Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Mar 16, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Albury Train station

Subjects: High Speed Rail, NSW election.

ALBANESE: I’m here today with Ross Jackson, Labor’s candidate for Albury at the state election and I am here today to call upon the Federal Government and the New South Wales Government to support my High Speed Rail Planning Authority Bill.

We spent, when we were last in government, $20 million on the plan for High Speed Rail – a line some 1750km long from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga and Shepparton. What that study showed was that there was particular economic benefit for the Sydney to Melbourne section, particular benefit because of the economic activity and jobs that would be created right here in Albury.

A High Speed Rail line taking people from this region to Melbourne in just over an hour and into Sydney in just over two hours would transform economic opportunity here.

The Federal Government has backed away from support for this project. They say they support it but they have walked away from the creation of this planning authority. They cut the $52 million that had been allocated in the Budget for this authority and they are using as their excuse a lack of support from state government, in particular from the NSW Government. This is important for regional economic development and I can’t think of any other single project that could create jobs here in this region other than a High Speed Rail line.

REPORTER: If Labor were in power how would you make it happen though?

ALBANESE: What we’d be doing is establishing the authority. That was upon recommendation of the advisory group that included people like Tim Fisher, Jennifer Westcott from the Business Council of Australia, Bryan Nye from the Australasian Rail Association. A unanimous recommendation that said that you need an authority in order to drive that change, in order to preserve the corridor, in order to proceed with the environmental approvals that will be necessary in order to turn this vision into a reality.

We know with an economic return of $2.15 for every dollar invested it’s a smart investment. It’s an investment in our future. It’s an investment in nation building and it’s the sort of vision that Ross Jackson has for Albury and that Australians and people in this region are crying out for.

REPORTER: Does Australia have the critical mass to make it viable though?

ALBANESE: We certainly do. We are a vast continent but we are concentrated along the corridor of this High Speed Rail line. That’s what makes it viable – a three-hour journey from Sydney to Melbourne, capital city to capital city, CBD to CBD. That’s very competitive.

I caught a plane to and from Melbourne from Sydney last Thursday. It took me more than three hours door to door. If a High Speed Rail line could deliver that, it would transform capital city transport.

But more importantly here, a rail line that went through this region could transform the region, take pressure off our capital cities. That’s why it’s vital for this region of Albury-Wodonga that this rail line proceed. All it requires is political will.

We know also that foreign investors are queueing up, people are queueing up to provide advice on how such a High Speed Rail line would work. We know that it’s occurring throughout the region – not just Japan that created a high speed rail line some 50 years ago – but also in China, in other parts of South East Asia and throughout Europe.

Anyone who travels to Europe will know that if you are going from Rome to Milan or London to Paris or Madrid to Barcelona, you do it by High Speed Rail. It has transformed those regional cities. That will take pressure off the big capitals. We need to grow our regional centres and there’s nowhere better to grow than right here in Albury-Wodonga that is well positioned to take advantage of such a line.

REPORTER: Do you reckon Ross Jackson has any chance of winning when Greg Aplin holds the seat by 27 per cent?

ALBANESE: I went and campaigned in Queensland in seats with a two in front in terms of the margin. What I know and in this region, you just have to look a little way to the south to see the sort of outcomes that happened at Shepparton in the last Victorian state election to know that you can have big turnarounds.

What we know is that the Liberals have taken this region for granted. The Nats have abandoned the field and the Liberals are essentially run from the northern beaches of Sydney.  Mike Baird and his best mate Tony Abbott don’t care about this region. Ross Jackson does and Ross Jackson will stand up for Albury.

REPORTER: Would a High Speed Rail not be in jeopardy of just passing through and taking tourists away from Albury?

ALBANESE: Not at all. We did the study and the study showed that in order to be viable you need two sorts of train journeys. One is the three-hour direct journey. But what really lifts up the value of the High Speed Rail line is those regional journeys. Stations that have been identified if you look at the study – the work has been done: a stop in Shepparton, a stop in Albury-Wodonga, a stop in Wagga Wagga, a stop in Canberra, a stop in the Southern Highlands.

That is what transforms the value. Why wouldn’t you want to live in a great regional centre such as Albury-Wodonga if you were one hour from the capital city of Melbourne and two hours from the capital city of Sydney and an hour from Canberra? It would really transform this region. That’s what makes it viable is those regional express trains on a High Speed Rail line making sure that those regional centres are lifted up economically.

This at the end of the day is about jobs. A High Speed Rail line is good for the economy, it’s good for employment, it’s good for the environment.

It’s also a much more pleasant experience. I’ll be today to travelling from Albury to get to Canberra where Parliament is sitting. I’ll be flying to Sydney. I’ll be waiting at the airport. I’ll be hustling on to a plane. I won’t have time to do any work on that plane. I’ll then get off. I’ll then wait for another plane. I’ll then be sitting on the journey to Canberra – won’t get any work done.

A High Speed Rail journey is a great experience. That is why people internationally have voted with their feet for High Speed Rail by travelling on High Speed Rail journeys. That’s why every on single line that has been built internationally  – the actual number of travellers has exceeded the forecast. Every single one.

If it’s good enough for France and Spain and China and Italy and Japan, it’s good enough right here in Australia and because of the pattern of settlement we have down the east coast, that is what makes it viable.

REPORTER: What kind of state government commitment would it require of the project was to go ahead?

ALBANESE: The state government needs to do the planning. The state government needs to do the environmental studies, needs to help with the preservation of the corridor, which is why you need an authority to co-ordinate planning in terms of the southern journey across Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT. That’s why that state government input and support is so critical.

When I raised this with ministers in the Baird Government when I was the federal minister who had commissioned this study, we didn’t ask them for money. We didn’t ask them for anything other than support. What we got was just cynicism. We’ll, that’s not vision. That doesn’t help the people of Albury and that is what Ross Jackson would bring as the Member for Albury.

REPORTER: Has NSW Labor made a commitment to this?

ALBANESE: Well I am here today. We’re not asking for funding. I’ve discussed the issue with Luke Foley. He’s supportive of High Speed Rail. We have here a candidate that would take to Macquarie Street passionate advocacy for this project because Ross knows what it would do for jobs here in Albury.

REPORTER: Last Friday the Victorian Government announced a sum of money as part of a rail development that side of the river. We’ve got one about 13km that way. Is that duplication or a waste of taxpayers’ money?

ALBANESE: Certainly what we need to do is have co-ordination on across the jurisdictions in terms of NSW and Victoria. That’s one of the reasons for going back to the vision of Tom Uren, one of my mentors in politics – he had a vision for this region of Albury-Wodonga – making sure that it worked together. Certainly we need to make sure that there is co-operation between NSW and Victoria.

REPORTER: So clearly that hasn’t happened here.

ALBANESE: Well I’m not going to comment on the specifics, but NSW and Victoria need to have a co-operative relationship, particularly in the border areas. One of the issues of Federation is that you do have a need for co-operation across our state boundaries. That’s one of

the reasons why today I am talking about the creation of an authority – an authority that would ensure that you had that co-operation across the different jurisdictions.

REPORTER: I’ll take that as a yes.

REPORTER: Ross, from a local perspective what would a High Speed Rail do?

JACKSON:  Well, effectively it you put Melbourne an hour and a half away the potential for this economy changes drastically. There’s a lot of support for High Speed Rail in the country. We have to look at this as the next Snowy Mountains scheme. It’s the next great nation building project that we have to push forth and ensure that it is there for future generations.

REPORTER: The Coalition said over the weekend that they will put in a new XPT train fleet. You sort of can’t beat that really can you?

JACKSON: The main thing to remember is that replacing the XPT is just replacing classic rail. We have a problem with classic rail and we are just upgrading the problem we have. If that $1 billion was actually put towards fast rail, what sort of outcome would we have towards the future? The press release itself – I’m a railway worker – there’s a lot of issues in that press release. There’s a lot of holes in that press release and there’s a lot of things I would like to see clarified in it

REPORTER: Such as?

JACKSON: It says that there will be a reduction of 25 minutes of services between Albury and Melbourne. Either they are paying for a signalling system increase in Victoria to take speeds past 130km/hr or they are removing stops on the line.

REPORTER: So you are saying it’s sort of a follow promise.

JACKSON: There’s holes. They should have thought it thorough a bit more.


Mar 9, 2015

Transcript of media conference – Pacific Highway, Newrybar NSW

Subjects; Pacific Highway funding; asset sales; electricity privatisation 

REPORTER: You were here when this was officially launched, I heard?

ALBANESE: I was indeed. Construction began here in 2012 and this was a part of the $7.6 billion that the former Federal Labor Government put into the Pacific Highway. Projects that have been completed like the Banora Point upgrade to the north, the Ballina Bypass just to the south. But throughout the Pacific Highway we invested $7.6 billion over 6 years. That is more than 6 times what the Howard Government invested in half the time. They had $1.3 billion. And now that the Coalition are back in charge federally, the investment has dropped.

In 2013, our last Budget, there was $1.023 billion for the Pacific Highway. This year in the Abbott Government’s first Budget there’s just $357 million – a fall of 65% in investment. That says it all about the National Party who continue to take this area and these communities for granted, which is why I’m here today with Justine Elliot and Janelle Saffin, our former Member for Page and our current Member for Richmond, but importantly with Paul Spooner, who’s our great candidate for Ballina.

What you have is federally the record of Labor as opposed to the Coalition, but statewise since the Coalition came to office, they’ve cut their contribution to the Pacific Highway, and last year we saw the extraordinary decision by the State Government to take money that had been allocated for the Pacific Highway and use it for a walkway across Moore Park to the Sydney Cricket Ground. That says everything about the National Party taking this community for granted.

REPORTER: So what does that lack of investment in Northern Rivers roads mean for locals?

ALBANESE: What it means is you don’t get big new projects under the National Party. It took Labor to get the Ballina Bypass done, to get this project underway, to do the Alstonville Bypass. On the way here I drove past the Byron Bay Parklands – a fantastic project once again funded by the former Labor Government. In Ballina when I arrived yesterday, I was reminded as I drove along the coast of the Surf Life Saving Club upgrade that we did in Ballina. It’s taken Labor Governments to invest in the North Coast. The National Party are tired politically, but they’re asleep when it comes to putting in new investment, whether it be local community infrastructure, whether it be for schools or hospitals, or whether it be for investment in road infrastructure. That’s important for all those people who travel on it, not just for locals, but it’s particularly important for safety.

REPORTER: And you’re also here today to talk about poles and wires?

ALBANESE: I am indeed. We have a state government that is determined to sell off assets that the people of New South Wales currently own. Now you only sell assets to private operators if the private operator thinks they’re going to make a windfall gain. And what we’re seeing with the preparation for that sale is government decision making deliberately trying to increase electricity prices in order to up the sale price.

REPORTER: Mike Baird has come out and said that the sale of poles and wires would only go ahead if they guaranteed in the next 5 years that it would decrease the cost of electricity.

ALBANESE: Well, he has no Plan B. That’s Mike Baird’s problem. With regard to that, there are two possible outcomes. One is the sale will not go ahead, in which case every one of his promises turns to dust instantly. Or second, the sale does go ahead, in which case there’s no real guarantee. What are they going to do, send a nasty letter? Once you have a for-profit system of a natural monopoly such as electricity, then prices of course can go up. You only need to look at what is happening South Australia whereby there’s more than $400 being made by the private owners of electricity from every household in South Australia. That’s $400 per household which could be put into education and health. The problem with electricity privatisation is that if the government says that they have a fiscal issue with long term funding of state government responsibilities, how does it make sense to sell an asset that is producing a return of $1.7 billion that can go into schools, can go into hospitals, can go into community services and go into local road upgrades? It makes no sense whatsoever which is why privatisation has been rejected by the people of Queensland and it should be rejected by the people of New South Wales. They have a big opportunity on Saturday March 28th to put electricity privatisation off the agenda for good.

REPORTER: Another point the Government did make though was that electricity prices went up 60% under Labor.

ALBANESE: There were some issues relating to infrastructure costs and gold-plating. They were federal issues and they were dealt with when we came to government through the reforms that Julia Gillard put in place. They were to do with the national electricity market and the failure of the Howard Government to put in place the appropriate regulatory measures. We fixed that when we were in Government.

REPORTER: So that wouldn’t happen again, there are reforms in place to stop prices rising again?

ALBANESE: Absolutely, the reforms are in place. There are two threats which could result in electricity prices rising. One is with regard to privatisation whereby you move to a for-profit system, but the second is the Abbott Government’s attacks on renewable energy. Their attacks on the Renewable Energy Target mean we’ve seen a flight on investment in renewable energy. The way the market works is like other markets – if you have greater supply you will have a decrease in price. What we’re seeing with the Abbott Government, supported by his best mate, here in NSW, Mike Baird, is we’re seeing pressure placed on the renewable energy sector. We’re seeing international investment shift offshore from Australia. We’ve seen an 88% decline in that investment – left already due to the uncertainty.

REPORTER: So would there be more investment in renewable energy under a state Labor Government or even a federal one?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. We supported the renewable energy sector. Under the former Labor Government, we saw an enormous growth in jobs, an enormous growth in renewable energy with the Target ready to be met. What we have with Tony Abbott coming into government is the remarkable situation whereby they had a review. That review found that the RET was successful, that it was creating jobs, that it was putting downwards pressure on prices. But they found it was too successful, so they want to wind it back. That is the decision of the Warburton review – that the Renewable Energy Target was too successful. It’s a bizarre logic that suggests that. One of the things that it butted up against was the determination of ideology for ideology’s sake. The people who will benefit from this sale is the owners, and also the lawyers and accountants in Sydney who will benefit from the actual process of the sale. People in regional areas such as this will cop it in the neck compared with people who live in metropolitan Sydney, and that’s why people who live in regional New South Wales are right to be particularly opposed to this measure.


Feb 27, 2015

Transcript of television interview – SKY News Australia

Subjects: Iraq, the Budget, Liberal Party leadership, children in detention, Max Moore-Wilton

KIERAN GILBERT: Now from our Sydney studio is the Shadow Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese thanks for your time.

ALBANESE: Morning Kieran.

GILBERT: First of all I want to ask you about the Prime Minister, he’s in New Zealand today, heading there later in the day. What’s Labor’s position when it comes to the prospect joining up with the Kiwis for an enhanced training mission in Iraq?

ALBANESE: Well that will be a matter for consideration when there’s proper discussions between Labor’s leader Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott. Of course the action up to this point in terms of Iraq has been bipartisan. This is something that’s spoken about between the respective leaders and defence ministers. It’s absolutely vital that that bipartisanship be continued.

GILBERT: On to some other matters and the Prime Minister is getting on with the job – visiting the cyclone affected areas yesterday and heading off to New Zealand as I say later in the day. You would obviously be of the view the vast bulk of the electorate are fatigued with naval gazing, internal political naval gazing, and they just simply want the focus on them as the Prime Minister argues.

ALBANESE: They certainly are Kieran. But they are also concerned that the focus on them from this government has been on attacks on them and on their living standards. Attacks on health, education pensions and the ABC and SBS – all things that the government said they would leave alone. A Budget that has an attack on fairness at its core. The problem with the Budget and the general approach to government from Tony Abbott and his team is that it hasn’t been about securing Australia’s future. It’s all been about winding back the gains of the past. Australians know that and that’s why they’ve reacted against this government. And what I saw in Canberra this week Kieran was Liberal Party huddles, people talking on their mobile phones in the courtyards, talking to each other – the campaign in earnest for who will replace Tony Abbott because it’s pretty clear that his leadership is over. It’s only a question of when and who replaces him.

GILBERT: A Labor MP told Mark Kenny with the Sydney Morning Herald that he’s got post-traumatic stress disorder – having flashbacks, can’t sleep because it’s all flooding back to him. It wasn’t so long ago that Labor was undertaking the same sort of scenario.

ALBANESE: Well certainly I believe, I’ve said very clearly, that the actions that were taken in June, 2010, were a mistake and damaged both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. What’s going on here though is that Tony Abbott and his team haven’t looked like the government from day one. They had a plan to get into government but they don’t have a plan to govern and it is obvious to Australians every day that that is the case. When you ask them about their position they go back into retreat – to  three-word slogans, to attacking Labor. The sort of actions this week where you had Gillian Triggs, the chair of the Human Rights Commission, hand down a report – that’s a report that’s critical of both the former Labor Government and the current government over an issue of substance. It’s titled the Forgotten Children because that’s what it is about – children in detention. And once again Tony Abbott has shown nastiness – attacking the player rather than the issue, attacking an independent statutory authority.

GILBERT: But on the substance the government has succeeded on that policy in terms of reducing the number of children in detention by any measure. Surely the Government deserves some credit for, through Scott Morrison initially, stopping the boats and, by doing that, reducing the number of children in detention from up near 2000 to under 200.

ALBANESE: What the report says Kieran is very critical of the fact that children were kept in detention for longer than was appropriate. Why? Because the government made a decision to not process applications deliberately to put pressure on the Senate, essentially using these children in detention as a bargaining chip with crossbench senators. That is inappropriate, just as the report is also critical of the former Labor Government. It’s critical of both sides of politics and what we’ve seen is this attack on an independent statutory officer, clearly a job offer being suggested – an inducement for her to resign because she can’t be sacked from her position and then the government unable to put a clear position about those events. Now they are the sorts of things that led to a premier in my state of New South Wales losing their job for offering an inducement. This is a very serious issue but it also highlights I think the government’s problem of just being relentlessly negative, acting like they were in Opposition. They just haven’t been able to transition into government.

GILBERT: Yesterday you, on another matter, just to wrap up, you put out a news release via your press secretary. I haven’t seen a news release like it – the shortest I think in Australian political history. We’ve got it. We’ll put it on the screen. You’ve heard about the departure of the chairman of the Sydney Airport Corporation Max Moore-Wilton and you are obviously very fond of Mr Moore-Wilton, Anthony Albanese, given that response.

ALBANESE: Well sometimes Kieran one word can say more than 1000.  My late mum used to always say: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.’’ Well, I said one word.

GILBERT: You didn’t risk that.

ALBANESE: I think it got the message across.

GILBERT: I think so. Appreciate your time. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Thanks Kieran.



Feb 13, 2015

Transcript of television interview – Nine network, Today Show

Subjects: Unemployment, the economy, Labor’s policies, urban policy, Bali Nine

WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. Australia’s economy is reeling with news yesterday that unemployment has reached 6.4% – the highest it has been in 13 years. The dollar is near a six-year low and today we are learning that our nation’s debt may balloon to $1 trillion within a generation. To discuss all of this and more we are joined by Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning gentlemen.

PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

WILKINSON: I will start with you Christopher. This is the week that we officially start with good government. How on earth are you going to get us out of this mess?

PYNE: Well I have to say, although people don’t necessarily want to hear it, the debt has been left to us by a Labor legacy of spending profligately for six years and I think people know that.

WILKINSON: But you have increased it?

PYNE: Well, we are we trying to do something about it. If we hadn’t made any changes at all in the Budget, it would have risen still to $667 billion under Labor. We’ve introduced a lot of savings measures, revenue measures and we’ve reduced that from $667 (billion) dramatically. But Labor is still blocking $28 billion of savings in the Senate, $5 billion of which they introduced themselves in government then they are voting against in the Senate. So on the debt bomb, Labor is to blame for the problem and they are now mugging the people who are trying to bring about the solution.

WILKINSON: But you can’t keep blaming. You have to come up you with more solutions. Because what we you are doing is not enough.

PYNE: What we are doing is good work but Labor is actually blocking a lot of it. But we’ve still got 70 to 80% of the Budget through. My higher education reforms I still hope will go through in February-March – over this next period of the Parliament sitting. We’ve also got to get growth going so it’s pleasing to see ANZ job ads are up, business registrations are up, household starts are up. The ABS statistics yesterday on unemployment were disappointing but even the ABS head David Kalisch himself said that they weren’t necessarily reliable. So there are lots of green shoots in the economy and the government has a plan. Labor has no plan other than to oppose everything the government is doing and try and blame us for the problem that they created.

WILKINSON: There is a feeling Anthony that Bill Shorten really needs to start putting some policy forward so we can see that Labor does have a strong alternative.

ALBANESE: Well, Lisa, they were so excited about graduating from Opposition they decided to have a gap year. They themselves have declared this week that good government starts today. That is an admission that they have been a bad government up to this point. And they certainly have been. They doubled the deficit. When it comes to the response to your question, Christopher had nothing to say about unemployment.  Unemployment hit a 12-year high yesterday of 6.4%. That is the highest it has been since the last time Tony Abbott was the Employment Minister. If there is such a Budget crisis, why did they forward an advance payment of $1.5 billion for the East-West project in Melbourne? One point five billion dollars has been forwarded. We wouldn’t do that for a project that doesn’t stack up. That is what they did. We will be responsible. We will put forward all of our policies well prior to the next election.

WILKINSON: But people are really keen. Bill Shorten is doing very well in the polls. We have seen all of that this week. But people are really hungry now to see something. I don’t know that people want to wait another 12 or 15 months before they start seeing real answers to this problem.

ALBANESE: Well of course you need to see what their Budget will be next time around. We have put forward policies. In my area I gave a ten-point policy proposal at the National Press Club last year on cities. We want to engage in issues of dealing with drive-in, in drive-out suburbs, deal with urban congestion. We will fund urban public transport. We will fund infrastructure projects based upon the benefit to the national economy, rather than based upon politics. We’ve got a range of policies out there Lisa, but we will also hold the government to account.

WILKINSON: All right, let’s move on now. There was a rare moment of bi-partisanship in Parliament yesterday where Julie Bishop and Tanya Plibersek made emotional pleas for mercy for the Bali Nine drug others smugglers. Take a look.

FOREIGN MINISTER JULIE BISHOP: I ask others to place themselves, just for moment, in the shoes of these young men and their families – sons, brothers – facing death by firing squad.

SHADOW FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER TANYA PLIBERSEK: In 1988 my husband left prison after being charged and convicted of a similar crime to these young men. I think about – I didn’t know him at the time, this was 30 years ago – what would the world have missed out on? Well, they would have missed out on the have three beautiful children that we have had together. They would have missed out on a man who spent the rest of his life making amends for the crime that he committed.

WILKINSON: Both women making extremely emotional appeals and it was wonderful to see.  But those appeals appear to be in vain with news just hours later that plans are under way to move Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from Central their Bali jail to an island in Central Java to await their execution. Christopher, has the government really done enough where this is concerned to save these two men?

PYNE: The government has done absolutely everything it possibly could do and the Labor Party has all supported the government’s actions the all the way along. The problem is the way Indonesians see this matter is that they have five million, they say, five million drug addicts in Indonesia. They take a very, very firm line on drug smuggling. Obviously we are totally opposed to the death penalty and it was my idea that Julie Bishop and Tanya Plibersek move that motion yesterday in the Parliament and I made time as Leader of the House for them to do that. I think it was a very good thing. That is the first time that we have done that in a situation where Australians are facing the death penalty. So it was ground-breaking. The government has done everything it can. At the end of the day Indonesia is a sovereign government. They are their laws. We don’t support them. We don’t agree with them and it will be a great tragedy, a great tragedy, if those two young men face the death penalty soon.

WILKINSON: Anthony, we every give over $600 million to Indonesia every year in aid. If this goes ahead should we do something – either remove withdraw some aid or should we remove our ambassador? Should we do something to really say just how strongly we feel about Australians being killed?

ALBANESE: Look, I think making government threats to the Indonesian Government is not going to be constructive. That’s the truth. You will have no criticism from me about the government’s action on this matter. The truth is that (there are) some things the Australian public know that the Australian Government have done. There are other things that are best done with a bit of discretion. I had a discussion one-on-one with Julie Bishop last night. I am certainly convinced that she has done the best she can do under difficult circumstances. This is an issue that must be above politics.  I understand some of the public frustration that is there in the public. They want to know more – “Why aren’t you doing more?”. Some of what the government does with an issue like this is best done quietly.

WILKINSON: It was a very interesting week. We want to thank you for all the entertainment that you have given us this week. It is nice to finish on a note of, at least, bipartisanship. Anthony and have Christopher, thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

ALBANESE: Thanks Lisa.

PYNE: Thanks. Lisa.


Feb 11, 2015

Television transcript – SKY Television, Richo show

Subjects: Tony Abbott’s leadership, submarines, Labor’s cities agenda, infrastructure, East-West Link, FBT, Labor policies

RICHO: Thanks for your company here on Richo. Now just a little while ago I recorded this interview with Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. But I think more importantly, he’s the working class hero. He’s the bloke who gets stuck right into the government and he’s very, very good at doing it when he does. I’ve got to tell you I used to take him on at ALP conferences and while I always had the numbers, which made it easy for me, this bloke is a tough opponent, believe me. Never, ever take him for granted. Here’s the interview. Anthony Albanese welcome to the program

ALBANESE: Good to be with you again Graham.

RICHO: It is. It’s been a while. Now tell me something. I mean, you have been there and you have done that when it comes to leadership votes and leadership changes. There’s a different culture in the Labor Party to the Liberal Party, but what does 61-39 mean to you?

ALBANESE: It means it’s over for Tony Abbott. It’s now a matter of how the transition occurs, whether it occurs after there’s a big mistake like the knighting of Prince Philip was what brought on the first attempted coup, or secondly whether it’s just the time factor and ongoing polls and they make a decision. He himself has said: “Give me six months’’. It is pretty hard now to turn it around because you have a government that is at loggerheads with itself. It has conceded that it’s been a bad government when they said good government starts today. What happened after they got elected?

RICHO: This is the second day of good government, is it not – the second day of good government.

ALBANESE: Well, they were so excited about graduating from Opposition they decided to have a gap year. Now they are back into Day Two what we are seeing is the disaster over the subs, where a very simple question today to Tony Abbott  – was there a deal done already with Japan – couldn’t get a straight answer. And the answer to that surely should have been pretty simple.

RICHO: But this is the problem with Tony Abbott. He thinks he can spin his way through. You’ll remember he never wanted to admit that he had actually broken a promise when the entire nation knew that he had. And it has been sticking out like the proverbial you know what that he did with the side deal on submarines to get the trade agreement with Japan over the line.

ALBANESE: That just makes people even angrier. You are always better off fronting up. The argument that the Medicare changes, the education changes, the cuts to the ABC and SBS – all of these of these changes somehow weren’t broken promises, I think has made people particularly angry. And the fact that he ran a campaign from Opposition that was based upon vote for me and I’ll stick to all of the promises I give, you can trust me, I’m not like the other mob …

RICHO: No surprises.

ALBANESE: No surprises. And certainly the reaction to it has been quite extraordinary. And because he didn’t give the Gillard Government or the Rudd Government an inch in terms of the way that he conducted himself in opposition – we had the suspension of standing orders every single day, he called the government not legitimate, he spoke at rallies in front of offensive banners and said he wanted a people’s movement to throw the government out – Because of that, I think people who are sitting back won’t give him, and he hasn’t been given perhaps, a leniency that someone else might have been given.

RICHO: No, that’s right. He set the bar too high for himself. Let me ask you this though. On the second day of good government, and this is the second day, what is happening with the submarines? What are we actually going to tender for? Are we going to build the things here or are we only going to tender for the bits here that the Japanese don’t want to do?

ALBANESE: Well that’s a very good question Graham. I wish I knew. I’m just a Member of Parliament. I sat there watching the Question Time yesterday and today and watching the debacle of a press conference. I mean, they sent the Defence Minister down to Adelaide to clear things up and there was just more mud. He wasn’t even speaking English. No-one had any idea what he had said and to the follow-up questions he just prevaricated even more. That stands in stark contrast to what the South Australian Senator Edwards said on the weekend which was basically that he’d got a commitment out of Tony Abbott that the subs would be built or at least the tender would be allowed from South Australia at the very least,  but the implication being, you know nudge nudge, wink wink, I get the issue of jobs in South Australia. Therefore he was going to vote for Tony Abbott and since then it’s gone pear-shaped for them.

RICHO: Anthony, tell, me. Who’s the mug? Is the mug Edwards for believing him or Abbott for giving the undertaking?

ALBANESE: I’ve never met the bloke but this is one sub issue that is sinking and sinking fast – just like Tony Abbott’s prime ministership.

RICHO: Let me have a look at Labor for a while. The Liberals are doing a pretty fair job on themselves. And it’s been wonderful for you. I don’t mean personally here but a plural you – the Labor Opposition – because no eyes have been upon you. No-one cares about you at the moment because all the focus is on who is going to be the prime minister in the next week or two weeks or two months or whatever it might be. But let’s have a look at you. I want to know, does Labor accept that there is a Budget crisis? Does Labor believe that the fact that here was an $18 billion deficit forecast and it turned into $48 billion in the last Labor Budget? Do you think that is a problem?

ALBANESE: Well they of course doubled the Budget deficit. The first thing they did when they got into office was cancel savings measures that were there – important savings measures about the top end of superannuation concessions. Savings measures to stop company tax off-shored. Savings measures that we put in for the FBT on cars. They got rid of all of those measures. They then introduced a new $10 billion payment they made to the Reserve Bank that that they didn’t have to do. So they doubled the deficit. That’s the first thing that they did. What we accept is that over time you of course have to balance budgets. But you need to do that in a sensible way and in way that is fair, that puts fairness at the forefront. What they have done is to refuse to take any decisions that might hurt some of their mates but been quite prepared to hurt people who are sick and have to go to the doctor’s, or people who are trying to get into universities or TAFE, or people who want to travel on public transport. They are the cuts that have been made and at the same time they’ve had this rhetoric about budget emergency. Well, I’ll say one thing Graham, which is that the issue of the $1.5 billion that was forwarded as an advance payment for the East-West project in Melbourne that we now know doesn’t stack up and isn’t proceeding: If there was a Budget crisis why did they have $1.5 billion to just forward on to a bank account so it could sit there for a project that was years away from construction?

RICHO: Again, that’s looking at them. I want to look at Labor, because it seems to me that what Labor did – and some might call it clever, some might call it dastardly –  with the NDIS and with Gonski, you left some bombs that blow up later and it looks to me like when you go out past the four-year mark, that trying to keep the Budget in balance at that stage, it’s going to be well-nigh impossible unless some dramatic structural changes are made now. And it seems to me Labor hasn’t stood up, put a hand up and said here are the structural changes we’ll go for. So what will you go for?

ALBANESE: We did some hard measures Graham. You might recall after there was a change of leadership, we had before the PEEFO – the forecasts that are done independently by Treasury – we had a mini economic statement from Chris Bowen. And that had some tough measures in it – real tough measures that go to the structural heart of the Budget. Take the FBT on cars. What we said was that you were perfectly entitled to have that concession as long as you were actually using your car for work. You had to provide evidence – I think from memory it was two weeks every five years. So it was minimal in terms of the paperwork but you couldn’t just get as part of your package if you were at the high end, a car thrown in. So the subbies and the people who are contractors and blue-collar workers who use their car and their utes of course would have still been able to use it – and a good thing – that’s what the concession is there for. But it stopped people who weren’t using it for work pretending that they were. That was the subject of the vicious campaign – a vicious campaign against us.

RICHO: I remember one of your colleagues told me that he was standing at a railway station campaigning during the last election having a furious argument with a bloke who was really upset about the FBT decision and your man said: “Well, what are you doing here getting a train?’ and he said: “Oh, I don’t drive it to work’’.

ALBANESE: That’s right.

RICHO: I mean this is the point. We’re all used to it. It’s a concession that we are using to fund private cars. I mean would you still support something like that? If the Liberals put up something like that in the Senate, what will you do?

ALBANESE: We’ll make decisions through our processes, Graham and unfortunately, I’m not a one-man shadow cabinet. But what we showed then was that we were prepared to take tough decisions on the economy. We were prepared to work through issues. We put them up. They were irresponsible and when they came into government they undid all that. I mean, why should someone who’s putting $2 million a year into their super get this huge tax concession? We don’t believe they should.

RICHO: Music to my ears. I can shove money into my super fund and wash it out. But the average bloke’s got Buckley’s of doing that because he hasn’t got any spare cash to do it with. It’s appalling and it needs to stop. But I haven’t heard anyone from Labor say they’d do it yet.

ALBANESE: We did do it. And they undid it.

RICHO: I accept that. But again, it’s a matter of what will you do now? I put this to you – I think that politics has changed dramatically. I think the last year has seen a fundamental change in the way people react to politicians. I think breaking promises is now death. You break them, they get rid of you. They really take a very dim view of it. But secondly, it seems to me that oppositions will not get away in the future, especially federally, with not having an alternative. I don’t think you can get away with going through to the next election in 18 months’ time and then saying: ‘Here’s what we’ll do’’. I reckon a long time before then, once the Libs decide that it is going to be Malcolm who leads them or whatever, once that’s done, aren’t you going to have to come forward with your own program?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. In my area, we have been out there on infrastructure issues. I was made the Shadow Minister for Cities. I gave a major speech at the National Press Club as the Shadow Minister for Cities where I had ten different policies – ten – announced at the National Press Club taking us forward. We have of course an ALP National Conference coming up in July. There will be major announcements around that. We have been prepared to do that. In my area, a vexed issue, Badgerys Creek airport. What it needed wasn’t a Government decision. What it needed was a Government and an Opposition decision together. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. When I was a Minister I tried to get a consensus about a way forward there and it simply wasn’t possible in the context of an election. But that shows how we’re prepared to be constructive. And yes I certainly hope it’s the case that all oppositions and all governments are held to account in the lead up to elections for their promises. But we don’t know at this stage what will be in their Budget this May and that of course will impact on the economic starting point as the Budget after it, if they last that long before going to an election, will of course have an impact on what we can promise. But one of the things that is very clear is that we need to not just make promises on the run and thought bubbles about subs being built in South Australia or anything else. If you make a promise and a commitment you do have to stick to it or you’ll be punished.

RICHO: No doubt about that. That’s pretty obvious. Just ask Campbell Newman. Last question. When it comes to Julie Bishop and/or Malcolm Turnbull, was it true that you were discussing at the Shadow Cabinet last Monday what would happen if one of them takes over and how you would react?

ALBANESE: I don’t talk about Shadow Cabinet, Graham, as you can imagine. But what is true is that around this building people of all different sides of politics; crossbenchers, members of the Coalition, members of the Labor Party, journalists, lobbyists, people who are just dropping by, are all wondering who it will be. Is it Turnbull who clearly has made the running, but I think there’s a possibility of Julie Bishop coming through the middle. I remember back when people thought it was Simon Crean or Kim Beazley, and Mark Latham – the Simon Crean supporters decided to support Mark Latham. We know how that went.

RICHO: Wasn’t that a great move.

ALBANESE: I think I had the same view as you had at the time and did my best to avoid that. But that was a decision that was made. And I think eventually you get worked out. The problem for Tony Abbott is that the mob have worked him out.

RICHO: Yeah, eventually has come. It’s come big time for poor old Tony. Thank you Anthony, I appreciate your time.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

RICHO:  Good on you mate.

Feb 10, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – 2UE, John Stanley and Garry Linnell Show

Subjects: Budget savings, superannuation, the economy, negative gearing, Liberal Party leadership, Badgerys Creek

HOST: How would Labor deal with this? They could be 18 months away from being back in government according to the polls. They will have to make decisions in the Senate to try and get some of these essential pieces of legislation through. Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. He’s on the line. Good morning, sir.

ALBANESE: Good morning to you.

HOST: You’d accept that the Budget position isn’t good. What would you do? If you were the Treasurer today, what should they do?

ALBANESE: Well the first thing that I’d do is go to the saves that they reversed. The high end of superannuation is one measure whereby we had some modest measures. But they would have grown over a period of time. They were important structural changes in the Budget. The second is the $1 billon that they stopped getting in terms of revenue from company tax that was being offshored. Now, they are just two measures. That’s where you’d start. The other thing that you would do though is make sure that the principle of fairness goes across any measures that are put in play. That’s why this Budget of last year that still hasn’t been carried this year has gone down like a lead balloon – because it’s an attack on fairness. I think Tony Abbott conceded that when he made the remarkable statement yesterday that good government begins today. I think people will wonder: What were they doing in their first 16 months?

HOST: Just take us through, what do you mean by these changes to superannuation and how would that impact on most of us out here?

ALBANESE: What we had was a bonus basically, an incentive, to put in superannuation if you were a low-income earner. So at the moment the top end of town, if you get, say, up to $2 million in terms of superannuation benefits – that is part of a package. That’s often done because the tax concessions provide an incentive for that to occur. That sort of tax minimisation compares with those at the bottom end who need more in their superannuation in terms of just surviving not as any tax minimisation ….

HOST: But that’s not a saving plan is it? That’s actually revenue foregone, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: There was that measure at the low end – that’s right. But over time is certainly was a savings measure and it grew into the future.

HOST: But the big issue that no-one seems prepared to tackle – and even Alan Jones was saying this last night on QandA – that high income earners like you and me and Gary, who are baby boomers or late generation Xers who are starting to look towards that age of 60, where you get massive tax breaks if you are a high earner, surely they ought to be reined in?

ALBANESE: I agree that they should be.

HOST: When we say they should be, is anyone going to do anything about it?

ALBANESE: We had begun to do it. That’s the point. We actually had legislation that they reversed when they came into office.

HOST: But given the political climate in this country is it too hard, too hard, to do these things?

ALBANESE: No I don’t think it is. Part of the problem is that the government talked down the economy and confidence which is so important. They inherited an economy that was in sound shape and we shouldn’t talk ourselves down. We had low unemployment, low inflation, record low interest rates, the economy grew by 15 percent, in spite of the fact that the rest of the world went through the Global Financial Crisis. We have relatively low debt.  On infrastructure investment we’d gone from 20th in 2007 to first. So the foundations are sound and we shouldn’t talk them down.

HOST: But the Budget is blowing out. Debt is growing isn’t it?

ALBANESE: We need to address the structural issues in the Budget and they need to be addressed in a way, as we’ve just been talking about, at the high end.

HOST: What about in your electorate you’d have Green-voting and Labor-voting people in the inner city who’d be negatively geared. Half the city is negatively geared. Something like that, isn’t that untouchable because there’s so many people who are doing it?

ALBANESE: Well, that’s certainly very difficult because people have made decisions based upon the existing system. So I think governments will find it very difficult to address that issue. But there are other changes that they have made, is what I am saying. Since they have been in government in spite of the fact that they have spoken about the structural deficit, they have not addressed issues such as that. Remember when we, towards the end period of the government, foreshadowed clamping down essentially on the FBT on cars so that you would have to actually use your car …

HOST: The salary packaging issue and we know the salary packaging industry put huge amounts of money into the Liberal Party to get a campaign running.

ALBANESE: The media just  … we got smashed on it. That was a system whereby all you do is prove – provide the evidence for two weeks out of five – and you could keep getting it.

HOST: That was a rort. It still is a rort.

ALBANESE: They have reversed that. They have reversed that. There’s arrange of measures that go to fairness, that go to people who should be paying tax, pay tax.

HOST:  But we are all talking about bits and pieces here. They manufacturing era is over. The minerals resources boom is over. What is Australia going to live off over the coming 10 or 20 years? How do we define ourselves?

ALBANESE: Look, we have to be the smart economy.

HOST: When people say we have to be the smart economy, what does that mean?

ALBANESE: What that means is that Australia has been very good at innovation. What we have not been good at is then value adding on to the inventions that we have.  We have invented things like wifi. We’ve invented a range of measures in terms of renewable energy. But what we have not been good at is value adding and creating jobs here in Australia out of that.  I’m very confident. We are a smart country. We need to invest in education. We need to invest in training. We need to make sure that we take advantage of our greatest asset which is our people. But we have enormous opportunity due to the growth in the middle class in this region. Areas like tourism, that I have responsibility for, the potential is quite enormous from India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, over the coming decades.

HOST: The story on the front page of the Telegraph today suggests six ministers voted against Tony Abbott. In your long time in politics you’ve been involved in a few leadership challenges. How many times have you been lied to?

ALBANESE: Oh, a few times.

HOST: Do you ever notice people craning in meetings.  I know you have show-and-tell approaches in the Labor Party, people craning looking over the shoulder to see who is marking the ballot paper which way.

ALBANESE: I’m old fashioned, I’ve always told people when I’m not voting for them. I’ve never left any doubt as to what my position is and I think that is the easiest way to wake up in the morning with a clear conscience.

HOST: Do you reckon they would know in the Liberal party who said one thing and voted another?

ALBANESE: I reckon they would. They certainly knew on the weekend that people were ringing around on behalf of Malcolm Turnbull.  On one count, with Malcolm still sitting in the frontbench there, he didn’t challenge Tony Abbott yesterday. We know that in effect he did. Tony Abbott was successful in implementing his new policy of stop the vote. He did that only by binding his ministers. Without that he wouldn’t be Prime Minister today.

HOST: Is there a lot of relief in your party that Tony Abbott remains Prime Minister?

ALBANESE: We want to see good government though.

HOST: But you are relieved that Turnbull is not leading the Government now?

ALBANESE: Well we’ve had Malcolm Turnbull as leader before of course and he was a failure. I think Malcolm Turnbull isn’t exactly someone who is in touch with the needs of ordinary people in my electorate.

HOST: So you are the first opposition – you say you want to see good government  – that if they do a good job in the next six months will say, you know what, they’ve done a fantastic job. Would you say that?

ALBANESE: Well. We‘ll wait and see

HOST: A political warrior like you will to get up and say: You know what, Joe has really surprised me. That’s a fantastic Budget and can’t say anything negative about it.

ALBANESE: When they do the right thing I have been prepared to be out there. Something like Badgerys Creek airport didn’t need a decision of government, it needed a decision of government and opposition that’s the truth. There’s no harder decision that than and I’ve been there upfront from day one I argued for it. I couldn’t get the then Opposition to back it in but we certainly have.’’



Feb 10, 2015

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Liberal leadership crisis; Tony Abbott; broken promises on infrastructure, public transport; Malcolm Turnbull

ALBANESE: Yesterday we saw an extraordinary concession from the Prime Minister who conceded that for the first 16 months his government had been a bad government. It was incredible. He said ‘good government starts today’. It’s as if they were so pleased at graduating from Opposition that they decided to have a gap year.

Well that is not what good government is about and they need to stop politics being at the forefront of all of their decision making. And nowhere is that more obvious than when it comes to infrastructure.

Infrastructure by definition is long term. It’s about making sure that we boost productivity, reduce congestion on our roads and on our rail system. And to do that you have to invest in not just roads but public transport.

So how about Tony Abbott get the message and stop this nonsense of no Commonwealth involvement in public transport. You can’t deal with urban congestion  in our cities without dealing with the question of urban public transport.

It’s not good enough to repeat this rhetoric over and over again about roads of the 21st century when actually not a single road that was commissioned by the Abbott Government has commenced. He said that there would be bulldozers on these new projects and cranes over the sky within 12 months. Well it’s now been 16 months. He’s admitted that it hasn’t been a good government, and no projects have commenced.

With regard to the absurdity of the East-West Link, he could concede that he’s made an error. He talks a lot about pressure on government finances, but he made an advance payment of $1.5 billion during the last financial year for a road, that has a business case we know now, has a benefit-cost ratio that’s out there of 0.45, or 45 cents return for every dollar that’s invested. That’s just a dud project.

He could concede that and sit down in good faith with the Victorian Government and consider projects that actually do stack up – projects like the Melbourne Metro, where he cut $3 billion of funding. He could sit down with the incoming Queensland Government and discuss funding for the Cross River Rail project that we know is vital for Queensland. These are the practical steps that the Prime Minister needs to take after yesterday’s missteps.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: He has already paid a billion and a half dollars to the Victorian Government for a project that he now knows, because the business case is out there, does not stack up. There is a finite amount of money available for infrastructure. We need to make sure that it’s spent well. He committed that all projects above $100 million would be subject to the IA process. That there’d be transparency and that money would be directed in a way that produced best value for taxpayers and best value in terms of boosting productivity growth. He should stick to his commitments that he made.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: It should be used for the right projects. Let’s be clear here. At the same time as during the last Budget they were hitting pensioners, people going to the doctor, students and others with their unfair Budget, they were putting a billion and a half dollars as an advance payment of the $3 billion into the bank account of their mate Denis Napthine’s Government in Victoria. Just sitting in a bank account. That’s what they did. That is bad policy. On infrastructure Tony Abbott was right when he committed that all projects over $100 million had to go through a transparent cost-benefit analysis. He should do that. That money should be used in an effective way to reduce urban congestion, to boost productivity. He could start by funding the M80 project, which is the outer ring road that has a very positive cost-benefit analysis that he cut funding for in last year’s budget. That’s ready to go, right now – it could be creating jobs and boosting productivity.

REPORTER: How worried are you about Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister before the end of the year and the impact on Labor’s chances of winning the election?

ALBANESE: We’ve seen Malcolm Turnbull off before. I think the idea that Malcom in his top hat is in touch with ordinary Australians is laughable. Malcolm Turnbull showed last time round that he was out of touch with ordinary Australians when his led the Liberal Party and was removed by his own Party when Tony Abbott took over.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: He was certainly not but what has occurred is that Malcolm Turnbull had previously said he didn’t want to lead a political party that didn’t take serious action on climate change. Now it’s pretty clear he’s prepared to do anything, stand for anything and say anything to lead his political party. The great dishonesty of him sitting on the frontbench pretending somehow he’s been a loyal Cabinet minister is quite absurd. You had a defacto leadership challenge yesterday from Malcolm Turnbull. He has a moral obligation to go and sit up the back.

Thank you.

Feb 6, 2015

Transcript of television interview – Today Show, Nine network

Subject: Liberal Party leadership crisis

STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the show. It has been a week the government would rather forget with a number of MPs publicly calling for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to resign. For more on the tumultuous week in politics we are joined by Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Gentlemen, good morning to you. As they say in The Hunger Games – let the games begin. [HUNGER GAMES MEME featuring Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop] Do you like that Chris? Disunity is death and your party died a few a times this week. I want you to have a listen to this.

DENNIS JENSEN: I texted the Prime Minister letting him know that he no longer enjoyed my support as leader.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I have always supported Tony Abbott but that ongoing support is not unconditional.

MAL BROUGH: Do I unequivocally support is the Prime Minister? No, I don’t.

ABC REPORTER: Is your support for the Prime Minister unconditional?

ANDREW ROBB: Of course, I mean… he will retain the authority and the leadership of the party on performance.

STEFANOVIC: Do you need to be reminded how long you were in Opposition?

PYNE: Well, it was six years. I remember it very well. I have been in Opposition twice.

STEFANOVIC: That doing you any favours?

PYNE: It is not doing us any favours and it has been a couple of weeks that we would rather not see repeated and obviously we need to be focusing on what the Australian people want rather than other distracting issues. We need to get back to about talking about the Budget, talking about jobs and families and childcare and small business and education, and the things that affect people’s daily lives.

STEFANOVIC: I agree, I think there is an appetite for that in the public but while there is still a running dialogue with your own party members, that is a problem. This morning the SMH reports that Malcolm Turnbull had a secret meeting with the PM to discuss leadership. It’s amazing how many secret meetings are made public.

PYNE: – I don’t think they are very secret when everyone knows about them!

STEFANOVIC: Well That’s what I’m saying. I mean who’s revealing the secrets?  Was it Malcolm that revealed that secret do you think?

PYNE: There wasn’t a secret meeting last week between Malcolm Turnbull and the Prime Minister. All the Cabinet were in Canberra last week for two days of meetings and we all had meetings with the Prime Minister of one kind or the other.  Malcolm had a regular meeting with the Prime Minister.

STEFANOVIC: It has just been leaked that he was underwhelmed by the PM’s response in terms of handling the leadership crisis.

PYNE: Well, look, as I said, Karl, this has been a week that we would rather not repeat, as was last week. We can’t have too many weeks like this or we will blow the opportunity that the Australian people have given us to help make their lives easier.

STEFANOVIC: You are on the clock?

PYNE: That is absolutely right.

STEFANOVIC: All right, Sky News is reporting three Federal Government ministers believe there will be a vote next week. Do you believe there will be a vote in the Liberal Party room next week?

PYNE: Well I don’t know. There could be a vote every Tuesday because we have a party meeting and people could move a motion or the leader could say that there should be a motion. I don’t know whether there will be a vote on Tuesday.

STEFANOVIC: See, this is the problem, even you saying that is an indication that you don’t know.

PYNE: Well I’m the Leader of the House. My job is to find out what my colleagues are thinking.

STEFANOVIC: And you can’t shore it up though?

PYNE: …  and I’ve been talking to my colleagues and there is obviously some people who are saying that there should be a vote on Tuesday because they said it publicly, they have said it privately.

STEFANOVIC: As a result of you saying what you just said though, there is going to be speculation that there is going to be a vote because you haven’t done anything about it.

PYNE: I can’t rule it out. I can tell you this thing though Karl: I will not be moving a vote on Tuesday in the party room. I know what I am doing and I am certainly not moving any kind of motion on Tuesday.

STEFANOVIC: The Prime Minister, you believe, has the numbers at the moment?

PYNE: I assume that the party room knows that the worst thing we could possibly do is change the leadership right now. We have to support the Prime Minister. I have been supporting him very strongly in the last ten days while this has been going on. I have been doing as much media as I possibly can, as I am this morning because I believe that he remains the best person to be leader of the party.

STEFANOVIC: Does he have the numbers?

PYNE: That’s a very inexact science but I hope he does, yes.

ALBANESE: Well, that’s an extraordinary statement from Christopher Pyne, who can’t confirm that the Prime Minister has the numbers. That means that he doesn’t.

PYNE: How can I? It is an inexact science, Anthony, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: You and I have both been in politics a while and when you start having senior people not able to say that the Prime Minister has the numbers, then it’s over.

PYNE: I hope he does and I will certainly will be supporting him if there is any kind of ballot on Tuesday. But I can’t speak for all of my colleagues in a secret ballot and it is really hard obviously to do so.

STEFANOVIC: Even your dialogue now, as Anthony there seems to point …  to the fact that there is something happening. I’m not reading anything you’re saying, you hope he has the numbers you don’t who know definitively and you are a guy that should know the numbers.

PYNE: One can never exactly know how people are going to vote in a party room ballot. We have had colleagues out this week talking about a change of leadership. Obviously I’m not a person revealing here on the Today Show that there has been speculation in the press about leadership. There has obviously been that speculation in the press and that is why you then have people like Scott Morrison, Joe Hockey, me, Julie Bishop, others, Malcolm Turnbull even coming out very strongly this week and saying we supported the Prime Minister and we will continue to do so.

STEFANOVIC: Will he be certainly Prime Minister next Wednesday?

PYNE: I certainly hope so.

STEFANOVIC: OK. Anthony, you going been through all of this. I am you going to remind you of it because, you haven’t been saying much this morning.

ALBANESE: I don’t have to.

PYNE: He is getting off scot free today. His time will come.

STEFANOVIC: His time did come two years ago you were critical of the push to kick Julia Gillard out of the Lodge. Here’s a reminder:

ALBANESE [clip]: I have despaired in recent days. I informed the Prime Minister that I would be voting for Kevin Rudd in Monday’s ballot. I like fighting Tories. That’s what I do. That’s what I do. It has been very difficult.

STEFANOVIC: You are a very decent man. This can be very painful.

ALBANESE: It can be and that was a period, that was the January/February in 2012 challenge, that was a period whereby I wanted to focus on governing the country. We were focusing on ourselves. The extraordinary thing is that that’s where they’ve begun. They have begun with conflict.

Since they got elected they have shown they just don’t have a plan to govern. Tony Abbott was very good as a destructive Opposition Leader tearing a government down. He had a plan to get into government but no plan to govern. There is no narrative. There is no sense of purpose for this government.

STEFANOVIC: Well Bill Shorten doesn’t have a plan to govern either. He is just doing what is Tony Abbott did in Opposition. He has no plan to govern.

ALBANESE: That’s not right.

STEFANOVIC: How will he fix the deficit?

ALBANESE: What we have been doing, Karl, is defending fundamental tenets of Australian society like Medicare, like access to education. That’s what we have been doing, because the direction the government has wanted to go in, as a whole – not just the captain, the whole ship – is to fundamentally change Australia to a less fair society.

STEFANOVIC: OK. One final leadership comment from you. A busy day ahead?

PYNE: Well, leadership changes, leadership challenges are very traumatic, as was the case for the Labor Party, as has been the case for the Liberal Party in the past. I would just urge all of my colleagues to remember that we are there to serve the Australian people and put their interests first and last all the way through.

STEFANOVIC: All right, thank-you you two for being with us today, we appreciate it.

PYNE: Pleasure.

ALBANESE: See you with a new leader next week.

PYNE: See you next Tuesday.

ALBANESE: I won’t be at your meeting Christopher. Thank goodness.

STEFANOVIC: Do you want to be?

ALBANESE: I wouldn’t mind a video feed from the Today Show that morning.

STEFANOVIC: All right, we will see what we can do. Thank you guys.

Feb 4, 2015

Transcript of radio interview 2GB with Ben Fordham & Christopher Pyne

Subjects: Liberal leadership; Julie Bishop; Malcolm Turnbull; Tom Uren State Funeral

FORDHAM: That’s right, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese joining us every Wednesday on Sydney live. Christopher Pyne, good afternoon.

PYNE: Good afternoon Ben and good afternoon Anthony.

FORDHAM:  Anthony Albanese, good afternoon to you sir.

ALBANESE:  G’day Ben, g’day Christopher.

FORDHAM: Once upon a time Christopher, you would have a field day about Labor leadership, this time it’s you guys in focus. The latest today is that we’ve had Malcolm Turnbull accused of doing the ring around and canvassing backbenchers for support. He’s come out to say that’s not the case. You’ve also revealed today that Julie Bishop is a little bit miffed that her loyalty is being questioned. I’ll tell you what, from the outside looking in, it doesn’t look good.

PYNE: Look, it’s not a week that we’d like to see repeated over and over again and neither was last week and I think I said that last week too, so it something that needs to be put behind us and people need to get on with the job of putting the Australian people’s interests first which means jobs, means looking after families and the Prime Minister started to outline that in his National Press Club speech on Monday around childcare reform and small business tax relief etcetera so that is what we should be doing. I can tell you categorically that Malcolm Turnbull has not been ringing colleagues and canvassing for support because I asked him myself point blank and he told me that it was not true, so I can tell you it was not true.

FORDHAM: When was that conversation?

PYNE: Today, of course, after I’d seen the reports.

FORDHAM: What time?

PYNE: Well.. what.. late in the morning. I don’t know the exact time. It was late in the morning.

FORDHAM: I’m interested how a conversation like that plays out. Tell us about it.

PYNE: Haha! No. It was a private conversation.

FORDHAM: Well you’ve just revealed the contents of it?

PYNE: Well there you go.  You’ve got it. You’ve got it. An exclusive on your radio show Ben.

FORDHAM: Let me go if I can to you Anthony Albanese, be honest, are you guys sitting back rubbing your hands together saying its nice that someone else can experience what we’ve gone through for the past few years?

ALBANESE: Christopher is certainly right that Australians deserve better than this and this shouldn’t be the focus of the government. They just don’t have a plan to govern. They had a plan to get there – it was the three word slogans and repeating the mantra, and they were pretty successful at it. They won the election by a considerable margin. But since then, there’s no narrative to this government, there’s no purpose for this government, and it’s not surprising that it’s collapsing in and on itself at the moment. It’s an extraordinary performance. It’s only been just over a year since they were elected. This is a government at war with itself.

FORDHAM: Their efforts have not been helped by you guys in the Senate, and others in the Senate by blocking just about everything they’ve tried to put through there, particularly key Budget measures, I mean, people wanting to go to the doctor and pay five bucks just to go and see a doctor, things that most Australians would say well okay, if we have to cop that medicine we will if it’s for the greater good, but you guys ran a very effective campaign against it. You haven’t helped.

ALBANESE: Two points there Ben. The first is that Medicare, we believe, should be paid for through the tax system so that I should pay more than average punters out there listening to your program on $65,000 a year. And we believe that’s the appropriate system. We don’t believe that you move to a system whereby you get better care the more money you pay. We don’t believe in undermining the universality of Medicare. The government said very clearly prior to the election, there’d be no changes, “hands off Medicare”, it would stay the same. The other thing that’s quite extraordinary is the narrative that said this was about Budget savings. They’ve said the money will go to a medical fund that no one heard about until Budget night, so it has no impact on the Budget in terms of the Budget bottom line. This is an example of how the Government just hasn’t thought things through. They’re undermined by an examination of the detail of their own argument.

FORDHAM: Let me underline that word, undermine, and flick it back to you Christopher Pyne, and ask you why are the likes of Dennis Jensen and Warren Entsch, why are they trying to undermining the Prime Minister just 24 hours after he tried to reset the agenda at the National Press Club, and what do you make of their behavior and why isn’t anyone going hard at them over that. I mean, if it’s treachery, why don’t you call it treachery?

PYNE: Well Ben the important thing is that people feel that they’re included in the Government so going out and calling a backbencher a traitor wouldn’t exactly be a good start to that conversation. I as a Cabinet Minister and as Leader of the House as the Education Minister, I try to engage with the backbench on a daily basis as Leader of the House. I have an education hour once a week when Parliament is sitting so my colleagues can come and sit down and talk to me about issues in education as well of course dealing with all the correspondence that they send me.

ALBANESE: I wouldn’t mind coming to that Christopher.

PYNE: You’d be very welcome, Anthony, you’ve got quite a lot of problems; it could take more than an hour I think to go through all your problems.

FORDHAM: Why did you feel the need Christopher Pune to ask Malcolm Turnbull whether he had been canvassing the backbench?

PYNE: Because I was sitting next to him at the time and I saw the report of the tweet from Julia Baird so I thought that I should ask him and he told me. I mean why on earth wouldn’t I? Malcolm and I are very good friends, we’re not sitting here in a monastery where you can’t speak to each other.

FORDHAM: I feel a bit sorry for Julie Bishop’s loyalty being questioned. I gather from your comments today Christopher Pyne that she’s quite annoyed about the whole thing.

PYNE: I think Julie has been unfairly maligned in the press by some of the stories suggesting that she was not being as loyal as she should have been. The truth is that she has been a steadfast deputy for seven or eight years and she quite rightly felt that she shouldn’t have her loyalty being questioned.

FORDHAM: If I can go to you Mr Albanese you’ve have a pretty heavy day, Labor party figure and a good friend of yours Tom Uren has been farewelled today at a State Funeral at Sydney Town Hall. Can you tell us about that send off today and I’m gathering that it’s continuing in some way, shape or form?

ALBANESE: It was a wonderful sendoff and Tom Uren was someone who even people who disagreed with some of his views respected him. He fought for this nation being a Prisoner of War for four years to the Japanese, suffering the deprivation and trauma that occurred to people who worked on the Burma-Siam Railway. It was actually fantastic to see today at his funeral, someone from the other side of politics, Sir John Carrick, who also served, a great figure in the Liberal Party, a giant of Australian politics, there he was, aged 96 at Tom’s funeral. He came along with former Prime Minister John Howard. It was a wonderful send off to Tom and it was one that he deserved. Tom was a man of conviction, a man of principle. He was much loved. He made an extraordinary contribution over 93 years – defending Australia, as a sportsman, as a parliamentarian and as a political activist.

FORDHAM: It is nice to see when both sides of politics can put their differences aside for one common goal, sadly it sometimes takes a funeral to get you all together but not you two, you’re here every single week.

PYNE: Can I just say that I know Tom Uren was a particular favourite of Anthony’s and in fact I tweeted soon after his death that I passed on my condolences but also noted that he was a particular favourite of Anthony’s and it’s because I think he was a politician of conviction and that is exactly what people respect. I don’t think people always need to agree with you but if you seem have the courage of your convictions I think that goes a long way.

FORDHAM: Well said, good to talk to you both, we’ll chat to you again next week.

ALBANESE: Indeed we will.

FORDHAM: Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne.

Jan 29, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Gold Coast

Subjects: Save our Broadwater; Gold Coast Light Rail; Pacific Motorway; Cross River Rail; Queensland Election; Campbell Newman; Tony Abbott.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be back here on the Gold Coast and it’s good to be here just two days before Queenslanders have a critical decision regarding not just their future, not just Australia’s future, but particularly the future of the Gold Coast.

I’m joined by Rowan Holzberger, Candidate for Southport; Penny Toland, Candidate for Broadwater; and Gail Hislop, Candidate for Burleigh. What we have is an outstanding Labor team here on the Gold Coast and I think the big issue come Saturday is whether the people of the Gold Coast are going to give Campbell Newman and the LNP a blank cheque to continue to take the Gold Coast for granted.

I’ve been a regular visitor here over the years, whether it be to announce the almost one $1 billion that the former Labor Government committed to the Pacific Motorway upgrade in partnership with joint funding from the Queensland Labor Government that existed prior to Campbell Newman, whether it be the upgrade of what is now call Metricon Stadium or whether it be, importantly, the Gold Coast Light Rail Project.

It was always envisaged that would be just the first stage and it needed to be extended to the heavy rail line. What we have from Campbell Newman is saying ‘oh yes it will happen but sometime in the future’, and we know that Tony Abbott won’t provide any funding for either light or heavy rail or any public transport funding whatsoever.

But if there is an example of how the LNP have acted with extreme arrogance towards this region, it’s just offshore here. Wavebreak Island cannot be tripled in size, have this massive overdevelopment and be given away essentially for a dollar, to overseas corporate interests, against the interests of all those people who live here on the Gold Coast. You can’t undertake such a massive project without having devastating environmental and social impacts on this region.

The local member here say she’s against it, but her Government is for it. Her Government, the LNP and Campbell Newman will hand over this Island for a dollar and it will be anything goes regarding development and regarding the impact on this pristine natural environment. The Gold Coast is such a fantastic place to live. It’s also a great place to visit and it’s that way because important parts of the pristine natural environment has been protected.

That’s why the announcement by Annastacia Palaszczuk about protecting the surf area around Kirra and Burleigh is so important and will do far more in terms of attracting tourist dollars and supporting jobs in this region than this absurd proposal from Campbell Newman and the LNP with development out of control, once again back to the old white shoe brigade, that did so much damage in the past when the National Party and Joh Bjelke Petersen had open slather on development.

REPORTER: I just wonder with this, a lot of proponents, there’s not many of them here with parties, but they are here, there are benefits with a lot of jobs that would be created, does Labor around here have some alternatives if we don’t go ahead with this, if there’s some other projects that could be good job creators, especially for the building industry?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we need is sustainable tourism and what we need also is good infrastructure development. When I was the Infrastructure Minister I came to the Gold Coast, I made announcements, I then came back and turned sods on the beginning of construction projects, be it on the motorways or the light rail project, or indeed the stadium.  I remember coming with Premier Bligh, a particularly eventful day, when we blew up the scoreboard that was there and it was replaced with what is now just an extraordinary facility.

The State Government are not committing anything serious with regard to proposals that will assist jobs here on the Gold Coast. They have no timeframe for Gold Coast Light Rail, they opposed it. Steven Ciobo in the Federal Parliament and his LNP colleagues in the State Parliament opposed the Gold Coast Light Rail project. They said it wouldn’t happen, they said it wouldn’t stack up. The fact is it was recommended by Infrastructure Australia, we then subsequently put in, in terms of federal funding, almost $400 million, and funding was also contributed to by the former State Labor Government.

If you want to see construction and things moving on the Gold Coast in a sustainable way, then people should elect candidates, including the three who are with me today, who will go to Brisbane’s Parliament House and be strong advocates for their local community. They won’t go and say, ‘I’m really against that and this but I won’t do anything about, I’ll just roll over’.

That’s what the local candidates who are running for re-election are saying for the LNP here. I say that’s weak and the Gold Coast needs to not be taken for granted. That’s what they do federally, that’s what they do in the state and it is Labor’s record of achievement and construction that has created jobs here whilst also protecting the environment.

And you don’t create jobs with massive overdevelopment that has negative consequences on the environment and that is what this proposal for Wavebreak Island does. It won’t be broadwater anymore it will be narrow water if this proposal goes ahead because it will trash the local environment and after all the environment is why people come to the Gold Coast.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, the LNP is guaranteeing that their announcement for the second stage of the light rail means that it will move forward.


REPORTER: Not necessarily 2018, but Labor candidates are saying they can’t commit to an extension of the light rail because it will need to pass muster with a body set up under a state Labor Government. Is there any guarantee that the light rail will proceed under a Labor Government.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Have a look at what we have done, not just what we say. Campbell Newman is saying that it won’t occur during the next term of his government and beyond. That is what he is saying. Sometime in the future, maybe when my grandkids can go on the light rail line, maybe they can give it some consideration. They opposed it before, and they still oppose it.

What Labor will do, and Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad who will be the Transport Minister in a Labor Government, if they are elected on Saturday, will work with Federal Labor on these issues after getting proper advice from Infrastructure Australia and the independent body that Queensland will set up.

That is a sensible thing to do but our record is there. We are prepared to invest in urban public transport like Gold Coast Light Rail. We did it before, we will invest in urban public transport projects again.

Campbell Newman has cut funding for the Cross River Rail Project. $715 million was in the budget, Tony Abbott took it out of the budget and gave it to a road project in Melbourne last May. This was a project that would have increased the capacity of the rail system in Brisbane and therefore made a big difference for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast commuters, and yet Tony Abbott’s response was to abandon it and Campbell Newman’s approach was to abandon it as well.

REPORTER: So there is no guarantee that a Labor Government would in fact implement the second stage of the light rail?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Have a look at what we have done. We will make federal budget announcements when we are in a position to do so but have a look at what we have done. We funded the first stage, which was approved by Infrastructure Australia, had a very strong cost-benefit analysis attached to it, it was recommended. I would expect that when Infrastructure Australia has a look at the next stage they would find that cost-benefit analysis stacks up.

The problem with Tony Abbot is that there is not a single new project that has begun since he was elected. He promised bulldozers and cranes, all we’ve got is bulldust. No bulldozers, just bulldust.

His government lurches from crisis to crisis, the latest of which shows that his own leadership is in crisis. His leadership is in crisis because of the views in his own party.

Campbell Newman’s leadership is in crisis because of the views of people in his electorate and on Saturday, if people vote for the LNP they will not know if the LNP is successful, who will be Premier of Queensland, because Campbell Newman is 8 points behind on today’s polling.

If you want an example of it, whether it’s Tony Abbott at the federal level who said there’d be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC and has made all of these changes and then pretends that he hasn’t lied about lying, the contempt that the LNP are showing the voters of Queesland by pretending that if the LNP are elected on Saturday in a majority of seats, that automatically means Campbell Newman will be elected in Ashgrove. Everyone knows that is not the case.

What I say is that you need stable government and Annastacia Palaszczuk’s team will provide that stable government and will also provide a team that will stand up to Canberra.

In NSW whatever their failings, the NSW Government has opposed the cuts to education and has continue to support the Gonski reforms.

Here in Queensland, Campbell Newman gets billions of dollars ripped out of education, billions of dollars ripped out of health, billions of dollars ripped out of public transport and roads funding and what’s his response? He hedges his bets because he’s interested in the next tier. He’s done local government, done state, he’s eyeing off the federal seat of Brisbane at the next election if he loses his seat.

Will Campbell Newman rule out a tilt at federal politics if he loses his seat in two days’ time? I think not. And that explains why instead of standing up to Canberra as Queenslanders traditionally have done, stand up to people from the southern states, what Campbell Newman has done is roll over and had his tummy tickled by Tony Abbott and the combination of Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott is a disaster for this great state of Queensland.

Thanks very much.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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