Feb 9, 2021






SUBJECTS: Queensland tourism industry; Regional Jobs Taskforce; Federal Election; climate change; JobKeeper; Labor’s policy agenda; industrial relations. 


DAVID DOWSETT, HOST: Anthony Albanese, good morning.




DOWSETT: First of all, there’s a lot of concern out there right now when it comes to JobKeeper. What exactly is its future? Where are you and the Government disagreeing on this?


ALBANESE: Well, JobKeeper ends at the end of March. And what we’re saying is that for a whole range of sectors, including the tourism sector there on the Fraser Coast, they’re still doing it tough. They’re relying upon international visitors while our international borders remain closed, while turnout is still down. And the reason for wage subsidies being put in place is still there. And that support needs to remain.


DOWSETT: Welfare packages can’t continue endlessly though, can they? When would you decide it’s time to ease back?


ALBANESE: No, they can’t. But what you don’t do is withdraw support prematurely, because the reason why they were there in the first place is that the cost to businesses, to workers and to the economy will be more if businesses are just allowed to fail and then have to be re-established. So, that principle of recognising that when turnover is down, it needs to be supported to keep that relationship in place is still there. And at the same time as some businesses have done exceptionally well, they’ve increased their profits, they have paid bonuses to their executives with JobKeeper payments going to them, it makes no sense that whilst that is okay for the Federal Government in terms of giving support to businesses that clearly didn’t need it, at the same time, businesses that do need that ongoing support will be left to fend for themselves after March.


DOWSETT: Okay, so you’re hitting our way on the road today. Downer Rail today and Bundaberg this afternoon. First trip to Queensland in a long time. What’s the purpose of the trip?


ALBANESE: I’m here to tell Queenslanders that I’m on your side when it comes to jobs. I’m on your side when it comes to manufacturing. We had a major policy in the Budget Reply to support rail manufacturing, our National Rail Manufacturing Plan that’s supported by businesses, supported by unions. That you can have good quality jobs but building things here in Australia. One of the things that’s happened during the pandemic is that we’ve shown how vulnerable Australia is by not being self-reliant. And we need to build our manufacturing base. Maryborough shows that it can be done. The rail carriages, last time I was there, were being retrofitted, they were made overseas due to the decisions by Campbell Newman’s Government, that weren’t fit-for-purpose. You don’t save money by buying things from overseas that end up costing you money because they got to be fixed up when they come to Australia. And we need those jobs and skills here, particularly in regional Queensland and regional Australia.


DOWSETT: There could very well be an election later this year. You’ll, no doubt, want to do everything to ensure you’re leading Labor at that point. So, when will you actually roll out the big-ticket announcements to win votes?


ALBANESE: We will be announcing our secure jobs policy tomorrow in Queensland. We’ve already got our fairer childcare policy that will help 97 per cent of families, increase women’s workforce participation, really assist with the cost of living, that we announced in the Budget. We have a Future Made in Australia plan to be more self-reliant, to build the capacity of manufacturers and others in our economy. And we’ll continue to make announcements from now up until polling day, whenever it is. I am determined to present a good future for Australians, a future where jobs are more secure, wages are rising, which they haven’t been for a long period of time, and where people aren’t left behind or held back. Too many people have been left behind insecure work. One of the things that happened in the pandemic is that insecure work, the growth of casualisation, the growth of labour hire companies where people can be working side by side but one person earning 40 per cent less than their workmate, that’s not on. And we need to address those issues in our economy. And Labor has a plan to do that. And we’ll be campaigning each and every day, particularly here in Queensland. I’m here today with Jim Chalmers and Anthony Chisholm, our important members of our Queensland team. And yesterday, I was up in Cairns, speaking about the needs of the tourism sector there with Nita Green and Milton Dick who are also parts of our Queensland team. And tomorrow, I’ll be launching our More Secure Jobs Plan, which will be a major policy that we will campaign on right up until and beyond the next election.


DOWSETT: When do you think the election could be this year?


ALBANESE: I’m ready whenever it is. That is a matter for the Prime Minister. But if we have an election this year, it will be because he doesn’t have faith in his own capacity to govern for a three-year term.


DOWSETT: And you’re confident you’ll be leading Labor at the next election?


ALBANESE: Absolutely.


DOWSETT: This morning on ABC Wide Bay, the Resources Minister and Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, says that any moves to net zero carbon emissions can’t be at the cost of regional economies. How does Labor’s policy balance that?


ALBANESE: The fact that good policy, when it comes to climate change, including net zero emissions by 2050, will actually grow jobs, particularly in the regions. It will grow jobs while reducing our emissions, while reducing our energy prices. Reducing energy prices will, of course, lead to more manufacturing capacity, particularly in the region. And the fact is that Australia will also be, as time goes on, punished if we remain isolated from our major trading partners who have indicated they’ll be releasing sanctions if there isn’t action taken that is acceptable on climate change. We know last year there was a major international conference where Scott Morrison spoke about his speech and what he was going to tell the world. But not only was he not invited to speak at the conference, Australia was excluded. Now, that is no way to actually grow our economy in a world that is global and in a world in which we do need to trade. And the sort of ideas being put forward by the Coalition, including Matt Canavan’s idea of having tariffs on iron ore to China, will just lead to less exports of iron ore, less exports of coal, and make no sense for Australia to advance that position.


DOWSETT: You’ve got a major industrial relations speech lined up for tomorrow night. What will be the main focus of it?


ALBANESE: The main focus is we will be making sure that Queenslanders and Australians know that we’re on your side. It will be about fairness in the workplace. It will be about insecure work and the problems that it creates. If you don’t have a secure job with secure income, you have difficulty getting a loan for a home, you have difficulty planning for a family. And increasingly, so many Australians are being left behind in insecure work. So, it is job security that will be at the core of the speech and the policies that I’ll be releasing tomorrow.


DOWSETT: And just finally, Anthony Albanese, every time I’ve seen you on TV over the past few days, you have been on a fair bit, I’ve seen you wearing a different hat. You have the sort of the slim dusty bush hat and then it was the straw Panama hat. Are you a bit of a hat fashionista?


ALBANESE: I don’t mind a hat, I have got to say. I have a few of them. And it’s always good, I think, to send a sun smart message to people when you’re in public life. Queensland is the sunny state. And you do have to wear a hat when you are outside. Wear sunscreen. Slip, slap, slop, as they say in the slogan. I think when you’re in public life, it’s important that you set examples.


DOWSETT: ScoMo often just wears the baseball cap. Is that really your major point of difference with him?


ALBANESE: No. We have a major difference in terms of philosophy. I believe in looking after people, not leaving people behind and not holding people back. And that’s a big difference that we have. And I believe in substance as well. I saw yesterday, Scott Morrison there with a Top Gun soundtrack being blared out, marketing worked out well in advance, sitting as if he was a fighter pilot. All smirk and mirrors. What Australia needs is substance from the leadership. And I intend to provide that.


DOWSETT: Anthony Albanese, enjoy your time in our region. Thanks very much.


ALBANESE: Thank you very much.