Oct 14, 2020







SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Budget reply; ICAC; Gladys Berejiklian; need for a National Integrity Commission; friendships in politics; social housing; Morrison recession.


MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor leader, joins us on the program. Morning, Albo.




PAUL: Nice to speak to you again. Look, I saw that in the press that you are supporting the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian.


ALBANESE: Well, that is not right in terms of there are two separate issues. I certainly am sympathetic with her personal situation. I think that this is a woman who’s had a relationship with a fellow who’s obviously not a good person. I’ve never met the bloke. But I’m sympathetic with the fact that she had a whole lot of her personal details rolled out very much in public. And I think it would have been a very difficult day for her. At the same time, there are questions that need to be answered about what she knew about what was going on here. This guy was talking on the phone with her about getting commissions for activities while he was a member of Parliament that were entirely inappropriate. And there’s a real stink around the Badgerys Creek land issue now with state and federal. So, I think that you’ve got to separate out the two issues. And, frankly, who she has a relationship with is her business. But there are questions, serious questions, to be answered, some of which, I think, will become clearer today after Mr Maguire appears on the stand.


PAUL: Well, I’ve been very clear that it’s not a personal attack on her relationship. It’s rather whether or not during the course of this relationship there was a conflict of interest or whether or not the Premier of New South Wales, who’s in a very powerful position as a legislator, the top bureaucrat at the state, whether or not she knew of anything that was going on. Now, I’ll just play a little bit of audio, Anthony, from yesterday. And that I think this is probably one of the most damning things, where, again, and look, I don’t like calling it trial by media, but these things need to be aired.


JOURNALIST: Clearly, that MPs must not knowingly and improperly use their influence to seek to affect the decision by a public official to further the private interests of that member. And you are aware that is exactly what Daryl Maguire was trying to do in relation to the property of Badgerys Creek?

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: I was absolutely not aware, which is why I didn’t report anything.

JOURNALIST: Premier, he told you on the call, didn’t he? You never reported it.

BEREJIKLIAN: The matters before the ICAC involving Mr Maguire are subject to those investigations. I stress again, that I did nothing wrong. And if I had, I’d be the first one to put my hand up.

JOURNALIST: Do you admit you should have reported in then? If you reported him earlier, and he is indeed found corrupt, you could have prevented corruption, Premier.



PAUL: It’s hard to watch. And I mentioned earlier, Albo, I just want to give her a hug. But questions, serious questions, do need to be answered.


ALBANESE: Well, that’s right. And they are legitimate questions. And they do need to be pursued. I think you can have that position whilst at the same time being sympathetic with anyone having their private life laid out. She’s a very private person.


PAUL: Yes.


ALBANESE: That’s just a fact. And I think most people were very surprised by the fact that she has had a five-year relationship with this bloke. I don’t know anyone who knew about it. I do think that if I did know about it, I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have regarded it as her business. But she does have to be held to account for what appears to be really problematic, is, I think, the politest term you possibly have. She needs to explain how it is that she was told information and she was a part of those conversations that weren’t appropriate.


PAUL: All right. I mean, much along the same vein, this is why it’s so important to have the Independent Commission Against Corruption operating in New South Wales. You said earlier this week that you want to be our Prime Minister, because Government has the power to break down barriers of disadvantage, to change lives for the better. You’ve seen it, you’ve lived it. And that’s what Labor’s plans are all about. So, that is one point. You’re also calling for a National Integrity Commission, Anthony?


ALBANESE: Well, it has to happen. There is a lack of faith in our political system. Democracies are the best system that we have invented to run societies. But they rely upon faith in our elected officials, as well as the bureaucracy. And what we’ve had with these land deals around Badgerys Creek, with the sport rorts saga, with the grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, with some of the regional rorts programs that have occurred, are really problematic.


PAUL: Regional rorts or regional grants?


ALBANESE: Well, there’s a whole lot of money that appears to have been distorted away. If you look at where the seats go to, for example, in and around the Hunter, it’s quite extraordinary that if you happen to be a Labor member, you’ve got far less chance of getting a regional community grant. If you’re in a marginal seat you might be okay.


PAUL: They call that good old-fashioned pork barrelling. And how dare anybody try and do that to our mate up there, Joel Fitzgibbon? Have you kissed and made up? Are you guys all right?


ALBANESE: We are always mates. And we have been mates for a long period of time and we always will be. He is someone I’ll have a beer with when we both finish in politics in about 2040.


PAUL: 2040? Okay. You heard it officially here on Marcus Paul in the Morning. Albo wants to stick around until 2040.


ALBANESE: With Joel.


PAUL: Haven’t you done you penance already? I mean, surely, by 2040 you will have had enough?


ALBANESE: Well, exactly. That’s my point. We’ll be done then.


PAUL: Fair enough.


ALBANESE: You have your friendships in politics. And Joel and I haven’t always agreed, but we’ve always been mates.


PAUL: Well, let’s be honest. It’s difficult for Joel, and I’ve highlighted it before in my conversations with him. I mean, he’s stuck in a, when I say stuck, very happily, a Cessnock boy. But he’s in an electorate that in the past has been very reliant on mining, the extraction of fossil fuels, coal. And we know in the future, we’re going to transition away from that. So, unfortunately, there will be some short-term pain in electorates like the Hunter for people like Joel. It’s going to be tough.


ALBANESE: Look, Joel is a good local member. What you have when you have 150 electorates around Australia, I want local members who stand up for their local interests. We, of course, have to, as a political party that seeks Government, stand up for the national interest as well. But our mining community, they work damn hard. And they don’t just do things for the local community, of course. They produce a lot of income for our national economy. And people have to remember that, particularly our export industries. Really, that’s a lot of income that goes to our schools and hospitals and services.


PAUL: Well, that’s true. I just want to go to this other issue, Anthony. And you talked about it on Q&A, I think, this week, talking about breaking down barriers of disadvantage to change lives for the better. You’ve seen it, you’ve lived it. It is a part of your plan to become Prime Minister. Now, I spoke to your colleague, Jason Clare on the program earlier in the week. We talked about social housing and the disappointment that Jason had, and a lot of people have, the fact that the Government kind of in HomeBuilder and all of this rush to get slogans and fancy marketing ideas out there by Scott Morrison, he’s really missed an opportunity to improve social housing around the country by getting our tradies back to work plastering walls, fixing broken windows, all the rest of it.


ALBANESE: Absolutely. Look, you can’t have a marketing-led recovery. We need a jobs-led recovery. And all of the economists being surveyed, the first thing that they say is if you want people to get back to work literally this month, then repairing social housing is the easiest way. There’s 100,000 public and community housing dwellings around the country that are in disrepair, that need the bathroom fixed, that have leaky taps, that have holes in the walls, that aren’t meaning that people live in a healthy circumstance. And what you could have, it’s all been identified, the lists are there, the backlogs there, and you have tradies looking for work. Now, you could match those two things up. What you do is you create jobs immediately, you create a better life for people living in those properties. And what we found is that when we repaired 80,000 units way back during the Global Financial Crisis, and we added 20,000 to the stock, a whole lot of those 80,000 meant that they did not become liveable, because there’s places that currently aren’t occupied at the same time as we have homeless people and people needing housing. We have 200,000 people on waiting lists for social housing. And it’s just bizarre that the Government refuses to put a single dollar in that Budget. We had a trillion-dollar debt created. We had $100 billion of new spending, and not a single dollar for social housing.


PAUL: All right, just one note, and I promised John Laws that I would ask this. He was a little upset with you. He doesn’t like the term, ‘a Morrison created recession’. A Morrison recession, is that the right terminology? Is that fair to be using that?


ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that John’s probably used, ‘Keating recession’ in the past. And you name things at the particular time. This is a Government that walk in, pretend the Global Financial Crisis didn’t happen and have spoken thousands of times about Labor’s debt. Have you heard that term before? Labor’s debt. As if the Global Financial Crisis never ever happened. And by the way, that debt, they doubled last year in the lead up to last year. And they’ve doubled it again. So, it has now quadrupled.


PAUL: Pre-pandemic.


ALBANESE: Pre-pandemic. It has now quadrupled under this Government. And last year, in terms of per head, we were in a per capita recession. The only thing that kept growth going last year was population growth. The economy was really struggling. We talked about it.


PAUL: All right. Well, absolutely. And we know that there’s a bit of a halt on population growth at the moment. I mean, are we going to go back to the old days where we have one for King and Country? Maybe we need to. Anthony, it’s always good to have you on the program. Thanks for being generous with your time.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Marcus.