ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – 2BS BATHURST WITH JAC UNDERWOOD – MONDAY, 13 JULY 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
2BS BATHURST WITH JAC UNDERWOOD
MONDAY, 13 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: 75th anniversary of Ben Chifley becoming Prime Minister of Australia.
JAC UNDERWOOD, HOST: We welcome onto the program Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party and a South Sydney supporter. Good afternoon, Mr Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good afternoon. Good to be with you.
UNDERWOOD: Now, talk to us about Ben Chifley. Today we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Ben Chifley being appointed as Prime Minister. And us Bathurstians love Ben Chifley. He is a proud part of our history. But, talk to us about his impact.
ALBANESE: Well, Ben Chifley is quite rightly regarded as Bathurst’s favourite son. And you’re right to be proud of him. He made an enormous difference to what is modern Australia. He, together with John Curtin, he was appointed the Minister for Reconstruction while the war was still going on. Think about that. While we were still fighting a war in Europe and in the Pacific, the Labor Government led by John Curtin and Ben Chifley was thinking about what happens afterwards. They were thinking about how we create jobs, how we become a bigger and better Australia. And Ben Chifley pioneered, of course, the migration program. Projects like the Snowy Hydro scheme made such an enormous difference. The importation of skilled labour, now into, in some cases, the third generation of Australians coming from places like Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavia and Spain and all over the world, but particularly Europe, to make a contribution to our nation and to change it forever. The images I’ve put on social postings today of Ben Chifley heralding the first Holden car off the assembly line here in Australia, he made such an enormous difference to this country. The massive expansion in social housing, the looking after of veterans who were coming from the parts of the world where they had worn our uniform and defended our nation, making sure that they had a place in the future of Australia as well. And I think Bathurst is quite right to be so proud of Ben Chifley.
UNDERWOOD: Do you believe the qualities that Ben Chifley embodied can be found in Parliament today?
ALBANESE: I’d like to think so in the past. But the truth is that it was a different generation. Ben Chifley was a very humble bloke. He is someone who continued to represent Bathurst. And at his funeral in Bathurst some 40,000 people, minimum, travelled to farewell this great man years after he had finished serving as Prime Minister. He lived in a very humble home that people there, of course, can visit. I had the honour of visiting. And he is still revered within the Australian Labor Party, but I think much more broadly than that. He was someone who was respected whether people voted for him or not. They respected his tenacity, patriotism, his determination to make Australia a better place. I think he is one of the great iconic figures in Australian history. And Bathurst, of course, we celebrate the Light on the Hill dinner in Bathurst held every year. I think that is the pre-eminent address by an Australian Labor movement figure in Australian Labor history and in looking towards a way forward, not just looking at the past. I had the honour of giving that address a few years ago. And I know that there’s a great deal of competition in order to give that speech because it is so important because Ben Chifley is such a critical figure in Australian history.
UNDERWOOD: Absolutely. He was a very modest man, wasn’t he? I heard whispers that he used to make his own breakfast every morning in his hotel room despite the fact he had a parliamentary budget, but he actually used to make his toast every morning and he was quite frugal and modest. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the program. I am out of time. And next time you’re in Bathurst make sure you come and say hello.
ALBANESE: Indeed. Best wishes to everyone there at Bathurst. And it is a great day to celebrate. And thank you to your great regional city for giving us Ben Chifley.
UNDERWOOD: Thank you. Cheers. Have a good day.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.