May 11, 2020




MONDAY, 11 MAY 2020


SUBJECTS: Australia beyond coronavirus; getting young people into work; protests regarding COVID-19; JobSeeker/Newstart payments.


AVANI DIAS, HOST: Thanks for joining us, Opposition Leader.




DIAS: You say Australia should use this pandemic to reshape the economy and ensure we don’t fall back into insecure work and poverty once this is done. Young people have been some of the worst hit during the pandemic. How will they benefit from your plan?


ALBANESE: Well, what we need to do is to move to more permanent work. And that needs a government plan, including an industrial relations system that doesn’t provide the incentives that are there now for casual workers, for labour hire companies, for that permanency to be there. We need to make sure that we identify the jobs of the future and promote industries that can grow. And skill up our Australians, particularly young Australians, for those jobs. Too many young people are just being left behind. There are sections of, our regions in particular, that have one in four young Australians out of work. And we need to make sure that we look after them. And part of that is by having a decentralisation plan. Part of it is about having Jobs and Skills Australia, which would identify where the jobs will be and ensuring that training occurs to provide young people with those opportunities. And the other issue, of course, that young people always raise with me, is the issue of climate change. We have gotten through or are getting through this crisis because we are listening to the science and listening to the experts. We need to take that principle and apply it to climate change.


DIAS: You mentioned up-skilling young Australians, putting them into secure work, but I still don’t fully understand exactly how you’re going to do that. If I’ve lost my job during this pandemic as a young person, what are you actually doing as Opposition Leader to ensure that I can have a long term secure job at the other end of this?


ALBANESE: We need to create jobs with new industries.


DIAS: How?


ALBANESE: Driven by, for example, supporting and embracing clean energy, identify those opportunities. Just today the Grattan Institute have identified steel and aluminium and another manufacturing production that could be driven by clean energy. We need to support programs such as the one I propose today, a well-designed conservation program. We’ve been through the bushfires. How do we restore those areas and make them resilient? How do we restore our rivers, target weed and pest control in those areas? All of that would create jobs. We proposed a housing and construction stimulus program whereby we know that potentially up to 400,000 people will lose their jobs in that sector unless something happens. How do we make sure that we give proper opportunities to train people, support apprenticeships? One way that we can do things is to have government procurement. Now, there are two models, for example for having trains in Australia. One is the Queensland, Victoria, WA model whereby they’re manufactured in regional towns like Maryborough and Ballarat. Or the other is that we produce them overseas. They are imported in. They end up costing more. And they don’t fit the track or are able to meet up to the station. So, it’s a matter of having proper industry policy that grows jobs and allows opportunity for young people to get those apprenticeships to do that good work.


DIAS: And that obviously involves a lot of government funding. So how much will this plan cost?


ALBANESE: Well, that, of course, is private sector funding by and large.


DIAS: Is the private sector in a position at the moment to actually invest in huge projects like a high-speed railway or renewable energy and so on when we’re in one of the worst economic situations that a lot of young people would ever see?


ALBANESE: Well, what we need to examine is how we come out of that. And how we come out of it isn’t by just being complacent and thinking it’ll fix itself. It is by having industry plans, identifying areas like clean energy and renewable energy that will drive those jobs, making investments that produce a return to the economy and a return in terms of revenue and a return in terms of jobs. That is how it will happen unless there is opposition to the idea of a snap-back, which is after six months, the Government withdraws support, JobKeeper disappears, JobSeeker and the support for the unemployed goes back to $40 a day. That’s a recipe for long-term economic stagnation.


DIAS: But Opposition Leader, is this a realistic plan to get the private sector to invest in these industries to create jobs for young people? It sounds great on paper but when industries across the board are struggling so badly at the moment, how can young people be guaranteed that this will actually happen?


ALBANESE: Well, they are struggling. But what it needs is a plan to emerge into growth and to emerge stronger. And that won’t happen by accident. And that’s why measures like using the opportunity that is there, we are in the fastest growing region of the world in human history. We have an opportunity to be an exporting superpower by using clean energy if we get the policies and the programs right.


DIAS: You’re listening to Hack on Triple J. And we’re talking to the Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, about how to get young people into more secure work and his plan to create a new economy and a new situation for Australians on the other end of this pandemic. JobSeeker used to be known as Newstart, it was doubled for the pandemic. You say you don’t want people looking for work to fall into poverty. Do you back keeping the rate at that level?


ALBANESE: Well, what I don’t support is reducing it down to levels that keep people in poverty of $40 a day.


DIAS: Do you support keeping it at that doubled rate, though?


ALBANESE: With regard to the old Newstart payments, what we know is that that was in entrenching unemployment because people who can’t afford the basic essentials of life are less likely to be able to be in a position to get themselves out of that circumstance and to find a job because they have problems just dealing with life on a day to day basis. And we’re a relatively wealthy country. We shouldn’t be in a circumstance whereby people have been confined to poverty. And when the Government doubled Newstart, when it introduced the JobSeeker program, it acknowledged that it wasn’t enough to live on. And that was why they were increasing the payment.


DIAS: You’re saying that you don’t support it going back. So, where should it be?


ALBANESE: Look, we haven’t put a figure on it. But it should be a figure that is certainly enough for people to be able to seek work and to not be destitute. We don’t have access to the Treasury and Finance department modelling. And if we were in Government, we’d be in a position to do that.


DIAS: Before we let you go, Anthony Albanese. Earlier on the show we spoke about protests against restrictions, vaccinations, the 5G mobile network, which has taken hold in conspiracy theory groups. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has said, ‘people will make their protests in their own way, it’s a free country’, when he was asked about those events. What do you think about those protests over the weekend?


ALBANESE: Well, I think they’re pretty unfortunate, the peddling of misinformation that quite frankly is dangerous. And the sort of activity that we’ve seen whereby people were ignoring the social distancing provisions, which the Chief Medical Officer has said are so important. And we saw them ignored and ignored on the basis of misinformation out there on the internet. The social media companies have a responsibility to exercise some control.


DIAS: All right. Anthony Albanese, really appreciate you coming back on the show.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much.