Jul 2, 2020







SUBJECTS: Victoria hotel quarantine; Victorian coronavirus outbreak; Eden-Monaro by-election; ABC cuts; Labor’s commitment to reversing ABC cuts; Government keeping JobKeeper and JobSeeker plans a secret; draft report on Close the Gap.


PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me live from Canberra is Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you. What do you make of those claims?


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Peter. Well, they are pretty extraordinary claims. And that is why the Premier has acted asking for a full investigation by, I think, it’s a retired judge. And that is appropriate. These quarantine measures weren’t set up as a bit of a laugh. They were set up to keep Australians safe.


STEFANOVIC: Isn’t it a failure on Daniel Andrews’ part?


ALBANESE: I don’t think Daniel Andrews was on the security door himself, personally.


STEFANOVIC: But couldn’t he have brought in the ADF instead of using private security firms?


ALBANESE: The fact is that private security firms are used for a range of measures. These firms are responsible if it’s the case that they breached, essentially, what’s a contract. Sky, a private contractor, is asked to do things from time to time and I’m sure that they do them. Most private companies do that. And it’s an extraordinary breach if these suggestions are proven to be fact.


STEFANOVIC: You have got the by-election this weekend, Albo. It must feel like it’s a pretty game ahead of you. How confident are you?


ALBANESE: Well, we started the campaign with the Liberals and Nationals fighting each other and we’re finishing the campaign with the same.


STEFANOVIC: Okay, I was going to ask you about that. John Barilaro, he may preference Labor. Is that what you’re expecting?


ALBANESE: Well, John Barilaro made some pretty strong comments about Fiona Kotvojs after the last election saying that he was glad, on his Facebook posts, that she didn’t win because of character issues, the personal sleight against Mike Kelly, the former member, the Federal, State and local representatives in this community, I know, have positive constructive working relationships. And he was pretty harsh in his judgment of Fiona Kotvojs, the Liberal candidate, about her character and said he was glad that she didn’t win just a year ago. So, it’s not surprising that he wouldn’t be barracking for her now. And he’s also been very critical of Scott Morrison, not just for the cuts to the ABC and the impact that it has on regional communities, but the fact that they just haven’t been honest about it. They should be straight. A cut as a cut. And John Barilaro, I have differences with him, but he’s a pretty straight-talking bloke. And I think people in Eden-Monaro know there are cuts to the ABC and know that they relied upon those services during the bushfires to literally save lives.


STEFANOVIC: If you do lose, Albo, the wolves will circle. Will you see it as a reflection on your leadership?


ALBANESE: Well, Scott Morrison started this by-election campaign ahead. The day that Mike Kelly, a very popular local member, resigned from Parliament, our vote went from 51 to 48. That’s according to Antony Green estimates, he’s worth about three per cent of the vote. And it’s during a time where it’s very difficult to campaign. It’s a once in a hundred-year pandemic. And that was the last time that a seat changed in terms of a by-election. Look, what we’re focused on is just fighting for every vote. We’re confident we have the best candidate in Kristy McBain. There’s no one on the Labor side saying that’s not the case, unlike the Coalition, which is really a rabble and a mess. And this is an opportunity for the electorate of Eden-Monaro to send a message to the Government that they need to do better, that they left people behind during the bushfires and they are leaving people behind during this pandemic. We know that a whole range of people have missed out on JobKeeper and the Government is keeping its plans for JobKeeper and JobSeeker and the potential increase in the GST all secret until after the by-election on Saturday.


STEFANOVIC: We’ve got 30 seconds left. I just have one more question. This is on this story on the front page of The Australian. The draft report on the Close the Gap that’s going to a joint council. It’s an increased responsibility in funding to improve health and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. What are your thoughts on that?


ALBANESE: Look, I just saw Minister Wyatt and I wish him and Linda Burney, our Shadow Minister, well. This is a tough issue that governments, frankly, of all persuasions haven’t done well enough in the past. So, if we can improve the outcomes, this is a stain, really, on the character of our nation. We need to close the gap in terms of life expectancy, in terms of educational opportunity, in terms of health outcomes, infant mortality, we need to do all of those measures. And one way we can do it is to empower Indigenous people themselves and to empower their organisations. We could start by recognising First Nations people in our Constitution and giving them a Voice to Parliament, which wouldn’t be a veto. It’s just a matter of giving them due respect.


STEFANOVIC: Okay, Anthony Albanese appreciate your time this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Peter.