ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – 2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING – TUESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Lack of integrity from the Morrison Government; AusPost; need for a National Integrity Commission; NSW ICAC revelations; Australian Greens.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Anthony Albanese, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning.
PAUL: I don’t know when we’re going to see anything come of this. The Law Council are apparently also starting to rise up about this. They’re calling on the Federal Government to move forward with the establishment of this Commonwealth Integrity Commission. They want the release of this exposure draft of the bill as soon as possible. Is it on the way? What’s happening with it?
ALBANESE: Well, what we know is that the Government has had an exposure draft since last December. Now the hint is in the name, Marcus. Exposure. It is due to be exposed. It is something to be released, people have input into, there can be community dialogue, you can talk about it with your listeners on your show. But the Government won’t even release it. And they came up with the bizarre excuse that they couldn’t do anything because of COVID. Now, we know that isn’t true. The Government’s dealing with a whole range of legislation, including last week, legislation passed the House to increase university fees. There’s even a legislation that has been passed and they have established a body in Melbourne looking at integrity of students in terms of education, whether people are cheating on exams or what have you. So, this is just an excuse. There is scandal after scandal, Sports Rorts, there’s been programs misused. We had the issue of the Australia Post watches, we had land bought for $30 million that was only worth three out around the Badgerys Creek site. These issues require examination. And it should be examined at arm’s length from the Government. But the Government seems determined to, in spite of the fact it says it supports an integrity commission, they seem determined to block it.
PAUL: Well, why does Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, jump up and down about a bunch of Cartier watches but not so much about a donor being paid 10 times the value of lands in the aerotropolis at Badgerys Creek, Anthony?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s little wonder that bureaucrats think they can do what they like and buy four watches worth $20,000 when they look at the example that’s set by Government itself, that refuses to be accountable for issues like the Leppington land deal, like other issues, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, they walked into a meeting thinking they were just having a chat and walked out with over $400 million in government funds. There are so many examples. We have the Angus Taylor – Sydney Council documents that we still don’t know where that came from.
PAUL: That has been swept under the carpet.
ALBANESE: What we know is that it was just wrong. That it just wasn’t a real document. And we don’t have answers to it. We had in recent times, we’ve had the Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, over whether Commonwealth funds and offices were used for branch-stacking in the Victorian Liberal Party. And then investigation didn’t actually speak to any witnesses. And it was conducted by his former law firm that he worked for. It’s just a joke. And that’s why we’re seeing in New South Wales, who would have thought that the circumstances around Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire, and the circumstances around him using his office in Parliament House for personal profit, picking up fees for visas and various things, that wouldn’t have come out without the ICAC in New South Wales. We wouldn’t have known about it.
PAUL: Anthony, where do you stand on that? I mean, I’ve read that you said that, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the Premier should remain in place. Has the opposition changed as more and more evidence has been revealed?
ALBANESE: No, what I’ve said is I’m very sympathetic with her personal circumstance. I think that would have been very difficult for her. And I think that’s got to be viewed separately from the issue of her role as Premier and her own words where she said that if you see wrongdoing, report it to ICAC. Well, she clearly knew that things were going on that were wrong because we’ve heard the tape. And she didn’t report them. And I think that there are real questions for her to answer about those issues.
PAUL: Well, I mean, there’s more and more evidence that’s unravelling. And I just can’t understand why there’s not one big revolt about this. I mean, from the Inner West City Council, you would know very well that area, they say that they were cheated out of grant money promised ahead of the last state election in this so-called Stronger Communities Fund where 95 per cent of it was pork barrelled into LNP seats to get the Government back into office. Now, there were revelations late last week that the documents through which the Premier approved grants, $100 million dollars’ worth, in this council slush fund was shredded and deleted. I can’t understand why nothing has been done about this Anthony.
ALBANESE: It is red hot.
PAUL: I just don’t get it. It is like it is, ‘day normal, let’s just move on with it. Let’s sweep it under the carpet and let’s move on’. I will put it this way, if you were embroiled in this right now, and your staff deleted files about a so-called secret slush fund, the front page of the papers, Anthony, would be treating you like they bloody treated Kevin Rudd, ‘Kick this mob out’ and all the rest of it. They’d be after your head. Why is nobody going for the Premier’s head on this?
ALBANESE: They sure would. This is an absolute scandal. And what it means is less services for my local community and for others that have been ripped off. The use of taxpayers’ funds and treating them like the funds of just the Liberal Party or the National Party is something that is endemic, not just for the New South Wales Government, but the Federal Government as well. These funds that are established, in the last Budget, just a couple of weeks ago, the Government established about 30 different funding mechanisms, all of them with an element of ministerial discretion worth over $5.7 billion. Now that’s why the $20,000 in watches pales into insignificance compared with this. And there’s no accountability for it. We have raised issues of rorting of not just the Sports Grants, but there’s been a distortion in terms of even funding for bushfire relief. Some of the council’s in electorates like Eden-Monaro and Gilmore have missed out compared with others because of the political persuasion of the local electorates. Now that’s not on. That is why we needed an integrity commission to really shine a light on all of this.
PAUL: Absolutely we do. It’s well and truly overdue. Anthony, I had a caller earlier this morning. His name is Mick. He’s from regional New South Wales. And he made the comment, and I promised that I would ask you, it’s in relation to the Labor Party and its so-called strong tie with the Greens. And Mick said, I don’t understand. I feel like the Labor Party, with their strong ties to the inner-city Greens, his words, not mine, are neglecting us people out here in the regions. What would you say to that?
ALBANESE: What I’d say is that I actually represent an inner-city seat, and I campaign against the Greens each and every day. They’re the people who finish second in my electorate, they are my opponents. And we have a different worldview. There’s some areas where we agree on, just like there are some areas I agree with the Liberal Party or the National Party. But we stand up for our own values. Our values that prioritise jobs and the economy, that prioritise fairness. We want a strong environment, but we want one that is realistic in terms of the way that change happens, not the sort of idea that you can just click your fingers and change things overnight. We have a very different worldview. And I believe very strongly, I’m a former Regional Development Minister, I believe very strongly that growing our regions is not only good for them, it’s also good for our cities because it takes pressure off issues like urban congestion and housing affordability. And we need to make sure, I’m very passionate, that’s why I support High Speed Rail, that’s why I supported a genuine fibre-based National Broadband Network so that businesses can be based in the regions and be able to compete with a business located in George Street in Sydney.
PAUL: All right. So, look, I guess the reason I brought that up was to highlight what I hear on this program from people who may well be swinging voters, who are maybe a little fed up with alleged corruption within the conservative side of politics, and they’re looking for an alternative, but they balk a little at voting for your Party, because they think you are far too closely aligned with the Greens. I mean, that’s maybe a message you need to clear up?
ALBANESE: Well, each and every day, I campaign very strongly for Labor values. Not for Labor-Greens values but Labor values. And that’s why my priority reflects where I come from. I grew up in a household, it was in the inner city, but it was a council house with a single mum. I know what it’s like to do it tough. I know that it’s vital that we represent the interests of pensioners, the unemployed, as well as those people who want to get a secure job with secure conditions and a good income. I’m absolutely passionate about representing regions as well as cities. And that’s why each time when Parliament is not sitting, when I’m not in Australia’s largest inland city, of course, Canberra, I’m out and about. And indeed, after the Budget, where was I? Illawarra, the Hunter Valley. Next week, I’ll be in Darwin in the Northern Territory. I get out and about as much as possible. And I’m absolutely determined to represent all Australians wherever they live, and to ensure that we have a standalone Labor Government, and one that people can be proud of, with very clear commitments. We have been doing the clear commitments on childcare, but also on the other centrepiece of my Budget Reply was a Future Made in Australia, about manufacturing, about getting those jobs. And those jobs, primarily, will be in regional Australia. What I was talking about, like rail manufacturing, for example, that’ll be in the Hunter Valley. It is where it’s been historically. In Maryborough in Queensland, in Ballarat, in Bendigo. That’s what we need to do to get this country back on its feet as we move to the recovery phase. But we need to recover so that we’re stronger than we were before.
PAUL: We need to stop the rot, Anthony. And that’s why from the start of this conversation, we need to essentially ensure that there is a Commonwealth Integrity Commission. Our economy has suffered, as all economies around the world, due to COVID-19. The way through, as you say, it’s increasing jobs in regional Australia, that manufacturing stuff again, but we need to have a Government that’s willing to do that rather than just doing deals for their mates on land and other issues. All right. Well, it’s great to have you.
ALBANESE: We sure do.
PAUL: Good to have you on the program. We’ll chat again soon, Anthony. Thank you.
ALBANESE: Thanks, Marcus. Terrific.