ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC RADIO CAPRICORNIA BREAKFAST – FRIDAY, 24 APRIL 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
ABC RADIO CAPRICORNIA BREAKFAST
FRIDAY, 24 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: Virgin Australia; support for aviation industry.
KARYN WILSON, HOST: Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time this morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks for having me on the program. Good to talk to people in Rocky and Central Queensland.
WILSON: Great to have you on. How should the Federal Government intervene now that the administrators are appointed?
ALBANESE: Well, what we would have done was similar along the lines to which Matt Canavan has suggested. The Coalition, obviously, are in conflict over this. But you can’t have a market-based solution when you don’t have a market. And the Government has taken away the aviation market, quite rightly, because of health concerns. But it’s been shut down. So, I think there was a case for a government equity injection that would have protected taxpayers’ funds and then could have been sold-down down the track. What we’ll see Virgin either disappears or is restructured in a way whereby a new buyer is just interested in flying Sydney to Brisbane and Sydney to Melbourne and the main capital city routes is a devastating impact on Regional Australia, not just the loss of direct jobs, but the loss of the economic activity which is vital for a city like Rockhampton.
WILSON: Now that the dust has settled a bit, in a way, because we heard about it earlier in the week about Virgin going in to the administrators, what would you do now, now that they have been appointed?
ALBANESE: The Government needs to keep an eye on this and needs to be prepared to intervene here. If it’s the case that a buyer just comes in and asset-strips, which is what has happened in the past when a company has gone into voluntary administration, as a buyer comes in, they sell off all the assets that they don’t want and just keep the most profitable sections of a company. And that’s the concern here. It took many years and much commitment from the workforce of Virgin and from local communities to build up the circumstance whereby we had a viable two-airline system here in Australia operating very effectively, servicing not just our cities but our regional markets as well. And we don’t want that to simply disappear. This is an issue that is very much in the national interest.
WILSON: But is it the Government’s role to bail out, especially for overseas equity holders?
ALBANESE: No one is suggesting a bail out. No one is suggesting any payment to overseas holders. That’s just a red herring that’s been thrown up by the Government to justify its inaction and it is, frankly, complacency when it comes to supporting regional jobs. An equity injection wouldn’t provide a single dollar to one of those overseas investors. Not one. What it would do is protect jobs. Jobs for people who live in Rockhampton, who live in regional Queensland in particular, where, of course, Virgin Australia is based. Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Government were prepared to provide support to Virgin Australia because they recognise that Virgin is particularly important for Queenslanders and regional Queenslanders in particular. There’s something like 5,000 of Virgin’s employees who live in Queensland.
WILSON: Thank you for your time this morning and your insights on that.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Karyn.
WILSON: Thank you. That’s the Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.