Jun 16, 2020







SUBJECTS: Victorian Labor; Australia Post cuts.


LEON BYNER, HOST: Anthony, thanks for joining us today.




BYNER: Same. Likewise. You have now got another minister, so, there’s three Victorian ministers gone over this branch stacking stuff. What is your comment on this? Are you expecting more?


ALBANESE: Well, Daniel Andrews is dealing with this. He is showing strong leadership and that is the right thing to do. Where we see inappropriate conduct, we act. And Daniel has shown himself to be a strong Premier of Victoria. Victoria is Australia’s fastest-growing state. And Daniel is doing a good job. It is a pity that this is a distraction. But it will be a short-term distraction. And people will get on with the issues that people are concerned about, providing better schools, better hospitals, better infrastructure and public transport. And I am sure that is what the Victorian Government can now be focussed on.


BYNER: Can you confirm that former Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, and former Federal Labor MP, Jenny Macklin, are going to conduct a review into what has gone on?


ALBANESE: Well, that’ll be a matter for Daniel Andrews to consider. Certainly, what there is, is a request will be coming from Daniel Andrews for the National Executive to provide some support for Victoria to make sure that the issues that are of concern to Victoria are dealt with.


BYNER: We’ve seen this sort of behaviour before. Are you confident that it’s not happening on other state branches of the ALP?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. And we’ve seen restructuring of the New South Wales branch. We saw a restructuring of the Queensland branch after the Shepherdson inquiry. And both branches emerged stronger. And that is what we’ll see from Victoria.


BYNER: I want to ask you about Australia Post. Now, the Government is accusing Labor of running a similar campaign to ‘MediScare’ on the issue, saying that you’re over-egging the pudding with Australia Post. What do you say to that?


ALBANESE: Well, why can’t the Government be transparent here? The fact is, they are slashing postal services for Australian. Now, particularly older Australians, vulnerable Australians, many Australians rely upon their postal service. The kids out there, my son throughout the years gets his birthday cards with five dollars in them from his aunties and relatives. That’s a terrific thing. People rely upon it. People know their posties. And what they are talking about is restricting it to just two days a week. And they are not being transparent about it. They have used false figures, pretending that using year-to-year figures based upon the election period, where of course there was a whole lot of mail.


BYNER: How do you know the figures are false?


ALBANESE: Well, what we know is that they’ve used misleading information so that if you compare the lead-up to the federal election in May last year, for example, obviously, there’s more mail being delivered during a period like that. And they’ve said, ‘Well, this year in April and May in the middle of a pandemic, there was a major drop in letter delivery’. Well, of course that was the case. So, that’s a complete distortion. And the other thing is that the Government won’t be transparent, including with people who have to vote on this legislation, about exactly what is happening with letters. And there is some evidence as well that what people are doing during the pandemic is writing more letters to each other and communicating in that way because they can’t meet and there’s restrictions on travel and activity. So, this is the last time that you should be introducing these draconian changes. The Government has avoided a vote on it in the House of Representatives twice in the last few days. We will be continuing to pursue it.


BYNER: All right. Now, the boss of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, she’s come out today and said there are no forced postie redundancies. She argues that the parcel delivery business is where things are at as people are sending less mail. She says that posties want to shift their skills to the parcel business. What do you say to that?


ALBANESE: That’s just tricky words. I listened to that interview. And what we had was no forced redundancies, not a commitment for no job losses, no forced redundancies. They’re two very different things, indeed. And what we’ve seen here is that if there are increased parcel deliveries, why is it that at a time where we’ve got rising unemployment and hundreds of thousands of people joining the unemployment queue in April, why can’t some of those jobs be given to people to deliver parcels as well as deliver letters?


BYNER: Have you been made aware of an article in the Fin Review in August of last year where Australia Post signed a one billion dollar deal with Qantas to provide extra big freighter aircraft for the use of more regular deliveries and bigger numbers? And that would surely include mail. Are you aware of this?


ALBANESE: Yes, I am. And of course, it would include mail as well. So, what we’re seeing here is a lack of transparency. Australia Post has community service obligations for a reason, because it is an essential service. An essential service should be provided regularly. That’s not too much to ask in a nation like ours, that people be able to expect that if they put a letter in the letter box in West Adelaide, they should be able to get it across the other side of town the next day.


BYNER: So, Anthony when’s the disallowance motion going up?


ALBANESE: We’ve tried to move the disallowance motion on two occasions now. And the Government’s just shut down debate. They will have to have a vote on this in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Now. the Government is being arrogant about this and is making it clear that they’re not for turning in the House of Representatives where they have majority. But we will wait and see what happens in the Senate. But we will pursue it in both houses. Because we think this is a fundamental issue of importance to Australians, particularly to older Australians.


BYNER: Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining us.