Jul 20, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – Tom Connell, SKY News – Friday, 20 July 2018

Subjects: ACTU, ALP National Conference, asylum seekers, multiculturalism, AFL.

TOM CONNELL: Joining me for more on this is Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, here in the studio. Thanks for your time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Morning Tom.

CONNELL: Interesting front page today on union – on this union push, what did you make of it?

ALBANESE: They’ve maintained the same position that they had at the last ACTU Congress and I expect the ALP Conference will maintain the same position that we had at the last ALP Conference so – much ado about nothing.

CONNELL: They’ve maintained their position but you haven’t?

ALBANESE: Yes we have. We’ve had our policy in place since 2015.

CONNELL: You had some quite strong comments to make recently though, about you know conceding that Coalition policies work. And obviously Labor’s had this policy for a while. I guess the next question is though …

ALBANESE: Well we set up, Tom, in 2013 Labor acknowledged that our policy had issues, wasn’t working. And we tried to, indeed before then – you might recall, with the legislation about Malaysia and the agreement that we’d signed there …

CONNELL: I do recall that, a very long debate in Parliament …

ALBANESE: That the Liberals and the Greens voted against. So the fact is, Labor did change our policy when we were in government, to try to stop the boats coming. The Liberals combined with the Greens to oppose that legislation. We then were able to change policy in 2013. We then, in 2015, had our National Conference.

CONNELL: And at National Conference you were opposed to the boat turnback policy. What are you going to do at the next National Conference, will you support the policy?

ALBANESE: I’ll support the policy that’s gone forward. The fact is you can be tough on people smugglers without being weak on humanity. And what people have seen is that on Manus and Nauru people have been there now for more than five years. That is far too long. These people need certainty. We’ve seen 12 people lose their life on Manus and Nauru. Now Australia has an obligation to these people, to have a duty of care if you like. The fact is, that five years is far too long the Government should have settled these people who’ve been found to be refugees in third countries and they’ve been far too slow at it.

CONNELL: Just on this though, the National Conference – you will no longer vote against the boat turnback party policy?

ALBANESE: There is no proposition at the moment before National Conference.

CONNELL: Well, It sounds like there will be with the unions …

ALBANESE: We’ll see what the unions actually do at National Conference. What happened last time …

CONNELL: You previously voted against the boat turnback policy …

ALBANESE: That’s true …

CONNELL: Will you do that this time?

ALBANESE: I did in 2015. I don’t expect that there’ll be a debate.

CONNELL: What if there is?

ALBANESE: I don’t expect that there will be …

CONNELL: Okay, but this is something that you voted against last time …

ALBANESE: I’m not dealing in hypotheticals. I support the existing policy as determined at the 2015 Conference. The fact is that the boat arrivals have stopped. The weakness in the Government’s position is that they haven’t provided permanent settlement in third countries, for those people who’ve been on Manus and Nauru for too long. So what the policy in 2015 was, to be very clear, was very different from the Government’s approach. It went to a doubling of the intake, it went to finding regional settlement so that people don’t have to get on boats. So that there is some hope of them being settled from the countries in which they have made their way to, without getting on boats. So we’ve provided for an increased funding of the UNHCR, regional processing, an increase in the intake in terms of asylum seekers, an end to temporary protection visas – there’s a whole framework adopted at the National Conference

CONNELL: I understand that obviously – the Government has since increased its own intake since the time of the Abbott Government. They’re working on a solution with the US. You say let’s go with New Zealand and I understand that …

ALBANESE: They are taking a long time.

CONNELL: Sure and that’s been a long held criticism and a lot of people would agree with you. But can I just clarify that position for you. Are you leaving open that you could vote against boat turn backs again at National Conference?

ALBANESE: No and there’s no proposition. There’s no proposition for that, and let me tell you Tom …

CONNELL: But there was last time and you voted against it.

ALBANESE: That’s right and that’s a fact. And I don’t expect that it will come up again. I think there is support for the policy. I think there is support for the existing platform. I support the existing platform. I can’t be more consistent than that, Tom.

CONNELL: But this is what happens, is that you have a big policy debate and this is the point of the National Conference everyone can really say what they want …

ALBANESE: And it gets resolved. I didn’t actually speak at the National Conference. Another thing that’s been written about – my speech at National Conference, I didn’t speak …

CONNELL: You stuck your hand up…

ALBANESE: … at all. Of course I did, I stuck my hand up with the Left as I have at every National Conference in which I have been a delegate. But one of the things that happened, Tom, is that some of those union delegates who voted one way at the ACTU Congress before the last National Conference, voted a different way – when they got to the ALP National Conference. So I don’t expect that – this is not a subject of major debate at the moment in the lead up to the ALP National Conference.

CONNELL: I did want to get on to the Australian values test that’s being spoken about today or was spoken about by Alan Tudge overnight. Is this a fair enough approach to continue our success story – that Malcolm Turnbull in particular likes to talk about?

ALBANESE: I find it pretty extraordinary that it would appear that Alan Tudge has gone overseas and talked Australia down, said that there are a whole range of problems with Australia. Normally what happens when Ministers and Shadow Ministers travel overseas, is that they talk Australia up. And one of the things we should talk about is the success of our multiculturalism, is the fact that we can be a bit of a microcosm for the world, when we see so much conflict, in the world. Here in Australia, we have people living side by side of different races, religions – different backgrounds and they’re living overwhelmingly in harmony.

CONNELL: Okay, so I understand your position on that and he should have talked Australia up. We’re nearly out of time, but just what about that Australian values test he’s talking about, does it have any merit?

ALBANESE: We have Australian values. We had a week ago …

CONNELL: Talking about a test for it.

ALBANESE: What’s the test?

CONNELL: I don’t know.

ALBANESE: I tell you what – well you’re asking me to comment on something that you don’t even know what the question is, with respect.

CONNELL: Well is there an idea that you could put in place – we’ve got the English language test – that there’s some sort of test where you ask people, I mean it might be, for example, the things that were mentioned – female genital mutilation, Sharia Law, women …

ALBANESE: We’re obviously against that, and we’re against …

CONNELL: But a test to just make sure people know what we stand for in Australia, as an example.

ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see what is proposed, but of course we support Australian values. Everyone supports Australian values. Every member of this parliament, no one would object to that.

But I’ll tell you what Australian values were on display a week ago: Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw marking each other in an Australian Rules contest. Two African recent – relatively recent arrivals, engaged in our unique Indigenous sport of Australian Rules Football. You know, the fact is that within a very short period of time people do settle. People do share those Australian values and we see it on display. Walk into any primary school in the country and what you’ll see is little kids of different background who don’t see colour, who don’t see religion, they just see other little kids.

CONNELL: You’re speaking to my heart now because it was a cracking game and unfortunately my mob are the Brisbane Lions, beat Hawthorn. But we’ll talk about that next time maybe, Anthony Albanese.

ALBANESE: Good on you.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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