Mar 19, 2020








SUBJECTS: Coronavirus.


JASON HAWKINS, HOST: Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, is joining us on the air this morning. Morning mate, how are you doing?


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning. Not too bad under the circumstances.


HAWKINS: You haven’t gone and accidentally shook someone’s hands today, have you? Because I am still trying to get out of that habit.


POLLY HARDING, HOST: This is where your nickname comes in handy. Albo. You can say let’s do the elbow.


ALBANESE: It is very difficult, I have got to say. Walking the dog yesterday afternoon around the golf course, and lots of people from the local here in the inner west, they all walk around, and we see each other, and people come in and say, ‘Oh, Albo, how are you going?’ And they put their hand out and all I can say is, ‘Sorry, can’t shake your hand’.


HAWKINS: It’s just getting used to it. You would have been like the rest of us. You would have been watching ScoMo’s address yesterday morning. Are you happy with the restrictions that are in play? Do you agree with them?


ALBANESE: I certainly agree with them all. The sooner we act, the better we’ll be. And what I don’t want is for us to be sitting back, having a chat in four months’ time and saying, ‘Well, we should have done things earlier’. I think that’s the key. It is a difficult time. One of the things that I’ve tried to do during this period is to be constructive. I have put forward constructive suggestions. We certainly need to check more people, more quickly. We need to get those temporary centres up and running. And yesterday we suggested we could use the Defence Force, mobile army surgical hospitals that the army and Defence Force have, I can’t see why they can’t be used. We have to use all the assets at our disposal, just like we did during the bushfire crisis. And I think we need all shoulders to the wheel, really.


HAWKINS: Can I ask because you are the Leader of the Opposition, are you privy to information? Are you privy to all the information coming from the health experts? And are we being told everything?


ALBANESE: Look, I’m not necessarily. I’m not included in the meetings that are taking place between the Prime Minister and Premiers and Chief Ministers. I do receive briefings from the Chief Medical Officer.


HAWKINS: Do you feel that we are being told everything?


ALBANESE: Well, I am not in a position to say. Certainly, one of the things I’ve said is that we need to be transparent. One of the things that we need at times like this is for people to trust authority. They need to log on to and they need to log on to reliable sources, the World Health Organisation, not rely upon some of the nonsense that’ll float around, some of it motivated by goodness knows what, why people would do that. But it is a fact that it happens. We need to do that. But in order for people to trust authority, I think authority has got to trust the people as well. They have got to be transparent about where they think this is going, what the process will be. We will get through this. And the calmer we are in getting through it, the more methodical, the better we will be.


HAWKINS: How are you going with the shopping? Toilet paper all okay at your place?


ALBANESE: One of the things that I have found, I have got to say, is that the little shops away from the big guys, you can do better at.


HARDING: I was saying this morning that they are the ones with all the gold.


ALBANESE: I went into the greengrocers yesterday in the suburbs, on the strip. And I got everything I need to cook last night and a couple of other things and fresh veggies. And no queues whatsoever. Not a single person.


HARDING: And they are local as well. Do support the small businesses.


HAWKINS: Have you thought about nicking a roll from Parliament House or anything?


ALBANESE: I think they might frisk us on the way out.


HAWKINS: That would be embarrassing.


ALBANESE: The Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices where I work from in Sydney, the coffee shop has closed down. The City of Sydney is, it’s like Christmas Day or something. Not a lot of people around.


HAWKINS: It is a bit like that in Melbourne as well at the moment. Well we will let you go, Anthony Albanese. Thanks so much for your time this morning.


ALBANESE: Terrific to talk with you. Have a great day.