May 27, 2020






SUBJECTS: Job Maker; industrial relations; Eden-Monaro by-election.


MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Anthony Albanese is the Federal Labor Leader. And, of course, the Opposition to the Prime Minister. And he would be, if he could be, the next Prime Minister of Australia. Anthony, good morning to you.




PAUL: Look, I just find this astounding, this announcement yesterday by the Prime Minister, Job Maker. But it’s almost like he’s given an olive branch to the unions. What do you make of it?


ALBANESE: Well, I’ve been saying for a long time and when I first became the Leader, as well, I said that Australians had conflict fatigue. I said that there’s a common interest between unions and employers. Something I’ve been saying for decades, not just discovered this week. It is certainly an about turn from the Prime Minister. They’ve now abandoned the Ensuring Integrity Bill, a bill that they’ve rammed through the Parliament without a single word of debate on the last day of sitting last year in 2019. Look, I always think that there’s hope for anyone to convert, and if Scott Morrison is genuinely converted to a more sensible position of being prepared to actually talk to workers and their representatives, then that’s a good thing. I hope coming out of this process that there is some positive change because I’ve been saying, and I said it in my vision statement two weeks ago, again reiterated the view that employers weren’t benefiting from enterprise bargaining because productivity has been going backwards. And unions certainly weren’t, workers weren’t because wages have been stagnant, and that’s been the case for the period of this Government. It’s just strange that after seven years, they’ve decided that people should actually talk to each other. But there’s nothing concrete in the Prime Minister’s speech apart from that.


PAUL: Well, that’s what I was going to add. Is this maybe a stunt ahead of the July fourth by-election, perhaps?


ALBANESE: Well, of course, I am speaking to you from Narooma in Eden-Monaro where I’m here with Kristy McBain and Jim Chalmers. It’s obviously an important by-election. We’ll wait and see, I guess. It was of some concern that once again, we had a marketing slogan, using the term ‘Job Maker’. I’m not quite sure what that means, given that there’s not one job actually created from any initiative yesterday at the National Press Club, there were no new programs, there’s no commitment to keep JobKeeper or to extend JobKeeper to a single extra person. And I think also, the Government was pretty keen in getting talk off their $60 billion mistake that they put out with the trash on Friday afternoon.


PAUL: Maybe there’s a hope that JobKeeper, JobSeeker, Job Maker, will all amalgamate into one thing. We are so confused by the slogans that it will all just mesh into one key message, which is jobs. And that’s important. I mean, after all, there is a background in marketing and public relations there, so I understand that. So, Anthony, tell me about this upcoming by-election. What’s going to happen there in Eden-Monaro? It’s a community that has suffered recently from bushfires and, in some respects, obviously, tourism downfalls due to COVID-19. It’s an area that is resilient. But I mean, I’m sure they’re wanting to get back to an economic stronghold?


ALBANESE: Well, they’ve had the triple whammy, of course. They had the drought. Then they had the bushfires. In this region, there has been three bushfires over two years. And then, of course, when they were hoping to come out of that to get tourists back and get economic activity going, they were hit with the pandemic. This is a community that’s really been doing it tough. There is a feeling here that they have been forgotten, that some of the money, for example, that was allocated for tourism revival in the region was reallocated when the pandemic came along to interstate. There is concern about that. But they are a resilient community. And in Kristy McBain, we have an outstanding candidate. She was, of course, our first-choice candidate. The Coalition argued amongst itself for weeks and eventually have found their candidate, but certainly not their first choice.


PAUL: No. And I think, to be honest, probably, I mean, the other two that were bandied around, of course, a man who might have jumped to Federal politics, the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, by all accounts, quite a big profile certainly on the Monaro side of that electorate. I guess it’s almost like, well, it’s a godsend really that I don’t think that he’s running because it gives a little bit of free air, I think, for your candidate.


ALBANESE: Well, it’s very clear that we had our preferred candidates and that they haven’t got their first or their second or the third choice. It was bandied around, it was Senator Jim Molan. So, we certainly in terms of Kristy, she was here each and every day during the bushfires, standing up for her local community.


PAUL: Absolutely. What does that tell you? I mean, you’ve got three very high-profile politicians, Jim Molan, Andrew Constance, and of course, the Deputy Premier of New South Wales. What does that tell you about the LNP that basically nobody was pushed to run in that by-election? Oh, Anthony the phone there mate, sorry. Just go again, that phone is dropping out. What was that?


ALBANESE: Indicating that John Barilaro was running to try and knock off Michael McCormack as Leader. And then you had Andrew Constance arguing within the Liberal Party and arguing between the Liberal Party and the National Party. It certainly is a bit of a mess.


PAUL: So, in other words, they were more concerned, Anthony, with internal bickering than they were for the people of Eden-Monaro? That’s the way I saw it.


ALBANESE: Well, that certainly is what the feedback I’ve had on the ground here is that they were concerned about the careers. Kristy is running because of her commitment to the local community. It’s something that drives her. She’s passionate about it. She has a record over the last eight years of standing up. She’s a graduate of Eden High School. She’s an extraordinary campaigner. And she’s known throughout the electorate because she was the Deputy Chair of the Regional Council body as well. So, I’ve been with her and Yass and Batlow, she’s well known there as well.


PAUL: Anthony, thank you very much for your time. We’ll catch up again soon. Appreciate it.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Marcus.