Feb 5, 2021






SUBJECTS: PEP 11; visit to Terrigal; Australian Labor Party.


SCOTT LEVI, HOST: Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, joins us. Good morning.




LEVI: I know you’re not paddling out. You’ve been banged up a bit, I believe.


ALBANESE: I’m on my way to Terrigal. But, you know, I was in a pretty major car crash just a little while ago. And I’m okay, but I’m not quite sure I’m up for paddling outside. So, I am proxying to Matt Thistlethwaite, who is a very keen surfer from Maroubra, our Member for Kingsford Smith. He will be paddling out today with the surfers and with the Save Our Coast group. This is a really dumb proposal. We’re not opposed to all oil or gas exploration. Labor supports projects once it has been through environmental approvals. But to put a gas drilling or oil drilling just off the coast, this is an area that covers four and a half thousand square kilometres of ocean. Some of these proposals will be just five and a half kilometres off the coastline. And it just doesn’t stack up. And it should be rejected. The Government has to make a decision in the next week. And they should say no.


LEVI: The company there, as you may have heard, apologies about the shark joke, it was just a gag, they aren’t seeing this as dumb. They’re seeing it as a very serious thing. They’re forging on it. As the company said, they’ve gathered $9 million in investment to do this. So, the Federal Government certainly aren’t giving them messages that they might be knocked back.


ALBANESE: And that’s what’s a real concern here. The idea that in an area that includes areas that have been identified for possible inclusion in a national network of marine protected areas, it’s just offshore from the New South Wales Great Lakes Marine Park, it would have an impact on recreational and commercial fishers. Potentially as well, we know that seismic testing can have an impact on whale migration patterns. And this covers the section where the Humpbacks and the Southern Right whales travel up the coast. That is an important part of the tourism industry in places like Port Stephens. And today, all of the Labor MPs from right along the coast, Meryl Swanson, Sharon Claydon, Pat Conroy, of course, Emma McBride and Matt Thistlethwaite will all be with me at Terrigal. They’ll be having a paddle out with the surfers who are totally opposed to this proposal. And we need to have a bit of common sense to kick in here.


LEVI: This is interesting because up until now, the Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, has been saying, ‘We’ve got lots of good environmental protections when it comes to these projects. I’ll leave it to the experts. I’m not going to wade into these waters’. But this is sort of breaking news because Lucy Wicks, the Member for Robertson here on the Central Coast, which takes in Terrigal where you’re going to be, has now said, ‘Regardless of the New South Wales Government’s decision, I will be advocating for the Commonwealth to say no to the decision to extend the PEP 11 permit’.


ALBANESE: It’s a pity that she’s been dragged kicking and screaming to it. Emma McBride has been out there leading the campaign on this issue. And it is something that just defies belief that a local member could be so silent about it for so long.


LEVI: Well, be that as it may, I mean, surely, it’s a good thing to have consensus now. And those Liberal politicians on the Northern Beaches, they know their electorate, don’t they? Obviously, they’ve jumped ship because they know that their electorate doesn’t want it. We put out the call for people who are keen on this idea on our talkback and it’s usually deafening silence. People can call in and say whatever they want to say and happy to take those calls if they’re in favour. Tell us about the day. What are your plans today?


ALBANESE: Well, we’ll be at Terrigal. Emma McBride has organised today’s event. She’s been at the forefront of the campaign, with the Save Our Coast group and with the Surfrider Foundation. So, there’ll be surfers from right throughout Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle there today. And we’ll be making the views very, very clear. Whilst there’s been a local focus on this issue, it hasn’t been a national issue yet, which is why we’re hoping that the presence of myself and others there today will really provide a national focus and ensure that the pressure is put on the Federal Government to do the right thing here


LEVI: John Della Bosca, one of our locals here on the coast, an elder of your Party, is saying that maybe a fresh face in the leadership could be a thing. You’re good mates with Tanya Plibersek.


ALBANESE: John Della Bosca actually says the exact opposite.


LEVI: Okay, I’m getting mixed messages here.


ALBANESE: He said the exact opposite. And John Della Bosca spoke about the need for the Labor Party to be focused and not to be, as he called it, “engaged in self-indulgence”. We need to campaign against the Coalition, and John Della Bosca, who knows something about campaigning, as a former Campaign Director when Bob Carr was elected in New South Wales, knows that we’re actually, if you look at in any objective circumstances, in a pretty reasonable position. We start the year on 50-50 after we’ve had a pandemic. That is better than any opposition anywhere in the country. And we need to remain focused on issues like this. Make sure that Australians know that we’re on their side. Because more and more, when Australians look at the detail and Sports Rorts and the looking after mates that happens with this Government, they know that they’re not on their side.


LEVI: But I guess him, you know, coming out to say to “stay the course” also says that there’s a little bit of rumbling there. I mean, you are good mates with Tanya Plibersek. If she had a better chance, would you pass it on? We saw that in New Zealand, didn’t we, with Mr Little and Jacinda Ardern. And now they’re saying he’s a hero for what he did.


ALBANESE: I know journos can be bored from time to time and need something to talk about in January. But the truth is that after the last election, I was elected unopposed as Labor Leader. That doesn’t happen very often for any major political party. Scott Morrison had to knife Malcolm Turnbull and then defeat Peter Dutton and Julie Bishop to gain the leadership. I was elected unopposed because I had such broad support within the Labor Party, and that support remains.


LEVI: Mr Albanese, thanks for joining us on the program.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much.