Sep 22, 2020









SUBJECTS: Aged care crisis; Morrison Government’s pork barrelling into airports; Badgerys Creek Airport; sports rorts; Government’s energy roadmap; carbon capture and storage; hydrogen; Government’s complete mishandling of NBN.


EMMA MCBRIDE, MEMBER FOR DOBELL: Good morning, everyone. I’m Emma McBride, the Federal Member for Dobell. And I’m so pleased to welcome Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, back to the coast today. Anthony is a really strong supporter of our region, and a regular visitor to our community here on the coast. And Anthony and I are here today because there’s something that we care very deeply about. Aged care. Aged care matters across Australia. And it matters in communities like mine, like ours, on the Central Coast here. In our community, one in five people are aged over 65. It’s a community where so many people are attached by aged care. Everyone has a parent, a grandparent, a family member in aged care, or someone that they know, a friend or family member who works within aged care. It touches us all. And we’re here at RFBI Lake Haven in response to a letter from an aged care worker, Leanne Gallagher, on behalf of her co-workers. Leanne invited us here to listen, to hear from them, and to learn from their firsthand experience. What is obvious is their deep concern and care for the residents that they look after, who each day, before and during this pandemic, they’re protecting and keeping safe. And also, to hear the disappointment that aged care workers on the front line of this pandemic are not properly recognised or valued by this Government, including those working in catering, in gardening, in maintenance, in hotel service, in administration. They’re all equally exposed to the risk, but not equally valued and supported by this Government. They have told us that they feel overlooked, that they’re not valued as essential workers, despite being a central part of the aged care team. And they’ve said to us that the time for cupcakes and applause is over. That the time for proper recognition and support is now. On a personal note, I’d like to finish by recognising that this is Dementia Action Week. Dementia affects close to half a million Australians. Many of them live in aged care. And the theme of this year’s Dementia Action Week is, ‘A little support makes a lot of difference’. So today, this week, and always, to everyone living with dementia and to those who love and care for them, you’re not alone. Thank you. Anthony?


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Emma. And thank you for the warm welcome here to your electorate on the Central Coast. But also, a big thank you to the workers who’ve shared their experience and their story here. A big thank you for them, for the work that they do looking after our older Australians. I’ve said for a long period of time that what we need to do is ensure that older Australians can get the dignity and respect that they deserve in their later years. But I’ve also said that it’s important that we recognise while there are major issues in aged care that have been exposed further by the pandemic, that we need to understand that there are facilities like this that provide fantastic care. And at the key of those facilities isn’t the building. It’s not the structure. It’s not the outlook. It’s the workers. The people who are the friends of our older Australians, who look after them. And the fact is that the cleaners, if you take them out of the facility, if you take the catering staff out of the facility, if you take the maintenance staff out of the facility, or if you take the lifestyle staff, those who look after the quality of life for people in aged care, if you take any of the elements out of an aged care facility, then older Australians won’t get the care and respect that they deserve. And that’s why it is just tragic, frankly, that you have a workplace such as this with over 90 staff, just over half of whom have received the aged care retention bonus, but just under half who have missed out, who are treated as if their care and their work isn’t as deserving as those who might have a nursing degree, or who are eligible under the Government’s guidelines. What we say is that the aged care retention bonus should go to every single worker at those facilities. They are equally at risk. They equally care for the people who look after the residents here at this facility, RFBI Lake Haven, but facilities right around the country. So, the fact that they’ve been excluded is unfair, it’s just another wrong in the way that this Government has handled aged care during the pandemic. But we know, of course, from the interim report of the Royal Commission, titled, ‘Neglect’, that said it all about the problems with aged care under the Morrison Government. So, while the Morrison Government couldn’t find a few dollars to provide that retention bonus for aged care workers, we know that they’ve found plenty of money for other things.


And today, what has been exposed is a $30 million payment for land around Badgerys Creek Airport that was really worth $3 million. A ten-fold increase in payment for land, from taxpayers, going to people who have a history of donating to the Liberal Party. When you have a circumstance where the Morrison Government’s pork barrelling has reached airports, then it is proof that pigs really can fly. And if you believe from this Government that Scott Morrison, as Treasurer, the former Director of the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party, somehow can pass the buck on this, then once again, it’s another example of a Government that fails to be accountable for any of the waste of taxpayers’ money, or in this case, the scandal that is around a block of land being bought for $30 million that was worth just three. The fact is that this Government, when it comes to these issues of accountability and finance in the lead-up to the Budget, you would believe that pigs don’t fly if you believe that the pattern which is their, of sport rorts, of wasting of expenditure, of support for mates that goes to the heart of this Government, has been exposed yet again by a report by the National Audit Office, a report that exposes this scandal but doesn’t go to the detail of who was responsible for this. Scott Morrison must today, given he is now the Prime Minister, and was Treasurer when this scandalous overpayment was made, explain exactly how this occurred and why it occurred. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible). What are the actual consequences of that?


ALBANESE: Well, there needs to be ministerial accountability. This is a Government that pass the buck at every opportunity. This is a Government whereby Scott Morrison pretends that no one’s responsible for any of these scandals that are becoming all too prevalent. Whether it be the sports rorts fiascos, which is one after the other of decisions being made in a partisan political fashion, or whether it be this clear waste and clear scandal, frankly, it’s not enough to pass it back to some junior bureaucrat. Who signed off on this? Who was the minister who signed off? What we know is Scott Morrison was Treasurer when this happened.


JOURNALIST: On the Government’s technology roadmap, (inaudible)?


ALBANESE: Well, this is a mud map, not a roadmap. And the fact is that once again, from this minister, it’s more about omissions than emissions when it comes to this Government. And we have a circumstance whereby we have a so-called roadmap without a destination. There’s no target there. The Government refuses to support net zero emissions by 2050 that’s been adopted by every state and territory government, been adopted by the Business Council of Australia, the National Farmers Federation, every major industrial group, just about, in the country. But they, of course, refuse to do that. Now, a roadmap without a destination is a road to nowhere. Once again, we have Angus Taylor being unconnected to what’s actually happening on the ground. On the ground, we have energy efficiency being the first thing that’s done, we have in this statement, again support, but not quite knowing where for nuclear energy, without saying where the nuclear power stations should be. And we have a circumstance whereby this whole so-called plan to have a plan is as unconnected to reality as anything that Angus Taylor has downloaded from the Internet. The fact is that you can’t have a roadmap without knowing where you’re going. When I was coming here this morning, to lovely Lake Haven, I got in the car, I put in the destination. And then I got taken here by GPS. The fact is that this is not so much a GPS, this is a mud map in the era of GPS. You need to know where you’re going to know how you’re going to get there.


JOURNALIST: But what does Labor think of the focus on, for example, hydrogen?


ALBANESE: Well, we’ve been talking about hydrogen for a long time, if you go back to my Jobs and the Future of Work first vision statement a year ago. But it’s just words unless you have a target, unless you have a plan to get there. And this Government simply doesn’t have a plan to get there. And when it comes to technology, today, the Government’s been exposed again by the fact that they have said that they now have a plan for businesses to replace the copper wire NBN and replace it with fibre. I mean, who knew that fibre was the best technology? Answer? Everyone. Absolutely everyone. And we said at the beginning of this process, and I was a former Communications Minister, do it right, do it once, do it with fibre. What this Government is doing is; do it once, then do it again with fibre. At a great cost to the taxpayers. This Government doesn’t get the future. They’re scared of the future. They’re not about creating it and looking at where technology takes us. So, when you have a proposal from the Government, no matter what it is, whether it’s energy or communications or anything else, what happens is they are consistently hung up on the past and are scared of the present, but terrified of the future. And that’s why their responses are so inadequate.


JOURNALIST: So, is Labor open to hydrogen and carbon capture?


ALBANESE: We were talking about hydrogen a year ago, at least, myself, in my first Jobs and the Future of Work speech. Australia should be a renewable energy superpower for the world. We have an enormous opportunity to export renewable energy. That’s happening already with proposals such as the one in Tennant Creek, 250 square kilometre solar plant, exporting energy to Singapore. There are enormous opportunities here. But all of the experts will tell you that the key to driving down prices and to more efficient use of energy, driving down emissions, driving down prices and creating jobs, is renewables as well as battery storage. All of the experts will tell you that. This is just another report. There are a lot of reports up there. All of the experts say that. And the possibility for new technologies, such as hydrogen, are exciting. And we should embrace them. But they won’t be embraced by this Government. This Government still does not have an energy policy framework. You don’t get that through a speech, you get that through an energy policy framework that they don’t have, that allows the market to drive change through. And business is crying out for it. The Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group. I wrote to the Prime Minister two months ago, offering bipartisan support. We don’t have to agree on targets, just agree on a framework. He rejected that and hasn’t even bothered to respond to that proposal. What’s very clear is that the internal divisions within this Government mean that they’re incapable of moving forward. And what’s also clear is that Angus Taylor is just all over the shop, frankly, and has no credibility with the sector. Last week, they made an announcement on Tuesday or Wednesday, which was repudiated by the Prime Minister in his pre-recorded Insiders interview on Friday, because apparently, Sunday’s too hard.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).


ALBANESE: Look, we had a carbon capture and storage funding, and it was abolished by the Abbott Government. If the Government want to create a separate fund for carbon capture and storage, we’ve said we wouldn’t oppose that. But what they shouldn’t be doing is raiding funds that have been allocated for renewables in order to do that. Thanks very much.