Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Oct 22, 2014

Transcript – Doorstop Interview, Parliament House

Subject: Gough Whitlam   

ALBANESE: Good morning. Yesterday we saw the Australian Parliament at its finest as it paid tribute to the passing of a great Australian. A great Labor man – Gough Whitlam.

Since then, we’ve seen the Labor family express our sorrow at the passing but also celebrate his life and his contribution to the Labor Party and to the nation.

People across the political spectrum, including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister delivered outstanding tributes to Gough Whitlam yesterday in the Parliament and since.

Also yesterday, the Greens political party put up, authorised by Lee Rhiannon on a website, an image of Gough Whitlam, ‘Vale Gough Whitlam’ next to the Greens Party political logo.

I think that is cheap, opportunistic and offensive, given that Gough Whitlam was a Labor man his entire life. Gough Whitlam understood that you needed to seize power and be in government to make a difference to this nation and he did just that between 1972 and 1975.

He understood and said very explicitly on so many occasions that he didn’t want to be just a party of protest. He wanted to be a party of government and he sought that mandate from the Australian people both prior to 1972 of course, but in 1974, 1975 and of course in 1977 as the Labor leader.

Right up until he was incapable of doing do due to ill-health he continued to campaign for Labor in every single political campaign. He continued to be active in local Labor party life including as Tanya Plibersek outlined yesterday explained yesterday attending Labor party Christmas parties in his local community.

I’d say to Christine Milne and to the Greens including Lee Rhiannon who authorised this, the Senator from New South Wales and to Adam Bandt, just do the right thing – pull it down and admit that it was an error of judgement. That’s the appropriate thing to do. That’s the respectful thing to do.

QUESTION: What do you find so offensive – is it the fact that they used the image or that they used it with the party logo?

ALBANESE: They are clearly trying to appropriate Gough Whitlam’s legacy for the Greens. Gough Whitlam not only was not a member of the Greens; he campaigned against them. He campaigned for me in my electorate; he campaigned for others who faced conflict with the Greens. We have a proud history. We are Australia’s oldest political party. We’ve formed government. We have legacies – and Gough Whitlam’s legacy was a Labor legacy. Tony Abbott and Warren Truss yesterday paid tribute to that legacy without trying to own the bits of the legacy they agree with.

You can do that to someone who you’re a political opponent of. Gough Whitlam, in terms of his legacy including on the environment, on health, on education – there’s been much said in the last 24 hours – all of it has been quite outstanding – including an appropriate analysis of where mistakes were made. This is not appropriate. They know it’s not appropriate. Anyone who’s looks at it knows that it’s not appropriate.

QUESTION: Have you personally discussed your concerns with Christine Milne?

ALBANESE: No, I haven’t. I see that Adam Bandt has been out there defending this this morning. I’ve seen the coverage. I only saw it during the caucus meeting and I raised it during the caucus meeting as soon as I saw it. It’s one thing, as happened the other day at my local train station, you arrive there and there’s a Greens corflute and it says ‘defend Medicare – vote Greens’. That’s one kind of attempt to pretend that Medicare is somehow a Greens legacy as opposed to a Labor legacy, begun of course as Medibank under Gough Whitlam. It’s another thing completely to use on the day of the great man’s passing, an image of him with the Greens political party logo on the poster. That is entirely inappropriate.

QUESTION: Aren’t you the one trying to score cheap opportunistic political points because all the Greens are doing are saying here is a policy that we are proud a Labor Prime Minister introduced that we are proud of. What is wrong with that?

ALBANESE: Well if I need to explain it to you Latika, then – people will make their own judgements. People will make their own judgements. You get to ask the question, I get to answer it, that’s the system of press conferences. You’ve asked your question. I find it offensive that there is the great man’s legacy with the Greens political party logo on it. I find that inappropriate. I think that is an attempt in an opportunistic way to appropriate Gough Whitlam’s legacy as somehow for the Greens. Gough Whitlam was a great Labor man and it is just not respectful. I ask myself, and I know the answer to this, what would the Labor legend say if the Greens and Christine Milne had said ‘how about we use an image of you and our logo on your image?’. What would he say? You can’t ask him. He would of course say no. His entire political life was dedicated to the cause of Labor. It would be like trying to say that Bob Brown is somehow a Labor supporter. Bob Brown isn’t. He’s entitled to his views. He’s made his own contribution to political life, as have the John Howards of the Liberal Party.

QUESTION: One of your MPs in caucus described it as grave-robbing. Would you go that far?

ALBANESE: I did not hear that description in the caucus.

QUESTION: How angry were people in caucus?

ALBANESE: I think people were pretty shocked. This is a difficult time for those of us who knew Gough and everyone who’s part of the Labor family. Even though he was 98 years of age and in ill-health it came as a shock to the nation, not just to people in the Labor caucus. Do the right thing, concede that it’s an error of judgement and move on. This should not be a major debate but it should be fixed. It should be fixed in a way that is dignified and in a way that restores some dignity to the political debate.

QUESTION: Is this grave-robbing?

ALBANESE: I’m not going to use that term. This shows no respect and is opportunism of the worst kind. I find it offensive and people in the Labor caucus today found it offensive. Thanks very much.

 

Oct 21, 2014

Transcript – Gough Whitlam – ABC News24

Transcript 

Subject: Gough Whitlam

 JOE O’BRIEN: Anthony Albanese, good morning. A sad day for the Labor Party. How are you feeling?

 ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is indeed a sad day for the Labor Party but more importantly it’s a sad day for the nation. Gough Whitlam was a giant who had a gigantic impact on this country. I think that modern Australian history can almost be defined as pre-Whitlam and post Whitlam. His impact was that significant. In having the vision to envisage a future of a modern Australia but also having the ability to help shape that future.

O’BRIEN: What role did he play in you as a youngster developing a passion for politics?

ALBANESE: I remember handing out how-to-votes as a young kid in 1972 and the happiness and thrill that went through my household and through my community. I grew up in public housing in Camperdown and you voted Labor. And they started you pretty young handing out those how-to-votes. You handed out how to votes and you voted Labor and that’s what you did. It was very much a part of the culture that everyone was in the Labor Party, including my mother and my grandfather who I lived with as well. And so was it was an honour getting to meet the great man in when I was Young Labor. He was always someone who had encouraging words for young people coming through the Labor movement, he was a source of inspiration. He opened what is now my electorate office in Marrickville Road, Marrickville for the then member Jeannette McHugh and I remember that day as the day Marrickville shut down. Gough was greatly loved by multicultural Australia but no group more than the Greek Australian community. He was more popular than any Greek. They all came to talk to him and to be in his presence and to pay homage to him. 

O’BRIEN: What were his policy commitments and achievements that you really developed a respect for?

ALBANESE: Firstly, education – the valuing of education – opening up universities. There is a whole generation of Australians such as myself who are the first in our family to go to university. Gough Whitlam created that in such a short period of time. Secondly, in terms of my own area of policy that I’ve concentrated on – that of urban Australia. He wanted to create a better life for people in our suburbs. Prior to the Whitlam government and the work of Tom Uren you didn’t have sewage in the outer suburbs of Sydney. There wasn’t curbing and guttering. These basic necessities. Support for transport. Jobs in our outer suburbs is what Gough Whitlam drove through. And his support for a more creative and outward looking Australia. Whether it was our engagement in international affairs, of course the historic visit to  China, bringing troops home from the Vietnam War, or whether it be support for arts and culture that flourished under the Whitlam Government. He soared above the political landscape. At a time where so much of politics gets mired in the weeds, Gough Whitlam always was above that. He gave an example of how politics could be inspirational.

O’BRIEN: And health is also named as one of his most significant legacies.

ALBANESE: Yes, the creation of Medicare, now everyone supports it in public anyway – the public health care system. But it was Gough who brought in Medibank and because of that and its popularity essentially over 40 years it’s become a given. But before that it wasn’t. In my household the difference that he made to pensions had a real impact on our standard of living. Before then you really struggled to get by. Gough with free education, universal healthcare, the increases to pensions that he delivered made such a big difference to so many.

O’BRIEN: How did it all fall apart so quickly for him in Government?

ALBANESE: They’d had 23 years in opposition so there was a lack of experience in government. He also of course challenged the existing power structures and the power structures fought back. We had a campaign whereby the newspapers and the media coverage ran a campaign against him, the likes of which perhaps only the last campaign we’ve seen a comparison in terms of consistency. At that time, if you go back to 1975 you’ll see papers being taken off the backs of trucks and burnt. It was a very controversial time and Gough Whitlam did challenge those existing power structures. That’s not to say there weren’t errors committed. Of course there were. All governments do. In that 3 years Gough Whitlam left a legacy that is permanent change. Not for Gough just sitting there and just occupying office. For Gough it was about making a difference and he did every single day.

O’BRIEN: Do you remember where you were on that day they were standing there on the steps in Parliament House in Canberra?

ALBANESE: I certainly do. My history teacher who is now in a Labor party branch in my electorate so he won’t mind me naming him, he’s retired. Vince Crowe came in to my classroom – I went to St Marys Cathedral in the city. And he came in and announced to the class that ‘our Prime Minister has been dismissed and our government has been thrown out’. People weren’t clear what it was. I got into trouble that day. I was twelve years old, I got home pretty late because there were police horses and chaos in the city and we hung about and became observers in what was going on. These were turbulent times. The big demonstration against the dismissal was held in The Domain. I didn’t go to school, we all went across and went to the demo. The good old Christian Brothers, no one got into trouble.

O’BRIEN: As someone who was so passionate about what happened that day, how did you feel when the election was lost, was there a sense of disbelief?

ALBANESE: I think people expected that we’d win, is my memory. Everyone that you knew was angered by the dismissal. It was very disappointing but the thing about Gough is that he didn’t just disappear. He continued to have an impact both in terms of the Parliament but outside the Parliament as well with his leadership on issues, on the environment, on international relations, on education, on arts and culture. He continued to write, he continued to be a very active source of advice for people in the Labor movement, and he continued to be an inspirational figure.

O’BRIEN: Malcolm Fraser lamented this morning that both major parties have drifted a long way to the right. Do you as a member of your party’s left faction hold out any hope that the passing of Gough Whitlam will lead some to re-examine what they want to stand for?

ALBANESE: I think we often romanticise the past. Significant gains have been made because of the work of people like Gough Whitlam. Many of the issues that he championed are now mainstream. Medibank is one that we spoke about. Malcolm Fraser dismantled Medibank. Now you see Tony Abbott while he’s trying to do it by stealth, at least in public supports public health care. History does move forward. Gough Whitlam would have been, if he was in the Labor Party Caucus today would have been there arguing for reform. His legacy has helped transform the political debate. There have been significant advances made. Many of the advances that Gough made. Many of the causes which were championed by Gough Whitlam – anti-apartheid, the end of the Vietnam War, the expansion of educational opportunity, universal health care, the recognition of China, seen as radical at the time – all of these are now mainstream. All of them were opposed by the conservatives at the time.

O’BRIEN: And another of those causes that you didn’t mention there that you’ve tweeted about this morning, that classic photo, of Gough Whitlam with a fistful of dirt, the red dirt of Central Australia, and dropping that dirt through the hands of an Aboriginal man. Tell us about that moment and how that significant that is.

ALBANESE: Well that’s the moment when people look back the path to reconciliation really began. That’s the turning point. From that point there was no moving back. There had been much campaigning as a result of the conflict that had been there on the land in the Northern Territory, the struggle for Indigenous rights and land rights. Whitlam was ahead of his time. He was prepared to push out there, his agenda. Gough Whitlam will be remembered for that. I know that first Australians in my local community regard Gough as being up there on a pedestal. It is a very sad day for so many Australians. Because the thing about Gough is that even though he was 98 years of age and was in ill health, it’s still a shock because we can’t imagine an Australia without Gough Whitlam’s presence. That says a lot about him and the contribution that he made.

O’BRIEN: Thanks a lot for making the time to talk to us.

ALBANESE: Thank you.

Oct 12, 2014

Transcript – Australian Agenda, Sky News, 12 October 2014

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

SKY NEWS ; AUSTRALIAN AGENDA ; SUNDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2014

 

 SUBJECTS: National security, Iraq, press freedom, Paid Parental Leave, Budget, Party reform, cities & urban policy, infrastructure, climate change

 PETER VAN ONSELEN: As mentioned off the top of the program we are joined now by Rabbitohs supporter Anthony Albanese.  Thanks for your company. 

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.  Bit different from last Sunday, very nervous last Sunday. 

VAN ONSELEN: I was trying to get you on my show on Monday night but for some reason you weren’t available. 

If we can, we will talk a little bit about what Paul was just talking about, this whole issue of bipartisanship in the national security space.  Joe Hockey has stood by his comments that he thinks that if you’re not supporting the financial measures to pay for national security initiatives then you’re not being bipartisan in those national security initiatives.  Now, Paul Kelly, in a sense, has had a bit of a crack at the PM for not backing his Treasurer up on that.  Is Joe Hockey right? 

ALBANESE: Joe Hockey is wrong and Joe Hockey is wrong because of the nature of the cuts; not just that there are cuts in the budget, it’s the nature of them, it’s the impact of them.  And we saw yesterday that the electorates that will be least affected by these cuts are the electorates of Warringah and North Sydney; the electorates of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.  It is the electorates that will be worst affected, have the greatest impact, were Blaxland and Watson; areas which have higher unemployment, areas that we saw today released from ACOSS Sydney has the worst figures when it comes to poverty in Australia of any regional area around the country and that’s why to say because you oppose a new tax being put on every time you visitor the doctor somehow that draws you to question your bipartisanship, that is where Joe Hockey made not just a strategic error but a fundamental political error as well. 

VAN ONSELEN: I know, Paul, I want to ask you about this as well, but just as a quick follow-up, let me put it another way then, isn’t it incumbent on Labor if it is being truly bipartisan in the national security space to at least have alternative funding mechanisms for the kind of funding that is required in that space, if it doesn’t like the specific cuts, as you talk about? 

ALBANESE: We know that in the Government’s statement at the end of last year they added $65 billion to the budget deficit.  We know that on top of that they have got areas like the paid parental leave scheme, areas of new structural expenditure that will have an impact on the budget that gross over a period of time, so let’s by all means have a debate about the budget but don’t draw into question our position on national security, which is a bipartisan position that Tony Abbott has recognised as such and he is sensible to do so. 

PAUL KELLY: How does Labor think the Iraq commitment ought to be financed; by higher taxes, spending cuts or a higher deficit? 

ALBANESE: Well, we are not the Government, of course, Paul. 

KELLY: But has Labor got a view on this? 

ALBANESE: We will speak to the treasury spokesperson, but we will consider measures on their merits.  That’s what we have done, Paul.  If you look at some of the changes, for example, on the last sitting day of parliament there were some changes made to social security measures with Labor’s support but some others that Labor opposed because of their impact.  We will not support a fundamentally unfair budget that has an impact on those people who can least afford it.  And we won’t be lectured about responsibility by a mob that want to introduce a paid parental leave scheme at a cost of above $5 billion per year that won’t –

VAN ONSELEN: But it’s paid for by a company tax increase? 

ALBANESE: No, that’s the impact in terms of the budget.  There is an impact on the budget as well of the paid parental leave scheme and in addition to that they withdrew measures cutting down on tax avoidance, they withdrew measures – the hysteria that was there when we introduced a measure that said to comply with the FBT rules on cars, if you were getting basically a rebate for using your car for work, you had to actually show for two weeks in every five years that you were using the car for work.  That was met with a hysterical response by the media, it must be said, but also by the now Government when they were in opposition.  There were a range of measures that we put in place that they opposed as soon as they came to office. 

VAN ONSELEN: But isn’t Labor being equally hysterical about the paid parental leave?  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people in the Government that don’t like his paid parental leave scheme but this idea that it is giving money to millionaires and that it’s people on these enormous salaries, 98% of people who would qualify for the PPL scheme are not earning over $100,000.  All that’s going to happen though is that they will have their wage replaced not at the minimum wage level but at their already modest wage level for six months. 

ALBANESE: But Peter, we introduced a paid parental leave scheme and when we proposed that in government Tony Abbott said that he would support it over his dead body, to quote the now Prime Minister himself.  He then came up with an extravagant, unaffordable scheme that rewards those people – the more you earn the more you get out of the scheme – as opposed to our proposition which has been legislated, that is in place, that people are now benefiting from. 

VAN ONSELEN: I know this is a bit of a side issue, but we have got time on this program, it’s one of the things I like about the show, it’s the same as the Public Service scheme.  Anyone that works on your staff, if they have a child they get essentially Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme.  Same for people working in departments. 

ALBANESE: That’s negotiated through, that’s a part of the agreements that are reached and, therefore, are built into overall packages. 

KELLY: Just all this talk of bipartisanship on the Iraq commitment, presumably bipartisanship doesn’t extend to how the commitment is financed. 

ALBANESE: Well, in terms of you, as you know Paul, the idea that you fund an activity, (a) with a tax or a reduction in spending of equivalence is not the way budgets work.  You have expenditures and you have revenues.  You have both sides of the equation and they meet.  So, it’s a false proposition that you have put forward and I suspect you are aware that it’s a false proposition you put forward. 

KELLY: But just on this point about bipartisanship, do you agree that bipartisanship is about the commitment to Iraq, it’s not about how it’s financed? 

ALBANESE: Of course it’s about the commitment to Iraq and what we don’t have in this country is hypothecation of every activity of government; something that you’re aware of and something that, with respect, the opposition can’t be expected, for every single measure that is made by the Government.  That would be an absurd proposition. 

VAN ONSELEN: I’m concerned, frankly, about the speed of some of the bipartisanship as far as things like the anti-terror laws are concerned.  There’s been lots of people, not just on the left, I mean, Greg Sheridan in The Australian really had a red hot go at the Prime Minister over some of the restrictions on freedoms for the media as well as other restrictions from these laws that have just been waved through with bipartisan support.  Shouldn’t we have more debate about this? 

ALBANESE: Look, I think we should Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: So why was it supported? 

ALBANESE: I’m fully supportive of our activity.  I have a view, and there are some people on the left who say “Oh well, rushing into war” .  I’m not a pacifist.  I’m of the view that where you see action that would see essentially people be fair game for beheadings and brutal murder because they happened to disagree with the so-called caliphate of the so called Islamic state is something that the world simply can’t sit by and watch.  So that’s the first point.

VAN ONSELEN: That might be a reason though, with respect, to rush in for the action but I’m talking about the laws that are designed to supposedly make us safer at home.  I mean, surely we can have a longer, more nuance debate about what the unintended consequences of those laws might be but we haven’t had that. 

ALBANESE: Look, I’m of the view, Peter, that the Government hasn’t been at its best when it comes to proper debate, including, I believe there should be more debate on the floor of The House of Representatives, not up in the Federation Chamber, about our engagement.  When we put Australians at risk that should be properly debated.  I’m very supportive of the Government’s position and I would have liked to have seen more debate on the floor of The House of Representatives about that issue.  When it comes to the so called anti-terrorist laws I believe there has to be proper scrutiny of them.  You can be fully supportive of our engagement in the middle east and still say we don’t protect freedom by giving it up and I don’t believe there’s been enough scrutiny.  I believe that the media laws, much of them, are draconian.  When we talk about potential penalties of five to ten years gaol for exposing what might be an error made by the security agencies then I think when people like Greg Sheridan, as you say, are drawing it into question, as well as, I’ve had approaches from the media alliance, you know, we are all concerned as Australians about the gaoling of Peter Greste in Egypt.  Why has he been gaoled?  Because he was reporting, and therefore seen to be somehow supportive of, these actions. 

KELLY: Just on all these issues what’s Labor doing about this? 

ALBANESE: I believe we should be arguing for more scrutiny of these issues.  I think we should be working with the Government on them.  It’s important that they not be partisan issues but I believe it is appropriate that there be greater scrutiny.

KELLY: Essentially what you’re saying, I think, is that Labor has rolled over too far.  That’s what you are saying, isn’t it? 

ALBANESE: No, I think there should be greater scrutiny not just from Labor but from the Government as well at a time like this that security agencies will take every opportunity to impose things that have been in their bottom drawer for a long period of time.  It’s important, I believe our security agencies do a great job for this nation, including ASIO, but it’s also the case that in a democratic country like ours where we are talking about fighting for freedom that we ensure that that freedom is, indeed, protected and not given up. 

KELLY: Can we just clarify here, say in relation to the media, I think what you’re saying is that the proposed changes as they would affect journalists and the media are not acceptable, they go too far. 

ALBANESE: I certainly believe that there are legitimate criticisms of them and I would hope, I would hope, that the Government has a look at what the impact of those changes will be, in practical terms.  When we had a proposition, you’d be aware, Paul, when Labor was in government the response of the media was pretty full on.  These changes are far more draconian in terms of their impact on journalists and anything that was ever proposed, even in draft form, by the former Labor government, so I think in terms of the criticisms that are there are legitimate criticisms and they need to be responded to by the Government.  It’s understandable if sometimes things might have gone too far.  If that is the case then they should be wound back. 

VAN ONSELEN: I mean, I welcome this level of debate about it, I’m sure people that have written about this like Laurie Oakes and, as we have said, Greg Sheridan do as well but let’s just call a spade a spade here.  It’s looking like there needs to be a movement for this kind of scrutiny to happen.  You are the most senior figure on either side of politics to come out and express your concerns about the lack of debate about this. 

ALBANESE: Well, I’m concerned about the rights of journalists.  It’s consistent.  I spoke on a motion in The House of Representatives that was bipartisan about Peter Greste.  I’m someone who I think has consistently supported the rights of media to report.  I’ve also been pretty consistent in calling the media out when I believe it gets it wrong.  I think the media behaviour of particularly the News Limited tabloids, let’s call it, during the last election campaign was over the top. 

PETER VAN ONSELEN: But do you have support from other senior Labor colleagues to try to slow this debate down, to have a proper debate about these laws and whether they impinge on freedoms?  

ALBANESE: Well, I’m speaking for myself, which I do. 

KELLY: Do you think that Bill Shorten shares your views? 

ALBANESE: Look –

KELLY: Have you discussed it with him? 

ALBANESE: I’ve had brief discussions with other members. 

KELLY: Does he share your views? 

ALBANESE: What I do, Paul, is speak for myself and I don’t discuss discussions that I have with either you or anyone else, as you’re aware. 

KELLY: We might switch to –

VAN ONSELEN: Let’s do that after the break if we can, Paul, sorry to interrupt.  We are going to a break.  Anthony Albanese, appreciate your time.  Stay with us on Australian Agenda.  When we come back we are going to largely move into portfolio areas in the infrastructure and city space with Anthony Albanese and a little later in the program, as already mentioned, Warren Mundine will join us as well.  Back in a moment. 

Welcome back, you’re watching Australian Agenda.  Paul Kelly and I are speaking to former Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.  We are going to get to your portfolio in a moment, I do promise, but first we have got to talk a little bit about Labor Party reform.  You’ve worked with John Faulkner for many years, factional colleague on the left, both been assistant secretaries in New South Wales.  He is big on Labor Party reform and he is worried that the party isn’t going there fast enough, nor far enough.  What’s your view?  There has been change, but do you agree that it’s been too slow? 

ALBANESE: Of course we need to do more.  The change that we have done that some people resisted has been successful.  One of the reasons why Labor, I believe, is in a strong position now is the process that we went through a year ago in terms of opening up the leadership ballot to the rank and file membership of the party.  

VAN ONSELEN: Sections of the right of the party are really worried about that change.  They tell me privately when I talk to them that their big concern is that the membership of the Labor Party is not representative of the membership of the community and the more say that members have the likelihood is that Labor might risk itself lurching to the left in a way that takes it out of the game with mainstream voters. 

ALBANESE: Well, that’s a defeatist position, with respect.  What we do need to do is to grow the membership.  How do you grow the membership so it’s representative and engage with the community?  You do it by empowering them and you do that by taking power off the factional power brokers and giving it to the membership and if you do that, if you have faith in the membership, I believe you’ll get good outcomes, you’ll get that engagement with people coming through.  People nowadays expect something more than just attending a local hall once a month and hearing a report from their local councillor.  People can be engaged in politics through social media in a whole range of ways that they couldn’t previously and they expect that engagement to give them rights and giving the membership increased say over a range of issues –

VAN ONSELEN: So what’s the next step?  What’s going to actually happen next year? 

ALBANESE: I think there needs to be a direct election of conference delegates, a component of that.  Already we’re seeing state parliamentary parties agree and state conferences agree to have direct election of state leaders.  I think we need to ban factional caucuses prior to any of the parliamentary parties meeting with regard to positions. 

VAN ONSELEN: Is that realistic though?  I mean, they will just meet informally, won’t they? 

ALBANESE: The culture whereby people are bound in leads to problems. 

VAN ONSELEN: This is like that old debate, you don’t change culture by formally banning, surely.  Surely you change culture by actually just simply working on the culture rather than putting in place rules? 

ALBANESE: Sure, but you need to recognise what the problem is and the problem when you have factional caucusing and you need to have the numbers within a subgroup of a faction then you have the numbers within a faction, then you have the numbers within a caucus is exactly the problem that occurred here in New South Wales.  How did New South Wales Labor get to the point whereby someone like Eddie Obeid, who has never been on this program, never been on any program, never made a public speech that has been reported anywhere, is a power broker in the New South Wales Government?  How does that occur?  So, you need to recognise those issues and respond to them. 

KELLY: If we just go to two of the main recommendations of John Faulkner.  The first recommendation is that we bust open the 50:50 power sharing arrangement at conferences with unions having 50%.  He wants a new 60:20:20 rule, more direct election and unions going down to 20%.  Do you agree with that? 

ALBANESE: Not necessarily.  I support more direct elections.  It’s a matter of the process rather than the strict numbers. 

KELLY: Do you want to keep the 50% rule?

ALBANESE: Look, I think that’s up for debate.  I think what is more important, for example, is the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in New South Wales before the last state conference had a meeting where I attended, a range of people attended with their delegates and they actually had a participation out there in their work places about what the issues were coming up before that conference and engaged.  The problem isn’t the unions getting a vote.  The problem is a few union secretaries having too much power. 

KELLY: Exactly, and Faulkner made that particular argument, I appreciate that argument, it’s very important, but if we can just go back to the numbers though, you think the 50% rule is open for review?  You would like to see it reduced, would you? 

ALBANESE: No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. 

KELLY: Okay. 

ALBANESE: I’m saying that I want to participate along with people in the unions and bring the whole party along on the journey of reform. 

VAN ONSELEN: So you need the unions to agree? 

ALBANESE: Well, I don’t want to get stuck up on a debate about numbers because I think that’s a distraction from the real issue, which is how do we make party conferences and our processes more representative, more participatory and I think that can occur at two levels.  The union link can be a real asset to the party, if it’s engaging people at the work places.  If it’s just a few union secretaries sitting round over a Chinese lunch then that is not using that link that we have with the Trade Union Movement effectively. 

KELLY: Okay, let’s just go to the other recommendation.  Senate and upper house preselections, he’s saying that she should be by the rank and file. 

ALBANESE: I supported that proposition at the New South Wales ALP conference.  I think you could have a component as well, an industrial component, from the Trade Union Movement but I think certainly in terms of if you had a rank and file component you wouldn’t need for it to be 100%, but you would need, therefore, there would be pressure on people to be able to stand.  What we’ve had in a series of elections is people elected unanimously, not always, but quite often.  If you had a process that opened it up to the rank and file then you could have a much more representative, I think, ticket out there.  I think by and large we have produced very good senators from New South Wales, including John. 

VAN ONSELEN: What about elsewhere around the country?

ALBANESE: Well, I raised issues about the WA election clearly where we ended up just getting one out of six.  If you had that participatory process – one of the things the leadership ballot showed is that, one of the things I got when going round the country, was people thought themselves in the general public they were getting a say.  People were talking about it in their local community and that meant that prior to that being determined we were on 52:48.  This is prior to us having a leader, when Chris Bowen was still acting leader, because people responded to the fact that we were talking positive, that myself and Bill Shorten were treating each other with respect, which contrasted with the image of Labor which was of a fight between Rudd and Gillard. 

VAN ONSELEN: So what or who are the barriers to more participatory selection of senators?  Why isn’t this happening? 

ALBANESE: Factions don’t like giving up their power. 

VAN ONSELEN: Because it’s not just the right, is it, the left are split on this as well. 

ALBANESE: All of the factions and all of the power brokers, myself included, have to accept that we will have less power in order for the many to have more power. 

KELLY: If we look at your portfolio you have just assumed responsibility for cities.  What’s the thinking there, what’s the game plan? 

ALBANESE: Look, 80% of Australians live in cities.  It produces 80% of our GDP.  And yet we have a national Government that isn’t engaged.  Its first actions, abolish the major cities unit, got rid of the urban policy forum, won’t invest in any urban public transport project. 

VAN ONSELEN: It’s a state responsibility though, isn’t it? 

ALBANESE: So are roads, but they’ll invest in roads but not public transport and you don’t address congestion in our cities without having both and The State of Australian Cities Report 2013, the last one that we did, showed this real disconnect for the first time of where population growth is in the outer suburbs and where jobs growth is, because of the decline of manufacturing, the changes in the economy with the growth in the finance and services sector.  Now, what that means is that we’ve got drive in, drive out suburbs.  There’s a lot of discussion about fly in, fly out work force.  Drive in, drive out suburbs where people have no choice but to drive sometimes an hour and a half to work and an hour and a half back. 

VAN ONSELEN: So what do you do about that?  

ALBANESE: What you do about that is a range of measures.  Firstly, you take cities seriously.  You speak about where jobs growth will be, so in some cases measures like the Moorebank Intermodal terminal, the Badgerys Creek airport for Sydney are important in terms of changing where that jobs growth is.  You also need to talk about transport corridors and where they are. 

VAN ONSELEN: You’ve got to do more than that, don’t you?  You need to be willing to embrace, and this is something that both sides at a state level at least have been loath to do in New South Wales, but particularly Labor.  You need to embrace going up, not just going out, don’t you? 

ALBANESE: Absolutely. 

VAN ONSELEN: High rises in the city, ala New York and other international cities. 

ALBANESE: You need higher urban densities around transport corridors. 

VAN ONSELEN: But Labor at state level was very loath to support that when it was in government in New South Wales. 

ALBANESE: Well, I’m talking about the future.  I think Labor did a range of measures to improve that in terms of the planning provisions which are there. 

VAN ONSELEN: Do you think there’s been a change of heart on that front in the Labor Party? 

ALBANESE: I want to engage on the concept of the 30 minute city, whereby for all of your activities, going to work, where your kids go to school, access to health facilities, access to shopping and recreational activity, you should be 30 minutes walk, cycle or public transport from most of the activities in your life.  We need to get back to a sense of community.  There’s too much disconnect out there, I think, between where the growth is and where that community and hard infrastructure is. 

VAN ONSELEN: Given the divide of responsibilities on this front between Commonwealth and state and you making the point that roads also falls into that category is this the kind of thing that you might even want to make a submission to the federation white paper on because it sounds like exactly the sort of issue that requires that kind of umbrella look? 

ALBANESE: Look, without national leadership you’ll have very bad outcomes indeed.  The decision by the federal Government to say “We will only invest in roads and not public transport” means that if you’re a state treasurer and you have two propositions, a road project where you can get co-funding from the Commonwealth and a rail project where you won’t, you’ll go with the road project.  The Productivity Commission has already found that.  Infrastructure Australia have found that.  That will lead to very poor outcomes indeed, because you can’t deal with cities like Sydney and Melbourne that will grow to 8 million people by 2050, you can’t have a city of 8 million people without having an effective public transport system. 

KELLY: Just how ambitious would you like to see Labor be at the next election when it comes to east coast high speed rail? 

ALBANESE: I think it is a proposition that’s worthy of support.  We did a cost benefit analysis. 

KELLY: The idea?  Are you talking about the idea in principle or just a cost benefit study? 

ALBANESE: No, we’ve done the cost benefit study.  It showed that between Sydney and Melbourne there would be $2.15 benefit for every dollar invested.  This is a game changer, not just for the capital cities but also for regional cities and regional economic development for Canberra, for Newcastle, for Wagga Wagga, for Albury Wodonga and for the cities that will grow up the north coast. 

KELLY: So you think this is a viable idea in financial terms, do you? 

ALBANESE: It is, absolutely.  It’s been found to be.  It is very expensive but there is a large return and it can’t be done tomorrow but what we should be doing right now, I’ve got a private members bill before the parliament to create a high speed rail authority that would be responsible for dealing with the inter-jurisdictional issues, given there are a range of state and territory government and local governments, we need to make sure as the first step that we are preserving that corridor for the future. 

VAN ONSELEN: So will Labor look to make a submission to the federation white paper process on this? 

ALBANESE: Look, we are making our submissions out there publicly.  I gave a major speech to the National Press Club.  We’re concerned about the whole direction of infrastructure Australia. 

VAN ONSELEN: You think that the Government are politicising in that space, don’t you? 

ALBANESE: Look, their performance has been appalling up until now.  They have legislation before the parliament that says that once a project has received $100 million of Commonwealth funding then you will do a cost benefit analysis.  They have got it the wrong way round.  You need to do the cost benefit analysis first and that should determine where your investment goes, so that in Melbourne, for example, they have taken money off the M80, which has a positive cost benefit analysis, given it to the east west project which the best case scenario that’s been published was 0.5, if you have an uplift factor it lifts to 0.8 which means you get 80 cents in the dollar return for your investment and they have taken money off the Melbourne Metro project which has a positive return, was recommended by Infrastructure Australia.  So they have got it the wrong way round.  We need to have cost benefit analysis for infrastructure and that needs to direct where the investment goes. 

KELLY: Over the last couple of days Bill Shorten has made it clear yet again that Labor will go to the next election committed to a carbon pricing policy and clearly Labor is committed to the principle of a mining tax.  Is there a risk for Labor the next election that if you are committed to both carbon pricing and a new mining tax you look as though you are locked in to the Rudd/Gillard period? 

ALBANESE: No, you are, with respect Paul, verballing him on the second. 

KELLY: I understand the position on the second, I was just trying to tease you out a bit on that. 

ALBANESE: What he has said and Labor has said is that we take climate change seriously. 

KELLY: What about the mining tax?  I understand climate change.  What about the mining tax? 

ALBANESE: Well, the mining tax has gone and we will be talking about our positions on a range of issues closer to the date. 

KELLY: Are you going to walk away from the mining tax, are you? 

ALBANESE: Well, it’s gone. 

KELLY: You going to leave that to The Greens? 

ALBANESE: It’s gone. 

KELLY: Will it come back?

ALBANESE: It went through the parliament. 

VAN ONSELEN: You don’t look too unhappy that it’s gone. 

ALBANESE: We will have our policies on resources and those issues and the spokespeople will develop them. 

KELLY: I think there won’t be a mining tax then. 

ALBANESE: What we have put out there, Paul, with respect, in our first year, more policy than Tony Abbott had leading up to the election, is that we think climate change is real.  The best way to deal with reducing our emissions is through a market based mechanism.  See, they’re not just climate sceptics, they are market sceptics as well.  We believe the market is the best way to drive that change through the economy.  Now, we will come up with more details about that, obviously closer to the election, but Bill is right, to make it very clear, that climate change is something that goes beyond the immediate.  It’s something we have a responsibility to for our kids and our grand kids because there is a price of carbon pollution.  The question is who pays it?  Do we just pass it on, which will be at a higher cost to future generations, or do we act in conjunction with the rest of the world? 

VAN ONSELEN: All right, Anthony Albanese, you are always generous with your time on this show.  Thanks very much for your company, much appreciated.

ALBANESE: Good to be here. 

VAN ONSELEN: Stay with us here on Australian Agenda.  When we come back Warren Mundine will join us live in the studio.

ENDS

Aug 28, 2014

Transcript of television interview – ABC Capital Hill with Lyndal Curtis

Subjects: Qantas, national security, Iraq

CURTIS: Anthony Albanese, welcome to Capital Hill.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Lyndal.

CURTIS: Qantas has announced a big after-tax loss. Can the airline keep cutting its wages excess?

ALBANESE: The airlines has gone through the worst. And now, I think can develop quite a significantly better future. It’s made some –

CURTIS: What gives you hope? When some people say part of the problem is its decisions made on its fleet. And that’s something that takes a lot of money and a lot of planning and time to rectify.

ALBANESE: Well there’s no doubt that anyone who looks at the history of Qantas can point towards errors that have been made, commercial errors that have been made including I think its choice of fleet, and in terms of some of the arrangements that it attempted to enter into. But now I think it has certainty, it has legislative certainty, in that the Government accepted the amendments that Labor put forward to maintain Qantas as an Australian airline but to free up some of the provisions within the 49% so that’s done. What’s also done is significant international arrangements with partners including Emirates, China Eastern and that means that in terms of going forward they have significant partners in both Asia and the Middle East of course which is an entry point into Europe.

CURTIS: So if they have the ability with the changes that have been made on ownership structure, if they have international agreements and presumably a better international climate, does the only reason for Qantas not to succeed become a question of management?

ALBANESE: Well certainly I think the management will be held to account. Today’s results are certainly not good but they are slightly better than what market expectations were. A loss in the order of $650 million, the markets had expected that figure to be $700 million. They’ve made some difficult decisions in terms of writing down the value of some of the aircraft, some of the aircraft that were bought, in terms of the A380’s when the Australian dollar was around about 57c so it makes sense to write that down. But let’s put it in perspective. Qantas still has $3 billion in cash. It is still a successful company with a great safety record internationally. It’s important for Australia that Qantas is a successful company.

CURTIS: Do you have faith in the ability of the company to pick things up?

ALBANESE: Well I want that to occur. And I think that government should play its role in facilitating that. We’ve certainly done that both in government and in Opposition, been constructive. We think it’s also important that Virgin whose results come out tomorrow, I wouldn’t expect it to record a profit either. The airline industry is tough and I think what we saw with Qantas and Virgin is some of the capacity conflicts that were going on was that actions that were taking place that weren’t in the interests of either airline or a sustainable domestic aviation industry. That has improved going forward, there needs to be a little bit of common sense there going forward and Qantas is projecting a profit going forward to the next year and I certainly hope that we continue to have what is essentially a two airline situation here, two very successful airlines.

CURTIS: On another issue, do you believe as one of your senators does that the government is using national security to distract from its budget woes?

ALBANESE: I’m going to very much separate out those two issues. I thinking terms of the budget there’s no doubt that this is an extraordinarily incompetent government. It’s incompetent in terms of selling its message. But it’s incompetent in terms of selling a bad message. The way they’ve put together this government, the budget. They went out there and they spoke about budget emergencies. That had an impact on consumer confidence. It was of course nonsense. They inherited a government that had strong jobs growth, low inflation, low interest rates, a triple A credit rating, they talk the whole show down for political purposes, they then made savage and unfair cuts for which they had no mandate, and of course the Australian public have rejected many of the measures such as a new GP tax and the university changes.

CURTIS: Do you have any qualms then about the national security issue, about the government’s extension surrounding terror laws and possibly extension of engagement in Iraq?

ALBANESE: I’ll view national security issues on their merits. When we see the detail I am happy to respond. Of course at the moment we don’t have the detail. I watched an interview on Lateline last night where Senator Johnson didn’t seem to have any of the detail there so it’s pretty hard to respond. But in general of course national security must be the first order of any government, has that responsibility. Oppositions have a responsibility to act constructively where this comes. I’m certainly concerned in very real terms about the threat which domestic jihadists going over to the Middle East and fighting have. That’s something that I expressed in government and I still have that concern in Opposition. And it’s not just Iraq of course. We need to bear in mind that some of the fighters in Syria who’ve gone there, essentially fundamentalists who’ve attacked other members of the different Islamic groups that they don’t agree with and of course, and Christians and other groups as well.

CURTIS: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to talk with you.

 

Aug 20, 2014

Radio interview Transcript – Steve Price program, 2GB

Subject/s: Westconnex, Pacific Highway, Infrastructure Australia, Moorebank, Clive Palmer

STEVE PRICE: This time last year we were in the closing stages, can you believe it, of the election campaign. I know it seems like a hell of a lot longer. Kevin Rudd was still Prime Minister. Western Sydney, as we know particularly here on 2GB – we were out there for so much of that election campaign – was one of the biggest battle grounds, if not the biggest political battleground in the country. And of course in Sydney that meant promises about jobs and it meant promises about transport especially for commuters from western Sydney who have to come into the city to work. The Westconnex project was central to those promises and at the time (and I was reminded of this today when I saw a piece written by Anthony Albanese) Tony Abbott promised bulldozers would be at work within a year. Well, with three weeks to go it does not seem that that is going to happen. Back then as I said Anthony Albanese was Transport Minister. He’s still the Opposition’s transport spokesman. He’s on the line. Good to talk to you again.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Steve.

PRICE: Do you think that the public are going to remember that promise?

ALBANESE: Well, we’re going to remind them of it because Tony Abbott made it very clear. He said there’d be bulldozers and cranes in the sky within 12 months of an election in Sydney, in Melbourne and in Brisbane.  There’s no bulldozers. There’s just clouds of bulldust remaining from Tony Abbott’s promise.

PRICE: So nothing has happened on Westconnex?

ALBANESE: Nothing has happened on any single project anywhere in the country that wasn’t commenced by the former Labor Government and we’ll hold Tony Abbott to account. Part of that is Westconnex. Part of that is that is that the planning just isn’t being got right. I don’t mind a delay if they get it right but I was very disturbed to read an article by Tony Shepherd just last week about extending the M4 to Haberfield and the M5 to St Peters. Well, that is extending a road to a traffic jam. That doesn’t solve the problems of getting people in to the city or freight to the port.

PRICE: I’m a little confused on Westconnex. I’ve lost my way on whether you were supportive of it in government or not.

ALBANESE: We were supportive of the principle. We said we would make funding available but it was conditional upon making sure that the project had a proper cost-benefit analysis. So we put money aside and said that’s for infrastructure, for roads in Sydney. But we said you’ve got to get the planning right. I mean, I’ve got a constituent in Haberfield who in June got two letters on the same day signed by the same person from the Westconnex authority. One said we’re going to purchase your house, the other one said we’re not going to purchase your house. That just says to me that they don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know where Westconnex is going to start, they don’t know where it’s going to end and extending it from the existing end of the M4 to Haberfield does not solve the problem, it just moves the traffic jam and makes the traffic jam even worse.

PRICE: I’ll get on to the specifics in a second but do you see the irony in the comment you made about cost-benefit analysis? The audience are going to be screaming (as you know they will be) tonight back at you saying: Well hang on, they were the government who introduced a National Broadband Scheme without a cost-benefit analysis.

ALBANESE: No the National Broadband Network did have economic analysis and it showed …

PRICE: On the back of an envelope!

ALBANESE: No that is not right, Steve. That is not right. It showed that it would have a positive economic return. It showed that it would benefit the nation. It was indeed, when we established Infrastructure Australia, that a national broadband scheme was the first of its priority themes that it identified as providing a boost to productivity and a boost to the nation

PRICE: So if you’d won the election last year where would Westconnex be today?

ALBANESE: What we would have insisted was that we worked with the state government to make sure that they got first of all the planning right. I’m very concerned. Anyone who knows anything about Sydney knows the idea that a freeway – the M5 – will stop as St Peters is the extension. I don’t know here the traffic then is supposed to go Steve.

PRICE: Well, we’ve been though those nightmares. I mean, that’s the whole problem of the M4.

ALBANESE: Exactly.  You’ve got King Street, Newtown, which is basically a car park at the best of times, and then you’ve got the idea that you would get traffic to the port and boost freight productivity which was the whole idea of the M5 – that was part of the objective that you’ve got to solve – by dumping traffic on the western side of Sydney airport. It will add to congestion around the airport. I want to work with Tony Shepherd, I want to work with the State Government to make sure that it’s got right. We said this when we were in government. We said we were concerned to make sure that you get it right, we’re prepared to provide funding. It is absurd that the M4 stops where it does and it’s absurd that the M5 wasn’t made wider in the first place.

PRICE: It seems like we’ve been talking about the M4 extension or whatever tag you want to put on it for about as long as we’ve been talking about Badgerys Creek. Nothing ever happens. I’ve got people listening to me who are probably now, late tonight, still on their way home from work because bloody traffic jams in Sydney are a nightmare.

ALBANESE: Absolutely and all that’s going to happen after four years of the O’Farrell and Baird Government is that work will have commenced by next March maybe on adding two lanes to the existing M4 and for that privilege they are going to put a toll on the existing road. That’s all that will have happened in four years. Nothing for any other major road project in Sydney and that is of real concern. I worked closely with Duncan Gay on the F3 to M2 and we got a good outcome there with co-operation with federal and state governments. We signed on with Transurban in June of last year and that project will go ahead. It was got right. We need to make sure that we get this project right because the worst thing that could happen is that in ten years’ time if people actually realise that the M4 problem around Concord and Strathfield has simply been extended a few kilometres down the road to Haberfield and the M5 is dumping traffic out at St Peters, then I think people will find that unacceptable. People are prepared to accept I think the disruption that comes with major infrastructure projects but only if they can see that there’s a positive outcome. Now at the moment a road to a traffic jam isn’t that.

PRICE: Road construction has such a long lead time. I was lucky enough over the summer to drive on one of the road projects you oversaw north of Coffs Harbour and when you drive on one of those brand new roads you think thank god it’s actually been done. Surely road transport, road building, major roads – M5, M4, Pacific Highway it doesn’t matter where – why’s there a need for politics in that? Surely it should be bi-partisan.

ALBANESE: There shouldn’t be.

PRICE: We all want the road, it doesn’t matter if you vote Calathumpian, you want the road.

ALBANESE: Well that’s why we established Infrastructure Australia to get those priorities right. I’m very proud of what we did in government. We built or rebuilt 7500 km of road; the Hunter Expressway – promised built and opened. It’s a fantastic road. The Pacific Highway work that we did that you would have travelled on. Before you got to Coffs you would have travelled on the Kempsey bypass, the longest bridge in Australia, you would have travelled on that area up to the north of Coffs, Woolgoolga, Arrawarra.

PRICE: Woolgoolga and Coffs to Grafton is done now pretty much.

ALBANESE: It’s amazing and it’s saving lives. That’s the thing. It actually reduces travel times but most important it saves lives. I’m very proud of the work we did there and we did similar work up in Queensland on the Bruce, the Ipswich Motorway in Brisbane. We did major work. But here in Sydney it just seems that there is a problem getting the planning right. The money is available. I’ve been constructive about it. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t happen. I’m saying it should happen and it should be got right.

PRICE: What was your attitude to the Moorebank Freight Terminal construction?

ALBANESE: Well, I was supportive of that.

PRICE: I just want to play you an ad. This has been running on 2GB now for a couple of weeks. Let me play this for you:

Sitting in traffic? Think this is bad?, If you’re on the M5, Hume Highway, Moorebank Avenue or anywhere near the south-west, things are going to get a whole lot worse. Freight terminals planned for Moorebank will add 10,000 truck movements to your road every day. That’s an extra truck every eight seconds so don’t just sit there, speak up. Find out more and have your say online at Liverpool listens. Google Liverpool listens. Do it when you get home. Do it now.

PRICE: Seems Liverpool council aren’t happy about it.

ALBANESE: Well they are wrong. What Moorebank Intermodal terminal will do is take trucks off the road and make sure that freight from the Port of Botany can travel to the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal on rail.

PRICE: That’s the opposite of what they say in that ad.

ALBANESE: That’s correct. That is exactly what it is about. This is a vital project for Sydney. Intermodal projects are critical in terms of boosting the amount of freight that travels on rail rather than road. That’s the key to getting trucks off our roads. I am absolutely convinced that this is a vital project. We established the Moorebank Intermodal Authority. It is now bipartisan – similar to the way that support for a second airport for Sydney is now a bipartisan project. We’ve got to get these things done and it will mean massive jobs for south western Sydney, jobs during the construction phases but ongoing thousands of jobs for south-west Sydney.

PRICE: A couple of quick things before you go. The Roads to Recovery scheme: someone tells me that the funding for that has run out and that you’re actually going to have to implement a Private Member’s Bill to get that funding rebooted.

ALBANESE: Well the Government has just been asleep at the wheel here. We extended the funding in the 2013 Budget. But in terms of the legislation, the program exists until June, 2014. Now that’s run out. The government has had ten months to get a pretty simple Bill done that just extends that timeframe. There’s bi-partisan support for it.

PRICE: So they haven’t cut the funding?

ALBANESE: They just haven’t done it. They just haven’t legislated for it. They have cut Financial Assistance Grants to local government. Almost $1 billion has been ripped out and a lot of that will mean reductions in local road maintenance particularly in regional and rural communities. But the Roads to Recovery program is also vital.  They haven’t got it done so I’ve got a Private Members Bill I’ve given notice of and I’ll be pursuing that next week when Parliament  resumes. I hope to get bipartisan support. If they are prepared as the Government to actually front up and move simple legislation, we’ll back that as well. But they need to make sure that this vital program continues so that local government doesn’t get a double whammy – a hit on financial assistance grants and then a hit on Roads to Recovery.

PRICE: Would you have been able to have remained as calm as your colleague Penny Wong did on Q&A on Monday night if you’d been sitting next to Clive Palmer when he called the Chinese mongrels?

ALBANESE: I was watching at the time and I admire her patience. It was such an over-the-top comment, I’m sure that there was an element of shock there. I was shocked by just how crude the statement was. It clearly was not in the national interest. When you are elected to public office you have a responsibility to represent the national interest. Penny Wong represents the national interest each and every day. It’s a pity that Clive Palmer undermined that interest the other night

PRICE: Should he apologise properly?

ALBANESE: Of course he should.

PRICE: Always a pleasure to catch up. Thank you very much Anthony Albanese.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you Steve.

 

 

 

Aug 15, 2014

Transcript of television interview – Sky NEWS

Subject/s: Joe Hockey; Abbott Government unfair budget; Infrastructure.

KIERAN GILBERT: Joining us now to discuss the politics of the day, Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese thanks for your time. First of all I want to ask you about Joe Hockey and his comments. He says he’s simply putting out the facts of the matter and that the wealthy pay more dollars when it comes to fuel excise than those less well off.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR TOURISM: Absolute nonsense. Joe Hockey has had a shocker of a week. He’s in a hole and he’s digging away and you can barely see him.  Today, this morning, Christopher Pyne had six opportunities to say that he agreed with Joe Hockey’s comments and he refused to do so. And no wonder. The fact is that the wealthier people – where I am now talking to you now in Sydney’s CBD, all those company executives, just like myself –  have a company fuel card. They don’t pay for their own petrol. Joe Hockey doesn’t pay for his own petrol. Nor do most of the wealthy. The fact is also that if you live in outer suburban Australia, whether in be in western Sydney or the western or eastern suburbs of Melbourne, or the northern suburbs of Brisbane, northern Adelaide,  you have to travel to work by car. There simply aren’t the public transport options in our outer suburban, let alone our regional, communities. At the same time as Joe Hockey is dismissing this extra tax every time people get into a car, he’s refusing to fund any public transport projects. Every single public transport project that was already funded in the Budget, like the $3 billion for the Melbourne Metro, was cut by  his first Budget. So you take away that option for people and then you basically dismiss the impact that this is going to have on low and middle-income  earners. Joe Hockey doesn’t understand what a progressive tax looks like.

GILBERT: For a  Labor Party that  put in a carbon price though, which was a regressive tax but with compensation –

ALBANESE: It’s overcompensation Kieran.

GILBERT: But the question is it was designed to shape behaviour and to rein in emissions. Isn’t a fuel tax going to do a similar thing in the sense that people will drive less? For a party that delivered the carbon tax, wouldn’t that make economic sense to do that to reduce car emissions?

ALBANESE: Kieran, you might have noticed that in terms of pricing carbon, we didn’t put it on the motor vehicle. We put it on the big polluters. This was a tax on the big end of town. Joe Hockey wants to defend the big end of town at the expense of ordinary mums and dads in our suburbs and in our regional communities. He is so out of touch that he doesn’t even seem to get after 48 hours what a train wreck his comments have caused.

GILBERT: When it comes to those in the outer suburban areas and regional areas that you referred to, obviously infrastructure is going to be very important to them. This is something that is close to your heart. The thing I want to put to you this morning and ask you: is there any way Labor can oppose the billions that the government is proposing to spend on roads. This is just a bit of politics you’re playing around the infrastructure recycling as it’s called – the recycling of assets – because it’s hard to see Labor voting against billions of dollars in spending when it comes to improving the roads for those people your are talking about.

ALBANESE: Where is it Kieran? Where’s the extra dollars? There aren’t any. The only thing that’s being recycled here is existing government funds. Every single dollar in their pro-privatisation fund is taken from the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment fund – every single dollar. There’s not an extra cent from this government regarding this particular legislation in terms of additional expenditure.

GILBERT: You wouldn’t block it then?

ALBANESE: We haven’t blocked it. They’ve blocked it themselves. Why have they blocked it? Because they don’t want to accept an amendment that says before you spend taxpayers’ money on projects you have to have a cost-benefit analysis and it has to be value for money. That’s just common sense Kieran.

GILBERT: Infrastructure Australia already does it. Doesn’t Infrastructure Australia already require that?

ALBANESE: No, it certainly doesn’t. The government is avoiding that accountability. What they want to do is take funds from the Building Australia Fund that under legislation the funding can only be approved after the Infrastructure Australia analysis and after the cost-benefit analysis is published and shown that there is  good value for money. So projects like the regional rail link – the major rail project in Victoria that is transforming western Melbourne and the cities of Bendigo, Ballarat  and Geelong. That for example is one of them. What they want to do its put it into a fund where they can spend it however they like.

 

Aug 13, 2014

Doorstop interview, Sydney

Subject/s: Impact of Abbott Government’s refusal to guarantee certainty for preschool funding; Tony Abbott’s unfair PPL scheme; ICAC; GP Tax; ASADA.

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD: Well it’s fantastic to be here at this very high quality early childhood education centre, Marrickville SDM. And it’s great to be joined by my colleagues in Linda Burney, the State Shadow Minister with responsibility for early childhood and child care, and of course the Member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese, a very passionate local member here, as well as the Mayor of Marrickville in Jo Haylen.

We stand here today at one of the preschools that around the country have absolutely no certainty as to the degree of Federal funding that will be received next year. The Abbott Government has refused to commit a single cent to the ongoing funding of preschools and kindergartens from the beginning of next year.

What this means is that centres have no certainty as to how many staff they can employ. What this means is that parents have no certainty as to how many hours of preschool their children will receive next year. And what this means is that child care centres are preparing to have their waiting lists explode even further if parents have to find alternative care to the preschools that they are currently using.

This is a farce. And Tony Abbott needs to make very clear today that he will continue to fund this vital early childhood education that is delivered to four year olds. On a day when we see reports that show the Government’s own members know what the rest of this nation knows and that is that Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme is a dud. They need to commit to stop adding to the over $1 billion in cuts that have already been announced to child care and early childhood, and actually stump up the funding so that four year olds can have the access to early childhood education that they need.

There is no clearer indication of the Government’s wrong priorities than the fact that as they continue to stubbornly stick by their Paid Parental Leave scheme, child care has already had a $1 billion cut out of it. And it looks like preschool is next on the chopping block, with the Prime Minister refusing to confirm a single cent in funding from next year. That’s just not good enough. Children across Australia, parents across Australia and early childhood educators across Australia deserve better, and they need some certainty from this Government.

JOURNALIST: So you’re calling for action from Tony Abbott? Do you have a deadline before it becomes critical for these child care centres?

ELLIS: Look, this is already ludicrous that we do not know the state of preschools from next year. Tony Abbott needs to come out today. He needs to stop making excuses, he needs to stop delaying and he needs to confirm funding for four year old Australian children to have access to preschool. This has got to be a priority. And from a Government who said there would be no cuts to education, they have now announced over $1 billion in cuts just to early childhood education. They cannot add to that by completely cutting preschool funding.

JOURNALIST: Kate, there’s talk today about the Paid Parental Leave scheme, how those payments to wealthier mums might be watered down. If you saw that money be pushed perhaps towards early childhood, would that get PPL over the line for you?

ELLIS: What we’ve seen is that this Government remains committed to sending large cheques to wealthy families who have a baby at exactly the same time that they have cut over $1 billion from existing child care assistance. This Government currently have legislation before the Parliament with the sole purpose of cutting the Child Care Benefit that low and middle income families on as little as $42,000 per annum rely on.

It is clear that the Government have got their priorities wrong. It is clear that Government backbenchers know how out of touch the Prime Minister is and what a dud his Paid Parental Leave scheme is. Now we need the Prime Minister to show some courage, actually front up and admit how wrong he got it.

JOURNALIST: Is there any way in which you would support the PPL? What changes would you like to see?

ELLIS: We have not seen any draft legislation on Paid Parental Leave. We have seen a number of different versions. We’ve heard a number of different accounts of speculation as to what will be in the legislation. Obviously we will wait until the Prime Minister gets his own show in order and actually puts some legislation before the Parliament.

But what we do know is that there is no clearer example than the Paid Parental Leave scheme of how this Government have got their priorities wrong. They are quite prepared to slug the Australians who can least afford it – the unemployed, pensioners, low income earners, those relying on child care assistance – yet they seem determined to be able to send $50,000 cheques to millionaires which the Australian public know is just ridiculous.

JOURNALIST: May I ask Linda Burney a question please? Obviously an extraordinary day at ICAC yesterday. What’s your response to those revelations?

LINDA BURNEY: Mike Baird has shown a total lack of leadership or a capacity to make decisions. We still have in Newcastle a Lord Mayor that has clearly been implicated in ICAC being the Lord Mayor. There should be moves immediately to get rid of that person because he has shown himself to be involved in these ICAC revelations.

What I am concerned about on this issue is that Mike Baird’s demonstrated lack of leadership, lack of capacity to make a decision, is going to impact on families here in New South Wales, in particular Sydney. We have a crisis looming in terms of child care and funding. Let’s hope that Mike Baird can grow a backbone about this to Tony Abbott, the early childhood sector, as he hasn’t shown what’s going on up in Newcastle.

JOURNALIST: Co-payments for GPs is in the news again. What’s the latest from the (inaudible)?

ALBANESE: This is a Government that is showing that it’s incapable of governing the country. They had a plan to get into Government. They don’t have a plan to actually govern. And the fact that you have the Treasurer of the nation going around three months after the Budget has been handed down and attempting to talk for the first time to Senators about this unfair Budget shows how incompetent they are. This is a Budget that has unfairness at its core. That’s why the Government tried to hide from the Budget papers the normal figures that go into Budget papers showing the impact on families of different incomes.

We know that the Medicare co-payment is about a fundamental principle which is about the universality of Medicare. You can have whatever charge at whatever level now, it can go up into the future. Labor is absolutely committed to the universality of Medicare, that’s our position, full-stop, end of story. It has served our nation well and if we compare how much Australians spend on health care as a percentage of the Budget with a country like the United States, why on earth would you move away from a system that has been shown it is the world’s best practice and the rest of the world wants and envies our system?

JOURNALIST: What’s wrong with asking a family or a person on an income of say $100,000 to make a small contribution?

ALBANESE: They do. It’s through the taxation system. That’s the way that it happens. And it happens therefore in a progressive manner, through a tax system, whereby the more you earn, the more you get hit in terms of the Medicare levy. So those who can least afford to pay are not hit. And we know from all the evidence that if a charge is introduced then what it will do is one- it will have an impact on our hospitals and our emergency departments as people flee the local GP for services that actually cost higher to deliver. Secondly it will mean that people defer a visit to the doctor and what that means is that often it might cost more. The whole attention of the health system should be on early intervention and preventative health. Why? Not just because it is better for the individual consumer. But also because it is better for the economy because it costs less than if there is a delay in getting that advice from a doctor down the track.

JOURNALIST: So at the time when the Government is trying to tighten its Budget belt, are you saying that Labor will not move when it comes to co-payments?

ALBANESE: Well they’re not trying to tighten their Budget belt. They have a Paid Parental Leave scheme they’re determined to implement that will cost $5.5 billion per year. More than $20 billion over the forward estimates for this unaffordable Paid Parental Leave scheme. They made changes to the Budget that have added $68 billion to the deficit. They doubled the deficit. They want to introduce new payments like the Paid Parental Leave scheme, and at the same time they walked away from making sure the modest measures that Labor put in place, making sure that companies couldn’t just offshore their tax liabilities were there, they walked away from that. So this is a Government that is economically irresponsible, that’s unfair at its core –

JOURNALISTS: But when it comes to co-payments?

ALBANESE: Well the co-payments, our position is we’re opposed to co-payments, full stop, end of story. We support universality of Medicare. You won’t see any shift. It is in our DNA. The Whitlam Government introduced Medibank. It was gotten rid of by Fraser. It took a Labor Government to reintroduce it. At its core this is one of the fundamental divides in Australian politics. Labor that believes in the universality of Medicare, and the Conservatives who in their DNA want to get rid of it, want to niggle at it, want to get a payment in there that they’ll then increase down the track.

JOURNALIST: You would be aware that the Essendon Football Club is in the Federal Court with ASADA at the moment. It’s been reported that you had some disquiet about senior members of Cabinet such as Wayne Swan and yourself weren’t consulted before that blackest day in sports media conference was announced. What can you tell us about those concerns?

ALBANESE: Well the important thing there is in your question, it’s in the Court, and whilst matters are before the Court that’d be entirely inappropriate for people to comment. My concentration in sport at the moment was there last Friday night where Souths whacked Manly, and it’ll be there tomorrow night when Souths play Brisbane. That’s my concentration, as well as the very silly idea I’ve had of playing my first AFL game at Henson Park this Sunday in the Reclink Cup which is a charity event raising money for disadvantaged young people to get access to sport and cultural services. So that’s my concentration very much on a personal level than a political level, I’ll leave that to the Courts and others.

JOURNALIST: So you’re unwilling to comment on the (inaudible) information available at the time?

ALBANESE: I’m unwilling to comment on something that is before the Courts. My sporting concentration is very personal at the moment.

JOURNALIST: What about this idea – and I have to ask – that Kate Lundy was pressuring ASADA at the time?

ALBANESE: Look it’s before the Courts and it’s not appropriate that politicians make political comments while there is a Court case going on.

ENDS

 

Aug 13, 2014

Interview transcript – SKY Television, PVO News hour

Subjects: Infrastructure, paid parental leave, Labor Senate candidates

VAN ONSELEN: A short time ago I spoke to Anthony Albanese. Now there’s only one thing that irritates him nearly as much as getting utterly shafted for the Labor leadership and that is the way that the now Government runs around talking about how it’s building the roads of the 21st century and, in his view, they’ve been in power for almost a year and they haven’t really achieved anything new of their own, that is to say projects that Labor hadn’t already started. I started by asking him what are these new projects after almost a year of the Abbott Government.

ALBANESE: We’ll they promised that there’d be cranes in the sky in Sydney, in Melbourne and in Brisbane and of course we haven’t seen so much as a hole dug, let alone cranes in the sky for any new project. What they’ve been doing is going around the country on a magical infrastructure re-announcement tour, pretending that projects that have been underway for some time, that are fully funded in the Budget somehow have anything to do with a Coalition initiative.

VAN ONSELEN:  Can I just jump in there, Anthony Albanese. What you are saying is that when you see the ministers with the hard hats and then following it up with the rhetoric of building the roads of the 21st century, all we’re talking about are projects that were already announced by the Labor government. Is that right?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. Today we have another new contract announcement on the Pacific Highway but that was a project that was fully funded by the federal Labor Government. Projects like the opening of the Hunter Expressway, was promised, funded, built and opened, but opened just at the end of last year.

VAN ONSELEN: Were they at least bipartisan in their approval. I mean, when you announced these and put these in place when you were in government, were the Coalition on board with what you were doing then?

ALBANESE: Take the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project – they of course now oppose funding for any public transport project. But at the time, in terms of consistency, they did oppose that as well and said that it shouldn’t be funded. They were critical of the project but Steve Ciobo and the Queensland LNP Minister Scott Emerson – the LNP in Queensland who were then the opposition – opposed the project as well when it was proposed by the Bligh Government. They were quite happy to go to the opening of the project and to talk about the virtues of the project; how many jobs it created; what a boon it was for productivity, and yet they had opposed it every step of the way.

VAN ONSELEN: This is just politics isn’t it? I mean both sides do this. When you get into government, you look at what’s already in the pipeline and then you take credit for it as the new government. Both sides do it. It has always been thus hasn’t it?

ALBANESE: Infrastructure projects do take time. There are four new projects that they’ve announced – the East West project in Melbourne, they’ve announced additional loans for the Westconnex project in Sydney, the Toowoomba Bypass and the Perth Freight Link project. They are the four new things. But none of them have actually started, none of them have had proper cost-benefit analysis and all of the money for those road projects is money that has been taken from existing public transport projects that were in the Budget; that had had proper cost-benefit analysis like the Melbourne Metro, like the Cross-River Rail project in Brisbane. So were not seeing new investment in infrastructure. We’re just seeing a reallocation. And then of course we had the so-called recycling fund to promote privatisation of state assets to then provide money, or a bonus, to the states from the Federal Government. That money itself was recycled from the existing funds – the Building Australia Fund and the education investment fund. So were’ just not seeing new infrastructure  development, were not seeing proper processes in terms of proper cost-benefit analysis and when we’ve tried to insert amendments into legislation to ensure that proper cost-benefit analysis, to  ensure that value for money, what we’ve had is the government objecting to the implementation of their own policy.

VAN ONSELEN:  By the same token when you say that these are existing Labor projects that had already been announced that were fully funded, let’s be frank about this – fully funded by debt because it’s not as though the Budget was in the black at the time that these initiatives were announced and funded as you put it under Labor.

ALBANESE: Well the debt has been increased since they came to office, Peter. We saw $68 billion being added to the deficit by government decisions that they made at the end of last year upon coming to office.

VAN ONSELEN: Exacerbated by Labor also blocking things that they had announced in government like the higher education cuts.

ALBANESE: You can have a look at whether it be the foregoing of revenue by a crackdown on international tax avoidance measures; whether it be other changes that they’ve proposed such as the paid parental leave scheme; whether it be new expenditures by the Abbott Government, the Abbott Government has added to that. And of course the thing about infrastructure is that it’s not just a cost. It’s an investment. It’s an investment because it produces higher returns to government through the wages and taxes that are therefore paid on people being employed but also importantly on that boost to national productivity.

VAN ONSELEN: You raised the paid parental leave and I realise that it’s roundly condemned not only on your side of politics but in some quarters even amongst the Coalition, but one person that has proposed something similar to it back in his union days is a Labor Left colleague of yours, in New South Wales MP Stephen Jones when he was running the public service union. I’m surprised that elements of the Labor Party, particularly the Left, of which you are a factional leader, don’t see something above the minimum wage for women who are taking time out of the workforce to have kids as a good thing.

ALBANESE Well, I see it as an equity issue Peter. Why is it that people should be paid $50,000 to have a baby? In terms of the system as it is, we introduced paid parental leave. It’s a system that provides support across the board and yet the government scheme is simply unaffordable. And it pays more, depending upon how much you currently earn. So it’s reinforcing the income divisions that are there in the community.

VAN ONSELEN: But that’s no different to the public service scheme but look, we won’t go into that. It’s an area maybe for another debate.

ALBANESE: I’ve found another defender of the scheme perhaps, Peter. I’ve been looking for one.

VAN ONSELEN: Call it devil’s advocate. One last question before I let you go, down in Victoria there’s Labor rumblings going on between Kim Carr, senior factional leader of the Left,  and Stephen Conroy, senior factional leader of the Right. The two of them want to go around, reports on the front page of The Australian suggest, for another term in the Senate. Surely they should be moving on to make way for fresh talent.

ALBANESE: Well they are experienced people and they are entitled to put themselves forward. Pre-selections are a matter for the Labor Party membership and I’m sure that the Labor Party membership will get a say. But you need a mix.

VAN ONSELEN: Not as much of a say as you would like though judging by some of the recent internal debates in NSW.

ALBANESE: I support an extension of the vote that happened for the leadership of the Labor Party with rank-and-file members getting a say. I support rank-and-file members getting a say in Senate pre-selections as well – right across the board. I supported that at the NSW conference. But there’s no doubt that experience does matter and both Stephen and Kim are very experienced members both as government cabinet minister but also as parliamentarians. Stephen Conroy represents me in the Senate when it comes to the Senate estimates process and on legislation and that’s at my request. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have fighting for my issues than Stephen Conroy in the Senate.

 

 

VAN ONSELEN: All right Anthony Albanese, appreciate your time on the program. Thanks very much.

 

ALBANESE: Thanks a lot, Peter.

 

ENDS

Aug 12, 2014

Interview transcript – The World Today, ABC Radio

Subject: Asset Recycling Fund

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition is set to kill off the Treasurer’s plan to bypass the Senate for his multibillion dollar asset recycling fund.

Joe Hockey doesn’t like the changes the Senate’s made to the scheme and has threatened to put the scheme into an appropriation bill.

But Labor’s infrastructure spokesman, Anthony Albanese, has been telling Alexandra Kirk that Labor won’t budge, even if Mr Hockey goes through with his threat.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We will certainly be maintaining our position that, in terms of this legislation, there needs to be proper accountability around it. That is what, not just Labor, but a large majority of the Senate insisted upon. And, you’ve got to ask yourself, what has the Government to fear from proper accountability when it comes to the expenditure of taxpayers’ funds. After all, there’s actually no new expenditure here; this is money which is already been appropriated that they’re taking from the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment Fund, renaming it and pretending they’re doing something new.

ALEXANDRA KIRK
: So, will Labor seek to amend the appropriation Bill and therefore kill off the asset recycling fund?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Labor will certainly be maintaining the principles of the position that we’ve put forward. So, we’ll examine the legislation and we’ll be proposing appropriate amendments if it is inadequate legislation as the original Bill put forward by the Government was.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So what amendments could you make?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we could do a range of measures. We could of course propose that expenditure be reduced to zero, depending upon what the legislation is. We don’t believe that money should be simply taken from these existing funds, where there’s proper accountability around them, to make sure that taxpayers get value for money.

We won’t be giving a blank cheque for the Abbott Government to intimidate state governments into privatising assets that are essential services. In Tasmania yesterday, it was stated by the Premier there that he was opposed to the sell-off of Hydro Tasmania, and yet this is being pursued by Joe Hockey, by the local member, Mr Hutchinson, saying, essentially, if it wants any new investment in infrastructure, they’ve got to sell Tassie Hydro.

That is, simply, not on. We will hold the Government to account for its promises. After all, the Government promised before the election that any new project which received government funding of value above $100 million would have a cost-benefit analysis.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So you’d effectively seek to kill off the asset recycling fund if the Treasurer insists on inserting the fund into an appropriations bill?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what we’d seek to do is move appropriate amendments. It’s up to the Treasurer. He’s the one who’s killed off his own Bill by rejecting the amendments that were sensible and properly moved in the Senate and carried by the Senate.

If he wants to walk away from proper processes, that’s a decision for him.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Now that it’s clear that the Senate does have the power to amend an appropriation bill – the only type of appropriation bill that the Treasurer would be able to include in his asset recycling fund in – do you expect the Treasurer to go ahead with this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see. That’s a decision for him. What’s remarkable is that the Treasurer – before he made these grand statements, not just once, but repeatedly over recent weeks – seemed to have no understanding of the way that the Parliament works.

Now, common sense tells you, as well as past experience demonstrates, that you can’t simply call a Bill an appropriation, change the name of it, and therefore be in a position whereby the Senate couldn’t examine that legislation.

It is remarkable for its incompetence that Joe Hockey repeated this statement without checking whether it could actually be backed up by practical action by the Government.

ELEANOR HALL: And that’s Labor’s infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese, speaking to Alexandra Kirk.

 

Aug 11, 2014

Transcript of press conference, Hobart

Subject/s: Infrastructure; Asset Recycling Bill; National security; NBN.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be here on this beautiful if slightly chilly Hobart morning and I’m here with Brian Mitchell who is our candidate for the federal seat of Lyons and my parliamentary colleagues: my shadow ministerial colleague Julie Collins and Parliamentary secretaries Carol Brown and Lisa Singh. I’m here to talk about Tasmanian infrastructure. I made many visits as a minister here – in the order of 20 visits and each and every time I was here to either look at the construction of new infrastructure here in Tasmania or announce funding for Tasmanian infrastructure. I’m quite proud of the fact that we almost tripled funding for infrastructure here in Tasmania: projects like rail revitalisation, projects like the investment in the Midland Highway, investment in our ports, investment in our roads. What we saw from the first Abbott-Hockey Budget was a debacle for Tasmania – not one new dollar for any new infrastructure projects in Tasmania. Worse still, we saw $100 million ripped off from the Midland Highway. Remember Tony Abbott coming to Tasmania saying I have $400 million that will fully duplicate the Midland Highway? Well we had $500 million in the Budget and he took $100 million out. He’s now not saying it will fully duplicate the Midland Highway. Why? Because that was an absurd claim. We also have the ongoing debacle of the funding for Cadbury and we see in terms of this morning’s reports in the Financial Review that we’ve released advice from the library that goes to the heart of the falsehoods being peddled by Joe Hockey about infrastructure and this Budget. On Budget night the Government announced with some fanfare the so-called asset recycling fund. What that should be called is a we’ll-bribe-states-to-privatise-essential-assets fund. It’s taking money from funding that was already in the Budget for infrastructure – the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment fund – renaming it so the only thing that has been recycled is that money but putting pressure on state governments to privatise assets in order to get access to any new money. The Senate put some important amendments through to that legislation – some 41 Amendments.

Eighteen of those were the Government’s own amendments. Their legislation was so flawed that they had to make 18 changes to it. The other changes that were made were to make the Government accountable and make them fulfil their promises: One, that essential services couldn’t be a part of this process; secondly that all projects above $100 million had to have proper cost-benefit analysis associated with it. That is the same provision that was always there for the Building Australia Fund where the money was being taken from. They were the essential keys to our amendments. Now they’ve been rejected by the Government and now, over the past week, Joe Hockey has been saying: Don’t worry about that. We’ll just rename it to be a part of a Budget appropriation and therefore the Senate will have no choice but to vote for it. Well Labor has said very clearly, as have the Greens political party as well I note, that we wouldn’t block supply. But you don’t make a Bill a part of an appropriation simply by renaming it. It’s another example of Joe Hockey being slack when it comes to paying attention to detail. No wonder he got the nickname of Sloppy Joe in Opposition. It’s a real problem though when you have someone who pays so little attention to detail when it comes to being the Treasurer of this nation. And here we have pressure being put on then Tasmanian Government to flog off Tassie Hydro. That would have devastating consequences for jobs here in Tasmania. But importantly also it doesn’t make economic sense because we know that almost $200 million was given to the Tasmanian Government in the form of a dividend last year. If you flog off this asset then you won’t have that dividend stream in order to fund education and health and essential services over a long period of time. So no-one has a mandate for it. The opponent of my friend here the Member for Lyons Eric Hutchinson has come out and said it should be looked at, it’s a good idea. Well where did Eric Hutchinson and the other second-rate people who’ve been elected by the Liberal Party to the House of Representatives as part of Eric Abetz’s team, where did they have a mandate at the Federal election to flog off Tassie Hydro? The State Government here have at least said that they didn’t have a mandate for it. But Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott are saying if you don’t privatise Tassie Hydro there’ll be no new money for any new infrastructure here in Tasmania. They have taken Tasmania for granted after the Federal result and the state result and Tasmania is losing out as a result.

QUESTION: Are you going to block the Asset Recycling legislation?

ALBANESE: We’re going to support our position. The fact is that there were 41 amendments carried. We believe that this is flawed legislation. We’re not going to give a blank cheque to Joe Hockey to privatise assets, use the money to incentivise projects that have had no cost-benefit analysis. Joe Hockey has been out there talking today about the East-West Road in Melbourne and Westconnex in Sydney. Well on the East-West Link they’ve already paid $1.5 billion in advance when there hasn’t been a sod turned, a contract signed. There are different figures – I note against today another study has been thrown out because it shows that it doesn’t stack up, this project. And yet they’ve given an advance payment. So much for the Budget emergency. In Westconnex in Sydney the NSW Government can’t tell you where is going to start, let along where it’s going to finish. Vince Crowe, a constituent of mine in Haberfield, received two letters signed by the same person on the same day.  One said we’re going to buy your house, the other said we don’t need your house. This is a farce. This is why you have proper planning in place. This isn’t an academic exercise or a political exercise by the Australian Labor Party. This is an exercise in ensuring that taxpayers’ money is well spent by making sure that the investments that are made in infrastructure are the right investments.

QUESTION: Joe Hockey says blocking the Asset Recycling legislation will cost jobs though. Is that a risk you are willing to take?

ALBANESE: Well, it’s a nonsense. What jobs? Nothing is happening. Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott said there would be cranes in the sky within one year of the Abbott Government being elected. Well it’s now less than one month until September 7. There not only aren’t any cranes, there aren’t any contracts, there aren’t proper plans and people don’t know where these roads are going. So in terms of processes, Joe Hockey when it comes to infrastructure and creation of jobs, what they’ve done is go around the country on Warren Truss and Joe Hockey’s magical infrastructure re-announcement tour. They go around – whether it’s the it’s the Huon Valley, whether it be the Midland Highway, they go round and they see a project and they see here we go, this is what we’re doing. They are all old projects that were begun by the Federal Labor Government. There isn’t a project anywhere in the country that is a new project announced by them that has begun – not one – and we are almost one year since the last election. Nothing on the Toowoomba Bypass, nothing on the Perth project that they announced where they say Freight Link might start around 2019, nothing on East-West and nothing on Westconnex. This is a mirage. Jobs need to be created by the pouring of concrete, the forging of steel and the construction of roads and highways. This is a government that isn’t doing any of that.

QUESTION: The State Government have ruled out selling Hydro. Is keeping the issue in the media cross hairs scaremongering?

ALBANESE: You have a federal Liberal member Eric Hutchinson, saying that this should be considered. You have a Prime Minister and a Treasurer saying that if you want any new money you have to sell assets. Now if you look at what assets are going to be sold here in Tasmania, is it hospitals? Is it schools? Is it Tassie Hydro. Hydro is the one that’s been identified by the Government itself. We are holding the Government to account for what it is saying.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] Could there be opportunities in other states that they should have the opportunity to access a scheme like this .. [inaudible]

ALBANESE: There’s no new money here. They are taking money that was already in the Budget – the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment Fund – calling it something else and saying you’ve got to flog assets in order to get investment in infrastructure. What we did through the Nation Building Program was make sure that nation-building investments in infrastructure happened. They happened here in Tasmania. They were quite happy to coming for example to the opening of the Brighton Interchange – quite happy to do that. That didn’t just happen. It didn’t happen by selling something off. It happened because the Federal Government invested money here in Tasmania to create jobs and boost the economy.

QUESTION: The Tasmanian Premier and Treasurer are getting ready to hand down their first Budget so what advice do you have for them?

ALBANESE: Id’ say don’t be bribed into doing something by the Federal Government that you have no mandate to do. I think the people of Tasmania will hold them to account for their own promises. What’s extraordinary is that Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott don’t seem to care less about whether there is a mandate, whether anything was promised. Who heard the Federal Government say before the last election that states would not get any money for infrastructure unless they flogged off essential assets that they own? And therefore, worsen their balance sheet in the long-term because they get that one-off gain, but in the long-term they lose that revenue stream. Now we’re not against all privatisations. We believe that you should look at it asset by asset on whether it stacks up or not and that’s why we amended the legislation and then voted for it. It’s the Government’s that’s actually voted against this legislation because they weren’t prepared to support it with accountability mechanisms around it.

QUESTION: When it comes to the federal Budget, do you feel as if Tasmania’s Premier Will Hodgman stood up to Abbott and Hockey and what the state needed or did he just toe the party line?

ALBANESE: Well he rolled over and had his tummy tickled. What’s Tasmania got out of this Budget? They got nothing. They’ve got cuts to education, they’ve got cuts to health, they’ve got the National Broadband Network here being cut – rolled back. They got not a dollar for new infrastructure development. They’ve got less money for training, their pensioners – of which Tasmania has more pensioners as a percentage of the population than other states – they’ll miss out, They’ll have people who if they are in the workforce will have to work longer. This was a a shocker of a Budget for Tasmania and if Premier Hodgman had an ounce of ticker he’d be out there screaming from the rafters. Other premiers like Colin Barnett certainly have been from time to time but Hodgman seems to be quite happy to get less from this government

QUESTION: Just in terms of the advice that Labor is using in the Senate to back up its position on  asset recycling, isn’t the Clerk the appropriate person to provide that advice?

ALBANESE: Well the Clerk of course provides advice in terms of procedural matters that are before the Senate. The Parliamentary Library is an entirely appropriate, independent, arms’-length body. So if Joe Hockey wants to call that into question, we’ve released the advice, unlike Joe Hockey. He doesn’t release anything. Remember all of the detail of the Commission of audit – all kept secret. We asked for the advice, we’ve got it and common sense tells you that if you have a Bill that’s called the Asset Recycling Bill and it gets amended in the Senate quite properly – no-one is suggesting it wasn’t amended properly – that Hoe Hockey is saying: We’re going to change the name of the Bill and that will fix all the problems. Common sense tells you. You don’t actually have to be an expert. Common sense tells you that that’s just a manipulation. The Parliamentary procedures don’t allow for manipulation in just changing the name. Otherwise you could call every single thing an appropriation. Supply is about the business of the Government. It was carried in June. That’s why public servants are being paid and pensioners are being paid. That’s about the normal processes of government and this advice is very clear. Common sense tells you that it’s the right advice as well

ALBANESE: [Inaudible] … sanctions against Russia. Do you think that Australia should go further?

ALBANESE: Oh look, I’ll leave foreign affairs to our appropriate people.

QUESTION: But has the action been tough enough so far?

ALBANESE: I have no criticism of Tony Abbott in his performance regarding these issues. This is an issue where Labor does not seek to have any distinction between our position and the position that the Prime Minister has held.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ALBANESE: Labor does not seek to draw a distinction. We’ll have proper briefings and we’ll work with the government. What’s important about this tragedy and all the associated issues including the quite outrageous behaviour of Russia is that we work together as a nation and that it be above party politics. I intend absolutely to do just that.

QUESTION: What do you make of claims that the current GST carve-up is scandalous and unfair?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that Western Australia of course was the great beneficiary of it for a long period of time. Now they seek to change the balance. Why is that the case? The problem is that Tony Abbott, we know that he doesn’t have a great understanding of the Internet and we’ve seen in the last week I think the debacle that is the Abbott Government’s knowledge of all things technological. But they should have got the idea that if you say something in Western Australia then people in other states might hear about it, just as it’s possible that someone outside of Hobart knows what I am saying here this morning. They don’t seem to get that and so Colin Barnett, who quite clearly is on a promise from Tony Abbott of additional GST revenue – that has to come from somewhere. Where does it come from? It has to come from Tasmania and the problem is that Tony Abbott, when he has been in Western Australia has said you should get more, but when he has been in Tasmania has said something quite different. I believe the system of horizontal fiscal equalisation is an important principle. It’s an important principle that those states who can pay more according to the system do so. We are a national economy and we need to represent the national interest. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what the former Labor Government did and Tony Abbott really has to respond to this once and for all. This is speculation that can’t be allowed to continue and certainly should be cleaned up by the Government prior to Tasmania bringing down its Budget. Otherwise that Budget could go into disarray.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ALBANESE: I think that photo is just beyond comprehension. As a parent the idea that children would be involved in something like that … you know you shake your head and wonder how that could possibly happen in terms of just common humanity. And look, Labor has always been very strong on issues relating to terrorism. These also are issues that should be above party politics. We’ll take proper briefings though about the process. We saw last week what happens when you don’t have proper briefings. You had a national security committee and then arising out of that frankly a debacle that has still not been cleaned up by the government. If the government doesn’t know what it’s doing – senior government ministers in the Cabinet including portfolio ministers like Malcolm Turnbull didn’t know what was going on – he read it on the front page of the Daily Telegraph – various proposals that relate directly to his portfolio – then Labor needs to have proper briefings. We’ll get that and we’ll respond accordingly, constructively, but also in a way that is responsible and makes sure that we also defend the rights of innocent people. You don’t defend freedom by giving it away so it’s very important that proposals be looked at in that balanced way.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ALBANESE: We will have a proper process and we’ll respond. The briefings weren’t even given to the Opposition at all for a number of days. I certainly haven’t been privy to any briefings.  As a former member of the National Security Committee I regard these issues very seriously. I regard them as ones that should be considered rather than there just being simply a political response of saying what we are for, what were are against. Let’s see the detail, examine it, come to a position.

QUESTION: The reports on the NBN released last week said that the rollout in Tasmania was shambolic and without a business case. What’s your take on those reports?

ALBANESE: The fact is you have to take a step back. The National Broadband Network was about fibre to the home for every Australian, both in terms of homes but also to businesses. Here in Tasmania it was due to benefit substantially by being the first state that would receive that rollout gaining it first mover advantage. That’s one of the things that has been criticised in many of the reports. I make no apology for the fact that given Tasmania is the southern island in our great continent – suffers from the tyranny of distance – it made absolute sense for the Tasmanian roll-out to be done first. It also made sense to choose a number of different sites – be they major sites in capital cities or places like Scottsdale, to also make sure that you roll it out, you get that experience and you improve the rollout as it goes on. This is, I believe, an exciting project. Did we make the right decisions on the National Broadband Network in terms of having fibre to the premise? Yes we did.  It’s world’s best practice and Malcolm Turnbull – all he has done is have I think it’s up to about nine different reviews costing tens of millions of dollars. How about he get on with what his policy is and what the future of the NBN is here in Tasmania instead of this absolute concentration on politics – looking backwards. This is the problem with the government. They have no vision looking forward. It’s all about going backwards, whether it be the various Royal Commissions that are on, all these inquires. Why don’t they get on with the business of governing? Why? Because they had a plan to get into government by they don’t have a plan to govern. I go back to where I began. This is a Government that was elected that has not invested a single dollar in any new infrastructure project here in Tasmania. They’ve cut $100 million from the Midland Highway and they say if you want anything at all, and we won’t tell you what the infrastructure projects would be, that you’ve got to flog off you assets like Hydro. Thank you very much.

 

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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