and conditions. What the government seeks to do is to bring everyone down to third world levels by introducing flags of convenience.

SPEERS: Sure, but if you are doing that and you are essentially saying those foreign flagged vessels have to pay the Australian wage for any domestic freight that they are going to carry, few are going to do that. Are we going to see the share of the freight by shipping continue to fall?

ALBANESE: No, not at all. The share hasn’t fallen. That misnomer was brought out last night as well. The figure that Warren Truss used today was based upon value, and because the iron ore price has gone down, the value of freight that’s used in terms of shipping has gone down as well.

SPEERS: What other measure could you use? The actual bulk?

ALBANESE: Prices go up and down so that’ll have an impact in terms of the relative value of what’s being taken on shipping and what’s been taken on rail. Indeed there was evidence last night that the amount of freight going on shipping is actually increased and evidence from the rail sector on that basis.

Today of most concern was the fact that Warren Truss described these issues as being trivial. Well, Mr Milby who’s, we’re not just talking about the tourist sector jobs on his cruise ship. There are also the related jobs onshore.

There are also, of course, the jobs in shipbuilding. His ship was built here in Australia, so you lose those shipbuilding jobs as well in manufacturing when you decimate the Australian shipping industry.

That is what not just Mr Milby but every single one of the Australian shipping operators who appeared last night said would happen including the peak organisation, the Australian Maritime Industry Limited said this legislation is flawed. It should be thrown out. You’ve had one gentleman, a Liberal Party member of 50 years from Mr Abbott’s own electorate saying this is just bad legislation.

SPEERS: You say it’s not protectionist, what you want to do. It is though, to a degree, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: We allowed for foreign ships around our coast. What we simply said though, unlike in the United States where if you want to take freight from LA to San Francisco, you’ve got to take have a US flagged vessel, US seafarers and the ship has to be built in the United States. We allow for competition, but it’s competition on an equal basis. Where Australian ships are available, they should be used.

So a simple principle, in terms of preference, but also, was making sure that the cost structures were similar. There are real consequences, not just for our economy but for national security. Common sense tells you that as an island continent, you want ships going around the coast with the Australian flag on the back.

It’s one of the reasons why every single country in the G20 does not have this free for all around the coast. G20 economies all have a system that allows for support for a domestic shipping industry, because of national security, because of environmental issues as well.

I must say, every time there’s been an incident off the coast, whether it be the Pasha Bulker, be it the Pacific Adventurer, be it the Shen Neng, off the Queensland Coast, there hasn’t been an Australian flag on the back of that ship.

SPEERS: Let me ask you about a couple of other issues today. The refugee question as to what we do to help with the refugee crisis in Syria. Labor’s settled on a figure of 10,000. How and why that particular figure and why the need to rush out that sort of figure?

ALBANESE: We think that’s a reasonable contribution. We’ve also said we’re not dogmatic about it; we’d be prepared to talk to the government about it. But the big distinction I think, why it was necessary to make it, was that the Prime Minister did a press conference on the weekend and said we should take people from Syria, but that they would displace people who would have otherwise got through.

There was no increase in the intake. That’s why it was important, I think, for us to say hang on a minute; if you’re going to say Australia should do our bit, that’s not doing our bit. That’s just replacing people from Africa or other countries who are refugees, genuinely and have been through the UN processes, with people from Syria.

We need to do, given that the crisis is over and above business as usual, we need to have a measure that’s over and above business as usual. That’s why we made that statement and I was pleased that the Prime Minister yesterday said that he would consider that and I’m hopeful that we can actually get this above partisan politics and hopefully, the Prime Minister will give that proper consideration.

SPEERS: Is Labor really doing that? Is Labor really trying to seek a bipartisan approach to this, because we saw again in Question Time, attacks on the government over the aid funding for the people in Syria and again, calling on him to back this 10,000 figure that you’ve announced.

ALBANESE: Well, this is a government that has cut foreign aid. That’s a fact. We think that’s a problem.

SPEERS: It’s also taken a lot more Syrian refugees than Labor ever did.

ALBANESE: Hang on a tick here. The crisis that has occurred has escalated in recent times. I mean, this was a conflict that was expected not to last for very long. That has now lasted four years. And there are people in camps in Turkey, in Jordan, people desperately travelling across Europe. The circumstances are such that in the same way the rest of the world has stepped up, we need to as well.

SPEERS: And finally, the China free trade agreement. We’ve seen the government going after Bill Shorten in Question Time, the various things that he said over the years about free trade. Where do you stand on this? At the end of the day, will you want to see the free trade agreement with China supported?

ALBANESE: I support free trade. I support increased engagement with China. What I want is the government to get serious about making sure that they get the details right. It’s a matter of the details. I think there are benefits of free trade. What we need to do though, is to make sure that those benefits accrue to the entire Australian population rather than to just a few.

The way to do that is to make sure that Australians have an opportunity, if there is investment going on, to apply for those jobs, in terms of labour market testing that occurs with other foreign investment here in Australia as well.

The problem with this government is that they’re constantly looking for conflict and looking for difference. They haven’t transitioned from being the Opposition. Tony Abbott was a very good Opposition leader. Unfortunately, the skills of negativity and opposition and destruction have been brought into the way he depicts himself as Prime Minister.

SPEERS: The opposition and negativity on this, though, is coming from Labor, because the Government points out the many elements in the free trade agreement that do protect local jobs.

ALBANESE: That’s not right, David. Today we saw an extraordinary circumstance, something I haven’t seen, of a Prime Minister putting a motion on the notice paper, moving a suspension of standing orders to deal with his motion before the Parliament, when the legislation associated with the China free trade agreement isn’t before the Parliament. That’s just extraordinary.

SPEERS: It’s still going through the Treaties Committee.

ALBANESE: Why would you move that motion?

SPEERS: Because Labor have been so critical of the deal and the Government wants to know that you support it.

ALBANESE: This is the tactics of an opposition, not the tactics of government – and that’s Tony Abbott’s problem. He had a plan to get into government, but he doesn’t have a plan to govern and it’s shown every day, because after more than two years now, we can say this; there’s no sense of purpose.

You don’t hear him talking about infrastructure very much anymore, because they haven’t actually started to build anything.

SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, we’ll have to leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

Sep 8, 2015

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sep 7, 2015

Transcript of doorstop, Canberra

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

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

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

The legislation does two things.

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

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

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

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

There are two key sets of evidence before the committee.

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

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

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

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

This is Workchoices on Water.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s not doing our bit.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks very much.

 

 

 

Sep 4, 2015

Transcript of television interview – Today Show, Nine network

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

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

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day

FRYDENBERG: G’day Albo.

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

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

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

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

STEFANOVIC: Anthony?

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

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

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

STEFANOVIC: Agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEFANOVIC: Your debt is getting worse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRYDENBERG: 1989, that was your last surplus.

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

ALBANESE: No, Not at all.

STEFANOVIC: What is he that doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALBANESE:  They haven’t had a cabinet meeting.

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

 

 

FRIDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2015

 

 

Sep 4, 2015

Transcript of press conference, Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALBANESE: No.

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

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

 

 

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