Nov 25, 2020







SUBJECTS: Queensland election; Queensland borders reopening to Sydney and Victoria; manufacturing in Australia; jobs for regional Queensland; lessons Federal Labor has learnt from Queensland Labor; climate change; coal; trains being built in Australia.


DAVID DOWSETT, HOST: We’re fresh from the Queensland election where Labor claimed a massive victory. But what are their Federal counterparts up to? Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, is with me this morning as the Party unveiled its vision for Northern Australia. Anthony, good morning.




DOWSETT: Well, first of all, Anthony Albanese, breaking news, Queensland to open borders to Victoria from December 1. You must be pleased to see something resembling normality returning?


ALBANESE: It is a very good thing. And it’s a great tribute to Queenslanders and the job that they’ve done, and indeed Premier Palaszczuk and the leadership that she’s shown. But also, I think Victorians getting through that second wave is remarkable. They now have no active cases. I was there on Monday and met with Premier Daniel Andrews. And it was a fantastic thing. There was a great feeling around Melbourne, I’ve got to say. And I think it will be very good for the Queensland economy. I know that as soon as the announcement was made about people from my great city of Sydney being able to go to Queensland, the phones ran hot and there were lots of bookings there. And it will be very good for activity. Queensland is a great place to be at this time of the year.


DOWSETT: Good to see indeed. So, Queensland’s election is certainly looking a little different to our last Federal one. You must be pretty happy about the result?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. To get across the line in Bundaberg, it was very much just across the line with Tom Smith. Nine votes is about as close as it gets. But also, Hervey Bay, a massive swing there, double digits of more than 11 per cent. And Bruce Saunders, of course, in Maryborough. I visited all three of those communities, of course, in December last year when I was able to travel around. And I did that by road, visited areas like the Downer EDI site, which I think that was a major factor, the fact that under Queensland Labor, trains will be built in Queensland. And of course, that fits with our Future Made in Australia strategy. I want to see national coordination of manufacturing.


DOWSETT: Do you think your visit made a difference?


ALBANESE: Well, I think all the credit goes to Annastacia Palaszczuk and her local candidates and Queensland Labor. They have been a very, very good Government. They’ve kept Queenslanders safe during the pandemic. But importantly, as well, they had a plan for jobs and a plan for economic activity. And when I visited those areas, I went to the Bundy factory there and went to the rum distillery. But I also looked at tourism in Hervey Bay. I looked at agriculture in Gympie. I looked at the Downer EDI site in Maryborough. It is a diverse economy. And there’s lots of activity there. And the Queensland Labor Government were very supportive of jobs and local businesses. And it paid off.


DOWSETT: But the outcome certainly was very different though to last year’s Federal vote. Well, what do you think Federal Labor has to learn from Queensland?


ALBANESE: I think Queensland kept its messages very clear. They were very united. They were determined to speak about the economic recovery and job creation. And it paid off. They have a very good ministry, I think, not just Annastacia Palaszczuk, but her team is very, very good. I think I have a great team, a mix of experience, people who’ve served in the Cabinet, as well as people who have come in more recent times. People like Terri Butler who is a new Shadow Cabinet Minister. She wasn’t around when we were in Government, of course, she replaced Kevin Rudd. People like Murray Watt have now gone on to the frontbench. And there’s a range of other people as well like Anthony Chisholm, like Milton Dick, like Anika Wells, who will be future ministers I’m sure. And I’m sure that we need to also identify the right candidate and back them in. And we’ll go through a process from the beginning of next year of starting to pre-select candidates now that the Queensland election is out of the way.


DOWSETT: And there’s been a fair bit of drama in your Party recently with Joel Fitzgibbon quitting Cabinet over climate change. How do you reconcile your plan to fight climate change with the needs of workers in sectors like the coal industry?


ALBANESE: Well, we need to do both, of course. The decisions on the coal industry is largely an export industry. There won’t, of course, be new coal-fired power stations built in Australia, in my view. And that’s the view of the market. That is just what is happening. But we will continue to export coal, both metallurgical coal and thermal coal. We will continue to have an important resources sector. But also, it will be increasingly diversified. And we have the potential, as well, to not just export minerals and then import them back when products are built, but actually manufacture things here. And I want to see things like solar panels, wind turbines, other things built right here. In Queensland now, we’re building through Tritium, a company based in Queensland, is building electric vehicle charging stations that are being exported to Europe and the United States. It’s a great success story. We need to maximise employment here across some of our industries that have been around for a while, but also in new industries.


DOWSETT: How soon do you think we’ll have the train building work here?


ALBANESE: I think, well, it’s happening now. One of the tragedies, of course, is that at the moment, at the site in Maryborough, they’re rebuilding trains that were bought from overseas by the Newman Government. And they’re retrofitting them because they’re not fit for purpose. That’s providing work in the short-term. In the longer term, we need to build trains and trams right there in Queensland and in other regional centres around Australia. One of the things that I’ve said, along with the industry, the Australasian Rail Association and the manufacturers, is that if we had a national coordination process, you could have efficiency, because trains could be built out around the country in a way that is coordinated rather than a few years ago, Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, were all in the market for expansion all at the same time. And we know that there will be an expansion of rail, both in terms of suburban rail, regional rail, but also, of course, light rail. We have seen successful projects like the Gold Coast Light Rail be an enormous benefit.


DOWSETT: Well, anything that leads to jobs for our region will be a good thing, that’s for sure. Anthony Albanese, really appreciate your time this morning. Thanks very much.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, David.