Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Oct 12, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – Jon Faine Program, ABC 774 Melbourne

Subjects: Infrastructure; Monash Freeway; Malcolm Turnbull; public transport; privatisation of state-owned assets, infrastructure Australia; Parliament

JON FAINE: After we spoke to Greg Hunt, we got a call from the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, who is on Bill Shorten’s front bench. Mr Albanese, good morning to you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

FAINE: Greg Hunt said that he was prioritising some of the projects. Here is just a little bit of what he said would be his priorities on the better cities project.

GREG HUNT: For Melbourne my suggestion, which has obviously been outlined today, is that we look at two road, two rail and one port project long-term; being the Cross City Rail Tunnel, the cross-city road tunnel – the East-West Link – which inevitably have to be built – and in the meantime get on with fixing the Monash Freeway. There’s a Monash Upgrade that Infrastructure Australia has said is ready to proceed.

FAINE: Do we have consensus Anthony Albanese? Can we take the politics out of this?

ALBANESE: Well, of course Infrastructure Australia said it was ready to proceed in 2012, which is why we included it in the 2013 Budget and it would have been completed by now if Greg Hunt and the government which he was a part of hadn’t cut the project in the 2014 Budget. We had some $80 million allocated for the two sections; precisely, between High St to Warrigal Road and the Warrigal Road to Clyde Road section. I’m reading from the Budget papers here:

The Warrigal Road to Clyde Road section involves replacing existing entry ramp signals with various speed limits and on-ramp management. These projects will improve traffic flows during peak hours, reduce delays and improve safety.

FAINE: Ok. So it was in, and then it was out, and now it might be in again. Can we …

ALBANESE: It’s a good thing if it’s in. But what they shouldn’t do is pretend that he’s got this new idea. It’s the only thing he is saying is proceeding. He cut $3 billion form the Melbourne Metro project, they cut Managed Motorways and they cut the M80 project.

FAINE: No. Clearly now they are prepared to put money into public transport. Tony Abbott was not. Clearly Malcolm Turnbull is. Do you agree with that at least?

ALBANESE: Oh absolutely, because it makes no sense to have a roads-only approach. That’s something that I have been arguing from day one.

FAINE: So we’ve lost two years while we had Tony Abbott insisting that that was the only way to go and, for instance, state governments like this one saying: Well, then there’s no deal. Now the next thing they are saying is that they want to push privatisation of state assets as part of the funding package. Do we have consensus on that?

ALBANESE: Well you need to look at it on a case-by-case basis. With regard to the sale of the ports, that’s something that does make sense from my perspective. But what you shouldn’t have is a view that says private sector good, public sector bad. You need to look at each on the merits of its case just like you shouldn’t have a roads-only approach or a rail-only approach.

FAINE: Can we get Anthony Albanese, Bill Shorten, Malcom Turnbull and Greg Hunt to sit down in a room together and just agree on a plan so that, no matter who is in power it gets done?

ALBANESE: Well there is a better idea than that which is to get Infrastructure Australia to present a plan at arm’s length from government based upon the most appropriate projects, which is why we in government established Infrastructure Australia, which is why we funded all 15 of the priority projects. And Infrastructure Australia, for example, found that the Melbourne Metro project was the first priority for Melbourne. It also found that projects like Managed Motorways on the Monash Freeway, it found a cost-benefit analysis of something in the order of $6 return for every dollar invested, which is why we should take Infrastructure Australia’s recommendations seriously, which is a part of what Bill Shorten was recommending in his speech that he gave last Thursday.

FAINE: But the Labor Party plays politics with this too Anthony Albanese. The state Labor premier, Daniel Andrews, announced a new infrastructure body last week. It’s got three department heads on it. It’s supposedly an independent infrastructure body. It’s got three public servants – heads of Department of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Planning and they are beholden to the government of the day. They are hardly independent.

ALBANESE: No, that makes absolute sense. What we did with Infrastructure Australia is have the head of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the head of Treasury there and I’ll tell you why …

FAINE: You had them there, but not as voting members of the body.

ALBANESE: They were there as members of the body and they we there so that when the projects came before the Cabinet through the budgetary process, they were intimate with the proposals, they were aware of what the cost-benefit analysis was and it meant that my job as the Infrastructure Minister was a lot easier around the Budget process than it would have been if historically what occurred, which was that transport and infrastructure occurred over on the side, and then you had to argue the case.

It meant that there was a greater awareness of it and it does makes sense and you’ll find that the bureaucrats operate at arm’s length from the government because they want to see, Treasury analysis wants to see, the money directed towards projects that produce the greatest return.

FAINE: And just finally, shenanigans today, you’ll have fun and games in the Parliament won’t you with Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey on the backbench.

ALBANESE: I think we will there will be Tony And Joe and Bruce Bilson and Kevin Andrews all sitting on the backbench and I think Malcolm Turnbull will be worried about what’s coming from in front of him in terms of the Opposition but he will be also worried about what’s coming from behind and of course his ridiculing on Saturday was pretty extraordinary. I have never seen a Prime Minister laughed at by his own political party before.

FAINE: Good on you and thank you for your time this morning.

 

Oct 12, 2015

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Gold Coast Light Rail; public transport, High Speed Rail Authority Bill; shipping legislation; polls; Peter Garrett

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Firstly to the Government announcement that they’ve agreed to fund the Gold Coast Light Rail Project yesterday. What’s interesting is that just three days before that, Warren Truss said that the Gold Coast Light Rail project didn’t have a business case, hadn’t been through Infrastructure Australia, didn’t have any process around it and wasn’t at the announcement on Sunday.

Of course, the fact is that the Gold Coast Light Rail project does stack up. That’s why in Government we funded Stage 1 with $365 million. That’s why this announcement to take savings that were there in the Budget from the Moreton Bay Rail Project funded by the former Labor Government and allows the Queensland Government to use that to charge up the project for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 is a sensible one, and it’s one that Labor welcomes.

However, if Malcolm Turnbull is going to be taken seriously on these issues, he needs to as a first step not just do $95 million for the Gold Coast Light Rail project, but do $4.5 billion that he took out of public transport projects. Projects like Melbourne Metro. Projects like Cross River Rail.

I saw today in an extraordinary article in the Herald Sun, once again one of these new projects for Victoria. This project is the Managed Motorways project for the Monash Freeway. The precise project where funding was taken from in the 2014 Budget. It had been included as a priority project by Infrastructure Australia in the 2012 priority list. In 2013 Federal Labor put it in the Budget and then the current government took the money out.

They now are pretending that putting the money back into a project, which had a cost benefit ratio of greater than nine, is somehow something positive and a new initiative of this government.

It says it all about their failure on infrastructure and is a part of the decline we have seen since they were elected of 20.1% according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released since Parliament last sat – a decline in public infrastructure investment since Labor was last in Government.

Today in the Parliament I’ll be introducing this morning the High Speed Rail Authority Bill. This was a Bill that was introduced after our election loss in 2013, consistent with the commitments that we’d made and consistent with the recommendations of the advisory group that included  people like Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia, Brian Nye from the Australasian Rail Association, and Tim Fischer, a great, genuine advocate of rail in Australia.

This would be charged with ensuring that the planning that’s necessary for the High Speed Rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra would be made possible. This will need cooperation across jurisdictions, which is why we’re introducing this legislation. This was part of the cuts of the current government, some $54 million they cut in their first Budget as part of their slashing of infrastructure spending that was actually in the forward estimates.

Thirdly today, there’s a big test for Malcolm Turnbull, which is the fact that they have listed the shipping legislation. This is legislation which we know from the Senate legislation committee enquiry evidence of Mr Bill Milby will result in Australian shippers, if they want to continue in business, being forced to replace the Australian flag on the back of ships with the white flag on Australian jobs. Replacing their Australian workforce with a foreign workforce being paid foreign wages.

This is terrible policy that is purely ideologically driven. It is in Australia’s national security and environmental, as well as economic interests to have a viable Australian shipping industry. This legislation, we know from all the evidence would destroy that industry and destroy Australian jobs.

Mr Turnbull should take the fact of the change of the Prime Ministership to withdraw this legislation, to have proper negotiations and consultation with stakeholders and make sure that if there are any changes to the regulations, they assist the growth of the Australian shipping industry, not destroy it.

REPORTER: How do you interpret a fall in the Coalition’s two party preferred vote? They’re now neck and neck with Labor.

ALBANESE: Malcolm Turnbull is a superficial politician. When people look at something shiny and new, they tend to be interested in it. But the policies are the same. The shipping legislation is the same. This is WorkChoices on Water that is being introduced and debated in the Parliament today.

Mr Turnbull has had to change his views on climate change, on marriage equality. It’s not real. People want politicians who will actually stand up for their beliefs, not ones who will put their personal advancement before the views that they say they hold dear for so many years about what is best for the country.

REPORTER: How can Bill Shorten boost his popularity? He’s fallen further behind Malcolm Turnbull as preferred Prime Minister.

ALBANESE: We’re on 50-50 two party preferred, which is extraordinary for the opposition to be in at this point in time. In another context, I once quoted the great Tex Perkins in saying “the honeymoon is over, baby” about Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott had a very short honeymoon indeed. It was over before the Parliament first sat after the 2013 election. The honeymoon is over for Malcolm Turnbull. People will have a look at the substance.

People will also have a look at the footage from Saturday where I don’t think I’ve seen, and I’ve been around politics for a long time as part of a political party which has robust debate; I have never seen a Prime Minister ridiculed by his own party membership as happened to Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday. I’ve seen them cheered; I’ve even seen them booed. I haven’t seen them laughed at. That’s what happened with Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday.

Malcolm Turnbull has judgement problems. We saw that last time he was Leader of the Opposition with Godwin Grech. We saw it on Saturday. I saw it first hand at the Dally M awards in Sydney. Malcolm Turnbull knows very little about rugby league. He should probably not pretend he’s an expert, because they were laughing at him at the Dally M awards as well.

REPORTER: Peter Garrett last night, he now denies he was handed an envelope by Clubs NSW containing cash. Do you think he’s been under pressure to retract those claims?

ALBANESE: I’m not aware of the circumstances of that. I haven’t had those discussions with Peter Garrett. They’re a matter for him to answer why there was a change of story.

Can I say this about Peter Garrett though, and his comments about Kevin Rudd. Kevin Rudd was a good Prime Minister. Kevin Rudd was one of three Labor leaders to take Labor from opposition to government in the post-war period along with Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke.

Kevin Rudd is deserving of respect as a Labor leader just as Julia Gillard is and I think that Peter Garrett’s comments last night are most unfortunate indeed and do not reflect well on him.

REPORTER: Were the accusations true about his character?

ALBANESE: Of course they weren’t. Kevin Rudd was someone who I know Peter Garrett supported becoming leader against Kim Beazley. Kevin Rudd is someone who led Labor to victory.

Kevin Rudd is someone who led Labor into a position whereby the first thing that we did as a government was ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we got rid of WorkChoices, we worked on education and health reform, we gave the Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Kevin Rudd’s record as Prime Minister will be regarded very well by history. I note that many issues which Kevin Rudd pursued, such as Australia gaining a seat on the UN Security Council, something that was controversial and opposed by the Coalition at the time, has been regarded by all involved including the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop as something that brought great credit to our nation.

Kevin Rudd deserves respect of every member of the Labor Party as do all our Labor leaders – Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating. All of these leaders deserve our respect and our gratitude for their work that they’ve done, not just for the Labor Party but for our nation.

 

Oct 11, 2015

Television interview – SKY News Viewpoint

Subjects: Infrastructure; Gold Coast Light Rail; Islamic extremism; Malcolm Turnbull heckled; China-Australia Free Trade Agreement

CHRIS KENNY:  Thanks for joining us Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Chris.

KENNY: I want to come to a few things about the way that the political dynamic has changed but first up, let’s stick with infrastructure. Your own Party through Bill Shorten and yourself were involved in the announcement, of a new infrastructure bank if you like.

We had Tony Abbott saying that he was the infrastructure Prime Minister and now Malcolm Turnbull is out there announcing new money for an infrastructure project that Tony Abbott wouldn’t fund. Why all this focus on infrastructure and spending money on infrastructure when we don’t have that money? This is all borrowed money that both sides of politics are promising.

ALBANESE: Infrastructure development is the key to future job creation and future economic growth. It’s an investment that produces a return by growing the economy.

You have to draw a distinction between capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure and it’s a good thing that this project was funded today.

Last Thursday when we announced our support for it, the Infrastructure Minister, who wasn’t present today I noted, said that none of these projects had been through the Infrastructure Australia process, none of them had business cases.

Of course they do, and this is a project that has been approved by Infrastructure Australia, the first stage that Malcolm Turnbull has ridden on has been a huge success.

It’s an example of public investment facilitating private sector investment as well as being a PPP, a public-private partnership, and its patronage figures have way exceeded what the forecast would be.

Unless construction begins in the early part of next year it wouldn’t have been ready for the Commonwealth Games. The funding for this is a saving from the Moreton Bay Rail Link that’s under construction that’s coming in under budget so it’s money that is available.

KENNY: So Labor is claiming credit for this one but it’s a big leap to say you invest in infrastructure, you get that money back through economic development, because that presumes that all your infrastructure spending is wise and whenever we get governments throwing large dollops of money around at infrastructure projects there’s great potential to invest in the wrong projects, into white elephants or to line the pockets of private developers who don’t need all that assistance anyway.

ALBANESE: You’re right Chris. That’s why we’ve been critical of the Government funding the East-West Link that produces a 45 cent return for every dollar invested, WestConnex without a proper business case in Sydney and the Perth Freight Link where they don’t even know where it is going to go and without a business case as well.

But this project has been assessed by Infrastructure Australia, this is one that will contribute to the success of the Commonwealth Games, that will improve the liveability of people who live on the Gold Coast but importantly for people who visit the Gold Coast they’ll make it a much more attractive place to visit and we know from stage one that it is hugely successful already which is why this is a very worthy project indeed. It’s been through all the proper processes.

What we say is, get the process right, do the business case and then if it does stack up that’s where the investment should go. But you’ve seen a 20 per cent decline in public sector infrastructure investment since the change of government.

What that means in the future is less economic growth because the 20 per cent decline combined with the fact that it’s to the wrong projects has meant that Tony Abbott’s promise of an Infrastructure PM has gone from bulldozers to bulldust.

KENNY: It’s a bit rough for you to talk about infrastructure funding going in to the wrong projects. When Labor was in power they spent what $16 or $17 billion, or even more, on school halls on every school around the country. That’s hardly productive infrastructure building.

ALBANESE: We got Australia through the Global Financial Crisis. We got Australia through the Global Financial Crisis by making investments that kept the construction sector going and kept confidence in the economy going.

In regard to nation building infrastructure projects we funded all 15 of the priority projects that were identified by Infrastructure Australia. Whether they be road or rail or light rail, we funded those projects.

KENNY: Yeah, well without rewriting history, that’s the point isn’t it, when you needed to spend money back in the GFC it would’ve been much more useful if it was been spent on ready to go national infrastructure projects that we knew were going to help the economic development of the country.

What I want to ask you too on this is that you’re focused on this, we’ve got Malcolm Turnbull focused on it as well, as was Tony Abbott in different areas but we’ve still got a budget deficit, we’ve got a debt problem in this country.

Both sides of politics say it needs to be constrained over the medium to long term but we’re going to see some sort of a political auction going on between now and election day about which major project, which big spends either party is going to promise.

ALBANESE: It’s a matter of making sure it’s the right expenditure, that’s the point here Chris. You have for example the Tony Abbott plan – a billion and a half dollars forwarded to the Victorian Government for the East-West Link not this financial year, not last financial year, but the financial year before that.

It’s been sitting in a bank account for a project that is a dud. What we need to do is identify the right projects, make sure investment is available, make sure also that we drive that private sector investment. What we announced with the infrastructure investment financing package on Thursday through Bill Shorten was a way that you can drive that private sector investment as well.

That’s something that we did in government with projects like the Gold Coast Light Rail Project, through projects like the F3 to M2 in Sydney, now known as NorthConnex, where $405 million in Commonwealth investment helped create nearly ten times that investment through the private sector and through the state government through that seed funding if you like, through risk mitigation, through that $405 million grant.

Now that’s a project very importantly connecting the F3 on the central coast to the major road network, the M7 and M2 in Sydney that will ensure it that bypasses a whole range of traffic lights, it improves productivity, it means that you can actually go around Sydney from Melbourne without hitting a traffic light.

It’s a critical project but it’s one that was talked about for decades, we put in place a structure to make sure it would actually happen and it’s under construction today.

KENNY: Alright, we are going to hear a lot more about this, bidding and outbidding by both major parties in the lead up to the election. I do want to change the topic and talk about this problem of terrorism that the country is confronting.

Can you please explain to me, Anthony Albanese, why on both sides of politics, both major parties, Labor and Liberal, politicians seem to find it so hard to call Islamism extremism by its name, to talk about jihadist terrorism or Islamist terrorism? Why is there so much pussyfooting around these issues, given that we have to deal with these issues, we have to talk about them, whether we are Muslim or non-Muslim or Christian or atheist. We are going to be talking about them for many years to come.

ALBANESE: We have to talk about it Chris and we have to call it for what it is. Clearly the murder that occurred the Friday before last outside Parramatta Police station of Mr Cheng, an innocent person going about his work business to pay for his family or look after his family was just an extraordinary crime.

And there is no doubt that the motivation of that was this bizarre form of Islamic extremism, that is something that is being promoted whether it be online, whether it be in prayer groups, or wherever it is being promoted it needs to be addressed.

We do need at the same time though, to make sure that people of Islamic faith are not blamed for the actions of criminals who are engaged in a distortion of Islamic faith.

The great monotheistic religions of the world all regard human life as being sacrosanct, but these people would destroy it and our way of life.

I’m certainly not frightened of calling it out. Friends I have in the Islamic community are just as concerned as other loyal Australians about these extremists who are doing things in the name of a religion that’s a complete distortion of that religion.

KENNY: Well I’ve got to say it’s a pleasure to hear you talk about this terrible issue in straight forward terms because what you’ve just said there is frank, is factual, is responsible and that’s exactly what I’ve been talking about. We’ve seen far too few politicians even prepared to mention that this is Islamic extremism.

We need to know about it, we need to talk about it because we need to confront it in our communities and through law enforcement and the rest of it for many years to come, so thank you for explaining it in those straight forward terms. Let’s switch now to politics, not so long ago you were a government, an opposition that was ahead in the polls.

You had a government you were up against that had been trailing in the polls for a long while with an unpopular Prime Minister. Now suddenly they’ve done a Labor Party, they’ve done a leadership change and you’ve got a popular Prime Minister leading the Coalition which is ahead in the polls.

How much does this change your attitude to parliament this week? Will you be going hard and aggressive at the Government or are we going to see a new tack from Labor?

ALBANESE: Well he wasn’t too popular at his own Party Conference Chris, this week I noticed, where he was the subject of absolute ridicule when he made the absurd statement that somehow the NSW Liberal Party was free of factions and they don’t do backroom deals and everything is all hunky dory.

KENNY: It was a strange statement as I said in the start … there’s no ego in the media or greed in business. But you of course were more popular in your party membership than Bill Shorten was so there’s no surprise there.

ALBANESE: Well why it’s significant, what occurred yesterday, isn’t the fact that a whole lot of the Liberal Party membership are very angry about what happened with the replacing of an elected first term Prime Minister.

What was significant from my perspective when I watched it last night on the news, a sort of train wreck speech, was the lack of judgement. Malcolm Turnbull, who superficially might be more attractive to some than Tony Abbott, once again showed his complete lack of judgement. If you don’t know what the audience is at a Liberal Party forum, if you don’t know …

KENNY: We’ll come back to this issue later in the program. What about from Labor’s point of view where you’ve been very aggressive, it’s been a very polarised political debate and now you’ve got a new popular Prime Minister who says he wants to get things done. Can we expect Labor to be more cooperative, more bipartisan for instance by backing your rhetoric about the Asian Century and support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement?

ALBANESE: We’re not opposed to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

KENNY: But you’re holding it up.

ALBANESE: We haven’t held anything up. As you know, the agreement, the legislation for the agreement has just been brought forward. It hasn’t even been debated in the House of Representatives yet.

KENNY: But you’re threatening to hold it up.

ALBANESE: No. Commentators have been saying that. What we will do is present our amendments; they’ll be out there for all to see. We want to get this done. We believe this is in the national interest; we need to make sure it remains in the national interest and everyone can benefit from this agreement.

I support free trade. I support market based mechanisms and there is no doubt there can be a great deal of benefit from trade liberalisation but we need to make sure in terms of the details of the agreement that it’s got right and we’ll be doing that.

We’ll also be pursuing the Government where we think that it’s got it wrong, we’ll be pointing out I’m sure some of the contradictions between what Malcolm Turnbull has said in the past and what he is saying now. We’ll be pointing out the issues remain where nothing has changed.

Tomorrow I have national shipping legislation in my portfolio that would suggest the only way Australian shippers can survive is taking the Australian flag off the back of their ships, replacing it with a foreign flag and foreign workers, paying foreign wages.

We don’t think that’s in Australia’s interests. We’ll be pointing out that many of the problems with the Government stay exactly the same, all that’s happened is a different spokesperson.

KENNY: Alright Albo, thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate your time.

ALBANSESE: Good to be with you.

 

 

 

 

Oct 9, 2015

Doorstop press conference – Marrickville

Subjects: Labor’s infrastructure plan, Warren Truss, Infrastructure Australia, private email accounts, Turnbull Government’s infrastructure team, Parramatta shooting, religious fundamentalism

ALBANESE: Labor yesterday announced a major plan to drive investment in Australia’s infrastructure. We know that it’s needed because of the latest figure from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that there has been a 20% fall in public sector infrastructure investment since the change of government. That’s a disastrous figure and it has real consequences for Australian jobs and importantly future jobs growth and future economic growth. With the IMF warning about the perils of future economic circumstances, we need to make sure that Australia is in a position to grow into the future. Infrastructure, the investment in capital, is the key to that, along with investment in our people and Labor has a plan for education and skills development as well as innovation that we’ve released as well.

Yesterday’s announcement would create a $10b infrastructure facility, to facilitate investment much greater than that in Australia’s infrastructure needs, and we know that those infrastructure needs are there. Projects like Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project, Melbourne’s Metro project, and the rail line connecting Leppington in Sydney’s south west to Saint Marys on the western line, through Badgerys Creek Airport, and through the employment lands in western Sydney, are so important. As well as that, projects like the on-going upgrade of the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway, public transport projects in Perth, where Infrastructure Australia has identified that seven of the 10 worst congested roads in Australia will be located if action is not taken over the next decade.

So these are important policy issues, and I’m pleased that Scott Morrison has said as the Treasurer that they have merit and are worthy of consideration. That’s a mature response from the new Treasurer, and it’s one that is welcomed. But it contrasts with the comments of Warren Truss, the Infrastructure Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, who said yesterday in a release, quite extraordinarily: “While projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane Rail and the rail link to Badgery’s Creek and around Western Sydney are yet to be planned, have no business case and the costs are unknown, they have not been through any Infrastructure Australia or detailed assessment process.’’

Mr Truss doesn’t seem to have a clue about his own portfolio. If it’s not about roads in Wide Bay or Gympie he has no idea about what has been happening in infrastructure around Australia. Cross River Rail was the first priority project, priority number one on the Infrastructure Australia list in 2012. We had funding allocated in the 2013 Budget. The Melbourne Metro, planning money was provided way back in 2009 by the Federal Labor Government, some $40 million for planning work completed, a project that is ready to go, a project that has the support of Infrastructure Australia. And the airport, he should just ask his department, where the work that was done by the former and current governments on planning for the second Sydney airport; part of that planning work is of course for the rail link. What he and the State Government are saying is that they’ll provide for the rail station to be underneath the new airport, but they won’t build the line. It makes no sense. Even if the airport wasn’t there, a link from the south west to the western line, through the employment lands of Western Sydney would make sense, and what be a good thing that would drive jobs and productivity and in Western Sydney, yet Mr Truss doesn’t seem to understand that.

Importantly today, the intervention is welcome from Lucy Turnbull, the chair of the Committee for Sydney, who has supported the rail line for Western Sydney Airport and Badgery’s Creek to be up and running from day one. Lucy Turnbull understands planning that is required for the second airport and her support for this project is very welcome. It is important that the State and Federal governments get on with the job of supporting this necessary infrastructure. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: Labor wants to give Infrastructure Australia the ability to provide loans for equity and the private sector to build major projects. Would that model mean tolls are more likely to be part of new projects?

ALBANESE: Not necessarily at all and one the things that we want to do is to make sure that, we’ve said that, we’ll establish a committee that will look at the financing mandate, within six months of the election of a Shorten Labor Government.

There are a range of models available, for example in public transport, the availability payment model that was looked at for the Cross River Rail, that is essentially a way of bringing forward investment into nation building infrastructure, bringing it forward with a certain return that is particularly attractive to superannuation funds, and I’ve been meeting with people this morning who are so supportive of this plan, and it’s not surprising that our announcement has received support from ACCI – the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the superannuation industry, the Australian Industry Group have all come out and been supportive of the policy that we put forward yesterday, through Bill Shorten’s address in Brisbane.

REPORTER: Will your changes to Infrastructure Australia mean projects that are important but can’t be made to deliver a return to private companies, will they just get shelved?

ALBANESE: No, it doesn’t mean that at all. What is means for example is where there is a return to the national economy. Take public transport projects that have a strong cost benefit, such as Cross River Rail or Melbourne Metro. You can structure and attract private funding to those proposals through the availability payment model, or there are a range of other models, that can bring forward a certain return to the superannuation industry, but mean that infrastructure construction can happen sooner rather than later. So there are a range of ways in which you can attract and use private capital. We know that by the year 2025, there will be some $4 trillion in Australia’s superannuation funds. What we want is for superannuation funds to be used for infrastructure and investment here that provide that certain return, a natural fit between infrastructure, investment and superannuation, because infrastructure investment can provide a stable return, unlike, for example, investment on the share market, that we saw during the GFC can be very volatile, and in those cases people saw their contents, or the amount of money in their superannuation funds actually decrease while that crisis was on.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, do you use servers outside of Parliament (inaudible), for emails?

ALBANESE: No I don’t. I do have a gmail account for personal use, but in terms of the business I do as a parliamentarian, it is done through the parliamentary system.

REPORTER: In your opinion, do you think it is appropriate that the Prime Minister uses personal email?

ALBANESE: I think this is a matter certainly needs to be looked at. I’m most concerned that in the last 24 hours you’ve circumstances whereby a Freedom of Information request from Alannah MacTiernan about documents between Minister Briggs, as the former Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, has been knocked back because there’s been a change of ministry and they’ve said therefore that the documents for the Perth Freight Link rail project, have not been handed over to the new minister and are therefore unavailable. That avoidance of scrutiny and of appropriate FOI laws is entirely not appropriate and I am concerned that the Prime Minister needs to make sure that any use of technology by him is appropriate and not designed to avoid proper scrutiny. We know that Malcolm Turnbull and others in their plotting against Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership were using wicker in order to avoid scrutiny and to make sure those messages disappeared, but we need to be, I think, very careful about this, and I think the Prime Minister should get proper advice.

REPORTER: Do you think that they are acceptable to use?

ALBANESE: Well, that’s a matter for the experts to say and obviously I’m not Prime Minister Turnbull. He’s aware of what technology he has been using. I do believe he has an absolute responsibility to make sure that any technology that he is using for sensitive material, that is national security related or at all related to his job as Prime Minister needs to be done in an appropriate way.

REPORTER: What do you make of the Minister for Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, make of his first visit to the top end?

ALBANESE: He’s certainly welcome to travel, but what we need to do is to have something other than just re-announcements. The Cape York Roads package, for example, in Northern Australia has been re-announced by the current government as if it is new, on about four separate occasions. That $205million was provided in the 2013 budget by the former government. Again projects like Tiger Brennan Drive and road projects in the Northern Territory have all been re-announcements rather than any additional investment. So I await to see what will come out of the plan, it does seem to me that when it comes to infrastructure you have Warren Truss who is the person in charge of infrastructure and transport for the country, and has a very narrow view, which is still opposed to public transport investment. You have Jamie Briggs who is the Minister for Cities, but doesn’t seem to have a department or be in charge of anything besides a new letterhead. You have Josh Frydenberg who is also in charge of some of the infrastructure development, perhaps in Northern Australia. It’s not quite clear what his responsibilities are, and then you have Paul Fletcher, who has some role in major projects. It seems to me that the government is in danger of having a dysfunctional structure when it comes to delivering on infrastructure. One of the things that we know in terms of the Labor Party, people know that we have myself in charge of infrastructure, in charge of cities, with Julie Collins looking after regional development, but people know what the structure is, and you have a coherent policy. What we’ve had in recent days is ministers Truss, Briggs, Frydenberg and Fletcher all saying different things about the same issues. They need to get their act together.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, it’s been a week since the shooting in Paramatta. Do you think the Prime Minister has said enough, and do you think he has said the right things to calm community concerns?

ALBANESE: Well the community is rightly concerned. These are extraordinary events, where by a 15-year-old can have a gun that’s loaded to go outside Police Headquarters in Parramatta and shoot dead an innocent man, Mr Cheng, going about his daily work. It’s a tragedy for that family, and all Australians feel that, and we need to make sure that everything possible is done, to ensure that an event like this doesn’t happen again. And I think the Australian public want to know the details of how this occurred, I certainly have every faith in the work of our police and security forces, they should be given every support possible, and we need to also, as a society, to look at the radicalisation of some of these young people, what’s causing it. Obviously the concern that’s there about this persons school, whether teaching is occurring in an inappropriate way in any prayer group or online, those issues all need to be addressed because this is an issue that is obviously causing absolutely legitimate concern in the community.

At the same time, we need to make sure we target the right people here. This isn’t the matter of a particular religious faith, in this case the Muslim community, should not be tarred with these circumstances of one criminal who has engaged in a terrorist, violent and vile act, and it’s important that that occur as well. We are a tolerant society, a multicultural society, where generations have come here to make Australia our home, but we do that on the basis of Australian values, and Australia values are about respecting people, regardless of their origin, regardless of their religion, regardless of their views, engaging in a way that promotes harmony, in which the whole community benefits from the diversity in our community.

REPORTER: Has Malcolm Turnbull said enough on the matter though? We’ve only heard from him once in the week.

ALBANESE: Well that’s a matter for Mr Turnbull, but I do think that the nation’s leaders need to show leadership at appropriate times, and I have no disagreement with anything that Malcolm Turnbull has said. But it is appropriate I think, and one of the things I don’t want to do, either now or at any time, is to try and make this into a political issue. In my view, it is important that these issues be dealt with, as a community, with our common interest, because we all do have a common interest here and certainly I would want to be working with Mr Turnbull, or anyone else for that matter, who is about promoting harmony in our community, and about making sure that the circumstances that occurred last Friday never occur again and that the circumstances around it too are known, because I think that is important as well.

REPORTER: You say you don’t want it to become a political issue, but you said before that it’s not necessarily a religious issue, what kind of issue are we talking about? Is it purely crime?

ALBANESE: Well, of course in this way it is of course related to a view of Islamic fundamentalism, that has a political dimension to it, and of course fundamentalism, fanaticism of any sort creates distortions and is intolerant. Overwhelmingly people of religious faith have respect for other people with religious faith. In this area, in the inner west of Sydney, there’s a dialogue that occurs between of Christian, Islamic, Jewish and other faiths come together, the religious leaders, I’ve sat down and had lunch with those religious leaders, and it’s about engaging with the community. What they do is they sit down and talk about issues of homeless, of addressing poverty, of addressing people who are risk of dropping out and being marginalised in the community, and work in a co-operative way. That’s the sort of tolerance that is Australia at its finest. We need to promote that and to call out, division and hatred is always wrong, no matter what the religious background of those who promote it.

REPORTER: Can I just ask on the topic of prayer groups in schools, Dr Byrne called for those to be banned. What’s your stance on that?

ALBANESE: Well I was asked about this earlier today, and along with Christopher Pyne, I’m not against the teaching of religion, if it occurs outside of school, or at schools, but it needs to be obviously monitored closely, if there’s been inappropriate teaching, teaching of hated, teaching of division, teaching of a lack of respect for people who happen to disagree with you, then that needs to be addressed. Look, we need to be prepared to call it out for what it is, Islamic fundamentalism is an ideological view that is not tolerant of those people, who are not of the particular view of the fundamentalists. But it’s intolerant not just of people of other religions, it’s intolerant towards of people of Islamic faith who are moderate, who don’t share the same views that those people do have. Just like there are Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, who have no respect for people who do not agree with them. I have a view that fundamentalism and fanaticism is wrong in all its forms.

REPORTER: And one more question on that, there’s a call from State Labor for a bipartisan review of those prayer groups. Is that something Federal Labor would support?

ALBANESE: Well look I’m not the education spokesperson but it seems to me that it is a reasonable response, at a time like this, where there’s a question mark, for there to be a review, and what is important is the bipartisan call, is that it not be a party political issue. It’s really easy to try and play politics and to accuse people of not doing enough. What we need to do is to work together, there is a responsibility on the political leaders of this country, at whatever level, federal, state, local government, or whether it be community leaders to actually work together on these issues, because what we’re about here is trying to seek inclusion. So the process itself needs to be inclusive, needs to be one that brings people together, rather than divides people. That’s what makes Australia the best country in the world. We need to cherish it, we need to praise it, we need to facilitate it, we need to work with that, because I am very proud to represent an electorate like this one, which is multicultural, where people have come from all over the world to call Australia there home, and to be loyal to Australia and to our values. That is something that we need to not take for granted. The way to do that is by working together on those issues. Thanks very much.

 

Oct 8, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – ABC Radio AM Program

 

Subjects: Labor’s infrastructure plan, Infrastructure Australia, penalty rates, police raids in Sydney.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is today unveiling a $10 billion plan to fund major infrastructure projects around the country. Under the plan, Infrastructure Australia would be turned into a government-backed infrastructure bank – providing loans, loan guarantees or equity to jumpstart projects, including rail and road upgrades. An initial short-list of 11 projects Labor wants to kick-start include the Melbourne Metro, the Airport Rail to Badgerys’s Creek in Sydney, and the Gawler line electrification in Adelaide. Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, joins me on the line now. Are you planning to fight the next election on infrastructure?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Labor is the party of nation building. We’re the party of jobs and we’re the party of growth and what we know is that under the Coalition we’ve seen infrastructure investment from the public sector fall by 20 per cent since it was elected to office. We’ve seen an end to any funding of public transport projects, indeed cuts to projects that we already ready to proceed like the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail in Brisbane; and we’ve seen absurdities such as arguing that you can have a second Sydney airport in Sydney’s west without having a public transport access. Now the rail line connecting Leppington in the south-west to St Mary’s in the west would make sense to create a rail line even if the airport wasn’t there. So this is a project worthy of support and what we want to see is a facility that would encourage not just public sector investment, because that won’t be enough, but encourage private sector investment and we know that that’s possible.

TREMBATH: But by picking this theme, infrastructure, hasn’t Malcolm Turnbull cut you off at the knees? He’s already a well-known advocate of public transport. We see pictures of him riding trams and buses. It’s his theme already.

ALBANESE: No, it’s one thing to take selfies when you’re hunting down an elected prime minister, as Malcolm Turnbull did as part of his campaign to undermine Tony Abbott; it’s another thing to actually fund projects. And since the change of leadership we’ve still had senior ministers arguing that the East-West Link in Melbourne should go ahead, that the one and a half billion dollars that’s been quarantined, that’s been sitting in the Victorian Government’s bank account not this financial year, not last financial year but since the year before that, should remain quarantined for the East-West Link. When projects that are actually ready to go, like the Melbourne Metro, or projects indeed, road projects where funding was cut from such as the M80 project in Melbourne, have been not supported by the current government. What we want to see is action, not just rhetoric, because the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the June quarter released just last week show that greater than 20 per cent decline in public sector investment. What that means is not just less jobs in the short term in terms of construction, but in the long term, less jobs and slower economic growth.

TREMBATH: You talk about engaging private sector partners; this has been problematic in the past. Take the link from the city of Sydney to the airport. That was taken over by government after private sector partners started it. How do you guarantee it will work this time?

ALBANESE: Well, there are successful models. When we were in government, take the F3 to M2, now known as NorthConnex, in Sydney. That was a project that was on the drawing board and discussed for literally decades but it took a $405 million contribution to mitigate risk from both the Federal Government and the State Government to ensure that that project could ensure that something like ten times of that $405 million investment could occur. Now that’s moved from a project that everyone supported, that was under discussion to a project that’s now under construction as a result of an innovative financing model that we put in place when we were in government …

TREMBATH: Why change Infrastructure Australia?

ALBANESE:
… the Gold Coast light rail project similarly.

TREMBATH: Why change – sorry for the interruption. Why change Infrastructure Australia? Labor started it but you want to turn it into a infrastructure bank now?

ALBANESE: No, what we want to do is to expand its facility and to ensure that it moves to the next logical place, which is one from recommending priority projects to the government, to one that actually plays a role in the facilitation of the construction of those very projects, and at arm’s length from government – and that would be, I think, a very positive role for Infrastructure Australia to play. We know that bodies such as the Reserve Bank and independent bodies play an important role in our economy. We believe Infrastructure Australia should be at the heart of the roll-out of infrastructure development for this nation.

TREMBATH: To other pressing topics – Labor is opposing penalty rate changes, but would you be in favour of a tax credit system if it showed workers wouldn’t be left out of pocket?

ALBANESE: Well, what we’re opposed to is the system whereby the Coalition have never seen a worker’s entitlement that they don’t want to see cut, and what they’re about is changing the balance between wages and profits in the economy, let’s be very clear, and they’re about undermining the living wage. Working families rely upon the issues that are a part of their working life – such as overtime – to pay their mortgage and to put food on the table and the idea that you can’t change that is of course isn’t true either. Under enterprise bargaining it is possible to come to agreements between employers and employees whereby the employee is not worse off. That is available right now. What we’re seeing, though, is a government that is trying to undermine worker’s entitlements because that’s what Coalition governments do.

TREMBATH: And just in the last few days we’ve seen a 15 year old extremist shooting a police employee, police raids around Sydney to do with this. Is the Government doing enough to fight youth radicalisation?

ALBANESE:
Oh look, we don’t want this to be a partisan debate. This is important that government, opposition at all levels, as well as the community – and particularly the community leaders have a role to play. And I think it’s important that the statements that have been made in recent days by both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, the leaders of the Islamic community, the police force, the Premier of New South Wales, Mike Baird and Luke Foley as Opposition Leader, I think have been entirely appropriate. This is a challenge, it does have to be met and it has to be met with a moderate language but ensuring that we act as a united community to make sure that we deal with these issues.

TREMBATH: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much. The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

 

Oct 8, 2015

Transcript of televison interview – SKY News PM Agenda

Subjects: Labor’s infrastructure plan, Badgerys Creek airport rail; Infrastructure Australia, public transport, High Speed Rail  

DAVID SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time. Let me start with what appears to be a bit of a contradiction in what you announced. You want an independent Infrastructure Australia at arm’s length to decide the projects to go ahead, but you are also saying, here are 10 priority projects Labor wants you to build. Who is making the decision?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: If you look at the projects, they’re ones which by and large have been through the processes. Take the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail Project in Brisbane. Both of those have been through the Infrastructure Australia process, both of those had proper funding from the former Federal Labor government to make sure they were brought up to scratch.

Cross River Rail was the number one project on the Infrastructure Australia priority list in 2012; funded in 2013. All of that funding was cut in 2014. Projects like the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway were supported by Infrastructure Australia. Once again, they are projects that were going ahead that have been slowed down under the current  government. The Gawler Line in in Adelaide is half done. They came in and cut the funding from that project.

SPEERS: What about the Badgerys Creek rail line that you are talking about as one of these 10 priorities?

ALBANESE: Well, if anyone suggests that you’re going to build a new airport in southwest transport Sydney and not have public transport access, that is ridiculous. It is an absolute no-brainer.

SPEERS: This is the point, isn’t it? You could make a good argument for all these projects, but if you want Infrastructure Australia to make these decisions independently, why should the government, be it a Labor government, be surfing in over the top?

ALBANESE: We’re very confident in this project. The airport didn’t appear from nowhere. There were extensive studies when we were in government that showed that an airport would produce a positive cost benefit analysis and part of that, and the work that we did in government showed that you needed to have a connection with public transport.

So once again, a proper analysis was done by us in government. I think it’s very difficult for anyone who wants to argue that the second Sydney Airport has been rushed through. Good luck with that argument. It’s not the case. It’s the best site and it’s the best site in part because of the access to transport links.

By extending the rail line from Leppington, in the southwest, to the western line near St Marys, what you do also is produce a massive productivity benefit because you produce a loop line to the rail  system which connects southwestern Sydney, Western Sydney with the city through the existing airport.

So it’s an absolute no-brainer. It will have a very positive economic outcome. It’s a good example of why decisions need to be made sooner rather than later is because by doing it sooner, prior to the leasing arrangements being made for the operators of the second airport,  you can factor that in to the lease price.

SPEERS: Okay, but ultimately what I’m getting at is, it would still have to be the decision of Infrastructure Australia, not a Labor government.

ALBANESE: We’ve made it clear that Infrastructure Australia will be required to have all the assessments, but what I’m saying to you is that the cost benefit analysis for the second Sydney Airport and related infrastructure was done by us in government, is being progressed by the current government. It is only ideology – they’re spending over $3 billion on roads….

SPEERS: I appreciate the case for it.

ALBANESE: … around the airport, but nothing on rail.

SPEERS: All I’m asking is about the new mechanism you are setting up here. Is it going to be a Labor government or Infrastructure Australia that makes the final decision on any of these projects?

ALBANESE: Infrastructure Australia will have to provide support.  Without Infrastructure Australia’s support, under this mechanism, then it won’t happen.

SPEERS: But the government makes the ultimate decision.

ALBANESE: Governments are are elected, so there’s nothing new in that. The difference of what we’re doing here though…

SPEERS: You are talking about a Reserve Bank type arm’s length body here but ultimately it would still be the elected politicians making the decision.

ALBANESE: No. At the moment the problem is that elected politicians can make decisions about projects that don’t stack up. Projects like the East West Link, WestConnex and the Perth Freight Link have all received funding without having any  transparent process or cost benefit analysis. What we’re saying is that will have to occur.

The projects that were named today were to give examples of exactly where we know projects exist that do stack up. Each and every one of them stacks up.

SPEERS: But who makes the final decision?

ALBANESE: Final decisions are always made in government budgets.  But in terms of the use of this fund, they will be under the control of Infrastructure Australia.

SPEERS: Will public transport be commercially viable, because quite often it’s not and State Governments largely have to do it for social reasons, but it doesn’t return commercially to investors?

ALBANESE: There are a range of methods that you can use. For example, in Cross River Rail, and this was mentioned in Mr Shorten’s speech today, what we had was $715 million included in the budget from the former Labor Federal Government and $715 million from the State Government.

But there was to be an availability payment made on that project on the basis of the patronage on that line and therefore an ability to mobilise private capital, particularly from superannuation funds.

So one of the things that we’ve said is that within six months of government an independent advisory committee will advise on the practical ways in which this can be rolled out, but we know that there are models there, including that one, where you can mobilise superannuation funds, just like from the F3 to M2.

A small contribution from Federal and State Government has meant a 10-fold investment as a result of that and the F3 to M2 now known as the NorthConnex, which was just a good idea for decades, is now finally under construction.

SPEERS: Finally, amongst these priority projects, I didn’t see one of your favourites, one of your pet projects for many years. High speed rail, Anthony Albanese. Will that happen should Labor be elected?

ALBANESE: I’ll be a reintroducing the Bill to establish a High Speed Rail Authority next Monday into the Parliament and I will be very happy to come on the show next Monday and talk about it.

There’s another cost benefit analysis that’s been done. $2.15 benefit for every dollar between Sydney and Melbourne. A very viable project that requires cooperation across State and Territory governments and local government. It requires that for the project to be progressed.

That’s why we support the establishment of a High Speed Rail Authority which was recommended by people like Tim Fischer and Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia, who were part of the interim advisory group that I established and that was abolished by the incoming government.

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

ALBANESE: Good to be with you, David.

Oct 7, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – 2GB with Ben Fordham

 

Subjects: Kathy Jackson, penalty rates, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey.

BEN FORDHAM: Speaking of politicians who will remain in politics until their last breath, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good afternoon to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good afternoon, Ben. How you doing, Anthony?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: How you going? I think 51 years might be a bit long but maybe Christopher might make it. He went in very young.

PYNE: I did, but I don’t think you want to have us there until our last breath. I think my children might have some views about that.

FORDHAM: I’m just trying to think about it Christopher. You would be coming up to 20 years.

PYNE: I’m over 20.

FORDHAM: Weren’t you 1996?

PYNE: ’93.

ALBANESE: I was ’96.

PYNE: I was 25 years old, so it’s 22 years I’m coming up to.

FORDHAM: We could have a record breaker here, Albo.

ALBANESE: I reckon that’s what he’s going for. That’s the only explanation for why you run for Federal Parliament at the age of 25.

PYNE: Well, what about a life of service? That might be a better reason.

FORDHAM: There is that. Look, a little bit of breaking news this afternoon gentlemen. Do you know that Kathy Jackson, the former union boss is having her home raided as we speak?

PYNE: I didn’t know that, no.

ALBANESE: I did, and that’s probably a good thing, although Christopher was pretty supportive of Kathy Jackson a while back.

PYNE: Well, I was very supportive of the role she played as a whistle blower in the union movement for the Health Services Union, because I think that is important, whereas Labor and the union’s response was to turn on her.

ALBANESE: You said she was a hero, and quite clearly, she’s not. She’s been found by a court already of ripping off over a million dollars of members money.

PYNE: Yeah, but I didn’t know that at the time.

ALBANESE: No, I accept that totally, but it just goes to show you’ve got to be careful of who you say is a hero.

PYNE: It’s true. I didn’t know that at the time, or I wouldn’t have said it.

ALBANESE: My view is that where there are bad eggs in the union movement, that they need to face the full force of the law because working people pay their union dues and expect union officials to represent them and that they’re in it for the interests of the members. It’s quite clear that in the HSU’s case, for not just Kathy Jackson of course, but Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson, were in it for themselves.

PYNE: [inaudible] Bill and the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

FORDHAM: And Michael Williamson was of course a former boss of the Labor Party, Albo.

ALBANESE: Well, he was a National President of the Labor Party which means you get to chair the meetings and I doubt whether you would have heard of him, at that time.

FORDHAM: No. Not until he was in strife. While we’re talking about workers, I might just segue into penalty rates, because it’s an important battle front and the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader are split on what to do with penalty rates and I think this is one of the first major differences to emerge between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten. Malcolm Turnbull is hinting at changes to penalty rates. He’s done more than that; he had a number of MPs and ministers who came out supporting that yesterday. Bill Shorten says no, we need to protect these weekend rates and after hours rates as much as we can. So, it’s going to be an interesting one to watch. I might just go to you first if I can Christopher, the need to do something about penalty rates.

PYNE: Well, there’s certainly a need to modernise the economy. Labor’s policy is the hiding under the doona policy and pretending that there’s nothing going on in the rest of the world. Labor is against the China free trade agreement, we don’t know yet whether they’re against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they seem to throw stones at every idea that comes along. A lot of people are saying in the retail sector and across the economy that penalty rates are hurting jobs, hurting workers and the only conversation that we’re having about this at the moment is, if there was to be a change to penalty rates, nobody could be made worse off. No worker could be worse off, but at least we’re having the conversation. Labor’s got no plan other than to say that the Rudd Gillard Government made no mistakes and they want to go back to that era.

FORDHAM: Let me bring in Albo on this for a moment. Albo, I know that a lot of people survive on penalty rates and they’re very important to people, but would it be such a big difference if we were to say look, let’s treat Sundays like Saturdays, because the seven day economy is a fact of life. These days people work whenever the jobs are there. They don’t care if they’re having a weekend during the week, on weekends we’ve all had to shift work, would it be a big deal if you said to people look, we’re going to pay you on Sunday what we would normally pay you on Saturday?

ALBANESE: The truth is that weekends are different, Ben, which is why your program runs Monday to Friday, which is why the AFL Grand Final’s on a Saturday, and the NRL Grand Final is on a Sunday.

FORDHAM: Yeah, but I’m required, if my bosses said to me all of a sudden, mate, you’re working this weekend, guess what? I’m working this weekend!

ALBANESE: Sure, but the programming of 2GB, like other stations, like the way that we live our lives, is different on weekends. I’m all for reform that creates jobs. You can do that. There are examples of enterprise bargaining – sitting down, working out arrangements which make sure that people aren’t worse off. That’s available right now through enterprise bargaining. But if you just take penalty rates away, that is what people rely upon for a living wage in order to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.

FORDHAM: It’s no good though, if it gets to a point Anthony, where people aren’t opening on a Sunday because they can’t afford to pay the penalty rates and then you’ve got a reduction in the amount of work that’s being offered out there.

ALBANESE: Sure, and that’s why you can deal with those things through enterprise bargaining. There was an agreement in South Australia in Christopher’s own state, earlier this year along those lines.

PYNE: It was a fiasco.

FORDHAM: Let me switch it to you, if I can Christopher. Are you guys going to be brave enough to do anything on this? Probably not.

PYNE: Well, the agreement in South Australia gave a half day holiday on New Year’s Eve. Half the shops and restaurants and cafes in South Australia were shut on New Year’s Eve because of the agreement that had been struck between the South Australian Government and the SDA.

FORDHAM: But have you guys really got the ticker, has Malcolm Turnbull got the ticker for a long campaign against Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten and the cashed up union movement against penalty rates? I think not.

PYNE: I think the public are sick of the Labor Party just saying no to everything. I think they’re happy to have the conversation. We haven’t made any hard and fast decisions about it but at least we’re talking about it.

FORDHAM: You’ve been talking about it for two years.

PYNE: We had the National Summit last Thursday. The ACTU and the rest of us down in Canberra. I was there as one of the economic ministers and we decided not to rule anything in or anything out so we could have a proper, mature debate. Now, the first thing that Labor does of course, is come out and say no. Now I think the public are thoroughly sick of Labor’s position on these issues.

ALBANESE: What they’re sick of is your slogans, which is why you knocked off the Prime Minister two weeks ago, Christopher, and you’ve fallen straight back into using slogans.

PYNE: What slogans?

ALBANESE: You came up with all the slogans about the Labor Party. We’re not saying that.

PYNE: You are, you’re against the China Australia free trade agreement.

ALBANESE: Rubbish. We’re not. This is just childish, juvenile politics. Move on Christopher. Move on. The fact is that you have through enterprise bargaining an ability to organise agreements.

PYNE: [inaudible] the restaurants and cafes in Adelaide were shut.

FORDHAM: Righto. Righto. Hey, hey.

PYNE: If you go to Noosa, there was a story last year in The Australian about how the restaurants were shut on Christmas Day in Noosa, because they couldn’t open them, because they couldn’t make a profit. Now, businesses won’t open….

ALBANESE: Come to my electorate on a Saturday or Sunday. Cafes, restaurants, all open, people working.

PYNE: In Habourtown in South Australia yesterday, 12 shops were closed and had signs in their windows saying they were closed because of penalty rates.

FORDHAM: Ok, can I jump in here for just a moment because we are beaten on time. Christopher, the change in leadership at the top of the Liberal Party was just brought up by Anthony Albanese of course, just like you did when the Rudd, Gillard, Rudd stuff was going on. Have you had time to touch base with Tony Abbott or Joe Hockey yet?

PYNE: Anthony’s just jealous because he hasn’t been able to change leadership of the Labor Party. He’s desperate to change leadership of the Labor Party.

ALBANESE: Come on Christopher, answer the question mate.

PYNE: It’s true.

ALBANESE: You’re the one that’s just been through a bloodbath. Have you spoken to Tony?

PYNE: I’ve been in communication with Tony, but I think when these things happen…

ALBANESE: What, did you send him a card?

PYNE: When these things happen, it’s often best to let people…

ALBANESE: Smoke signals?

PYNE: To take their time to recover from what’s happened.

FORDHAM: How have you made contact?

PYNE: Through text messages. My communications with Tony Abbott are really not the business of your listeners.

ALBANESE: What did they say, “sorry”?

FORDHAM: All I want to know is, I’m not going to ask what was written, but did he write back?

PYNE: Of course he did.

FORDHAM: What about Mr Hockey?

PYNE: I haven’t had a chance to talk to Joe yet. Of course, I’ve talked to Joe since the leadership change but I haven’t in the last week or so because he’s been away, I think.

FORDHAM: Gentleman, I’ll talk to you both next week.

ALBANESE: Ciao.

FORDHAM: Thank you very much, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese.

 

Oct 2, 2015

Transcript of Doorstop with Andrew Giles – Southern Cross Station, Melbourne

Subjects: Cities and urban policy; public transport; decline in infrastructure investment; China FTA; AFL Grand Final

ALBANESE: Well it’s good to be here at the Southern Cross Station in Melbourne with Andrew Giles who is the head of the Labor Party’s Caucus Cities Taskforce. The Labor Party has been concerned about cities and urban policy since Gough Whitlam gave his magnificent speech back in 1972 at Blacktown. What Labor Governments do is invest in cities and engage in urban policy because we know that 80 per cent of the population live in our major cities and 80 per cent of our economy derives from economic activity in our cities. But we know that urban congestion is a blight on the daily life of working Australians. We know the cost of urban congestion will be, according to Infrastructure Australia, some $53 billion by the year 2031 if we don’t invest, particularly in public transport, but in integrated transport strategies in our capital cities.

That’s why it is so unfortunate that when the Coalition was elected to office they cut $4.5 billion from the Budget that was there for public transport, on day one, in their first Budget. That included an allocation for the Melbourne Metro. The Melbourne Metro is required to unlock the capacity of the rail system here in Melbourne. It’s important because unless you fix that then you can’t extend new lines and engage in the sort of growth that this growing city of Melbourne needs.

Now, Labor funded in Government $40 million for the planning of the Melbourne Metro, so the planning is all done and yet the Coalition Government chose to allocate funding that was earmarked for the Melbourne Metro to the East West Link, which unlike the Metro, that will produce a positive economic benefit, had a cost benefit of 45 cents return for every dollar that was invested.

Malcolm Turnbull today has taken a tram here in Melbourne. That’s a great thing. But what we want is for him not to travel on public transport alone; we want him to fund public transport and he can begin by putting the money back into the Melbourne Metro, to the Cross River Rail in Brisbane, to the Gawler Line electrification in Adelaide, to the Tonsley Park line in Adelaide and to public transport projects in Perth that was all cut by the Government of which he was a senior minister.

This comes in the context of a reduction in infrastructure spending of 20.1 per cent in the June quarter, that was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week, in public sector infrastructure investment. When compared with the last quarter of the Labor Government in 2013, it is extraordinary that one in five dollars has been cut from investment in infrastructure. It exposes the fraud that was Tony Abbott and the Coalition’s promise to be a Government concerned about Infrastructure and in the current quarter, the last quarter of June 2015, released this week, it is actually the lowest infrastructure investment at any time since prior to when the Labor Government was elected going back to 2006.

It’s about time that Malcolm Turnbull got serious about investment in infrastructure. That means investing in public transport, not just riding on it.

ANDREW GILES: Thanks Anthony, it’s great to have you in Melbourne with your passion for cities and your understanding of what matters for Melbourne and for Melbournians. What’s really concerning for me is that in two weeks we’ve had some nice words from Malcolm Turnbull about cities and some selfies on trams. But that doesn’t make up for two wasted years. Two years that Melbourne in particular can’t afford.

Anthony touched upon Melbourne’s growth, which is exciting and extraordinary, but in Melbourne, where jobs growth is so concentrated around the city, we need real investment in public transport, like the Melbourne Metro.

And Melbourne also needs a fair share. Victoria has one in four Australians living in it but only 8 per cent of Australia’s infrastructure spend under the Coalition. We need these things turned around and we need a real plan for coordinated action to deal with questions of liveability and productivity to make Melbourne everything it can and should be.

ALBANESE: Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: Malcolm Turnbull seems to have indicated broad support for transport funding. What specifically are you asking him for today…(inaudible)?

ALBANESE: Well what he needs to do is not just talk about public transport; he needs to fund public transport. He can begin with projects like the Melbourne Metro where you had funding allocated by the previous Labor Government. He can begin by funding the Cross River Rail line in Brisbane. He can begin by funding the Gold Coast Light Rail stage two.

All of these projects were assessed by Infrastructure Australia, all of the have positive cost-benefit analysis. All of them will make a big difference to dealing with urban congestion which is a hand break on the Australian economy. So we appreciate the fact and we welcome the fact that Malcolm Turnbull has appointed a Minister for Cities and that he has said he has overturned Tony Abbott’s absurd proposition that funding roads is good but funding rail is bad.

That’s a good thing, but he needs to actually do that, not just put back in the money that was taken out of budgets; but there needs to be additional investment because we know that the 20.1 per cent drop off on infrastructure investment that was shown this week has particularly been the case with the drop off in public transport investment.

There needs to be new investment including, Labor has supported the rail line that needs to be constructed, on day one it needs to be there, at the new Badgerys Creek Airport and linking the south west line in Sydney to the western line. It’s absurd, this idea that you would build an airport with no public transport access to it in western Sydney.

REPORTER: Can we get to a couple of other issues. On the China Free Trade Agreement, what hope do you have of convincing Malcolm Turnbull and Andrew Robb of supporting any compromise?

ALBANESE: Well, I’m certainly hopeful that this can be fixed with a bit of common sense. All Labor has been saying is that the benefits of the Free Trade Agreement with China need to be made available to the Australian workforce by checking, before foreign workers are allowed to work on a project if Australian workers are available. That’s a common sense approach. It’s one that will ensure that the China FTA, which is a good thing, benefits all Australians not just some.

REPORTER: Do you foresee that the agreement will be in place before the end of the year as the Government in China has foreshadowed?

ALBANESE: I’m hopeful that it will be. Labor is a party that supports free trade agreements. Labor as a Party in particular has a proud history of supporting a strong relationship with China. We believe that it’s critical that we engage in the region, that’s why we did measures in Government and talked about the Asian Century and the way that Australia could benefit from it. But all we have asked for here is some common sense solutions, with a bit of goodwill and an end to the Coalition playing politics this certainly can be fixed and it should be fixed as soon as possible.

REPORTER: Are you in a positon now that you have to support it and then propose to change the things that you don’t like if you win government?

ALBANESE: Well what we are hoping for is a bit of common sense on behalf of the Government. We’ll see if the Government is prepared to put the national interest first, which it should, before playing politics over these issues.

REPORTER: So Mr Albanese, you are here in Melbourne on Grand Final Parade Day, I assume you are attending the game tomorrow.

ALBANESE: I will be going to the game tomorrow. I came down, this an old VFL scarf for the Hawks, before the Sydney Swans, when they were South Melbourne, I was a Hawthorn supporter. This is an old VFL scarf from the 80’s and indeed in 1991 I drove down and went to the only Grand Final that has been played out at Waverly between Hawthorn and the West Coast and the Hawks were successful that day and I hope Hawthorn will be successful tomorrow.

REPORTER: Right, so you are tipping Hawthorn to win. Any tips on what sort of game we might see and what sort of margin we might expect?

ALBANESE: I think it’ll be a cracker game. West Coast have been a great side all year. They had a convincing victory over in Perth but I think the G will be a different story tomorrow. Hawthorn are a big game team and Alastair Clarkson will have them primed for tomorrow and it will be quite extraordinary, in the era we’re in with the draft, which makes it harder for a team to stay on top, it will be quite extraordinary if the Hawks can have a three-peat tomorrow but I hope they do.

 

 

Sep 28, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – ABC Radio National

Subjects Liveable cities, public transport, tourism, penalty rates

KELLY: Labor’s Shadow Minister for Cities is Anthony Albanese. Anthony Albanese, welcome back to Breakfast.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Fran.

KELLY: We’ve now got a Federal Liberal Minister for Cities, Jamie Briggs, and a Prime Minister who says liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity. Has Malcolm Turnbull stolen your thunder?

ALBANESE: Well I’m pleased that they’ve been paying attention, Fran. What we’ve had is a Federal Government that disbanded the Major Cities Unit, that hasn’t used the Urban Design Protocol that was established by the former Government or the tool for urban sustainability, and reversed the record funding for urban public transport that we had when we were in Government.

We actually funded more urban public transport than all previous governments combined from Federation right through to 2007. Of course, one of the first things that the new Government did in its first Budget, is have $4.5 billion of cuts to public transport projects like the Cross River Rail in Brisbane, like the Melbourne Metro that had all been approved by Infrastructure Australia and, in some cases, fund projects like the East West Link that had a 45 cent return for every dollar invested.

KELLY: But that’s all history now, isn’t it? Isn’t that the point that we now have a Liberal Prime Minister whose policy is to fund infrastructure growth, especially in public transport through long-term planning with the states with an emphasis on greener cities? Is there any point of difference between the Government and Opposition now, or has it narrowed?

ALBANESE: Action, Fran. Words are easy. It’s one thing for Malcolm Turnbull to travel on a train, he’s got to fund rail. And the fact is that this Government hasn’t. The first thing that he could do is to put that $4.5 billion back in. You still have, last week, his three person committee, of Greg Hunt, Jamie Briggs and Paul Fletcher, doesn’t actually include Warren Truss, who is the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. That’s the main game, as Malcolm Turnbull said, connectivity in our cities is the focal point and then other things come off that. What’s the job creation? What are the urban spaces that are created? What’s the liveability of our cities?

They abolished the Liveable Cities program and we’ll wait and see. We welcome certainly the creation of the Minister for Cities, but we do say it’s in the wrong place. It’s a junior Minister in the Department of Environment and the funding portfolio is of course the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development that looks after transport and that appears to be excluded from these discussions and is still in charge of the National Party.

KELLY: In your recent Ben Chifley Light on the Hill speech, you said the suburbs of middle Australia are being transformed from lively communities where people lived, worked and played, into drive-in, drive-out suburbs where people can afford a home, but can’t find a job. And a lot of people would really relate to that, but this is not new. I mean, this was the problem too when you were in Government for many years than the Coalition’s been in Government. You didn’t solve this.

ALBANESE: But we did take action, Fran.

KELLY: Well it didn’t solve it. I mean people are still complaining about those freeways being carparks.

ALBANESE: Well Fran, you don’t solve these issues in one term of Government. We opened earlier this year the Regional Rail Link, for example – the largest ever public transport investment by a Commonwealth Government in any project. That has transformed the ability of people from Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong to get into Melbourne. And in terms of the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Tarneit, a brand new station connected with active transport being promoted by having bicycle lock ups available at the station.

In Perth, the Perth City Link project will transform Perth, uniting the Perth CBD with the Northbridge entertainment section of Perth; syncing the railway line, allowing for development on top of that railway line, removing the bus terminal from the absurd position where it is.

They’re the sort of projects that you need to actually fund and invest in and we do have two challenges. One is the fact that job growth is in our inner areas, because of the changing patterns of work. Therefore you need to have specific projects, like the Badgerys Creek airport is a good start in South-Western Sydney to create a jobs precinct. But, there you have still a Government that’s saying it won’t fund the rail line to the airport. It needs to be on day one, an airport that has rail access.

KELLY: It’s 17 minutes to eight. I guess, Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Transport, don’t we have another problem too and that’s the Budget. The Government is now saying the Opposition’s proposed more than $10 billion of new spending measures since the May Budget and you’ve only proposed half of, in terms of revenue, measures to fund that. Do you accept the Budget needs to be fixed before we’re going to have the money, really, to fix our cities?

ALBANESE: I accept absolutely Fran that we have some issues with regard to recurrent expenditure in the Budget that need to be dealt with –

KELLY: And that Labor’s not really dealing with those. It keeps coming up with ideas but these have cost to them.

ALBANESE: Well that’s not right, Fran. We’ve actually put forward $20 billion of changes that the Government is rejecting in areas like superannuation and multinational tax avoidance.

KELLY: They add up to $5 billion, don’t they? Not $20 billion.

ALBANESE: We are the first, over the period in which we’re talking Fran, and the Government likes to exaggerate the circumstances. The fact is that we have a new Treasurer who, on his first interview, went back to Joe Hockey same old rhetoric. Said there’s no revenue problem. Well there is. The first thing this Government did when it came to office was to make changes that doubled the deficit. You don’t hear them talk about Budget emergency anymore, Fran.

This is a Government without a narrative. Now, in cities, they’re looking for a narrative, but they need to actually have action. And there are some areas that would be very easy for them to fix. Areas like Gold Coast Rapid Transit System. There’s money sitting in the Queensland Budget, that’s been allocated from the Federal Government, that’s a saving on the Redcliffe rail line project that the Queensland Government want to be able to allocate right now to the Gold Coast, to Stage Two of the Gold Coast Light Rail project, and that’s important it get started so it’s completed prior to the Commonwealth Games.

KELLY: Ok, can I suggest another action that could be taken to help rejuvenate cities, this is coming from the Tourism industry and you’re the Shadow Minister for Tourism too. That’s change on penalty rates. Former Labor Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, says penalty rates should be changed. People are looking at this idea of changing the penalty rates on Sundays. Are you supporting or opposing the union movement’s campaign against any cuts to penalties?

ALBANESE: I like the way you put that Fran. What I’m supporting is the mums and dads in my electorate who rely upon penalty rates to pay their mortgage, to put food on the table and to pay their school fees for their kids. That’s what I’m supporting. We in this country have a system whereby there are many working families with both parents working, struggling to get by, who, if you cut their wages – that’s what we’re talking about here, cut their wages – and  cut their living standards, with no compensation at the other end, then they’ll be worse off.

KELLY: So no cuts to Sunday penalty rates even though others say that would really rejuvenate some of our urban centres?

ALBANESE: Well, who says that Fran?

KELLY: Lots of people say that. That’s what the Tourism industry campaign is about. It will keep businesses open; cafes open on Sundays where they can’t afford to is the argument.

ALBANESE: Fran come to my electorate that I think you know well. And what you’ll see is a vibrant community on a Sunday, in places like Newtown and others that are functioning well, where people are also earning money to either get themselves through university or to ensure that they have enough money to get by in terms of their weekly budget. What can occur, Fran, and has occurred in places, is proper negotiation, to ensure that penalty rates are dealt with as part of a wage package. Proper negotiation between employers and employees to produce a win-win outcome.

KELLY: Anthony Albanese, we’ve got to leave it there, thank you very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you Fran.

Sep 27, 2015

Transcript of television interview – SKY News Australian Agenda

 

Subjects: Liberal spill; Malcolm Turnbull; Labor policy; Tony Abbott; cities policy; Labor leadership; polls; climate change; border policy; emissions trading; taxation; Labor frontbench; Joe Hockey.

PETER VEN ONSELSEN: Our main guest today is Anthony Albanese, Senior Shadow Minister, thanks so much for your company.

 ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 VAN ONSELEN: There’s a lot to talk about, around the Labor leadership, around your portfolio in particular with some of the changes.  We’ll get to all of that.  Can I just start, you’ve been in this position before on the Labor side.  You’ve been through what the Liberals are going through now.  You were on the defeated side of the argument initially when Julia Gillard came in, but you played the team game under her, continuing in your role as Leader of the House.  I wonder what you think about how this is going to transpire for the Liberal Party, because Labor tried it and won the 2010 election, but it was a tough, tough time. What do you see happening on the Liberal side?

 ALBANESE: It will be an interesting dynamic.  It’s a big call to replace an elected Prime Minister just not even quite two years into his first term.  What we know is in spite of the calm on the surface beneath the sharks will be circling, and there’s a lot of disquiet, I think Malcolm Turnbull made a big mistake in promoting each and every one of his plotters – essentially all got a guernsey. You’ve had the grand thing, as only Malcolm could, change the term of parliamentary secretaries to assistant ministers and we’ll wait and see because that needs parliamentary approval of course.

 VAN ONSELEN: You don’t like that? Labor plans to oppose that maybe?

 ALBANESE I think that is a sense of grandeur that Malcolm Turnbull is characterised by.  These people are parliamentary secretaries, they’re not ministers, and they should be characterised as such, is my view.

 VAN ONSELEN: Let me ask a follow up, though, you mentioned about him promoting all of his supporters and he certainly promoted a lot of them – – –

 ALBANESE: Every one of them, every one of the people in that back room in Peter Hendy’s home on the Sunday night finds himself with a new title.  I think that is …

 VAN ONSELEN: He also promoted the younger generation, as Paul mentioned, from the Abbott side, people that voted for Tony Abbott – Christian Porter, Josh Frydenberg to name two straight into Cabinet.

 ALBANESE: It’s interesting to see how hard they campaigned for Tony Abbott actually when the leadership ballot came.  What’s pretty obvious is there will be significant disquiet.  You can’t have a traumatic event like replacing a first term elected Prime Minister without having ongoing repercussions. We saw yesterday in Tony Abbott’s interviews that were published in The Australian and in the News Limited tabloids, Tony Abbott essentially putting his stamp down, saying there are no policy changes here.  That is not what Malcolm Turnbull wants out there.  He wants to say this is different in substance, not just in style.  Tony Abbott has called him out.  Labor agrees with Tony Abbott.  This has been about style not substance.

 PAUL KELLY: You have observed Malcolm Turnbull for a long time in parliament. In particular, the earlier period, when he was Liberal leader.  In your view what do you think is the major weakness for Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister?

 ALBANESE: His ego, that’s what brought him down last time. That is his great weakness is his sense of – you said before, Paul, in your introduction that he looked relaxed and comfortable in the role of Prime Minister.  That’s because he had that sense of destiny that he would get there.  That brought him undone with the Godwin Grech incident last time around where he had this massive overreach.

 VAN ONSELEN: You’ve got to be careful, don’t you, though, as an opposition that you don’t fight the old Malcolm Turnbull rather than the new one.  He had six years out from the leadership, the same as John Howard when he was defeated in 89, you could have said the same things about John Howard around immigration

in 89.  Labor made the mistake of thinking they were fighting the old John Howard.  As a result you were nearly 12 years in opposition.

 ALBANESE: Of course we shouldn’t be complacent and we’re certainly not.  I think this week you have seen in – I gave a major speech last Saturday in Bathurst, the Light on the Hill address, you had Bill Shorten release major policy on higher education this week, Chris Bowen give his major economic speech on Friday in the McKell Institute.  We haven’t been sitting back and chilling out. We have been taking the ball up, continuing to advance Labor’s position against the now Malcolm Turnbull-led government.  But I think there are a couple of weaknesses with Malcolm, one is his views he’s held for so long on climate change on marriage equality, the contradiction between what he had to do to get to the Lodge and what we know are his personal views.  And secondly that disruption that will occur within his ranks.   There is a lot of disquiet, not just the people like Kevin Andrews and people who have missed out, people like Bruce Billson. I don’t think anyone suggests that Bruce Billson was not a good minister.  He got offered the cities portfolio, wouldn’t accept it, so it’s now sitting on the backbench.  I think when Parliament resumes and Tony Abbott is sitting up there on the backbench he will be a real symbol of discontent, I think, for those people who feel disquiet about the change.  Malcolm Turnbull leads the same party that Tony Abbott led just two weeks ago.

KELLY: What do you think will happen on the policy front?  Do you think as Prime Minister Turnbull will go for significant and substantial policy change or do you think that this is more impressionistic, this is more about image and changing the atmospherics?

 ALBANESE:I think it’s in the interests of the country there is substantial change.  The country was going down the wrong direction in so many ways.  But we have seen in Scott Morrison’s, I think, a pretty poor start frankly, as the new treasurer, saying that we don’t have a revenue problem just an expenditure problem.  Essentially trying to paper-over the challenges that Australia has as an economy, going forward.  I think, that’s of concern.  I think some issues clearly, the naming of a cities minister we have welcomed, the naming of a tourism minister, I now have some people to shadow, that’s a good thing, because the absence of the government from that spaces was a real problem.  But at the moment it is about style rather than substance. I think Malcolm Turnbull does need to change the substance of the Government going forward.  The question is will his party and the Coalition, including the National Party, allow him to do so.

 KELLY: Let’s just talk about Labor, clearly you guys are under a lot of pressure and what we see over the course of the last week is Labor trying to change its image, and looking exciting and committed to innovation and modern ideas.  To what extent does Labor really have to redefine itself now it faces Malcolm Turnbull?

 ALBANESE: That’s not new, of course, Paul.  We have been out there talking about innovation. If you look at Bill Shorten’s budget reply this year, it was all about innovation. It was about science, technology, engineering and maths in schools. It was about entrepreneurship. If you look at the work we have done on cities, I gave my National Press Club speech on September 24 last year, which outlined a 10-point plan for cities.  Now, when I looked at Malcolm Turnbull’s response on the Sunday of last I thought to myself, where have I heard that before?  He clearly had read the speech.  That’s a good thing.

 VAN ONSELEN: If he made those changes, though, surely it’s more than style over substance. He’s adopting your substance.  You can’t say it’s only style.

 ALBANESE: It’s a good thing, but the problem is he hasn’t been able to do it properly.  Take that for example, I think that’s a good one.  Malcolm Turnbull has appointed Jamie Briggs as the Minister for Cities.  But he’s off as a junior minister to Greg Hunt in the Department of Environment.  Now, if you’re going deal with the challenges of our cities you’ve got to deal with infrastructure and transport are at the core of it, are at the core of how the Federal Government can influence the way that cities are shaped, and make sure that they are centres of innovation and opportunity.

 VAN ONSELEN: But surely because Warren Truss is the senior minister in Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and the Infrastructure Minister, surely what happens in the cities, given it doesn’t really have a remit for the Nationals as a party of the bush, it would just be case of Jamie Briggs will operate down a different line of sight?

 ALBANESE: To quote Tom Cruise in that movie “follow the money” you can’t have a junior minister who’s not in the Cabinet, responsible for cities, when all the money for infrastructure and transport is still controlled by the National Party in the Cabinet in the form of Warren Truss. They have said they’ve had a three-person committee, Paul Fletcher, Greg Hunt and Jamie Briggs, but essentially without Warren Truss, without infrastructure and transport being engaged, you really are dealing at the fringes. It’s like the Eagles and the Hawks next week, prior to the Grand Final worrying about who the runners are going to be, whose dealings with the oranges at half-time and not worrying about the players, the main game of what’s going on on the field of our cities is infrastructure and transport.

 VAN ONSELEN: We can get back to that, but I just want to go back to Paul’s question about the Labor Party.  There’s a lot more pressure on the Labor Party now, Bill Shorten in particular, you’d have to admit.  I mean for the first time you have fallen behind on Newspoll in literally 18 months, the turn-around is pretty staggering.

 ALBANESE: Tony Abbott’s performance was staggeringly bad.  That’s what is astonishing- – –

 VAN ONSELEN: Yet he was neck and neck with Bill Shorten on leadership.

 ALBANESE: We actually led, as you’d be aware in one poll, before we actually had the leadership decider.  While Chris Bowen was the acting leader so bad was Tony Abbott, and I think what that reflects is clearly we let Australians down and we let our supporters down by our own behaviour of worrying too much about ourselves last time around when we were in government and not enough about the Australian people.  Now, they sent that message by putting us into opposition, since we have been in opposition we have been determined to put forward new ideas to make sure we’re a very united team and we are, and we’re engaged in those policy debates and we’re setting the agenda.  What’s amazing is that from opposition so much of what Malcolm Turnbull is now talking about, not necessarily acting on, but talking about, that’s a good first step, is a Labor agenda, things that Labor have advanced.

 PAUL KELLY: OK, now, your opponent, the Government, have changed leader.  Are you aware of talk in the party, talk in the Labor rank and file, that there be may be a need for Labor to do the same thing before the election?

 ALBANESE: No, look, we made that decision, Paul.  We had a process that was robust, but that I think brought great credit to the party.  One of the reasons why Labor has been able to get on the front foot is that you saw in the leadership process between myself and Bill Shorten, two people putting forward ideas in a mature way, talking about the future of the country, and that has meant that we were able to, from day one, get on the front foot, unite as a team.  I’m a team player Paul, as you know.  I was a team player when we were in government.  I continue to be a team player now.

 PAUL KELLY: Given that, do you rule out any possibility of you challenging Bill Shorten before the election?

 ALBANESE: Well, that’s not going to happen.  What we’re focused on is the future of the country, rather than being focused on ourselves.  I’ve been committed to putting forward a series of policies. I think we have been pretty effective frankly.  Who talks now in the eulogies to Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership about him being an infrastructure Prime Minister?  You know, there wasn’t a hole dug barely during his Prime Ministership.  There was a complete failure when it came to infrastructure.  The fact of him refusing to fund any public transport project meant that you couldn’t have integrated transport plans for our cities, and our towns and our regions, and it has been an absolute failure.  I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been effective at holding him to account.

 VAN ONSELEN: Just getting back, though, to Paul’s question about whether you would challenge Bill Shorten.  I don’t doubt you’re a team player, I don’t doubt that you won’t challenge Bill Shorten, but given where his polling numbers are at, if they get worse, is he a team player?  Would he do the right thing rather than have to be challenged?

 ALBANESE: Look, we have been focused outwards rather than inwards.

 VAN ONSELEN: You’re at a point now where you kind of almost have to reverse that.  If the polling stays where it is, I know this could be a honeymoon, surely Labor has to watch this in the coming weeks and months?

 ALBANESE: Let’s have a look at where the polling is, Peter.  The best poll for the incoming Prime Minister has Malcolm Turnbull on 51% of the two-party preferred vote. That is the smallest bounce for any new leader that I’ve seen in my time in politics, whether it was …

 VAN ONSELEN: Technically that’s not right, though, because he started on 46% and pushed it up five points to 51%.  The reason it looks small is because of how low he was to start.

 ALBANESE: Look at where Gillard was or where Rudd was or where Latham was for that matter.  When a new leader has come in they’ve received an immediate bounce …

 PAUL KELLY: So you’re saying he hasn’t got a sufficient bounce at the start?  Is that what you are saying?

 ALBANESE:I think it’s been pretty poor, frankly, and if you look at the Canning results where we had a 6% swing on a two-party preferred basis, to Labor in what has been a traditional conservative seat, you know if Malcolm Turnbull, if this is the best it gets for Malcolm Turnbull then the transition hasn’t been a great success.

 VAN ONSELEN: All right, stay with us, we’re going to take a break, we’re talking to Anthony Albanese

 

BREAK

 VAN ONSELEN: Just a quick one on a story in the News Corp papers today. There’s a suggestion that Susanne Ley, the Health Minister, is commissioning a look at medical services which are subsidised under the Medicare benefits schedule.  It sounds like it’s part of their budget tightening they are looking at maybe removing some of those subsidies.  Labor has to support at least a look at it, doesn’t it, given the budget position?

 ALBANESE: I’m not going to comment on the specifics, but what we know is that the conservatives don’t support Medicare and every opportunity they have to undermine public health care they do it.  And I’m not surprised that they’re looking at another means to achieve the same objectives.  We’re very well served indeed by our Medicare system and I’d be concerned about any undermining of it.

 PAUL KELLY: Now let’s talk policy, climate change, Labor attacks the Government all the time on climate change.  The climate change targets are 26 to 28% emission reduction targets as outlined by the former Abbott Government.  Where does Labor stand on that?  I mean, is Labor going to be more ambitious and have a higher target or not?

 ALBANESE: Well, that’s not up to me to announce on this program, Paul, of course.   But what I would say is that we take climate change seriously.  We accept the science, and we believe that the best way of dealing with climate change and lowering emissions is through a market-based mechanism.  What’s extraordinary here is Malcolm Turnbull, who fashions himself as a moderniser, who says he believes in climate change has now ruled out a market-based mechanism. So it’s an alliance of the climate sceptics with the market sceptics.  How does Malcolm Turnbull defend the proposition that using a market-based system is worse than this command-style economy method of lowering emissions?  It is absurd for him to say, well, he can say it and he has.  It doesn’t matter how you get there.  It actually does. What matters is that you get there in the cheapest possible way and we know the best way for that to happen is under a market-based system in which businesses make decisions determined by economics.

 PAUL KELLY: I want to ask you about boats.  We saw Malcolm Turnbull have to correct himself this week on the question of boats.  And of course at the last Labor National Conference we saw a new policy on boats, that’s the commitment to the turning back of boats under a Labor Government.  You’ll be a senior member in any Labor Cabinet.  In terms of your own views on this, are you committed to this pretty tough and brutal policy?  Will you, as a Labor Cabinet minister, sign up to that?

 ALBANESE: As you’re aware Paul, as a Labor Cabinet minister you sign up to all of Labor’s policies.   The good thing about the policy that we announced at the national conference is the increase in support for the UNHCR processes …

 PAUL KELLY: I’m aware of that, I’m aware of all that.  I’m asking you about one specific aspect of the policy, that is boat turn-backs.  Will you sign up to that in Cabinet?

 ALBANESE: Well, I have answered that, Paul.  Which is that I’m bound by the platform of the Labor Party, and that’s a process that I support.  It’s a process I fought for very strongly, as you’re aware Paul, at national conferences since 1986, I’ve been going along and putting my case there.

 VAN ONSELEN: It must be awkward.  It must be awkward knowing that you have a different view, but you’re bound by a front bench solidarity.  It’s such a sort of crucial issue, a real totemic one between the major parties as well.

 ALBANESE: Peter, the point of the Labor Party, unlike our opponents, our opponents have a process whereby they essentially have a fundraiser and call it a conference.  The Greens, who knows what they have, because they are closed doors?   What we have is a process whereby people have the opportunity to put their

view, to have votes determined across the whole range of policies, and as a result what comes out is in my view much better than what goes in, before that democratic process.

 VAN ONSELEN: It almost makes it more awkward, though, that’s my point, I mean, you are a senior figure in the factional left.  Your electorate, presumably, is in tune with your thinking on this as opposed to the Cabinet solidarity that you have to take as a position.  And of course 60% of the members wanted you as leader but the parliamentary caucus voted the other way.  This is a totemic issue and one that you and Bill Shorten are at odds on.

 ALBANESE: What we have also is I think a policy framework and I’ve said this before, that will ensure that the incentive that people have to get on boats is taken away, by doubling the numbers of people who we accept, by engaging in proper regional processing, by properly funding the UNHCR, by making sure there is proper accountability for what is going on in Australia’s names in off shore detention centres, that there’s transparency there.  All of that put together will ensure, I think, a much better outcome than what is occurring at the moment.  It therefore is a policy I think that we can take to the election, as a credible policy, that will make a real difference to not just ensuring that our borders are secure, but making sure also that people are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

 PAUL KELLY: On the question of transport and cities, is it Labor’s intention to try and make public transport, new investment in public transport, particularly rail, actually an issue at the next federal election?  Is that what you’re aiming to do?  Will it be an issue?

ALBANESE: It’s an issue now, Paul.  What has occurred is that $4.5 billion has been stripped out of the Budget that had already been allocated for public transport projects like the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, the Melbourne Metro, Perth public transport, Tonsley Park line in South Australia.  You can’t deal with urban congestion unless you deal with public transport as part of an integrated transport strategy.

 VAN ONSELEN: Malcolm Turnbull is going to do that.  He has a very different view on public transport, doesn’t he, to what Tony Abbott does?

 ALBANESE: He certainly does on a personal level.  There’s no question about that.  But at the same time you’ve had – his environment spokesperson who seems to be in charge of this, Greg Hunt – on AM this week, still defending the East-West Link in Melbourne.  That’s a project that has a cost benefit of 45 cents outcome for every dollar that’s invested.   It was a dud project.  But you still have the Government quarantining funding for that project. So we’ll have a plan. If you are serious about cities, you’ve got to re-establish some Major Cities Unit, you’ve got to make sure that the cities portfolio is integrated with infrastructure and transport.  You have to fund public transport, you’ve got to engage in urban design and planning.  The templates are all there from what we did in government and from the ten-point plan that we put forward at the National Press Club.

 PAUL KELLY: Let me ask you then about tax.  Isn’t the reality here that Labor will go into the next election campaign looking as though it is the party which wants an increase in taxation overall, given that you want to carbon price again, that you’re eliminating superannuation …

 ALBANESE: You’re not suggesting that an ETS is a tax, are you Paul?

 PAUL KELLY: Well, I think- – –

 ALBANESE: You haven’t succumbed to that economic illiteracy, surely?

 PAUL KELLY:I think – I think the Government might make that case- – –

 ALBANESE: Yes, but you accept, surely, that that’s not the case?

 PAUL KELLY: Let’s just focus on the question I asked which is a question about taxation overall in terms of Labor, that is to what extent is Labor vulnerable on this question?  A lot of its initiatives involve taxation increases.  Is this where Labor is looking at higher taxes to fund government services?  And if it isn’t, isn’t there a risk here in terms of the way it is perceived?

 ALBANESE: Not true, Paul.   It is as untrue as the characterisation of an Emissions Trading Scheme.  The fact is if you look at what we actually did in government, taxes have risen as a proportion of GDP under this mob, and they’ve identified that, so it falls down at base analysis.  But secondly also you look at the propositions that Labor is putting forward.   What are they?  That multinationals should be paying their fair share of tax.  I think the Australian people think that profits made here should attract taxation here and revenue here for the Australian government.

 VAN ONSELEN: Can I ask a quick follow up on that specifically?  Don’t you have to be very careful with that?  It’s one thing for us to talk about, well, iPads that have been made overseas and purchased here, those multinationals should pay tax on that, we have got to be very careful, don’t we, that China doesn’t suddenly take the same view about what they import from us and therefore really damaging our resource sector from a taxation perspective?

 ALBANESE: What Labor he’s been talking about when it comes to multinational tax profits that made here, there should be not an ability to essentially off-shore the profits and therefore minimise tax.  Similarly in terms of individuals are the same.  See, the problem is when you have tax evasion it is ordinary PAYE taxpayers, mums and dads who are working hard to put food on the table, clothes for their kids, pay their school fees, who are paying a higher share of the burden as a result of that.

 VAN ONSELEN: It all comes back to generation reform, doesn’t it?  You need to get the balance between the state and federal taxes.  For example, payroll tax is something that you can’t afford because it is based obviously on employees in the country, which is regarded as a stifling tax for business, but by the same token it’s something that can’t be a avoided.

 ALBANESE: But we know there are sources of revenue that the Government has consciously chosen to forego.  In the area of superannuation is the classic example whereby you have superannuation being used for tax minimisation at the very high end, at the very high end, and we know that, because of that the tax

burden on working mums and dads is higher.  That’s unacceptable.  Labor, as the party of fairness, is quite happy to argue our case on superannuation, on multinational tax, for example, and we’re happy to also put our record out there in terms of as a party of fairness, versus the opposition, the Government, which when in opposition made these promises.   So the first thing they did was doubled the deficit when they got into government.  So they told us there was this budget crisis, they doubled the deficit.  One of the ways they did that was through some of the very conscious decisions they made, including an superannuation.

 PAUL KELLY: Labor keeps saying there is a revenue problem.  By logic that means there’s got to be more revenue raised.  That means more taxation increases.   Do you accept that proposition?

 ALBANESE: No, it doesn’t.  It can mean closing loopholes like the ones I’ve just identified, so that people pay the tax that people expect them to be paying, right now.  And Labor has put forward measures on the table.  Now, Malcolm Turnbull could, if he was half sensible, and pragmatic and he can be pragmatic from time to time, what I would do to give him a bit of gratuitous advice, is to adopt Labor’s superannuation and multinational tax measures.  He can do it in the fortnight when parliament goes back.  It will sail through, the budget bottom line will be immediately better.  He will, I think, get applause from the Australian public for doing so.  Does he have the courage to do so?  It’s a common sense thing for him to do, in my view.

 VAN ONSELEN: Let me ask you about the higher education policy that was announced during the course of the week.  It strikes me that this is everything that some voters worry about Labor, a good policy in and of itself, a $2.5 billion price tag, it was announced without how it was going to be paid for at the same time?

 ALBANESE: One of the things, of course, Peter all of our policies will be costed and will be out there well in advance of the election.  Of course this is an investment, not just a cost, investing in social capital in people.  We need to compete in our region, and we can do one of two ways.  We can have the current government’s approach in shipping reform, for example, in my portfolio, which is we’ll compete by taking the Australian flag off ships, putting a foreign flag on, have foreign wages paid and that way the costs will be cheaper.  That’s method one.   The second is by being smarter, by competing on the basis of our ingenuity and creativity of our people.  And one of the ways we can do that is through this investment in higher education.  It’s an investment in people that will produce a higher return through economic growth in the future.  There are two great ways you can boost economic growth.  Both of them relate to productivity.  One is investing in capital through infrastructure, the second is investing in people.  Labor intends to do both.

 PAUL KELLY: Do you think Malcolm Turnbull will run full term or do you think he’ll be tempted go to the polls earlier?

 ALBANESE: I think the temptation might be there any time from March, I would have thought.  We’ll be ready to go if he calls an election next week.  Labor is ready to go.  It is a prerogative of the Prime Minister.  The difficulty for him is, though, if he goes before July there is all sorts of issues with regards to the Senate, a double dissolution will mean a worse result for whoever is in government, in terms of it will tend to lead to more minor parties being represented and I think Australians do expect their governments to serve three-year terms.  Then again, I think Australians probably expect the Prime Minister they elect to actually last for that three-year term as well.

 VAN ONSELEN: I think it is unlikely he will go to an early election, if he goes full term or near enough to a full term, doesn’t Labor need to do a reshuffle of its own?  One of the real criticisms of Tony Abbott was that he hadn’t rejuvenated his line-up.   When you look at Labor rank there’s been some rejuvenation since the defeat of the last Labor Government, but it is not dissimilar in terms of the ranks looking largely the same as they did when you were in government.  There’s a lot of talent you could promote.

 ALBANESE: We, of course, have quite a large frontbench as it is.  And they’ll be joined by Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher will be appointed as two new shadow ministers.

 VAN ONSELEN: It’s starting to look like a John Hewson shadow ministry where every kid gets a prize from a leader that is trying to ensure that he can keep everyone happy.

 ALBANESE: In Katy and Jim they are outstanding, I think, Katy Gallagher was a very good Chief Minister of the ACT.  We were very fortunate to get her to take Kate Lundy’s spot in the Senate.  She, I think, has transitioned into the Federal Senate extremely well, and I think she will be a great addition to our frontbench team.  Jim Chalmers, from Queensland, of course, not withstanding his support for the wrong football teams, is an outstanding person with an economic background, and he – both of them, I think – are articulate and will be future Cabinet ministers in a Labor Government at least.

 VAN ONSELEN: Just quickly before we let you go, there has been various announcements on the change on the Government’s side obviously with their reshuffle.  Joe Hockey, there’s a lot of speculation that he may well be heading over as the ambassador to Washington.  Would Labor support that?

 ALBANESE: Well, I have a personal view that we shouldn’t rule out people once they leave parliament, being able to play a continued role in the Australian public’s interests.  Joe Hockey, I have major policy differences with, but as a human being he’s someone I have respect for.  He has interpersonal skills, and he’s an experienced person.  He’s a former treasurer, a former senior minister in the government.  I think there’s been a bit too much from time to time of denigration of people because they’re from the opposite side of politics …

 VAN ONSELEN: I was about to say your side, there have been musings of criticism by the idea that Joe Hockey might be appointed to Washington.  It sounds like you are more open minded about that?

 ALBANESE: Look, I was part of a government that supported appointing Brendan Nelson, for example, as a minister.  He did an outstanding job in that job.  I appointed people from differing backgrounds to positions where I thought they were the best person for the job.  I appointed Bruce Baird as the head of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.  Bruce has done an outstanding job in that position, and, you know, I think that we shouldn’t rule out people from playing a role outside of Parliament.  I don’t know whether Joe is going to be appointed to that position or not.  But if he is then I would have nothing but to wish him well.

 VAN ONSELEN: Shadow Infrastructure spokesperson Anthony Albanese we appreciate you joining us on Australian Agenda, thanks for your company.

 ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

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