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

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Energy, Finkel report, terror laws, COAG, Saudi soccer team 

LISA WILKINSON: The shocking price we are all paying for our energy bills will be front and centre when the Prime Minister meets State and Territory leaders in Hobart today. On the table a proposal which could eventually see household bills fall by hundreds of dollars a year.

Joining us is now is Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne from Adelaide and here in the studio Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

WILKINSON: Christopher, I am going to go to you first, of course everyone wants to see energy bills fall. But this proposal is going to take until 2030 to have an impact. People want be action right now.

PYNE: Well Lisa the Finkel report will be released today by the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. I think it’s a seminal moment for Australia in terms of energy prices and stability.

Certainly there will be effects from the recommendations of the Finkel report felt long before 2030, in fact felt almost immediately, if the Government and the opposition can work out a way of forward where we end the 10 years of argument we’ve had about energy pricing and energy stability and work forward with Alan Finkel’s report in a way that is positive for both businesses and households and most importantly the stability of the energy grid.

Because in a country like Australia we shouldn’t have these issues around energy. But we’ve got to get the policy settings right and I think this is a real opportunity to do so.

WILKINSON: Well let’s hope you’re right on the unity ticket but Anthony, the average household is spending $2200 a year. There are warnings this morning that this year alone that could go up by $600. People just can’t right afford these increases.

ALBANESE: That’s right Lisa, but we were told by the government when they got rid of the price on carbon that it would bring prices down.

PYNE: It did.

ALBANESE: What we’ve seen since then is a doubling of wholesale electricity prices. Christopher saying that it did is an insult to all those people out there who know what has happened to their power bills. So we need to get a plan that gets some of the politics out of it.

This government’s been prepared to play politics with it. What we’re saying is that we are prepared to be cooperative and get certainty into the system. An emissions intensity scheme is what should happen.

That’s what all the energy sector, that’s what all the economists say should happen. If the Government isn’t prepared to do that, but comes up with a second-best option then we’ll consider it in a constructive way.

PYNE: Lisa, since 2007 energy prices have gone up 140%. Almost all of that was under the Rudd-Gillard Government. The only time it’s come down was when it dropped after the carbon tax was abolished, so that’s the facts.

ALBANESE: Christopher, the problem you’ve got here is people know what has happened to their bills.

PYNE: I’m telling the facts. Since 2007 energy prices have gone up by 140% and the only time that energy prices dropped was when the carbon tax was abolished.

ALBANESE: People know what has happened to their bills. Don’t treat people like fools, Christopher.

PYNE: You can talk over me all you like Anthony but that’s what happened.

ALBANESE: It didn’t drop.

PYNE: It was the biggest single drop in 10 years.

ALBANESE: You’ve had a doubling of wholesale prices.

PYNE: You can talk because you know I’m telling the truth.

WILKINSON: Christopher, the problem is they’re going to go up 30% this year alone is the prediction.

PYNE: Because of the mechanism put in place by the Labor Party the price –

ALBANESE: You’ve been in government for four years.

PYNE: We are going to fix that with the Finkel report and I’m very disappointed that Anthony  immediately started attacking the Government rather than realising that people are sick of that and what they want is the parties to work out energy prices so we can either embrace the Finkel report, we can reduce energy prices or Labor can keep fighting about it when business doesn’t want them to and households don’t want them to.

WILKINSON: Alright, let’s move on, the threat of terrorism is high on the agenda today. This morning we have a new plan being put forward by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews who wants new federal maximum security prisons to hold Australia’s most dangerous terrorists. Now Christopher, are you going to support this?

PYNE: Look, Daniel Andrews is trying to push off to the Federal Government what is the responsibility of his own government. The truth is that the awful incident that  occurred in Melbourne earlier this week which cost the life of an innocent man was the result of a person being out on parole under Victorian laws that should not have been.

The Premier and the chief ministers and the Prime Minister are meeting today at COAG, the Council of Australian Governments and Malcolm Turnbull will talk very clearly with the state governments and chief ministers about the need to reform their parole laws and apply them in many cases. Daniel Andrews can try and push it off to the federal government but that man who murdered the innocent man in Melbourne this week should not have been on parole, and neither should have Man Haron Monis in NSW in a similar incident a few years ago.

WILKINSON: Alright, we are going to have to move on. I want to get a final word on the situation in Adelaide Albo. We saw the Saudi Arabian soccer team refuse to honour the minute’s silence for the two Australian women killed in the London terror attacks. Your response to that?

ALBANESE: That was a just a disgraceful lack of respect for not just the two Australians who were killed, one of whom was a young South Australian, but also all of those victims of that terror attack in London. There is no excuse here. This isn’t about culture. This is about a lack of respect and I thought it was disgraceful.

WILKINSON: I think most Australians would agree with you. Christopher, we are out of time but I figure between the two of you, you got about 50/50 today.

PYNE: Absolutely.

WILKINSON: Thanks very much, we’ll see you next week.

ALBANESE: See you then.

[ENDS]

Jun 7, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes Segment

Subjects: Terrorism

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will and good morning David and good morning Anthony.

ALBANESE: Good morning team.

HOST: We’ll start with you if we can Chris as the member of the Government of the day. Just to what Theresa May said, if you think about it in the context of terrible events in Melbourne in the last 36 hours, what are we doing? What can you as a member of our national government do to make sure that we no longer have this completely intolerable situation where someone who has A, been charged, albeit acquitted, with very serious terror charges, and subsequently has become an ice addict, a violent criminal roaming the streets attacking people at random, still evidence that he is radicalised, that he subscribes to radical Islam, ends up on parole. It just seems to be an utter failure at every single level.

PYNE: Well I agree in relation to this particular individual and the Victorian parole system that it has been an utter failure. For example the assailant in Melbourne, he got out on parole the day that he could have got out on parole. It was almost automatic. I know there is a process for parole and I am sure there is in Victoria as well. But he got out virtually automatically the day that his parole became available to him and I think that is a complete failure. The Prime Minister has said at the last COAG meeting – the Council of Australian Governments meeting – the Prime Minister said that he wanted the states and territories to review their parole laws. This Friday again the states and territories and the Commonwealth are meeting and I think the Prime Minister is going to take a very clear line that we need a nationally consistent approach to parole and the idea that violent criminals, and certainly criminals with terrorists convictions, would be able to access parole as seemingly as easily as this individual is clearly a failure of policy at the state level in Victoria. In terms of what we are doing nationally, I will give Anthony an opportunity to respond and then perhaps we could talk about that.

HOST: Albo to you, if you had to summarise what Theresa May said in that  grab we just played it is almost like all bets are off, we need to just tear up the rule book, start afresh and, you know, to put things on the table that may have been unpalatable five years ago. How far is Labor prepared to go in having this conversation?

ALBANESE: Well look quite clearly Christopher is right that it was a policy failure with this individual in Melbourne just like it was a policy failure with Man Monis in Sydney. What we need to do is to examine, as we did with the Man Monis terrorist action in Sydney, have a proper examination of how that went so wrong including the fact that he was able to be in Martin Place at that time given his long, long history of violent actions towards people, including people he was close to. And clearly though we need to uphold the rule of law – I mean that is one of the things that distinguishes us from those who support Islamic terrorism and so I think we need to be sober in our reflection. It’s certainly understandable the climate that is there in London at the moment and it’s not surprising that you are having a debate as we will on an ongoing basis. We in Australia, I think, have benefitted from the fact that we have a bipartisan approach to these issues, that when legislation has been brought forward it has been examined in detail by Senate committees and by processes that are established. There are joint committees that have looked at it, made improvements and made sure that we’ve done all that we can to keep Australians safe. One of the advantages I think that we have in this country is that we do have at the national level very good security agencies.

HOST: Phil Coorey is writing this morning in the Fin Review Malcolm Turnbull wants the Federal Attorney General to have the final say in granting parole to prisoners who pose a terrorist risk. Now it has been reported on Sky News now Chris Pyne that George Brandis the AG is unveiling some parole changes today. Is that one of the powers that the Commonwealth is looking at implementing?

PYNE: Well David I wouldn’t want to pre-empt the Attorney General’s announcement, certainly in area as sensitive as terrorism. But I can tell you that Australia has the toughest laws in terms of terrorism of any country in the world and since the Turnbull Government was elected we’ve gone even further. We now have power to take away the citizenship of people convicted of terrorist offences who have dual citizenship. We now under Malcolm Turnbull have extended the capability of our military in Iraq and Syria to hit the terrorists who aren’t necessarily on the front line in whatever they are doing, whether they are in logistics, whether they are in information gathering, whatever they might be doing, sitting on their computers sending out messages to people, to kill these individuals. That is the Government’s policy and it is working and I must say Labor has supported us in these measures.

HOST: Can I move on to something more contentious and something where last week both of you were lock step with the head of ASIO about the nature of our refugee program and any links to terror events. Can I get both of your thoughts now, where do you stand in the conversation that a lot of our listeners I reckon want us to have? Say with a country like Somalia where Yacqub Khayre, the bloke in Melbourne originally came from, should we as a country have a conversation where we say perhaps for a while, or even in the medium term, it is simply too dangerous to take people from a failed and highly radicalised nation such as Somalia through our refugee program?

PYNE: Well David, I’d say two things to that; firstly I’d say being a refugee doesn’t mean you are a terrorist.

HOST: No of course not.

PYNE: And terrorists are radicalised extremists who have become terrorists and we’ve had in our country examples of that of people who are born in Australia with no background in particularly the country that you’ve mentioned. Secondly I’d say that having that conversation as you put it, it might satisfy the whims of certain people, but one of the most important things we can do to stop terror attacks in Australia, and it’s working, we have disrupted 12 terror attacks in the recent past and arrested 63 suspected terrorists, is the intelligence we gather from the communities from which these people come. Now if we push those people to the extremities of the debate and treat them all as the enemy we will not get that intelligence. So we have to be sensible and sophisticated about how we respond to these threats.

HOST: What’s your take on it Albo?

ALBANESE: Well Duncan Lewis, the head of ASIO, didn’t make those comments from a position of ignorance. He made those comments on the basis of evidence and fact. This individual in Melbourne came here as a child. The evidence here is that he was radicalised much later on and that seems to be the pattern of whether they be Australian born or people who’ve come here as children. They seem to be young men, some of whom are converts to Islam from an Anglo background, over there fighting in the Middle East with IS. What we know that they have in common is a commitment to a fundamentalist Islamic ideology that is extreme and supports actions to destroy our way of life and that they’ve been subject to hatred from particular preachers. And one of the things that ASIO is doing at the core of its charter to keep us safe is engaging within those communities to make sure that they can keep on top of these issues.

HOST: We’re out of time. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese it’s a long conversation and one that’s going to continue, sadly for quite a long time.

ENDS

Jun 2, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Parliament, NDIS 
KARL STEFANOVIC: He is Labor’s most experienced politician but the big question this morning, has Albo been gagged?

A new report reveals he has only been allowed to ask six of Labor’s 511 questions in parliament. That’s just 1.2%.

Christopher Pyne joins us now from Adelaide, the man himself Anthony Albanese is in the studio. Albo and Christopher, good morning to you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, Karl.

STEFANOVIC: To you first of all Albo, have you been muzzled?

ALBANESE: I’m here on national TV and I had the matter of public importance this week on infrastructure and the budget. I think it’s pretty hard to argue that I don’t get to say much.

STEFANOVIC: You have been muzzled.

PYNE: He’s like the man in the iron mask, Karl.

ALBANESE: Not at all. I gave six speeches in the parliament this week. I sit on the tactics committee.

STEFANOVIC: But you are actually very good at asking questions in parliament, you’ve only asked what, five or six?

ALBANESE: I sit on the tactics committee that determines who gets to ask the questions, so I’m part that of that decision.

PYNE: They’re deciding that when you leave the room, brother.

ALBANESE: Not true.

PYNE: As soon as you are out of the room they are taking the questions off you and giving them to Jim Chalmers. Who is Jim Chalmers?

STEFANOVIC: Who is Jim Chalmers?

PYNE: He has had 16 questions.

ALBANESE: He is a good fellow in spite of the fact that he supports Queensland.

STEFANOVIC: Now listen. Does Bill Shorten have a drama with you?

ALBANESE: Not at all.

STEFANOVIC: You sure?

ALBANESE: Yep.

STEFANOVIC: You are not after his job?

ALBANESE: Not at all.

STEFANOVIC: Why not?

ALBANESE: Because I’m happy with the job that I’ve got, and I’m a team player. I’ve always been a team player. I’m making a contribution holding the government to account on infrastructure.

STEFANOVIC: His popularity is woeful, why wouldn’t you just muscle up and go and grab his job?

ALBANESE: We are on 53% of the two party-preferred vote.

STEFANOVIC: He’s not.

ALBANESE: We’re in the countdown to the 30 Newspolls where Malcolm Turnbull rolled Tony Abbott. The only division in the national parliament is on Christopher’s side, where we have an ongoing war between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott.

This week we saw a breakout over climate change policy where the head of their climate caucus committee, Craig Kelly, tweeted out saying pop the champagne corks if Donald Trump and the US pull out of the Paris accord, and of course they have.

PYNE: How can Anthony be holding us to account when he never gets a question? Six questions out of 511.

ALBANESE: You never answer them.

PYNE: You said you’re holding us to account on infrastructure, but you never get to ask anybody a question. You are like the man in the iron mask, Anthony.

ALBANESE: I’m out there giving speeches in parliament and right around the country.

PYNE: You’re hidden away.

STEFANOVIC: We do support more questions though for Anthony Albanese in parliament. You’re very good at it. Let’s move on.

PYNE: We should do a poll. Ask the viewers whether they would support more questions for Anthony Albanese. I’d answer yes, straightaway.

ALBANESE: Only if they weren’t coming to you, mate.

PYNE: You don’t worry me.

STEFANOVIC: Let’s move on. Horse whispering, yoga and energy healing just some of the activities being funded by taxpayers as part of the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme. Christopher, some dramas here, aren’t there?

PYNE: No, not at all, Karl. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, which we want to fund fully by the way and Bill Shorten doesn’t, Anthony does, he is one of the shadow cabinet ministers who says Labor should support the increase of the Medicare levy to fund the NDIS while Bill Shorten plays cheapjack populism again.

ALBANESE: [inaudible] … funded through a different way.

STEFANOVIC: But horse whispering, energy healing, yoga, spiritual counselling, are they all acceptable?

PYNE: Some of those things might well be Karl, I’m not going to start casting judgment about whether yoga is good or bad for people with disabilities, it might well be good for particular people with disabilities, so I’m not going to jump on that band wagon.

STEFANOVIC: There might be some teething problems though, do you concede that?

PYNE: It’s a very big project, there is no doubt about that, and we want to fund it properly, unlike the Labor Party, and of course there’s always things along the way that you’ve got to smooth out, whether it’s a new program or an older program.

But I’m not going to make value judgments about whether yoga is good or bad for people with disabilities. I’m not qualified to do that. In some cases it might well be.

STEFANOVIC: Anthony?

ALBANESE: The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a proud Labor creation.

PYNE: But you won’t fund it.

ALBANESE: We support it; we have dragged the Coalition towards supporting our position on the NDIS. It’s a good thing. In a massive program such as this, I’m sure that there will be the odd issue or two.

But fundamentally this is making a huge difference to people’s lives who, due to accidents of history, have created circumstances for them and their carers and their families. It’s a great program.

STEFANOVIC: You muscle up yourself in parliament, because we would like to hear questions from now, though. Our viewers do too.

ALBANESE: I think have it’s very hard to say, Karl, that I don’t have a say in politics. Here I am on the most popular breakfast television program.

PYNE: You’re in the bunker!

ALBANESE: Just got that in for the ad, mate.

PYNE: You’re in the bunker.

STEFANOVIC: You’ll be back next week, you can talk as much as you like.

ALBANESE: Christopher mightn’t be.

PYNE: We’ll see about that. If you go down brother, I’m going too. We go down together. We rise or fall together.

STEFANOVIC: That’s funny.

ALBANESE: I’m worried now.

[ENDS]

May 31, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes Segment

Subjects: Terrorism, ASIO, Margaret Court. 

HOST: We wanted to kick things off with this situation with the head of ASIO and this left-field question that he got from Pauline Hanson about whether there is a link between our refugee intake and the existence of terrorism here in Australia. Probably the best example of that actually having occurred is Man Haron Monis, but having said that there are thousands and thousands of other refugees who are, as we speak, you know, getting their kids to school, going about their business. What is your take on this story Chris?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think it is a significant beat-up. What Duncan Lewis has said, and I think it is very sensible, is that a person is not made a terrorist because they are a refugee. So saying that people who come to Australia were refugees represent some kind of risk to our community is obviously false. What he said is that what makes a person a terrorist is being part of an extremist Islamic cult that infects that person to the point where they think that being a terrorist is a good choice. Now that has happened in Australia and that is very unfortunate obviously, especially for those people who have been killed in the process. But to say that a person who is a refugee represents a threat to Australia is false and he has called it out for what it is.

HOST: Do we need to box smarter though? Say there were calls to take in 500 people from a place like Aleppo, which has been the ISIS stronghold in Syria, you would need to sit down and go well hang on a minute, there is a chance that some of these people might be massive undesirables.

PYNE: Well that’s exactly what we do. We’ve just taken in 12,000 Syrians into Australia who have been very, very tightly vetted for a long period of time and we are very confident that we have done as good a job as anybody could have possibly done to ensure that those people are going to be contributors, positive contributors, to Australian society. So we don’t just take the first person who turns up at the customs gate in Damascus and says they want to come to Australia.

HOST: What do you think of this whole discussion Albo? Is it hard to maintain a sort of compassion argument when you look at all the terrible things that are happening around the world and you do get this understandable sense from the public that we should be massively risk averse?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I agree with, on this occasion, with every single word that Christopher just said. And when you spoke about having to box smart, that is exactly why the head of ASIO should give the answer that he did, based upon fact rather than based upon emotion. And his analysis about how people are radicalised – in particular he has identified online radicalisation – is appropriate. It is important that we have a sober analysis of this. That’s what our security agencies do and they are doing in my view a fantastic job of maximising the possibility – of course you can’t ever say 100 per cent – but maximising the possibility that we are kept safe. And this is a bipartisan issue and it is quite unusual really that the ASIO Director General is making public comments, but in this case it is entirely appropriate because he is above politics and is able to just say it like it is.

HOST: Speaking of saying it like it is, Margaret Court has come under fire in recent days for her comments regarding same-sex marriage. She is clearly an opponent of the movement, doesn’t see the merit in it. It has led to two questions and I will give you both an opportunity to answer these. One is with regard to her legacy and the naming of Margaret Court Arena of course at the Australian Open after her and whether that should change because her political view is undesirable. And the other is how this whole element of this debate reflects on the capacity for Australia to have a full and frank discussion about a social issue as sensitive as this. Chris Pyne, I will let you go first.

PYNE: Well, I think Margaret Court is entitled to her opinion. I don’t think people are too concerned whether Margaret Court flies Qantas or not quite frankly. But I think she is entitled to have her view. I don’t agree with her view. I am in favour of marriage equality. I certainly don’t think that there should even be a question about the Margaret Court Arena being renamed. Of course it shouldn’t be. And most people who say things like that have really got to examine their own conscience because we live in a free democracy where people are allowed to express their opinion. And then to vilify those people flies completely in the face of everything that we stand for as a democracy. So I certainly don’t support questioning the name of the arena and I strongly support Margaret Court’s right to say what she said. I don’t have to agree with it and of course we can have a sensible debate about these matters in Australia. Quite frankly we should have a plebiscite and get on with it. That’s what the Government offered. Labor’s blocked it and that’s the reason we haven’t got marriage equality and that’s, I think, a great shame. We could have had it by February.

HOST: What about you Albo? What do you make of it?

ALBANESE: Well Margaret Court won’t be flying any time soon because both Qantas and Virgin both support marriage equality – Virgin very publicly many years ago through their leader, I guess, through Richard Branson. So I think her comments are unfortunate – having a crack at the company for stating its view. But she’s entitled to do that. The idea that the Margaret Court Arena is named for anything other than her tennis capacity, of which she was a great player. She was a lot better player than she was a political interventionist and the idea that we’ll go back and look and see whether Sir Donald Bradman’s views equate with everyone’s too is ridiculous.

HOST: Bradman always supported the continuation of cricket in South Africa and a lot of people might retrospectively say oh well, maybe he should be retrospectively chipped for having done that.

ALBANESE: Absolutely. He had a range of views that I would have some difficulty with, but so what in terms of the naming of a stadium, or indeed a road after Sir Donald Bradman because of his cricketing capacity and I think people understand that. Margaret Court is Australia’s greatest ever grand slam winner and she won the Australian Open of course multiple times. People should be able to have their views without going a bit silly about it. But it seems to me that, contrary to what Chris said, because I don’t want to agree with him all morning, is this is another reason, just an example of the sort of debate that we would have if we had a plebiscite. And the idea that politicians aren’t elected to make decisions – we are. We should get on with it. Have the vote, get it off the agenda. Then people will wonder what the fuss was about. And that is one of the things that the business community are saying and frankly I don’t understand for the life of me why Malcolm Turnbull can’t bite the bullet. Have a conscience vote of the Parliament; it doesn’t have to be a binding one.

HOST: But he’d have to break a promise to do that wouldn’t he?

ALBANESE: No he wouldn’t because he has tried to get the plebiscite through. The plebiscite won’t happen now, it won’t happen next Parliament, it won’t happen any Parliament any time soon, regardless of who is in Government. It’s not happening. The way that marriage equality will happen is through a vote of the Parliament.

HOST: Is that your preferred position Chris, deep down? Chris Pyne just to wrap things up, deep down is that your preferred position?

PYNE: Well we have a policy to have a plebiscite and I support the plebiscite because I want to give every Australian the same say that I’ve got in whether we should have marriage equality or not and we don’t currently have a Coalition bill before the house to have marriage equality. But yesterday, by the way fellows, we had the next instalment of the Albolanche…

ALBANESE: Seriously. Seriously.

PYNE: You heard it here first. The avalanche of the Albanese campaign.

ALBANESE: It’s a bit early in the morning to be drinking Christopher.

PYNE: Now that’s a bit topical in Adelaide right now.

HOST: And that’s where we leave Two Tribes this morning. (Inaudible). Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese good on you both, we’ll do it again next week, always a lot of fun.

May 30, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Beattie & Reith, SKY News

Subjects: Inland Rail, Cross River Rail, Western Sydney Airport

BEATTIE: Well let’s move to our first guest, Anthony Albanese. Anthony thank you for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you both.

BEATTIE: Now Anthony, no one could ever deny your passion about infrastructure, so can we come to the Budget. One of the things that you have been on about for a long time is the Inland Rail and I just want to talk about whether there is a difference between the rhetoric and the delivery. I support this project like you do. I just worry, where are we with the alignment and what are we doing about the link between, to the Port of Brisbane? So tell us what your view about the proposal in the Budget was.

ALBANESE: Well I am a supporter of the Inland Rail Project. We put in Government $900 million into the project; $600 million for fixing the existing alignment, because a lot of this project isn’t new track. It’s just upgrading of old sections and then about 40 per cent is new. So we put $300 million into the Budget for the preservation of the corridor and the early pre-construction work.

My concern now is that the Government has before the Budget set it up with this good debt, bad debt idea, of putting it off-Budget. So they have allocated some $8.3 billion but it is all off Budget and when you look at the actual project it is going to stop at Acacia Ridge. So that leaves about 38 kilometres between there and the Port of Brisbane and it is the most expensive bit because you have to tunnel. So what are you going to do? Put these double-decker trains, get the containers and put them onto trucks and go through the residential streets of the most built up area of Brisbane in order to get to the port? That doesn’t make any sense.

It is a fix over the finances rather than a proper infrastructure planning process and that is what I am concerned about with this project. We do need to get it right and getting it right means that we actually take the freight somewhere and that means taking it to the port.

BEATTIE: Well the point about Acacia Ridge is absolutely right, because as two people who represented this area, we can tell you Anthony that would be incredibly unpopular running those…

NEWMAN: A lot of politics around that.

BEATTIE: You are absolutely right. There would have to be a tunnel. Can I come to the finances of this; I read somewhere that this would take something like 50 years to get the return on the capital investment for this rail line. Is that right?

ALBANESE: Well that’s what John Anderson said in the report to the Government, which is why some of the funding at least surely needed to be on Budget, not pretending this is going to have a rate of return. Now we raised that, to go back a little bit I guess, to put things off-Budget for a Government business enterprise. What needs to be shown is that there will be a return to the Budget. So the National Broadband Network will produce a return to taxpayers, therefore it can be funded off-Budget.

This project, on its own assessment done by Price Waterhouse Coopers, for the Government on behalf of John Anderson and the committee that he chaired, said it wouldn’t produce a return to capital of the capital expenditure for more than 50 years.

And that’s why I think you have this project stopping at Acacia Ridge. Because that decreases the cost of the project by maybe $4 billion, in order to, well at least, because the tunnelling is the most expensive part. And then you have in Senate Estimates, the Department say that in order to make this stack up as an off-Budget project they are going to look at the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s return as a whole.

So effectively the lines are the ARTC, that’s a Government owned entity that will be building the Inland Rail, that currently makse a substantial profit and the main one of that is the Hunter Valley Coal Network, will be used to subsidise the Inland Rail. Now that is just a fiddle, frankly, and I think that with a project like this, which is good, which will take trucks off the road, that will be important for cities like Parkes to be able to expand in Western New South Wales. It will take pressure off the coastal route, there is a range of reasons why this project is good, but for the Government to pretend that it can all be done for free in terms of actual on-Budget expenditure, is frankly a triumph of hope over practical analysis and already I think that it is beginning to unravel.

NEWMAN: Albo, can I go somewhere else if I may, please, and that is Sydney’s new airport, the second airport. We had a great example of what the private sector can do in the last few years in Queensland, between 2011 and 2014, the Wagner family up in Toowoomba managed to build a brand new international airport and they built it a rock bottom price. Have you got any comments to make about the plan and the time frame for the second airport in Sydney?

ALBANESE: The Wellcamp Airport, I have visited that airport, and it is fantastic and it is a great example of the private sector being able to achieve a very good outcome for Toowoomba and the Darling Downs. All of that region will benefit from that airport. The Sydney West Airport is of course something very different. Sydney West Airport is servicing some 2.2 million people right now living in Western Sydney. That will grow over the next couple of decades by another million, so it will largely be servicing both in terms of freight and in terms of, most importantly, passengers, both domestic and international aviation. It will be a substantial airport, and it is an opportunity to create jobs and really drive economic activity, I am a supporter of the airport. The model that has been done is a result of a bad decision frankly by the Howard Government to offer the first right of refusal to the existing owners of Sydney Airport.

NEWMAN: They have knocked that back though haven’t they?

ALBANESE: They knocked it back, they have.

NEWMAN: Isn’t that a good thing?

ALBANESE: Well that was a commercial decision, which they’ve made. The Government under those circumstances probably had no alternative but to proceed by themselves, because no doubt if it had been offered up to other private sector bids you potentially would have had some legal issues raised about whether the offer would have been exactly the same.

As it is now it will get done, and that is the important thing, it will get done. It is important that as it gets done that jobs are created for people in Western Sydney. It’s important that, and I have had discussions with the Government about our proposal which is that for all infrastructure projects where there is Government involved, there needs to be at least 10 per cent of local apprenticeships created. Let’s create the skills and lift the base while we’re building infrastructure and this is an exciting project that needs to be got right. There needs to be public transport there from day one.

NEWMAN: Can I ask you about how the Labor Party would see public transport being provided and how it should be funded in the most appropriate manner?

ALBANESE: Well we think that the North-South Corridor along with all of the councils in Western Sydney, see one of the problems with our major cities, is that everything can go to the CBD, in theory. But in practice with a city like Sydney its great geographical advantages of the Harbour and the rivers, the topography that’s there make it very difficult.

So you need to have transport linkages not just going into the hub and spoke approach but also along North-South Corridor. So a rail line, essentially from Campbelltown and the Mcarthur Region, up through Badgerys Creek Airport, up to near St Marys and connecting with Rouse Hill, will really open up economic development in Western Sydney. Some of the project, no doubt, can be funded by value uplift as a result of the growth that is happening there. Just to give you one example, the Science Park just to the north of the airport will attract some $5 billion of private sector investment for high end jobs including of course an on campus K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths school, where there is already an MOU with the Catholic Education Office. Now these are the sort of opportunities where the airport will be a catalyst for that investment.

But we need to make sure that we get it right with a rail link, which also then goes through to Leppington and connects up with the South-West Rail. If people want to look at other potential links that are there to Parramatta, or even a High-Speed Rail link, by all means that is worthy of consideration. But the main thing is making sure that people in Western Sydney themselves can benefit from the jobs that will occur from what should be an aerotropolis. It shouldn’t be just a runway and a terminal it should be seen as an enormous opportunity.

BEATTIE: Anthony one of the other areas that is causing a lot of angst in the infrastructure area, particularly in Brisbane is the Cross River Rail link. That seems to be a bit of a mess. Where is it exactly, based on what the Government has promised and what they plan to do?

ALBANESE: A great disappointment in this Budget is the announcement of a so-called $10 billion National Rail Fund, of which there are zero dollars this year, zero dollars next year, zero the year after, and $200 million in four years’ time. I mean that’s a farce. So it was a big announcement with nothing behind it. Malcolm Turnbull likes riding on trains, but he has got to start funding them.

And the Cross River Rail project, as you both know, was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012. Myself and Campbell Newman, as the Premier, showed that you could cooperate. We were prepared, as was Campbell Newman’s Government, prepared to put in $715 million respectively, and then we had an availability payment model. There was going to be uplift around Woolloongabba station. It was ready to go, and the thing that stopped it was Tony Abbott, essentially, saying that the Commonwealth wouldn’t fund public transport projects and would withdraw, and he did indeed, withdraw all funding from any project that wasn’t under construction.  And I think that was really a lost opportunity.

I must say that the work I did with Campbell on Legacy Way is there for all to see.  You can have cooperation across political parties, and that is what people want.  That is what we are doing on Sydney West Airport, and the result is that it’s going ahead. What it needed was not just Government but Opposition to be on the same page there. And the Cross River Rail Project, for goodness sake, it would have been creating in the meantime literally thousands of jobs, and it is important, of course, not just for the people of Brisbane, but for the capacity of the network on the Gold Coast, and indeed, on the Sunshine Coast.

BEATTIE: That’s exactly right. Well there you go mate. You would be on side with it?

NEWMAN: Well I guess so.

ALBANESE: We had good discussions. We were ready to go, Campbell.

NEWMAN: Perhaps the problem is now that they are not leasing the assets. But I will move on.

BEATTIE: He’s agreeing with you Anthony.

ALBANESE: We were ready to go.

NEWMAN: Well we were actually. I think the history of it was pretty accurate, yes, pretty accurate.

BEATTIE: Well talking about cities, and coming back…

ALBANESE: I used to get into trouble Campbell, by saying that I was a Labor Party minister who was able to sit down with you cooperatively, but I did that with a range of ministers regardless of their political colour across the country. That really, I actually think that from time to time, that really is what people want to see.

NEWMAN: Well we need a lot more of that now.

BEATTIE: We need a lot more of that. Anthony, the issue about house prices in Sydney, you are the Minister for Cities. It seems to me that if there can be a fast train to places like Wollongong, Newcastle, you can do the same in Melbourne. A lot of people can live there in areas where the housing is a lot cheaper, but work in Sydney. Why aren’t we doing that?

ALBANESE: Exactly, well we did, one of the things that we did in Government was a substantial two-part study. It showed for example that the Sydney to Melbourne benefit cost-ratio was $2.15 benefit for every dollar invested. And part of the reason was exactly what you point to, is the growth in regional development, on the Southern Highlands, Canberra, Newcastle, indeed, from Brisbane. The stations were going to be obviously Gold Coast, but then Lismore, then down through Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle. Opening up, if you put Newcastle and Canberra under one hour from Sydney’s CBD, guess what? They are fantastic places to live, this city of Canberra, Australia’s largest inland city, the bush capital, has a fantastic lifestyle for families. It took me an hour on Saturday to get from Marrickville to Balmain; it is about eight kilometres on a Saturday morning.

So in terms of opening up that economic development, it absolutely makes sense; its time is here right now. Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America are all doing it, and there’s no reason why Australia shouldn’t be doing it as well. We do live in a vast continent with a relatively small population, but that population is concentrated down the East Coast corridor and we should take advantage of that.

NEWMAN: Can we move off infrastructure just before we finish, and, something I want to put to you, it troubles me greatly, the national debate and the tone of it. Bluntly, I do not hear much about sort of, helping people get ahead under their own steam. We hear a lot about, sort of, welfare payments, we hear a lot about helping people like that. But we don’t seem to have a mantra from the Labor Party or sadly even from the Coalition, now they seem to have abandoned that, about lower taxes, letting people through their own efforts, sort of bring up their families and look after themselves. Frankly the debate now seems about more tax, about hitting people hard, and frankly there is a smaller group who are being the ones who are paying these taxes. And I am not just pointing the finger at the Labor Party, though I think, personally,  that has been pretty big in the last few months, but the Coalition seem to have lost that mantra, I think it is one of the reasons that the Liberal Party are in trouble in the polls, do you want to comment on that?

ALBANESE: Look I think you make a valid point, I think governments should always look at ways in which they can facilitate much greater activity by others, by the private sector. That’s one of the things that draws me towards infrastructure in fact, I don’t want to bring it back to that, but you look at whether it is a project like the National Broadband Network; enabling businesses to operate so that you can operate in a regional centre and have the same access to the rest of the country and the world as if you were in the CBD but with much lower cost structures, that’s one of the great enabling factors of the National Broadband Network. I think in terms of transport infrastructure as well, allowing people to get around, is also…

NEWMAN: If I can just jump in that is not what I was asking. I was asking about a culture in Australia where we encourage people to look after themselves, to bring up their own families and not rely on the government. I mean sadly we seem to be losing that.

ALBANESE: Sure and I think that encouraging work; I mean one of the debates that I have heard around, some people in so-called progressive areas, there is a bit of a debate whether people should be just paid an amount and we give up on trying to find people work. That to me is completely the wrong way around. Work is a noble thing. You impart value, to yourself and your community by what you do, and that’s why I see very exciting prospects, like the Science Park that I was talking about, that is not government investment, that is private sector investment by the people, largely driven by the people who run Steggles chooks; who have come here, one of the great Australian success stories, who’ve come here from overseas, now second generation coming through, creating jobs in their local community. They are proud of their Western Sydney origins.

BEATTIE: Anthony can I ask you one final thing before we go because unfortunately time is running out. Look, as a life member of the Labor Party, I am a bit gobsmacked by this debate about the NDIS and the Medicare Levy, because to me that was one of the great achievements of the Gillard Government and it actually brought about equality and dignity to people with disability. I don’t understand why the Labor Party is only putting this one per cent on people over $87,000, because this is going to be a huge problem for the budget. We have got to fund the damn thing from somewhere, and one per cent basically means it is a fair go for everyone, if you are on $50,000 you pay less than someone who is on $90,000. I must admit I do not get it, so maybe you can explain it to me, but I would have thought this was something that we all had a shared responsibility in contributing to the dignity of all Australians regardless of their ability.

ALBANESE: Well on July 1 of course, the so-called temporary deficit levy on people above $180,000 is being removed. And if you do the calculations, if you keep that, but only apply the NDIS levy to those above the $87,000 dollar figure, you of course then make sure that you are not putting an increased burden on lower income earners, and you in fact raise more revenue than the Government’s proposal. That’s the Labor Party proposal, and the argument is one of equity essentially. There is real concern out there that real wages are in decline, that people are already potentially losing their penalty rates; many people on those lower income levels. It was felt that what we should not do is to place a further burden on them, and that what we’ve come up with is a way to raise additional revenue but do it in a way that is more progressive.

BEATTIE: Okay, I appreciate that you’ve got to stick with the team game Anthony, and I respect that. Look anyone who has had a beer named after them like you have deserves respect and courtesy. You and I were in politics, did you have a beer named after you?

NEWMAN: No I have had beers thrown at me probably.

BEATTIE: I was probably throwing them. We couldn’t get a beer named after us Albo.

ALBANESE: One of my proudest moments, I will send you fellows along a bottle each of Albo Ale, there you go.

BEATTIE: We will keep you to that, Albo thank you for being with us tonight and keep up the fight with infrastructure because it is about growing the country, so good luck.

ALBANESE: Yes, terrific to be with you.

BEATTIE: Take care.

May 30, 2017

Matters of public importance – Infrastructure

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:11): I will give the member for Bradfield credit for one thing: chutzpah! Coming in here, when Victoria is getting 8c in every dollar of the national infrastructure budget, when it got zero dollars this year, zero next year, zero the year after, zero the year after that and zero the year after that, right through to 2021, in this budget, he comes in here and speaks about Victorian infrastructure.

Of course this is a budget which cuts $1.6 billion from infrastructure investment this year. In last year’s budget they said it would be $9.2 billion; instead it is $7.6 billion, but after that it falls off the cliff: It is cut of $7.4 billion in actual infrastructure investment over the forward estimates, down to $4.2 billion. This is what the peak industry body, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, say: ‘The budget confirms the cuts to the real budget for capital funding to its lowest level in more than a decade, using a mix of underspend, reprofiling and narrative to cover this substantial drop in real capital expenditure.’

There is no new money in the budget—just cuts: cuts to road funding, cuts to the Black Spots Program, cuts to the Bridges Renewal Program, cuts to the Bruce Highway, cuts to the Pacific Highway. The fact is that this budget is a con. One of the biggest cons is their so-called national rail fund. This is a budget where they have tried to get the areas where they were behind Labor off the agenda, but when you look at the actual substance, it is not there. They know they have a problem on public transport—the fact that they cut public transport funding from every project that was not under construction. So what they said was, ‘We’ll create this $10 billion national rail fund.’ It sounds great, except when you look at the detail. Zero dollars this year; zero dollars next year; zero dollars the year after that; and $200 million the year after that. Not a single dollar between now and the next election.

Two years ago they created the NAIF. Zero dollars has gone out of the NAIF. It has just paid for the members of the board to float around and have meetings. In this budget they created another NAIF—the No Actual Infrastructure Fund. That is what they created in this budget, because there is only one new project in this entire budget over the forward estimates: the Far North Collector Road near Nowra—$13.8 million.

The local paper, the South Coast Register, said in their editorial that they had not even heard of this road. The government failed to fund the Nowra bridge—not a dollar. Have a look at the Cross River Rail project. It was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012 and funded in 2013. Last night I did an interview on a television program with a fellow called Campbell Newman—he used to be the Premier of Queensland. I said last night, ‘We were ready to go.’ Campbell Newman said: ‘Well, we were actually. I think the history of it is pretty accurate.’ It was ready to go way back when it was approved in 2012. It was funded in 2013 and it was cut in 2014. Now, all these years afterwards, those opposite say, ‘We still need more information.’ Well, here it is—a letter from Scott Emerson, Minister for Transport and Main Roads, signed on 30 April 2013. He was a minister in the Campbell Newman government. He said that he was writing to seek confirmation of the funding principles and that the project would be delivered through an ‘availability payment Public Private Partnership’. The letter states:

… construction period (2013/14 to 2019/20) … The contribution is estimated to be in the order of $715M each;

•   the Australian and Queensland Governments will fund the availability payment stream for the PPP component of the project on a 50:50 basis …

•   the Queensland Government will fund rail operating expenses for the Project; and

•   the project will be delivered through a PPP commercial vehicle and financed by private sector equity and debt.

It was ready to go. I seek leave to table that letter from Minister Emerson.

(Leave not granted)

Mr ALBANESE: They do not want to see the details of where it was ready to go. No wonder they are embarrassed by the fact that projects that were ready to go were stopped by the government. Years later, they are still prevaricating.

Let us have a look at Inland Rail. They had a little committee, chaired by John Anderson, which said this:

Hence a substantial public funding contribution is required to deliver Inland Rail.

So how is it that they are contributing to this project $8.3 billion of equity? You can only deliver equity injections rather than actual cash funding if a project is going to produce a return. Their own documents say it will not produce a return to capital in more than 50 years. So this is a fix by those opposite that is just embarrassing, because it does not stack up.

When we asked about this in Senate estimates last week, the secretary of the department indicated that the rate of returns on equity were for the ARTC, the Australian Rail Track Corporation, as a whole rather than for the Inland Rail project. So they are going to take the fact that the coal lines in particular in the Hunter Valley produce a return for the ARTC and roll that in and pretend the Inland Rail can be funded without a dollar contribution, because there is no cash contribution from those opposite. Then they reduce the costs by having an inland rail line that does not go anywhere, because it stops 38 kilometres short of the port. You are going to have these double-decker trains with two lots of containers stacked on them that are then going to be put on trucks to go through the most congested areas of the suburbs of Brisbane—just like the Perth Freight Link stopped three kilometres short of Fremantle port and the WestConnex project goes nowhere near the Port of Botany, which was the original idea of Infrastructure New South Wales under Nick Greiner.

The fact is that the government simply cannot get any infrastructure projects right. They have done all this with the idea of good debt, bad debt. The rhetoric in the lead-up to the budget was designed to create a smokescreen for the fact that they were actually going to cut funding. That is why they have established this so-called infrastructure financing unit in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This is what the peak industry body have to say about that:

We cannot identify any currently proposed infrastructure projects which are commercially viable and not already attracting finance; therefore we cannot see how the IFU will increase the pace of infrastructure project delivery; …

Indeed, this is a solution looking for a problem, because there is not a lack of capital available in this country. We have almost $2 trillion in superannuation funds. We have private capital, from here and overseas, that is interested in investing in nation-building infrastructure. If you actually fund Infrastructure Australia properly—and get the projects right and establish the pipeline of projects—capital is available. But what this government has done is gut Infrastructure Australia and side-line it, establishing its own little unit in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is not nation building; this is empire building by those opposite—and by the Prime Minister in particular.

If you look at the details of the budget, you will see that there is no new money for cities, no new money for public transport, no new money for major road projects—no vision whatsoever from those opposite. The fact that you had Campbell Newman there last night conceding the fact that the reason the Cross River Rail Project is not now almost completed is because of the attitude of the former Prime Minister that is being carried on by the current Prime Minister. It is all rhetoric and no substance.

(Time expired)

May 26, 2017

Transcript of doorstop – Balmain

Subjects: Small business, One Nation, Malcolm Turnbull, Labor Party

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s been great to be able to open the Google Digital Skills Workshop that’s taking place here in Balmain today. Small businesses reply upon digital connectivity to talk to customers and to expand their businesses.

That this forum has been full to capacity shows that here in the Inner West we have many dynamic small businesses who want to work with the local chambers of commerce who’ve organised today’s forum along with Google.

Small business is the engine room of the national economy, creating jobs, creating opportunity and this forum is important so that our local small businesses can maximise the potential that they have for growth.

JOURNALIST: Just having a look at some of the issues of the day, One Nation are obviously under investigation by the Electoral Commission which has basically said this morning that for the first time they’ve had to use coercive powers to draw out information. How concerning is it that we’re at this stage?

ALBANESE: It’s of real concern that One Nation, it would appear from the evidence before the Senate Committee, haven’t been prepared to cooperate in the way that parties have traditionally always have.

This is the problem with One Nation. Many people support One Nation out of their views that they’ll somehow be different from the mainstream political parties.

What we see is Pauline Hanson seeming to have a pattern of relying upon these powerful unelected figures like David Oldfield and John Pasquarelli.

Now of course, the latest example is Pauline Hanson relying upon an unelected staffer, James Ashby who has had an interesting past, to say the least. What we have here is a political party that has a history of being elected and then unravelling, and it appears that it is unravelling before our very eyes.

These are some very serious allegations about One Nation. The recorded conversation, the One Nation response from James Ashby seems to be to a discussion about the way in which the conversation was recorded. Well, the issue here is that the conversation took place.

The issue here is that there was a conscious debate within a political party about how to rip off taxpayers. That is why there is an investigation. That is why Labor Senator Murray Watt called for the investigation.

It’s a real concern that Malcolm Turnbull and everyone in his Government appears to have not taken any action, not even referring this to the appropriate authorities.

JOURNALIST: The fact that coercive powers are having to be used, is that a concern politically for the wider political spectrum?

ALBANESE: It’s good that the authorities have the capacity to use these coercive powers, but they shouldn’t be required. Political parties should cooperate with the appropriate authorities.

There are some serious allegations that have been made and a political party such as One Nation, that has representatives in the Australian Senate, should be fully cooperating with any inquiry. We shouldn’t need these coercive powers.

JOURNALIST: We are looking at record or very strong economic growth, is this an indication that the Government is in fact on the right track?

ALBANESE: Well it’s an indication of the hard work of Australian businesses such as those that are represented here today. The Australian economy is very resilient. But what we need to do is to make sure that we have mechanisms in place that ensure that continues into the future.

The fact is we have an increase in debt of over $100 billion. The deficit is ten times higher today than it was when the Government introduced the so-called temporary deficit level.

Under-employment is a real issue in our economy. Many Australians are really struggling due to housing affordability issues and as well, the fact is that we have effectively a decline in real wages.

A decline in real wages means a decline in living standards and that is of real concern because those people who are low and middle income earners tend to spend most of their income.

That will have a dampening impact in the medium term on our economic growth unless we do something to lift real wages.

But this government’s response to that is to support a cut to penalty rates for some of the lowest paid workers in Australia.

JOURNALIST: With some of these issues you are just talking about there, escalating debt etc., can you really push the Government to increase more school funding; is that achievable?

ALBANESE: School funding is an investment in our future. School funding is an investment in creativity and making sure we maximise the potential of every young person. Two things will increase our future economic growth in this country.

One is investing in productivity boosting infrastructure. The second is investing in education, training and skills of our people, and that is why Labor has always regarded education funding as an investment.

JOURNALIST: Labor is doing reasonably well in the polls, perhaps on the leadership front not so good, is that a concern for you?

ALBANESE: Labor is doing well in the polls. We’re on 53 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote, and that is an indication that this Government is out of touch. Malcolm Turnbull seems to be someone who hasn’t implemented the policies that people thought that he would.

He came to the leadership of the Liberal Party and people thought he would bring a breath of fresh air to that leadership.

But what we’ve seen is him turn his back on policies that people know that he holds; turning his back on marriage equality; turning his back on support for actually investing in public transport not just talking about it; turning his back on advancing an Australian republic.

These are all issues that have led people to be very disappointed in Malcolm Turnbull and I think the Government is being judged harshly for that.

One of the important issues of real concern to the people at this forum today is access to high speed broadband. What we know is that Malcolm Turnbull on his watch as the former communications minister has purchased some 15 million metres of copper wire.

This is fraudband, not broadband and Malcolm Turnbull is being judged because of his bad performance as a minister as well as the disappointment in his Prime Ministership.

JOURNALIST: So it is more a reflection of the Liberal Party or the Coalition’s issues as opposed to leadership of the Labor Party as to why the polls are going so well?

ALBANESE: We’ve held the government to account and we’ll continue to do so. We’ve put forward positive policies. To take one issue of concern to Australians on housing affordability, we have been prepared to have the courage to advance, from opposition, changes to capital gains tax and negative gearing regimes aimed at housing affordability.

The Labor Party is leading from opposition because of the vacuum that the government’s creating because Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t have the courage of his conviction. What Australians want is politicians and leaders who will stand up for their principles and stand up as conviction politicians.

They want authenticity. They know that in Malcolm Turnbull, they haven’t got the authentic Malcolm Turnbull. They’ve got Malcolm Turnbull who’s constantly concerned about what Tony Abbott and his supporters think.

JOURNALIST: And again this comes back to the strong leadership of Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: Bill Shorten has had the courage to take on issues like negative gearing and housing affordability and I think that has been reflected in Labor’s strength in the polls.

JOURNALIST: And just finally, is this with regards to the Labor leadership, is now or never an opportunity for you as far as potential leadership of the party?

ALBANESE: I’m concerned about being a good shadow minister and then a good minister in a Labor Government. I have always put the Party first. I’ve always put the interests of my electorate first.

The fact is that you do the job that you’ve been given at the time to the best of your capacity. That’s what I did as Leader of the House and a senior minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments.

That’s what I’m doing now as an opposition frontbencher and I’ve been campaigning very hard to hold this government to account. As the Infrastructure Shadow Minister, what we saw in the Budget is a $1.6 billion cut in infrastructure investment in the Budget.

What we’ve seen is a failure to fund important projects like the Cross River Rail in Brisbane, Melbourne Metro, AdeLINK light rail, nothing for Western Sydney rail. I was at Campbelltown earlier today and the fact is that we need that rail line from Campbelltown up through the Badgerys Creek airport site, up to St Mary’s and onto Rouse Hill if we’re going to maximise the opportunities through the new airport.

So they’re the sort of issues that I’ve been concentrating on. I’ll continue to concentrate on policy issues and playing my role as a senior member of the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: So not an issue?

ALBANESE: I’ve been continuing to do the job that I’ve been given. It’s a great honour to be a Member of the House of Representatives, to represent my electorate here in the inner west of Sydney but it’s also a great honour to be a senior member of the Labor Party and I don’t take that for granted. I do the job for the team each and every day. I’ll continue to do so.

[ENDS

May 26, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Manchester attack, Labor Party 

LISA WILKINSON: Shock and revulsion over the Manchester bombing continues to be felt around the world. Here it’s prompted authorities to review how major events are policed and the role we can all play in being vigilant. Joining me now for more is Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Good morning to both of you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

LISA WILKINSON: Excellent to have you both together.

ALBANESE: Congratulations on your ten years.

PYNE: Absolutely.

WILKINSON: Thank you. But it is appropriate that you two are together, because that’s the one thing that we want to come out of this Manchester attack. It’s for people to unite against evil. But Christopher, people are nervous, what is the Government doing right now to make sure that the Australian public is safe at large public gatherings?

PYNE: Well, Lisa, when something terrible like this happens, as happened at Manchester Arena, the Government immediately responds by reviewing whether we have all the legislative powers in place that our security forces need, agencies like ASIO and ASIS and the Australian Signals Directorate as well as the Australian Federal Police.

We have mechanisms, apparatus in place to work with the all the state police forces so if there is anything more we can do to add to their powers we will do it. And fortunately, it is a bipartisan area, so if we propose more changes to the law Labor almost always supports those.

The second thing of course we can do is to make sure that our security forces are properly financed, properly funded by the Government and we think we have got those things in place. And of course, we think about how we can support Britain in this case with intelligence and with support, just moral support.

But no government can guarantee that all of our public are safe all the time, and the Manchester Arena bombing is particularly heinous, because the suicide bomber blew himself up not inside the stadium, so there were no bag checks that could have stopped that happening. He waited until the end of a concert, until people were leaving and he was outside the venue. So it’s a very evil act.

WILKINSON: Anthony, do you think the Government is spending enough right now on fighting terror?

ALBANESE: The Government and the Opposition are as one. This is a time where the government is not the Liberal Party, the government is us, on behalf of the nation. That’s the way it should be. It’s the way it was when Labor was in government, it’s the way it is today. All Australians are horrified by the attack and anyone with a child just thinks of the tragedy of parents wondering where their kids were, who went to that concert.

All of us have a responsibility, not just government I think, but civil society as well, to engage as one. I think the best scene that I saw in Manchester was that amazing gathering of what looked like the entire city of Mancunians coming out in public, in solidarity, to say we won’t be defeated, we won’t be cowered.

WILKINSON: Christopher, in the wake of the Lindt siege cafe findings the NSW Police Commissioner wants shoot-to-kill laws so that his officers can take a life to save a life. Do you agree with that?

PYNE: Well, I’m surprised that those laws don’t exist at the NSW level already. I’m sure in some guise they actually do, because obviously the police have the power to shoot to kill in a situation where people are in danger. It’s been happening for many decades in Australia. In fact, there’s been criticism that sometimes certain police forces have been too ready to do so. So, I’d need to actually get the detail of what more he thinks he needs to do. That’s, of course, a matter for the NSW Government, but obviously if the NSW Police had acted even sooner in Lindt, apparently ten minutes earlier, it may have been a different outcome.

But as the NSW Police Commissioner himself said that wouldn’t guarantee there won’t be causalities because when you have guns and crazy people in a situation like that you cannot guarantee that everyone is safe.

WILKINSON: There are currently six Victorian youths who are considered at risk of violent extremism. What more can we do to make sure that these people don’t act? How close is the surveillance of these people?

PYNE: The most important thing we can do is collect as much intelligence as possible and work with the communities that are at risk, if there are communities at risk.

WILKINSON: But what about monitoring these people in particular?

PYNE: Well we are monitoring those people. Let me tell you, in the last little while we have interdicted 12 attempted terrorist attacks in Australia, we have arrested 63 Australians, only last week we arrested another South Australian person on this occasion. So, our forces are very effective.

Now, I can’t guarantee that we will never have a terrorist attack like the one at Manchester Arena, but we have been very lucky in Australia and one of the reasons is because our security forces are really on top of this and our intelligence gathering is second to none.

WILKINSON: Alright, well let’s sincerely hope that’s the case. And Anthony, I just have to say to you quickly it’s great to see you talking. Barnaby Joyce says that you’ve been silenced by Bill Shorten, what’s going on there?

PYNE: He’s mute.

ALBANESE: Not true, of course. I’m happy to be here in Campbelltown, Mike Freelander country here.

WILKINSON: You haven’t been silenced by Bill Shorten’s office?

ALBANESE: I’m here on The Today Show, I’ll be on another program on a non-commercial network tonight.

PYNE: He’s on the campaign trail.

ALBANESE: Just to give the ABC a plug as well. I’m out there doing my job.

PYNE: Before we go, can I just say it’s been a great pleasure to be working with you for the last five years on The Today Show.

WILKINSON: Thank you Christopher.

PYNE: So congratulations on your 10 years. It’s been a wonderful time.

WILKINSON: Thank you. And we always appreciate you coming on every Friday. It’s lovely to work with both of you.

ALBANESE: It’s been great.

PYNE: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good on you Lisa.

WILKINSON: Thank you.

 

 

May 26, 2017

Transcript of television interview – ABC, Lateline

Subjects: Subjects: Terrorism; indigenous affairs; Budget 2017 ; education.

DAVID LIPSON: To discuss these issues and the rest of the week’s politics, I was joined earlier by Industry Minister Senator Arthur Sinodinos and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese for our late debate. Gentlemen, welcome to Lateline.

ARTHUR SINODINOS, INDUSTRY MINISTER: Thank you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, OPPOSITION INFRASTRUCTURE SPOKESPERSON: Good to be here.

DAVID LIPSON: Horrific events this week, not just in Manchester but also in the Philippines: martial law declared, a police chief beheaded; and Jakarta: twin suicide bombings there as well. Are we doing enough, are we focusing enough on what’s happening on our doorstep, Arthur Sinodinos?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Well, David, these incidents are a reminder that the war on terror in all its manifestations is ongoing. I remember one president of the United States, George W Bush, once saying it was going to be a pretty long campaign. I don’t think he had any illusions about it. And look, we should be optimistic about our capacity to ultimately deal with all of this. But we have to be realistic and but recognise on the way through there will be incidents. We do everything in our power to prevent incidents from happening. We rely on the cooperation we have with, among others, the Muslim community to help in this regard.

In the case of Indonesia in particular, Malcolm Turnbull has a strong relationship with the Joko Widodo and we use that to always encourage the Indonesians in their anti-terror campaigns. And they have done a lot to help us in that regard and vice versa.

DAVID LIPSON: Anthony Albanese, what have you taken out of this week?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think Duncan Lewis, the head of ASIO, has said that we’re at the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end of the struggle against terror. And that is a dire warning, really, but a reality check for all of us. We have to be vigilant. We have to ensure that we respond to this as a nation, not as political parties. And I must say that, in my time, both in Opposition and in government, that has certainly been the case.

We need to make sure that, when an incident occurs, we have an examination and then we have a response; and any further reforms that are required occur. But on a positive note, I look at what happened in Manchester: that incredible tragedy. But I also look at the response of the Mancunians who gathered in their hundreds of thousands to say: “We’re not going to go away. We’re going to celebrate our freedom. We’re going to demonstrate that case by publicly gathering in the centre of that city.”

And that empowering image, I think, is very important for us. So part of what the terrorists would like is for us to be fearful. We need to celebrate our freedom, whilst being vigilant and making sure that we do whatever we can and have ongoing responses.

DAVID LIPSON: Also this week, we have seen Indigenous leaders meeting at Uluru, trying to resolve this very tricky question of how to proceed on the issue of constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians. Arthur Sinodinos: firstly, I mean, do you think we need to change the constitution? Not everyone in your party believes that there should be a change.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Oh, I think for a long time – certainly from the time of the Howard government onwards – there have been these moves to better recognise the role of our Indigenous people in our constitution, as part of the reconciliation process. It’s true to say Indigenous people remain the most – on the whole – the most disadvantaged group in our community. And there’s a whole series of complex reasons for that. And over the years we have tried all sorts of ways to remedy that and there’s still more to be done. But we mustn’t underestimate the power that comes from having proper recognition in our constitution.

DAVID LIPSON: Should it go further? I mean, there are some calls from Uluru for a treaty?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: But the point is this, whatever comes out of it is: we have got to be able to have something that can unify Australians and bring Australians together. It can’t be a process which then gets cherry-picked by various groups in the community who have their own agendas. There must to be one agenda: how does this bring Australians together?

DAVID LIPSON: And it really need bipartisan support. I mean, do you have a preference, Anthony Albanese, in terms of the change to the constitution and whether there should be more a treaty or an Aboriginal body that advises government policy-makers?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think in part our responsibility as policy makers is to listen to those people directly affected. It is unfinished business. But I’m very hopeful that, just as after the national apology it was a unifying event – it was my proudest moment that I have experienced in the national Parliament – the constitutional recognition will be an important step forward.

DAVID LIPSON: I want to get on to the politics of this week. We saw the Labor caucus lock in opposition to the Government’s plans for a Gonski 2.0, as Malcolm Turnbull described it. This is what Bill Shorten told the caucus:

BILL SHORTEN, OPPOSITION LEADER: We’re going to have this argument. We need you to help us win this argument. We can win this argument. If the Government want a fight on education and who’s fair dinkum, excellent! Excellent, excellent, excellent.

DAVID LIPSON: He’s clearly relishing the prospect of a fight on education. Anthony Albanese, why block $19 billion in additional funding, just because you want another $22 billion on top of that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: There are 22.3 billion reasons why we’re opposed to what the Government has put forward.

DAVID LIPSON: But why block the first $19 billion they’re proposing?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Our position is that we created the Gonski process. It came out with needs-based funding. It’s good that the Government’s adopted the rhetoric, but they haven’t adopted the substance. And the fact is that, when you have circumstances whereby some of the most disadvantaged schools in Australia – particularly if you have a look at the impact on the Northern Territory, for example – are going to not receive the funding that they need, then this is an inadequate package.

DAVID LIPSON: But the point is: why not accept the $19 billion, as Craig Emerson himself suggested; and then promise to do more than the Coalition? Then promise to go that $22 billion further?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The fact is, of course, that appropriations are made in appropriations bills. The fact is that this package is inadequate; that the Government has adopted the rhetoric but not the substance. And that is our concern. This is an opportunity to get it right for a generation; to stop the divisive debate that’s been going on for many years between whether you should be funding government schools or non-government schools: to move to needs-based funding. But to do that you need the resources to do it. This Government hasn’t been prepared to do that.

DAVID LIPSON: Anth – Arthur Sinodinos, excuse me.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Some people do call me Anthony.

DAVID LIPSON: Apologies.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Only our mothers can tell us apart.

DAVID LIPSON: The Greens are also moving away from this, it seems. Is there a chance this is going to be blocked in the Senate? Can you get this through?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Can I come back a step? What’s been good from the Coalition’s point of view in this debate is that we have put a strong position on the table. It involves significant additional funding. It’s gone back to the original Gonski formula, if you like: from the 2011 report that Anthony referred to. It’s a formula, I think, easy for people out there to understand. It’s on a needs basis. And we can demonstrate through the school estimator around the country how many schools are going to do better than this and the circumstances in which some schools lose out, because of special deals that were done over a very long period of time. What Simon Birmingham has done is to clean it all up and put things on a principled basis. And that’s, as you say, $18.7 billion more funding.

Labor can promise more if they want and they can explain how they’re going to pay for that. But for us, it’s a very easy equation, I believe, to sell out there. And I believe most Australians will say, “Well, good on them for getting on, making a decision, putting the money on the table.” And we’re linking that with reform. It’s important to understand: Gonski 2.0 is not just about the money. It’s about a process of consultation, a series of experts with Gonski, out there in the community, trying to find out what is the best way to improve the quality of education. We make the best use of the money. The two are linked.

DAVID LIPSON: Anthony Albanese, you made the case last week for a different narrative on the budget. A lot has been made of your comments, particularly coming off the back of your criticism of that Labor Party ad that was pulled. You said Labor should accept the victories that it’s had in the budget. Now, can you explain for us what you meant in that speech? Because a lot has been read into that, as you know, in terms of your leadership ambitions.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, this has – a lot of the analysis has been examining a distinction without a difference. There’s very little difference between what I said and what Bill Shorten did.

DAVID LIPSON: What is that difference?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what I said was that the Government, in terms of its rhetoric, has adopted a range of positions that are consistent with Labor’s position. So, for example, they’ve said – and I have said this since Malcolm Turnbull became the Prime Minister – he’s gone out there and said, “I support public transport. I support the Commonwealth having a role in our cities.” What I say is: that’s a good thing.

The problem is that he’s not putting new investment into public transport. The gap between the Government’s rhetoric and what they’re actually doing is vast. And we need to – you can acknowledge that the rhetoric’s changed, compared with – that’s a good example between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott said no funding for public transport, no engagement cities…

DAVID LIPSON: But you were much broader than that in your comments. You said that it was an overwhelming victory: the Government’s capitulation on a range of matters, including Gonski, health…

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I think you’re completely…

DAVID LIPSON: Well, the words were…

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t know if you read the speech.

DAVID LIPSON: I have read the speech. The quote was “an overwhelming victory”: the Budget should be seen as “an overwhelming victory”; whereas Bill Shorten had said this budget has nothing to do with Labor?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that this a political party that has, for generations, tried to oppose – they wrecked Medibank when Malcolm Fraser became prime minister. John Howard, in his first…

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Embraced it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He did not. He said he would tear it apart, and then undermined it under Tony Abbott. Now, Malcolm Turnbull says that he supports Medicare. It’s good that he says he supports Medicare. It’s a pity that they’re maintaining the freeze on Medicare co-payments for another two years.

If you look at the substance of what they’re actually doing in this budget – whether it’s health, whether it’s education, whether it’s infrastructure, whether it’s the National Broadband Network, where they’ve moved from saying the National Broadband Network…

DAVID LIPSON: But you don’t – sorry to interrupt, but you don’t accept the criticism from some of your colleagues. One of your senior colleagues told me this week that you’re not only damaging your own chances, but you’re damaging Bill Shorten and Labor’s chances?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Not at all.

DAVID LIPSON: You don’t accept that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Not at all. The fact is that I’m a team player. I’ve been out there arguing this case. I’ve been saying, about the cities and infrastructure policy and other policy, the same positions for a long, long period of time.

DAVID LIPSON: Arthur Sinodinos: on your side, considering the big…

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I’m happy to talk about Albo and Bill…

DAVID LIPSON: Considering the large ideological leap that this budget took, Tony Abbott’s been fairly quiet. Do you welcome that? You know, do you think there’s been a change in sentiment there? What’s going on?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Look, I think Tony, like the rest of us in the Coalition, believe that there was no point after the last election continuing with a series of policies which clearly were not going to be passed by the Senate. So the point was to have a reset. So this budget is that reset. It was pragmatic.

The Prime Minister made it clear after the last election the overriding priority was to be able to get budget repair done. So that meant not only considering spending measures, but potentially revenue measures; and to have a clear path back to a surplus by about 2021, which was consistent with where we had earlier projected we had wanted to be.

So is that being pragmatic? Yes. Is it being sensible? Yes. In this game it’s better to get 60 or 70 per cent, 80 per cent of something than 100 per cent of nothing. And that’s the choice that we faced.

Can I say on these all issues about leadership: the reason there’s been commentary about this, between what Albo has been saying and what Bill has been saying, is because Bill has clearly gone out there, stung by the fact that we appear to have moved more back towards the centre from the right. But we’re coming at the centre from the right. We haven’t gone over to the left.

The point is: he’s been stung by that and he is now going further out in order to differentiate further. That’s the point he’s made – and he’s making, I think, a big mistake. He peaked at the last election. If he is still leader by the next election, he could well face the fate of the Beazleys and others of the world, where you often find opposition leaders do their best at their first election and then, after a while, as people get more and more used to having them around, they start to get a bit shop-soiled

In his case, he’s never led Malcolm Turnbull as preferred prime minister. Clearly the party vote has been different, but it’s pretty clear to us: the Australian people do not have much affection or, indeed, respect for Bill Shorten as the alternative leader.

DAVID LIPSON: We’re almost out of time. I will give you 30 seconds to respond to that.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what Arthur just said: the most significant thing of what he just said was when he spoke about the policy issues and said that: “We have moved away for pragmatic reasons.” That’s the point that I make: it’s in their DNA that they don’t actually believe in Medicare; never have. They don’t actually believe in needs-based education funding. They’ve adopted some of the rhetoric for pragmatic reasons, but in their core DNA they stand for unfairness. And that’s why this budget gives a cut to people who are millionaires: get a cut of $16,000 in their income tax; but those people on $21,000 or above have to pay more income tax. And that’s the big distinction that we will continue to drive home.

The fact is: the Labor Party is a united party under Bill Shorten’s leadership. We’re all doing the job that we have been given to the best of our capacity. And I’ll continue to do just that.

DAVID LIPSON: We’re out of time. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us on Lateline.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thank you.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Thank you.

 

May 24, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Manchester, Labor Party 

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us on the line right now and there is really one story that is dominating the news cycle of course at the moment. It emanates out of Manchester of course and we’ve spent much of the program reflecting on how our nation’s politicians as has the United Kingdom’s on those developments. Upgrades to terror levels, changes to things like bag checks at ANZ Stadium for the Liverpool – Sydney FC game today, and more.

Let’s get into all that now with Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.

CHRIS PYNE: Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning gents.

HOST: We’ll start with you if we can Chris; I’ve just been reading a bit in the London Sun, we’re getting more of a picture of the bomber in this atrocity. He’s a 22 year old man, Salman Abedi, his parents were refugees from Libya, came out to the UK to escape Colonel Gadaffi. He was just a run of the mill uni student, didn’t finish his degree, but then he dropped out, fell in with a bad crowd, became radicalised.

Now there’s a significant number of young men in Australia who could potentially fit into that same category, you know. Guys who, for whatever reason, end up with a chip on their shoulder. How confident can we be as a society that the sort of deradicalisation programs that we’ve got in place are working, or do we still need to do more.

PYNE: Well David nobody can ever say that there is no possibility that an attack like that at the Manchester Arena can’t happen in their society or their country. What we do in Australia, and we do it very well is we put a lot of effort into interdicting these kinds of attacks before they even get started. And our defence forces, our security forces, our police, have done so on numerous occasions over the last few years, and that’s sad that they’ve had to do so, but they have done so.

And there have been of course attacks of this kind, not obviously as serious as this dreadful incident in Manchester, but there have been these kinds of incidents in Australia. We’re going to get the coroner’s report today, in fact, on the Lindt Cafe siege and that is one of the examples of where we didn’t successfully interdict a problematic person in our society. But you don’t hear about all the times when our defence forces and our security forces do stop these kinds of attacks in their tracks before they get started, and we don’t really want to worry the public about these potential attacks. And we do it on a regular basis.

We do it by collecting a great deal of information, by having close relationships with those kinds of, as you describe them, the bad crowds. We try and find as much information about those as possible, and we do a very good job of it, but we wouldn’t want to be complacent about it. What the Manchester Arena attack tells us is that somebody with that kind of intention can bring about an attack.

The particularly awful aspect of this, of course, is that even bag checks would not have prevented this attack, because the suicide bomber blew himself up after the concert when people were leaving, at the merchandise store on the way into the Arena, when people were coming out, as opposed to being inside the concert. It’s a particularly evil attack targeting young teens. I think that has particularly touched everyone around the world.

HOST: To you, Albo, do you think that we need to have a broader conversation about the manner which our sort of, small ‘l’ liberal values can be used against us by people who have no intention of ever subscribing to them. I know that as one example, I know that you in the past have been very critical of the organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir which is still a legal organisation in Australia, but often sounds like nothing other than blatant apologists for groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Do you think that we need to muscle up a bit more in terms of the levels of tolerance, uncritical tolerance that we extend?

ALBANESE: Well I certainly think we need to call out groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir. They are apologists for the Islamic State and for actions such as this, I think that bring home to people the sheer horror of the mentality. I mean it’s almost beyond comprehension how someone could plan to detonate a bomb, kill themselves but take young girls, in particular, out with them. In this case at least one eight year old girl has been murdered.

We need to be very clear about our language, be clear about those people who would seek to do us harm and I’m confident though that the authorities are very competent in this country. I’ve sat in the National Security Committee of the Australian Government as well and we do have agencies that do their best to keep us safe. Now, can you guarantee that an individual can’t do something like this? Of course no government can do that but what we can do is work together as a nation, which we do.

I mean these issues aren’t partisan. These are issues where all of us in leadership positions need to do everything we can. A government’s first responsibility, and Parliament’s first responsibility is to keep our citizens safe. And I have confidence in the Government doing that, and in the agencies that do such remarkable work. Really, the number of, you might recall, just a few years ago the attempted plot on the MCG that was foiled; there are a number of others that we never hear about, as Christopher said, that are foiled because the agencies are ever vigilant. Now one of the things that we also do, is that when there is a tragedy, as there was in Martin Place with the siege, we have proper transparent investigations and learn from these incidents, and we need to continue to do that.

HOST: We’ve spent a bit of today talking about our response and people’s responses to what took place yesterday, here in Australia. I’m interested to get an insight about you two personally, about when something like that happens yesterday there is a feeling of generally disenfranchisement or sort of helplessness amongst the general public.

It’s why we get hashtags and people angrily ringing into talkback radio and things like that because people feel like they can’t influence, they’re a victim of what goes on. You guys come on every week because we want to speak to two of the most influential politicians in this country. When you turn up at work the day after something like this taking place, do you have a desire or do you feel like you want to turn up and do something about it? Do you feel like something needs to change? Do you feel like you have to play a role influencing the dialogue, the debate, the language that gets used? Or is it your role to go about business as usual?

PYNE: Well I can go first if you like. There are three things that leap to mind to me. The first is that I immediately think how lucky we are in this country that security issues are bipartisan, that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and the National Party are as one on the protection of our citizens and how to go about doing that. Sometimes there are nuances, but by and large we work together, because it’s the most important thing that any government can do, and no one tries to play politics with it.

The second thing I think about is to make sure our agencies, our security forces have all the powers that they need, because that’s of course where the Parliament comes into play; not only do we fund of course the agencies through the Budget, and both political parties do that, but we also have to give them the powers that they need to be able to protect our citizens.

And the third thing I think about is how to engage more with those communities where we need to be aware of the kinds of people who might carry out such an attack in Australia. I’m not one of those people who thinks we should demonise particular communities for a cheap headline. I think we should engage with those communities as much as possible, because I can tell you for a fact that is where most of our information comes from.

ALBANESE: Yes, look the first thing that I think that it does, and I’m sure this is the case for everyone regardless of what they do for a living or where they are at a particular time, it does create perspective.

We in this place have our arguments over issues. Something like this happens and at the beginning of Question Time, both the Prime Minister and Bill Shorten made outstanding contributions, and it really put some of the argy bargy that goes on into proper perspective, and that is important.

The second thing that I think of, I always, I must say, think of my responsibilities, not so much now because I’m the Shadow Minister, but as the Minister for Transport, I’ll always think about immediately, did we do everything that we could? We did full body scan. It was very controversial potentially; we had the harshest regime in the world. We have a no scan no fly policy that was supported by the Opposition in a bipartisan way when we were in Government. We did that in response to the undie bomber when that happened over Christmas of that year. We respond when there’s an issue, we respond, and we respond in a bipartisan way, that’s a good thing.

But the third thing, as much as you feel inevitably down, I don’t think anyone can feel anything but depressed by what’s happened, is that I was uplifted when I saw a photo on social media of the amazing gathering of what looked like hundreds and thousands of people in the main square of Manchester, basically saying we won’t be defeated, we won’t be scared. We’re going to celebrate life and our civilised society, and come together regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, gender, we’re together as one, as Mancunians. And I just think that was incredibly uplifting and I think at times like this it shows that terrorism doesn’t win. People don’t go into their shell, that’s what they want, and people getting out there into the streets, in a public place, just saying, it was an act of defiance and a magnificent scene.

HOST: We made the point earlier guys that 15 years after 88 Australians were among the 202 people who perished in the Bali bombings; there are now record numbers of Australians going to Bali for their holidays and for different reasons. So the fact that life goes on is the ultimate middle finger to the ISIS set.

Hey look just before we let you go, and just quickly Albo, and taking your point about perspective in the scheme of things and everything we’ve just discussed, I don’t want this to sound frivolous but there is a piece in the SMH today, other people have written about the Labor leadership focusing on your comments about the Budget and also the 457 visa ad. Is anything going on, do you have any designs on Bill Shorten’s job?

ALBANESE: Look I’m just doing my job and I think I’m doing a good job of holding the Government to account. I want to be a Minister in the next Labor Government, that’s my focus. And on the ad, I called it as I’ve saw it; I think that one of the reasons why you have Christopher and myself on your program is that we don’t talk in pollie-speak, and I think that’s a good thing. I think people are over people giving words that are managed to every single issue. And it is a pity; that’s one of the reasons why politicians speak off the script that they’re given from on high is that whenever you actually say what you think, people try and read other things into it.

HOST: So nothing’s going on?

PYNE: But if the opportunity presented itself you would take it of course.

ALBANESE: I’m just doing my job.

PYNE: You wouldn’t knock the crown back.

ALBANESE: I’m just doing my job and we’re on 53 per cent of the vote.

PYNE: I think I know the answer to that question.

HOST: Thank you guys appreciate your time this morning, thanks Chris, thanks Albo.

 

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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