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Dec 19, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Newsday with Samantha Maiden

Subjects; Cabinet Reshuffle, George Brandis appointment, national security

SAM MAIDEN: So Labor’s Anthony Albanese joins us from Sydney. What’s your reaction to this decision to put Darren Chester out of Cabinet, for what would seem no crime whatsoever? It’s tough out there in politics these days.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That was a Prime Minister not in charge of his own show. Asked why someone was dumped, not just from the Cabinet, not just from the junior ministry; but I understand that the Government offered him a parliamentary secretary and he responded appropriately to that, by rejecting it. Darren Chester I had some policy issues with, but he’s someone who is a man of integrity; he’s someone who has respect across the Parliament, and he’s someone who will be sitting up the back.

There are people – frankly I wouldn’t know John McVeigh if he walked into this studio now. I’ve never met the bloke. He’s going to be in the Cabinet. Can the Prime Minister and Barnaby Joyce honestly say, that they have the best team available to take Australia forward? Infrastructure is a really serious job.

I am concerned that Barnaby Joyce, has in the past expressed contempt, for any spending on public transport, any engagement in our cities, urban congestion. There’s a whole range of things that are infrastructure, it’s not of course just transport. It’s communications, it’s water, it’s energy, and Barnaby Joyce is going to have to change his attitude if he is going to be the national Infrastructure Minister that Australia needs.

MAIDEN: Okay, what do you make of the fact that they are ending the year with fewer women in Cabinet than they started? Does anyone care? We’re told that people should be put in there based on merit, but it wouldn’t have seemed to have been the case in relation to some of these Nationals and some of these blokes that you reckon that you wouldn’t know if they bumped into you in the studio right now. Apparently it’s to do with geography?

ALBANESE: Can I ask you a question Sam? Have you ever interviewed John McVeigh?

MAIDEN: No, I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure.

ALBANESE: It’s quite extraordinary that this Government has a quota for Queensland blokes from the regions, but no care or responsibility with regard to 50 per cent of the population.

I find their sense of priorities all wrong, and that’s because it’s all driven by their internal politics. The reason why the Government can’t function is because it’s focused internally rather than focused on the needs of the Australian people and, you know, it’s a real problem for Malcolm Turnbull but also Barnaby Joyce.

It appears that the sort of division and arguments that we’ve seen within the Liberal Party, are about to begin within the National Party as a result of – what’s quite a vindictive reshuffle really. I think that there will be an impact and ongoing instability going into 2018, as a result of this reshuffle.

MAIDEN: What do you think of George Brandis being shuffled off to the United Kingdom? Now all governments of all persuasions make these sort of appointments, but do you think that one is fair enough?

ALBANESE: I’m not someone who has every argued that people, when they leave politics, are not entitled to be considered on merit for positions, whether they be in the public sector or the private sector. George Brandis has made a contribution to public life. The challenge of the High Commissioner to the UK is a considerable one, given Brexit and the internal issues that are occurring within the British Parliament, the relations that Australia has with Europe and the UK are of course very important. So it’s not a holiday, being UK High Commissioner. It is a lot of work and George Brandis, if he is appointed, I assume that will be rubber stamped by the Governor-General in January. I wish him well.

I do think that if you look at this Government’s appointments and compare it with what we did when we were in office, then this Government does appoint its own exclusively and I think that there’s a real case, for example I think that Gary Johns appointment last week is extraordinary. But they do have to stop, in general, the ideological appointments at every opportunity and I say that without any reflection on George. He is a person of substance, a former Attorney-General now, and I don’t complain about his individual appointment, indeed I wish him well in his new position.

MAIDEN: OK, Kevin Rudd obviously tried that bi-partisan approach in relation to appointments, it sometimes wasn’t popular with Labor, but obviously the Liberals aren’t prepared to return the favour.

ALBANESE: The point is that the adults in the room had a position that people like Brendan Nelson was a very good performer as our Ambassador in Brussels. Tim Fischer as our Ambassador to the Vatican. We had a range of appointments that were considered on merit. I think Malcolm Turnbull really diminished himself and showed himself to be a small person when he refused to back Kevin Rudd’s candidacy for the United Nations.

I said then, and I maintain my position, that if an Aussie is in the race and they’re qualified, you back the Aussie. What occurred then was that of course we were told that it was going to be an Eastern European woman. Of course what happened was the appointment of a former Socialist International party aligned with Labor from Portugal, who had a very similar CV to Kevin Rudd, as Secretary-General of the UN, and I do think the Government made a mistake there.

MAIDEN: OK, can I just ask you one final question? Now that the dust has settled from the Bennelong by-election, do you think that the campaign made a mistake in going so hard after the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, suggesting as Kristina Keneally did that what he was doing was akin to racism, suggesting that he was engaged in China-phobia. She suggested that he was implying that people should be suspicious of Chinese people. Now he never actually said anything like that. Do you think the Labor Party needs to be a lot more careful with playing the race card, as it were, in the Bennelong by-election?

ALBANESE: I’ll tell you who needs to be careful. The Government needs to be careful about misusing national security advice. That’s who needs to be careful here. And it needs to be very careful about the person who, today, is now in charge of the national security agencies, calling a Senator a double agent. That was clearly over-reach; it was absurd and it was inappropriate. Peter Dutton, I hope, behaves with more maturity in the future because he has a very serious responsibility to the nation and it wasn’t Labor who raised the stakes when it came to the lead up to the Bennelong by-election in terms of rhetoric. It was the Government that were prepared to go hell for leather and say anything in order to try and score a political point.

We need to manage our international relations carefully. What we’ve seen, whether on this occasion or whether it be Julie Bishop’s intemperate remarks towards the now Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, is a Government that is always playing politics. How about they just govern the nation? If they govern the nation with respect and with integrity then the politics will look after itself.

MAIDEN: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for your time today we appreciate it.

ALBANESE: Thanks Sam.

Dec 11, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Newsday with Samantha Maiden, SKY News

Subjects: NBN, Sam Dastyari, Scott Morrison, Kristina Keneally, Bennelong, China, citizenship.

SAMANTHA MAIDEN: Good morning Anthony. How are you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day, I’m very well.

MAIDEN: Now you opened that press conference just a short time ago saying: “Any other questions other than Sam Dastyari?’’ and these pesky journalists didn’t have any other than Sam Dastyari. What do you think the Labor Party needs to do to clear this issue off the agenda and do you need to actually follow Linda Burney’s advice as she suggested on Sky News and get Sam Dastyari to consider his future, AKA quit politics?

ALBANESE: Well Sam it is unfortunate that from time to time journalists do concentrate on issues which won’t be remembered by history. The National Broadband Network that we are here talking about and the impact on health facilities  is a critical issue and today here in Caboolture we have heard about the very real impact that Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to have an appropriate NBN is having, including at another facility which is part of the same health delivery service down the road with 13 doctors whereby because it rained the copper network broke down essentially and they had no access to the Internet for a number of hours just last week. So these issues are important.

But I understand people asking questions about Sam Dastyari. They did that and those questions were answered and Sam Dastyari of course resigned from his position after the request was made by Bill Shorten. So he certainly has paid a price for his misdemeanours.

MAIDEN: OK, well let’s unpack this a bit. The story today is that he basically called Tanya Plibersek or her office and warned her off from meeting some Hong Kong dissidents. Has Tanya Plibersek really thrown Sam Dastyari under a bus this morning because she has said essentially that she doesn’t comment on private discussions. That seems to be code for yes they occurred. If they did occur should he now go?

ALBANESE:  Well, I don’t think that is right at all Sam. What Tanya Plibersek has said quite rightly is that she doesn’t talk about private discussions with anyone and that is normal practice. What she has also said is that the meeting with some fellow – I don’t even know who it was, I’m not sure whether you do either – took place. So there was no impact of anything that allegedly might have occurred between two people that we don’t know whether it happened or not.

What we do know has happened is that in Western Australia Liberal Party donors have been invited to attend a meeting and to pay money for attending a meeting along with Western Australian Liberal and National Party members – state and federal – including of course federally the WA Liberal Party including people like Julia Bishop the Foreign Minister, Mathias Cormann, the Finance Minister, have been asked to pay money to hear, not from them, but from the Chinese Government about issues including the One Belt, One Road initiative. I find that extraordinary Sam and that is a fact. Unlike a whole lot of this debate, which has been conjecture, that is a fact that hasn’t been contested and I wonder how that could possibly have occurred.

MAIDEN: OK, but why is Linda Burney and Catherine King coming out today and saying that he should consider his position?

ALBANESE: Well I don’t know that that is exactly what they have said Sam. But the fact is that the other Sam – the Senator Sam, as opposed to journalist Sam – has considered his position and resigned as the Senate Deputy Whip and he has paid a price for the lack of judgement that was there.

MAIDEN: So do you think it would set an unusual precedent then, given that Sam Dastyari is not accused of breaking any law, he hasn’t been convicted of any crime, if he was drummed out of not just the front bench, but politics, and according to Scott Morrison the Labor Party. I mean Scott Morrison said today that he should be kicked out of not just Parliament, but the actual Labor Party.

ALBANESE: Well what is Scott Morrison doing? He is the Treasurer of Australia. His party is inviting people to briefings by the Chinese Government and being asked to pay a free for it. Scott Morrison needs to get his own house in order. I know that this is an Opposition in exile, sitting on the Government benches harking for the days of Opposition. They talk about Labor. They can’t answer a question in Question Time without talking about the Labor Party. I mean poor, old Scott. I’ve never seen a bloke who held a position like Treasurer of Australia who was so miserable. I mean, he is so angry every question in Question Time and he is angry at his own lack of performance I think, which is why the dogs are barking about his position as the Treasurer. This is a bloke who was once talked about, by himself maybe, but talked about, at least in the mirror, as a potential Liberal Leader. No-one is saying that today and I understand his frustration that Scott feels. But he should get his own act together rather than worrying about the Opposition.

MAIDEN: Fair enough. Kristina Keneally, campaigning in Bennelong today, has also suggested that the Prime Minister’s comments in relation to this issue are verging on China-phobia and compared them to Pauline Hanson. Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? Can you not criticise China for trying to influence Australian affairs without being accused of racism?

ALBANESE: Of course it’s appropriate that we defend the national interest and of course you can be critical of China or any other country. What you can’t do though, I think, and there is a fine line and it needs to be handled appropriately, is to pretend for example that anyone who has ever had any contact with the Chinese Government is somehow a bad thing. Every business in China has contact with the Chinese Government, that is the nature of their system of Government that they have and every Australian businessman who has dealt in China has had contact with the Chinese Government. That is the nature of the Chinese regime. So we need to be a little bit sensible about this. I will be campaigning with Kristina Keneally in Bennelong tomorrow and I look forward to seeing her. Clearly she is having a big impact. She is a very good candidate and we will wait and see what happens on Saturday.

MAIDEN: Speaking of being sensible, some have argued that you have been a bit of a voice of reason in the Josh Frydenberg debate, saying that we shouldn’t go after people that are essentially stateless as a result of fleeing Nazi Germany.  Is Labor still split on this because Mark Dreyfus seems to be raising the Frydenberg issue over the weekend? Is that something that you think Mark Dreyfus should now just drop?

ALBANESE: I have a view about a bit of common sense being required on this and on other issues as well. There’s too much hyperbole in politics. Josh Frydenberg has shown a document that says that his mother, I think it is, came to Australia as a stateless person. I’m very sympathetic with Josh’s position. Of course it is reasonable to say that everyone should put forward their documentation. That has happened. Labor tried to get anyone with any doubt at all sent to the High Court last week. Malcolm Turnbull and the Government weren’t interested in that. They were interested in having this drag out and I don’t know why they took that position. That is for them to answer really. But with regard to Josh Frydenberg and his family circumstances, families are complex and that’s the truth of the matter.

MAIDEN: They are. They are. They are complex.

ALBANESE: And we should have a bit of common sense here.

MAIDEN: Well in relation to this, I mean Jason Falinksi is being hauiled over the coals today because his parents filled out some form in the National Archives saying they got married in 1942. His lawyers say that his Dad, I think, was actually born out of wedlock and now we have this piece of paper where they have told the National Archives that they actually got married in 1942. Now I am told that they couldn’t have met in 1942. It’s not hard to do the maths here. They are trying to, as you completely understand a family in the 1940s, just have a little bit of light air-brushing of that when they came to Australia.


MAIDEN: Now this is all of the can of worms that we are opening up now, all of these personal histories that for some of these families would be extremely painful. I mean do you include that in your area of common sense? You don’t think Falinksi should be referred to the High Court?

ALBANESE: I think there should be a little bit of common sense should apply across the board here and that’s my view. You know there is no-one in the Labor Party who didn’t go through a process, who didn’t provide documentation, who didn’t do their best endeavours as is required and with regard to other people, I’m not going to get into and I haven’t Sam, you might note, since the beginning of this debate, I haven’t got into pointing fingers at people and their backgrounds. How do I know frankly what the background of someone, of what happened in the 1940s? I just don’t know and I think it would be a really good idea if people stopped commenting on things that they  don’t know. How about we just leave it to what we do know and based upon the facts?

MAIDEN: All right and on that note we will leave it there and we wish you a Merry Christmas.

ALBANESE:  Good on you Sam.

MAIDEN: You are obviously in a very loving, and Christmas mood, including towards Jason Falinksi. Thanks for your time today.

ALBANESE: I’m always in a good mood Sam. You know me. Someone’s got to keep the joint happy.

MAIDEN: Fantastic. Thank you for that Albo.

Nov 27, 2017

Coalition Must Hear the People and Invest in Cross River Rail

Malcolm Turnbull must heed the clear message from the Queensland election result and end his irrational refusal to invest in Brisbane’s much needed Cross River Rail project.

During the Queensland election campaign the Liberal-National Party rejected Cross River Rail, which would provide a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD and boost productivity right across south-east Queensland, including on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

Mr Turnbull has also refused to invest in the project, despite it having been endorsed by the independent Infrastructure Australia in 2012.

The LNP’s flogging at the hands of voters on Saturday, particularly in Queensland’s south-east, sounds a clear message to Mr Turnbull that Queenslanders understand the importance of infrastructure investment to economic and employment growth.

Mr Turnbull should listen.

The former Federal Labor Government and Queensland’s former Newman LNP Government reached a deal to deliver Cross River Rail in 2013, only to see the project scrapped months later by the incoming Abbott Federal Government.

Since Mr Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott, he has expressed rhetorical support for public transport projects.

But he has maintained the Coalition’s refusal to invest in Cross River Rail, leaving the Palaszczuk Government to go it alone on this important project.

Mr Turnbull should also lift his game more generally with regard to infrastructure delivery, with Budget documents showing his Government has not only cut infrastructure investment, but also failed to deliver its reduced budgets.

In its first three Budgets, the Coalition invested $3.9 billion less on infrastructure across the nation than it promised.

This included a cut of $700 million in Queensland.



Oct 24, 2017

Coffs Bypass still in the slow lane

The Federal and State Coalition Governments have still had no formal discussions concerning funding the Coffs Harbour Bypass on the Pacific Highway.

Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings in Canberra late yesterday heard that there was no chance that the project would commence any time before 2020, if at all.

In further proof that the Federal MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, has no clout within the Turnbull Government, the committee heard no detailing planning had been undertaken and that the New South Wales Government was only now beginning to turn its mind to the preparation of a business case for Commonwealth consideration.

Officials from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development said that when the NSW Government produced a business case, the Government “might consider’’ a funding contribution.

But nothing would happen until the completion of the ongoing duplication of the Pacific Highway to the Queensland border, which is scheduled for 2020.

The Committee also heard that the Department had no idea how much the bypass would cost.

Oct 18, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – Nights with Michael McLaren, 2GB

Subjects: Urban policy; over-development in Marrickville, population density; parks; decentralisation; penalty rates; shipping; immigration.

MICHAEL McLAREN: Well Anthony Albanese was 100 per cent correct when he said today – well one issue guaranteed to spark animated discussion at a barbeque or pub in Sydney, is whether our city can accommodate more people and where they are going to live. One hundred per cent correct. Writing in the Telegraph, Albo laid out a vision of a bigger more heavily populated Sydney being a possibility, however, only if, hand in hand with quality planning.

But if you ask me it’s a bit of a courageous vision because, as I read the public’s mood on this most-debated of issues, the average Sydneysiders I think have had enough of the developments, the increased density, the sprawl and everything that goes with it, no matter how well designed the new block of flats happens to be next door. People are simply saying enough is enough. That’s what you have said on the open line, and recent polls back this up.

A ReachTEL Poll of course just this month showed two thirds of those surveyed said their city is full. And this wasn’t a partisan response, both Labor and Liberal voters singing from the same hymn sheet. Yet ironically their political representatives are in unison here as well, but of the opposite opinion. I mean, you would be pretty hard pressed to find one local Liberal or Labor MP who is prepared to stand before a microphone and agree with their voters and call for a tap on the brakes of all of this population growth. To a man and a woman in Canberra they seem to be believers in a bigger Australia – more people, larger cities, greater urbanisation, even if done with good planning.

And look I have to say this as well. I think the elephant in the room with all of this is immigration. I have to admit I do find it extraordinary, in all the talk about full cities and unwanted development and all of this, that there is hardly anyone willing to have a frank and honest discussion about what’s largely feeding all of the development and that is incredibly high migration numbers.

Per capita Australia is running one of the largest immigration programs anywhere in the developed world. We saw our biggest intake in eight years last year. Adding extra pressure to Sydney and Melbourne is the fact that nearly 80 per cent of these new arrivals gravitate to just those two cities, Sydney and Melbourne. No wonder the conversation is particularly acute around the barbeques of Sydney, as Anthony Albanese correctly says. He joins me on the line, Mr Albanese, good to have you on the program.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be here. Thanks for having us.

McLAREN: Look, I think you wrote well, but it’s a courageous vision, particularly say the MP for Grayndler telling people that, you know, we can have greater density, more people and if we plan right it will all go OK. I mean a lot of people in your neck of the woods aren’t too keen to see greater density.

ALBANESE: That’s right, and I have no doubt that is the case. But it’s also the fact I wrote that the community will only accept any increases if developments are of good quality; and if they see an improvement in their lives – if, because of increased density they have more access to public transport, more access to community infrastructure, more parks to play in, more quality for their life.

There’s a development currently proposed in Marrickville. It’s just outside my electorate because of boundary changes, in a place called Carrington Road, Carrington Road Precinct. Now this is an old industrial area where at one stage GMH had some work there, a lot of industrial work in the motor vehicle industry and other manufacturing. Now as times changed a lot of that is now in the creative sector. They produce materials that are used in plays and in performances and in TV shows. They manufacture still, but it’s a different sort, and there are a lot of people work down there. Now they have proposed around there – there’s currently single and two-storey buildings, homes, and the industrial area has two or three storeys.

They are talking about 28 storey units, where there is one road in, one road out. It’s on a flood plain. It frankly is just an absurd proposition and that is being rejected. There is a public meeting tomorrow night at 7:30 at Marrickville Town Hall. I’ll be speaking at it, and one of the things I am trying to say as well to the business community, including those people who are involved in development, is that people will accept some increased density, particularly around railway lines. There’s examples of developments around Marrickville that are OK. But what they won’t accept is completely changing the character of their local community.

McLAREN: Well I agree 100 per cent, but Anthony, it seems that the two can’t ever go hand in hand because with all of the development I’ve seen; be it in say Epping or Eastwood in the north west of Sydney, some around your area, you know Canterbury Road and all that stuff, it doesn’t matter where you go, the moment the developing gets underway the character changes.

ALBANESE: Well Canterbury Road is diabolical.

McLAREN: It’s appalling.

ALBANESE: And subject to an ICAC investigation at the moment, some of that development. Now at Canterbury Racecourse there’s talk about Canterbury Racecourse being used for development. Now if the Canterbury Racecourse site doesn’t produce community infrastructure facilities, playgrounds; there aren’t enough playgrounds and parks for kids to play sport on the weekends. It’s a crisis and we now have, my son plays football down at Mackey Park in Marrickville, they have people scheduled in; one group from 5-6, the next from 6-7. It’s just diabolical.

McLAREN: I mean Dick Smith is right, I think, when he says, you know we increasingly are treating hens with great respect, getting them out of the batteries and shoving them into free range, give them a good life and we’re paying more for the eggs. Yet we’re doing the opposite with the humans. We all grew up in Sydney; you, everybody else, grew up in houses or if we were in flats they were three storeys at the most and there was, as you say, the park around the corner, the bowling club and the golf course. And now we’re all going into battery farms. I mean (audio failure)…

ALBANESE: (Audio failure)…Kids could get out on the weekend and it’s one of the other BBQ stopper on a weekend is how do we get our kids playing sport and not looking at screens? That’s a common topic. I mean, one of the things we do have to do is talk as well about whether it’s appropriate – you’re right about people heading to Sydney and Melbourne. We need to take pressure off them, that’s one of the reasons why I’m a big advocate of High Speed Rail.

We have areas where we could grow our economy where the overheads, the day-to-day living expenses for housing and other activity is less than it is in the big capital cities. High Speed Rail is the big game changer along with, if we were doing a proper National Broadband Network, for encouraging that jobs and economic activity in our regions and I’m continuing to push that as well.

McLAREN: Well I mean not everyone in Labor obviously agrees with that. I spoke with Bob Carr, the former Foreign Minister just the other week about this and he said, we’ve tried decentralisation, a lot of the time. He gave examples of migrant communities that have settled in Perth, within a year they ended up in Fairfield in Sydney. I mean, we can sort of build the infrastructure and build those veins of transport to try and pump people out of the city centre and into regional centres, but can’t guarantee they’ll go. We could be spending billions here only to make railway lines to nowhere.

ALBANESE: The economy will drive that change and I mean there are examples where you’ve had jobs created in the regions. Canberra where I’m talking to you from …

McLAREN: Canberra is the obvious one.

ALBANESE: What’s happened, and we’re not talking just public service jobs – one of the things about the Canberra community that’s interesting is how many people who work, particularly from southern Europe who worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme settled in Canberra and are still here. And the next generation is here and Canberra is a great example of, it’s Australia’s largest inland city, of course, as well as being the bush capital, of a city that has grown, has a thriving private sector economy, not just public sector economy. And one that has a great quality of life.

McLAREN: But mind you Anthony, you know this as well as I do; you take away the public sector, you take away the parliamentary infrastructure of Canberra and it’s curtains.

ALBANESE: Well, it’s interesting to see the growth that’s occurred here, particularly over the last couple of decades, there has been an enormous growth and diversification of the economy of Canberra. When Parliament sits, it’s true, the population grows, not just with politicians of course, there is a small proportion of that but the others who come to talk to us or who are associated with the work here. But it does have a thriving economy.

One of the things we need to do as well is to ensure that we can have jobs created closer to where people live and I raised the issues of universities and tertiary facilities such as Westmead Hospital. It is a great example whereby the number of PhDs and people in high-value jobs who live around Westmead Hospital who work there – it has been real catalyst for that job creation and of course the airport, the Western Sydney Airport, needs to be not just a runway and a terminal; it needs to be a catalyst for creating jobs in high-value manufacturing, in logistics, in infrastructure, in tourism particularly along the north-south corridor.

McLAREN: Yes, that’s correct. And it needs to be linked by rail, I don’t deny that.

ALBANESE: Absolutely – north-south rail.

McLAREN: Yes. I don’t disagree. Just before you go though, it’s compelling what you wrote in The Telegraph, although I think a lot of readers will be saying: That’s nice Anthony, but I don’t agree.

ALBANESE: Sure and I respect that. But one of the things you’ve got to do and one of the things I think I am known for is trying to put out ideas and contribute to debate. I think The Telegraph deserve a fair bit of credit frankly for debate that they have about Sydney and its infrastructure needs and the nature of the city.

McLAREN: Yes, I don’t deny that, but you say the truth is by international standards Sydney has relatively low population density. True. But I mean that is what makes it a great city in many respects compared to say Shanghai. You say we need to do something about housing affordability. That has got to be addressed. And you say communities will accept increases in density if developments are good quality. But nowhere in the piece, and this is what disappointed me out of it all, was that “I’’ word – immigration. And this seems to be the thing from Canberra. I don’t understand why, because, as you know, housing is a market like any other market, driven by supply and demand. There is lots of supply coming on. The problem is there is too much demand. What is driving demand? Largely immigration, I mean we’ve got hundreds  – 200,000 people every year lobbing into the joint, most going into Sydney or Melbourne – disproportionate pressure on your city in the areas that you represent, yet no one really in Canberra, bar say Tony Abbott or Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi, are willing to even utter the “I’’ word. I don’t know what it is. Is everyone afraid that the moment that you talk about immigration you are going to be branded racist instead of looking at the numbers? That’s what is behind all of this development.

ALBANESE: Well I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a sensible discussion about immigration and we should have it at appropriate levels and we should have a discussion about the impact on the economy.

McLAREN: Well is 200,000 an appropriate level?

ALBANESE: Well, I am not in a position to sort of put a precise figure on it. I am not the immigration spokesperson.

McLAREN: Sure, but it is the thing that underpins everything that you have just written about.

ALBANESE: One of the things that I do say and that I do argue the case for is that immigration in general is positive; that in terms of the impact on the economy you have to look at the ageing of Australia’s population. If we don’t have immigration coming in, people who are prepared to contribute to the economy and of course they create jobs as well …
McLAREN: Yes, but Anthony, they get old as well, they get old as well, and then they need the pension. So what are we going to bring in more people? It’s Ponzi scheme.

ALBANESE: We have an ageing of our population right now and with the baby boomer demographic now ticking over into retirement over the recent period and it is something that we have to address …

McLAREN: But you can’t address it Anthony by bringing in lots of young people from abroad because they stay, they then get old. So what do you do then? They go on the pension you’ve got to bring in more young people from abroad. They then get old; you’ve got to being in more. I mean it’s an unsustainable economic model.

ALBANESE: At any particular period in time there will be about a million Australians who are travelling overseas as well. We do live in a globalised world.

McLAREN: Well no-one denies that.

ALBANESE: If we bring in people as well who will contribute to the economy; we need to get the immigration mix is important as well …

McLAREN: But you know GDP per capita is flat. GDP per capita, despite this rapid population growth, is flat. So we are bringing in more people. Federally the GDP numbers look good – consecutive quarters of economic growth. Well, if you are not getting economic growth with a booming population, you are doing something wrong, but per head of population people aren’t seeing the benefits. People aren’t getting richer with more people. This is another problem. This is why people are saying it’s not working.

ALBANESE: Oh look, I think there is no doubt that there is enormous pressure on people, particularly with real wages in decline in effect and that is a product of a range of factors – the de-unionisation of the workforce and casualization of work is, I think, placing real pressure. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve raised the issue of concern about the impact of penalty rates. So many people rely upon penalty rates to pay the mortgage, to put food on the table, to look after their kids’ school fees.

McLAREN: But if course when there are three people going for every job rather than two, there is downward pressure on wages. If you want to recalibrate that statistic you’ve got to cut immigration.

ALBANESE: And that is one of the reasons why when we look at immigration as well, we have been concerned about some of the abuses that are there over 457s visas …

McLAREN: And fair enough.

ALBANESE: … and a range of those areas where there are Australians who could do the job. That’s why labour market testing is important to see, which is pretty simple. If an Australian can do the job, they should do the job. That’s why, in my area, I am very concerned that this Government has a conscious policy when it comes to coastal shipping of replacing Australian ships around our coast with Australian workers being paid Australian wages and conditions with foreign wages and conditions which drive down the employment levels, particularly in regional communities, but have a real impact on wages and conditions because of the difference between what we expect as Australians and what occurs in places like The Philippines and other places where you have flags of convenience.
McLAREN: That’s right. Yes. Look we are out of time. We could talk for another 20 minutes. You’ve got to go. I’ve got to go. But we’ll talk again in the future Anthony. Thank you so much for your time.

ALBANESE: Great to talk to you as always.


Jun 29, 2017

Labor to abolish Infrastructure Financing Unit

A Shorten Labor Government will abolish the Coalition’s new Infrastructure Financing Unit and reallocate its funding to Infrastructure Australia.

The IFU is a solution in search of a problem.

It is unnecessary to create a new bureaucracy within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to advise on financing big projects when Infrastructure Australia already has the expertise and the legislative mandate to advise on project financing.

On top of this, the infrastructure sector says the new agency is not needed.

In its pre-Budget submission peak industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia said it could not identify any currently proposed, commercially viable infrastructure project not already attracting finance.

Imploring Mr Turnbull not to create the IFU, the IPA submission said: “Commonwealth Government funding support is needed for infrastructure – Commonwealth financing is not.’’

Malcolm Turnbull is creating the IFU to sideline Infrastructure Australia and divert attention from his cuts to infrastructure funding, which IPA analysis says will hit a 10-year low over the next four years.

Just like his chatter about “innovative financing arrangements,’’ Mr Turnbull is using the IFU to conceal his cuts.

Australia does not need a new bureaucracy.

It needs a Labor Government to invest in the railways, roads and other critical infrastructure that will boost productivity and underpin economic growth.

A Shorten Labor Government will abolish the IFU and reallocate the $7.4 million saved to Infrastructure Australia to enhance its ability to deliver on its core functions of assessing projects, producing a pipeline of projects and recommending financing mechanisms.

The money will also be used to re-establish the Major Cities Unit, scrapped by the Coalition, within Infrastructure Australia.

The former Labor Government created this unit to research and advise on policies aimed at improving the productivity, sustainability and liveabilit

Apr 21, 2017

Transcript of radio interview- Radio National with Fran Kelly

Subject: Housing affordability, citizenship changes, Record Store Day

FRAN KELLY: Music lovers are in for a treat tomorrow with the 10th International Record Store Day. It’s the annual celebration of local record shops. Here in Australia, more than 180 independent stores will mark the occasion with a range of events, new releases, performances, all aimed at keeping alive the power and the passion of music. This year, the official ambassador for Record Store Day is none other than DJ Albo, aka Labor MP Anthony Albanese. He joins us in the breakfast studio. Anthony, happy Record Store Day!

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Fran. Looking forward to tomorrow.

KELLY: Before we get to the tale of Record Store Day, can I talk to you about some Labor policies that Labor’s unveiled? Some might have heard Chris Bowen earlier on AM. New measures designed to improve housing affordability, it’s a bit of a holy grail in capital cities in Sydney and Melbourne at the moment. Now, Labor’s plans seem to be mostly about imposing new taxes on foreign investors, on owners who leave their properties vacant. They’re two of the key changes that Labor’s spruiking. New taxes are dangerous ground for an opposition, aren’t they?

ALBANESE: These are sensible measures, put together with the changes we announced more than a year ago on capital gains tax and negative gearing for investors for new properties. The fact is that we put forward those policies and it was a risky thing to do. It was a brave thing to do, but it was the right thing to do. The government itself said there were excesses in negative gearing and in the market before they ruled it out, which was as soon as we announced our policy. What we have today is measures that have been recommended by the government’s own review in terms of the super changes for self-managed super funds using investment into property and they’re sensible changes, it’s indeed the only one of the recommendations that the government hasn’t implemented from that review.

KELLY: Given your experience last time with negative gearing and capital gains tax, Labor put out your policy and then the government backed away from it because they didn’t want to endorse Labor policy. If you really want to get these changes up, shouldn’t you have waited to see what the government’s putting up in the May Budget? We know it’s going to have a housing affordability policy as the centrepiece of the Budget, rather than put all these measures out in the knowledge that it will force the Government to back away from them?

ALBANESE: Someone’s got to lead in this country.

KELLY: It’s only a couple of weeks to the Budget.

ALBANESE: We’re leading from Opposition. They’re a government that acts like an opposition and that’s why we’ve put forward these practical suggestions. We’re concerned about policy. Meanwhile, we’re watching once again Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull in a downward spiral bringing the government with them, distracted by their internals. We’re putting out good policy, we’re prepared to argue the case for it. It’s well before the next election and we’re only six months since the last election, a bit more than that, but we’re putting out serious policy and that’s a good thing. That’s what oppositions should be. That’s what oppositions should do.

KELLY: Another policy question on the notion of citizenship. We’ve been speaking with Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, she led the review into citizenship laws 18 months ago, got feedback which the government has put out, and we now know some of the elements the government is going to change in the test. You work in an electorate that has a high migrant population, it’s really been brought up on migration, and people taking citizenship vows. From your experience and those you speak to, do you believe the citizenship laws need to be changed? Are there gaps?

ALBANESE: If there are sensible suggestions – obviously new citizens would benefit from better English, in terms of being able to participate in society – that’s something that we can look at. At the same time we need to value our multiculturalism as an asset for Australia. There’s no better time to be a Federal MP than on Australia Day, being there at the citizenship ceremonies which take place. People who’ve come for economic reasons or in some cases, because they didn’t have a choice to leave their homeland, making Australia their home. It’s what’s built this country and I think that anything that strengthens that is a good thing. These debates shouldn’t be partisan. We’ll have a look at any practical suggestions which are made but we do need a balance, and I know Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is a supporter of multiculturalism, and that’s an important thing.

KELLY: Let’s go to Record Store Day. Ten years ago they started promoting the of cultural and economic importance of these indie record shops. In the era or file-swapping and mass music downloads, why is the local record store needed and why is it so special to you?

ALBANESE: I think when International Record Store Day was founded people had this idea that maybe people would just get music sitting at home, downloading an individual track and that would be the experience of people’s engagement with music.

KELLY: It is the experience for many.

ALBANESE: It is, but it doesn’t replace going into a record store, whether it’s a CD or an album, getting a hold of it, listening to the tracks from go-to-woah, beginning to end. There is a revival of albums being played – Patti Smith last week playing the whole Horses album on this tour. Spiderbait playing Ivy and the Big Apples from go-to-woah at the Enmore Theatre and around Australia. People understand that albums fit together as a whole and that they also get to read the liner notes, they get to see who wrote and produced the albums.

KELLY: Sure, but who’s doing that now? It’s one thing for your generation, my generation to remember the hours spent loitering in the record shop, checking out new releases, checking out the cover artwork, all of that. Doesn’t mean young music lovers who aren’t getting their music that way aren’t loving the music any less or missing out, does it?

ALBANESE: They are doing it now. Young people are rediscovering record stores.

KELLY: Are they? Is that who’s hanging out in the record stores that I’m in?

ALBANESE: They’re doing probably similar things to what you and I did in places. They might be different record stores.

KELLY: Sitting in the booths, remember?

ALBANESE: I was hanging out at Phantom Records in Pitt Street in Sydney. Red Eye, it’s been going for a very long time here in Sydney and right around Australia, not just in the capital cities but in the regional towns as well. It’s a meeting place, similar to the revival or the resurgence of coffee shops. People want that social interaction. When you go into a record store, you talk to the man or woman behind the desk, they’ll tell you about the latest sounds. You have, of course, a revival of vinyl, something I didn’t see coming.

KELLY: They reckon they’re going to sell 40 million units this year of vinyl.

ALBANESE: It’s phenomenal. New bands – Polish Club, an inner west band sent me a copy of their new vinyl album this week. It’s terrific.

KELLY: So you’re a bit of a hunter and collector of vinyl?

ALBANESE: I am indeed and thank goodness I kept all my old vinyl. I’ll be at The Record Store in Darlinghurst tomorrow. One of the things that they do is repair old record players and provide new needles and fix it all up, so people are taking their old turntables in but people are also purchasing turntables. It’s a big growth industry and the thing about a local record store, something you don’t get online is that you get info about local bands’ new music. They’re small businesses, they employ locals. Most people who run these indie record stores of course, don’t make a fortune, they just love music. That’s why they do it.

KELLY: You moonlight as a DJ at fundraisers –  some for your colleagues, some for charity. You obviously love music, especially Australian music, I understand from the 80’s and the 90’s. You’ve chosen a track for us today  that you think sums up the spirit of Record Store Day. What is it?

ALBANESE: It’s Spiderbait, Buy Me a Pony which is from the album that they’ve been out there playing. This is a band that comes from Finley in regional New South Wales and their gig at the Enmore Theatre is probably the biggest concert I’ve been to with Spiderbait. 20 years ago they were playing The Annandale and little pubs. Now they’re in bigger venues and they’re back and it’s a good thing.

KELLY: Alright, let’s hear Spiderbait. Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us and congratulations on being the official ambassador for Record Store Day tomorrow.

ALBANESE: It’s a good bit of fun. Get out there and get to your local record store tomorrow.

KELLY: Okay, let’s check out Buy Me a Pony.

Apr 5, 2017

Government must heed RBA warning on infrastructure

The Turnbull Government must respond to the advice of Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe about the link between inadequate infrastructure investment and high housing prices by lifting rail and road investment in next month’s Budget.

In a speech in Melbourne last night Mr Lowe said an imbalance between population growth and housing construction had been “compounded by insufficient investment in the transport infrastructure needed to support our growing population’’.

Mr Lowe continued: Nothing increases the supply of well-located land like good transport links. Under-investment in this area is one of the factors that has pushed housing prices up”.

This is the latest of several recent warnings from the RBA about the need for increased infrastructure investment, which would boost economic activity and support jobs as well as easing pressure on housing prices and delivering long-term productivity gains.

Since taking office, the Coalition has cut infrastructure investment but pretended otherwise with frequent re-announcements of old projects funded by the former Labor Government.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show total public sector investment in infrastructure declined by 20 per cent in the Coalition’s first two years in office.

The figures also show that quarterly total public sector infrastructure investment has been lower in all 12 quarters under the Coalition than in every single quarter under the former Labor Government.

After years of pretending to have increased investment, it is time for the Turnbull Government to actually invest in new rail and road projects.

Australians are spending too long in traffic jams and, as Mr Lowe pointed out last night, the lack of adequate infrastructure is affecting housing prices.

Apr 3, 2017

Government failing on infrastructure

The peak business group for the infrastructure sector has slammed the Turnbull Government’s infrastructure funding model, which is expected to be a centrepiece next month’s Budget.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s damning criticism of the proposed Infrastructure Financing Unit comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull continues to fail to match his rhetoric on infrastructure with actual investment in railways, roads and ports.

In April last year, Mr Turnbull announced he would create an Infrastructure Financing Unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to work with the private sector to enlist private investment in infrastructure using “innovative financing solutions’’.

But the respected IPA has warned that this approach would put public money at risk by effectively turning the Government into a “lender of last resort’’.

There is a contradiction in the Government’s position on this fund. On one hand it wants financing to be available where private financing is not. But on the other hand, it claims this unit would work on projects that would be taken off Budget as they would produce a return for government.

The IPA is correct to point out there is no lack of finance available for good projects in Australia. It is also correct to call for an increase in actual government investment.

Mr Turnbull’s move to create the financing unit within his own department will also sideline Infrastructure Australia and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

This makes no sense. Part of Infrastructure Australia’s role is to make recommendations on financing of projects.

The IPA’s embarrassing assessment of the Infrastructure Financing Unit follows the failure of Mr Turnbull’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, announced two years ago.

The NAIF has yet to invest in a single piece of infrastructure. The only money going out the door at the NAIF is to cover the expenses of its directors.

The twin failures highlight Mr Turnbull’s tendency to make grand announcements on infrastructure to avoid actually investing in the railways and roads Australians need.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show total public sector infrastructure investment fell 20 per cent in the first two years of the Coalition Government.

The ABS figures also show that quarterly total public sector infrastructure investment under the Coalition has been lower in all 12 quarters during its term in office than in every single quarter under the former Labor Government after its first Budget in 2008.

Australian needs a Government prepared to actually invest in infrastructure, not just talk about it.

Mar 31, 2017

Victory for common sense at Leichhardt school

I welcome today’s announcement by Westconnex Minister Stuart Ayres ruling out creating a construction site next to the Leichhardt campus of Sydney Secondary High School.

This reckless proposal would have caused considerable disruption to the education of the almost 1000 students at the High School.

I congratulate the P&C, staff, students and the broader school community for their strong campaign against this absurd idea.

I am proud to represent an active and spirited community prepared to work together to defend its interests.

This outcome follows wins for the community with the saving of Blackmore Oval in Leichhardt, Ashfield Park and Rozelle’s Easton Park from being sacrificed for the Westconnex project.

Sydney needs infrastructure. But it should not be done at the expense of proper community consultation and the best possible outcome.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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