ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
WEDNESDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Four corners revelations, national anthem, climate change, US election.
LEIGH SALES, HOST: Opposition leader Anthony Albanese joins me now from Canberra, thanks very much for being with us.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good evening Leigh.
SALES: What is Labor’s policy on relationships between MPs and staff?
ALBANESE: Well, we support essentially the same principles that were adopted under Malcolm Turnbull and we had our own policy on sexual harassment and bullying, procedures adopted during the last term. We had a meeting yesterday of all staff to remind them of what procedures are. We think that all workplaces should be safe workplaces for women and we also importantly understand that we are in a particular leadership position, Leigh.
SALES: So can I just check Labor MPs, you cannot have a sexual relationship with a member of your own staff?
SALES: And what’s the current process? If a female Labor staffer has a complaint about the conduct of her minister, what’s the process?
ALBANESE: There is a process whereby, a reporting process through my office, but also procedures in place with the Department of Finance. So, there is both an internal process if you like, but one in place with the Department and that was adopted during the last term.
SALES: Is the Department of Finance where it ends as far as any independent oversight?
ALBANESE: Yes. In terms of when – if a complaint is made. I am not aware of any complaints being made it must be said, Leigh from within Labor offices.
SALES: Right. I just want to check though because obviously departments don’t like to embarrass their ministers. I’m just wondering whether it would be better to have a more independent body that could oversee complaints if they were made?
ALBANESE: Well, we’re not in a position Leigh as an Opposition to set up an independent body. We don’t have access to those resources obviously, but we also have an internal process. There was an issue last year which involved staff to staff members and a complaint was made and that was dealt with to the satisfaction of the woman involved.
SALES: Do you think that young and free should be changed to one and free in the National Anthem?
ALBANESE: I do. I think this is a really practical suggestion by the New South Wales Premier. It does jar. We are a country that should be proud of the fact that we have the oldest, continuous civilisation on the planet right here with First Nations people.
SALES: On another matter highlighted by Joel Fitzgibbon’s move to the backbench this week and his public criticism of Labor’s direction, clearly some people in your party are worried that Labor will alienate the working class with its climate policy and others fear you won’t do enough. Wouldn’t it be best to put everyone at ease by Labor having a climate policy?
ALBANESE: Well, we do have one.
SALES: On the point of net zero emissions by 2050, that’s not your policy, it is an aspiration.
ALBANESE: No, it is not an aspiration.
SALES: How are you going to get there? It’s not a policy if you don’t have detail.
ALBANESE: That is a policy and we said that we will outline the detail, but one of the things I also said Leigh perhaps even on this program, that we established a policy in 2015, it’s now 2022 before the next election is held and circumstances would change. One of the changes in circumstances is the change from President Trump to President-elect Biden. That will have a very significant impact on the international debate. President Biden will convene an international meeting next year, prior to the Glasgow Conference. We want to make sure that you’ve got to know what your starting point is before you move forward, but we will take strong action on climate change. We think action on climate change is good for jobs. It is good for lowering emissions, but it is good for lowering prices of energy and making us able to deliver in terms of lower prices for the manufacturing sector and we also think there is a possibility of us becoming a renewable energy super power for the world and we can some of that happening in spite of the fact that the Government has had 22 policies and hasn’t been able to land one yet.
SALES: After Labor introduced the carbon pricing mechanism pricing in Government it helped drive emissions down by nearly 15 per cent, why shouldn’t Labor return to that policy given that it was effective?
ALBANESE: Because one of the things that’s happened there is that that policy in terms of the, the carbon pricing was just one element of the emissions trading scheme and the Renewable Energy Target, the creation of ARENA, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, they are measures that stayed in place in spite of the attempts by the Abbott Government to remove them and that’s what has driven anything positive that’s happened. It is true, Leigh that we had a 15 per cent reduction when they were in Government. Up to 2019, up to the end of last year, there had only been a 1 per cent reduction under this Government since it came to office in 2013.
SALES: When you have somebody like Joel Fitzgibbon openly criticising the party’s direction and sitting on the backbench. Is it the beginning of the end of your leadership?
ALBANESE: No, Leigh, not at all.
SALES: But he is somebody around who dissenters can coalesce?
ALBANESE: We are a political party where people are passionate. The Labor Party needs to appeal to people in the regions as well as in the cities. We need to appeal to workers, whether they be blue collar workers or whether they be white collar workers or people in new industries. We need to make sure that we deliver for people from early childcare right through to aged care. My priorities were set out in the budget reply with our childcare initiative that will help 97 per cent of families and our Future Made in Australia, prioritising job creation around the country, but particularly job creation that will assist people in the regions.
SALES: Thank you very much.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much.