Dec 4, 2020







SUBJECTS: Visit to Queensland; Queensland borders; Labor’s childcare policy; Qantas cutting 2,000 jobs; regional jobs; Labor’s Queensland election win.


NEIL BREEN, HOST: The Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, has benefited from the new border policy because he’s arrived in Brisbane. He’s here right now. He joins me. Good morning to you, Opposition Leader.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Neil. First chance I had I was on the first plane when Parliament got up last night from Canberra to Brisbane. And it is great to be here. I am on my way to Ipswich this morning.


BREEN: Yes. So, you’re going to an Ipswich childcare centre with the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, the Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann. And you’re talking about the childcare subsidy policy that Labor has. Talk to us about that policy.


ALBANESE: Well, what we want to do is remove the cap on the childcare subsidy. We want to increase it. And then we want to change the taper rate so that 97 per cent of families will benefit. The real problem at the moment is, for many working women, if they work on fourth or fifth day, essentially, there’s this massive disincentive there. They can sometimes be working for nothing at all. And what we need to do is to increase the participation rate of women in the workforce. We need to boost productivity and, of course, children benefit from early childhood learning. The human brain develops 90 per cent of its capacity in the first five years. So, this is an economic reform that really is about helping 97 per cent of families.


BREEN: Opposition Leader, it is one of the crucial things, because women can lose touch with the workforce during those child-raising years, childbearing and child-raising years, and it’s in superannuation too. They lose touch with superannuation. And it is prohibitive to have your kids in childcare.


ALBANESE: It is. Look, one example, women at the moment can have half the balances of men across various sectors. And women’s careers are derailed by the fact that when they do go back to work, they can only go for three days because there is that disincentive to work on the fourth or fifth day. It actually doesn’t make sense. And that’s why it’s been supported so strongly by the business community, as well as by economists. They are saying that this is a reform. And what we need to do is to make sure that coming out of this pandemic, as we look towards the recovery, we actually have reform so that we can come out of it even stronger is what we should be looking towards. And women’s participation in the workforce is so important. This is about fairness, but also will really boost our economy. All the studies that have been done show for every dollar that is put into the system, there will be more than $2 benefit for the economy. So, this just makes sense. And we’re very committed to it. That’s why it was the focal point of my Budget Reply.


BREEN: Now, I need to talk to you about this because I watched your press conference live yesterday. You were with the TWU boss Michael Kaine, about the 2,000 jobs that have been taken off the books at Qantas. So, it’s saving them $100 million. This is the baggage handlers and the cleaners. That’s $50,000 a person. So, by outsourcing it, they can take away benefits, holiday pay, sickness pay, all those things. But basically, each of those workers to get $50,000 a year or less. This is a union busting move from Qantas and they are renowned union busters.


ALBANESE: This is a real problem. One of the things that have been identified by this pandemic is that the people who really were first out the door were people in casual jobs, people who were working for labour hire companies. Outsourcing is a problem. We know that we need more security at work. And this move will result in less security. It will result in 2,000 employees, many of them right here in Brisbane, in places like Anika Wells’ electorate, I will be going to see her and her new young twins tomorrow morning. And they’re losing their jobs. They’ve been loyal employees. They actually got together and bid for, they got one of the big accounting firms to assist the bid, for the work. And they weren’t successful because they simply couldn’t compete with a bid that was about driving down wages and conditions. And I’m really concerned about this trend which is there. It is there in the mining sector. It is there across the board of labour hire companies being used to undermine wages and conditions at a time where we know we have got record low wages growth, it’s one of the things that’s holding back our economy.


BREEN: Anthony Albanese, just quickly, I wanted to ask you, because I have to keep moving, but you’re meeting with the Premier later today. Will the Queensland’s mining industry be on the agenda? That’s where you got to win back votes.


ALBANESE: We’ll be talking about the whole experience that Annastacia had with the terrific election victory. And we’re old mates. We were both transport ministers together and, so, we worked very closely to expand the road network, whether it be the Bruce Highway or the Ipswich Motorway that I’ll be traveling on today, or other projects like the Redcliffe Rail Line, a great project that people thought would never happen and now people can ride on it. So, we will be having a chat about infrastructure, about regional jobs. And I really am looking forward to congratulating her and giving her an elbow bump for a congratulation. That was quite a magnificent achievement, the first woman to be re-elected and re-elected again, to lead this great state of Queensland. It’s just great to be back here.


BREEN: Well, it’s already 28 degrees outside and it’s 8:15 in the morning. Enjoy your day in Ipswich. It’ll be hot out there. Slip, slop, slap. And welcome back to Queensland, Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Neil.