Oct 19, 2020







SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison abandoning National Cabinet meeting; National Cabinet; Federal Budget; Aussies stranded overseas; childcare; easing of restrictions in Victoria; New Zealand travel bubble; international borders; Wage subsidies; women getting back into the workforce.


LAURA JAYES, HOST: The Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, joins us. Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time.




JAYES: Some good news for Melburnians this morning. They are enjoying some newfound freedom. But businesses are closed for another two weeks. Do you know what advice that is based on?


ALBANESE: Well, Daniel Andrews gives a press conference every day and for over an hour yesterday with the Chief Health Officer from Victoria. And what Daniel has done is presided over an extraordinary effort by Victorians. This is Victorians working together to keep each other safe, but to keep all of us safe as well. And they are doing it successfully. Victoria is opening up from today. It will open up further, perhaps in two weeks’ time. But the Premier has said potentially earlier as well.


JAYES: Josh Frydenberg was just on this program and he has said that Daniel Andrews is showing a callous indifference to the people of Victoria. Sounds like fighting words to me.


ALBANESE: Sounds like a bloke, who along with other Victorian Liberal members, has said, ‘We’re all in this together except against Labor state governments’. Whether it’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, whether it’s Daniel Andrews. I think the Federal Government should do its day job, make sure that issues like the failure of the COVIDSafe app, that they clearly have responsibility for, is fixed, make sure that aged care, that they have clear responsibility for, is actually dealt with. There’s a report that there is still not a proper plan for aged care in place. It’s just extraordinary. And at the same time, of course, we have arrivals coming in to Victoria from New Zealand.


JAYES: Okay. The COVIDSafe app, just quickly, hasn’t led to the detection of as many infectious people as the Government first made out. But nor has Daniel Andrews taken any responsibility for the failure of hotel quarantine. Is that acceptable to you?


ALBANESE: Daniel Andrews has taken responsibility for what he’s in charge of. He’s been totally accountable. And that stands in stark contrast to what we saw over the weekend with people arriving into Victoria from New Zealand with no notice. And the minister in charge, Alan Tudge, who has been acting Immigration Minister now for a year, is saying he doesn’t know who they are and where they’ve gone and what the circumstances are.


JAYES: So, do you support the New Zealand bubble or not?


ALBANESE: I support the New Zealand bubble, but in the agreement that everyone thought it was, which was that some states are open, and some states aren’t. The Prime Minister last week was up in Queensland where he was raising money for the LNP rather than having a National Cabinet meeting. And he was saying while he was there, he was saying, ‘Well, New Zealanders can’t come here’. Well, what’s the story? They can’t both be right.


JAYES: So, whose job is it to police the state borders then? Do you think it’s Alan Tudge’s job as the Federal minister? Or is it up to the states to police their own borders?


ALBANESE: Well, this isn’t a state border, this is an international border issue. This is people from another country coming in to a destination via Sydney. That’s what’s occurred here. And clearly, the National Government are in charge of our national borders. And we still, of course, have something in the order of 29,000 stranded Australians. I spoke about the Northern Territory facility being open now more than two months ago. More than two months ago. Chief Minister Gunner’s Government were keen to accept people there. The Western Australian Government were making an offer months ago. And these people are just stranded. They’ve just been forgotten by the Federal Government.


JAYES: Western Australia and Tasmania both had travellers from New Zealand try and get into those states and they were stopped at the border. So, there has been some success. Isn’t it absolutely a state government position here? Isn’t it their job to stop whoever they don’t want to come into the state? Why is it a Federal Government issue?


ALBANESE: No. Our international borders, people who come in and then transit through, is the responsibility of the Federal Government.


JAYES: Right. So, there’s no issue, you think, no jurisdiction here for state officials whatsoever?


ALBANESE: The Federal Government have primary responsibility for national borders, Laura. That is so obvious. And the fact that the Federal Government can’t say, or couldn’t say on the weekend, who these people were, how they were coming in, it’s just extraordinary. I find the whole border issue, when it comes to the state borders as well, if the Prime Minister actually prioritised national leadership, the National Cabinet wouldn’t have been cancelled on Friday.


JAYES: Okay. Let’s quickly talk about JobMaker. Will you block it?


ALBANESE: We’ve being constructive the whole way through, Laura. Our problem isn’t that younger people are being given support, it’s the 928,000 people who get no support. And what we have here is if you’re over 35, you’ve already had your wage subsidy cut, you’ll have your wage subsidy disappear next March, you’ll be thrown on to $40 a day, poverty rates, for unemployment benefits. And you’ll have to compete against people who are getting a subsidy. So, if you’ve got two people, one aged 36, and one aged 34, if you are an employer and you got $200 for the 34-year-old or nothing for the 36-year-old, what are you going to do, Laura? And the problem here is people are just being left behind. And the problem with recessions, if you go back, it is often older workers who lose their job, and some of them never work again. And what we need to do is to make sure, out of this recession, that people aren’t left behind. Too many people have been left behind during the pandemic by being left out of wage subsidies. We shouldn’t leave people out as part of the recovery.


JAYES: You have recognised that getting women back to work is going to be key to economic recovery. And you’ve done that through your childcare proposal. What’s the end game here? Pending the Productivity Commission’s report that you say you will commission if you become the Prime Minister. Is the end game here to have free childcare?


ALBANESE: No, what I’ve said is that we should look at universal provision of affordable childcare. This is not a welfare measure. This is an economic reform. And the fact is, why is it, Laura, that young Billy, when he hits five years of age, your newborn, he will be able to go to any public school in the country and get education support? If he’s sick, he gets access to Medicare. But why is it that five years old is the point? It’s as if we’ve made a decision that people only begin to learn when they hit school as well. And it just doesn’t make sense. And other successful countries regard early childhood education as being critical. And it’s good for the child. But most importantly, as well, here is an economic measure. We need to come out of this recession, not aiming for where we were, but how do we improve as a country? How do we boost productivity? And one way we can do that is by boosting women’s workforce participation. It will be good for families, but critically good for the economy as well. We need to harness the capacity of our entire population, not just half.


JAYES: Joe Hockey made the same points when he was Treasurer about getting women, more women, into the workforce. So, it sounds like you’re on a very similar page to what he was, Anthony Albanese. Appreciate your time this morning.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Laura. Welcome back.