Oct 30, 2020








SUBJECTS: Labor’s Working Family Childcare Boost; Bushfire Royal Commission; lack of integrity of Morrison Government; AusPost and Cartier watches; Chris Hayes; terrorist attack incident in France.


ANDREW LEIGH, MEMBER FOR FENNER: My name is Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fenner. And it’s a delight to have Anthony Albanese and Katy Gallagher here at the Harrison Early Learning Centre. I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people on whose lands we are meeting today. I acknowledge the Indigenous culture that is so important to this early learning centre. Well, the ages zero to five are 1,800 days. And they’re an incredibly important period in the lives of young people. It is that first five years that sets you up for the next 80 years. The work that we’ve seen here in this centre is so critical. Labor is committed to high-quality early childhood education, and to making sure that education is affordable and accessible to parents across Australia. That’s why Anthony’s here in this centre. And that’s why childcare was at the centre of Labor’s Budget Reply. It’s a real pleasure to have Katy Gallagher and Anthony Albanese here. I’ll hand over now to Anthony to say a few words.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Andrew. Thanks for joining us here today with Katy Gallagher, who has done an amazing job in the Senate in the last couple of weeks, holding the Government to account. And we’re also joined by Summer, who has shown us what to do around the centre here. How old are you?




ALBANESE: Four. Summer is four and is a great example of the benefits of early childhood education. It isn’t just about people, our littlest people, being minded. It is about their development. It’s about their education. It’s about how successful they will be in life. We know that human brain development, 90 per cent of it occurs in the first five years. It makes no sense, the current system whereby once your child turns five, it’s recognised by our society that we all have a responsibility to look after them in terms of public education, to provide that universal service. Early childhood education should be just as universal and available and affordable. And our plan to remove the cap on the childcare subsidy, to lift it to 90 per cent, to improve the tapering off so that 97 per cent of families will be better off is one that will make an enormous difference. This is economic reform. If we’re going to grow the economy out of the coronavirus crisis that we are going through, what we need to do is to look at the three Ps. Participation, productivity and population. This is about women’s participation in the workforce. It’s about boosting productivity. It’s also about providing people with the economic security to make decisions as families of when they’re going to have their first child or another child. Being secure in the knowledge that they’ll be able to afford to do so. At the moment, it makes no sense that there’s a disincentive for many women to work a fourth, or a fifth day in a working week. That holds back careers. But it also holds back our productivity and our economy. And that’s why this reform is good for children, it’s good for families, and it’s good for our economy. All of the studies, since we announced this policy, show that there’s at least $2 benefit to every dollar of cost. That’s why it makes good economic sense.


This Government wants to return to what was there with a hoping and wishing. They don’t actually have a plan to grow our economy into the future. Labor has plans. At the centre of it is this policy, as well as a Future Made in Australia, supporting our manufacturing sector, supporting Australian energy prices to be reduced by improving the grid, making sure that we make things here. That two-pronged policy announcement that we had in the Budget Reply has been well received around Australia. Contrast that with what we’ve seeing over the last fortnight where Senate Estimates has exposed a range of programs whereby funding was announced, including one supporting women entrepreneurs, it was announced in 2018, announced again later that year and announced again in 2020. They announced the second round in the Budget two weeks ago, but a dollar hasn’t flowed from that program. And that’s symptomatic of so many programs, including the Emergency Response Fund that is there to look after people in terms of natural disasters. But at the same time the Government can find money and money has flown for Clive Palmer’s jet to be flown around and other waste that we’ve seen including buying land around Badgerys Creek for $30 million when it was only worth three. They are the wrong priorities. This should be the priority of any national government looking towards the future because these children deserve the best start in life. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: The Bushfire Royal Commission is being tabled today, what do you expect the Government’s response is going to be?


ALBANESE: Well, the Government needs to do far better. One, it should acknowledge that it got it wrong, that it was too slow to act. That despite the significant warnings that were occurring in 2019, it didn’t act on recommendations to the Government such as increasing aerial firefighting capacity. It didn’t address the significant issues that were being raised by the former emergency fire chiefs, indeed, wouldn’t even meet them. We know that too many families are still suffering. We have people still living in temporary accommodation. We have land that still hasn’t been cleared. It’s not good enough. And the fact is, as well, the Government needs to address the challenge of climate change. We had during last year, the Deputy Prime Minister say that it was just a, ‘woke inner-city issue’. Well, tell that to the people around Canberra here, the people around the Snowy Mountain region, people around Batlow, people around the coast, who saw so much damage and such a loss of life, as well as a loss of habitat, loss of flora and fauna. It was a devastating period. And I hope that the Government adopts all recommendations from the Bushfire Royal Commission. They’ve had it now for a couple of days without releasing it. We have got through this crisis better than most countries in terms of coronavirus because we’ve listened to the experts and listened to the science. We need to listen to the science and listen to the experts when it comes to our natural disasters.


JOURNALIST: The Australia Post CEO isn’t standing down. Do you think she is (inaudible)?


ALBANESE: The Australia Post CEO, we made our views very clear, it was only Labor’s questions in Senate Estimates that exposed the four Cartier watches worth $20,000 that were paid for with taxpayers’ money. Christine Taylor probably looks at people like Angus Taylor, looks at others who are sitting in the Cabinet of the National Government, and thinks, ‘Why should I step aside for the abuse of taxpayers’ funds when this is a Government that does it on a day-to-day basis’. Not just for $20,000, but in the tens of millions of dollars. We had the Sports Rorts saga and abuse of taxpayers’ funds with colour-coded charts that came out of the Prime Minister’s office. And no one accepting responsibility. So, Christine Holgate has done the wrong thing. I support her paying a price for that. But it’s not surprising that she has a look at those people in the Morrison Government from the very top who have abused taxpayers’ funds and haven’t paid any price whatsoever. Indeed, the Government still refuses to give proper answers about a range of those issues. And Scott Morrison avoids scrutiny at every single opportunity. We have got taxpayers’ funds are being used to fly around private jets at the moment to the tens of thousands of dollars, much more than $20,000. And you have a Government that says that’s not a problem. You have a Government that says that it’s a bargain buying land that’s worth $3 million for $30 million. It is not surprising that Christine Holgate scratches her head at the hypocrisy of this Government.


JOURNALIST: Any word on how Chris Hayes is doing?


ALBANESE: He remains under care. There’s still some tests to be done. He’s such a valued colleague. It was a very tough day for his family yesterday. Bernadette was in Canberra. On behalf, I think it’s fair to say not just the Labor Party, but all people who know Chris, including people in the press gallery, we all wish him very well for a speedy recovery. Chris has had a rough time in the last few years, crashing his motorbike, a range of incidents. So, he’s resilient. And he’s tough. He’s from Western Sydney. He’ll come through this.


Can I make just one final comment about the attack in France? All Australians stand with the people of France today. This is a horrific act of terrorism that is simply barbaric and deserves to be utterly condemned. It will produce a real shockwave through France. It won’t blunt the French values of liberty, equality and fraternity. And all Australians stand with them today.