Jul 1, 2020









SUBJECTS: Eden-Monaro by-election; Labor’s commitment to reversing ABC cuts; cyber security; post-COVID Australia; state border closures.


KRISTY MCBAIN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good morning, guys. Today I am here in Queanbeyan with the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese. And we are here today to announce that a future Labor Government will reverse the cuts to the ABC, $84 million going back to the ABC. Because we know during the bushfires what a crucial role they played. ABC South East, ABC Riverina and ABC Canberra were crucial in actually saving lives. Literally saving lives. We know when electricity and telecommunications went down that some people only had their radio. We want to add to that too with a previous announcement that I have already made about strengthening transmission signals of the ABC across Eden-Monaro. We know that there is not enough resilience in our telecommunications network or our transmissions network and we need to add back-up power to that. Bushfire affected regions like Eden-Monaro are doing it really tough at the moment. There are still around 600 properties in Eden-Monaro alone that need to be cleared up of that fire debris, of the rubble. And it is really difficult for the people to move on and they need that clear up to take place for their mental health and wellbeing. A future Labor Government will make sure that the ABC cuts are reversed because ABC is so crucial to all of the areas in Eden-Monaro. I am Kristy McBain, Labor’s candidate for the Eden-Monaro by-election. And on Saturday, please vote Labor. We support the ABC. We support regional jobs. And we support our communities remaining connected through this vital, local media.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, thanks very much, Kristy. And thank you for your advocacy for the people of Eden-Monaro who’ve been doing it tough and continue to do it tough. Today’s announcement is about reversing the cuts that Scott Morrison says don’t exist. Ita Buttrose knows that it exists. Everyone at the ABC knows that it exists. Everyone who listens and watches the ABC knows that it exists. And the Budget papers say that these cuts are there in black and white. And yet Scott Morrison, all marketing, no substance, says that there are no cuts to rub salt into the wounds of those 250 hard working ABC employees who have lost their jobs in the last week. The fact is the ABC provides a vital and essential service. We know that just over the last 12 months there have been 850 emergency events covered by the ABC. At a time during the bushfire crisis, when other communications networks weren’t available, it is the ABC that told people firsthand whether they should stay in their homes or whether they should leave. The ABC literally saved lives over this period in this region, as well as in the Adelaide Hills, on Kangaroo Island, on the north coast of New South Wales, in the Gippsland region. The ABC is what we rely upon during critical emergency events as a nation. And we should value it. Ita Buttrose has called out this. And we know now that indeed David Anderson, the CEO of the ABC, wrote to the Government asking for the cuts to be reversed not once but twice, saying that if they were reversed, the ABC could put in extra services for regional Australia. And that was rejected by Scott Morrison and this Government who just don’t get it. We know during the bushfires, Kristy McBain was on the ground each and every day. We know that this Government frankly went missing. And it’s been missing ever since, in failing to clean up the debris, in failing to give support to businesses and individuals who were impacted by the bushfires. This Saturday is a chance to send a message to this Government. Send a message that the performance hasn’t been good enough on these issues. Send a message that ABC cuts should be reversed, and that funding should be restored. And they can do that by voting number one for Kristy McBain, someone who will stand up for this community. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: This is your first national funding commitment since become Labor Leader more than a year ago. Why has it taken so long to devise your priorities?


ALBANESE: The fact is we were hoping that the Government would reverse these cuts. But it hasn’t happened, and we now see the job losses that are there. We have made a number of commitments through vision statements about the general direction that Labor will be taking under a Government that I lead. And we will continue to do so. Just last week, we outlined an energy policy. And we offered, in good faith, to sit down with the Government and devise a framework for energy in this country. Something that the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, and others have been crying out for. But Scott Morrison hasn’t even bothered to respond.


JOURNALIST: Albo, do you think it is appropriate for states like Queensland to keep their borders shut to Victoria?


ALBANESE: I think it’s appropriate that state governments take advice from their state medical officers. That’s what is seeing us through this. This should not be the subject of political argy-bargy. This is, whether it be Steven Marshall’s Government in South Australia, the Liberal Government in Tasmania, the Labor Government in WA, or the Labor Government in Queensland. And I note that here in New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian is saying to Victorians that they’re not welcome here and New South Wales visitors shouldn’t go to Victoria. So, what I think is appropriate is that this not be two messages. Which is what, for a while, we’ve got from this Government including from the state government in Gladys Berejiklian, who was critical of Queensland and is now saying exactly the same message with regard to Victoria. I think that this needs to be based upon medical health advice, not based upon politics.


JOURNALIST: Does Daniel Andrews needs to take responsibility for the failed hotel quarantine program that has sparked this latest outbreak?


ALBANESE: Look, Daniel Andrews has led Victoria very strongly through this crisis. He continues to do so. And I think that state and territory governments have followed the advice that’s been given.


JOURNALIST: Annastacia Palaszczuk had a pretty political criticism of the PM yesterday. Do you share that? She said that national leadership was lacking.


ALBANESE: Well, look, I don’t believe that it’s appropriate. And I haven’t sought to politicise the response to the medical issues. With regard to borders, I’m not surprised that Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has shown tremendous leadership in Queensland is frustrated at the comments of the Prime Minister, given he has said time and time again, it’s up to the states what happens after every one of these National Cabinet meetings and then he goes on to criticise the actions only of the Queensland Labor Government. Not the WA Labor Government. Not the South Australian Liberal Government. Not the Tasmanian Liberal Government. Not the Victorian Labor Government. Not the New South Wales Liberal Government. But just Queensland. Could be because there is an election coming up at the end of the year.


JOURNALIST: How much pressure do you think your leadership will come under if you are not successful on Saturday?


ALBANESE: This is about the people of Eden-Monaro. This is about the people of Eden-Monaro. And I was elected Leader of the Labor Party unopposed. A bit unlike Scott Morrison, who, when he stood, of course, came through the track, pretended he was supporting Malcolm Turnbull, wasn’t really supporting Malcolm Turnbull, had all his supporters vote for Peter Dutton in the first ballot and then came up the outside on the second ballot. So, I have always been upfront. I have the support of my Party. And Scott Morrison, of course, was only successful because people who really wanted Julie Bishop to be the Prime Minister, prioritised stopping Peter Dutton.


JOURNALIST: So, your leadership is safe on Saturday?


ALBANESE: This is about the Eden-Monaro by-election. This is about Kristy McBain. She’s the best candidate. She’s standing up for the people of Eden-Monaro. See if you can find, you’re welcome to ask any questions you’d like to Kristy here today, see if you can find the Liberal candidate, who is in witness protection during this by-election.


JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the Prime Minister that it would cost $207 billion over the next decade to protect Australia in a more dangerous post-COVID world?


ALBANESE: What I agree is that we need to protect Australia in every world, pre, during and after. And that should be a priority in terms of our Defence. The Prime Minister’s giving a speech this morning, it appears to me from the reports that it’s consistent with the Defence White Paper of 2016. That general direction, Labor has been calling for a long time, to prioritise our regional security. That’s why Labor, when in Government under Kevin Rudd, commissioned submarines that would operate around the region. I think there are real issues with regard to the roll-out of that submarine program. And I certainly hope that the Prime Minister addresses those issues in his address this morning.


JOURNALIST: Does it concern you that potentially the cyber announcement yesterday will draw money away from other parts of the Defence budget?


ALBANESE: Cyber Security is an issue. I’m not putting together the Budget in October. We’ll wait and see what the Budget papers show. But cyber security is an issue that requires prioritisation as a part of modern national security issues. Thanks very much.


JOURNALIST: Kristy, you challenged the Liberal candidate to a debate. What’s your message to her about fronting up?


MCBAIN: Look, we challenge the Liberal candidate to a debate. Obviously, with COVID-19 restrictions, things have been a little bit different this campaign. And whilst we have done a specific ‘meet the candidates’ Zoom meeting in particular towns’ Chamber of Commerce, they haven’t got widespread engagement. So, that challenge remains open. And I’m more than happy to show up for a debate to a bigger and larger audience.


JOURNALIST: Has the electorate told you about their concerns with the funding being taken away from the ABC? What’s the evidence that people in the broader electorate care about cuts to the media when there’s so many cuts across the economy?


MCBAIN: The ABC has become a crucial topic during this by-election. We know that there are many, many, many properties right across Eden-Monaro who have a ‘Save the ABC’ sign in their front yard. They are not campaigning for a candidate. They’re campaigning for their local media not to be cut. Because the ABC did literally save lives over the summer period. We had journalists working 24/7. We know that these people are also part of regional communities. And if we cut them, and their jobs follow, we lose them from regional towns. We can’t have that.


JOURNALIST: How close do you think the race is? Do you think there will be a result on Saturday?


MCBAIN: It’s going to be a tight contest. Every vote will count in Eden-Monaro regardless of the size of your town and village. Please get out and vote on Saturday or before if necessary. It’s going to be a line ball call. But I’ll be working hard right up until the end to make sure that people vote for me, because to me every vote matters. And it should matter to this Government.


JOURNALIST: There is some polling that shows support for the Nationals has increased. Does that worry you that it will flow through to the Liberals and give them a boost?


MCBAIN: I am campaigning really heavily on voting number one for me, for Kristy McBain, the Labor Party. Because we actually care. We do not want to see these communities continue to be forgotten and left behind by this Government. Giving your vote to any other party only endorses the lack of action in areas like Eden-Monaro. Thank you.