Sep 7, 2020






SUBJECTS: Federal Government’s response to COVID-19; manufacturing in Australia; South Sydney Rabbitohs; Newcastle Knights; apprentices and traineeships in Newcastle.


STEVE GRAHAM, HOST: Strange times to be a Prime Minister of a country during a pandemic, stranger times to be the Leader of the Opposition during it as well because it’s a different mindset, I would imagine.


TANYA WILKS, HOST: Well, let’s ask the bloke who knows more than we. The Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese. Good morning.




GRAHAM: Are you finding that it’s a different mindset, meaning it’s not just politics and policies and things like that? You’ve got to band together as a Government more?


ALBANESE: Absolutely. It’s certainly not politics as usual. People want the Government to succeed because their health depends upon it, and our economy depends upon it. So, it is very different. We have, for example, voted for every one of the packages that have gone through the Parliament in the three different sittings that we’ve had, the three different versions of JobKeeper and JobSeeker and the various programs which are there. But we’ve tried to be constructive as well, point out where we think the Government is better, also start to point towards the economic recovery, how we come out of this stronger.


WILKS: You, like us, we feel like we’re almost sitting pretty in New South Wales and we believe that is a lot of, I guess, good government, and I don’t mean government as such, I just think good management from a lot of different quarters within the state. But when we look south to the border, and we know that the Prime Minister is going to be commenting on Daniel Andrews’ roadmap later today, I mean, they are in a world of pain down there, Albo. So, what do you think went terribly wrong? Was it totally mismanaged or are they just really unlucky?


ALBANESE: Some of it there, I mean, for the Grace of God go us. You had circumstances with the security guards, and there were issues there with the quarantine structure. But we were allowing people to come into our borders, of course, Sydney Airport, people were coming in and then spreading around. We had the Ruby Princess. It’s a matter of just trying to get on top of it and bearing in mind that this could happen anywhere, we do need to stay vigilant. And I think the real heroes of this whole period haven’t been governments of any persuasion, haven’t been politicians, it is the ordinary people. It’s your listeners who are doing the right thing. They’re practicing social distancing. They’re trying to engage, I opened a brewery in my electorate on Saturday.


GRAHAM: You get all the good gigs, mate.


ALBANESE: That was a tough one, that one. But people were being really careful. I had a beer with my son yesterday afternoon which is one of the advantages post him being 18. And everyone has to sit down in the pub, no one can just stand around, all of that, that were making those little sacrifices but it’s for the good of our fellow Aussies.


GRAHAM: Now, something on fellow Aussies that we know you got angry about, as did we here Newcastle too, for a degree, and I’m sure the country, but the statement of, ‘We don’t make very good trains here’ by Gladys. In general, though, and I know you are a Labor Party member and things like that, but we really do worry about the lack of manufacturing in this country.


ALBANESE: Look, we have got to make things here. And when we make them here, they’re actually better. This is sort of an example of a false saving. It is like buying a car that will only go for 10,000 Ks and then you got to buy a new one. It’s not really a bargain. All of these trains that have been built overseas, I can’t think of one of them, whether it be Queensland where they are getting retro-fitted right now in Maryborough. Whether it’s in New South Wales, where compared with the great trends built there in Newcastle, the ones bought from overseas didn’t fit the stations. The light rail line has different gauges on it, they sort of forgot to get that right in the 21st century, and whether it be the ferries where people get decapitated under the bridges along the Parramatta River when they are standing on top.


GRAHAM: Not real handy, not enough people looking at those signs, Albo. Duck!


ALBANESE: So, you’ve got people who actually live in a community and are part of it, chances are that you are not going to make those sorts of mistakes. And that all costs money to fix. In the Parramatta- River Cat case, it’s going to be bizarre, people won’t be allowed to be on the top deck once they get past a certain stop otherwise I suppose it would be a one-way journey. It’s just pathetic. We need to make things here. We can do it. And there are skills that could be got, there are jobs. We know that there’s been a massive decline in the number of apprenticeships. There’s something like, just in Newcastle and the Hunter, there are now 3,400 fewer apprentices and trainees than there were in 2013. We’ve got a youth unemployment rate above 16 per cent. Newcastle workers built the Tangara trains. They’re the backbone of the network. And there’s no reason why the trains shouldn’t have been built here. And it should be a national policy, and that’s something I support. As the Infrastructure Minister, I took that position to the last election, and we’ll be taking it there again.


WILKS: Well, just on youth, you mentioned you had a beer with your son yesterday. How old is he now?


ALBANESE: He’s 19.


WILKS: You and I are very similar. My son just turned 20. And we look at the kids, you’ve mentioned manufacturing, you’ve mentioned the low number of apprenticeships, especially in our town at the moment. What do you say to your 19-year-old, my 20-year-old, people that are listening, their kids, when we’re in a recession, we’re in the world that we’re living in, it’s very uncertain. How do you give your son hope and go, ‘Mate, it will be okay, and we will come through this’, what are you saying? What did you say yesterday?


ALBANESE: I’m sure we will. Him and his mates are all going through really uncertain times. So, they are frustrated that they can’t just go out and do what 19 and 20-year-olds do. And that might be a good thing in some ways.


GRAHAM: I’m lucky, mine is 14. He’s just waiting for the inheritance. ‘You’re looking a bit pale, dad’. But you are right that when you get to 19 and the 20s, they’re right in the guts of it at the moment.


ALBANESE: You’ll get to talk to him in a couple of years. It’s tough for them. And one of the things I’ve noticed as well, when he did his HSC a couple of years ago, they’re really uncertain about what they’re going to do. When I finished my HSC, last century, literally, I went and got a job the next Monday. I started with a bank. And the idea was that you’d stay there and have a career for 20 or 30 years or what have you. No one thinks that way now. But if we get apprentices and trainees right, they are jobs and professions that keep going. We’re always going to need electricians and carpenters and people who build things, who manufacture things. And they are high paid jobs, they’re good jobs. And we should be creating them here to give young people that positive outlook going forward.


WILKS: All right, well, up the Bunnies. I used to be a Bunnies supporter before Newcastle came into the comp.


ALBANESE: Good on you. They can still be your second team.


WILKS: They are.


GRAHAM: They were my second team until ‘Cranky Pants’ took over.


ALBANESE: Come on. He is a super coach.


GRAHAM: He did so much for Newcastle


ALBANESE: That wasn’t his finest hour. Anyway, the Knights are going really well.


GRAHAM: Yes, they are killing it.


ALBANESE: It was good they beat the other fellow’s team on Friday night, too.


GRAHAM: He was crying in his beer.


WILKS: Good to talk to you, Albo. Take care of you.


ALBANESE: Good on you. Have a great day.