ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
THURSDAY, 2 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: Eden-Monaro by-election.
ANGELA BISHOP, HOST: The Leader of the Opposition joins us now from his Parliament House office. Good morning sir, how are you?
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning to you. I’m very well.
BISHOP: History’s on your side. An incumbent Government hasn’t won a seat off an Opposition at a by-election for 100 years. So, have you got this in the bag?
ALBANESE: We take nothing for granted. But this is an opportunity for the people of Eden-Monaro to send a message that the preparation for the bushfires wasn’t good enough, that people have been left behind. It is pretty cold here and all around this region, there are still people who are living in tents or living in vans. The woman, indeed, who had that incident in Cobargo with Scott Morrison when he visited, is living with her newborn baby in a van. And so, young Zoey herself is still doing it tough. And people have been left behind. People have been left behind and not getting JobKeeper. It is a chance for people to send a message to the Government that they need to better and they can do that by voting for Kirsty McBain this Saturday.
BISHOP: There is a bit of speculation in the papers this morning that if you don’t win, your leadership could be in jeopardy. Is there any truth to that?
ALBANESE: Look, I’m just focused on the people of Eden-Monaro, as Kirsty McBain is. That is our sole focus here. We will be out there campaigning. I will be later today in Cooma and in Merimbula and Bega campaigning with the outstanding candidate that we have. We’re very proud of our candidate. On the other side, this campaign is ending in the way it began with the Nationals and Liberals fighting each other. John Barilaro, the Nationals Leader was there last year when Fiona Kotvojs lost saying he was glad she lost given the personal attacks against the member, Mike Kelly. And he has been critical of the Government for not being up-front and honest about the cuts to the ABC given the role that organisation played during the bushfires.
JOE HILDEBRAND, HOST: Albo, obviously you are restricted in what you can say, but Eden-Monaro was a bellwether seat, it is probably the most famous seat in Australia. It is a departing Labor member. There is typically a four to five per cent swing to the Opposition in a by-election. You had people there refusing to shake the PM’s hand. You had a very unbecoming scrap between two senior Coalition figures, neither of whom ended up getting to contest the seat. Surely you have to win this? If you can’t win Eden-Monaro in these circumstances then it is a worry, isn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well, I hope we do, Joe. I think for the people of Eden-Monaro they need someone like Kirsty McBain to stand up for them, not someone who goes to press conferences and just stands next to members of the Government but isn’t allowed to speak. And Kirsty McBain is a really strong advocate. But we start behind. We just fell across the line at the general election. Mike Kelly is worth at least three per cent. The only time that this seat hasn’t been held by a Government member is when Mike Kelly has been the candidate. So, it is a very tough seat. And coronavirus, of course, has meant that our candidate Kirsty McBain hasn’t been able to knock on doors. There haven’t been town hall debates, the Liberal candidate has refused to debate Kirsty McBain during this period of four or five weeks of the campaign. So, it is a difficult time to get your message across. The last time that the Government won a seat in a by-election of an Opposition was during a pandemic 100 years ago. So, we’re up against it. But we’re confident that we have the best candidate and we’re also confident that people will take the opportunity to send a message to the Government this Saturday.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY, HOST: It does sound as if you’re having a bet both ways. A few excuses in there.
ALBANESE: Those are just facts.
KENNERLEY: The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party is preferencing Labor. This is the Party that advocated repealing the gun laws. It sounds a bit odd. How do you feel about justifying it?
ALBANESE: Well, I’m not surprised that so many people in the electorate of Eden-Monaro are hostile to the Liberal and National Parties at this point in time given the chaos that was occurring between the Liberals and the Nationals.
KENNERLEY: Yes, but gun laws themselves. Would you support that? Repealing gun laws?
ALBANESE: No, of course, we wouldn’t. Of course, we wouldn’t. Labor is strong on gun laws. But the fact is that the Liberal and National Parties in this electorate have alienated so many people. They feel like they have been left behind. And the other thing is this Saturday is a by-election. The Government know what it is going to do with JobKeeper, whether it is going to abolish it all in September like they have for childcare workers, but they won’t tell people until after Saturday. They won’t tell people what they’re going to do with Jobseeker until after Saturday. And yesterday, we saw the New South Wales Liberal Treasurer advocate the GST being put on food and a higher rate. And what we saw was that the Government won’t respond to that until after Saturday. I think the people of Eden-Monaro deserve those answers before Saturday. They’re not getting it. If you want to send a message that the Government should do the right thing, they should vote for Kirsty McBain on Saturday.
BISHOP: I hope you have got beanies, scarves and warm jackets for the campaign.
HILDEBRAND: Red and green beanies, I would imagine.
ALBANESE: I’ve got my Bunnies scarf, it is ready to go. Although, the Bega Roosters wear the colours and the jersey of our enemy in the Eastern suburbs.
HILDEBRAND: You have got to stick with Souths, Albo.
ALBANESE: I won’t confuse the Sydney Roosters with the Bega Roosters.
BISHOP: And not even a democracy sausage to help the pain go away. COVID is changing the way we vote.
ALBANESE: That’s right. The poor old P&Cs are missing out.
HILDEBRAND: And even Bunnings, dresses in the Souths colours, still can’t sell a sausage.
BISHOP: Thanks very much for your time.
HILDEBRAND: Thanks, Albo.
ALBANESE: Thanks a lot, guys.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.