Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Aug 9, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: North Korea; marriage equality.

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese are on the line. Good morning to you both.



HOST: Thanks for your patience guys. Now we’re just going to cut to the chase and climb right into this North Korea story. Just reading from the piece that is up on the Australian it says a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army in a statement carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency said the strike plan on Guam would be, quote, put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way at any moment once Leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision. This is a pretty dramatic escalation isn’t it Chris Pyne?

PYNE: Well David, firstly on a lighter note, congratulations on the birth of Charlie to you and Kate.

HOST: Thank you Chris.

PYNE: Welcome back today. But yes, we are living in very serious times and the dangers in North Asia, because of North Korea’s bellicose behaviour, are very serious for us. Obviously the United States have a pre-eminent role in protecting countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea, its other allies in the region and we and them are working together to put the necessary pressure on China to assist in ensuring that North Korea behaves itself and stays within its borders. We’ve heard this kind of bellicose language from what we used to call sabre-rattling from Kim Jong Un in the past and so far he has undertaken tests and not, of course, threatened either Guam, the United States, Australia or elsewhere. But we do have to take this very seriously and the Government here in Canberra is taking it very seriously and it puts into perspective many of the other debates that we’ve been having when of course the Australian public would expect the Government’s first priority to be their national security and their defence. And that’s why as Defence Industry Minister I’ve been working with Marise Payne, with the Government, to build up our defence capability to ensure that we can protect Australia from any threats.

HOST: The only possible non-violent way that this seems capable of being resolved is, as you sort of alluded to, if Beijing starts to put some pretty strong private pressure on Pyongyang to pull back, but are we being too alarmist in saying that in the absence of that the scenario looks particularly grim?

PYNE: Well you are correct to warn against alarmism. It would be wrong to sensationalise this threat. It’s not, of course, in the interests of China or Russia for North Korea to adopt a more threatening posture where they actually put into practice some of their language and one has to question the capacity of North Korea to actually match their rhetoric with actions, but also we wouldn’t want to be complacent and we’re not complacent. But it certainly isn’t in China’s interest for there to be an escalation of tensions in North Asia and so I do think that they will respond and have responded in the past to these kinds of serious situations. And Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, the rest of South East Asia and America, of course, have a very keen interest in ensuring that that happens.

HOST: Albo, is your reading of the situation that Australia is prepared if there was to be a conflict that broke out in the Northern Asia region?

ALBANESE: I think we are. At the moment of course the intimidation, if you like, is directed towards the United States and their statement that the North Koreans have made went on to say that they would take such action if provoked by the United States so there’s a caveat even on their threats. Part of this no doubt is aimed at the domestic audience of Kim Jong Un. That is what dictators tend to do to distract from the fact that there are disastrous consequences domestically from the regime’s failure to even provide basic essentials for its population at the same time as it’s spending money on arms. So we do need to, I echo Christopher’s thoughts on this, we do need to be sober about it, but we do need to take it seriously as well; not be alarmist about it but to give it the consideration that it deserves and to work in diplomatic ways with China. We do have a relationship with China, we have relationships indirectly with countries that have a relationship with the North Korean regime and we should place whatever pressure we can on  them to do the right thing to pull this very strange regime into line.

HOST: Just quickly Chris, we know you’re on a tight schedule, do you agree with Senator George Brandis’ comments last night that Australia could see same-sex marriage being legalised before Christmas?

PYNE: Yes I do. I very much hope the Senate will pass the Bill to have a compulsory attendance plebiscite this week, which would mean that we could have marriage equality by the end of the year, assuming we get a yes vote, and we shouldn’t just assume that will happen. People will need to campaign for it. And secondly, if that doesn’t happen, we will have a postal vote. The postal vote would be held before Christmas and we could in the last sitting fortnight of the year pass marriage equality again if there is a yes vote for the postal ballot. I will be campaigning for a yes vote as I am sure Anthony Albanese will be as well. But we wouldn’t want to underestimate the opponents of marriage equality. They will say anything and do anything to stop it happening and we have to ensure that people understand the facts – that this is simply about giving every Australian the same equal rights to be married as those of us who are of different sexes in marriages are entitled to today.

HOST: Chris we will let you go. We know you have got a meeting to go to. We just want to delve into what Labor’s role in all this is going to be from this point on. So thank you for your time.

PYNE: That’s a pleasure.

HOST:  Thanks Chris. Anthony I am just interested, from the Labor side all the rhetoric about the potential postal vote or what would appear to be an inevitable postal vote to in part potentially resolve this issue has been this is effectively the worst idea ever, it’s not scientific, it’s not binding, it’s pointless, it’s a waste of money. But don’t you own part of ….

ALBANESE: It’s all of that.

HOST:  Yes, Ok. But don’t you own part of that given that there is a still a ball that is in your court and the plebiscite whilst less than ideal from your perspective,  has got to be a better option than a postal vote. So don’t you own the postal vote in part now if that is the path that we go down as a result of the legislation being defeated?

ALBANESE: Oh come on. This is a dumb and a dumber proposition when we could have a vote in the Parliament, do the job that we are elected to do and we are paid to do, this week. We’ve had the proposition put before the Senate for a plebiscite. It has failed. It will fail again. It’s the Government’s responsibility. People in the Government don’t even support it. Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t support it. Christopher Pyne doesn’t support it. They have been put in this position by Tony Abbott and his supporters who raised this for the first time just to try and delay what is inevitable. What I find extraordinary about this is that I think there’s very broad acceptance across the Parliament regardless of what way people vote on same-sex marriage, that this is going to happen. That’s the view. So if we have all of this convoluted scenario whereby the Government is putting up a position that, you know, they will have this vote in the Senate and if it fails they have a fall-back position they have already advanced. If it succeeds there’s be a vote if it fails then there won‘t be a vote …

HOST: Are you risking that predicted outcome to play smart politics on this because it is less scientific than a plebiscite.

ALBANESE: We are doing everything but playing politics with this. We are sticking to the fundamental principle of the way that our democracy works and the way that you change legislation is the way that John Howard changed it; is the way that the Marriage Act has been changed many times before, this hasn’t been a stagnant Act; which is by a vote of the Parliament. And you can have all these things before then but what you get back to is a vote of the Parliament. We know that’s where this is going to end. It will end that way one way or the other. And why should we be hostage to the dysfunction of the Coalition? And what is more important is that the people who are directly affected by it, that’s not that many people. Most people will have their existing relationships, marriages, continue on unaffected by this. The people who are directly affected tell us we do not want other people to sit in judgement about our relationships. And that is a principled position that is very important.

HOST:  Good on you Albo. We will do it again next week. Thanks very much for that.



Aug 8, 2017

Transcript of television interview – 2 The Point, SKY News

Subjects; marriage equality; citizenship.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Welcome to the program.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: I have as much faith in the Government to manage this postal vote plebiscite as I have in everything else that they have managed so far, don’t you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I think that Malcolm Turnbull  has brought all the skills that he showed when he led the republic campaign in the late 1990s and when he was first elected Leader of the Liberal Party to the prime ministership.

VAN ONSELEN: No, he has learned from those mistakes. When he ran the republic he didn’t have faith in a postal plebiscite. He was very strongly against it. Now when it came to the republic, he’s evolved and he can see the value.

ALBANESE: Well I just think it is a humiliation for Malcolm Turnbull. He has shown that he is just not up to the job. This is now a farce whereby we apparently are going to have a plebiscite that will bind if it says no, so there won’t be any vote of the Parliament, but won’t bind if it says yes.

VAN ONSELEN:  That is a joke.

ALBANESE: It is just pathetic.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: The $122 million that the Government is citing – their argument is they are giving Australians a say: to play devil’s advocate, that’s not a lot of money to spend on giving Australians an opportunity or $170 million if they manage to get the plebiscite up.

VAN ONSELEN: Can I take that one? I want to challenge that question.

KENEALLY: I’m playing devil’s advocate.

ALBANESE: I could think of a lot of community-based organisations out there who could fix up their local oval; a lot of child care centres could fix up the access to the child care centre; a lot of local governments could do a lot of local community infrastructure work – creating jobs, doing something. The point about this plebiscite, whether it is a proper one or a pretend one is that, guess what, after it is all over there’s still going to have to be a vote of the Parliament because the way that we change legislation is to vote in the Parliament and I just find it bizarre that of all the other debates we’ll have this week about education and health and social security and everything else, we won’t give Australians a say. But about something that is just giving rights to some people who don’t enjoy them, won’t impact most Australians, we are having this plebiscite.

VAN ONSELEN: Look just moving away – it’s a very partisan combat unfortunately now this issue of same-sex marriage in terms of the mechanism in particular. But stepping away from that for a moment, can you agree with at least, or partially agree Anthony Albanese with this, I didn’t like the plebiscite. Labor didn’t like it. There’s a multitude of reasons why. But, were they to argue that their position now is to take it to the Senate a second time or even take it to the Senate a third time if they want to be particularly belligerent on this, that’s one thing because they took it to an election. I didn’t think they should, but they did. What I have a real issue with looking at it now is that they somehow are trying to morph an election promise to hold a proper plebiscite, whether you agree or disagree with it, into this somehow countenancing the equivalent of sticking to that if they have this disaster that is the postal plebiscite, as opposed to just saying you know what, we don’t like Labor blocking it, we think we had a mandate but hey, we tried three times so now we are going to move on to a free vote and we are still annoyed as hell that Labor didn’t recognise our mandate. I mean …

ALBANESE: It’s pathetic. And the idea that there’s a mandate, the idea that the plebiscite for marriage equality was the reason why the Government won; that people when they went into the polling booths said I would vote Labor but I really want a say on marriage equality, so therefore I will vote for the Coalition, is just quite frankly absurd. They put it up. They lost. Under those circumstances you then move on. They’ve fulfilled the requirement of their commitment that they made. They don’t seem to worry about any other commitments at all. All those people that have had their pensions cut and had their wages cut, had their penalty rates cut; they’ll all be scratching their head going, why is it that this is the one thing that they say they’re going to get stuck on? Let’s face it, frankly it was a stupid idea in the first place. Malcolm Turnbull argued against it in the party room as did anyone else with a slight modicum of common sense.

KENEALLY: Can I ask you on another issue that we understand will be happening in the Senate today; potentially a referral of Malcolm Roberts to the High Court. He’s not producing the documents to show that he was an eligible Australian- only citizen at the time of the election. Do you think he should be referred to the High Court and, secondly, should there be an audit of all senators to determine their eligibility?

ALBANESE: That of course will be a matter for the Senate. Quite clearly there’s an issue with Malcolm Roberts. There’s an issue himself, I’ve seen him, I think it might have even been on Sky, giving himself up essentially about the date in which he renounced his citizenship and when he got the information from the British Government. Under those circumstances of course it’s appropriate for it to be referred.

KENEALLY: Should the Government support that referral?

ALBANESE: That’s a matter for them but the Senate should.

KENEALLY: What does it say about the Government if they don’t support that referral?

ALBANESE: Well the Government’s all over the shop on everything; that it’s inconsistent, that it’s all about politics, none of it’s about policy, none of it’s about substance. This is a Government that has stopped governing. They now may as well just have party room meetings and we can all broadcast that and we can all watch. But the joke’s on the Australian people because it is the Australian people who are suffering from the fact that this Government just simply can’t get its act together.

VAN ONSELEN: Just back on same-sex marriage though, it is a fact, is it not, that if Labor, albeit with regrets, had allowed the initial plebiscite through the Senate we’d have same-sex marriage by now?

ALBANESE: But at what cost, Peter?

VAN ONSELEN: At the cost of avoiding this.

KENEALLY: At the cost of about $170 million.

ALBANESE: The fact is this isn’t our creation; this is the Government’s creation. At a cost of $170 million, but it’s not the money I’ve got to say that most concerns me. That’s an issue, but the real issue is the impact on young gay and lesbians out there coming to terms with their sexuality, a divisive debate…

VAN ONSELEN: I get that, but that debate has happened anyway, and continued, and been elongated as a result of not having done it quickly and sharply and you might not have liked it, and I didn’t like it, but at least it would have been over by now.

ALBANESE: The concentration that will be on whether there’s a plebiscite under voting in booths methodology, or whether there’s a postal vote, will be intense. We’ll see it. I saw it in my electorate during the last campaign. They didn’t worry about the electorate of Grayndler but because of the redistribution I’m in Barton. They thought there was a chance of unseating Linda Burney and quite frankly some of the material that went out in that electorate was just completely offensive and we’re already seeing that offensive material being circulated.


Aug 2, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Two Tribes Segment

Subjects; marriage equality, republic.

PRESENTER: It is that time on a Wednesday morning when we are joined by Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese for Two Tribes. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will, good morning Grant, and Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Will, good morning Commissioner.

GRANT STEVENS, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: Pleasure to be talking to you gentlemen.

ALBANESE: See I know when it’s appropriate to suck up to authority.

PYNE: That’s because you’re used to being in trouble with the law.

ALBANESE: I bet you you’re not in the studio.

PYNE: No, I’m not in the studio.

ALBANESE: Exactly.

PRESENTER: Read into that what you will, let’s turn our attention to issues in Canberra gentlemen, and Christopher, starting with you. Are you expecting at the party room meeting next Tuesday for this potential backbench private members bill regarding same sex marriage to be debated?

PYNE: Well Dean Smith, who’s a senator from WA, has indicated that he wants to have a discussion about a Private Member’s Bill and that’s a matter for him if he wishes to raise that in the party room. We have of course got a policy which is to support a national vote, so that every Australian has a say in whether we have marriage equality. I’m in favour of marriage equality and I would vote yes if there was a plebiscite for marriage equality. But we want every Australian to have a say in that decision because it’s a big social change.

PRESENTER: Christopher can I get a sense then, from what has come out in the media over the course of the last week, there seems to be a very strong feeling within the party that should a Private Member’s Bill be put to the House, and people like Tim Wilson cross the floor, that is an indication that the Prime Minister has lost control over the parliamentary team. Do you except that is a reasonable criticism should that come to pass?

PYNE: No, that’s complete rubbish, and everyone knows that who’s involved in the parliamentary process. When Anthony was the Leader of the House in the Gillard Government, Labor lost 76 votes on the floor of the House of Representatives and the media didn’t even bat an eyelid. So let’s not get too carried away with some of the commentary. The reality is that we have a policy and the policy is that we support a national vote, and we could have one tomorrow if Bill Shorten wasn’t standing in the way. So ironically, the people who actually also support marriage equality, most of the Labor Party, are led by a man who’s actually stopping a plebiscite from occurring by voting against it in the Senate and as a consequence we haven’t got marriage equality. We could have had it by now. We could have had the vote in February.

PRESENTER: To you then Anthony Albanese, should this, the Dean Smith bill eventuate, and with the support of some of the Libs, is the plebiscite going to be something that is just purely an academic debate come a couple of weeks’ time.

ALBANESE: Well it is already. It’s dead. It’s gone. Buried. Cremated. Never coming back. No one supports it. It was a joke when it was put up. It was put up to block a vote on marriage equality. Christopher opposed it being put up when it was put up. It’s not going to happen. Marriage equality will happen after a vote of the Parliament, and even if a plebiscite had have happened, it would still require a vote of the Parliament. There was no point to it except to have a damaging and divisive debate that would hurt people. So the truth is that there will be a parliamentary vote. The real question is does it happen now, or does it happen during the next term, and common sense tells you that it should happen now. The Liberal Party have tried to implement their policy, they’ve tried to get a plebiscite through, and the Senate didn’t support it.

PRESENTER: So Albo then what’s your message to Dean Smith? What’s your message? Introduce it and get this happening?

ALBANESE: Good on you. I think it’s in the Liberal Party’s interests and the Government’s interests to get this issue dealt with. It certainly is in the nation’s interests. This is a piece of legislation that will give some rights to people who happen to be in same-sex relationships who currently don’t have the same rights that I enjoy, and Christopher enjoys, and other people have been able to marry the person that they love. It won’t impact on the overwhelming majority of Australians, and people will wonder what the fuss was about. But it shouldn’t be held hostage to the internal politics of the Liberal Party.

PRESENTER: Christopher Pyne, what’s your personal position on the prospect of a non-compulsory postal vote to satisfy the plebiscite pledge?

PYNE: Well we have a policy to have a national vote. Now how that is brought about is a matter for the Cabinet and for the party room.

PRESENTER: Do you have a view?

PYNE: Well of course I have a view and I express those views internally within the party and will continue to do so. I am sure there will be a discussion about this next week. But the reality is we want to have a national vote. We want every Australian to feel they are part of the decision-making process. It’s a very popular policy. That is what the public voted for at the last election. In fact Bill Shorten indicated that he supported the plebiscite. And Nick Xenophon indicated that he supported a plebiscite. So if anybody has changed their position it is Bill Shorten and Nick Xenophon. They are the two people who stopped it happening.

ALBANESE: That’s a good attempt by Christopher to actually put the blame on us. They are the Government and the fact is there is not a single person in – I represent an electorate that has a substantial gay and lesbian population – there is not a single person has said to me: “Gee I wish you had of voted for the plebiscite”. Not one in my electorate or anywhere in Australia for that matter has said that to me. No-one who is directly affected by this wants a plebiscite.

PRESENTER: Speaking of Bill Shorten Anthony Albanese, I might introduce the Police Commissioner here, Grant Stevens, with in regard to a promise that was made last weekend about an age-old question in this country.

STEVENS: Yes, thank you Will. I am just a bit curious about the views you gentlemen night have about the republic. It is now back on the agenda and it is now a point of discussion. Chris, what are your thoughts?

PYNE: Well Grant I am in favour of the republic. I supported the referendum in 1999, in fact campaigned for it and got a yes vote in my electorate of Sturt and I organised the Coalition republicans at the time in the party room. I think it is an issue that we dealt with in 1999. I am sure it will come back on the agenda at some point, but I don’t think that the public have an appetite for discussing the republic while our head of state remains Queens Elizabeth II. But I think it is some years into the future; they will be prepared to discuss it again.

STEVENS: Albo, what is your view?

ALBANESE: Well I think its time has come and what we are arguing for here is a two-stage process whereby Australians would be asked do they support Australia becoming a republic with an Australian head of state. So you have that settled and then we can have a national discussion about the model. I think it is a common sense position to advance this issue. I certainly have every respect for the Queen. I think she is a remarkable person and I was very pleased to have the honour of meeting her. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that an Australian should be our head of state. So I don’t think the two things are contradictory at all and I think that Australians should be given the opportunity to advance the republic.

STEVENS: Maybe for the benefit of the people listening, how does an issue like this, the republic, find its way into the debate at this point in time? What is the catalyst for bringing this up now?

ALBANESE: I think that fact that it has been off the agenda for a while and someone had to. I mean, someone has got to show leadership in this country and Labor is showing leadership from Opposition. The fact is that it did fail last time. Malcolm Turnbull brought all the skills that he has showed in his prime ministership to running the campaign last time round and simply wasn’t able to get the job done. But it is just time. It is increasingly an anachronism to have someone as a head of state who inherits the position; someone who lives on the other side of the world. We are a very different nation today from the one that we were at the time of Federation and this is a modern reform just as … (inaudible) countries around the world. It is still the case that when you attend a formal gathering as a head of state, there’s something that irks when you toast the head of state of the United States or any other nation in our region, and then the return of serve is to toast the Queen of Australia. It jars with people.

PRESENTER: You phone is dropping out a bit there Albo. We might leave it there. Thank you very much.



Jul 30, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Sunday Agenda, SKY News

Subjects; Infrastructure; High Speed Rail; republic; Indigenous Recognition in the Constitution; inequality; Hawke and Keating governments, NSW Labor conference.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Welcome back. You’re watching Sunday Agenda. I was just talking to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Our guest now is Labor Shadow Infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese. The last question I issued to the Finance Minister was about infrastructure spending and whether it was dwindling off under the Coalition. He outright rejected that. What is your response to that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well have a look closely at what he said. He said “Oh No, we are doing things especially with the private sector”. That is code for we are cutting. The truth is that they were due to spend $9.2 billion in the last financial year. They actually spent $7.6 billion. It declines over the forward estimates to $4.2 billion dollars in 2020-21.

VAN ONSELEN: What suffers as a result of that?

ALBANESE: What suffers is public transport, road funding. You have circumstances that over the decade  – the Parliamentary Budget Office produced figures two weeks ago that show over the decade the decline in infrastructure investment as a proportion of the national economy – GDP – goes from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent – halved. Now that is a recipe for lower economic growth, lower job creation. It means the Government is getting itself into particular dire straits over not investing in projects such as the Cross River Rail in Brisbane that was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012, funded in 2013 by the Federal Labor Government, with an agreement with Campbell Newman’s Queensland Coalition Government, and then cut in 2013 when Tony Abbott came in and he said: “We’ll have no funding of public transport”. So all of that funding was cut, just like the Perth public transport – the airport rail line, just like the Melbourne Metro, just like public transport in Adelaide, it was all cut. The Parramatta-Epping rail line was taken out of the Budget.

VAN ONSELEN: Is this a good reason why we need a new way of structuring the Budget? I mean the way businesses do so that all that spending around infrastructure isn’t cut in the name of, if you like, making the books look they are better than they might otherwise be?

ALBANESE: That is a good idea to draw a distinction between recurrent and capital expenditure. But more significantly this Government actually has a strategy for the withdrawal of the Commonwealth from direct funding. It has established this expenditure financing unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Now it is designed to recommend financing options for projects that will provide a positive return to government on capital. So the only projects really that do that are toll roads. So you end up with a complete distortion of the infrastructure market. You end up with no strategy to actually deal with urban congestion and you end up with a decline.

It is no accident that the drop-off heads to the fourth year of the forward estimates where they are trying to indicate a path a return to surplus. But what you have therefore as well is a politicisation of the program. So in Perth when the WA McGowan Government got elected they transferred the funding from Perth Freight Link to other projects because they realised they were in diabolical trouble in WA. But in Queensland they are still suffering. Victoria is still getting under 10% of the national infrastructure budget with one in four of the population in Australia’s fastest-growing capital city of Melbourne. So you have an infrastructure plan that has been condemned by the infrastructure sector and that is important for our economy. The two ways you can really drive economic growth and jobs are investing in capital infrastructure and or in people through skills and training and developing up the workforce for the Asian century so we can compete.

There is another path of course which is to try and drive down wages and conditions and compete in that way. But that is certainly not a way that is acceptable to the Australian people.

PAUL KELLY: You’ve campaigned for a long time about High Speed Rail. You have introduced a Private Member’s Bill about an authority. To what extent are we losing an opportunity here in terms of establishing the basis for High Speed Rail. How concerned are you that we might we actually be squandering the chance to do something big?

ALBANESE: Well this is critical and Infrastructure Australia has produced a very good report about the preservation of corridors. I am concerned that Infrastructure Australia has been sidelined by this Government. It is their job to recommend financing of projects, not establishing a separate unit in Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is also their job to look beyond the political term, to look at the big picture and they have identified High Speed Rail in particular – preservation of that corridor as being essential. They have identified the future cost as well of not doing that as being literally tens of billions of dollars potentially in terms of the increased costs. At the moment you have a corridor that has been identified but the Government has essentially put it all on the shelf. When I was there as a Minister, I appointed a body that looked at it in real hard economic terms. It included people like Tim Fischer to try and get that bi-partisanship there. It included Jennifer Westacott, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia and other senior representatives. They all recommended unanimously the creation of this authority so that you get the co-operation across these jurisdictions –NSW, Qld, ACT, Victoria, with local government, with the private sector.

I think the government should do that. Start with the preservation of the corridor and also call upon those international consortia who have experience in building and operating High Speed Rail to put forward their proposals. We know there is a great deal of interest in Australia from companies in Japan, China, France, Italy, Germany – they are all interested. The Spanish – they are all interested in engaging in this.

KELLY: If you become minister can we expect to see these plans and these visions actually become a reality? What would be the priority in terms of High Speed Rail?

ALBANESE: In terms of High Speed Rail establishing the authority and mandate them to preserve the corridor. That is the first thing. We need to plan today so tomorrows are possible. That is the concern about the High Speed Rail failure at the moment, is that literally we could find ourselves in ten years’ time saying costs have come down, which they are for High Speed Rail – technology has been improved, we have a whole lot of global experience to draw upon – and now it’s not possible because the cost of simply purchasing homes that have been built along that corridor is too much. And there’s a second potential as well which is opportunity cost. One of the reasons why High Speed Rail stacks up is regional economic development. Along the corridor be it Shepparton, Albury, Wagga Wagga or Canberra – the national capital, the Southern Highlands and then right up the north coast to Taree, Port Macquarie, Lismore. There is potential for value capture along that corridor as well because it will drive growth.

KELLY: So you are talking about Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne. That is the sort of axis you are talking about?

ALBANESE: Yes and the first stage would be Sydney to Melbourne because that in terms of population is the highest. It showed that, the study had a cost benefit analysis showed, $2.15 of benefit for every $1 of cost that we undertook. So we know that that stacks up.

VAN ONSELEN: How quickly do you get there, Sydney to Melbourne on the High Speed Rail?

ALBANESE: Sydney to Melbourne under three hours.

VAN ONSELEN: With stops?

ALBANESE: No, no. What the study showed is it does essentially two things. One is that in the capital city – under three hours Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Brisbane. But secondly you would have regional trains if you like that are high speed so you can get to Canberra in well under one hour from Sydney. That would transform that corridor. It would make Canberra is Australia’s largest in-land city as well as our bush capital, a fantastic place to live. It would deal with economic growth and jobs in the short term. It also is one way of dealing with housing affordability.

KELLY: So in terms of the economics of this, I mean one of the arguments which has always been used against High Speed Rail at the end of the day, that the numbers don’t add up, that the business proposition doesn’t work. Now what is your response to that? Do you think at the end of the day that this can be feasible in financial terms?

ALBANESE: Look at the study that was done. It was done by AECOM. It was a very comprehensive study. It went to the design of the stations. The design of Central Station in Sydney is essentially done underneath the existing platforms which are there. There is a cost. An example of the cost is that, I think it is, from memory, it is 82km of tunnelling required. Sixty-seven kilometres of that is in Sydney. So that is where the big cost is, and obviously a bit of tunnelling required at either end as well in Melbourne and Brisbane. But the big cost is Sydney. But it doesn’t work without Sydney being at the centre of it. But it stacks up financially.

KELLY: If we could just change to the republic. Bill Shorten announced last night to the Republican Movement that there would be a question put to the Australian people at the end of the first term of a Shorten Government, if you like a plebiscite about the issue of a republic. Now this is different to Malcolm Turnbull’s position. Turnbull has said that he doesn’t believe the issue can be prosecuted successfully while Queen Elizabeth is on the throne. What is your response to this? Is this is just a gesture from the Labor Party to get the issue back on the table or do you think it is actually possible to achieve a republic despite the fact that we’ve still got Queen Elizabeth?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a plan to achieve a republic by doing it in that two-stage process, by firstly getting the question asked: do you support Australia becoming a republic? And then later on of course there would been to another process after that.

KELLY: Another plebiscite presumably? You’d have to have a plebiscite on the model presumably?

ALBANESE:  And you would have to have a constitutional referendum obviously is how you change it.

VAN ONSELEN: So two plebiscites and then a referendum?

ALBANESE: No, it’s possible that what you would have in terms of having the debate, is that in the process of having the debate about do you want an Australian republic with an Australian head of state, you would have a consensus emerge about a model and you wouldn’t need to have a third stage.

VAN ONSELEN: Would you really though? You well remember the last one.

ALBANESE: Well you may well, though, have that emerge. So what we are saying firstly, we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. The first question is do you want Australia to be a republic with an Australian head of state. Simple question. Get it out there. Once you do that, then you’ll have …

VAN ONSELEN: Sure, Sure. But if you get a majority that say yes to that, then presumably you will want to put the model options to the people again as a plebiscite? Without that you end up where Malcolm Turnbull ended up.

ALBANESE: We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Well Malcolm Turnbull showed I think the political skills during that referendum campaign that he has brought to the prime ministership and I think some of the people in his party weren’t really paying attention to either that or to his first stint as Leader of the Liberal Party.

KELLY: In his speech last night Bill Shorten also made it clear that Labor’s prior commitment – its first commitment on constitutional reform – is to indigenous reform. Of course this is now on the table. But there is no certainty – there’s no certainty – that the Government will even put a referendum along these lines given what Malcolm Turnbull has said so far and given the recommendations from the Referendum Council. Can we therefore assume that if this referendum is not put during the life of the Turnbull Government, that it would continue to have priority under a new Labor Government and that a referendum would be put under a new Labor Government?

VAN ONSELSEN: And then we could talk about fixed four-year terms being fixed as well as another referendum.

ALBANESE: Well Paul the important thing about the constitutional recognition of the First Australians is that it hasn’t been a partisan issue and it certainly shouldn’t be because it would fail if it is. So what we will do is continue to work constructively with the Government. This is an area where that has happened. To be fair, of all the turmoil that we have seen in politics over recent years, the fact is that whether it is Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull they have both worked with Bill Shorten. They have worked as well with the indigenous members of Parliament who are very engaged with this issue – people on our side people like Linda Burney and Pat Dodson, I think quite rightly regarded as the father of reconciliation in this country, or  people like Ken Wyatt. So these are important issues to be worked through. We want to get an outcome. I think it would be a major setback for reconciliation if any vote was put that wasn’t successful.

KELLY: Well precisely. But I mean do you think it is possible to get a sufficient degree of community-wide support to put the referendum? And one of the reasons I ask this is because some of the senior indigenous figures that you have just mentioned in the Labor caucus have expressed a degree of reservation about this proposal, about the actual recommendation from the council.

ALBANESE: Well they are quite rightly cautious. They have put a huge amount of effort into this and they understand how critical this is. It might be academic for us around the couch here. For the First Australians this is something that goes very deeply to their soul – this recognition. So I believe that we can work this through with a bit of goodwill and I am hopeful that that is the case.

VAN ONSELSEN: You’d need to keep it separate though as a referendum from other issues that could become partisan. The last thing you would want is failure on the Indigenous recognition referendum if it was getting put at the same time as more contentious issues like fixed four-year terms or even a republic.

ALBANESE: You would need to prioritise it. In my view the correct priority is constitutional recognition of the First Australians.

KELLY: If we could just move to the equality debate, or the inequality debate, which Bill Shorten is running on. Do you think Labor can win the next election with inequality as its main theme?

ALBANESE: I certainly think we can win with a comprehensive plan across the board. The equality agenda is an agenda for economic growth and jobs. It’s actually good economic policy to have more equality. Why is it that when someone like Mathias Cormann or any of the others in the Government – Scott Morrison – speak about cuts that are necessary to the incomes of people on low and middle incomes, that is called budget repair; but anything at the top end is called class warfare? Why is it that is the case? They reflect their own prejudices there. The fact is that we do need to deal with the growing inequality in this country. Quite frankly, if the Government wants to continue to argue that there isn’t greater inequality in this country for people out there struggling to become first home owners in their entire lives, some are just despairing about that; for people who have lost their penalty rates; for people who haven’t had a real wage increase for their entire working lives, for people under real pressure to pay their bills, then I think that is a losing position for the Government.

KELLY:  Scott Morrison has said, defending the Government’s record, that the top one percent of income tax earners pay 17 percent of tax revenue and the top 10 percent contribute almost 50 per cent of total tax revenue. Do you think that’s enough or should they be paying more?

ALBANESE: I think they should pay what they are supposed to pay Paul. And the fact is that when that nurses out there are on $50,000 and they know people who are earning many times more than that but paying less tax than they are, then there is something wrong with the system. And all we are saying with today’s announcement that will be made this morning by Bill Shorten is that people should not, because of their privileged position, be able to avoid paying their fair share of tax and the fact is that that is happening. That’s why we are dealing with Capital Gains Tax and negative gearing – a minor reform but I think an important one in terms of housing affordability. We’ve put forward previously the position of limiting the amount which people can claim as a tax deduction for paying their accountants and then today we will have further announcements. That is Labor leading from Opposition and I do notice that Mathias Cormann this morning didn’t rule out himself, changes to trusts. I’ll make a prediction here. Put it in your little computer so that you can bring that back in a year’s time like you bring back Steven Ciobo’s quotes, that they will, down the track, do something about trusts because they know, they know, that it is not fair at the moment. It will be just like on superannuation tax concessions where they said it was a bad idea. They opposed it. This was class envy. Then they did it.

KELLY: Now we can all agree that everybody should be paying the tax that is due to them under the law. Can I just ask you though, in terms of this debate about the top one percent, and there is no doubt that the top one percent have done incredibly well in terms of wealth and income in recent years, have they done too well?  Do you think the top one percent is too rich in this country and is that unhealthy?

ALBANESE: Well that’s the wrong question Paul. The question that I am concerned about is the bottom people, the people struggling to pay their mortgage. The people struggling, who go to the supermarket and, you know, have to make judgments over whether they can afford something other than just mince this week in terms of meat for their kids. That’s a real circumstance that goes on in this country. I have been there. I know what it’s like and they are the people that I am concerned about and I want to make sure that they can get every opportunity in life that they deserve.

KELLY: OK. Now that is not just an equality problem though is it? That’s a problem of economic growth. It’s a problem of stagnant wages. It’s a problem of poor investment and poor productivity.

ALBANESE: Exactly, which is why you need infrastructure investment, why you need to invest in education, why you need to invest in training.

KELLY: Sure. But is it valid for Labor to say that the essential problem, the main problem, is inequality, whereas when you look at the bottom 30 per cent it seems to me very, very clear that what we are talking about here is  poor economic growth, stagnant wages, underemployment, a whole series of factors – not just inequality.

ALBANESE: But one of the reasons why that is happening Paul, is because of the Government’s fiscal position, because some people and some companies are able to evade paying their fair share, which then makes it very hard to then invest for example, in skills and training in lifting people up – in giving people that opportunity. And the next Labor Government should be consistent with the Hawke and Keating governments. There’s been a lot of rewriting of history here and people should read your books on those periods. The Hawke and Keating governments weren’t about economic growth as the end in itself. They were about economic growth so as to create the space for good social policy to lift people up.

KELLY: Very true.

ALBANESE: Lifting up high school education for example. When Hawke became the Prime Minister three out of ten Australians did their HSC. When he left that figure was eight. Compulsory superannuation – brought in by the Hawke and Keating governments that made a huge difference; Medicare; the improvements to the social wage. All of these reforms where there. They were all opposed by the way, by the Tories at the time. The rewriting of history – every time I see the Liberals out there praising Hawke and Keating, I think they should have a look at some of the question times when Paul Keating was treasurer when the mob opposite were opposing. Compulsory superannuation was theft from working people and employers. Now we are not going to cop this rewriting of history. The next Labor Government will be strong on the economy but with a purpose.

VAN ONSELEN: Just final one Mr Albanese. We are talking about how to address inequality. The French economist Thomas Piketty talked about a wealth tax. Do you have any sympathy for that?

ALBANESE: We’ll I am not about to announce new taxes.

VAN ONSELEN: Do you have a philosophical sympathy for it?

ALBANESE: Nice try. What I have sympathy for is Australian solutions for Australian problems and you have seen two of those already, in terms of the cut down on accountants’ fees being deductible and the housing affordability package and today you will see a significant announcement from Bill Shorten on trusts and I think that Labor is leading from Opposition. I mean someone has got to lead in this country because the other mob are too busy fighting each other.

VAN ONSELEN:  Anthony Albanese, we appreciate your time. Just before you go one final one if I can: Labor’s NSW conference; the recognition of Palestine. This is something that Michael Danby out of Victoria is more than a little livid about. Is this a real change of tone for the Labor Party?

ALBANESE: Labor supports a two-state solution. One of those is Israel. One of those is Palestine. We support negotiations on the basis of secure borders. We want a peaceful resolution to the Middle East. It has had a huge impact on the entire region, but you can’t have circumstances whereby for more than 50 years since the 1967 war you have had now generations living essentially without self-determination. I’m a strong supporter of Israel, but I am also a strong supporter of Palestine and I see the two as being consistent. Having security with the current tensions that are there is like trying to say you can have security between Ryde and Marrickville because that is the sort of distance that we are talking about here. So I think there is a common interest of Israelis and Palestinians and Australia should play a role in that.

VAN ONSELEN: Anthony Albanese always appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.


Jul 28, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject; Citizenship 

KARL STEFANOVIC: The gloves are off this morning- dual citizenship; these two words are causing pollies to drop like flies in Canberra and threatening the Government’s majority.

So what is being done about it? Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now, good morning to both of you, nice to see you in person.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl, glad to be here.

STEFANOVIC: How many more are going to go?

PYNE: I think Karl, the High Court needs to make some pretty clear decisions about what Section 44 of the Constitution means, and more importantly when you do or don’t become a citizen of another country.

Because, in the case of Matt Canavan, apparently his mother made him a citizen of another country when he was 25, he wasn’t an infant, without having even signed an application form. On that basis Kim Jong-un could make us all citizens of North Korea and we would all have to resign.

There has got to be some rules. You can’t just make me a citizen of another country without me knowing it, and then apparently I have to resign from the House of Representatives. There has got to be some common sense approaches to this, otherwise…

STEFANOVIC: How would you respond to Kim Jong-un, if he made you…

PYNE: I would reject the offer. I don’t like Pyongyang.

STEFANOVIC: In all seriousness, are you worried about the Government’s majority? This could end it.

PYNE: I think there is a lot of hyperbole about this particular matter. Every member needs to go through their own particular process, whether they are senators or members of the House of Representatives. There are a lot of Labor MPs who are in a similar position to some of the others who found themselves in difficulty. But the Attorney-General has said that we will refer Matt Canavan’s case to the High Court.

STEFANOVIC: How long is that going to take?

PYNE: I assume the High Court will recognise that it needs to be decided expeditiously. I am sure they will make some sensible ruling around it, and that will give us a way forward.

STEFANOVIC: Okay Albo, how many more are going to be lost from Labor?

ALBANESE: Labor has a very rigorous process in place. When you nominate…

STEFANOVIC: You’re not worried?

ALBANESE: No, we check these things out. We have checked out all of our people, all of our people are fine.

STEFANOVIC: You’ve got to be a little bit nervous about it, saying definitively that you’re not going to lose anyone.

ALBANESE: That’s what happens in terms of- when we nominate for parliament you have to produce evidence, your birth certificate, if you’re born in another country you have to produce evidence that you have renounced citizenship. We go through these processes…

STEFANOVIC: So what you’re saying is that they got it wrong?

ALBANESE: What is very clear, is that on Section 44 there is some uncertainty, including over the employment provisions, and Labor has in our platform actually, reform of Section 44.

That’s pretty hard to achieve, constitutional change. But the High Court is going to look at Matt Canavan’s case, I was going to say Senator Canavan but I’m not sure of his status. They will look at his case and come up with a determination.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. The Australian this morning says that 21 members of parliament will be closely looked at. Is that a long way off the mark do you think?

PYNE: Almost all of those people are Labor Members, so Anthony is better to answer that question…

STEFANOVIC: He said that they‘re all safe.

ALBANESE: We have checked it out, we have our processes.

PYNE: He’s obviously done his homework.

STEFANOVIC: But you must be a little bit concerned as well from your side of things given the small majority?

PYNE: I’m a fifth-generation Australian, so it would be hard for someone to claim that I am a citizen of Ireland after 160 years. But maybe somebody will make the attempt.

STEFANOVIC: In all seriousness though, you’re not concerned about any more members of your party?

PYNE: Karl I have not sat down and researched each of my colleagues’ backgrounds.

STEFANOVIC: You’ve got such a small majority that all it takes is one or two.

PYNE: Clearly, but The Australian has a story, whether that is accurate or not I don’t know, most of them are Labor Members.

The High Court has to make a ruling, but there has to be some common sense, and in the case of Senator Canavan, you cannot be joined up to a citizenship of another country without even signing a form to say you want to do it, when you’re 25.

Now maybe if you’re an infant, your mother can sign you up to be a citizen of another country. Quite frankly, what is going on with the Italian Government? That they will make people citizens of their country, without having a signed application form asking to be a citizen.

STEFANOVIC: You have had a go at Kim Jong-un, and now you’re having a go at the Italian Government. Anyone else you want to have a go at?

PYNE: I think we…

ALBANESE: He’s in charge of defence!

PYNE: I think we’ve entered the theatre of the- I think the Australian public are looking at this and thinking, this is the theatre of the absurd, and there has to be some common sense approaches.

ALBANESE: What we’ve learnt this morning Karl, is that Christopher Pyne has thought about Citizenship in North Korea. He’s rejected it, but he’s thought it through.

STEFANOVIC: He might do some good over there too.

ALBANESE: He’s thought it through.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you gentlemen.

Jul 28, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National

Subjects; Citizenship; NSW Labor conference; family trusts; inequality; recognition of Palestinian state.

FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese is the Federal Labor member for the inner western Sydney seat of Grayndler. He’s the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and he will be at the NSW Labor conference this weekend. Anthony Albanese, welcome back to Breakfast.


KELLY: First things first, every politician’s being asked this practically at the moment, Albanese, your father was Italian, have you checked your citizenship rights?

ALBANESE: My status is out there for all to see in a book by Karen Middleton available in all good bookstores with a new edition, so I’ll get that little ad in there for Karen. My background was made very public.

One of the reasons why was to avoid questions like this. I had a single mum. I was born in Darlinghurst. I certainly have never been a citizen of another country and so my status is very clear.

KELLY: Do you need to check, though, because Matt Canavan thought he’d never been a citizen of another country and section 44 of the Constitution says and I quote, anyone who is a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power is banned from sitting.

ALBANESE: Fran, you should read the book. It’s very clear.

KELLY: I actually did read the book, I just can’t remember this element of it.

ALBANESE: I had a single parent. There’s a dash next to father when it comes to my birth certificate.

KELLY: Okay.

ALBANESE: I had a sole parent. Single mum, fourth, fifth generation Australian. That was my legal status. I was supposed to be adopted out and so my birth certificate has a dash, literally.

KELLY: Alright, that’s clear for you. Do you support calls for some kind of audit of all MPs and senators to clear all this up?

ALBANESE: What I support is certainly clarity being achieved. The Labor Party has in our platform actually, reform of section 44 as a position that we took at the last national conference. I think uncertainty over people’s employment provisions.

But you know, we’re careful. People have to present their birth certificates or have to produce if they were born in another country evidence at the time that they nominate. So we’re very confident that no Labor members or senators have issues.

KELLY: Let’s talk about the NSW Labor conference on the weekend. One of the stars of the show will be federal Labor leader Bill Shorten on Sunday announcing Labor’s policy to change the way trusts are taxed. It’s all part of Labor’s plan to introduce quote a one tax system for all Australians. Don’t we already have that?

ALBANESE: What we have is a system whereby if you’re a nurse on $50,000 a year you can be paying more tax than someone who earns a million dollars a year due to various tax minimisation schemes which are out there.

Labor’s already announced of course a plan to reform negative gearing and to reform capital gains tax when it comes to investment properties.

We’ve announced a plan to reduce the level in which people can claim deductions by paying accountants to minimise their tax. We want to look at the system to make sure that it’s fair, that you don’t have circumstances whereby ordinary PAYE taxpayers who can’t avoid or minimise their tax are paying more than people who earn many times more their salary.

KELLY: It’s complex, of course, everything about the tax system is complex, how many pages is it? But farmers and small businesses are worried. We heard there from Tony Mahar, farmers are big users of trusts as a way to manage fluctuating incomes, they say, and succession planning and they say there could be unintended consequences. They also point out that Labor hasn’t really spoken to them about this.

ALBANESE: Fair dinkum, Fran, if you’re the NFF you should be worried about the Four Corners program on Monday night with regard to water. What we’re talking about here is one year out from the last election, Labor having policy discussions and debates.

It is quite frankly, it says something about the state of politics in Australia today, with Labor leading from opposition, with a government that doesn’t have a plan for anything, that they’re concerned about what Labor is debating we would do.

We’ll see Bill Shorten’s speech on Sunday but what Labor will do is consistent with appropriate, sensible, mature economic policy. Australians know that inequality is rising. We’ve had this week the absurdity of Scott Morrison pretending that none of that’s happening out there. Nothing to see here.

KELLY: Well, he quotes the indicator that shows that it hasn’t happened. He did it again yesterday.

ALBANESE: He quotes nonsense, Fran. People know out there that the top end of town are getting more and more increases in terms of their wages. They know that wages are not even keeping pace with inflation.

You hear the Reserve Bank Governor speak about real wages threatening economic growth. You have penalty rates being cut with the support of the government.

You have people like the cleaners who clean the offices of parliamentarians getting screwed over for their wages and conditions, and then you have Scott Morrison pretending that there’s nothing to see here.

It just shows how out of touch he is. He should go and talk to some real workers.

KELLY: Well, what he has done is he’s looked obviously at who pays the tax in this country and yesterday he gave a speech. He’s called Labor’s plans an envy tax. He’s called it ‘blatant ideology’.

He’s pointed out the top 10 per cent of income earners in this country pay almost 50 per cent of the personal income tax bill which he says is a pretty fair share already.

ALBANESE: Fran, the wealthiest two Australians own as much as the bottom 20 per cent. The fact is that we do have increasing inequality in this country. That’s recognised by all the serious economists out there.

We know that rising inequality is actually bad macroeconomic policy because people who are on lower and middle incomes tend to spend their money creating jobs, creating economic activity whereas people at the top end, I don’t know what they do with some of their money, but tend to certainty save a much higher proportion of it. So good, more equal economic policy is actually good macroeconomic policy for the entire economy.

KELLY: You’re listening to RN Breakfast. It’s seventeen minutes to eight. Our guest is Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. At the NSW state Labor conference on the weekend where you’ll be, middle east policy threatens to cause a bit of a split.

A motion will propose that the next Labor government recognise Palestine, which is not federal Labor Party policy. Former NSW premier and former foreign minister Bob Carr is leading the charge on this. Is it going to be a damaging or dangerous split in your ranks?

ALBANESE: No, not at all.

KELLY: What do you think of the policy as it will be proposed to recognise Palestine?

ALBANESE: Labor supports a two-state solution. One of those states is Israel. The other state is Palestine. That’s Labor’s position. And Labor’s position at the last national conference said that there needed to be progress in terms of a two-state solution.

What we’re seeing Fran, and what concerns me, I’m a strong supporter of Israel existing within secure borders, but I’m also a strong supporter it being in Israel’s interests as well as the interests of the Palestinians in having a Palestinian state.

Living side by side, that has to happen with negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but common sense tells you that two-state solution needs to be advanced and that settlements are causing a major issue when it comes to the potential for a two-state solution.

My concern is that as Israeli settlements grow, a two-state solution won’t be possible and then you end up with one state but with a set of laws which should be anathema to Israelis as well as to Palestinians.

KELLY: Can I just ask you a quick question, this is very much a Sydney issue at the moment but the Westconnex, a 33 kilometre tollway, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country, is going to cost upwards of $16 billion, they say. Possibly twice that by the end of it. If Labor is elected next year federally you would be the federal transport minister. Would that road be built?

ALBANESE: It’s a state road, Fran.

KELLY: There’s federal money in it.

ALBANESE: It’s all been forwarded, Fran. Notwithstanding the fact that the Greens have pretended that it’s not, it’s a state road, there is no federal money outstanding for that road. At the time of the last election there was $300 million that was forwarded immediately after that election.

There’s not a dollar, nor is the state government asking the federal government for a dollar. It will be studied as an example of appalling planning. It’s been changed about 13 times. I think there’s been contempt in many cases for proper community consultation when it comes to that project.

KELLY: 33 kilometres, $16 billion minimum. That’s a lot of money per kilometre.

ALBANESE: I think you might find that it increases in costs even further.

KELLY: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

KELLY: Anthony Albanese is the Federal Labor Member for the seat of Grayndler in Sydney and Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and he’ll be at Labor’s NSW Conference this weekend.

Jul 26, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Two Tribes Segment

Subjects: Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Matt Canavan

PRESENTER: We tend to think of the war in Two Tribes as divided along party lines, but this morning I think we kind of figure it might be along state lines. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.

PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

PRESENTER: Can we start with you Christopher? We’ve got the Greens calling for a Senate inquiry. We’ve got Jay Weatherill in this state calling for a judicial inquiry. He’s written to your leader Malcolm Turnbull with regard to Four Corners’ report on the alleged rorting of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the allegation that the NSW Government was fully aware that this was going on. What is the appropriate response?

PYNE: Well Will, I don’t think there’ll be any kind of split between Anthony and I because the bottom line is if the law has been broken then whoever has broken it should have the book thrown at them. No-one is trying to pretend otherwise so some of these hyper-ventilated calls for various different inquiries – what we need is the inquiry that the NSW Government has announced to get to the bottom of these allegations and then to respond to those recommendations from that review, that report. If somebody has broken the law; if somebody has tried to get around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and benefit certain people, well then they should face the full force of the law.

PRESENTER: So it is good enough that they are going to investigate themselves?

PYNE: Well the appropriate investigating authority is the NSW Government because it occurred in NSW. Now everyone has to try and be sensible about this. If the law was broken in South Australia, the South Australian Government would be investigating it. If it was in Victoria, it would be the Victorian Government. It happened in NSW. It happens with the NSW Government. There’s no need to have Senate inquiries and the Parliament looking at this. The appropriate authority to look at it is the government who is responsible. And let’s not forget that we have actually delivered the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full. All those basin states and the Commonwealth have achieved the  2100 gigalitres of water being returned to the Murray-Darling Basin, which is great for South Australia but it’s also great for the envirionment.

PRESENTER: Do we definitively know that in light of this report?

PYNE: Of course we do. There is no suggestion that because of these allegations being made about one of the 30 – one of the 30 – catchment areas in the Murray-Darling Basin, that somehow any of those statistics are in doubt. There is no suggestion of that.  If somebody has broken the law they should face the full force of the law. But that doesn’t means that South Australians should think that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has not been delivered in full. It has been delivered in full and if Jay Weatherill wants to play politics with this, well I say shame on him, because we should be sticking with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and following the full force of the law and not trying to pretend it is anything else.

PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese I put the same question then to you. What is an appropriate response or means of inquiry following Four Corners’ report?

ALBANESE: Well that is a fairly stunning statement from Christopher Pyne. Standing up for NSW against South Australia is something I wouldn’t have thought he would have done. If the Four Corners Report is correct then the NSW Government has turned a blind eye while irrigators steal from the taxpayers – one –  of Australia – so from everyone. And that’s the allegation here. But secondly of course because South Australia is the downstream state then it is ripping off South Australia in particular. I support totally Jay Weatherill’s call for a judicial inquiry through the COAG process. That would be appropriate. You’d get that national oversight. This is an agreement that goes beyond just one state and has implications that the upstream states can essentially rip off those who rely upon them doing the right thing, honouring the agreements and delivering water down into South Australia. So I certainly think that it’s a reasonable thing to do, to ask for the judicial inquiry. It can be done quickly and efficiently and can get to the bottom of these very serious allegations.

PRESENTER: The State Opposition in New South Wales Anthony Albanese is calling for an ICAC inquiry. You are a bit closer to it there in NSW than we are. Is that appropriate?

ALBANESE: Well that would be appropriate as well because it would appear that some of the bureaucrats in particular in the NSW Government have questions to answer and ICAC is the appropriate body to look at that.

PRESENTER: Now gentlemen, I’ve got my pocket Constitution, which I do actually have, on me and I am looking at Section 44.

ALBANESE: Haven’t we all these days?

PRESENTER: I know. But you fellows might start reading it. But Senator Matt Canavan – here’s some free advice, or let’s mark this down and see if I am right, and I am, is that if he is a citizen of Italy, then he is disqualified, even if what he is saying it true, he had no knowledge of it. What do you think about that?

PYNE: Well Alex the truth is that if somebody can go along and make somebody else a citizen of another nation …

PRESENTER: I’m not saying it is fair, Christopher. I’m not saying it’s fair.

PYNE: … and  is able to apply for that citizenship, not get that person to sign any documents despite them being an adult and the government of that country doesn’t think that it should check with the person who is being made a citizen, then I think that is a pretty wrong situation. I think common sense tells us that is ridiculous.

PRESENTER: I agree it is but a don’t think, the Constitution is not giving you much choice.

PYNE: Well let’s see what the High Court says.

PRESENTER: I’m just picking it here. It’s like picking the Crows winning the grand final.

PYNE: Well you are a marvellous lawyer but I’m not sure you can speak for the High Court yet.

PRESENTER: Well I speak for the majesty of the law. Anthony, what do you think? It’s not like it’s a criminal penalty. So it’s not like he is going to get in trouble for it. But I think he would actually …

ALBANESE: He could well lose his Senate spot.

PRESENTER: Yes. Well that’s trouble. I agree with that.

ALBANESE: It’s interesting that this happened at the same time that we had Italy change its electoral process so that they actually have members of Parliament elected from Oceania and Africa to sit in the Italian Parliament around the time that these applications were made to be citizens. So I don’t know what the motivation was.

PRESENTER: What are you suggesting it is?  That he wanted to run for Parliament there?

PYNE: But he didn’t even know about it.

ALBANESE: No. I don’t know.  But his mother or what have you, after all that time to apply for citizenship, I don’t know what her motivation was.

PRESENTER: I don’t think it’s malicious but we’ve got a document which one of our listeners sent to us. It is the application for citizenship which will be the point. That’s why I’m by no means clear that he will be found he is actually a citizen. But it is written for convenience in English and Italian and the applicant signs. So we couldn’t see, thinking about it here, that somebody else could actually make you a citizen. As Will said, it would be a great way for Malcolm, for the Prime Minister, to get rid of Tony Abbott – just make him a citizen of something.

ALBANESE: No doubt the details will all come out as part of the High Court process.

PYNE: Exactly, The High Court can rule on it.

PRESENTER: I know it is but the Constitution does seem absolute doesn’t it?

ALBANESE: It’s pretty clear.

PYNE: The High Court might find that he was never a citizen of another country because he never signed the form.

PRESENTER: Yes that’s the best outcome for him. Because, there’s no joy in that result, really none of them. This all seems a bit disappointing.

ALBANESE: I do find it extraordinary that someone could be made a citizen of a country without applying.

PRESENTER: It’s how you get rid of your enemies. It’s how you get rid of them.

PYNE: I hope the High Court will find – it’s a matter for them of course – but I am sure the High Court will ask what steps did he take to renounce his citizenship – because that is kind of the test – and as he never knew that he was a citizen, I don’t know what steps he could have taken to renounce it.

PRESENTER: Yes extraordinary times. Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time.

PYNE: Pleasure.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

Jul 25, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Perth

Subjects; WA Infrastructure; Budget; GST.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be here at the Perth City Link project. This was funded with $239 million of funding from the former Federal Labor Government. It is a great example of an urban project that is changing the face of Perth. The first stage, the sinking of the rail line; the second stage, here, the bus interchange; and of course the third stage that we can see happening around us, which is development on top of where the railway line used to go. This is uniting the Perth CBD with the Northbridge entertainment area and also of course with important areas like the new Perth Arena.

This is a great example of urban policy in action and it was also a great example of the federal, state and local government combining to improve the liveability of this great city of Perth. On the way here I travelled along the Gateway WA project – the largest ever road project here in Perth. I then went along the Great Eastern Highway, which of course was also funded by the former Federal Labor Government. And it is also the case that we funded projects right around the state – the North West Coastal Highway; the Swan Valley Bypass, renamed the NorthLink Project; the upgrades to the Tonkin Highway; the Leach Highway; the upgrades to the Great Northern Highway, the Esperance upgrade. WA Grain Rail was funded to the tune of $135 million.

So when we were in government we partnered with WA. Indeed we lifted up the per capita infrastructure spend for each and every West Australian from $154 to $260. But now WA is getting a dud deal from the Commonwealth. You are not getting your share of GST, with some 34 cents in the dollar. You are also not getting your share of infrastructure funding – even funding that is committed.

The Budget papers last year indicated that WA should get $842 million spent on infrastructure in 2016-17. When the Budget came out in May it indicated that that spending had fallen to some $616 million – a more than $200 million cut to what the Government itself just one year earlier had promised would be spent on infrastructure here in Western Australia.

I’ll be having meetings with the WA Government today as a regular visitor to Western Australia, meeting with my infrastructure counterpart, Rita Saffioti about the needs of Perth and indeed the great state of Western Australia. But what we know is that the Commonwealth needs to step up and provide WA with its share. WA is doing the heavy lifting in terms of the national economy by contributing so much to exports and it is up to the Commonwealth to recognise that and to provide that support for the economy here in Western Australia. And this project is a great example of what can happen when you have the Commonwealth in partnership with the other levels of government providing that national leadership.

JOURNALIST:  Do you know what the ratio is now, the spending ratio that you mentioned before that had dropped (inaudible)?

ALBANESE: The spending ratio has fallen in recent times and what we know is there is not a Commonwealth Government-funded infrastructure project under way in Western Australia now that was not funded by the former Labor Government. So when you look at projects like the Swan Valley Bypass; when you look at projects like the Great Northern Highway upgrades; when you look at this project here, they are all legacy projects. What we have had is laziness from the Commonwealth Government and that fall in investment. Of course in the 2014 Budget they came out with the freight link proposal. That was a flawed proposal. It didn’t even take freight to the port. And as a result of them taking funds away from projects that were in the Budget and giving it to that project, which of course didn’t get very far, then we have had four wasted years as far as Commonwealth involvement is concerned.

JOURNALIST: You said we’re being dudded on the GST. What would a Shorten Labor Government do to fix that?

ALBANESE: Well of course you need in terms of the GST, in order to change the rules, you need national agreement by all the state and territory governments. We’d be prepared to sit down over those issues, but also to look at how it is that WA can get its fair share. When we were in government we created the Western Australian Infrastructure Fund, for example. We made sure that the money was there for large projects like Gateway WA and Perth City Link here. This project is the first rail project funded by the Commonwealth here in Perth.

We had in the 2013 budget, $500 million set aside for rail. So projects like the Forrestfield Rail Line, that have been funded to the tune of $498 million – that was simply taking the money that was cut in the 2014 Budget and then giving it back. It wasn’t actually additional investment in infrastructure. So we made a range of commitments during the last election campaign, but we’ll continue to talk to the WA Government, to local government, and to local communities about making sure that WA gets its fair share.

JOURNALIST: It’s not the case that you need the agreement from the other states to change the GST distribution. The federal Treasurer can do that at the stroke of a pen.

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that you do need some agreement in terms of the Commonwealth of the way that it works in terms of the state arrangements. What we’ve said, of course, the current distribution is unfair. What WA’s looking for is for agreements to happen now, is to get change now. They haven’t had that, we’re not the Government now, so it’s not possible for us to change this year’s formula.

JOURNALIST: You don’t have a policy to improve it either.

ALBANESE: What we have is a policy to help out WA. We did it when we were in government by almost doubling the infrastructure investment, and we’re prepared to sit down, those matters are a matter for the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, and the Leader, Bill Shorten, will be sitting down, and I know they’ve had constructive discussions with Mark McGowan about those issues.
I’m responsible for infrastructure investment, and what I can commit to is consistent with not just what we’ve said, but what we’ve done. If you look here, the jobs created in the short term that are improving the sustainability, liveability and the economy of Perth and WA for the long term.

JOURNALIST: How can West Australians have any faith that the GST rip-off will be fixed under a Shorten Labor Government if what you’re just saying is that you’ll just sit down and have a talk about it? It’s not offering much hope is it?

ALBANESE: Well what you can’t do in 2017 is pretend you are the government and provide a precise response. The truth is that Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten have been having discussions with Mark McGowan. You can’t change things from opposition. What you can do is commit to things in government. We’re not about to hold an election this month. Those discussions will take place, but what we are doing also is planning to make sure that we get WA its fair share.

JOURNALIST: So would you restore infrastructure funding in WA to the levels that the Commonwealth had set, that $200 million, or would you go above?

ALBANESE: Well what we’d do is make sure that WA got its share. And what it got when we were in government is more than just to make-up in terms of population. What we gave was additional funding to WA in recognition of the contribution that WA was making to the economy. That’s why you had that record investment, that’s why you had investment in projects like Grain Rail, here in WA, $135 million. You had $900 million for Gateway WA. You had the funding of the Swan Valley Bypass, renamed NorthLink, but that doesn’t make it a new project. You had the upgrades in terms of the Tonkin and Leach Highway.

One of the things that is clear from Infrastructure Australia’s work on urban congestion is that Perth will have more of the congestion spots than anywhere else in the country. The top ten, more than half of the most congested roads and intersections will be right here in Perth by 2031.  Now in order to address that you’ve got to invest, and the sooner you invest the less cost there is to the taxpayer and the better the productivity improvements.

JOURNALIST: So what is a fair share for WA in terms of investment? Can you put any sort of specifics on a funding ratio or a funding injection?

ALBANESE: Well what we will do is consistent with what we’ve done. We’ll make all of our finance arrangements during an election campaign and those commitments, as we did at the last campaign. And I’ll tell you what – sometimes you can lead from Opposition. If you look at projects like the Wanneroo projects, Perth Metronet. These were projects that were committed to by Labor when we were in government. They’re now happening as a result of the diversion of funds from the Perth Freight Link project and they are now happening as a result of the election of the McGowan Government and the pressure that’s been placed on by Federal Labor.

Jul 21, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects; Inequality, housing affordability, asylum seekers

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Good morning to you. Bill Shorten will today outline the Opposition’s plans to right the economy, declaring he is willing to go to the too hard basket to repair the budget. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join me now. Good morning to you both.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Sylvia.

JEFFREYS: Too hard basket can only mean one thing, Anthony Albanese, and that’s taxes. But the GST is being spoken about this morning, the Herald Sun is discussing it in particular. Is the GST going to be raised by Labor?

ALBANESE: No. What Bill Shorten will be talking about today is the issue of inequality and the fact that inequality is at a 75 year high. Whilst payee taxpayers are paying a disproportionate share of the tax take a whole lot of corporations and, indeed, individuals are able to evade paying their fair share of tax. We want to open up the discussion about fairness in the system. One of the things that we have already put on the table of course is Capital Gains Tax and negative gearing issues. People said that was too hard as well but we need to address it in terms of housing affordability.

JEFFREYS: Increasing the tax rate though for the highest bracket is still on the table for Labor?

ALBANESE: Wait and see; today you will see Bill Shorten’s speech outlined, clearly issues like housing affordability need to be addressed. Labor is prepared to do that. We have already shown that’s the case. We want to do be in a position whereby we are leading from Opposition, because someone has got to lead this country.

JEFFREYS: Christopher, a warning from the Prime Minister, in the meantime this morning, in the papers around rate rises. How soon do you think we can expect to see the first rise?

PYNE: Well Sylvia, what we found out this week is two things. We found out that Bill Shorten wants to increase the GST, increase taxes on housing, increase taxes on individuals, increase spending. Now this is no formula for economic reform in Australia. We’ve also found out that if Kevin Rudd had remained Prime Minister he would have reopened the people smugglers’ business model and brought everybody from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia to be processed and live in Australia.

So we have got major splits in the Labor Party. They believe in a tax and spend budget, which we can’t afford and that will push up interest rates in Australia. And they also believe in reopening the people smugglers’ model. Next week there is the National Conference, the Left from NSW, Anthony Albanese’s faction, want to pass motions to stop the turn backs policy and bring everybody from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia. So they have got real problems.

ALBANESE: I hate to break it to you Christopher, but the National Conference is in July 2018.

PYNE: Well, it might be a State Conference then but answer the question.

JEFFERYS: It’s well away from the point anyway, but if I could bring you back to the question, Christopher, around interest rates. The Prime Minister is asking for the banks to show compassion to customers when things get tough, and when rates start to rise and they can’t repay their mortgages. Do you really honestly expect the banks to listen to the Prime Minister after Scott Morrison picked a fight with them?

PYNE: Well the most important thing we can do is have the policies in place that help keep interest rates low. That is what this Government has done, and we’re not going to do that by increasing taxes, increasing spending and blowing out the budget deficit and debt, which is what Labor would do.

Bill Shorten believes that he can win an election by throwing money at every interest group in Australia. That’s old politics. What the Australian public want is good stable government that delivers low interest rates, growing employment, as we saw yesterday, more good economic figures in Australia. We’re seeing higher growth in employment, we’re seeing higher growth in the economy and that’s because we’re getting the economic fundamentals right.

ALBANESE: We do want stable government but we’re not getting it from this mob. They have a conference on the weekend where Tony Abbott is going to try and roll Malcolm Turnbull. They have people being paid to go along, they are getting their fees paid by Tony Abbott’s FEC. It’s a cage fight and it’s taking Australia down with it.

JEFFREYS: Something about glass houses there, Anthony. I think that we will move on to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a super ministry; Christopher, of course, this new Home Office, so-called Home Office, to fight terrorism. Peter Dutton will oversee this of course. Christopher, what are the current failures of the current system?

PYNE: What we have seen over the last ten years, is a shift in the way that terrorists are behaving. They are using, in many respects, our own technological breakthroughs on the internet, in communications, against us. That is why we need to keep moving with the times. This, of course, is a policy that Labor adopted sixteen years ago, when Kim Beazley was the Leader of the Labor Party, and it surprises me that Bill Shorten and his team haven’t been able to come to a support for this policy this week.

What we want to do is to make sure that our excellent agencies and security apparatus are even better. Bringing them together under the same umbrella in a Home Affairs Department, we believe will give us the heft that we need to keep protecting Australians from terrorism, from threats at home and abroad, and I think it is a very sensible move.

JEFFREYS: All right, we are running out of time. Just quickly Christopher, the Prime Minister told Karl earlier this week that he catches up with Tony Abbott, quote, irregularly. It makes me wonder, when did you last speak with Mr Abbott?

PYNE: Well, in fact, the last parliamentary sitting fortnight I spoke with Mr Abbott because I am friends with everybody on our side of politics Sylvia.

ALBANESE: He doesn’t speak highly of you mate.

PYNE: How often does Albo speak to Bill Shorten? How often does Albo speak to Bill? Albo gave a speech this week which is the opposite to Bill Shorten’s playbook. It was all about how negative politics was out, and Albo of course is well on his way to campaign against Bill Shorten.

JEFFREYS: Well you’re officially out of favour, Christopher, with our executive producer because you have just spoke well beyond our time limit.

ALBANESE: He does that; it’s the greed that defines the Liberal Party.

JEFFREYS: We’re talking about love this morning, can we just say the three little words to one another this morning, just to set the tone?

ALBANESE: No, that’s just not going to happen.


ALBANESE: That would be a YouTube sensation I know!

PYNE: I love Today. Is that what you meant?

ALBANESE: I love everyone here in the studio.

PYNE: I love Today.

JEFFREYS: All right guys I appreciate you loving Today.

ALBANESE: I love Australian Ninja. It’s fantastic.

PYNE: I wake up with Today and I give you my ten thousand dollars…

ALBANESE:  When are me and Pyne going to get to go on Australian Ninja? We would be sensational as a comedy segment.

JEFFREYS: All right that’s happening don’t worry about it. Love is everywhere this morning Karl, all around.

STEFANOVIC: That is something the world needs to see; Christopher Pyne doing Australian Ninja. Wow.

PYNE: You wouldn’t last five minutes with me Karl.

Jul 21, 2017

Transcript of television interview – AM Agenda, SKY News

Subjects; Inequality, family trusts, education funding, Medicare, infrastructure, asylum seekers 

TOM CONNELL: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time. Bill Shorten giving a speech today, now he’s talking about tax subsidies, including reforms that in the past we might have dismissed as too politically difficult. Is this going to be another bold move such as negative gearing?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What Bill Shorten will be talking about today is the fact that we need to deal with inequality. Inequality is at a 75 year high in Australia. We know that the richest two people in Australia have the same wealth as the bottom 20 per cent.

The fact is that because of issues with the tax system, PAYE earners, ordinary working people struggling to put food on the table for their families are paying more than they should.

Bill Shorten will be outlining today our plan for a fairer tax system in order to deal with the issue of inequality.

He’s shown that he’s prepared to adopt bold measures such as he already has on capital gains tax and negative gearing reform in order to deal with the issue of housing affordability.

CONNELL: What about another sacred cow, family trusts? If you look at these, they benefit those on more than half a million dollars to the tune of 51 per cent of the benefits of family trusts, it costs the budget $3.5 billion, is that something you’re willing to look at?

ALBANESE: Well, Bill will be outlining the detail today and it’s appropriate that he has that opportunity rather than me trying to preempt what is in his speech but I can say that Labor has been prepared to lead from opposition on a range of policy issues.

I mean, we have policy paralysis in this country due to the ongoing brawl between the Tony Abbott forces and Malcolm Turnbull that will be played out again at the NSW Liberal Convention this weekend. Because of that paralysis, someone has got to lead in this country and Labor is leading from opposition.

CONNELL: Alright, well fair enough. You don’t want to totally spoil his speech. What about one of the speeches you gave earlier this week.

Now, you’ve doubled down on something you’ve mentioned before, talking about the adoption by the government of Labor policy such as needs-based funding, saying it should be a source of pride for those who have been long-term advocates, and that you should move on from that.

Are you at all disappointed that the rhetoric coming out of other members of Labor is that we want to fight this still, the so-called Gonski 2.0 all the way to the next election?

ALBANESE: No. What I said in my speech, the Earle Page Lecture up at the University of New England this week is consistent with what I’ve said in politics for a very long time, which is that if you want to inspire particularly the next generation to engage in social change, you need to be positive in your outlook.

The fact is that Labor has been winning a range of arguments, whether it be historically, issues like Medicare, compulsory superannuation, these are issues that began as radical issues when they were first proposed.

They received the support of the public and they became part of the Australian ethos. Now, in recent times Labor reforms such as ensuring that needs-based education, be the principle on which education funding is based.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme, the provision of universal health care, support for public transport and engagements with our cities; these are all propositions that Labor has put forward over a long period of time.

Take in my portfolio the issue of public transport and cities.

It is a good thing, and it is a source of pride, that over a period of time there appears to be acceptance that the Commonwealth should be engaged in urban policy, cities, dealing with urban congestion that will cost the economy $53 billion by 2031 if it’s not addressed.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t then also argue that on substance and the problem with the government is it has adopted some of the rhetoric that’s consistent with Labor.

It hasn’t adopted the substance. So on the needs-based education funding, it’s adopted some of the rhetoric.

It says it supports the Gonski principles but it hasn’t put the dollars that are required in order to deliver that needs-based funding on the table.

There’s the $22 billion of cuts that was part of their package. It’s a bit less than that now but they still haven’t provided that support. When you look at the detail of Northern Territory funding for example, some of the most disadvantaged schools are going to be worse off whereas some of the wealthiest schools in Australia will be better off as a result of the government changes.

Similarly, in terms of the issue of universal health care. They’re still not increasing the Medicare rebate for a couple of years. They’re still not providing the support for public hospitals that’s required.

Just like in the area of infrastructure and public transport funding, the only new project funded with grant funding in the Budget was $13 million for an obscure road near Nowra in the marginal electorate of Gilmore and they’re undermining Infrastructure Australia by setting up a separate Infrastructure Financing Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.

So you can have pride that you’re winning the framework and able to frame the debate whilst still challenging, as Labor will continue to do the record of this government and the program of this government that simply isn’t good enough.

CONNELL: Part of the reason they’re not spending as much on schools is Catholic school funding. What’s your view on what sort of deal the Catholic schools are getting?
ALBANESE: My view is that you need needs-based funding and that needs to be sector blind. That is, every child is worthy of support and the support that’s necessary in order to give them the opportunity to have the best chance in life that they should see as a right in a country like Australia that has the wealth that we have.

I went to my local Catholic schools. I was provided with an opportunity there but the truth is that those schools struggled with support.

Now, the inner city of Sydney’s changed a bit these days in terms of the makeup of students. It’s reflected the gentrification that’s gone on in our inner suburbs but the truth is that funding is required that supports disadvantaged people from whatever background so that kids don’t get left behind.

CONNELL: But doesn’t this end that special deal on the Catholic element in particular? Is this really that strong a campaign Labor can run?

ALBANESE: Well, Labor will be continuing to campaign on education. Education in the form of early childhood education. I spoke about in the Earle Page Lecture, we know is more and more critical.

Those early years of life and investment there can lead to much greater opportunity and the need for less investment later on if you take on early childhood education as something that is required.

Education funding in terms of school funding we’ll continue to campaign on.

We’ll continue to campaign on VET which has been a disaster by this government. TAFE needs to be put at the centre of our vocational education and training system. There’s been far too many rorts allowed in recent years that’s distorted funding.

So it’s gone away from providing proper vocational education and training and of course our universities. The idea that people will be hit with more and more debt is no doubt a disincentive from people for going to university who don’t have mum or dad to pay their fees for them.

CONNELL: Just finally, because I do know that you need to go, you were of course deputy to Kevin Rudd the second time around, would you have allowed him to resettle asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia a year after he said that was not going to happen again?

ALBANESE: The policy that we had is clear but I think people are missing the main point here which isn’t about Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull or even Peter Dutton.

The main point here is that there have been people left on Manus and Nauru for four years because this government – for more than four years – because this government has simply failed to deal with settlement options in third countries.

That is what we proposed. It’s absolutely correct to say that it was a 12 month proposition that was put forward because it wasn’t seen as something that should be permanent.

It was something that people should then be settled in either PNG or in third countries of settlement and people have been left there for far too long.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office


Important items

Enrol to vote Parliament of Australia Australian Labor Party Clean Energy Future