Aug 12, 2020







SUBJECTS: Lack of Government funding for infrastructure projects in Queensland; Queensland jobs; Queensland infrastructure; how to pronounce ‘Albanese’.


MICHAEL BAILEY, HOST: As promised and online is, of course, the Australian Labor Party Leader and Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you, Anthony. How are you?




BAILEY: I believe you’re stuck in Sydney and you can’t go anywhere.


ALBANESE: I am. I was supposed to be in Queensland on a couple of visits in the last few weeks. But it is the right thing, clearly, that Annastacia Palaszczuk’s done. But unfortunately, I’m collateral damage with the border closures.


BAILEY: I want to talk about infrastructure because, you know, I’ve got to say, the package that was released, 15 huge infrastructure deals are going to be launched across Australia. But none in Queensland. How’s that tickle your fancy?


ALBANESE: Well, it is just appalling. Queensland is Australia’s most regionalised state.




ALBANESE: We know that there’s a great deal of need in your part of the world in Central Queensland. When I was the Minister, we had projects like the floodplain project, the beautiful new bridge there that is built at the south of Rocky. We had projects like Calliope Crossroad outside of Gladstone, the port access road, we had massive projects on the Bruce Highway, up and down. And it’s not as if you couldn’t bring forward projects that are already slated, projects like the Rockhampton Ring Road. But what we have from the Government is 15 projects and none of them essentially for Queensland. The Inland Rail Line goes into the corner of the southeast there but primarily it is for New South Wales.


BAILEY: It goes Victoria, New South Wales, and it stops in Brisbane, or just outside of Brisbane. Crazy. It should come all the way up the coast.


ALBANESE: I don’t think that counts. That’s exactly right. And it’s just extraordinary that Queenslanders are missing out here. When I was the Minister, I was very proud of projects like the Mackay Ring Road, the projects there in Rocky, projects right up and down the coast in particular, but also inland projects. We did a range of projects around Mount Isa and projects like the Warrego Highway upgrades in the inland. They were all important projects, and they create jobs. They create jobs in construction, but they also create jobs in supply. And with the right policies in place as well, you can ensure that there’s, through procurement policy, that there’s a multiplier effect. And, of course, those workers who work on a project like the Rocky Ring Road, what they would do is contribute money to the local economy as well. So, all of those projects are important in terms of major projects. But also, in terms of smaller projects as well, they’re not really there either. And it was just extraordinary.


BAILEY: Sorry to interrupt you but the work that’s happening now was decided years ago. It’s taken years to actually come forward. So, these new projects, like the Inland Rail, I mean, they’re 10 years away really. And the other 14 infrastructure packages released by ScoMo, I mean, they seem to be across the border in his own state and in marginal seats. What’s going on?


ALBANESE: Well, that’s right. We have seen that with sports rorts and with this Government looking at the political map, rather than looking at what’s actually required. I mean, the funding for the Rockhampton Ring Road doesn’t start flowing until the financial year that ends in 2023. Real money doesn’t start flowing until the financial year ending in 2027, that is when the real money starts flowing. And we’ve seen 140,000 apprentices lost since the change of Government in 2013. Now, one of the things that the Government should be doing is not just funding these projects but making sure that young people, and others getting retraining, have the opportunity there to gain work and to gain training. I mean, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is, I think, the biggest farce. Now, this is five years after it was announced in the Parliament, in the Budget with great fanfare of $5 billion. You know how much that flowed into Queensland of that $5 billion in five years? 1.7 billion, 0.03 per cent. It is just appalling.


BAILEY: Anthony, you’re depressing me. You’re depressing me. I live in Queensland, we need jobs. But look, what can you do? Can you jump in into Parliament and jump up and down for the Queenslanders and say this is not good enough? Or are you just unfortunately the canary in the coal mine just waiting for your chance to spread the word if you ever get back into power?


ALBANESE: No, I certainly can create a fuss. It’s a pity that Scott Morrison cancelled Parliament.




ALBANESE: I noticed that when Parliament comes back in a couple of weeks that the Prime Minister’s own parliamentary secretary, his right-hand man Ben Morton, is hosting, or trying to host, three fundraisers in the Parliament. So, on the one hand, we’re not allowed to meet. On the other hand, when we do meet, we will meet so we can have some fundraisers for the Liberal Party.


BAILEY: Nose in the trough.


ALBANESE: It is just extraordinary. So, we really need to get these projects going. And we need for Queensland to not be forgotten and to not be left behind. The fact is that Queensland, in terms of regional communities, it’s actually far easier to ramp up because you’ve got projects like the Bruce Highway, that no one’s pretending that you can duplicate the Bruce Highway in a year or two. What you can do, though, is have projects that are ready to go, ready to rip, so that at times like this when you need to stimulate the economy, that’s precisely what you can do.


BAILEY: That’s what it’s all about. I’m talking with Anthony Albanese, the Australian Labor Party Leader. Now, Anthony, we took a poll in the radio station here because we’re a bit confused because there are some commentators saying your name differently. How are we supposed to say Anthony Albanese?


ALBANESE: Well, that’s pretty close, basically. It’s one of those things where if you used the Italian diction, this will look weird on the transcript, it’s Albanese.


BAILEY: Albanese. Okay. All right.


ALBANESE: But we’re here in Australia. So, I don’t mind, I am not precious about it. Albanese is the real anglicisation of it because we don’t say the vowels at the end of words. But if you listen to Italians speaking Italian, then it has that rhythm to it because you say the vowels at the end. It’s spaghetti bolognese.


BAILEY: Bolognese.


ALBANESE: But no one says that. We just say bolognese.


BAILEY: Welcome to Australia.


ALBANESE: That’s right. So, I’m not precious about. I guess that’s why everyone calls me Albo.


BAILEY: Albo. Well, Albo, mate, thanks very much for chatting with us.


ALBANESE: You can’t mispronounce that.


BAILEY: No, you can’t. But, Albo, we need you to be in Parliament and to start screaming, ‘Queenslander, Queenslander. They need a break. The Queenslanders need jobs’. We’re counting on you, okay?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. Well, I am pro-Queensland on 365 days and 362 nights every year. The three nights I can’t chant ‘Queenslander’ are on State of Origin nights.


BAILEY: I know where you’re coming from.


ALBANESE: That is the only time I’m not cheering for Queensland. You are a driver of our national economy. And I always feel very welcome when I visit. Particularly regional Queensland. You just get down to earth people and people who tell it as they see it, and that’s a great thing. Thanks for having me on the program.


BAILEY: Albo, thanks very much, mate. Really, what a fascinating man.