ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – TELEVISION INTERVIEW – ABC NEWS BREAKFAST WITH LISA MILLAR – THURSDAY, 2 JULY 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST WITH LISA MILLAR
THURSDAY, 2 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: Eden-Monaro by-election; Victorian hotel quarantine; Victorian coronavirus outbreak; Labor’s commitment to reversing ABC cuts; Australia’s relationship with China.
LISA MILLAR, HOST: Good morning, Mr Albanese. Thank you for joining us.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Lisa.
MILLAR: It just seems like there have been massive blunders in Melbourne. You just keep hearing more and more things. Are you confident enough that the Government here can get a hold on it and, also, that it’s enough to have a judicial inquiry that doesn’t have to give answers until down the track?
ALBANESE: Well, the Premier has responded appropriately by calling for a judicial inquiry and establishing that very swiftly. The facts need to be known here. It’s pretty obvious if you were working as a security guard at one of these hotels you knew about social distancing and you knew who you were looking after. It’s extraordinary that the protocols have been breached. And the consequences are there for all to see. It’s a reminder for all Australians that we all have a responsibility to follow the protocols that the medical experts have told us are necessary in terms of social distancing, in terms of washing our hands, in terms of making sure that we do our bit. We’re all in this together is more than a slogan, it’s actually something that we all need to live by.
MILLAR: In two days, people will be voting in Eden-Monaro, the by-election there. We’d normally, under other circumstances, be spending a whole lot more time talking about it. What’s your Party polling saying? Are you going to be able to hang on to it?
ALBANESE: Well, we’re not polling at this stage. You poll when you can change your strategy to make a difference. We know this will be extremely tight, but the by-election is ending how it began, with the Liberals and Nationals fighting each other. The revelations that John Barilaro, the State Nationals Leader, said that he was glad that the Liberal candidate, Fiona Kotvojs, lost the election last year due to her personal attacks on Mike Kelly. And the fact that he has also been very critical, as has Labor of course, about cuts to the ABC but, more than that, the Government’s dishonesty in not fessing up and saying, ‘Yes, there is a cut to the ABC that has resulted in 250 job losses’. So, our commitment to reinstate that funding I think will be important. People in bushfire-affected areas know that the ABC was the one organisation they relied upon, because communications went down, to keep them safe, whether to literally stay at home and fight or whether to leave.
MILLAR: Interesting you’ve made those comments about the ABC because the Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, said it was rather nonsensical. By the time when the next election comes around when you may have a chance of having the position to make these decisions, it’s going to be the next funding cycle for the ABC. So, what’s your actual commitment for when you might be in a position to make a decision?
ALBANESE: We’ll put the additional money in. And the fact is there’s potentially only one Budget between now and the next election. There’ll be a Budget in October but then in May. There’s likely to be an election sometime after the May 2021 Budget, if it goes ahead at that time. It’s about a commitment to a national broadcaster and regarding it as an essential service. It’s a pity that the ABC has a Minister who not only doesn’t defend it but pretends that black is white when it comes to the cuts. But, then again, he also defends a copper-based NBN network, which has also let people down, not just in Eden-Monaro but throughout regional Australia.
MILLAR: On the ABC, to clarify, the indexation freeze will be more than the $84 million by the time the next election comes around. So, what is your funding commitment?
ALBANESE: Our commitment is to put $84 million of additional funding into the ABC.
MILLAR: Anthony Albanese, can I turn to China? The Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds, is going to be taking aim at China, if I can put it that way, in another speech today, in regard to Australia’s defence policy. Do you think Australia needs to rethink how it has approached China especially with what we’ve now seen in Hong Kong in the last 24 hours?
ALBANESE: Well, Hong Kong is a real worry. And Labor’s spokespeople, Penny Wong, our Foreign spokesperson, has been raising these issues for some period of time. The Government needs to respond more adequately, I think, and indicate that they’ll be supportive and compassionate when it comes to the people of Hong Kong. There are many citizens, of course, who are citizens of Australia living in Hong Kong. It’s actually the second-largest polling booth in an Australian federal election after London. So, Australia does have, of course, historic relationships with Hong Kong and these laws are a clear breach of the agreement for the handover from the former British colony to the People’s Republic of China. That had in it provisions for autonomy and democracy for Hong Kong. And democratic principles are important.
MILLAR: We have run out of time, we’ll have to leave it there. Anthony Albanese, thank you.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Lisa.