ANTHONY ALBANESE & SHAYNE NEUMANN – TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – IPSWICH – FRIDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
SHAYNE NEUMANN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE PERSONNEL
MEMBER FOR BLAIR
FRIDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Visit to Queensland; Queensland borders; Labor’s childcare policy; regional jobs; importance of Queensland’s manufacturing jobs; Australia’s relationship with China.
SHAYNE NEUMANN, MEMBER FOR BLAIR: Welcome to Ipswich and the Cribb Street Childcare Centre. This is a wonderful community-run childcare centre that has been here in Ipswich since 1976. And Bernadette’s been here for the last 10 years. This is just the kind of centre where parents come when they want to send their children and they need good early education. So, Bernadette has turned this centre around. And I warmly welcome Anthony Albanese back to Ipswich. We love Anthony here in Ipswich because of the Ipswich Motorway upgrade. And he’s been here many, many times. But this centre, like the Milford Street Centre, where I went to childcare when I was a little boy, just a few kilometres away, is very important for Ipswich. Ipswich’s average age in this town is 32 years. The average age in Queensland is 37. So, we’re a very young community and we’re set to grow more than double in the next 20 years. So, Labor’s policy on childcare was really, really important. And I thank that people of Ipswich for re-electing the Palaszczuk Labor Government. But we need a Federal Labor Government with Anthony as the Prime Minister to make a difference. This childcare policy that we’ve announced is not just about equity, not just about fairness, it’s about good economics, good productivity and good population growth. Anthony, welcome here. And thank you, Bernadette, for having us.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, thanks very much, Shayne. And thanks for the very warm welcome that I’ve always received here in Ipswich, a great community. And one in which I was indeed happy to arrive here today, driving along the Ipswich Motorway, which was the largest ever Federal funding for a road in urban communities, more than $1.7 billion that we committed. And of course, we not only committed, we opened most of the motorway while we were still in Government. I am very pleased also to be at this childcare centre. And I want to thank Bernadette and the other workers here for what they do – important, valuable work. We know that a child’s brain development develops some 90 per cent of human capacity in the first five years. So, the work that’s done here, whether it be what we’ve seen this morning, reading, whether it be painting, whether it be learning songs and the magnificent Welcome to Country, is important work. But it’s also important economic reform that we give more support to childcare. We know that every dollar invested in early childhood learning produces more than $2 of benefit back to our economy. And if we’re going to economically recover in a way that builds a stronger economy, we need economic reform. We need reform that boosts productivity. We need reform that boosts participation. And we need reform that boosts population. They are the three Ps in which you can grow an economy. And our childcare policy ticks all three growth boxes. It is good for children, but it’s also good for a national economy. What we will do is remove the cap that is there on subsidies. Every parent knows about the cap. They know because it impacts on the working life, particularly of women. We will also increase the subsidy up to 90 per cent. This is good policy as well. At the moment, it makes no sense that a woman in the workforce wanting to go back into work after childbirth has a disincentive to work on fourth or fifth day. That holds back careers. It also holds back productivity in businesses. It’s a disincentive to work. That makes no sense. What we need to do is incentivise work, not have a system through the childcare limits as well as the taxation system that provides for that disincentive. Our plan will assist 97 per cent of families – 97 per cent will be better off as a result of our plan. And next week, we’ll be making further announcements about how people can find out exactly how much they will benefit from this plan. But good for families, good for working women, good for our economy, good for children. This is economic reform. What we saw from the Budget was $98 billion of additional expenditure, a trillion dollars of debt, and no reform to show for it. That’s why we need to do better than that. And our childcare boost would be an example of the sort of economic productivity-boosting reform that Labor will champion when we’re successful after the next election. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, Wayne Swan says Labor will lose the next election unless it focuses on jobs, health and education. Why is Labor failing on these issues?
ALBANESE: We’re not. It is precisely what we’re doing. Our Budget response was all about jobs. We’re here today talking about jobs and participation of women in the workforce. We’re here talking about education and early childhood education. Our plan for the Budget Reply had two key themes – our childcare boost and our Future Made in Australia, making sure that we prioritise manufacturing jobs, including high-value jobs right here in Australia.
JOURNALIST: This is your first visit after the borders open and it’s Queensland. But are you going to further that over the months and years ahead and get into regional Queensland? Specifically, would you be interested in visiting a coal mine in regional Queensland?
ALBANESE: I visit everywhere in Queensland. And what I did during last December, when I was able to, was go to Emerald, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Sunshine Coast. I’ve been, since I was elected Labor Leader, visited Mackay, I visited Townsville on multiple occasions, I visited Cairns. I will be out and about in Queensland. And I’ll be out and about talking to workers, talking about their needs. I indeed launched in Mackay, with the coal miners’ union and coal miners, I launched the report that was very critical of what’s happening with contracting out and labour hire, which is undermining the conditions that coal miners are experiencing right now.
JOURNALIST: Did you go too far with your criticism of the Government’s handling of the China-Australia relationship this week? What would Labor do differently in handling the relationship?
ALBANESE: I’ve been very consistent. I’ve been consistent in condemning, unequivocally, the actions of the Chinese regime in things like the tweet that was sent out. It was offensive. And we stand as one with the Government. I’ve also been absolutely consistent in saying that Australia must always speak up for our values, our democratic values, on issues like human rights. At the same time, this Government has been in power now into its eighth year. What I’ve simply said is that the impact in terms of jobs, we need a strategy to deal with those issues. And it’s up to the Government to come up with a strategy. We’ve seen the impact here, right here in Ipswich. And Shayne might want to make some comments as well, with the loss of many jobs as a result of a failure to have an appropriate strategy put in place.
NEUMANN: We condemn, of course, as Anthony said, that tweet. And we must always stand up for our values and what we truly believe in. But the mishandling of the relationship goes back a long way. And a manifestation of that here was the loss of 600 jobs at Dinmore as a result on the Morrison Government’s failure. And when we asked questions of the Prime Minister in Question Time about this, I specifically asked him a question about JobKeeper and whether it was going to help those workers, he said they can go on JobSeeker. That’s simply not good enough. Putting people on unemployment benefits, Prime Minister, in this community, is not good enough. Handle the relationship better. Protect job, support jobs, create jobs. That’s what we need here in Ipswich.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it was appropriate for the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to take a taxpayer-funded flight to and from Sydney last year so they could attend Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas party?
ALBANESE: That is a matter for them to answer. Thank you.