Feb 11, 2021






SUBJECTS: Visit to Queensland; Labor’s policy agenda; industrial relations; insecure work; Labor’s Secure Australian Jobs Plan; Liberal Party logo on vaccine advertisements. 


MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Anthony Albanese is promising workers across Australia a quote-unquote, ‘better deal’ with a suite of reforms to improve job security and provide minimum pay and entitlements to those in insecure work. I’m happy to say that Albo is with us on the program. Good morning, mate.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: G’day, Marcus. Greetings from sunny Queensland.


PAUL: You’ve been busy up there.


ALBANESE: I sure have. I have been to Cairns and Hervey Bay and Bundaberg and Maryborough, all around southeast Queensland. It’s been a brief visit. And Queenslanders are very warm. They’re not always warm on State of Origin night for New South Welshman. But apart from that, 362 nights of the year, they’re welcoming, and 365 days. So, it’s been terrific to get out there and engage. I’ve done street walks in all of those places. I’ve engaged with people one-on-one, unscripted. And that’s the way you find out what’s happening on the ground.


PAUL: Well, good, because you’re going to need to get out and about, Albo, to sell your policies. You’ve delivered this speech yesterday where you called for a process to set minimum pay in the gig economy. You say that Labor wants portable leave entitlements, and you will legislate a cap on rolling fixed term contracts and a requirement for labour hire workers to receive the same pay as their co-workers.


ALBANESE: Three very simple principles, Marcus. Job security, better pay and a fairer system. It’s not on at the moment that you can have workers side by side, one paid through a labour hire company, the other paid as a permanent employee, and they can be subject to 20 per cent and more differential in their pay, the person through the labour hire company not get annual leave and sick leave and no entitlements. And it’s pretty simple principle, same job, same pay. We also need to recognise that the world has changed. Technology has brought a whole range of benefits for us. But what we know is that five people lost their lives in just three months at the end of last year, cycling around to deliver food, delivering products to people, underpaid through an algorithm essentially, gig work with no minimum pay, essentially piece work, placing pressure on them. If you’re on a bike and you’re told you’ve got eight minutes to get a delivery somewhere and that’s how much you’re going to be paid but you know that driving or riding safely will take actually more than that, then you have no recourse. And we know that there are real human consequences for this. And Australians want a fair go for their fellow workers. And that’s why we need to recognise that this insecure work, which has grown, needs to be a part of the industrial relations system through the Fair Work Commission. At the moment, it’s not. All of these apps, of course, are owned overseas.


PAUL: All right. Now, it’s an attack on the casualisation of the workforce here in Australia. You promised an ALP Government would legislate to create a fair test to determine when a worker can be classified as a casual. What do you mean by that?


ALBANESE: Well, at the moment, we have had a case actually taken by a miner here in Queensland, Mr Skene, who won his case in the Federal Court. And then there was an appeal. He was working as a permanent, effectively. And we know that there are many examples of people working the same hours, on the same days, on the same week, they get given a roster a year in advance. There’s a whole range of examples. But they are classified as occasional in order to deny them some of the rights that workers have fought for and won over the years, rights that many of us take for granted. So, what we need is a proper definition of casual accepted so that everyone understands what that definition is. Casual work can be terrific. I worked at Maccas. I worked at Pancakes on the Rocks down in the city. I worked at Grace Brothers on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings stacking shelves. It can be terrific for people. We’re not saying that it’s bad. What we are saying is that casual work needs to be just that, casual, not permanent work disguised as casual work. Because if you’re a casual worker, you find difficulty to get a loan for a home. You also, with the uncertainty, have difficulty planning to have a family and planning your life. And income and work security are a huge issue out there.


PAUL: What about the Better Off Overall Test in reference to the Omnibus bills most controversial provision to allow pay deals that will leave workers worse off? I mean, the Government wants to abolish the Better Off Overall Test.


ALBANESE: That is the Government’s approach. Our approach is more job security. Their approach is to get rid of the Better Off Overall test. Common sense tells you, Marcus, if you are trying to get rid of the Better Off Overall Test, you don’t want people to be better off overall. And I read today in the paper, with some shock, that a submission to the inquiry into this legislation from McDonald’s is saying that people who get a Big Mac or French fries or what have you, on your meal break, that should be taken into account over whether you’re better off overall. I mean, fair dinkum, we are a better country than that. I worked at Maccas and I think it’s a good thing that young people in particular get that those hours. You learn. My son went and worked at Woolies as soon as he was old enough to do so. Now, it’s a good thing. It teaches them discipline; it teaches them teamwork and gets them into the pattern of work. But for goodness sake, I’ve got to tell you that I didn’t regard it as a privilege when I got to have a bit of food during my break. Because you work your butt off in those jobs.


PAUL: Anthony, industrial relations laws, you’ve come out with a key policy statement on this yesterday. Is this going to be one of the major issues that you’ll be following up on leading into next Federal election, which may be this year, rather than Labor leading with climate change high on the agenda, and that’s important too? But I suggest that you are fighting a good fight on industrial relations laws, I think this could be a winner. Perhaps this should be the focus, the IR laws.


ALBANESE: We will be very much focused. The Labor Party for 130 years has stood for the rights of working people. We’ve stood up. We grew out the shearers’ strike here in Barcaldine in Queensland in 1891. And we fought WorkChoices. And we were successful. And we’ll fight this Government’s legislation as well. Because it’s in their DNA it seems. Now, there was a process last year, as you’re aware, Marcus, whereby the Government said that they were going to ask unions and employers to sit down and try and work out some reform proposals. And I thought that was a good thing. The whole principle of common interest between employers and employees is one that I very much adhere to. But when the legislation came out, getting rid of the Better Off Overall Test, that is something that wasn’t spoken about. The Government never spoke about it last year. They weren’t getting questions saying, ‘We need to get rid of the Better Off Overall Test’ during Question Time. It came as an absolute shock. And it’s because it’s just what Coalition Governments do. They don’t get how hard it is for people out there to get by. And what we saw during the pandemic is that those people who are in insecure work, casual workers, didn’t get support through JobKeeper. And those people in insecure work were the first people laid off, the first people to do it really tough. And I feel for them. And I think one of the lessons of the pandemic is that what we need is more security for people. Because we do live in an uncertain world. If we were doing this interview a couple of years ago, we would have said, ‘What are you talking about?’ Coronavirus? What’s that?’ We need to prepare.


PAUL: Just very briefly, the news is coming up, and if you wouldn’t mind, should we be getting stuck into the Coronavirus vaccine now? What do you make of the Health Minister’s comments yesterday about almost excusing using the Liberal Party slogan on official Australian Government advice?


ALBANESE: This is a Government, and Greg Hunt personified it yesterday, that thinks that taxpayers’ money is Liberal and National Party money. I found it disgraceful. We have been constructive during the pandemic. We have all put the arguments about vaccinations and what’s required. And to put a Liberal Party logo on something that has nothing to do with party politics, this is about people’s health, what are we going to do? Get little Liberal Party logos on the syringes as they vaccinate people? I mean, this bloke is out of control. And he attacked the ABC interviewer for daring to ask the questions.


PAUL: Okay. You’re not hopping inside cockpits and fighter jets today, are you, Albo?


ALBANESE: I will leave that to the marketing guy. I just shook my head when I saw that.


PAUL: We got to go. See you, mate. Bye.