Jun 15, 2020





MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2020


SUBJECT: Victorian Labor.


LEIGH SALES, HOST: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us.




SALES: We’ve had New South Wales Labor and the bags of cash and the grubby donations. Now we have Victorian Labor and blatant branch stacking. How far does the rot go in the Labor Party?


ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that when you see a problem you have to fix the problem. We fixed New South Wales. It was a very effective involvement, led by Michael Lavarch which has led to a restructuring of the branch. One of the pities here is events like this undermine faith in politics, which is why it is important it be dealt with.


SALES: You personally have a good track record from your 20s of campaigning against corruption and branch stacking, and all that sort of stuff, so I’m not pointing the finger at you. But every time there are revelations of corruption of the political process inside the ALP, we hear the same thing, ‘There is a review, there’s a restructure, we have zero tolerance for it’ and so on. But it never disappears.


ALBANESE: I have zero tolerance. What we saw today was strong action from Premier Andrews, who dismissed Adem Somyurek as a minister, and then wrote to the National Executive indicating that he would charge him and seek to expel him from the Party. And those issues have all been dealt with. Premier Andrews has been a strong Premier for Victoria. It’s Australia’s fastest growing state. They have had the strongest growth, strongest employment growth, major infrastructure programs, major social and economic reform, as well as environmental policies. He is right to be disturbed that anything is a distraction from the Victorian Labor Government’s strong record.


SALES: Mr Somyurek is recorded saying, ‘Who’s going to protect Albo?’, seeming to imply that his political reach extends into Canberra?


ALBANESE: Well, that’s just not true. He is someone I have barely met. And the fact is, what’s concerning here, Leigh, is that when you have branch stacking and a distortion, essentially, of outcomes, and it does need to be stamped out, because what I’m concerned about is those men and women who join the Labor Party join overwhelmingly for all the right reasons. They join because they want their kids to get a better education, they want better healthcare, they want a better standard of living. They want industrial rights. They want to see action on climate change. That’s why people join the Labor Party. And if you have non-genuine members joining, then that’s a distortion of that. That is why it needs to be stamped out.


SALES: On that point about a distortion of outcomes, what impact has the behaviour had on Federal politics? Do you have Federal Labor MPs who don’t deserve to be there?


ALBANESE: No. We don’t.


SALES: How do you know that?


ALBANESE: One of the things I made clear this morning was that in terms of all of the members who Mr Somyurek had spoken about have my faith and confidence and are deserving of support. They have been going about their job. Which is why it’s a distraction. I find it extraordinary that a minister in a Government isn’t focusing on their ministerial portfolio. What all of my members have been focusing on is their Shadow Ministerial roles or their roles as local member. They have been concerned about making a difference to people. People join the Labor Party to campaign for the Labor Party for Labor Governments against the conservative and reactionary forces in our society. Most people don’t join for internal purposes. What we saw last night, very clearly from Mr Somyurek, was not seeking political power in order to change society, in order to make a difference, it was political power for its own sake. That’s why the Labor Party is a better Party today without Mr Somyurek’s membership and involvement.


SALES: In some of the footage you can see a computer with an Australian Parliament House screensaver, which means it was filmed in the office of a Federal Labor MP. Whose office was it?


ALBANESE: Look, I’m not aware of all the details of that. That’s a matter for Channel Nine and 60 Minutes.


SALES: Why aren’t you curious as the Leader of the Federal Labor Party if some of this was shot in a Federal MP’s office?


ALBANESE: Well, what I’m concerned about here, Leigh, is the outcomes. What I’m concerned about is making sure that the Labor Party is match fit.


SALES: Sorry to cut you off.


ALBANESE: Match fit to gain government.


SALES: It is a significant point. Because many MPs would have sensitive discussions in their offices around, for example, matters of national security and intelligence. Will you be investigating further to find out whose office it was and whether any information of that nature may have been compromised?


ALBANESE: My job isn’t to investigate. Indeed, Premier Andrews has forwarded investigations on to the anti-corruption body in Victoria and onto the police and that’s appropriate.


SALES: I’m just surprised that you don’t find that something that you would like to know if there are hidden cameras in the office of Federal Labor MPs.


ALBANESE: Well, the police and the appropriate authorities are investigating all these matters.


SALES: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time this evening.


ALBANESE: Thank you very much, Leigh.