May 14, 2020







SUBJECTS: Australia beyond coronavirus; JobSeeker payments; Eden-Monaro by-election; arts and entertainment sector missing out on support from the Government during COVID-19.


MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Federal Opposition, he joins us now live on the program. Good morning.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Marcus. Good to talk to you again.


PAUL: You too, mate. How are things back in Canberra? Are you good to be back in the coal fire, if you like?


ALBANESE: I am. I think Parliament should be sitting. And this morning we will be suggesting once again that we need a proper sitting timetable. The idea that we will be playing Rugby League in two weeks’ time, but Parliament can’t sit until October is a bit absurd. We have got this massive roll-out, the story that you have just been talking about. People are falling between the cracks. People are being left behind. And there are whole sectors like the arts and entertainment sector, you have had issues like the dnata workers, they are basically airline catering, they used to be called Qantas Catering. And the Government approved its sale to a foreign entity and now because of that sale, those same workers who used to work for Qantas aren’t eligible for JobKeeper. It is quite absurd. And they are the sort of issues that need to be raised in the Parliament. And in the democracy, the Government needs to be accountable.


PAUL: All right, there’s been a lot of talk about Eden-Monaro. I know you’ve been spending a little bit of time between Canberra and the coast for obvious reasons. The Liberals and Nationals apparently have forgotten about the people there following the dramas with John Barilaro, who since, by the way, I might add, has apologised for being a quote, ‘distraction’, unquote. What’s going to happen here, Albo?


ALBANESE: Well, I was at Murrumbateman on the road to Yass yesterday, the Barton Highway, which has been ignored by this Government for seven years, with Kristy McBain, our fantastic candidate. And next week I’ll be in Batlow and in Tumut, in Tumbarumba with Kristy. I was at the end of last week, we were in Queanbeyan and Cooma and Merimbula, Bega.


PAUL: Sorry to interrupt you, Kristy McBain, of course, she is your candidate there. I just wanted to confirm that with my listeners.


ALBANESE: Yes, she is a fantastic candidate. She was the mayor of Bega Valley.


PAUL: Yes.


ALBANESE: And she was one of the people who just really stepped up remarkably during the bushfire crisis. She led her community. She was there with them each and every day. She’s also been the Deputy Chair of the Regional Council body that covers the entire electorate of Eden-Monaro. So, she’s aware of all of the issues arising from the bushfire crisis. And one of the concerns that is there is the Government’s now started to talk about bushfire recovery, but they forgot that as well. They took money that was actually allocated for the region for tourism and gave it interstate as soon as the spotlight was off. And this week in Parliament I’ve asked the Prime Minister whether it’s acceptable that people are still living in caravans and showering in community facilities.


PAUL: I was going to mention that. You did rise during the week in Parliament. You said that there is a bit of complacency going on so far as getting back to supporting communities affected by bushfires, Anthony.


ALBANESE: Well, that’s right. And that’s one of the things that’s brought Kristy McBain into being the candidate. She’s determined to take her community’s issues to Canberra and to hold the Government to account. These people are continuing to suffer as individuals but as communities as well. And, of course, they suffered from the drought. Then on the coast, they got hit by three bushfires in two years including the major bushfire, of course, over the summer. It devastated the entire region right from Tumbarumba and Batlow right across through to the Snowy, through to the coast. And those images, we will never forget. And the fact that there is debris still there, there are still signs up about asbestos and you can’t go anywhere near here, I was in a little town with Mike Kelly before he resigned, and that community is basically getting by on the basis of volunteers and people donating foods and essentials for people to be able to get on. They are still being distributed at the community hall. These people are deserving of support because they’ve had the drought, the bushfires and then the coronavirus. So, just as a time we could have expected people would have started to return to those areas, and they are beautiful places to visit, it just hasn’t happened.


PAUL: One last thing, if I could. And this is linked, I guess, to the bushfire crisis we had earlier this year. We know that a number of people came together, not only volunteers, but the arts and the entertainment industry. They came together. They ran benefit concerts, everywhere from local pubs through to the big national stage to raise money. Now, you say that they’re being ignored in their time of need. I mean, the Federal Government’s abandoned the arts and entertainment industry. They’ve fallen through the cracks as well. There’s been no support.


ALBANESE: Absolutely. They are not eligible for JobKeeper. And when we’re talking about the arts and entertainment industry, it is not just the people whose records you might play on the recordings, you might play on 2SM. They are people who hold the cameras, the stage hands, the people who work right across in theatre and in public activities, who enrich our lives, and who were the first people to put their hand up and do wonderful benefit concerts and give up their time and their talent for free. And now they’re being told, ‘bad luck’ because the nature of the industry is that most people aren’t employed by someone for 12 months or more. That’s the very nature of the industry. So, none of them eligible at all for JobKeeper. And the Government should have had an industry support package. And at the moment, there’s just nothing for them. And it’s just not fair. We’re a better country than that.


PAUL: We are. We are.


ALBANESE: And we’ll be relying upon them to lift our spirits and entertain us coming out of this.


PAUL: Anthony, thank you for your time. Appreciate it as always. I’ll be interested to see how things go again in Canberra. Let’s hope we can get back to some sort of normality both around the country post-COVID-19 and more questions need to be asked by your Party in Canberra during these sittings of the House of Representatives. Talk to you soon, Anthony. Thank you.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Marcus.