Dec 7, 2020







SUBJECTS: 2020 wrap up; being Leader of the Opposition in 2020; recovery from coronavirus pandemic; Christmas and New Year’s holiday plans; South Sydney Rabbitohs.


POPPY PENNY, HOST: Anthony Albanese, good morning.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning. Good to be with you again.


LEIGH RYAN, HOST: Lovely to have you along. It’s been a bit of an interesting year. How have you found it?


ALBANESE: Look, it has been a tough year with COVID. People have wanted politicians to come up with solutions, they haven’t wanted politics as usual. So, the title of Opposition Leader, of course, implies a fair bit of opposition. And what we’ve done, though, is try to be constructive and put forward practical ideas like wage subsidies that have kept people in work. That was something the Government originally rejected. We’ve tried to hold them to account over things like the app and whether it’s working or not, aged care, where, of course, we’ve seen almost 700 people die who were aged care residents, that was the Federal Government’s responsibility. So, we’ve done that. But make sure that we passed every one of the stimulus measures because we didn’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.


RYAN: Very much so. Obviously, the recovery is still ongoing. Let’s wave a magic wand, and you’re in charge from the first of January. What are your top three priorities for next year?


ALBANESE: Well, we need to build back better. And that means making sure that the problems that have been identified during the pandemic, we actually address. One of those is insecure work. We need more security for people who are casual employees, people who are doing it tough. We know that’s the case. We know we have massive wage stagnation for a long period of time now, and that’s a priority. The second would be childcare. We’ve got a plan for childcare reform to remove the cap that is there on the subsidy, but also to increase it to 90 per cent. It would help 97 per cent of families. And this morning, we’re launching our childcare calculator website where you will be able to log on to and it will tell them how much families will benefit from that. And the third that’s a bit outstanding is just getting Australians home who want to get home. It’s just a tragedy that you have people separated over Christmas. That will be really difficult for many families. And we need to, I think, address that as a matter of urgency. It’s pretty clear that Scott Morrison’s promise won’t be delivered at getting them on by Christmas. But we need to get them home as soon as we can.


PENNY: Well, as someone who’s looking to get home domestically back to Western Australia, I would have to agree with you there.


ALBANESE: Hopefully, you’ll be able to go from Wednesday, we hope.


PENNY: He’ll make an announcement today. And I have got fingers and toes crossed.


ALBANESE: I am hoping to get across to the west as well. So, we’ll see how that goes.


PENNY: I’ll catch up with you for a beer when we are there. But now, this year we have seen the bushfires at the start of the year, we have seen COVID which has thrown things into a bit of a spin, but there have been some good things that have happened in 2020. What for you are some of the best moments of 2020 that make you look back on the year and go, ‘Alright, it wasn’t my best year. But certainly, there were some good things’.


ALBANESE: I think the best thing with pride as an Australian is how we looked after each other. People have undergone enormous sacrifice, whether it be the bushfires where we saw people risking their lives to people they’ve never met, and probably would never meet, is just incredible. As I travelled around, including in the southeast, and up on the north coast, and in Adelaide, and the Adelaide Hills, and Victoria, so many people who I met would say, ‘I’m now in the Blue Mountains, but I was around in Tenterfield and then I went across the Casino and now I’m here’. And it was the same case everywhere I went, just the remarkable efforts of our volunteers as well as our permanent firefighters, was just extraordinary. And then that spirit flowed into the way that Australians responded to the pandemic. Our essential workers, whether they were nurses or cleaners, going into facilities, keeping people safe, and then just people staying home to keep each other safe. There’s been so little complaint about it. People have just gone on with things, recognised the threat that was there. And I reckon as a nation, we can be really proud of the way that we’ve responded.


PENNY: I think you also forgot Melbourne Storm winning the NRL premiership.


ALBANESE: Well, I think the important rugby league event, of course, wasn’t that. It was the last round when Souths put 60 on the Roosters. You’ve got to say the magic moment of the year was Souths leading 58-12 I think it was. I forget how many the other team got. And we took the penalty goal by Adam Reynolds in the 79th minute, just to rub it in.


PENNY: There have been a few magic moments.


RYAN: It’s amazing to think, I was chatting with Poppy the other day, and it’s amazing to think that the Women’s T20 World Cup was this year.


PENNY: 80,000 people. Katy Perry was allowed to fly in.


ALBANESE: It was fantastic, and it is a good that the women’s cricket team have been named the sporting team of the year. They have done such a great effort. I was sitting with the Indian High Commissioner to Australia. who’s a lovely fellow and they were expecting, we were all expecting, a close game. And Australia just came out and went, ‘We’ve got this’.


RYAN: It wasn’t a bad performance, just quietly. What’s on for you over Christmas and into the New Year while Parliament is on break?


ALBANESE: Well, we’re still sort of going. I’m going to go to Tasmania, because I’m allowed to. At the end of next week, I’m going on one of the big wilderness walks. So, this could be our last interview.


PENNY: That is how I feel about wilderness walks too, don’t worry.


ALBANESE: COVID has been difficult to stay fit in but I am doing my best. So, I’m really looking forward to having at least four days when I’m not doing media and not doing anything. It’ll just be great to clear the head before I come home back to Sydney for Christmas.


PENNY: Well, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’re all hoping that 2021 has less in store for it than 2020 did. Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Federal Opposition, thank you so much for your time. Merry Christmas.


ALBANESE: Thanks so much. I hope you get back to the west, Poppy.


PENNY: Thank you.


RYAN: Don’t worry, so do we.


ALBANESE: Now, come on, that is not in the spirit of Christmas.


RYAN: Well, we hope she comes back as well.


ALBANESE: Good save.


RYAN: I thought so. Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Federal Opposition, on the Riverina’s Triple M with Poppy and Leigh.