ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
TUESDAY, 11 AUGUST 2020
SUBJECTS: Teddy Sheean; aged care.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the program. World War II hero Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheehan who sacrificed his life to save his ship mates is set to receive a posthumous Victoria Cross. The 18- year-old Tasmanian was on board the HMAS ‘Armidale’ when it was attacked and sunk by Japanese in 1942.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: One man who’s been calling for Teddy to be honoured for some time is Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese. And Mr Albanese joins us now from Marrickville in Sydney. Always great to chat to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning.
LANGDON: It must feel great to hear this brave Aussie will finally be honoured?
ALBANESE: Look, this is great news. And it was terrific to see the relatives of Teddy Sheehan cheering and being excited by this news. Northern Tasmanians particularly have campaigned so strongly to get this recognition. I mean, if Teddy Sheehan doesn’t deserve a VC, no- one does. Here he was, 18 years old. Imagine that, 18 years old, strapping himself to the gun, and firing at Japanese fighter planes to stop them strafing his comrades in the water knowing it would cost him his life. This was extraordinary bravery. And it is terrific that it is being recognised. We don’t think there was a need for a review of the review of the review. But the important thing is, it’s done. And there will be that recognition now.
STEFANOVIC: That painting, it just sums it up. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of work, Albo.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Look, the Australian War Memorial is a sacred site for Australians. It’s a physical embodiment of the incredible sacrifice that, you know, I don’t know what it’s like, I haven’t put my life on the line for this country. For those people who do, men and women, it’s important that we honour them. And at the War Memorial, it is an extraordinary depiction of Teddy Sheehan. It’s one that’s appeared in papers and been shown. But I certainly, when I visited the War Memorial, noticed it. It’s been there for some time. And it’s a good thing that now Teddy Sheehan will be in what is an incredibly important part of the War Memorial. There’s only been about 100 VCs awarded throughout our history, and Teddy Sheehan will be one of them.
LANGDON: It’s been a long fight, but such a fabulous win for you and for his family. We also wanted to talk to you about the Royal Commission into Aged Care. We heard yesterday there was no national plan to deal with the crisis. It’s not good enough, is it?
ALBANESE: Well, this is appalling. The fact is that the outbreak in NSW should’ve been a clarion call. If there wasn’t a plan beforehand, surely there should’ve been one developed then. And the fact that it didn’t happen is really regretful. We need to honour and respect our older Australians who’ve helped build the country. We need to treat them with dignity. And we need to do much better when it comes to aged care, across-the-board. There was a crisis beforehand, we know, with aged-care work force issues, and with other issues that were shown in the interim report of the Royal Commission. And the Federal Government up to this point just hasn’t responded appropriately to that interim report, or to the need to prepare for the impact of the pandemic, which we know has a more severe impact on elderly people.
STEFANOVIC: Alright. Albo, thank you for that. Agree with you wholeheartedly. We’re expecting the Federal Government response in the next couple of days. There’s nowhere to hide in that inquiry too. Thank you for that and well done on Teddy Sheehan. It’s a great thing you’re all part of.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.