HOST: Anthony Albanese is in Rockhampton. Welcome to the program.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good afternoon, Patricia. I’ve got the beautiful Fitzroy River behind me.
HOST: You are having a lovely time. Melbourne’s not quite as special right now.
ALBANESE: It’s a pretty busy time.
HOST: It is, actually. Scott Morrison said in an interview today that he’s open to nuclear power in Australia, but he’s since tweeted really clarifying saying ‘Labor are getting desperate and we’re only eight days in. This is not our policy and we have no plans to change that’. Do you accept that, that actually they have no plans for nuclear power in Australia?
ALBANESE: Well, Scott Morrison is the person who has put this on the agenda and he needs to say where it would be, because we know that nuclear power plants need to be near water, so here in Rockhampton, in Gladstone, Bribie Island perhaps, Townsville, perhaps Phillip Island in Greg Hunt’s electorate. He needs to say exactly where it would be. We know that he’s not the first conservative Prime Minister to visit this. John Howard did when he was the Prime Minister and convened an inquiry into nuclear power.
Of course, we know that nuclear power doesn’t stack up in Australia and it would appear that this is a Government that will do anything rather than actually talk about renewables and what we have a lot of here in Australia where the sun shines and the wind blows, as I’m experiencing right now.
HOST: OK, but he’s just said it’s not their policy, so you say he needs to explain where he’s going to put the nuclear power plants. Well, he doesn’t, because he says it’s not their policy.
ALBANESE: Why did he raise it? Why did he put it on the agenda if they haven’t been giving consideration to it Patricia? That’s what he’s got to answer: why it is that during an election campaign Scott Morrison, so desperate to try to look like he has an energy policy somewhere, has now put nuclear power on the agenda during this election campaign?
Labor is opposed to nuclear power. We don’t think it is necessary, we don’t think it economically stacks up, and issues like nuclear waste and where you would locate a power plant, are issues that are all outstanding. It’s up to Scott Morrison to say why he has put this on the agenda today.
HOST: Labor has reportedly decided against an additional, last-minute tax package to offer greater relief for workers earning between $90,000 and $120,000. What ultimately led you to that decision not to help workers in that bracket?
ALBANESE: Well we’re already, of course, saying for those people up to $120,000 they’ll get exactly the same under Labor of what’s already in place. We’re also saying, though, that if you’re earning under $48,000 you’ll be better off. But we’re also really cognisant of the fact that the PEFO – the pre-election fiscal outlook – indicated that this Government is going to have to make $40 billion of cuts every year in order to fund the tax cuts for the really wealthy that it wants to put through during the next decade. Now, what that means is cuts to schools, cuts to hospitals, cuts to infrastructure. We want to make sure that we can have bigger surpluses so that we can withstand any future international shocks in the economy that we’re not aware of at this point in time, and we’re putting forward a very responsible economic program saying where we would fund things from by closing loopholes and what it is we would commit to according to Labor’s priorities, which I believe is all about taking pressure off families and those low and middle income earners who need that support.
HOST: The Greens have described Labor’s plan to allow big polluters to buy international carbon credits instead of forcing them to reduce their own emissions as like ‘paying someone else to go on a diet’. That’s the language they’ve used. Is this part of your policy up for negotiation?
ALBANESE: Well, what hypocrites the Greens political party are. They speak about the policy that they’d like to say they were involved with under Julia Gillard that allowed for the trading on international markets of these permits. They supported it. They say they’re proud of it, but once again they showed themselves to be opportunistic and, of course, they’ve threatened to vote against not just this measure, they’ve threatened to vote against Labor’s very strong policies that we have and practical policies to deal with the issue of climate change. They did that in 2009 and they’re directly responsible for the last decade of energy and climate change policy paralysis that we’ve seen and, of course, over the last six years we’ve had no policy at all. The Greens decide to just be opposed to anything that Labor puts forward, even when it’s exactly the same as what they were prepared to support in government and claim that they helped to assist put in place.
HOST: The Greens leader wants a seat at the table as Labor implements its climate policy, if you’re successful, of course, in the next Parliament. Will they have a seat at the table?
ALBANESE: What we will have is a Labor Government governing for the Labor Party and a Labor Cabinet and I am very hopeful to be a member of that Cabinet.
HOST: But you’ll have a Senate to deal with?
ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that we – and we deal with the Senate all the time, as the current Government has to do – we’ll deal with the Senate as it’s elected. But we will support the policies that we are putting forward, not the opportunism of the Greens political party, who are frankly all over the shop, including on climate change. They come out with policies without having any pathway to get to the result that they say they can achieve, and whilst many people out there who are thinking of voting Green do so with the right motivations and because they want to assist in the environment, the fact is that my opponent and many of the Greens political candidates never actually mention the environment or climate change. They are more obsessed with some extreme hard left agendas, which they’ve brought in from the political parties on the fringes that they used to belong to.
HOST: Alright, now Scott Morrison has been really hammering your climate abatement policies today. Aren’t voters entitled to be wary about your climate change policies if you’re not prepared to say what the total cost will be to the economy?
ALBANESE: We’ve had analysis that we’ve put out there, Patricia, which is, of course the basis – the foundation of our policy is the same as what the Government was adopting in their party room in terms of when they had the debate about the NEG, was adopted not once but twice. And, of course, the modelling of the different targets which are there, as Warwick McKibbin demonstrated, both show a 23 per cent growth in the economy in real terms over the decade of the 2020s.
We know that, as well as a cost, there is a great benefit, and one of the benefits of the Australian economy moving towards a clean energy economy is that you have, as we’ve seen with the growth of renewables, enormous benefit in terms of savings to individual households, but also benefits to the national economy.
Now, one of the concerns that we have is that many of those benefits that can be gained if you have first-mover advantage, in economic terms, have been lost, because we are falling behind the world. So, for example, the practical measures that we have put forward on moving towards more use of electric vehicles, exactly the same things that Josh Frydenberg just months ago was saying was a very positive initiative and would benefit consumers, we’ve had these quite dramatic and hysterical campaigns from Scott Morrison and other Government Ministers repudiating what they themselves were saying just months ago.
HOST: Just in your own portfolio, the Grattan Institute is calling for a review of the discount rate which is used to assess the costs and benefits of future transport projects. They say the 7 per cent rate is too high. NSW Labor committed to review this if they won the election. Would Federal Labor do that?
ALBANESE: We’ve got an independent attitude towards Infrastructure Australia, unlike this current Government. The current Government has essentially nobbled Infrastructure Australia. We’ve seen that with the appointments at the last minute, just before they went into caretaker mode, of members who then went out and were critical of the Labor Party and made partisan comments.
What we’ve said we will do is take the advice of Infrastructure Australia. We’ll also make sure that it’s renewed and we’ll consult the Opposition on the appointments to the Infrastructure Australia board so that people can truly have the confidence in that board, and in Infrastructure Australia, that it is de-politicising the debate because that is what is needed.
That’s what we did when we were last in government, when we funded all of the priority projects that Infrastructure Australia recommended, whether they be rail projects, like the regional rail link in Victoria, or whether they be road projects like Majura Parkway in the ACT, or whether they be freight rail projects like Goodwin to Torrens.
What we want to do is to have objective assessments, including on how the cost-benefit analysis is done, so it’s above politics, rather than engaging in a political debate about, frankly, formulas that I doubt whether many of your listeners here this afternoon would be conscious of, issues like discount rates.
HOST: Just finally on the campaign, we’re at the end of week one. Labor has released a lot of policy detail, policies full stop, compared to the Coalition, which is going into the election with relatively little, apart from this big tax plan. Has that left you exposed? Because this campaign, I’ve been watching it closely this week, you are constantly as a campaign on the defensive and the Prime Minister and the Government are on the offensive. You’re consistently trying to defend policies. Has your campaign had trouble this week?
ALBANESE: Well, Patricia, someone’s got to lead in this country and Labor has been leading from opposition, and Bill Shorten has been showing courage in putting forward those policies. I’ve been here today with Russell Robertson, announcing funding for Stanage Bay Road. This is a road used by the defence force for the Shoalwater Bay training facility which is currently unsealed. It represents a major problem for locals because of the damage that’s done on that road. It’s taken the Labor Party to come here, something that should be frankly a no brainer, and promise with Russell Robertson to fix that.
HOST: Does your campaign need a reset because you’ve been constantly on the back foot all week?
ALBANESE: We make no apologies for the fact that, unlike the current government that went to an election in 2013 promising no cuts to education, no cuts to health and no cuts to the ABC, and then did the exact opposite in the 2014 Budget, what we’re doing is outlining our plans on the economy, on infrastructure, on education, on health, on all of these matters, saying how we’re going to pay for the commitments that we’re making. I think that’s the right and mature thing to do before the election.
HOST: But how risky is that, Anthony Albanese, given that you’re constantly on the back foot?
ALBANESE: We have had our policies out there for a very long time. What that means is that it is very difficult for a desperate Government, that constantly just talks about what Labor will do. I’m waiting for the Government to actually announce what it will do. They haven’t been capable of doing that over recent years because they’ve been too busy fighting each other to fight for the interests of the nation. Labor will continue to be rolling out policies in this campaign, whether they be specific policies, or we will also have a tourism policy, an infrastructure policy that bring all the elements together of the direction in which we want to take the country in order to lift living standards and create a fairer Australia.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining me this afternoon.
SUBJECTS: Election 2019; Labor’s fair tax policy; Coalition tax policy; national infrastructure funding; Labor energy policy.
LAURA JAYES: Let’s go live now to Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Thanks so much for your time this morning. Bigger surpluses. No more tax cuts.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Brisbane.
JAYES: Good morning from Brisbane. The Brisbane Line, the Coalition is potentially calling it, behind the scenes, so welcome to that fair city. Good to see you this morning. I want to ask you about bigger surpluses…
ALBANESE: Always good to be here.
JAYES: Under Labor, no more, instead of tax cuts, or bigger tax cuts. Why is Labor taking this position? Are you worried about your economic credentials?
ALBANESE: No, what we’re worried about is some of the uncertainty that’s in the international global economy, and this Government is saying, of course, that they’ll have surpluses in the future, but it’s dependent upon a whole range of factors and they’re very thin surpluses. What we think is that it’s prudent to have larger surpluses. We’re able to do that. We’ve put forward our economic plan for all to see. There’s some criticism coming in, but when you ask, as you just did, Minister Birmingham to outline exactly how much the big end of town are going to get from their tax cuts, he won’t even give you a figure. He actually said then that the Government knows what the figure is but they’re not going to tell the Australian people. And just like they’re not telling the Australian people either what was obvious in the pre-election fiscal outlook, which is that their tax cuts for the high end, high income earners rely upon $40 billion of cuts to expenditure. That means education, that means hospitals, that means infrastructure, every year in order to deliver for the big end of town. We don’t think that that is prudent.
KIERAN GILBERT: They rejected that analysis though, the $40 billion. They say that their spending –
ALBANESE: It’s there. It’s there in the Budget papers.
GILBERT: And their record of spending shows that they will be able to achieve, you know, both things: surpluses and less tax.
ALBANESE: Well, they’ve doubled the debt. The fact is they have doubled the debt. They came to office saying that they would have surpluses in their first year and every single year after, and they haven’t delivered any surpluses. That’s the truth. They’re doing nothing more than what they promised back in 2013, which is to deliver a surplus next year. The fact is –
GILBERT: Because of Labor baked-in spending, though, didn’t it?
ALBANESE: That’s a complete nonsense. The fact is that it is the Government that have failed to deliver on what they themselves said they would do, which is to have surpluses in that first year. They said it during the 2013 campaign, when all of the factors going forward were known in the Budget papers and again in the pre-election fiscal outlook that was released during that campaign and they’ve failed to deliver through one, two and three Treasurers, just like they’ve had three Prime Ministers, three Deputy Prime Ministers. Kieran, they’ve been too busy fighting each other to fight for the interests of the nation and to put together a coherent economic policy. Just like they have failed to put forward a coherent social policy on education and health. They’ve been busy trying to recover from the disastrous 2014 budget that they brought down and they certainly have failed when it comes to infrastructure issues. There’s not a major project in Australia that’s been opened that was begun and funded by the Coalition Government and they’ve been there for almost six years.
JAYES: Mr Albanese, you’re really going after the top end of town. You will have an effective marginal tax rate of 49 and a half cents in the dollar. Why stop there? Why not go even further?
ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that under their policy, if someone is earning up to $200,000 a year, they’ll be paying the same rate of tax as someone who is a nurse or a teacher or someone on the median wage. We actually think that there should be a progressive tax system. What they want to do is to abolish the progressive tax system. What they want to do is to make sure that they deliver this massive tax break without saying where they’ll make the cuts in order to pay for it, in schools and hospitals, and infrastructure, roads and railways.
JAYES: But why, why stop at 49 and a half cents in the dollar to pay for all these promises that you talk about, and services? I mean, would Labor go even higher than 49 cents in the dollar? You’re putting the argument forward.
ALBANESE: What we’ve done very clearly is outline what our tax policy is. We’ve done that so that people will know on May 18 what we will pay for and how we’ll pay for it and they’ll also know that they’ll get bigger surpluses that look at more responsible economic management whilst at the same time delivering the social policy that Australia needs. Early childhood education –
JAYES: How will you pay for those bigger surpluses?
ALBANESE: Education for every three and four year old –
JAYES: Would it be bigger taxes on the top end? Do you rule out going higher than a 49 and a half cents in the dollar tax rate, effective tax rate?
ALBANESE: We have. Yes, we have put our policies out there for all to see and we’ve done that in a consistent way: closing tax loopholes, making sure that the tax system works effectively for the entire nation. But making sure as well, that we can fund schools, we can fund early childhood education, we can fund TAFE, we can fund hospitals, including, of course, our Medicare initiative, expanding with regard to people dealing with cancer. We’re funding, of course, importantly I’m here in Brisbane, we’re going to fund the most important infrastructure project for South East Queensland – Cross River Rail. We will assist in the funding of that. We have a funding model, it’s pretty similar, I’ve got to say, to the funding model that I agreed with Campbell Newman, when Campbell Newman was the Premier of Queensland, but Tony Abbott kiboshed because he didn’t believe in funding public transport and then of course what we’ve seen as a result of that is almost six lost years. We could have, if the Government hadn’t have reversed the cuts to public transport, Melbourne Metro would be nearing completion now in Melbourne. You’d have the Perth Airport Link would have been completed and probably opened by now, Parramatta to Epping Rail Link would have been opened by now, Cross River Rail would have been really advanced or pretty close to opening by now.
GILBERT: OK. On climate change though; have you opened up a black hole here because you’re relying on the modelling of Warwick McKibbin in 2015, as, as Simon Birmingham put it? At that time international permits were cheaper than what they are now. Is it going to cost Australian businesses more now, given you’re still relying on a modelling done three or four years ago?
ALBANESE: Now of course Simon Birmingham conceded this morning that the Government has nothing but a scare campaign. He conceded that Warwick McKibbin’s modelling, done for the Government, backed up what Labor has been saying. And what we know, Kieran and Laura, is that if you actually transition the economy there’s – I wouldn’t call it first mover advantage – it’s more like avoiding last cab off the rank disadvantage by moving towards a clean energy economy. The sooner that you move, the better it is for the economy. We’ve seen that already. Kieran, I was the climate change spokesperson when we adopted the 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020. At the time, under the Howard Government the target was two percent. When we called for 20 percent by 2020 we were told that that would have devastating impacts on the economy. That it wouldn’t be affordable because solar in particular was so much more expensive. Well, guess what? When we were elected to Government in 2007 there were about 8,000 houses in Australia with solar panels on their roofs. Today there are 2 million. You know what? That’s good for the economy, but it’s also good for those people who have solar panels on their roofs.
ALBANESE: And good climate policy, going forward, will actually be good for the economy. What has been bad for the economy is the fact that this Government had been there for a long time and they have had something like 14 different energy policies. None of them have been implemented. So when the Government talks about our policy –
ALBANESE: I’ll tell you what business will tell you – that what we need is certainty. That’s what Labor will provide.
JAYES: Anthony Albanese, we have run out of time unfortunately. We will speak to you again next week hopefully. Thanks so much.
ALBANESE: Talk to you next week.
Subjects: Lindum level crossing, Labor’s commitment to public transport investment
JO BRISKEY, LABOR’S CANDIDATE FOR BONNER: I’m welcoming the wonderful Anthony Albanese and obviously Joan Pease our State Member, down to the Lindum level crossing, where today we are talking about how a Labor Government is committed to making sure we see this crossing intersection fixed.
I know from speaking to many local residents that I’ve doorknocked, having spoken to the school up the road here, including the Principal, and to local small businesses across this area that this is a significant issue for this community and it’s been going on for too long.
I just want to make sure that we focus on getting this fixed and getting it fixed as quickly as we possibly can. So I’ll leave it to Anthony here to talk through some of the details.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, CITIES AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT : Well thanks very much Jo and it’s great to be here in Brisbane once again for what is a very important announcement that Federal Labor will deliver $85 million to make sure that this job can be done.
This is on top of the $40 million that has been committed by the Brisbane City Council and on top of the $400,000 that the Queensland Labor Government are delivering to design the solution to this congestion issue.
I’ve seen here this morning first-hand what happens when trains are passing this intersection and the holdup that occurs. Because of the Cross River Rail investment there’s going to be even more trains, they’ll be more frequent and they’ll be passing this intersection.
Only Federal Labor is delivering an investment in the Cross River Rail project which is the most important project for South East Queensland. But we’re also delivering for important intersections and crossings such as this one right here. Jo Briskey has campaigned very strongly to deliver this commitment.
One of the things about Labor is that our commitments aren’t off into the never-never. We’ll get this done as soon as practicable, because that is what the local community here want.
We understand that urban congestion is a real issue, but we also understand that safety is a real issue at this crossing as well and that’s why we’ve got to make sure that this project is delivered.
It’s part of our commitment to public transport to making sure that we increase accessibility and we increase safety on our roads by removing level crossings.
JOURNALIST: I just got one through ABC, there was Adani, they were talking about Adani…
ALBANESE: Look I think one of the issues for this campaign that has come out in the last couple of days with the pre-election fiscal outlook is where the cuts will be made. Forty billion dollars will be required of cuts every year to deliver the Government’s tax cuts for the top end of town.
The Government’s got to tell us which schools will receive less money, which hospitals will receive less money, which railway lines and public transport projects will receive less money, because it’s very clear that the Government’s priority is delivering tax cuts for those at the very high end.
Labor’s priority is making sure that we close tax loopholes so that we can deliver on our commitments for education, for health and for public transport.
Subjects: Road infrastructure funding, remote communities, NT voter enrolment
WARREN SNOWDON: Welcome this morning, here we are with Albo, my good colleague and friend Malarndirri, and Luke from Solomon to make some really very important announcements around road infrastructure across the Northern Territory. Albo’s here to make that announcement so I’m going to slip to him straight away and then maybe we’ll make some more comments after. Albo?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Warren and it’s great to be here with Warren, Malarndirri and Luke for what is a major infrastructure announcement in addition to things that are already in the pipeline. What we are announcing today is 10 new projects here in the Top End, in Katherine but also around Central Australia. These roads are about making a difference to the economy and job creation here in the North Territory. They’re also of course about road safety as well – better roads improve safety. So a $173 million package has been identified, really making clear what the priorities of an incoming future Labor Government would be. One of those is $20 million for the mango industry roads. What we see here today is a dirt road that damages fruit, that inhibits growth of this industry, and as well reduces job creation here in the Territory. This upgrade is sensible. Anyone who’s just seen the truck go past us will know the difference that it will make. This has been strong representation I’m told, going back to 1998, for this to be fixed. A future Labor Government will get it fixed. I’ll say something else about our approach towards investment in the Northern Territory: so many of the Government’s announcements that they’ve made are off in the never-never. What we’ll do if we’re elected is sit down with the Northern Territory Government to see how soon we can fix projects like this one here. We want to make a difference in our first term, not make announcements and then have construction starting in 2026 or 2027, which is what the current government seems to be obsessed by. It used to be that when budgets came down you’d make four-year projections. This government has had a sleight-of-hand, of making ten-year projections and not much at all in the initial period. So you’ve got to elect them, elect whoever leads them next time, whoever leads them the time after that, before you get to make a difference. This project is vital, along with other projects that we’re announcing today across the territory.
SNOWDON: Thank you. I’ll just make a couple of comments about some of the other projects. The $60 million for the Maningrida Ramingining Milingimbi area is really very important and for a lot of Territorians it’s a long way away, but we’re talking probably around five or six thousand people using those roads regularly, and it means accessibility for tourism ventures and a whole other range of business activity. I was at Numbulwar yesterday where I told the community that we were planning to do the Phelps Crossing. The Phelps is a river which separates effectively the road between Numbulwar and Ngukurr and for many months of the year, because of that crossing, Numbulwar is inaccessible. We started school holidays last Friday – school teachers, families have not been able to leave that community because of that crossing, unless they fly or catch a ferry across to Groote Eylandt. So that will make a substantial difference, and they think that’s really very important, as I do here. All the other road projects are also equally important. One other road I do want to mention is the Santa Teresa road: $35 million being promised here by Albo and the Shorten Labor Government if we’re elected. That will make a huge difference to Santa Teresa, and whilst there is still just 50 kilometres of unsealed road, this will go long way to completing that seal. That will impact upon the tourism industry in particular, but also service industries going to and from. There are people who travel daily from Santa Teresa into Alice Springs for business and other purposes. This will make a huge difference to the viability of business and to their opportunities. I’ll ask Malarndirri to make a few comments.
MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Thank you Warren. Firstly Albo, thanks. It’s great to have you here and it’s an important announcement, especially for our regions and as Warren says, Maningrida, Ramangining, Santa Teresa are critical. I just came back from Ramangining yesterday – really good news for the people there. Just out at Santa Teresa a couple of weeks ago and that road, as we always know, it’s the constant request we have. Driving from Alice Springs out to Santa Teresa, for the workers, for the families, for all the people there. And the safety aspect is really important. We know we have real concerns about road fatalities here in the Northern Territory, and to have those roads sealed like that from Alice Springs to Santa Teresa is a really important initiative and a very safe one. So here – vote Labor.
SNOWDON: Can I just finally make a couple of comments before introducing Luke? I think one of the things the story of this mango operation tells us, which is, I don’t think, properly realised either in the territory or elsewhere, is how important the rural area of Darwin is to our economy. If you think about it, we produce many times more product in the Northern Territory than the Ord River. When people talk about agriculture in the north, they defer automatically almost, to the Ord River. This part of the Northern Territory is the fastest growing part of the Territory in terms of the economy, but particularly in terms of agriculture, whether it’s mangoes or intensive horticulture, or broader-scale agriculture, these things are driving change in the Northern Territory. I don’t think that’s properly recognised. These roads which are being announced today, the $20 million for these four mango roads, will make a very material difference for the operation of the mango industry in the north of Australia, and it’s something which I really, really am thankful for. Luke?
LUKE GOSLING: Thanks Warren. I just wanted to really emphasise that his is yet a further example of how Federal Labor will support industries in the North Territory. We’ve heard too many promises over six years from the Coalition but it’s amounted to not much at all. We’re not only ready to govern, we’re ready to get behind great businesses in the Territory, give them the infrastructure that they need so that we can take an even more prominent and important position in our nation’s economy. We’re very proud to have Albo here to announce this funding, not only for this area, the rural area, but throughout the Territory, because it will make a real difference to a whole range of industries. Very proud to be here.
SNOWDON: Questions thanks.
REPORTER: To the Shadow Minister – there’s a full page ad in the NT News today from the Chamber of Commerce calling for $800 million in road funding to rebuild the Territory. $173 million pales in comparison to that, doesn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well this is in addition of course to previous announcements that have been made. So this is a substantial new commitment from Federal Labor. I met with my three local members here last night, with NT Industry. I’m someone who comes to the Territory on a regular basis. I sit down with industry, talk about the needs they have, and Malarndirri, Warren and Luke organise regular meetings both in Canberra and here to talk about how we can grow the Territory economy. This industry here for example is now worth $90 million, but with this investment today it can be worth much more. And that’s what it’s about – identifying what are the projects that can make a difference, that can really lift up the economy? Not for a day, or while the construction of the road is going on, but how you get that multiply impact. And certainly I look forward to working with industry, including the Chamber of Commerce, to grow the Territory economy. What Warren has just said is exactly right. I think that the opportunities which are here – one of the things we talked about last night was the fact that we are located right here, right next door to the fastest growing region in the world, not just at the moment – the fastest growing region in the world in human history, has not seen anything quite like what’s going on in the Asia-Indo-Pacific region, and so the Territory is ideally positioned to take advantage of that. But in order to do that we need to be smart, we need government to work with the private sector to facilitate that growth.
REPORTER: As far as I know the other announcements, and this announcement, wouldn’t amount to $800 million, so do you think it’s enough?
ALBANESE: This is a major announcement today of $173 million. If you ask any chamber around Australia, do they want more money, then the answer is pretty obvious, they will say yes. That shouldn’t be any surprise. You’d be worried about a lobby group that said that’s enough, because you know what it would do?
REPORTER: It’s more about being in touch with what people in the Territory…
ALBANESE: …You know what it would do? It would put them out of business if they did that. Job done, pack up, let’s go home.
REPORTER: A lot of people are concerned here about…
ALBANESE: That’s what they do. So what we will do, we have a major announcement here today, we’ll have funding that we’re prepared to bring forward, unlike what the Government is doing. We saw what they did with Kakadu – it’s unclear what the timeframe is for Kakadu, and the announcements that that have been made there, both in terms of road infrastructure but also for infrastructure that will ensure that Jabiru has a future., What Labor’s about is working with industry to achieve real, practical results on the ground. Today’s announcement is a great example of that.
REPORTER: Given the massive infrastructure deficit we do face here in the Northern Territory, Warren talking about people living in communities who can’t even get to the next one by road – should the Northern Territory therefore get a greater share than it’s currently getting of the GST funding?
ALBANESE: The Northern Territory needs to get its fair share and undoubtedly as well, what the Northern Territory needs as well is support for Infrastructure. When I was last the Minister you can actually have a look at what we did, not just what we say. When I was last the Minister, if you look at the infrastructure investment here in the Territory, we doubled investment, compared with the period of the Howard Government. Tiger Brennan Drive was a direct result of the initiative and funding of the Federal Labor Government – a critical piece of road infrastructure. We invested right around the Territory. We want to do more and we want to work with industry, but with these three advocates who I’m here with today I’m sure the Northern Territory will get its share. I feel like I know this mango industry pretty well, primarily because Warren and Malarndirri and Luke have spoken about it so often.
REPORTER: You talk about Tiger Brennan Drive, and this might be a question for Warren and Malarndirri as much as you Albo, but isn’t part of the problem historically in the Northern Territory that we’re spending all this money on roads like Tiger Brennan Drive in the city? Right now, I’m not sure if you’re aware, they’ve just built a new road next to Tiger Brennan Drive, Barneson Boulevard, so you’ve got two roads coming into the CBD and people in Numbulwar can’t even get to the nearest community. Do we need to re-assess where that money’s being spent in the Northern Territory, and should the Commonwealth play a role in making sure that money goes to the right place?
ALBANESE: Well, the Commonwealth should play a role in making sure it makes the right investments at the right time, in the right projects. I think we did that with Tiger Brennan Drive.
SNOWDON: I’ll just add the strategic roads – there’s a bit of historical context here. 1996, John Howard gets elected. Prior to 1996 there was a Strategic Roads program in the Northern Territory which was jointly managed effectively by the Northern Territory Government, industry, and local government. As soon as we were thrown out of office that program was canned, and so the bush roads which you refer to, just didn’t get funded. Just did not get funded. Now there’ve been some announcements from the current Government around roads through central Arnhem Land etc which we obviously agree with, but these smaller ones – the people of Numbulwar have been screaming about this crossing since the mid-1990s and indeed earlier. What we’ve been able to do, and I want to thank Albo for this, is we haven’t gone for funding new roads in Darwin or Alice Springs. What we’ve done is go to say, “Well what’s going to make a material difference to those many communities outside of Darwin who need road access in a timely and appropriate way, and don’t have to bugger their cars every time they drive on them?” Now this will make a great difference, so the Maningrida, Milingimbi, Ramingining area, it’s a monty, you know it’s really good. It’s a simple one, the Sandy Creek Crossing between the highway and Yarralin, that doesn’t sound like a lot, $3 million but it will make a substantial difference to the quality of life of the people who live in Yarralin. Simple. The roads which we’re putting extra money into, we’re putting $9 million into the road between Utopia and Ampilatwatja. I don’t know how many of you have been on those roads, probably not many, but I have often and that small section of road is really important because it links Ampilatwatja to a bitumenised, sealed airstrip, so emergency patients coming from Ampilatwatja clinic, if they need to get to the airstrip they’ll now be able to do it on a bitumenised road. That makes a substantial difference to the quality of life of the people in Ampilatwatja and around the region, the pastoralists who live around the region, because of that little bit of infrastructure. So we’ve been very targeted in our approach and the message is clear – Tiger Brennan Drive, all those infrastructure projects are very important for Darwin and we need to continue them, but at the same time we need to have eyes on another prize, that is looking after the interests of people living in remote communities.
REPORTER: Do you agree that historically we’ve prioritised those Darwin projects over ones where they’re perhaps more sorely needed? In the last few years we’ve spent $18 million on a new tennis centre in Darwin, $18 million on a new netball centre…
SNOWDON: …I think that’s a different argument. I think what we’ve got to talk about here is that Tiger Brennan Drive has made a substantial difference to the way in which this city operates and connects with Palmerston and the rural area and is good for business and good for the community. I don’t there’s any way you could denigrate the investment in Tiger Brennan Drive or the other road infrastructure that’s been invested in in Darwin. I think what we need to do is contextualise all this and to say, “Well the major urban centre for the Territory is Darwin, we need to make sure its road linkages, the port, all of those things are properly accessible. That means having good roads, we need to invest in them.”
REPORTER: Are you concerned about the low voter enrolment in the bush?
SNOWDON: Mate – you know, well I suppose you know. I’ve been extremely critical of this current Government for the way in which they’ve treated remote residents with absolute contempt. In the Northern Territory, as of about a month ago, only 67 per cent of Aboriginal people were enrolled, and that was AEC figures. In Western Australia it’s even less – it’s 63 per cent. So almost a third of those people who should be eligible to vote and on the roll and able to vote, which is a compulsory voting exercise at an election, are not on the roll. Now that’s a direct responsibility of the Federal Government who cut the AEC’s budget, relocated their staff out of Darwin to Brisbane. How the hell were they going to be able to do the work that was required on the ground to be able to get people enrolled? There’s been some belated ads on social media over the last week in 12 different languages which we commend. But it should have been done years ago. And that’s a direct responsibility of the Federal Government, and if the turnout is low because people aren’t enrolled, that is their responsibility.
REPORTER: These are voters, the majority of them would traditionally vote Labor. Do you think there’s been a deliberate effort to hamper your campaign in your seat, and are you concerned about the fact that you might be affected in your seat because of that low voter enrolment?
SNOWDON: Well you ask yourself the question. You’ve asked the question, now answer it yourself. Would you regard it as cynical political exercise if the AEC’s office was cut from 15 to four or five…
SNOWDON: … to three, and then not able to do the job it’s supposed to do in the bush? Answer it yourself.
REPORTER: I’ll ask another cynical question though. Is Labor’s concerted effort, which it’s doing now, to go around and enrol all these voters. Is that because you’re enrolling them and then telling them to vote for you at the same time?
SNOWDON: We’d be silly not to invite people to support us in an election campaign. But we’ve been out enrolling over a couple of years, let’s be clear. So we’ve had staff on the ground visiting communities enrolling people in small numbers, because we’ve got limited resources. But we do, absolutely do, because it’s the right of every Australian to be on the electoral roll and to vote, regardless of how they vote. We’d like them all to vote for the Labor Party. Well they won’t. But we do want them to vote, because that’s their right as Australian citizens in a democracy.
REPORTER: Just a question to Mr Albanese. The NT Government, as I’m sure you’re aware, is struggling with debt and deficit. They’ve called on the Commonwealth Government to commit $200 million of historical debt in [inaudible]. Is that something you’ll do if Labor is elected?
ALBANESE: Look, what we’ll do is sit down with the NT Government if we’re successful. What I won’t do is make promises on the run without going through proper economic accountability. That’s one of the things we are doing as an Opposition that contrasts with what the current Government did, that was elected of course on a platform with “no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC, no cuts to infrastructure”. And of course, we saw the opposite happen. Quite clearly, the NT Government needs support. So one of the things that we’ve been talking with them about is how to support them on infrastructure such as this, how to support them on tourism, with my Tourism portfolio. And we’ll make further announcements today and during the Election campaign. Bill Shorten I’m sure is visiting here pretty soon. We’ll have more announcements to make. But what we won’t do is make glib announcements. Our announcements will be considered.
The work in this package has been the subject of consideration by Warren and Malarndirri, in particular with the responsibility for the non-Darwin section of the Territory, and of course, Luke as well. They’re considered announcements, they’re right, they’re properly costed, and they’re the right projects. We take that approach, that rigour to policy development. I think that is one of the reasons why we are ready for Government. You’ve just seen Warren Snowdon outline in detail, in far greater detail than I could, exactly what the impact of these investments are. That’s the sort of representation the Territory needs, and that’s why he should be re-elected as the Member for Lingiari.
REPORTER: Luke Gosling last week pledged a Territory support plan from the Federal Labor Government. What exactly does that mean?
ALBANESE: Well that’s a question to Luke.
REPORTER: Sorry Luke. I mean, is there any further detail on that?
GOSLING: I think you’re hearing it right now. Part of the package of support for the NT is what you’re hearing about this morning. Our industries need support. Sealing these roads not only helps our communities, but it helps our industries. We’re seeing that with the mango industry right here. So this is part of a package of support, and there’ll be more that we announce between now and the Election.
REPORTER: Just to be clear – it has nothing to do with bailing out the Territory Government, or helping bailing it out?
GOSLING: They’re your words. What I’m saying is that the Territory has always done better when Federal Labor is in Government – always. And what we’re demonstrating, day after day, is our commitment. I’ve personally already made six announcements for Darwin and Palmerston. We’re here out in the rural area, showing our absolute commitment to see the Territory going forward. That means jobs, and that means supportive industries that are going to build our economy for the future. That is what a supportive Federal Labor Government will do.
WEDNESDAY, 17 APRIL, 2019
MEDIA INQUIRIES: MATTHEW FRANKLIN 0411 659 868
Subjects: Election 2019; Labor NT roads announcement; Bill Shorten; Labor super policy; Labor Emissions Renewable Target policy
HOST: Middle of the first full week of campaigning. It’s time for Two Tribes – Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Darwin, or more specifically, from Noonamah.
HOST: Noonamah? Where’s Noonamah Albo?
ALBANESE: Noonamah is just south of Darwin. It’s where the mango industry is based, and we’re making a roads announcement for the whole of the Territory, but specifically for the mango industry – roads that are a major exporter up here, but they still have dirt roads, so helping the economy here.
HOST: Good stuff. We’re going to kick off with you today Albo. I’m sure Chris won’t mind, because the question is Bill Shorten.
ALBANESE: He’s gone. He’s asleep.
PYNE: No I’m not.
ALBANESE: He had a sleep-in this morning.
HOST: The question for you Anthony Albanese, is Bill Shorten wouldn’t want too many more days like yesterday on this campaign would he?
ALBANESE: I think we’re having a very good campaign, and Bill’s having a great campaign getting around the country, talking to people, outlining the policies that we’ve been putting forward over the last five and a half years, not just for this term, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve got Shadow Ministers out and about around the country.
HOST: But it was on the policy stuff that you could really hear the clutch slipping. Yesterday he stumbled on negative gearing, the renewables targets, and also the question of superannuation taxes, which is a pretty unpleasant hat-trick in the middle of a campaign.
ALBANESE: Well Bill Shorten – take super for example. What he was saying is that we didn’t have any additional announcements to be made. We’ve already made our announcements more than 12 months ago, and that’s unlike previous Oppositions. Remember Tony Abbott saying “no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC” just a couple of nights or the night before the 2013 Election, and we know what everyone got in 2014. People will know what they’ll get from Labor across the board.
HOST: What did you make of it Chris Pyne?
PYNE: That’s not what you’re going to get from Labor. Bill got off to a very bad start in this campaign, and to pretend yesterday that Labor wasn’t going to introduce superannuation taxes, and just conveniently forget $34 billion worth of superannuation taxes and pretend that this was announced 12 months ago so it’s not relevant. I mean they’re in Opposition. They haven’t actually introduced any of their policies yet. Hopefully they won’t get the chance to do so. But Bill had a shocker of a day.
The other thing that was startling was that he had a stoush with a journalist who simply wanted to get an answer to a question about what impact Labor’s Emissions Reduction Target of 45 per cent will have on the economy. It will put a wrecking ball through the economy. And Bill Shorten you’ll find doesn’t do any long form interviews. You won’t see him on the 7:30 Report or Neil Mitchell in Victoria, or any of those longer radio or television interviews because he is not across the detail of what he’s doing. And when he doesn’t like the question, he simply tries to go to the next one, and yesterday, Jonathan Lea from Network 10 wasn’t going to let him, and Bill got into quite an unpleasant row.
HOST: Let’s put that question to Albo, and see if he does a better job than the Labor leader, than Bill Shorten. Albo, what is the impact on the economy, of your environment policy?
ALBANESE: Well the modelling that was done by Warwick McKibbin show that it would be a very similar impact on the economy to the Government’s own 26 per cent target, and that’s because there’s also economic activity generated by having a higher target in terms of renewables. There’s stimulation to the economy in addition. So that showed that during the 2020s, the growth would be 23 per cent of growth over that decade – whether Labor’s policy, which is of course 50 per cent renewables by 2030 and a 45 per cent reduction in emissions, or whether it was the Government’s targets. But in addition as well, with our fuel emission standards – modelling has shown a $550 saving on average for every driver as a result of having those emissions standards.
HOST: It’s a good answer. Why didn’t Bill know it?
ALBANESE: That modelling was done by the Government by the way – by the Government.
PYNE: Actually the modelling by the Government indicated from independent modellers called BA Systems, sorry BA Economics, showed that it would cost 360,000 jobs – an effective $9,000 tax on every single household in Australia, and it’ll put a wrecking ball through the economy. That’s what Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia said. Now, Bill didn’t want to talk about that.
ALBANESE: Well the Business Council used to support policies on climate change.
PYNE: He wanted people to forget about that. He wanted people to forget about Labor’s $387 billion worth of taxes, and Anthony just tried to do a better job of explaining their policy. But Bill’s not going to be able to skate through the next five weeks avoiding questions on his $387 billion. The superannuation tax of $34 billion by the way doesn’t even include the retirees’ tax which is $55 billion. So I think Bill’s going to have a few questions to answer, and I can’t see the media just letting him get away with it.
HOST: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese. We’ll leave it there. We’ll do it all again next week. Thanks for that guys.
WEDNESDAY, 17 APRIL, 2019
Subjects: WA infrastructure; Christian Porter; Peter Dutton apology.
MARK MCGOWAN, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much, everyone. Very pleased to announce today that in the State Budget coming down shortly, the State Government will be funding eight new road projects in the eastern suburbs that will create 8000 jobs and will be part of a $1.7 billion road construction program. Obviously we’re very keen to create jobs. We’re very keen to make sure we back in the commitments both by Federal Labor and the Commonwealth Government and we’re going to put in our share to make sure that those road projects happen.
This is a congestion busting, job creating program that will ensure some of those long-term issues in the eastern suburbs of Perth are dealt with. Anyone who drives up Roe Highway will know that it needs work and that there’s too many interchanges and intersections. It’s too narrow in places. Anyone who drives up Tonkin Highway knows exactly the same thing. So Roe and Tonkin highways will receive major attention out of this program of works and this will ensure that the people of the eastern suburbs get much better road connections, we reduce congestion and we create jobs; 8000 jobs out of this set of projects is very significant and it builds on the other 20 major road projects that are underway around Perth that are improving congestion and also creating jobs. And it will also build on those important regional road programs that WA Labor has – the WA Labor Government – has supported, including the Albany Ring Road, the Bunbury Ring Road and the Karratha-Tom Price Road; three road projects in regional WA talked about for decades but underway, under my Government.
My Government has worked incredibly hard both with Federal Labor and also the Commonwealth Government to get commitment towards these projects and that’s why these projects are now happening. We have been unafraid to ask for money nationally and to see commitments. I’d like to especially thank the Federal Labor team for all of their efforts in pursuing these projects; putting them on to the table, getting some of them funded and committing to them early and also for backing in this set of projects here today so that we have absolute certainty they’ll be underway after the next Federal Election. So this is an important day for Perth, an important day for Western Australia, a great day for jobs, a great day for busting congestion and an excellent set of outcomes for the eastern suburbs of Perth. Anthony?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. We look forward to working with Premier McGowan and Rita Saffioti to deliver these projects if we’re successful on the 18th of May in electing a Shorten Labor Government. This commitment from Federal Labor today follows commitments which we’d previously made to a number of the specific projects, where it was Federal Labor out there making announcements about overpasses at Welshpool and Leach, the work that’s required to upgrade the Tonkin Highway as well as of course the commitments that we’ve made to the METRONET project. When we were last in government we lifted Federal infrastructure funding here in WA from $150 for every West Australian to $260 for every West Australian. And what we want to do is to partner with the WA Government to create jobs, to ease congestion, to improve public transport and to improve the quality of life particularly here in Perth, but also right around the State. Perth does suffer from congestion and the projections which have been made by Infrastructure Australia identified seven of the ten worst choke points by 2030 as being right here in Perth, if they weren’t addressed. That’s why this announcement today builds on the work that we did in the past, such as Gateway WA – the largest ever road project from the Commonwealth -here in WA; the Swan Valley Bypass of course that was begun under Federal Labor and other work that we did including the Perth City Link project. Federal Labor is absolutely committed to infrastructure and nation building, to the jobs that are created in the short term but improving the quality of life for people here in this great city of Perth. This is my fifth visit to WA so far this year. I’m a regular visitor. I work cooperatively with the WA Labor Government and congratulate them on the work that they have done because at the end of the day what the Commonwealth can do is to provide investment. But it’s the WA Government that are showing the vision in actually tackling urban congestion.
RITA SAFFIOTI, WA MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, PLANNING: Thank you. I will make some brief comments and take any questions about the projects. This is a really exciting package for Perth and the suburbs. It is the next stage of our busting congestion and creating jobs package. It really means that a lot of the choke points, a lot of those congested intersections will be fixed as part of this package; Leach-Welshpool, for example, a major congestion point, but primarily the Tonkin Highway. What this will see will be a transformation of the Tonkin Highway – The Gap Project, three new interchanges in the southern part and of course the extension of the Tonkin Highway south. What it does is it moves freight, north-south, easier. And it also will connect up to the New Outer Harbour project as well. So this is a really exciting project for the eastern corridor. For areas that are experiencing significant congestion, reducing those hotspots and really making sure people can get home to their families earlier. But also so we can move freight around our suburbs easier.
REPORTER: (inaudible) a connection to the Outer harbour. Does that mean you are committed to that project and if so, when will that take place?
SAFFIOTI: We’ve always been committed to the Outer Harbour. In relation to timing, the Westport taskforce will deliver its deliberations at the end of this year, so this is part of our planning for moving people and freight around Perth and the metropolitan area. It’s a long-term, sensible vision for the state and actually a long-term, sensible vision for our economy.
REPORTER: And there will be how much money in the Budget?
SAFFIOTI: Well the total package is $1.7 billion. That includes two projects that were already funded. But $1.7 billion will be in the Budget in the Forward Estimates and outside the Forward Estimates.
REPORTER: You’ve got 8000 jobs. How did you arrive at that figure?
SAFFIOTI: Well there is an Australian well-known sort of multiplier or construction index multiplier which shows that when you are investing in civil infrastructure, then certain amounts of jobs are created. So Main Roads works through that data, looks at the amount of people being involved and we have tried to be consistent for all of our road projects.
REPORTER: So it is compiled by Main Roads, not by Cabinet…just sort of makes something up?
SAFFIOTI: It is compiled by Main Roads using an Australian, known construction index.
REPORTER: Do you expect any blowback from … I know you have dismissed Roe 8 money which the Federal Government keeps offering, but do you expect any blowback during this campaign?
SAFFIOTI: I will just make a couple of comments and invite anyone else that wants to contribute. We have put forward a medium and longer term strategy to address freight on rail. What we are doing is investing in putting more freight on rail and that is already working. We have moved from 15 per cent of freight on rail to over 22 per cent in less than two years. We are also investing in the High Street Connection. So what we are doing is sensible solutions to address the freight issue on Leach Highway. In addition of course we are planning for the Outer Harbour. So ours is a long-term, sensible plan. We know the Liberal Party keeps talking about a contingent liability, but that is not money in the Budget. That is basically money outside the Budget. Importantly the other point I want to make; it’s actually the Morrison Government that has put money toward the Westport Taskforce investigations. So we have a bizarre situation with a local member talking about a project in the past, where the Morrison Government has actually allocated real money into the Westport Taskforce which is investigating and will be delivering options for the Outer Harbour.
ALBANESE: I’m just keen on getting rid of this fantasy of Mathias Cormann who suggests that somehow having contingent liability is real. It’s not. I put together six Budgets as the Infrastructure Minister. We never had contingent liability with a little asterisk in there for major projects, because it is not real. And what they are doing is pumping up the amount of money that they allegedly have available for infrastructure by including projects that they know aren’t happening, with no time frame, with a little asterisk in the Budget. What we will do is have real money for real projects with real time lines to create real jobs that make a real difference. This is just a fantasy for them to suggest. But it is worse than that because they pretend that this money is available but it is actually not because it is not in the Budget, just like it is not in the Budget for the East-West Link in Melbourne. So the fact is that Federal Labor supports the Outer Harbour. We look forward to working with the WA Government on these issues and our fantastic candidates who are here, Matt Keogh, the Member for Burt, but our candidates Hannah Beazley, James Martin and Mellisa Teede; we want them to join myself and Matt in the Federal Labor caucus so that WA has an even stronger voice in a Federal Labor Government.
REPORTER: When it comes to the Outer Harbour, is the MUA just a bit of background noise?
ALBANESE: The fact is that infrastructure projects should be based upon their merit and we will make judgements based upon merit. We have done that in the past, before the taskforce has been established, but we went to the 2013 election committing money for some of the pre-work, the preliminary work that is required for the Outer Harbour. The fact is that it will be required in the future and we look forward to getting an outcome that is in the interests of our national economy, but in particular in the interests of jobs here in WA.
McGOWAN: I think that Rita and Anthony answered that pretty well. All I would say about Roe 8 is it was environmentally devastating and it stopped 3km short of Fremantle Port. It was a monumental waste of money. What we managed to do was get the original commitment that the Federal Government made and get that committed to about 20 road projects around Perth and around Western Australia that have assisted in creating jobs and also busting congestion all over the state.
REPORTER: Just on other issues. Christian Porter said that you should announce that you are going to freeze any increase in power and water prices in this coming Budget.
MCGOWAN: I’ll tell you one thing. I am not going to be lectured by Christian Porter, who was the Treasurer in the Liberal Government that blew the State’s debt by $40 billion and gave us $3 billion deficits and put up the price of power by 90 per cent. That’s Mr Porter’s record. That’s what he did. He seems to forget he was the Treasurer of Western Australia in the Barnett Liberal Government that lost the State $40 billion – 40,000 million; the worst financial management in the history of Western Australia and one of the worst sets of financial managements in the history of Australia. So for him to come and now put forward ideas, he has no right. Now when the Budget comes down of course you’ll see the benefits of good financial management and we will make sure the fees and charges are as affordable as possible, in the financial environment that we’re in. But Christian Porter, he seems to have no memory for what he did – 40 thousand million dollars of Liberal National debt.
REPORTER: With the fact there have been more disconnections from the grid (inaudible) people can’t pay their bills. Isn’t it time to put a hold on prices?
McGOWAN: As I have said, you will see the results of good financial management in the Budget and we will make it as affordable as we can. We funded financial counsellors. We’ve put in place support mechanisms for people on low incomes. All those things are there. We understand that there’s an issue. That’s why you will see the benefits of good financial management. But also I just want to mention one other thing to you. Obviously when the GST top-up payments were announced we committed to putting them towards debt reduction and that is because of the $40 billion of debt that the Liberals and Nationals left us.
REPORTER: In respect of utility charges though?
McGOWAN: We will announce everything in the Budget.
REPORTER: (inaudible) in the Forward Estimates?
McGOWAN: We will announce everything in the Budget but we will make it as affordable as we can in the financial circumstances we face.
REPORTER: Have you met with the promoters of the Three Oceans development which has now apparently been put on ice?
SAFFIOTI: There is going to be a meeting this week with my office in relation to that proposal and so we are keen to hear direct from the proponents.
REPORTER: But what have you heard today?
SAFFIOTI: What was outlined in today’s paper. We understand they are considering some other options. But that is all we have heard and we are keen to hear directly from them.
REPORTER: From what you do know, do you have any prospect of keeping it going?
SAFFIOTI: Well we are very keen to see development in that area. The state has poured tens of millions of dollars into infrastructure in that area. There is a vision for that area. We are very keen to see development going forward. But we are waiting to hear directly from the proponents about what they are suggesting.
REPORTER: So you learned about it from reading it this morning?
SAFFIOTI: No, sorry, there were comments in the paper. We’ve heard indirectly that they are reconsidering or looking at other options and that is something that we are keen to hear directly from them.
REPORTER: (inaudible) to the site?
REPORTER: Will you go into that meeting with any (inaudible) or considerations you can offer them?
SAFFIOTI: This is a decision for proponents and the MRA board so what I am keen to hear is because of the media enquiries to understand directly from them exactly what they are suggesting.
REPORTER: Would it be disappointing if that area stays vacant for years to come?
SAFFIOTI: I think the vision that was put forward, a vision that we inherited, was for development in that area supported by tens of millions of dollars of both city and State Government infrastructure spend. So we are very keen to see development. As you would see we believe we really need to support development to create jobs in WA and we believe both civil construction – new roads and bridges and METRONET – together with facilitating other private sector investments, is very key to stimulating greater jobs growth.
REPORTER: You don’t know if it’s a cash flow issue or some breakdown within the company?
SAFFIOTI: Not sure.
REPORTER: A former tunnel worker says that he was fired for filming unsafe conditions on the tunnel project and the contractor is trying to set an example of him. Is that concerning?
SAFFIOTI: We’ve always, since we have inherited the project we have increased the level of surveillance and compliance activity at the site. So we have Work Safe involved. We have a number of investigators involved and compliance officers involved and that is what we have continued to do. The tunnel project, we are very keen to see the project continue and continue strongly. I will get particular advice about those issues and the issues in the papers today but we have really increased safety compliance and the involvement of Work Safe for example on that site.
REPORTER: Is it appropriate that workers voice their concerns when they do feel like something has gone wrong?
SAFFIOTI: And we hope those systems are in place to allow the workers that when they identify issues have the appropriate way to voice their concerns and make sure that those issues are adequately addressed. So again I will seek further advice but we have really increased the amount of safety compliance on that site to really ensure that there is more monitoring of activity, to ensure that occupational health and safety regulations are adhered to.
REPORTER: What do you make of that claim though, “set an example of him’’?
SAFFIOTI: I don’t know exactly the full situation. That is why I will get briefed on the full situation. But as I have said, we take issues of safety very seriously and that is why over the past year we have increased the number of compliance officers. We have really tried to ensure that the company, that everyone involved, knows that safety is our number one priority for that construction site.
McGOWAN: I heard the reports this morning. Obviously this is tragic and the family must be going through extraordinary grief at the moment. All our hearts go out to anyone in that situation and I hope the family is coping, I don’t intend at this point in time to get into the rights or wrongs of those sort of things. I think that would be insensitive and inappropriate. I just say that we all feel deeply for the family involved and it is a terrible thing when a seven-year-old dies.
REPORTER: Should there be some regulations changed so children should not be able to ride these quad bikes?
McGOWAN: I’m not going to get into the rights or wrongs. I don’t think that that would be sensitive, nor appropriate at this point in time when a seven-year-old has died. But I just pass on my thoughts and everyone’s thoughts to the family involved.
REPORTER: The ACCC has called for quad bikes to be fitted with a rollover protection device. Would you support that?
McGOWAN: As I said, I’m not going to get into it because it would be insensitive to the family involved, but obviously all our thoughts go out to the family at this point in time.
REPORTER: There’s also a couple of other nasty crashes overnight and a few other fatal ones. Do you have any advice or warnings for drivers who are driving in the middle of the night, late at night on weekends?
McGOWAN: Which incidents are you talking about?
McGOWAN: The road toll is a terrible thing. We work very hard on education, on road improvements and we’d encourage everyone on the roads to take care, don’t drive tired, don’t take drugs and don’t drink. It’s a tragedy for every family and every individual involved when this happens.
REPORTER: Melissa Parke, are you disappointed with that outcome?
ALBANESE: Melissa has made a decision. I think the issue with regard to candidates that I’m concerned about, is a Cabinet Minister, Peter Dutton. Peter Dutton’s comments on Ali France are reprehensible. He apologised very late after days of dragging the Prime Minister and other senior members of the Government into what is a scandal. We have just launched, with bipartisan support, a Royal Commission into abuse of people with disabilities. And at that time I would have thought that Peter Dutton, if he’d been paying any attention whatsoever in Question Time, in the Parliament, to the debate that is going on in civil society about the need to have respect for people with disabilities, he wouldn’t have made this comment about our outstanding candidate for Dickson, Ali France. What it shows is that he is under pressure and when he is under pressure I think he shows his true character which is, I think, frankly the Parliament would be better off with someone like Ali France who is compassionate, caring, committed, principled, as the Member for Dickson. We of course know that Peter Dutton tried to flee his seat, for a safer seat on the Gold Coast and was rejected by members of his own party at that time. I think all Australians will reject the comments that he has made and think that his very late apology, dragged kicking and screaming to it, was not good enough.
REPORTER: But what did you make of the vigour of the apology? He says: “I apologise to Ms France for my comments yesterday. My argument with the Labor candidate is about how our respective policies would affect the people of Dickson”. Is that an apology?
ALBANESE: Well it’s not fair dinkum, is it? Because his statement was very much targeted at Ali France, saying that, the fact that she lived two kilometres outside of her electorate of Dickson and that she hopes to represent, when there are redistributions every single time an election is held in Queensland, is just not good enough. How about an unreserved, unconditional apology? That is what Ali France deserves, is what she hasn’t got. And more importantly I think that it is what Australian politics deserves. We deserve better as the Australian public.
REPORTER: Eddie McGuire had more to say by way of an apology.
ALBANESE: Eddie McGuire; of course his comments were very much regrettable as well. He didn’t wait to make an apology it’s got to be said. He made an apology by the end of that football game involving the Swans. Peter Dutton doubled down the next day, doubled down on his comments. And then, days later, after the Prime Minister and other senior members of the Government have been drawn into this. Quite clearly, they’ve said to him: ‘Mate you better say something, because this is a very bad look for the Government’. It is a pity that he didn’t know in himself. From time to time people will make mistakes. What we see here is someone who has made a comment, doubled down the next day and clearly therefore stands by it.
SUNDAY, 14 APRIL 2019
Subjects: Metro West Project, Sam Crosby, Craig Laundy, Fiona Martin, Coalition chaos.
SAM CROSBY: Thanks everyone for joining us here today in the seat of Reid. My name is Sam Crosby. I am Labor’s candidate for Reid. This is a seat that is absolutely up for grabs. I think the reality is that if you win Reid, you are going to win the government. I have been the candidate now for a little bit over a year and as I have been getting around and talking to people and having lived here for a considerable number of years in my life, you realise that the big central question that everyone has is around congestion. The trains are too full. The roads are too full and they looking for a Government that has answers on this central question so I am exceptionally proud and pleased that we’ve got Anthony Albanese here today who is going to talk us through one of those main commitments that the Labor Party has made to this area.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Sam. It is great to be here in Reid with a candidate who is actually supported by their party. Sam has been our candidate now for over a year working hard each and every day to talk to the voters of Reid about what their concerns are. And Sam made representation to myself and Bill Shorten about the number one priority that he had in terms of a large infrastructure investment that would benefit the people of this community.
The Metro West project is a vital one for Sydney. What it will do is go through the important employment precincts that will occur around Rozelle Bay and around Homebush, but also it will open up to rail transport this community here in Five Dock and other suburbs along the route between the City and Parramatta. This will take literally thousands of cars off the road and it is one supported by of course by the Berejiklian Liberal Government here in New South Wales. But they were unable to secure the support of the Federal Coalition for this project.
And this highlights one of the big differences at the election on May 18. A Shorten Labor Government will once again go back to where the former Labor Government was and invest in public transport. A Shorten Labor Government will invest in Metro West with a $3 billion commitment, will invest in the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane and will invest in the Suburban Rail Loop and Melbourne Metro in Melbourne. The big three east coast capitals require that investment if we are going to deal with urban congestion. And this Government in the budget last week spoke about urban congestion, they just didn’t fund the vital projects like Metro West that are required to actually make a difference to our cities and to improve the quality of life and well as of course boosting productivity and boosting economic growth.
Sam Crosby will make an outstanding representative if he is successful in Reid. I have known Sam for a long time. He is someone who has played an important role in policy development. He is someone who is a part of this local community and who is raising his family here in this community of Reid. And unlike the Coalition, that have got a last-minute candidate, what Sam has been doing is working for this community over the last year, but even before then, working as a local activist on the concerns that have been raised with him by local residents.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, we have seen these captain’s pick candidates from the Coalition before. We were talking earlier about Mr Mundine and now of course Fiona Martin as well. What does that say about how the Coalition are treating this particular seat?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that the Coalition are a bit of a rabble. I mean, you have had Craig Laundy express no confidence in the Government by walking away after a very short career in politics and it is not surprising that people who were supportive of Malcolm Turnbull have walked away from the Coalition. Some have become independents, such as Julia Banks. Some have left Parliament early, such as former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself and some have chosen to retire prematurely. Craig Laundy of course resigned from the front bench and then resigned from Parliament itself and what he is saying is that the Coalition aren’t up to governing this country by his decision to walk away. Well, Sam Crosby is up to representing this local community but as part of a Shorten Labor Government that will deliver firstly by delivering on the Metro West project.
REPORTER: How important is Reid to Labor’s chances of winning the election?
ALBANESE: Reid is absolutely critical. Reid is a seat that was held – of course there’s different boundaries- but it was held by my mentor, the great Tom Uren. It’s a seat that was held of course by John Murphy. It’s a seat that has been in Labor hands for most of the time that it’s been in existence. It’s a different seat now and it’s a tough seat and it will be a tough fight, but I think the voters of Reid will weigh up whether someone who’s been fair dinkum and out there campaigning for a year, as opposed to someone who was the ninth or tenth choice of the Liberal Party being parachuted in at the last minute.
REPORTER: Sam could I ask you, I mean the Liberal Party will say that you’ve grown up in the Labor Party political machine, whereas they have a candidate who is a small business person who has real world experience. They’re right, aren’t they?
CROSBY: No, not at all. Before working at the McKell Institute, I worked for Johnson & Johnson, I worked in the mental health space helping get help for people with serious schizophrenic conditions. But you know what, I think people around here are going to reward a local. I think they’re going to reward local work with local projects, funding for local schools, I think they’re going to reward local work with local projects, funding for local schools, funding for local transport commitments. I think that’s what people are going to reward. But we’ll have to wait and see.
REPORTER: What do you think are the big issues here?
CROSBY: Overwhelmingly, congestion. Overwhelmingly, people in this area are sick and tired and fed up with the number of people being dumped on top of us without adequate services. You see it in the schools, you see it in the hospitals, you see it on the roads, you see it on the trains. We are sick and tired of having to cop thousands and thousands and thousands of extra people without the services to cope for it. That’s why today is so important and getting this extra $3 billion for the Metro West rail line is so critical for this area.
REPORTER: What do you make of the fact that we haven’t seen Fiona Martin yet? We haven’t seen her yet on the campaign trail or I don’t think on any media at this point.
CROSBY: Honestly that’s going to have to be a question for them. I don’t know what to make of it. I would have thought that …
REPORTER: Difficult situation for her being parachuted in?
CROSBY: I would have thought that at this stage that you, like me, you would be keen to be in front of as many people as you possibly can be, getting your name and face out and talking to as many people as humanly possible. But that is a question for the Liberal Party.
REPORTER: How much easier is your job now that you are not facing Craig Laundy?
CROSBY: There’s no doubt Craig was a popular member. There is no doubt in my mind. Every couple of days you talk to another person who says that they were traditional Labor voters, but they were going to vote for Craig, and now they’re happy to come back and vote for Labor. I think the fight was very live when Craig was there, and there’s no doubt we received a big boost without him there. But I don’t want to sound like we’re taking this for granted. This is going to come down to the absolute last vote. If we win this seat, it’s going to be by a point or so, and if we lose this seat, it’s going to be by a point or so.
REPORTER: You think you can swing it?
CROSBY: Yes. I do.
REPORTER: Confidence is there.
CROSBY: We’ve worked really hard. We’ve door-knocked literally thousands of houses. We’ve made phone calls into literally thousands of houses, tens of thousands of houses, over a year now. We’ve done the ground game, and when you go out you talk to people, and they say, ‘Oh yeah, you doorknocked us six months ago, you doorknocked us six weeks ago’, whatever it happened to be. I’m hoping that that is going to get rewarded.
REPORTER: Albo, just one quick other thing. This is Reid. Obviously there are a handful of seats in Sydney that really, they say, can determine the outcome of the election. It comes down to those seats pretty much every time. How confident is the ALP, how confident are you, about swinging those marginals back around your way?
ALBANESE: Well, we certainly don’t take it for granted. The fact is that we started ahead in previous campaigns, since I’ve been in the Federal Parliament, and we haven’t been successful. So what we’ll do is do what we’ve been doing for the last two terms – continue to put forward a positive vision, continue to talk about the need to properly fund education, to properly fund our health system, particularly through Medicare, give support to public transport and infrastructure.
Later on today, I’ll be in the electorate of Macquarie. We’ll be campaigning right around the country. But one of the things that is obvious about here and the last-minute candidate, is just the chaos in the Coalition. I think that people will weigh up the fact that we have had unity, and a sense of purpose, to our time. We’ve used our time well, to develop a coherent policy across the board, to put forward some of the policies are difficult. We’ve said exactly where the money is coming from for all of our commitments, including closing tax loopholes and that stands in stark contrast to our opponents.
They’ve had three Prime Ministers. We’ve had one Leader. They’ve had three Deputy Prime Ministers. We’ve had one Deputy Leader. I have shadowed 13 people as either Ministers, in the Cabinet, for infrastructure, or urban infrastructure or Assistant Ministers, over the time where I’ve had responsibility since 2013 for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Cities and Tourism. It’s been a revolving door and it’s no wonder they haven’t been able to govern, because before they can get on top of their portfolios, they are moved on and that has resulted in chaos and we’ve seen chaos with a failure to have a candidate in a seat like Reid until the last minute. I understand that the candidate against me has been pre-selected by the Liberal Party – some fellow from Concord. I’m yet to see him anywhere in the electorate of Grayndler, but that’s the case right around the board.
A political party that is in government, that gets to choose when the election is held and when Scott Morrison visited the Governor General, couldn’t even get its act together to select candidates in advance so that they could campaign. They’re not worthy of re-election. Labor is ready for government. Bill Shorten and our entire team are united. We have a positive vision for the country based around the theme of a Fair Go for Australia and that is what we would deliver. Thanks very much.
REPORTER: Just quickly though, Mr Albanese, if Mr Shorten doesn’t win this election, will you be the Labor Leader by Christmas?
ALBANESE: We are absolutely determined to win this election and I’m determined and focused on being a Minister in a Labor Government and being able to work with governments of whatever persuasion, such as at the Berejiklian Government here in New South Wales to see how we can bring forward this project with this additional funding; how we can fast track it, because urban congestion is an issue right now. When you look at the Budget announcement from last Tuesday, Josh Frydenberg announced over $6 billion of new funding, of which some $240 million is available in the forward estimates. That’s all. 4 per cent over the first four years and 96 per cent of that funding back-ended. That’s not good enough and that is why I’m determined to do everything I can – one, to win my seat, but two, to have a Sam Crosby as my neighbour here in Reid. Thanks very much.
Subjects: Marrickville Golf Course.
ROBBIE BUCK: If you look around Sydney there are a lot of green spaces that are taken up with little holes and flags coming out of them, and people playing golf on them. It’s been a great pastime for Sydney-siders for decades and decades. But as you heard over the weekend there are a lot of people concerned about what the future of their golf course is going to be.
WENDY HARMER: That’s right. It’s no surprise I guess that people look at a golf course and think, “That’d make a nice park.” The figures tell us that only 2 per cent of Sydney-siders play golf once a week, 5 per cent play once a year. But obviously golf is a pastime that needs a lot of space. Some have described it as low-hanging fruit I guess, for local councils or developers – they see that open space and think, “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that.”
ROBBIE BUCK: One course that was hosting a fairly big protest yesterday was the Marrickville Golf Course. There have been plans to turn it from an 18-hole into a nine-hole golf course and it has been gaining some support from the local Federal member, Anthony Albanese who’s the Labor member for Grayndler. He’s also the Shadow member for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Tourism. Good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Robbie and Wendy.
WENDY HARMER: Good morning. You have some sympathy for the golf club there do you Anthony?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I absolutely do. I have to declare an interest. I’m not a great golfer, but I am a great dog-walker and one of the things about this club is that it’s open to the community. People walk their dogs, people run, there’s even one person I’ve seen walking their Shetland pony along the path which runs along the Cooks River. This is a community asset that’s used by the community right now. The Clubhouse there has birthday parties, has anniversaries, has even had a few weddings. It’s a community-based organisation. It’s been there for decades. You see little kids playing, you see older people playing. It’s affordable, and it’s known locally as “Royal Marrickville” which is a bit of a joke because it’s probably the exact opposite of Royal Sydney.
ROBBIE BUCK: That is true. Tell us what the plans are. We have tried to get Darcy Byrne from the Inner West Council to join us this morning, but give us an idea of what the plans are.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there are two plans from the bureaucrats on the council, and supported by some of the Greens Party on the council. One is a 9-hole golf course, so you would convert some of it into perhaps other playing fields or just bushland. The second proposal is to have picnic areas at various spots along the course, but anyone who walks along there sees people – and I’ve walked my dog there yesterday morning – people there are having picnics, there are people there fishing, which is probably not advisable in the Cooks River, I’ve got to say. But a whole range of activities take place now on the golf course. It is a viable asset and I think it certainly is worth defending as it is now.
WENDY HARMER: Greg Norman has said the future of golf is 12-holes because people are time-poor. Could you split the difference do you think?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it’s a pretty small course. It’s a par 62 I think, and they have a professional there, Kylie Moulds who does a fantastic job. She even tried to teach me how to play golf, which I was very, very ordinary at, I’ve got to say. But it’s a very small course now, and because it runs along the river there’s walking paths, where if you go there after work at 6 o’clock, everyone knows each other who’s walking along. Whether they’re just exercising; the dogs all know each other as well, which is helpful. They build canine relationships along the banks of the river. It’s a good use of space because it is mixed-use, right now.
WENDY HARMER: You don’t want to get whacked in the head with a golf ball, sorry. I’m a mum with a baby. I don’t want to be walking through a park in that instance.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Let me tell you – there are mums with babies walking along there all the time. It’s because of the nature of where the walking paths are, which are along the river, which is separated from the fairways and the greens et cetera.
ROBBIE BUCK: What about on a broader level though, and this is not just Marrickville, it’s really a question about the golf courses right across Sydney, and I guess in other parts of Australia too. We are seeing declining numbers in the memberships for golf courses. They are huge swathes of really beautiful land in ever-increasing cityscapes. With more and more people coming into Sydney – the percentages of people who play golf, those who play weekly is something like one per cent.
WENDY HARMER: It’s two per cent. Five per cent play once a year.
ROBBIE BUCK: So there’s very small numbers of people who are taking advantage of it. For those who argue, “Why shouldn’t parts of those be opened up to more green space for people who are going to be able to use them,” what do you think about that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The first point I’d make is – it is green space. The second point is…
WENDY HARMER: … I tell you, the ones that I pass, a couple that I pass on my way to work Anthony, have got big fences around them.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Marrickville has zero fences, so perhaps that’s an argument – the nature of access to the space is where the argument should be. You know what I hear whenever I hear people speak about conversion and changing green space? I hear the ching-ching from developers, that’s what I hear. There’s no doubt that part of the push in Marrickville at various times has been for development. It was singled out on the Sydenham to Bankstown line with the Berejiklian Government’s policy of having increased density along that line. I just think we need to get real about the debate between passive space and active space and to me Marrickville is the example that I can give because it’s the only golf course – it’s just outside my electorate now, but it’s the only golf course in the Inner West. It’s used by people both young and old and it’s a fantastic sport. There was a golfer there yesterday who was in his nineties. They can do that, it’s a sport people can walk and engage in, and that’s a good thing in my view.
ROBBIE BUCK: All right, I know that you’ve probably got other things to think about a couple of months out from a Federal election, but it’s good to see that you’re focusing on local issues as well.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is important. We committed to an upgrade (inaudible) yesterday as well.
ROBBIE BUCK: We’ll leave it there Anthony Albanese, thanks so much for your time this morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on the program.
WENDY HARMER: Not at all.
MONDAY, 8 APRIL, 2019
Today, Andrew Leigh joined Member for Bass Ross Hart in Launceston to talk about how Australian hotels benefit from Labor’s plans to outlaw ‘price parity’ clauses.
Price parity clauses prevent Australian hotels from advertising that travellers can get a better deal by booking directly. This has the effect of channelling bookings through the two major online booking platforms, which have a combined market share of 84 per cent, and take up to 30 per cent of the total hotel bill.
Price parity clauses would be banned under a Shorten Labor Government, giving local accommodation providers greater control of their own businesses and reducing the price of a weekend away.
Labor’s announcement – made last month – has been welcomed by a range of stakeholders in the local accommodation sector. One of the two major multinational platforms, Expedia, has also announced that it will unilaterally cease using these clauses in their agreements.
This measure will build on Labor’s strong suite of plans to tackle Australia’s competition problem. Labor has pledged to:
- Increase anti-consumer and anti-competition penalties to $50 million.
- Give consumer and small business advocacy groups the power to make ‘supercomplaints’ about consumer rip-offs.
- Protect small business through making unfair contract terms illegal.
- Make it easier and cheaper to send money to family and friends overseas by requiring full fee disclosure on remittances.
- Make it more affordable to fix your car by requiring car manufacturers to share technical information with independent mechanics on commercially fair and reasonable terms.
- Introduce an automotive industry-specific code under the Competition and Consumer Act to deliver clear rules to better regulate negotiations between manufacturers and dealerships.
- Double the competition regulator’s litigation budget and amend the Competition and Consumer Act to give a truly independent market studies function to the regulator.
- Allow the Courts to apply higher penalties for conduct that targets or disproportionately impacts disadvantaged Australians.
- Require the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to prioritise investigations of conduct that targets or disproportionately impacts disadvantaged Australians.
- Investigate the impacts of increased market concentration on income inequality in Australia and produce policy recommendations on how the negative effects of market concentration can be mitigated.
- Encourage States and Territories to include competition principles in planning and zoning legislation, as recommended by the Harper Review, with a specific focus on shortfalls of appropriately zoned land for key services in disadvantaged communities.
Earlier this year, Labor policy became law when the Coalition was forced to vote for our plans to help small business to bring cases of anti-competitive behaviour to court.
Increasing competition helps drive costs down for consumers by correcting the power imbalance between small business and the big end of town. It’s good for Australian workers, it’s good for Australian consumers and it’s good for Australia’s economy.
Labor will always put the health of small businesses ahead of profits of big multinationals. Labor has a plan to back in taxpayers over tax avoiders and everyday Australian workers over the big end of town.
While Scott Morrison and his chaotic Coalition squabble over election dates, Labor will continue to fight for a fairer Australia for everyone.
Subjects: Federal election, taxpayer-funded advertising, Budget, Infrastructure Australia, rail and road investment, electric vehicles, tax, Labor’s Medicare Cancer Plan.
DAVID SPEERS: Thank you very much for your time this morning. Look just on the election timing; can we begin there? The election won’t be on May 11 apparently because of some of the public holidays that would fall during the campaign, even interrupting a bit of early voting. Is that a reasonable reason for waiting another week?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well if you believe that I’ve got a bridge I can sell you David. The idea that they are not holding an election because pre-polling three weeks beforehand is on a public holiday that is quite frankly just absurd. The only reason why this is occurring is so that they continue their roll-out of taxpayer-funded advertising; advertising that people in my electorate right here in Marrickville are paying for each and every day. They have spent $200 million on taxpayer-funded advertising since January of last year and they are spending around about $680,000 a day on advertising. And what are they advertising? They are advertising infrastructure that they are not actually building; they are advertising tax cuts that they are not actually delivering and education that they are not actually providing support for. This is a farce.
Last night in Parramatta there was a mobile billboard – a video billboard – showing taxpayer-funded advertising parked in the middle of restaurants, annoying those people who were trying to have a night out with their family and their friends. This is outrageous.
Scott Morrison should do one of two things today; he either should go and visit the Governor General and call the election. He can call the election for May 18 today, David, nothing’s stopping him doing that. Or he should commit to stopping all taxpayer funded advertising right now because this is an outrageous abuse during what we all know is the caretaker period in reality. It’s got to stop.
SPEERS: Well in reality, technically we are not in caretaker period until the election is called.
ALBANESE: We all know the election is coming.
SPEERS: Yes but it hasn’t been called.
ALBANESE: We all know the election is coming David.
SPEERS: We are not in caretaker mode just yet. We know it’s coming. We’ve known that for a while.
ALBANESE: That’s correct but in effect we are, David, in effect we are. We have an unelected Prime Minister who is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every single day.
SPEERS: Waiting another week means there will be Senate Estimates starting from tomorrow. Can you give us a sense or whether Labor is ready for that and whether you will be pursuing anything in particular in Senate Estimates?
ALBANESE: We are ready for everything, David, because one of the differences between the two political parties seeking to form Government is that we have been preparing for Government; developing policies that we want to implement, policies based upon the impact on people, rather than the impact on politics and based upon delivering outcomes, not delivering arguments, which is what the Government’s approach is. So we are absolutely ready. While the Government has been fighting itself, we have been preparing polices, putting them forward in a constructive way. I must say more policy than any Opposition certainly in modern history has ever put forward, with the detail there, outlining exactly what our plan for Australia is. See the difference is David …
SPEERS: Let’s talk a bit about that.
ALBANESE: … they have a plan to get re-elected. We have a plan actually for Australia.
SPEERS: OK. Now you have been talking about, in your portfolio area in particular, trying to clean up some of the pork barrelling, the short-term investments when it comes to infrastructure. You want to take the politics out of infrastructure decisions. Tell me a little bit about this. Are you seriously saying there would be no more political appointees under a Labor Government?
ALBANESE: Well who were the political appointees last time that we appointed to Infrastructure Australia, David? We had an Infrastructure Australia board chaired by Sir Rod Eddington – respected to the point whereby the Government actually promised to reappoint him as Infrastructure Australia Chair and of course they broke that promise as one of the first things they did when they came to Government. We had Heather Ridout, a Reserve Bank Board member. We had Kerry Schott. We had Mark Birrell, was the Deputy Chair, who was the only person with any political background. He was a former minister in the Victorian Government – not the Labor Government; the Kennett Government, and he was very good appointment to that Board.
SPEERS: Of those appointments this Government has made, who is in your sights? Who will you actually sack?
ALBANESE: Well what we need to have is a renewal of the Infrastructure Australia Board and we will be asking for that and we will be consulting the Opposition on who should be appointed to the Board. It is quite extraordinary that this week a new appointment was made to the Infrastructure Australia board who immediately on day one – on day one – attacked the Labor Party. There have been three appointments in the last few weeks to the Infrastructure Australia board. Frankly a couple of them I have never heard of. The fact is that we consulted very widely and I have been consulting as well with the sector, with organisations like Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, with people across the board about giving us your ideas about who should be on the Infrastructure Australia board to make sure that it is above politics. And one of the important things about that is that last time when we were in government, we funded every single priority project that was put forward. Many of those simply wouldn’t have got through the political process because they weren’t about changing votes – projects where you are like the Majura Parkway, for example there, David.
SPEERS: Let’s look at some of the projects you are talking about now. On Friday you announced $1.5 billion for the Bruce Highway upgrade and extension. The Government has made a similar promise. So what is the difference? This often becomes difficult for voters to discern. Are you saying more money than what the Government has announced?
ALBANESE: There are two major differences here David. The first is that you can’t deal with urban congestion by funding just roads. So we will fund Cross River Rail in Brisbane. We’ll fund Western Sydney Metro here in Sydney. We’ll fund the Suburban Rail Loop in Melbourne. We want to fund the AdeLINK light rail plan in Adelaide that the Government has walked away from. The other big difference is when you looked at what they actually announced in the Budget and then look for the detail, it is a very sad tale. Indeed, take South Australia – over $2 bilion promised going forward in the Budget. When you look at the detail there is $95 million available over the next four years. So you’ve got to elect them not once, but twice. Whoever would lead the Liberal Party. If Scott Morrison is successful it is unlikely he would see out the term. In terms of Geelong Fast Rail – a lot of rhetoric there; no dollars this year, no dollars next year; 2 per cent of funding right up to the mid-2020s. It is quite farcical. So big figures; announcements, but no actual dollars in the Budget to deliver these projects.
SPEERS: All right, well you had a big announcement during the week on Budget eve in relation to Labor’s climate policies and electric cars in particular, which falls in your patch. Fifty per cent of new cars sold would be electric cars by 2030, says Labor. Given they make up only 0.2 per cent of new car sales today, how on earth is 50 per cent in 11 years achievable?
ALBANESE: Well I will give you a parallel David. In 2007, when we were elected to government, there were about 7000 or 8000 solar panels on homes here in Australia. Today the figure is two million – a revolution taking place. What is happening around the world is there is not an automotive manufacturer that is looking at how do we build a new internal combustion engine for a passenger motor vehicle. It is all looking at EVs and other technology as well – new technology like hydrogen. In Norway last year, not a third world country, 47 per cent of new car sales were electric vehicles – 47 per cent. Australia is falling massively behind the world.
SPEERS: We are. We are lacking on the charging stations, which is one of big problems. People don’t buy them.
SPEERS: You have made an announcement in that regard as well, but there are also concerns about the range of these vehicles, about the price obviously and about how long they take to charge. Surely this technology will improve, but right now would you be buying an electric car given some of these concerns?
ALBANESE: Absolutely if one was here and affordable and available at a reasonable price. That’s one of the problems.
SPEERS: That’s the key isn’t it? They are not.
ALBANESE: Exactly. And it is about the old demand and supply. In Europe there are so many models that are available, more than 20 in the UK available for under $40,000. The fact is that the technology is moving forward so fast and we’ve been left behind. That is why we have a comprehensive plan – 20 per cent depreciation in the first year as part of our investment initiative for business and that would be available; a 50 percent target by 2025 for government vehicles for purchase in the government fleet. I must say something; there are targets now – right now – in New South Wales for example. The Berejiklian Government isn’t as sacred of the future as the Morrison Government is. They have a target. They also have funding by the way for charging and we have $200 million available and already, if you look at the heavy vehicle safety program and the road stops that have been rolled out, that will make it very easy to happen.
There has been a bit of a debate today or this week as well about how long it takes to charge your vehicle. The truth is the Electric Vehicle Council will tell you that the latest technology provides for charging which can take 10 minutes to charge your car. Now it is true that some of the older vehicles …
SPEERS: Well hang on. For a full charge of one of these new cars you can do it in 10 minutes? A full charge?
ALBANESE: That is absolutely what the technology is delivering in places like Europe as well. Of course this is for newer vehicles. It is true that older EVs, your Mitsubishi MiEV and some of these vehicles, can’t charge as quickly. But that is just an example. One of the things about humanity, David, is that we are innovative. And this is not just about the future, this is about the present. These initiatives are being rolled out right now around the world and all people have to do is to sit down with any of the manufacturers in Europe, in Japan, in the United States. Or they don’t even have to do that. Have a look at where we did the press conference on Monday. You were there David – that charging station is manufactured right here in Australia. So part of our vision is also to boost manufacturing here in Australia.
ALBANESE: Why is it that we send all our resources overseas, and then buy it back at inflated prices?
SPEERS: A couple of quick ones finally. The tax debate – we’ve seen both sides now lay out their tax plans during Budget week. Labor would give more, a little more, to those on the lowest incomes. But if you are earning more than $90,000 a year, you would be worse off under a Labor Government than the Government when you look at these two tax plans because you are actually promising to repeal tax cuts that have already been passed. What do you say to those earning $90,000 or more who may in fact really want a tax cut right now?
ALBANESE: What I say is have a look at the plans that are actually in place and who is delivering for those who most need it. Have a look at how better off you will be under Labor and low-and-middle income earners will be better off under Labor. It is true that those at the high end, those earning above $200,000 for example, will be worse off.
SPEERS: I’m talking about those earning $90,000 and more. They are the ones who will be worse off.
ALBANESE: And so am I David. And the fact is if you look at our comprehensive plan across the board, our plan for funding schools, our plan for funding hospitals. If you are one of the half of Australians who will be directly impacted by cancer at some stage in your life, or if you have a family member or a friend; that’s just about everyone, you will be better off under Labor’s Medicare Cancer Plan, including of course today an important announcement to extend that to children including increased funding for Canteen, a wonderful organisation that we will be announcing today that looks after those young people who are impacted by cancer. So that is a very important initative. Low and middle income earners will always be better off under Labor. This is a Government that has just looked after the big end of town. Labor has a plan. We will have bigger surpluses. We will have a fairer tax plan and we will have investment in the things that make a real difference to people’s lives – education, health and infrastructure.
SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, we have to leave it there. Thank you for joining me this morning.
ALBANESE: Thanks David.