Nov 10, 2020










SUBJECTS: Appointment of Ed Husic as the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources; climate change; medium and long-term emissions reduction targets; climate change; coronavirus supplement; JobSeeker rate.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good afternoon. For obvious reasons, we’ll be pretty quick, given Question Time is on. This morning, Joel Fitzgibbon informed the Caucus that he would be resigning from the shadow ministry. We’ve had a process of calling for nominations, and I’m very pleased that Ed Husic has been elected to the Labor Shadow Ministry. Can I pay tribute to Joel Fitzgibbon for his contribution. We were elected, I always remember the date, it’s my birthday, 2 March 1996. And we are all that remains of the class of 1996. Joel Fitzgibbon has made a valuable contribution as a Labor Member of Parliament that he will continue to do, but also, of course, as a Minister and as a Shadow Minister. We’ve been mates for a very long period of time. And that will continue into the future.


I’m very pleased that Ed Husic is resuming his position on the Labor frontbench. Ed is an outstanding parliamentarian and an outstanding representative of Western Sydney. He’s someone who says what he thinks. He’s someone who comes at it with a great sense of humour and character. He’s someone who has policy detail experience. He’s someone who could fill a whole range of portfolios across the board. Before the Government, which has foreshadowed that they will have a reshuffle at the end of the year following Mathias Cormann’s departure and other changes, Ed Husic will be the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources, and then we will have a fuller change at the end of the year, after the Government does. I look forward to Ed serving both in the Shadow Ministry, but also, I have appointed Ed to the Shadow Cabinet. He’s someone who will make a contribution not just in this portfolio but also, he will make a contribution to debates. And I’d ask Ed to say a couple of words.


ED HUSIC, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND RESOURCES: Thanks, Anthony. Good to be back. I wasn’t expecting, I’ve got to say, that I’d be here. I woke up this morning as a backbencher, and I’m here now in a different role. But very honoured to be so in the position. Thanks for the words, Albo. I have tried to be as direct and straightforward and speak from the heart in relation to a lot of things that I care about as a parliamentarian, but particularly as a representative of the area where I’m from.


And I have to say too, at this point, I just want to acknowledge Joel Fitzgibbon. Joel and I have known each other before I was even a parliamentarian. We have known each other probably from the point when I was in Young Labor. And Joel and I have been great friends over that period of time. As much as to be completely frank with all of you, I’m very happy to be here, there is a big part of me that is sad that I’m here, with him departing. It would always be great to serve alongside Joel. But we’re still in the same Parliament together, and I look forward to that. The other thing is too, I just want to make this point, when you’re making your decisions, I’m very happy to be able to be responsible for two industries that have been the absolute bedrock of the Australian economy, in terms of agriculture and resources. They have not only generated enormous wealth for the nation, but they’ve created jobs for people, really good jobs. And it would be a huge honour to be able to be in those portfolios. And I look forward over the coming weeks to talking with a wide variety of people, right from the agricultural and resources sectors, because they’ve got a continuing role to play in terms of providing, making sure that people can pay the bills, generating wealth for the nation. And as I said, they have just been bedrocks for the Australian economy. There will probably a lot of other occasions we’ll get a chance to have a chat. But I might leave my contribution at that.


ALBANESE: Hang on. Loudest doesn’t get to ask the first question.


JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about what this means for Labor’s climate policy and getting votes from blue-collar workers?




JOURNALIST: Joel has said that…


ALBANESE: Hang on. You don’t get. We’ll do it in order.


JOURNALIST: But we won’t have time.


ALBANESE: We’ll get to you, Greg. We’ll get to you, Greg. Don’t worry. Greg can have the last question, okay?


JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, one of the issues that has caused tension in Labor over the last little bit has been an open debate between Mark Butler and Joel Fitzgibbon about a medium-term emissions reduction target, the 2030 or 2035 target. Previously you have said, ‘We will set a target consistent with the science.’ You told the National Press Club that. A couple of days ago, you said voters would be aware exactly of your process going up to net zero emissions by 2050. Is it a target or a process?


ALBANESE: You’re trying to read tea-leaves and read different things.


JOURNALIST: What is the position?


ALBANESE: The position is pretty clear. We have net zero emissions by 2050. And we will have a complete announcement, including how we get there, before the election. One of the things that I’ve said consistently is that, and I said it a couple of weeks ago in answer to a question from the honourable Phil Coorey, one of the things that we do is to look at the fact that changes occur. Now, there are 22 different policies this Government has had. If I had announced a policy under President Trump, it may well be that the international scene on climate change is different under President-elect Biden. That’s the point that I have been making consistently. So, no matter how many times people from The Guardian or The Australian have asked the same question, they effectively get the same answer. You might try and draw different nuance in, but you get the same answer.


JOURNALIST: But we are getting different answers.


ALBANESE: You get the same answer. Sometimes you try and draw different things into what shade of green that is, what this is made of, but essentially, it’s the same answer.


JOURNALIST: Will you have a target?


ALBANESE: We have a net zero emissions target by 2050. It will all be there. Guess what? You’ll have plenty of time before the election to transact exactly what it all means, to go through all of that. And, quite frankly, what you should be doing is holding this Government to account now, that does not have an energy policy in this country.


JOURNALIST: Joel Fitzgibbon said today that Labor needed to bridge the gap with its broader base and bridge the divide, as he said, that happened during the Hawke Keating years between what people in rural areas and regional areas who support Labor want, and what people in metropolitan areas want. Do you agree with that? And if so, how do you do it?


ALBANESE: Of course, I agree with it. I think we should try and get the vote of everyone wherever they live. Whatever work they do should be respected. Whether they’re a coal miner, whether they are someone who’s working in IT, whether they live in Marrickville, or whether they live in Maryborough. We need to represent people. I make that very clear. And that’s what I do. That’s what our platform has been doing. We’ve been doing it very consistently all the way through. And one of the things I’ve said about climate change is that good action on climate change does three things. It creates jobs, lowers emissions, and it lowers energy prices.


JOURNALIST: Just on the coronavirus supplement, $150 until March, what do you want the rate to be after that?


ALBANESE: Well, why are they cutting things right now? That’s what’s extraordinary. Why are they cutting things right now? They’ve cut both wage subsidies through JobKeeper and they’re cutting JobSeeker when the Government itself says more people will go on to unemployment benefits between now and Christmas. Now is not the time to be withdrawing support from the economy. Greg, last question. Greg, last question. Make it a good one. Bring it bring it home. Bring it home, Greg.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).


ALBANESE: I refer to my previous answers. There you go.