Jan 19, 2021







SUBJECTS: Car accident; vaccine rollout; the Trump presidency; Scott Morrison’s Legion of Merit medal; tennis stars being precious.


DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: Anthony Albanese, good morning. Happy New Year. And in all seriousness, we’re glad that you’re still in a position to be able to come on the show.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning. Yes, my guardian angels were working overtime, I’ve got to say. I feel very fortunate to be here. Not the least of which is so I can continue to talk to 5AA Breakfast.


PENBERTHY: How long ago was it since the prang happened, Albo? And you’re okay, aren’t you, physically? You got through it alright in the end?


ALBANESE: Yes, it was last, the Friday before last. So we’re running into 11 days now. I’m told that it should take at least a couple of weeks. My concussion and sort of shaking around my head from whiplash takes, I was told, 10 days. It’s still a little bit difficult and I’ve still got pain. But I’m just very fortunate to have come through it without broken bones or a lot worse. It could, my car is certainly a write-off, I’m just glad that I’m not a write-off as well.


KATE COLLINS, HOST: Absolutely. And you gave a bit of an extraordinary, could have been, an extraordinary press conference outside of hospital because you disclosed you’re on some pretty strong painkillers. I was a little bit disappointed you cut it short, Albo.


ALBANESE: I’m sure the world was before they got all sorts of questions. I might have said precisely what I think about people, going through. But fortunately, the journos there were pretty good. They’d been camped outside the hospital, I’ve got to say, for just about 24 hours. So they were very respectful. I thought it was the right thing to do to make some commentary rather than try and slip away. And the journos then were very respectful in terms of my privacy, in terms of home, just while I was trying to recover. I was on some pretty heavy painkillers at the time. I had to read the transcript the next day just to check that it was all okay. And some of my media team have very unkindly suggested that I should do all my press conferences in that state. What could go wrong?


PENBERTHY: Yes, that’s right. We just spoke to one of Channel Nine’s correspondents in London, Albo, about the situation with the COVID vaccine rollout in the UK at the moment. Are you happy with the pace at which it’s happening in Australia? And do you think that we can benefit from being a little bit slower in rolling out the vaccine here, in terms of getting a chance to see how it’s actually being implemented in other countries first?


ALBANESE: Well the TGA is the key, of course. We have an independent body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, who really are the best in the world. We have absolute faith in them doing the right thing. Once it’s recommended, though, then it should be ready for rollout. I certainly hope that that’s the case. We’ve argued that the delay that was there, with an approval in January and then a rollout in March, was a potential problem. But that’s been resolved by, the Government have brought that forward. Which is what we were arguing for.


COLLINS: And the information that you’re getting, are you worried, given that there’s been these deaths overseas in elderly, you know, people that have been receiving the jab? Do you think that’s something that we need to consider here to any great length in Australia before we roll out the vaccine?


ALBANESE: Look, we always need to consider all the information and all the evidence that’s there and the TGA are doing that. And the Government’s asked for further information to examine there. But we’ve got to consider there have been literally millions of jabs of the Pfizer vaccine in the United States. We look at Israel leading the world in terms of the rollout of the vaccine. And overwhelmingly it’s going well. It’s having an impact. So the fact that I think we’re through dozens of countries now have commenced the vaccine. So we certainly won’t be first. Far from it. We’ll be one of the last countries in terms of the industrialised world. It’s appropriate that the TGA be cautious. That’s what they do when it comes to any drugs or pharmaceuticals.


PENBERTHY: Albo, the Trump presidency comes to an end within the next 48 hours. Firstly, how do you think Donald Trump is going to be remembered as a President? And second, if you were the Prime Minister of Australia and Donald Trump had awarded you the Legion of Merit medal as he did to Scott Morrison in December, would you hand it back?


ALBANESE: Well, firstly, I think the Trump presidency will be regarded, I think, harshly by history. If you look at the undermining of institutions. The good news is that the US institutions have shown their resilience and their strength. They’ve remained intact. Even the fact that the insurrection on the Capitol Building didn’t delay, it delayed by a few hours, but the Congress and the Senate got back to work the very same day to do their constitutional duty and declare Joe Biden elected as a result of the Electoral College votes. So, you know, I think people will look back on it and scratch their heads a little bit at some of the events that occurred. The awarding of that medal was very strange because it is a military medal. Whatever people think of Scott Morrison, you know, the idea that any Australian politician who hadn’t served in the armed forces would be given the equivalent of a VC or a higher military medal would I think be considered to be rather bizarre. And, you know, if it was a civilian award, well, so be it, if Trump obviously had a great deal of admiration for Scott Morrison. And Scott Morrison said a great deal of positive things for Donald Trump. I just wish that Scott Morrison would be prepared to call out by name Donald Trump’s actions for what they were. The other world leaders have done it, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, throughout the world. Those of us who are democrats need to be consistent about calling out democratic values.


COLLINS: I think a lot of his decisions probably weren’t very well thought-through to begin with, Albo. But just quickly, I wanted to get your take on the Australian Open. I mean, we’re seeing all of these international tennis stars having a bit of a whinge about being in in hotel quarantine.


ALBANESE: They’re a bit precious, aren’t they?


COLLINS: Just a wee bit.


ALBANESE: More precious than radio presenters. I mean, you wouldn’t carry on like that.


COLLINS: Do you think, though, I mean, is this stretching it a bit far? I mean, obviously, the health of the population is, you know, the most important thing. They’re having a bit whinge. But the Australian Open overall, should it really be going ahead, given that, you know, things like the Grand Prix and the Tour Down Under have been cancelled?


ALBANESE: Look, I don’t have a problem with it going ahead. It is an important event on the Australian calendar and it can be done safely, and I think it can be. But they should just harden up, frankly, these precious tennis players. They get paid a hell of a lot of money for just turning up. And, you know, we’ve all put up with all sorts of difficulties. When Parliament’s on, people from hotspots in Sydney won’t be able to leave either their flat or where they’re staying or Parliament House. There are restrictions all the time on Aussies. You have all these Aussies who are stranded overseas and can’t get home. I can’t visit Adelaide if I wanted to today, to sit in the studio there. There are all sorts of restrictions going on. It just seems to me that people who are paid a lot of money for doing something frankly that, you know, if I was actually any better at tennis, as good at tennis as I’d like to be, I’d be pretty happy and satisfied with my lot in life, frankly.


PENBERTHY: Yes, $100,000 just for turning up. Nice work if you can get it. Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Federal Opposition.


ALBANESE: Indeed. And I turn up for free, every couple of weeks.


PENBERTHY: You mentioned democracy before, I think there’s laws precluding you from turning up for payment in your position as an elected official. That’s what we’ve got an ICAC for here in South Australia. Good on you Albo. Good to see you’re still in the land of the living.


ALBANESE: Thanks a lot. Talk to you again soon.