ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2020
SUBJECTS: Victorian Labor; infrastructure investment.
MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: Anthony Albanese joins us from Canberra. Good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Michael.
ROWLAND: 60 Minutes say people who have seen it last night saw footage purporting to show this senior Victorian Labor MP, which the ABC, at this stage, can’t name for legal reasons withdrawing amounts of cash which the program claimed was used to purchase memberships for various Labor Party branches. Is this the sort of behaviour the Labor Party tolerates?
ALBANESE: Well, I have zero tolerance for any corrupt or inappropriate behaviour, any behaviour that brings the party into disrepute. I think I’ve shown that with the response to John Setka. I think I have shown that by intervening and then restructuring the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party. What we saw last night from this individual, just his comments alone, denigrating the minister who is in charge of combatting domestic violence in Victoria, denigrating other colleagues, including people who are working with him, by the way, was quite extraordinary. I spoke to Daniel Andrews last night. I spoke to him extensively. I’m very confident that there will be swift action taken this morning. Daniel Andrews is someone I have known for 25 years. He is someone who has just the interests of the people of Victoria at heart and isn’t interested in tolerating this sort of behaviour.
ROWLAND: Swift action involves the minister’s sacking?
ALBANESE: Well, I’ll leave those responses up to the Premier of Victoria, with respect. But I have no doubt that Daniel Andrews will show the resolve that he’s shown, frankly, on a policy level to bring Victoria through the current crisis and that he’s shown in strong leadership being offered to rebuild Victoria with the infrastructure development with the economic and social program he has implemented over recent years. That’s what he’s interested in, the people of Victoria. One of the things that’s sad about this report is that it will further undermine people’s confidence in the political system. People seek political power, I would hope, so that they can redistribute power, is my aim, in favour of working people, in favour of ordinary Australians, so we can make a difference to people’s lives, improve living standards, improve the natural environment through taking action on climate change, improve social equity. They’re the sorts of things that should drive people into politics. What we saw last night was an individual who’s driven to seek power for its own sake. That is sad when we see it. We see it at various levels. We have seen it from both political parties from time to time with individuals. That’s not what drives me. And that’s not the sort of people that I want to be in senior positions in the Australian Labor Party.
ROWLAND: What do you make of this politician’s claims on the program last night that his influence extended to the point where he controlled you?
ALBANESE: He didn’t say that actually, if you watched the program. I watched it, he didn’t say that.
ROWLAND: Please go on.
ALBANESE: I have barely met the bloke. No one watching that program outside of Victoria, including my federal colleagues, would have heard of this bloke, it is as simple as that. That’s the nature of a backroom guy like this individual. But I’ll say this, whether it’s Jo Ryan or Rob Mitchell or Julian Hill or Anthony Byrne or anyone else, Tim Watts who was named last night, their position is absolutely secure under my leadership. They are doing a good job representing their local electorates and they deserve better than to be distracted by this bloke. And that’s all it, is a distraction. They will continue to represent their electorates and do a fantastic job in their various positions that they hold. They have my absolute confidence. And they have my absolute support.
ROWLAND: You rightly say that whoever is in and out of ministries is at the will of the Premier. But as the Federal Leader of the Labor Party and you, yourself, cited John Setka’s example, will you move to expel this man from the Labor Party?
ALBANESE: I think we will see a response from the Victorian Premier this morning and I’ll await that
ROWLAND: You’re the Leader, would you like to see this politician out?
ALBANESE: This is a Victorian minister and it is appropriate that the Victorian Premier respond. He will be doing that this morning. My view on tolerance of this sort of behaviour is very clear and has been very consistent over, not just since I’ve been Leader, my attitude towards this has been consistent for a very long period of time, which is that when someone is bringing the Party into disrepute, the Party has a right to take action.
ROWLAND: We await to see whatever announcements might happen today. We mentioned this conference, moving on Anthony Albanese, a very important conference today looking at ways the Australian economy can be pulled out of recession. We’ve heard from the Government talking about fast-tracking infrastructure projects. What’s Labor’s vision to improve the economy in the next few month, indeed the next few years?
ALBANESE: We were calling for increased infrastructure investment last year when the economy was so flat, not just ourselves but, of course, the Reserve Bank Governor continued to. And the Government was very complacent coming into this. We need to bear in mind that the debt had doubled but productivity was going backwards. And economic growth was being continually downgraded which is why we saw the interest rate decreases last year. Part of the problem is we have come into this with a very flat approach in terms of economic growth and employment, consumer demand. All of the economic indicators were not good last year. So, we welcome any increased infrastructure investment. The fact that this Government uses big figures but all the infrastructure investment’s off on the never, never. Even projects like the Princes Highway has $50 million allocated. We saw during the bushfire crisis that in many cases it was simply just blocked, and people couldn’t get out of those communities. So, there is infrastructure projects that are ready to go. They should be invested in. We should also look at the opportunities that are there from the clean energy revolution. Taking action on climate change is good for jobs and good for economic growth as well. And clearly, what the economy is looking for, and investors are looking for, is certainty in that area. That will be another focus of my speech this morning. We need to be prepared to take strong action. The economy has slid into recession. The Government was so busy concentrating on producing mugs saying the Budget was ‘back in black’ that they had their hands off the wheel last year.
ROWLAND: Big day in politics in more ways than one. Anthony Albanese thank you for joins us on News Breakfast.
ALBANESE: It is, Michael. Always a pleasure.