Jan 12, 2021






SUBJECTS: Car accident; Australia’s health system; Michael McCormack; Donald Trump and insurrection; relationship with the United States; state borders; Bruce Springsteen; Triple J’s Hottest 100; Australian female music talent.


SARAH MACDONALD, HOST: Well, I hope that wasn’t upsetting, reading the car accident news, to Anthony Albanese. The Federal Opposition Leader is still recovering after a nasty crash in Marrickville on Friday. His car was hit by a Range Rover and he spent Friday night in hospital. He’s still being treated as an outpatient, and he joins me now on ABC Radio Sydney and Canberra this afternoon. Hello.




MACDONALD:  How are you feeling?


ALBANESE: Oh, a bit sore and battered. But feeling very fortunate to be in a position to talk with you. I just spoke to someone who went and had to go to the place where my car was taken to pick up some things. That now has been taken to the wreckers. So, it’s good that I wasn’t taken to the wreckers, frankly, but taken the hospital and patched up.


MACDONALD:   Right, so, your car was totalled. And I know you can’t go into a lot of detail. But what happened?


ALBANESE: The other driver who was a 17 year-old on Ps, basically he has been charged with negligent driving, so there’s no contested facts. I was driving up Hill Street, Marrickville and, all of a sudden, he was right in front of me headed straight for me. I had a Little millisecond to react, and he hit the front corner of the car and then all the side. It was a scary thing. I will never forget the feeling that ‘this is it’, is what I thought.


MACDONALD:  You really thought that? Did everything slow down and you thought ‘I’m done here’?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. I couldn’t tell it was a Range Rover, all I knew was there was a very, very,
very big vehicle headed straight for me, and there was nowhere for me to go on a street like that.
I was very fortunate. And then the whack as well, the sound. People came from, I’m told, it was a bit of a blur for me afterwards, but people were saying they heard it two blocks away, the sound of the whack. And, certainly, from looking at my car, that’s the case. I was just very lucky. I had a guardian angel up there looking after me. So, I was pretty confident that I could deal with anything that 2021 threw at me. But I wasn’t expecting it to be that.


MACDONALD:  And so early in the year as well. We had such high hopes for this year and it’s turned to muck for so many of us, but I think you’ve aced it in this. Do you believe in guardian angels or you do now?


ALBANESE: I do now. And I had a bit of Deja vu ending up in emergency at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. I think the last time I was there was with my late mum. And they did a remarkable job, I’ve got to say. I was lucky – there was a nurse who witnessed the accident. Allie, who I found out was actually working at Royal Prince Alfred the next day, on Saturday, while I was still in hospital. And she comforted me and made sure that I was kept still. She got people to assist opening the door to the car but making sure I was I was not moving around because of the danger of some spinal damage that happens with a jolt like that. And then the paramedics were just terrific on the spot. They were just so professional, and everyone at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital was terrific as well. It’s a good system that we have whereby no matter who you are if you have a crisis like that you end up in the emergency ward of a public hospital and get well looked after.


MACDONALD:  You got no special treatment then, you were just ‘patient’ like anyone else?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. I spoke in the past about how Kerry Packer, when he had a heart attack, was Australia’s richest man at the time and ended up at Prince Alfred Hospital, and that’s where my mum ended up as well, who was a single mom, an invalid pensioner from the Housing Commission down the road in Camperdown. And she got great treatment as well, and, and I got as well on Friday night and Saturday.


MACDONALD:  Okay, are so you still having treatment, are you on painkillers? You don’t sound 100% still?


ALBANESE: I’m certainly on painkillers, so I’m limiting my interviews, and I haven’t left the house since I came home on Saturday night. I’m going to try to gradually exit the premises. And tomorrow afternoon, or late afternoon, I have to go for another MRI back at Prince Alfred Hospital. They need to check on both the externals, my neck and spine etcetera, just to check that things are okay. And some of the internal organs as well, apparently. Something I didn’t know is that with a jolt like that, apparently your internal organs can swell. Which kind of makes sense really given that, you know, your body’s headed in one direction and gets a jolt like that. But, all in all, I’ve been very, very fortunate. I’m sure I’ll have a complete recovery, I hope. I might have to have some physio and some other treatment, but hopefully we can gradually reduce the painkillers. But they’ve said, basically, keep taking them when you feel it come on, because that’s one of the things that you’ve just got to do as part of the recovery.


MACDONALD:  Yeah, of course. You don’t want to be in pain, it makes things so much worse. Now, how is this impacted on the plans you had in place. Were you meant to be heading back to Canberra soon and isolate before Parliament?


ALBANESE: Yeah, I was I was going to Canberra on Sunday, I was going to be isolating and then attending the Australia Day events. You’ve got isolate for 15 nights basically, so I was going to be out on Monday the 25th of January and giving a speech in Canberra and then doing Australia Day on the 26th. Look, I’m taking it easy, those plans have obviously changed. And I’ll just have to wait and see how I go. But there’s no point rushing back too early and having more issues to deal with in the long term. So, the colleagues have got this in terms of being under control. But I certainly will be back when Parliament sits on, I think it’s February 4 we start and I fully expect to be there.


MACDONALD:  So just the Australia Day. Well, look, are you up for a couple of questions about politics?




MACDONALD:  Oh. While he’s still breathing. Now, I’m interested in your thoughts on the acting Prime Minister Michael McCormick’s comments regarding Donald Trump and the de-platforming on Twitter and free speech. He said it was censorship and he’s not comfortable with it.


ALBANESE: Well, I just think he’s got it wrong. I quite like Michael McCormick, but he’s got it wrong.
Scott Morrison’s got it wrong as well. I’m not quite sure what it takes to call out bad behaviour, if Donald Trump’s actions and, not just actions, but words and incitement that occurred prior to the insurrection that we saw at the Capitol Building. If you can’t condemn the encouragement of people ransacking the House of Representatives, and the Senate in Washington DC, I think I don’t know what you’ve got to do. And behaviour like this should be called out. Our relationship with the United States is our most important, but it’s one based upon our shared democratic values. And there’s no doubt that, for a considerable period of time, Donald Trump’s comments have attempted to undermine democracy. He made comments prior to the election questioning the legitimacy of the democratic process.


MACDONALD:  Do you worry this will affect our relationship with the future Biden administration about Australia’s response?


ALBANESE: Well, I certainly think that the Government needs to build a constructive relationship with the new administration. When Scott Morrison visited the United States last year and attended what became a de-facto Trump Rally in Ohio, and then didn’t have any contact with senior Democrat members, then I think that showed, I think it was unfortunate. That was an omission that was made. The fact is that our relationship with the United States is our most important. It’s one that depends upon those shared values, but it’s also one built upon people-to-people relations. I had a lovely message, I’ve got to say, from A. B. Culverhouse, the US Ambassador to Australia, who is a political appointment, he’s a Republican. He finishes up with the change of administration. But he’s an example of someone who has reached out across the political aisle and built really positive constructive relationships and I think he’s been outstanding Ambassador, as have his predecessors, and I think that’s important.


MACDONALD:  In terms of that, I just want to briefly ask you about Australia, and we’ve got sniping between premiers. The West Australian Labor Premier Mark McGowan is now saying New South Wales is not working hard enough to crush and kill the virus. What are your thoughts as a New South Wales, you know, Sydney constituent about the different policies within the states and the outbreaks of COVID-19?


ALBANESE: One of the things I’ve avoided is making partisan comments depending upon what the political orientation of state premier is. I think that they’ve taken advice, based upon the health advice they’ve got. I haven’t been critical of the border closures, for example. I think Mark McGowan’s done an outstanding job in protecting West Australians. I think it’s unfortunate that we haven’t had a more nationally consistent approach, that Scott Morrison has chosen through the so-called National Cabinet process, essentially, the states to just report in on what they’re doing.
And that has led to some inconsistencies and some confusion as to what the rules are. But I think, by and large, to me the thing that really stands out isn’t the performance of us politicians, it’s the performance of Australians. Whether it be the people on the Northern Beaches, the Victorians when they had the outbreak, the people of Brisbane and southeast Queensland on the weekend, they’ve really shown that they’re prepared to make sacrifices in order to protect their fellow citizens.


MACDONALD:  All right, before I let you go, now you can’t quite go back to work full time as you’d want it to as you recover. What’s getting you through it? I know you’re a big music fan. What are you listening to, what are you reading?


ALBANESE: I am.  Bruce Springsteen’s new album is quite sensational. I’ve got to say. I’ve listened to that today. ‘Letter To You’. Not that he’s ever not been in form, but I’ve been listening to that. I had a bit of fun putting together my Triple J Hottest 100 list, as you do.


MACDONALD:  Ah, what did you vote for?


ALBANESE: I voted for mainly Australian stuff. Alex the Astronaut, I think, got my number 1. She’s a local. Amy Shark. It was interesting that, it wasn’t by design, that when I looked at it was mainly female. And I think that’s because they’re just the current generation dominated by these incredibly talented young women who we have coming through.


MACDONALD:  Well, let’s see what hits number one and I agree with you, that Bruce Springsteen album’s fabulous. Thanks for your time this afternoon. Take care of yourself.


ALBANESE: Thanks a lot.