ANTHONY ALBANESE & TONY SHELDON – TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – SYDNEY – THURSDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
SENATOR TONY SHELDON
SENATOR FOR NSW
THURSDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; jobs; apprenticeships; TAFE; manufacturing in Australia; Aussies stranded overseas.
JEHEON SON, HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT FOR LENDLEASE: Good afternoon. I’m Jeheon Son. I’m the Head of Development for Lendlease. I’d like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet here today and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. We welcome the Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, and the New South Wales Senator, Tony Sheldon. We’re very grateful for your time. We’re here today at the St Mary’s Skilling and Exchange Centre. This centre was formed by Lendlease in 2005. Since that point in time, this centre has supported almost 6,000 job opportunities. It’s an astonishing run rate. It is almost a job a day. 67 per cent of those jobs have been supporting local businesses within 10 kilometres of Penrith and Blacktown. Despite the COVID pandemic, up to June 30, this centre has supported 330 jobs, half of which are related to the construction industry. So, on behalf of Lendlease, I just wanted to say that we are extremely proud of our partnership with the local community. We’re extremely proud of the support of our partners and local businesses. And we’re extremely proud of the individuals who have worked incredibly hard to create these fantastic outcomes. So, I might just hand over to Anthony. Thank you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, thanks very much. And thank you to Lendlease very much for the welcome here. And we’ve had an opportunity today with Tony Sheldon, our duty Senator for the electorate of Lindsay, to have contact with people who are helping people into jobs. They have found it to be a pretty rewarding job for them is the feedback that we’ve had. But importantly, also, to meet with employers who have used the services here to put those 6,000 people into work. But also, we’ve had the great privilege of Caleb, Sarah, Liz, and Albin, and a couple of others as well, who have used the service here, who are success stories in terms of lining up people with job opportunities, that is giving them skills and will enable them to have a fulfilling work career that we know is an essential component of a successful life. And these four people today who are joining us, sharing their stories, I just say thank you to you and your commitment. All of them, I think, are in second year apprenticeships. And that’s a great thing, making a contribution for this local community here in Western Sydney.
It is a good day to be talking about jobs and skills. Because the Prime Minister today, of course, has made some comments about manufacturing, another announcement from a Government that prioritises announcements rather than prioritising delivery. The only thing that Scott Morrison has managed to manufacture in his time in Government is announcements, rather than actually manufacturing jobs. We know that this is a Government that dared the car industry to leave Australia. This is the political party, the Liberal Party, who said that we can’t manufacture trains here in this country. This is a Government now in its eighth year that has discovered the need to make things right here. Something that I outlined in my first vision statement going back to last year, Jobs and the Future of Work.
The test for this Government is not whether it can make announcements. We know that is the case. The test for this Government is them actually delivering on those announcements. It is one thing to use a figure like $1.5 billion, when we know that is half of the $3 billion that has been cut from TAFE for skilling young Australians and other Australians needing retraining since they came in to office. So, it is important that they be held to account. It is important that Scott Morrison change what has become a characteristic of being there for the photo-op, but not there for the follow-up. What we need is a Government in this country coming out of the pandemic that actually delivers support for the recovery, that puts people into jobs and skills. And we also remain concerned that a community like this in Western Sydney with the cuts that have been made to JobKeeper and JobSeeker just this week is seeing many millions of dollars being withdrawn from the local economy here. That won’t do anything to actually create jobs. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: All that said, is manufacturing the way out of the crisis?
ALBANESE: Look, manufacturing is absolutely vital. That is something that Labor has been saying for a long period of time. It wasn’t just discovered this week before a Budget. Kevin Rudd, when he was elected, said that he wanted a country that made things. And one of the things that we did on infrastructure, for example, when I was the Minister, we went from 20 in the OECD when we came to office to first in terms of investment as a proportion of the national economy. What we did was make sure that there were people getting apprenticeships and training, including for First-Nations people, on projects that we funded as part of the funding principles. With made sure that we used local supplies. And one of the things that I spoke about yesterday was about using the power of government purchasing to actually drive job creation here in manufacturing in this country. There is some real low-hanging fruit. A national rail manufacturing plan, for example, producing carriages here, rather than overseas that done actually fit the lines, or buying ferries overseas where people get decapitated if they are on the top deck, would be a good idea. We should make things here. There are a whole range of new products that we can make here as well. We have everything that goes into a battery. We have lithium and all of those rare earths, the second largest deposit of rare earths in the world. We should be using that to produce batteries, to produce solar panel, to produce more things here. We need to be more self-reliant when it comes to pharmaceuticals and medical products here as well. There is a range of things that could be produced here. We should be doing it. We should be making sure that we are more self-reliant in the future. Because it is about creating jobs, but it is also about creating a future for this country that is as bright and optimistic as it should be.
JOURNALIST: Realistically, there’s not a lot of manufacturing that is still done in Australia. How long do you think it would take to almost restart this?
ALBANESE: Well, it hasn’t been helped by the Government daring manufacturers to leave. That’s the truth. It was one of the first things that this Government did was, essentially, tell the car industry to go away. The other thing is, Liberal state governments have had a fetish for purchasing rail overseas rather than producing them here. These can be jobs in regional Australia. In Newcastle is where the Tangara trains were produced. In Maryborough where Downer EDI is fixing up the trains that were purchased from overseas that aren’t fit for use. In Bendigo and Ballarat, in Perth, under the McGowan and Andrews Governments, we should be producing these things here. We used to produce solar panels in Western Sydney. We don’t anymore. We should be producing them here. All the products that go into solar panels come from this country. And we can do it. When you look at a company like Tritium in southeast Queensland, it’s producing electric vehicle charging stations and exporting them to Europe and the United States. It’s a success story. We produce an overwhelming proportion of copper in this country. And copper is a major product that goes into electric vehicles. Instead, we’ve had a Government that hasn’t identified future growth prospects in new technology. Indeed, we’ve had a Government that’s been frightened of the present but terrified of the future. The fact that we are now, as a result of next week’s Budget, there will be an announcement about Fibre-to-the-Home and to business being rolled out more often, going back to the Rudd Government’s original plans. Who knew fibre was better than copper wire in the 21st century? Answer? Everybody. Everybody. So, we said do it right, do it once, do it with fibre. The Government’s wasted a lot of money and a lot of time. We could have been producing that fibre here as well. And we should have been. So, there are great prospects here in Australia. What we need is a Government that’s prepared to support the private sector to support innovation and make sure that we have that value adding.
JOURNALIST: Do you think there’s any incentive for manufacturing companies to almost come back to Australia when in five years’ time, they could be in the exact same situation?
ALBANESE: Well, we have, in Australia, I think, an incredible competitive advantage. Lendlease is an example of a company that’s based here, but is involved around the world, particularly in our region, but also in Europe and North America. We have a prospect. And we should be confident about what we can achieve. We’re in the fastest growing region of the world in human history. What that signals is opportunity. With the legal certainty, the relative political stability that we have here in this country, we can, I think, be a powerhouse for the world. I’ve said that we could be a renewable energy superpower. If you think about the growth that will occur in places like Indonesia, the rising middle class, the opportunity that is there for Australia, the project that’s going on with Mike Cannon-Brooke’s vision, that’s occurring in partnership with the NT Government, for building the largest solar farm anywhere in the world, cabling up to Singapore with an agreement with the Singaporean Government that will help to power that nation island state of Singapore, creating jobs here. I’ve spoken with Mike Cannon-Brookes. He’s very keen for the fibre cables to be all be produced here. He is keen to also be exporting energy to New Zealand. He’s keen to be engaged. The private sector is looking for certainty in terms of the investment environment. But to do that, you need vision. You need to have an energy policy. You need to have the support that is required to look at areas like our hydrogen that can power manufacturing in this country and also be an export industry. I’m very optimistic about Australia’s future. I’m optimistic about what we can achieve in the future. But it needs a Government as brave, as committed, and as determined as the Australian people are as they have shown in banding together and looking after each other during this crisis.
ALBANESE: Well, this is just extraordinary. The thousand emails have been lost, just as the Government has been lost all over the place when it comes to getting home the 27,000 stranded Australians. One of the other issues that has characterised Scott Morrison is that he doesn’t accept responsibility for things he’s clearly in charge of. And our National Government is in charge of our national borders. It is no one else’s responsibility but Scott Morrison and the National Government to get home those 27,000 stranded Australians. And now we find that 1,000 of those stranded Australians have had their personal details sent out to the world. The fact is that it’s not good enough. And Scott Morrison must explain how this occurred. Thanks very much.
TONY SHELDON, LABOR SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES: I also just want to thank Lendlease and also all the people who came out today. I think Albo really touched on it before, the thing about what actually makes this country great. And seeing the relationships here, seeing the apprentices in trade, and I do note the fact that apprenticeships are in both equal numbers of men and women. This is a very important thing about equality within apprenticeships. I also have to say, thank you very much. I think one of the things that particularly impressed me, talking to some of our friends from the electricity industry, training there, is looking at the number of people that are also important in the local area. 67 per cent within 10 kilometres of Penrith and in this area that were placed in jobs. And that’s a real credit to both the group here, 13 years in operation, and seeing all the wonderful work you’ve done, particularly in the enthusiasm of your apprenticeships. So, to your employers and to your group trainers, I have got to say you have got some excellent trainers here. For any prospective employer out there, this is the place to come to find jobs and people that have real capacity to make a difference to those businesses. Thanks very much. And I think that the jobs and skills question now, really, the challenge is to the Prime Minister to turn around and say, is he going to put jobs front and foremost? And I think, with Albo’s experience of being the Infrastructure Minister for so long in previous governments, that there is somebody who actually really understands how to get this country moving. So, again, congratulations to the apprentices. Congratulations to Lendlease. This has been a really wonderful opportunity to talk to you all and I am looking forward to my next visit here.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.