Feb 13, 2020








SUBJECTS: Meetings of politicians; submarines; Chaos within the Coalition.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: It has been terrific today to be here in Parliament House at a bipartisan event, International Women’s Day, which occurs on March the 8th. I am here with our Shadow Minister for Women, Julie Collins and our Deputy Senate Leader, Kristina Keneally. March 8th will be a big day here in Australia. We will be having a cricket game. It is a cricket game at the MCG. The final of the T20 where we hope that the Australians, Meg Lanning and her team, make the finals. And I am pretty confident that what we will see is the largest ever attendance at a women’s sporting event in history, anywhere in the world. It says something about the gains that have been made. On International Women’s Day we must also acknowledge that the gender pay gap remains far too low. At about $240 on average difference in women’s pay. Truth is that the occupations that are underpaid, childcare, aged care, tend to be the occupations which have the predominance of women workers. We also need to acknowledge that violence against women remains prevalent in our society. Violence in terms of murder within families still occurs. Violence, of course, takes many forms. It takes forms of emotional violence, financial violence and verbal violence. And International Women’s day is a day for all of us to speak out about violence against women. In this place, we have seen a lot of change. We are seeing more women represented, particularly on the Australian Labor Party’s side. Kristina is part of our Leadership team along with Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher in the Senate. There it is in fact, three out of three women in the senior positions. And I am very hopeful that after the next election, Labor will achieve our target of 50 per cent women, 50 per cent men. My Shadow Cabinet has achieved that already. And we’re stronger for it. We’re stronger for using the capacity of everyone, not just half of the community. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Can I start first with the Otis group. Apparently, you didn’t know about this group. What discussions have you had with members of that group?


ALBANESE: I suspect that people went out to dinner last night too and they had dinner in a few restaurants. I did. That’s what happens in Canberra. People go out and people chat about ideas. There is nothing unusual about this.


JOURNALIST: Is there tension, though, within the Party about coal miners versus climate change?


ALBANESE: The Labor Party is united in our position that climate change is real, that we need to act on lowering our emissions. And indeed, that as I outlined in the jobs and the future work vision statement, in Perth, a statement that was unanimously agreed to by the caucus, good action on climate change means more jobs, lower emissions and lower energy prices. That’s Labor’s objective. The division in this house is on the other side. The Coalition of chaos. We see Michael McCormack last night on TV say that we’ll just wait and see whether there’s another challenge to his leadership. We’ve seen the Coalition that has an absolute majority on the floor in the House of Representatives actually lose a vote on the floor this week. Not just lose, but get slaughtered, 75 to 67. The fact is they are in chaos. That is why we have no plan for anything except marketing and spin from this Government. No plan for the economy. No plan for climate change. No plan for energy. No plan for wages.


JOURNALIST: It seems that the Government is almost prepared to accept the fact that there might not be a 50 per cent local content for the submarines in Adelaide. Your thoughts?


ALBANESE: Well, this is just appalling. This is another example of a Government that doesn’t have an actual plan. And what that means is that they don’t have a vision of how we take Australia forward, and how we use through procurement policies. This is an investment of tens of billions of dollars, when we should be maximising Australian content, maximising Australian jobs, maximising Australian skills and training opportunities. But this is a Government that just doesn’t get it. They are incompetent as well as failing to actually have a vision for the country.


JOURNALIST: How much of that can be put at the feet of the Government, though, when it is the French that were building the submarines saying that?


ALBANESE: It’s the Government that signed the contracts. This is a Government bill. This isn’t a private sector bill. This is a Government bill with taxpayers’ money, Australian taxpayers’ money, that’s been used to benefit the French economy rather than the Australian economy.


JOURNALIST: We saw the Government yesterday still continue to refuse to release the Gaetjens report into the conduct of this sports grants program. Were there more details about how much the Government’ spending (inaudible)? Can you guarantee voters that you wouldn’t use money in the same sort of way to specifically go after (inaudible)?


ALBANESE: Have a look at what I did. I’ve been the Minister for Local Government and Regional Development. Have a look at the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure program. Every council, all 550 of them, right around the country, receiving a portion of the funds according to the Commonwealth Grants Commission formula. And for major projects, of the four largest grants, three were in liberal seats, and one, including the Gold Coast was the largest grant, for example, last time I looked, the Gold Coast stadium that helped Australia get the Commonwealth Games bid, that helped create jobs on the Gold Coast, along with our $365 million we put into the Gold Coast Light Rail project. These were safe Liberal National Party seats. We did that because it is the right thing to do. Three largest grants in Liberal seats. Before, it was in the seat of Kennedy, held by Bob Katter, where we built the Ironsley River Bridge, which previously Karumba and Normanton used to get, every time there was a flood, the bridge would go, and they’d have to helicopter in food and medical supplies. We fixed that permanently with a major infrastructure project delivered through local government. Thanks very much.