Dec 14, 2020







SUBJECTS: 2020 as the Leader of the Opposition; Melbourne visit; A Future Made in Australia; Labor’s childcare policy; Government’s proposed industrial relations changes; Australia getting through the coronavirus pandemic; Paul Fletcher on Insiders; ABC.


SAM MCMILLAN, HOST: Well, 2020 was set to be Anthony Albanese’s year to shine after the Prime Minister’s faltering response to the bushfire crisis and with the Federal Government’s Sports Rorts scandal ripe for the political picking. Then the pandemic happened and suddenly opposition leaders felt like trousers on a Zoom call, nice to have but easily forgotten. And yet, the year isn’t over. And in the spirit of giving, Scott Morrison has thrown the Labor Party an industrial relations stoush just in time for Christmas. The Prime Minister has always been welcomed here at the Breakfast buffet, but he’s yet to make contact. One man who has is the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese. Good morning, Anthony.




MCMILLAN: You’re en route to Melbourne today?


ALBANESE: I am. I’ll be headed out to Dandenong to visit Volgren, which is Australia’s largest bus body manufacturer. So, looking at a Future Made in Australia, which was part of our policy that we put forward in my Budget Reply last month.


MCMILLAN: Is the title of this policy because we’ve really screwed things up with China?


ALBANESE: No, but we do need to be more resilient. I think that’s one of the lessons is that we need to build more things here. And I think a couple of things that reminded us of that, one is, very clearly, 48 per cent of our exports go to China. We’re very reliant upon China, and that’s having an impact, that dispute. But secondly, I think during the coronavirus pandemic, Australians are much more aware that we need to be more reliant, we need to build more things here. We didn’t have enough personal protective equipment. We couldn’t produce ventilators. And that was a bit of a wakeup call. But it’s also a good thing to build things here in terms of creating jobs, as well as building our economy.


MCMILLAN: Anthony, we’ve been talking this morning about whether we should be banning Christmas presents in general. Do you think we should also maybe try and ban political parties from announcing new policies just before Christmas?


ALBANESE: Well, I don’t think there’ll be any big major policies announced before Christmas. Although, we have got one that we are debating whether we announce it this week or wait until after Christmas.


MCMILLAN: What is my chance of a scoop?


ALBANESE: I’m pleased to get your advice.


MCMILLAN: Well, help me out here. I mean, Virginia Trioli is gone on holidays. So, I’ve got you to myself. Give me a titbit. We can do a scoop.


ALBANESE: It is sort of not really a Melbourne thing, though.


MCMILLAN: That’s fine. They’re not listening. You can reveal it. What is it?
Sydney? A fourth airport for Sydney? What is it?


ALBANESE: No, the second one will do. But we’ve been busy out there selling our childcare policy. So, I think that will continue to get sold. Cheaper childcare.


MCMILLAN: Watch this space. Anthony, meanwhile, the Federal government’s been proposing rules that allow distressed businesses to negotiate staff deals, even if they don’t meet the Better Off Overall Test. Politically speaking, are you feeling like you’re ending 2020 better off overall?


ALBANESE: Well, certainly this is an extraordinary effort by the Government to actually set up a process of having negotiations between unions and employers, do it over many months, have literally dozens of meetings, and no one raised this. And then out comes the legislation, ‘Whoops, we can cut your wages. And we can do it on the basis that a business was impacted by the pandemic’. Well, guess what? Everyone was impacted by this pandemic.


MCMILLAN: Anthony, you didn’t answer my question. I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed. I wanted to know how you’re feeling about the year.


ALBANESE: The year has been a year from hell, for all of us, I think.


MCMILLAN: We are, of course, ending the year in a better position than we’ve been throughout it. Do you think Australia’s has been successful throughout this pandemic or ending on this positive note because of or in spite of our politicians? And I mean across all political parties?


ALBANESE: I think Australians deserve the credit themselves, not the politicians. I think Australians have been remarkable. They’ve made sacrifices, they haven’t complained about them by and large. They’ve looked after each other. And that was quite an extraordinary effort. And it compares with what we’ve seen in some other countries where people didn’t believe that the pandemic was real, even. And in part that is due to credit of political leadership, I think, across the spectrum by and large. People have tried to put aside differences. Certainly, the Federal Opposition, we tried to be constructive. But I think that leadership has been critical. I reckon that Daniel Andrews doing a press conference every day, just putting it out there, was pretty extraordinary.


MCMILLAN: I’m chatting to Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, off the back of a year from hell, let’s face it. Anthony, Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, was on Insiders yesterday and he assured us broadly speaking that he wouldn’t sack ABC Chair, Ita Buttrose, which was nice to hear. When were you most annoyed at the ABC?


ALBANESE: When was I most annoyed by the ABC? I, in general, like the ABC, he says on ABC Melbourne Radio to its listeners.


MCMILLAN: Nicely pitched there.


ALBANESE: Nice segue into sucking up there.


MCMILLAN: But we must have pissed you off at some point? When have you been pushed right into a corner? Was back in the Gillard days when we had the Four Corners report on live exports for example?


ALBANESE: No, not at all. That is Four Corners doing its job. And it’s led to better outcomes. I think the ABC has done an extraordinary job. One of the things that we’ve been dealing with, and we’ll continue to deal with, is the issue with Special Forces in Afghanistan. That report began with the ABC, the journalists involved, and indeed, the producer of Insiders was one of the people involved in that report, and they actually got into trouble and were criticised for it. But that’s what a good open media does. And we should be very grateful for the ABC, particularly with some of the rubbish that’s printed from other sources.


MCMILLAN: You turned a chance to slam us into a chance to suck up, but I grudgingly respect that, Anthony. Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time. Enjoy your time in Melbourne today. You’ll find us a proud and happy people. And all the best to you for Christmas.