Aug 11, 2020







SUBJECTS: South coast floods; coronavirus; role for government during coronavirus pandemic; South Sydney Rabbitohs.


HOST: It’s Marty, Crammy and Lyndal here at i98. And he is in his pyjamas, he is on the phone. He is very punctual, I will give him that. He is the Leader of the Opposition, the Federal Opposition Leader, who has called in this morning. Anthony Albanese. Hey, Albo.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: G’day. How are you all? I wish I was in my jammies. I am in the office.


HOST: Are you? Unlucky. What time do you normally start your day?


ALBANESE: Pretty early. Six o’clock the dog wakes us up and I am normally out and about by about this time.


HOST: Okay.


ALBANESE: Normally I would have some interviews to do. I’ll be talking to you and then talking to the Today Show shortly, just down the road. So, that’s hard to do in your jammies because they can see you. You don’t know if I’m telling the truth or not, but they would.


HOST: If you are shot from the waist up, I know you’ve got your flano jammie pants on down below. I will keep an eye on it. We turned up to work today and they were like, ‘Anthony Albanese is calling’. And I went, ‘Hang on a second, what does he want to talk to us about?’


ALBANESE: Just to give a shout out to the people on the south coast. I have spoken to Fiona Phillips and Kristy McBain down there in the area that suffered now from drought, from bushfires, from the pandemic, and now the floods. And I’ve heard stories from Fiona about the bravery of people, helping people out in places like Sussex Inlet and Moruya where you had to have evacuations. And just to let people know, your listeners know, that people are thinking of them. And people want to provide assistance as well. I know that Fiona has secured assistance in terms of disaster relief because of the flood that happened just a few weeks ago. And there’s a need for some more support there. There’ll be a lot of damage to roads and to facilities. And we really need to prepare better for disasters in the future. That’s the other lesson of the recent period, I think.


HOST: Well, speaking of the pandemic that you mentioned that we’re still suffering through at the moment, a lot of credit’s been thrown towards the Prime Minister for handling the situation pretty well. But I just want to give some credit to you guys as the Labor Party because I know you guys had a lot to do with the stimulus packages and JobKeeper and JobSeeker ending up the way they did. And you quite often don’t get a lot of credit when in opposition, so credit to you guys for getting it to where it is.


ALBANESE: Thank you. Look, wage subsidies have been so important for more than three million Australians, just giving them that financial support. Making sure they keep those links between business and employees is what has made a big difference and will make a big difference. We are in our first recession in 30 years. For a lot of people, they have never experienced a recession before. And the deeper it is, the longer it’ll last. And we need to make sure that we don’t lose a generation, which is what has happened in the past sometimes. So, we really need to, I think, be constructive. We’ve put forward ideas, at the moment we’re really worried about the Federal Government handling of aged care. So, we’ll continue to raise issue but, I think, to be constructive, which is what people want at a time like this.


HOST: On a personal note though, Anthony, how stressful has this year been? Because obviously, we see all the memes, and everyone talks about ‘2020, let’s just write it off’. But you guys having to come up with all these relief packages and every single day there just seems to be something new thrown at you. How tough has that been?


ALBANESE: Well, I’ve had easier times. But I do think that the people who’ve lost their jobs, the people who are struggling to pay their mortgage, the people with parents and grandparents in aged care facilities that have had these break-outs. I’m doing all right, I don’t think we’re in a position to complain. I think it’s those people who are really, really doing it tough. But it’s a challenge, is the way that I would put it, because you do have to go back into the new rule book. It’s not the old rule book. But for some, I think one of the reasons why the Federal Government’s response has been better, in terms of the traditional Liberal Party philosophy of government getting out of the way, is that, to be fair to them and give them credit, they have put that aside and have adopted what is similar to the approach that we had during the Global Financial Crisis, which is that you’ve got to step up. There’s a role for government. And they’ve done that, they’ve done that with our support and our encouragement.


And the Australian people, we are a resilient bunch, and people have also behaved incredibly well in terms of social distancing and the discipline that you see around. I did notice last night, by the way, there’s another three COVID infections in Batemans Bay, the high school and the public school will be shut today. But I think for the local members there, Kristy McBain will be a great local member and Fiona has been for the time she’s been there. It’s tough on them, I know. And tough on all of our offices who are getting all sorts of enquiries and just trying to provide support wherever they can.


HOST: Yes, that’s good. We’re going to let you go because we are going to move on as well. But hopefully you can step up and be the coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday when we take on the Cowboys. Because Wayne won’t be there.


ALBANESE: Jason’s in charge.


HOST: Yes, I know. He is doing a good job.


ALBANESE: It is good practice for a couple of years’ time. If we can’t beat the Cowboys, we are in real trouble.


HOST: I know. We are in seventh so far. I am a Souths supporter too. Thanks, Anthony.


ALBANESE: Good on you. Go the Rabbits.