Jul 14, 2020







SUBJECTS: South Sydney Rabbitohs; Labor’s ‘Don’t cancel JobKeeper to early’ campaign; New Acland mine.


NEIL BREEN, HOST: The Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, is on the line. Good morning to you, Mr Albanese.


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


BREEN: I have to ask you this question to start with; you’re a massive South Sydney fan, did you go to the footy last weekend?


ALBANESE: I am, mate. And I did go to the footy. And I, of course, obeyed all the health restrictions which are there. And you’re allowed to go the footy. And I certainly haven’t been critical of Scott Morrison for going to the footy.


BREEN: No, I expected you would be there. I’ve seen you at South Sydney games many times.


ALBANESE: Importantly, mate, we had a good win versus the Tigers. Actually, I was bit worried.


BREEN: I know. The Tigers came back. You had them all over the shop on your right-hand side. The Tigers left-hand defence was just no match for the Rabbitohs. But there you go. You won’t have Latrell Mitchell for a while. So, that’s going to be your problem. But we’ve got to get into some serious business.


ALBANESE: Campbell Graham is hurt as well, he will be out as well.


BREEN: I know. Because he got hit by Josh Reynolds. He got kicked.


ALBANESE: So, a bloke gets kicked in the head who is a mate right next to you. I think that Latrell Mitchell does need to control his temper in those things, but I think that the comparison, that whole debate was over, if he was worse- treated, is ridiculous, frankly.


BREEN: Look, I agree with you there. I agree with you. Those things happen on a footy field and that debate was a little bit silly. But there is a debate over JobKeeper and JobSeeker beyond July 23. July 23 is when we’re going to find out, but beyond September. What is your position with regards to keeping those going?


ALBANESE: Look, you just can’t have ‘snapback’ and just end it immediately on the date in which it is scheduled at the end of September. We’ve got in Queensland, there’s some 650,000 people affected. What it would mean is ripping out pretty close to a billion dollars every fortnight, $975 million from Queenslanders alone. And that would have a devastating impact on the economy. We need to recognise that wage subsidies were put in place for a reason to keep people in employment. And the economy hasn’t just ‘snapped back’ to the way that it was. We all know that that’s the case. There’s still restrictions in place. Queensland’s done very well, it’s got to be said, during this crisis. I think that the Premier has shown great leadership. She’s been under a lot of pressure to not do that. But it’s served Queensland well, because we know that what we’re seeing in Victoria is that when you have a return, a spike again in the number of infections, then there’s an economic cost to that as well.


BREEN: Enormous economic costs. What concerns me, Opposition Leader, is the language from the Government that post-September they’re going to have targeted JobKeeper, targeted. And I wonder, well, who are you targeting? Why is the job there more important than a job over there? That’s something that concerns me. What do you think about targeted JobKeeper?


ALBANESE: Well, the Government needs to say exactly what it has in mind. And one of the things that I’ve found frustrating, but more importantly, businesses, particularly small businesses have found frustrating, and people on JobKeeper, is the Government received a report in June. We know that they delayed any action until after the Eden-Monaro by-election. That’s come and gone, and Labor was successful in that by-election. They need to tell businesses what’s going to happen in a matter of weeks. I don’t understand the delay, unless they’re out there testing some new buzzword of a title; HomeBuilder, JobKeeper JobSeeker. It’s hard to keep up with them all. Unless they are market testing the response, I don’t understand why they can’t just reveal what the plans are.


BREEN: Say there is an election in two years’ time, or it could be earlier if they decide to go early, how will Labor repay the debt? Because we are going to be in so much debt.


ALBANESE: Well, it’s a massive question for whoever is in Government. And one of the things that you’ll need to do is you need economic growth to grow the economy and that grows revenues and assists in that process. There’ll need to be also an examination of expenditures and people will need to be cautious re any future expenditure. And it will be a massive challenge. I mean, this Government, of course, never produced a surplus. They pretended that they did, but it never happened. It is a bit like the Souths claiming the Premiership now in July, I hope it does happen, but you don’t say that it’s over. But the Government did that and it was premature, and they will preside over potentially what looks like the largest deficit in Australia’s history.


BREEN: As we try and get out of these huge deficits and debt, can mining coal help us?


ALBANESE: Of course, it can, and it does. It makes a contribution to our economy, it produces jobs, and it produces revenue, both in terms of royalties, but also taxes from profits and, of course, taxes paid by people who earn income by working in the sector.


BREEN: We’ve got a situation in Queensland at the moment where the New Acland coal mine which is on the Darling Downs near Oakey’s been trying to get approval for stage three for 13 years. We had the CEO Andrew Boyd on the show earlier. What’s your position on stage three of the New Acland mine?


ALBANESE: Well, look, we support jobs and we support the resources sector. It seems to me; common sense tells you that 13 years is an extraordinary long period of time. The matter is before the courts at the moment, before the High Court. It is a matter for the Queensland Government of how they deal with that, and I can understand that they’re in a difficult circumstance. I’m not sure what the company’s position is re whether they’d go ahead and take the risk in terms of if the mine then gets knocked back or the expansion gets knocked back in the courts. So, we need to do much better, I think, at ensuring there are appropriate environmental safeguards in place, but making sure, as well, that you don’t have such a prolonged period for the approval of what is an expansion of a project.


BREEN: Some of your Federal members, Senator Chisholm, Shayne Neumann, who is a frontbencher, Joel Fitzgibbon as well, have been talking about this saying that Annastacia Palaszczuk should approve it. There’s talk in the paper that you may have gagged them. Is that true?


ALBANESE: No. Well, hang on, it can’t be both ways, mate. They’re talking and are quoted in the paper. So, no it’s just absurd.


BREEN: Good stuff. Anthony Albanese, the Federal Opposition Leader. Thanks for joining us.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, mate. It is always good to have a chat.


BREEN: Yes, it always is. And good luck with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. We will continue to be true believers that the Broncos aren’t in a form slump here in Brisbane.


ALBANESE: Well, you knocked us over very early on. And you played very well. You deserved to win that night. And you’ve got a good young side on paper.


BREEN: Don’t talk us up. I know where this is going. Anthony Albanese. We will talk to you next time. He’s the Federal Opposition Leader. We thank you so much for joining us on 4BC Breakfast.