Subject: Mark Latham
RAY HADLEY: Anthony Albanese is on the line. Anthony, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Ray. Greetings from Mt Isa!
HADLEY: He’s not a fan.
ALBANESE: He’s not a fan because I’ve never been a fan of his. I warned people that we should never make him leader of the Labor Party because he wasn’t fit to lead the country.
What we had there was just relevance deprivation syndrome. This is a bloke whose business model is that he’ll only get a say and some attention if he makes extreme out-there comments.
They’re becoming more and more out there. Anyone who knows me and suggests that I believe that Australians are racist in general, or anyone from any specific area, is just absurd.
HADLEY: So you didn’t say that, or scream that at him at some meeting?
ALBANESE: I absolutely did not say that. I’m confident of that. I would never say that, because I don’t believe that. This is a bloke who has got a chip on his shoulder. He thinks he’s the only working class person who’s ever been in the Labor Party.
I’ll tell you something that says a lot about the generosity of people in Western Sydney. The fact that is that Labor Party branch members around Liverpool chipped in money each week to put this bloke through university and he paid them back by being disloyal to the Labor Party.
I worked my way through university. I grew up, as he did, in a single-parent household, as you know Ray, in Housing Commission, or as it was then, City Council and got converted when I was a young lad.
There was just me and my mum at home. The idea that that working class people are racist is absurd. The idea I support open borders is absurd. I’ve been out there as Deputy Prime Minister, supporting offshore processing. I’ve argued for it.
I think it is important that we control our borders and that we break the people smugglers’ model. I think we need to treat people humanely.
In my electorate, I’m quite proud that Leichhardt Council have established with Peter Shergold, who was John Howard’s head of Prime Minister and Cabinet, is going to be running a settlement centre at Callan Park for refugees, making sure that people who’ve been recognised who are here get appropriate services.
HADLEY: There must be something, Mr Albanese, deep-seated in relation to his dislike of you to reveal this last night. It’s fairly damaging to you personally and very damaging to your party. On the eve of a federal election. You talked about university and putting yourself through university and him going through university. Weren’t you at university together? I mean, how long do you go back with Mark Latham?
ALBANESE: I was at university with him. He’s always been a strange fellow.
HADLEY: Can I just take exception there. If you believe that, okay, from your very early days as a late teenager, how did he get elevated to the most important job in your party, leader of your party?
ALBANESE: Well, I think he’s someone who has ability and capacity. He’s got an ability to make a statement that gets a grab and gets attention. At one stage he was arguing for flat taxation rates. This was prior to him being elevated to the leader of the Labor Party.
He’s someone who’s a talented speaker. He has a bit of charisma about him, but when people actually look at what he’s done. I mean, this bloke wrote a book, remember, The Latham Diaries?
He included all sorts of personal material in that. I never bothered to read it, I’ve got to say. But if this statement had happened, surely that would have made his diaries. Game, set and match. Why is it that it’s being raised in the context of an election to try to get attention? “
So that you and I are talking about it. So that he then will get an appearance. He’s got a column in the Telegraph, he’s been on various networks. He doesn’t last very long, I’ve got to say. It’s not surprising that he doesn’t last very long because when people look for substance they find him lacking.
HADLEY: So you absolutely and utterly refute claims that you said anyone west of Gladesville Bridge, my words not his, is racist. Because I might have an issue with you, because I’m west of Gladesville Bridge! Well west of it.
ALBANESE: You are, mate. The truth is that people can have all sorts of different views. People in Western Sydney, one of the great things about it, like my electorate, 42 per cent of people speak a language other than English at home and the further you move west, the more likely that’s to be the case.
I am very engaged as you know with the communities that make up the great multicultural city that Sydney is. The Italian community, the Greeks, the Lebanese, the Vietnamese communities. The idea that I suggest that people in Western Sydney have different views on race than anyone else is just absurd.
HADLEY: Well, let me just say to you, I’m not here to defend you in relation to this, you say that you didn’t say it and I believe you when you say that to me, but in my dealings with you over sixteen, seventeen years, there’d be plenty of things I’d believe about you and say well
HADLEY: Well yes, we all have those, but the last thing I would think I could label you is a racist, given what I know of you. So I’m glad you’ve cleared it up and we broadcast into Mt Isa through a radio station up there.
ALBANESE: Fantastic. It’s a beautiful day here and let me say that, one of the things that characterises my political involvement is respect for people regardless of where they come from, what their views are. That’s why I don’t think I’ve ever said no to an appearance on your program or any other program.
HADLEY: I appreciate that.
ALBANESE: That’s the sort of person I am. I’m prepared to put my case. But I’m not prepared to cop this sort of slander, frankly, from a bloke who’s got a chip on his shoulder, who’s angry that he’s not leading the Labor Party any more, and who has different views that contradict each other, all of the time.
HADLEY: Have a nice time in Mt Isa. Thanks for talking to me.
ALBANESE: Thanks Ray.