Nov 23, 2020









SUBJECTS: Need for investment in social housing; A Future Made in Australia; climate change; net zero emissions by 2050; coal; gas; Labor always standing up for the interests of working people.


PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: First of all, welcome. Welcome, Anthony, Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, to Victoria. It is just so great to have the Labor Leader back down here in Victoria in Melbourne. It really demonstrates, because it is the first day possible, how much he loves us Mexicans down here that he has come down straight away. And we have managed to put on the traditional Melbourne weather for him, which is just constant rain. So, I am sorry about that, Albo. It is very much Melbourne. And also, welcome to my electorate of Wills, here at the Barkly Street public housing commission, flats which are here in Brunswick in my electorate.


Now, like Albo, he and I both grew up in public housing. So, we’re both housos. And I’m not sure, I think we’re probably the only two in the Federal Parliament that are probably housos. There could be a couple others who haven’t actually fessed up to it yet. But I know that, like Albo, I’m actually proud of the fact that I grew up in public housing. Because even though you had this stigma attached to it, growing up in the 70s and 80s, the way people spoke to you about it, the way they teased you in the schoolyard or talk down to you, actually, for me, it was a positive life experience for myself and my family. It was actually a life-changing experience because it was hard, but it was positive in the sense that it ultimately, despite our socio-economic disadvantage, our ethnic migrant background, we were given an opportunity. We were given a fair go to actually get a baseline level of support. And my parents came from Egypt, migrated to Australia, for a better life, and they got that better life here in Australia. And we were given, by a Labor Government, and it was largely Labor Governments, three critical things; access to education, access to health care, and access to public housing. And it was that public housing which gave us that start in life here and had a really tremendous impact on our lives. And that is something I think that’s shared by hundreds of thousands of Australians, if not millions of Australians. Without that access to public housing, I wouldn’t be here today. That’s why I feel so strongly about it. And really because it sets a baseline for participation in our society. And housing is the beginning. We need it, that roof over our heads to actually get a start in life to actually engage in our community, to participate fully at school, to look for work, to get work, to actually make a contribution to the society that we live in. And we might be disadvantaged, as I said, but we’re not vulnerable. We’re not victims. People who live in public housing work, they study, they contribute to their families and the communities around them. And they do so for the common good. And so, despite the prejudices that we might face, I feel like growing up in public housing gave us a chance to really achieve based on our merit and our hard work. And every Australian deserves that chance. So, that’s why I’m so pleased to have Albo here and so pleased that Albo, the Labor Leader, and Federal Labor are so committed to social housing and committing funding to public housing and social housing.


We welcome the Victorian state government’s fantastic announcement of $5.3 billion to build more housing units. But we need more leadership at the Federal level. It’s just non-existence at the moment. Not a single dollar for social housing by Scott Morrison and the Federal Government. It’s a huge opportunity missed because it means you don’t create the jobs, you don’t create the work for people, which we need so barely in the economic recovery, and you don’t create those houses for so many hundreds of thousands of Australians on waiting lists. Albo has committed $500 million. If we were in Government, $500 million to do repairs, and maintenance for social housing around this country. That’s the kind of leadership we need at the Federal level. And we’ve just met with a number of residents here at Barkly Street, I have met them many times and Albo’s had a chance to actually view a couple of the flats up here and see the kind of work that needs to be done, the repairs that are needed. And so, that’s why I’m so happy and so pleased that Albo has been able to come down to Melbourne and Victoria and my electorate to visit Barkly Street to again see the need that’s here to help him better implement that policy when we win the next election. And with that, I’ll very happily hand over to Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese. Welcome.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Peter. And it is great to be in Melbourne. And it’s been some time since I’ve been able to visit here but I wanted to make sure as soon as the borders opened up that I was here on day one. And I’m here talking about what was a part of our Future Made in Australia policy we announced as part of my Budget Reply which was support for social housing. What we know is that there are a 100,000 homes and units of public housing around the country that need repair, that needs things fixed, including here at Barkly Street. And what we know is that the Commonwealth should be investing more in public and community housing. We know that because every economist said that the most effective way that you could do immediate stimulus is through social housing, particularly through repair, but also, of course, by adding to social housing stock. Now, the Andrews Government have made a $5.3 billion announcement of injection into public housing. That will add and create about 10,000 jobs every year for the next four years. Jobs for trades people. Jobs in the short-term, but also improving the life of Victorians in the longer term in both the cities and in the regions. It’s an exciting announcement. And it stands in stark contrast to Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg’s Budget, which gave nothing new for social housing at all, in spite of the fact that economists who were surveyed identified it as the number one way in which you could get immediate job creation, jobs for tradies, whilst improving the lives of people around the country, whilst also, of course, adding to social housing stock. It’s an investment that, of course, stays as an asset when you build community and public housing. So, it’s a missed opportunity from the Commonwealth. But we’ll continue to campaign. And I think with announcements like the one made by the Andrews Government, there’s an opportunity for Scott Morrison to actually add in some additional investment to do so at the end of this year. It’s not too late to actually recognise that it was a big mistake and a big gap in the Federal Budget. In spite of spending $100 billion of new money, not a single dollar for public or community housing. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: On climate change policy, will Labor commit to a 2030 emissions reduction target or does that need to be pushed back to say 2035 or later?


ALBANESE: We will make our announcement at the appropriate time, but it’ll be consistent with our position of zero net emissions by 2050. That’s a policy supported by the Victorian State Labor Government. It’s also supported by the New South Wales Liberal Government, the South Australian Liberal Government, a Tasmanian Liberal Government, the Queensland Labor Government and the WA Labor Government. It’s also supported by Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group. It’s supported by the National Farmers Federation. Supported by major companies like BHP. That’s what we need to do. And the problem with this Government is that it’s had 22 separate announcements when it comes to energy and emissions policies. We’ll have one that takes it to the election. We won’t chop and change. We’ll have a consistent policy. And I note now that the United States is going to see an incoming Biden administration with zero net emissions by 2050 as its target as well. Now, all of our major trading partners, South Korea, Japan, Europe, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, all have zero net by 2050. China, of course, has zero net by 2060. So, the world is moving on. And Scott Morrison’s just frozen in time while the world warms around him.


JOURNALIST: Did Australians get left behind on the world stage?


ALBANESE: Well, Australia has been left behind and that’s the real tragedy here. Good action on climate change will create jobs, will lower emissions and lower energy prices, which is why we should be doing more. This Government, until recently, was still, and still hasn’t written off, talking about using carryover credits to meet its target. But, of course, the world won’t allow it to do that. So, it doesn’t matter Scott Morrison’s sort-of announcement crab-walking away from that absurd policy, that no one in the world is going to allow that to occur. And when the world gathers, not just at Glasgow, but the world will gather earlier, gathered together by Joe Biden once he assumes the presidency, then what we’ll see is more advance on the world stage in 2021.


JOURNALIST: Are you planning to keep Mark Butler on in the climate and energy portfolio?


ALBANESE: Yes. Yes, he’s doing an outstanding job. I’ll have a minor reshuffle after the Government has its announcement that they’ve foreshadowed at the end of the year.


JOURNALIST: Labor Senator, Murray Watt, says Northern Australia has been the site of a destructive culture war, do you concede that Labor has been contributing to the culture war by being ambivalent or unclear on coal and gas?


ALBANESE: No, I don’t at all. We’ve been very clear. And Murray Watt’s speech today is perfectly consistent with what I’ve been saying and with what Labor has been saying for a long period of time. Murray Watt knows, for example, in Queensland, that the $4 million that’s being given for a feasibility study for a new coal-fired power plant won’t actually go anywhere. So, that’s $4 million given to the proponents of a project that everyone knows won’t go ahead. But they’re doing it on the basis of culture wars and engagement in stuff that they know won’t proceed, just like the Government until recently kept saying that the Liddell Power Station in the Hunter Valley would be kept open as a coal-fired power station, knowing that it had reached the end of its life.


JOURNALIST: It’s getting reported that he’s going to strongly endorse the export future of coal or gas. How does that fit in?


ALBANESE: It fits in. That’s our policy. And that’s consistent with what we’ve been saying for a long period of time. Those decisions will be made in Tokyo, in Washington, in Beijing, in places that receive our minerals. What Australia has to do is to ensure that we have a trajectory for zero net emissions by 2050.


JOURNALIST: Why should blue collar workers in resource rich areas vote for Labor when the ALP has sometimes offered little support when it comes to coal and gas?


ALBANESE: Because Labor has stood up for working people and their interest, regardless of whether they are miners or whether they work in shops or retail, whether they’re from the regions or whether from the cities. You look at this Government. This Government has contracted out, has engaged in labour hire so that in many of our mines in Queensland, there’s been a case found in the Federal Court, the Skene case, whereby the Federal Court found that someone who was classified as a casual worker was in fact a permanent worker and was entitled to the same wages and conditions as the people he worked side by side with. It’s only Labor that has valued the same pay for the same work. It’s Labor that has done that. Meanwhile, the LNP, standing up for big business, has sat silently while that has occurred. You can have a pay differential in some of those mines of $40,000 for people doing the same work. And that’s a report that I released from the coal miners’ union in Mackay last year. It’s something that Labor has been consistent on, whether it be the penalty rates that has hit people here in Melbourne, working in retail or hospitality, whether it be people in aged care facilities that the Federal Government has responsibility for that couldn’t get access to personal protective equipment when it was requested, whether it be the wage stagnation that we’ve seen under this Government. This Government doesn’t stand up for the interests of working people. Labor will. We always will. And the latest attack on superannuation is just an attack on the hard-fought conditions that have been won over a period of time. Superannuation didn’t just happen. People made it happen in order to improve retirement incomes. Labor will stand up for the interests of working people. The LNP never will. They believe in driving down wages and conditions regardless of where people work. Thanks.