ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC RADIO AM WITH SABRA LANE – TUESDAY, 31 MARCH 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
ABC RADIO AM WITH SABRA LANE
TUESDAY, 31 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Coronavirus; Coronavirus Jobkeeper wage subsidy package.
SABRA LANE, HOST: Anthony Albanese is the Federal Opposition Leader. Good morning and welcome to the program.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning Sabra.
LANE: Will Labor stand in the way of workers getting this money?
ALBANESE: We certainly will not stand in the way of any positive initiative. And this is one. This is one we’ve been calling for, for some time. It’s the right policy. We’ll look at the detail to see if there any improvements that need to be made. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction. It’s broad, in terms of its application. It’s even done things like pick up income support for New Zealanders that will be picked up through this. We have argued, along with unions and employers, for a wage subsidy. It was dismissed initially by the Government. But we’re pleased that the Government is now supportive of it. This is a generous package. It’s targeted. And our initial thoughts, we haven’t seen the legislation, of course, so we’ll examine it in detail and work constructively to make sure this can happen.
LANE: Parliament will be recalled to pass this maybe next week. You’ve said you need to see legislation, but you must have some ideas on the top of the head from what you’ve heard. Is there anything else? Other additions you’d like to see?
ALBANESE: Look, this is very positive. But one of the things that we’ve been doing is advancing positive ideas of the wage subsidies. We’re pleased that the changes that were put through the Senate to allow for two income families where one breadwinner has lost their job to get increased support by putting the assistance rate for cut off, increasing from $48,000 to $79,000 by changing the taper rate. We pushed for Telehealth changes, and that has happened. That’s a good thing for mental health changes. We pushed for no evictions. All of these measures show that we have been constructive. And we’ve been successful.
LANE: This is an incredible amount of money, $130 billion. Thousands of workers will be relieved and grateful. But it’ll be your son, maybe his kids, it’ll be the next generation of workers who end up paying this off. Does that worry you?
ALBANESE: Look, this is an investment in the future. What we need to do is to make sure that the economy’s in a position to come out of this downturn with strength. And the way that you do that is by keeping a relationship between a worker and their employer. The publican from Tamworth was just giving an example of how important that is. What this policy will do is ensure that can continue into the future, which will mean that the start-up costs, the costs of capital, the costs of training, the human costs will be far less than if we just continue to see people losing their job by the thousands day after day that we’ve seen in the last week.
LANE: The banks are also coming to people’s assistance here. Some say that they’ve become the ICU for the economy. Is this crisis, in your view, their chance at redemption?
ALBANESE: Well, it certainly is a chance for them to show that they have social values as well as concern for their profits. And quite frankly, the banks up to this point have been very constructive. That’s a good thing. Whether we are the Government, or the Opposition, or banks, or individual employers, or just members of our community, what we all have to do is to put a shoulder to the wheel. This is a wake-up call that there is indeed such a thing as society. And it’s good that the banks are doing that. They’ve been very constructive, I must say, on individual cases where I’ve contacted banks as well. They have fixed problems without exception in the last month.
LANE: What else do you think the Government should be prepared to do in regard to targeted payments to help businesses? There’s a suggestion this morning that Virgin Australia might need $1.4 billion?
ALBANESE: Well, I think one of the things that we need to look further at, is industry support. Aviation is an obvious one. We have a good structure in the aviation sector here in Australia. I wouldn’t like to see that changed or diminished in terms of competition. The childcare sector is in real strife. And we need to have an industry policy for that so that we don’t come out at the end when we need more childcare as people go back into work, the places simply aren’t there. The arts and entertainment industry will be helped by this package. It was announced yesterday, no doubt. But there’s still some structural issues there. Because that industry has literally just disappeared overnight. And so many Australians rely upon arts and culture for their jobs.
LANE: The Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese. Thanks for joining the program.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Sabra.