Feb 12, 2021






SUBJECTS: Queensland visit; Labor’s vote in Queensland; Secure Australian Jobs Plan; Casual work; labour hire; train building; procurement policy.


STEVE AUSTIN, HOST: Let’s go to a man who’s finished a tour of Queensland. Something we’d love to do, tour the northern parts of the state and take a nice journey from the north, down to the southeast. The Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese did it recently. And, as you know, it culminated here in the southeast and I was supposed to speak with him yesterday but because we were in Redlands or Cleveland we weren’t able to do it. Anthony Albanese, how did your regional tour of Queensland go?


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Look, it was terrific Steve. I visited Cairns and Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, and of course southeast Queensland and I met many, many hundreds of Queenslanders, blue collar workers, white collar workers, people just on street walks. And it was terrific just to talk to people about the issues that matter to them.


AUSTIN: Let me jump in there, Federal Labor holds no seats north of Petrie here in Brisbane. Has your Queensland tour determined why that is?


ALBANESE: Well quite clearly, in the last election, we didn’t have a message that resonated enough with Queensland, and we weren’t successful and we need to win seats.


AUSTIN: And so now you’ve changed tack in terms of you’re talking about, what’s the word, the gig economy, casual labor and jobs?


ALBANESE: What I launched on Wednesday was the first elements of our Secure Australian Jobs plan and I spoke about how we get more secure jobs, how we get better pay, how we get a fairer industrial relations system and that came, as well, out of I discussed things for a long period of time. We’ve used the pandemic to talk to people, during that period as well, to develop these policies. And more and more what we’re seeing is that people are employed in casual work or they’re subject to labor hire companies or there is outsourcing, and they feel insecure. And they were the very people who were left behind during the pandemic by not getting JobKeeper and not getting support.


AUSTIN: So why are you trying to kill off casual work when it gives flexibility to people, to employees and employers?


ALBANESE: Well I’m doing nothing of the sort. I, myself, worked in casual jobs at Macca’s, at Pancakes on the Rocks in Sydney, Grace Brothers, my son works casually. It can be a very good thing.


AUSTIN: You told us, workers around Queensland, they would get a better deal, casual workers would get a better deal under a Labor Government. How?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. Well, for example, a lot of casual workers aren’t really casual workers.


AUSTIN: What are they?


ALBANESE: They’re in permanent jobs, they’re permanent workers. They are given the title of being casual workers in order to exclude them from the security and benefits that comes with that.


AUSTIN: So employers or other companies, labour hire companies, are gaming the award system or the system somehow?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. And there was a case on that in the Federal Court more than a year ago. Mr Skene took his labour hire company to court. He was successful there. He’s a miner. And a coal miner working side by side, permanent workers doing exactly the same job, he got given a roster of 12 months ahead of when he’d be working, and the Court found that he wasn’t actually a casual employee and that he was entitled to permanency. And now what we have, under this Federal Government’s legislation that they have before the parliament that will be discussed next Tuesday in Canberra, is proposals that will entrench that sort of unfairness, as well as getting rid of the Better Off Overall Test.


AUSTIN: The legislation you’re putting before the House is going to be debated next week.


ALBANESE: I’m not putting it before the House.


AUSTIN: Sorry, my apologies. The state, Queensland, has already bought in laws to restrict what happens with labour hire firms. Are you considering something similar at a federal level for Federal Labor?


ALBANESE: We’re considering the very simple principle of same job-same pay. That if people are working side by side, doing the same tasks, then they shouldn’t be subject to differential pay rates. And I used examples on my social media site, I used in the speech on Wednesday, I used Simon who works in the Bowen Basin and working side by side a colleague, and the pay differential is over 20 per cent. As well as the person earning 20 per cent less they don’t have the same conditions that permanent workers are entitled to. And that’s just not on. I think it is quite clearly unfair and unreasonable, and it’s becoming more and more common. And when the patterns of commerce change what we need to do is make sure that the industrial laws keep up with them. And that’s not occurring at the moment.


AUSTIN: You did this quite extensive tour all week of Queensland. Tangentially, what was your favorite stop of the tour? Only one, you can say all of them.


ALBANESE: Only one? I’ve got to say Downer EDI in Maryborough.




ALBANESE: I love trains. I’m a train nerd, I’ve got to say. And the people there are so proud and at that site, meeting people whose father and grandfather worked in the same site proudly building trains for Queensland now for over 150 years, it’s just the sort of environment where you walk in, you can’t fake emotion and support. And the workers there have a good relationship with management. Not to say they always agree, but there’s a real sense of achievement and pride. And that really, really stands out.


AUSTIN: Your federal policy is to have steel workers and projects use only Australian steel. Would you require the Queensland State Government to have Downer EDI to only use Australian steel?


ALBANESE: If there was federal funding, our policy is that we’ve got to maximise the Australian content in terms of procurement.


AUSTIN: So would you require those trains to be built with only Australian steel?


ALBANESE: If there is Australian Government funding what we’ll connect it to is not just procurement but also to training and skills. They certainly will exceed that.


AUSTIN: I’m sorry Anthony Albanese, I’m going to have to go to the news. Thank you very much for your time.


ALBANESE: No worries. Terrific to talk with you.