ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
SATURDAY, 4 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: Eden-Monaro by-election; COVID testing.
HOST: Good morning to you Mr Albanese for joining us from Merimbula. This is crucial to your leadership how worried are you?
ALBANESE: This is about the people of Eden Monaro and it is a chance for them to send a message. I am here in Merimbula. Scott Morrison has not been able to visit any of the bushfire affected areas around this coast. Whether it is Cobargo, or Narooma or Merimbula he has not been anywhere near them for six months.
And yesterday I visited a family outside of Cobargo who are living in a caravan six months after their home and everything on their property was just burnt away in a flash. They are doing it really tough. This is about the opportunity that is there to send a message that the Government needs to do better.
There are so many properties, I was in Bumbalong, on Thursday, properties that have not been cleared yet. The debris is still there. Toxic waste that needs to be removed. And they have not fixed up that yet, let alone started to rebuild.
It is also an opportunity to send a message that Jobkeeper is going to change. The Government have said that they support snapback come September – well that will snap the economic activity in communities like the one where I am. And right around, particularly regional Australia.
HOST: So would you do it differently? Would you extend it beyond September?
ALBANESE: Look the idea that you can just snap it all back in one day and that 3 million people will lose that support would devastate the economy. We actually need a transition. There are people that have been left behind – casual workers, workers for particular companies like DNATA in the airline industry, people in the arts and entertainment sector. The package that was announced a week ago did nothing for the actual workers in that industry, there was something for businesses, but there was nothing there for individual workers. We need to make sure that coming out of this economic recovery we come out stronger and not just snap back to what was there before but we learn some of the lessons. We did not have enough protective equipment. We need to make sure we are manufacturing that here. We need to have a vision of a bigger and a better Australia. We are a great country but we can be even better.
HOST: You hold that seat by a tiny margin – 1%. It has been very difficult for you and Labor to have cut through with COVID19. Do you concede Scott Morrison has done a good job?
ALBANESE: Look it is really tough to engage with people. One of the things that has happened is the Government and the Opposition, we supported all of the three stimulus packages through the parliament. There has been good work done by state and territory governments. But most importantly there has been good work done by the Australian people. Your listeners have washed their hands, they’ve stayed 1.5 metres apart and in some ways as much as we have kept our distance Australia has never been more together than we have been through this crisis. And that is a great tribute to Australians that want to look after each other. That is part of the Australian spirit. That is part of the country that I seek to represent at the highest level.
HOST: Mr Albanese do you think testing for COVID should be made compulsory?
ALBANESE: Well I am not sure about the legal issues of how that could be done. I am concerned that we need to put the public health interest first. The idea that someone would resist testing? Testing is a pretty easy process. People should participate in it. Not just for their own health but the health of their family and friends and others. This is something where we all have a responsibility. And let’s be clear Australians have overwhelmingly done the right thing through this crisis.
HOST: Well it is a campaign like no other. No kissing of babies!
ALBANESE: It sure is. We are allowed to pat puppies and there are a lot of them here at Merimbula school. Whatever the outcome tonight there will be no hugging. It has been quite difficult. But Kristy McBain without a doubt has been out and about in every community and she will be continuing to do that until 6pm tonight. We are confident we have the best candidate and the best person to be an advocate for an area which really needs the strongest possible voice.
HOST: Thank you Anthony. We did ask the Prime Minister to come on today and he declined. Thank you very much.
SATURDAY JULY 4, 2018