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.
Subjects: Marrickville Golf Course, Federal election, advertising.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ve just had a very successful rally here at Marrickville Public Golf Course from community members – over 500 have gathered to say they want to save their course as it is. They are opposed to plans to cut it to nine holes that have been supported by some of the Greens Councillors here on the Inner West Council and they are also opposed to the idea that you could break up the golf course by having picnic areas in between some of the holes.
The fact is that this is a community facility, which is right now being used effectively by walkers, by people who enjoy this open space, by dog walkers, as well as by golfers. This space has been here for decades, since prior to the World War II and what has happened over all those years is that volunteers have kept this open space a beautiful place here in the Inner West by the banks of the Cooks River. Some Greens Councillors on the Inner West Council have expressed their support for breaking up this golf course; have said that golf is a minority sport. Well the fact is this is a community-based asset and Federal Labor will invest further in it by contributing $350,000 to help improve the facilities at the Clubhouse that’s used for charity events and that’s used for other community-based activities.
REPORTER: With the proposal to break it up, can you just clarify what do they want to do? Put in other sporting fields or what’s the proposal there?
ALBANESE: Well it’s a bit unclear, but one of the proposals suggest that you would create other sporting fields, but inevitably what would happen would be pressure from developers and pressure on the council to sell off this precious open space land here that’s currently being enjoyed for such a wide range of activities.
REPORTER: But that’s not on the table at the moment, that it be sold off to developers?
ALBANESE: We think that is inevitable, that if you have the golf course – cut it down from 18 to nine, what you will do is destroy the viability of the course. So it’s not a matter of having nine, you’ll have none, in a very short period of time and this proposal reared its ugly head five years ago and it’s back again from council bureaucrats, supported by some Greens councillors. There’s one proposal from one of the Greens Party activists in this area to turn into an area where people can do yoga and do other activities. The fact is that it’s being enjoyed now, it’s available to everyone and it’s an affordable golf course. Royal Marrickville, as it’s called, is a bit of a joke; it’s a joke to compare it to Royal Sydney. Try walking your dog on Royal Sydney. They’ll call the police and security will round you up. Walk your dog on Marrickville Golf Course and you get a G’day, you get a welcome and you get positive feedback, because that’s the sort of community it is and this golf club is at the heart of this community.
REPORTER: Is it subsidised by the council or is it financially independent?
ALBANESE: It’s financially independent. They raise money, they contribute to this pristine area. We know that we’ve been through a period of drought in recent times. What they do is they make sure they look after this open space. They have a Clubhouse where every Sunday there’s jazz whereby local people are able to join the club, enjoy their golf at a very affordable price and just be welcomed to this club. This isn’t a financial drain on the Inner West Council. This is an asset for the community.
REPORTER: There was a lot of speculation that Scott Morrison would call the election this weekend and it doesn’t look like that’s happened. Is that frustrating for you?
ALBANESE: Well quite clearly Scott Morrison is wanting to spend taxpayers’ money, some $680,000 a day of taxpayers’ money, on selling his Budget that has disappeared after just a few days; using taxpayers money to go out there and talk about infrastructure that isn’t being built, to talk about tax cuts that aren’t happening anytime except a long way into the future, and to talk about education funding that isn’t there. This is quite farcical and quite frankly Scott Morrison has the opportunity tomorrow to go to the Governor General and call an election for May 11. Scott Morrison needs to do one of two things – either call an election or commit to cancelling all Government-funded advertising because if he doesn’t, I think it will be seen for the cynical exercise that it is; a Government that is so desperate that they are avoiding facing the Australian public and they are using taxpayers’ funds to basically mislead them about what was in Tuesday night’s Budget.
REPORTER: The Government says that Labor also ran taxpayer-funded ads ahead of an election campaign. So why are you criticising them for doing the same thing?
ALBANESE: These ads are misleading. On infrastructure for example, the full-page ads that are in the newspaper are of the bridge on the Pacific Highway over the Nambucca River that was funded by the former Federal Labor Government, not funded by the Coalition. It was completed after 2013 but it was funded and commenced beforehand. What you have across the board, you have statements about ten years into the future, you have statements about tax cuts that haven’t been legislated, that aren’t actually happening. This is a cynical exercise and this is a very unusual situation because we know when the election will be. We know it will be in May and we know we are effectively in a de facto caretaker period right now. And for the Government to be using taxpayer funds to do that – I mean last night in Parramatta, people who were gathered in Eat Street there, where the restaurants are in Parramatta, had to suffer whilst they were trying to enjoy dinner with their family and friends; had to suffer a full scale video billboards broadcasting out these ads constantly while people were trying to enjoy their night out on a Saturday. This Government needs to stop. It won’t be successful. I think that people who see those ads will view it for the cynical exercise that it is and every time they see those ads; we made a commitment today to fix up the Marrickville Clubhouse which is a community asset. They are spending twice that amount every single day at least on advertising and it’s got to stop now.
They should just call the election. Let’s have the real contest and let Australians decide whether they want tax cuts to benefit those under $40,000 or those above $200,000; whether they want funding for public transport, such as the Inner West Metro, Cross River Rail in Brisbane, the Melbourne Suburban Rail Loop; or whether they want just funding for local roads in Coalition marginal seats; whether they want more funding in public education; whether they support Labor’s plan for Medicare, which will see the greatest expansion of it to help people who are dealing with cancer. So that decision will be made by Australians in May. We should get on with the campaign because it is very clear that this Government has run out of steam and that is why they are using taxpayers’ money to advertise what they say is their agenda.
REPORTER: Just back to the golf club, Jeff Angel from the Environment Centre says it is time to look at golf clubs and whether they should in fact be divided up because of the low membership and turned into parks or playing fields. Is there not an argument there, aside from Marrickville Golf Club, which you obviously have got a connection to?
ALBANESE: Well Jeff Angel is wrong and people who argue against active sport are wrong. Engagement in sporting activities is so important. I have seen little kids playing golf here as young as six on this course but I have also seen older Australians using this course to keep active. What that does is actually save the health budget. It enables them to engage with their community. They do that here. They’ve been coming here for decades and frankly the idea that what we need in terms of green spaces is just trees is wrong. We need to encourage sporting activity. This course does that, whether it be active sport in terms of golfing or whether it be walking, people walking by themselves, enjoying this open space, walking their dogs. I have seen people walking their cats down here. Indeed and there is one person who actually walks their horse on this course. This is a course that is very much a part of the community and we need to recognise that you need a range of green spaces, but active green spaces are vital for our community and vital for the health of our society.
REPORTER: What about other golf clubs? He is saying that healthy activities and sporting activities that those golf courses could be utilised for that.
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that golf is a legitimate activity and a legitimate sport. It is an important part of Australian life. I play tennis at Marrickville Lawn Tennis Club. It is again a community-based, council-owned facility and it is a fantastic facility that has been there for 90 years. These facilities are really important for the local community. From time to time what you will have is people who propose let’s just get rid of it. What you will end up with is no open space, no capacity for people to participate in community sport and what they ignore isn’t just the benefit obviously of playing golf and walking on a golf course, which is a very active sport whether you are young or old. What they also ignore is the social capital – the build-up of what happens at a club like this where people interact, where people have friends and family and one that helps bind a community together, whether they are here playing golf, whether they are having a beer in the club or whether they are listening to music in the Clubhouse on a Sunday afternoon. Thanks.
SUNDAY, 7 APRIL, 2019
Subjects: Disability Royal Commission; NDIS; Budget reply; Labor’s funding for cancer treatment.
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining us now, senior Labor front bencher Anthony Albanese. Thanks very much for your time. Let’s start with the breaking news; the Prime Minister is to detail the Government’s response on a Disability Royal Commission and, of course, this comes in the context of claims of an under-spend on the NDIS. So Anthony Albanese, your response to this and will Labor be backing the approach? Obviously it’s something you have supported.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well we called for the Disability Royal Commission. What we are disappointed with is the fact that it’s being funded through the cuts that have been made to disability insurance, the NDIS. We’ve got a $1.6 billion under-spend in the NDIS and the Government would have us believe that is because of no demand, whereas we know as local members, the representations that we’ve had to make. As Bill Shorten outlined in his Budget Reply last night, people haven’t been able to get a wheelchair, haven’t been able to get the services and packages that they need.
It is unfortunate but we certainly welcome the fact that the Disability Royal Commission is taking place. The Government were very reluctant and of course only agreed to it because of the numbers on the floor of the Parliament. What I want to see is the numbers change on the floor of the Parliament further so that there is genuine enthusiasm for the NDIS and it receives the funding that people with disabilities and their families deserve.
LAURA JAYES: Aren’t you undermining what is really necessary and important bipartisanship for the NDIS? Is it true to say the Government is cutting spending? Isn’t it more correct to say they just haven’t spent it yet? And with any big project like this, Anthony Albanese, there are always going to be problems with getting enough staff, enough trained professionals to actually roll this out. So what’s Labor going to to do, just spend this money for the sake of spending it when there are problems with getting the right amount of staff?
ALBANESE: No, what we will do as well is ensure that staff are properly trained. We have a plan for apprenticeships and last night we announced that a portion of that would be specifically to train carers and those people engaged with the NDIS. The NDIS is something that I’m very proud of – a creation of the former Labor Government. It’s good that there’s bipartisan support for it, but the truth is that the figures that we’re quoting are the difference between what the Government said it had allocated to the scheme and what it has actually invested. And it’s perfectly legitimate for us to point out that some of the Government’s projected surpluses are off the back of that under-spend.
GILBERT: There’s been a poor administration I think, that’s certainly the view of those in the sector that I’ve spoken to. And I guess the question goes to Labor now as the favourites to win the upcoming election, will you replace those that run the NDIS, the Board?
ALBANESE: No, but what we’ll do is ensure that the NDIS is properly resourced. What we won’t have is the sort of caps that have been brought in.
GILBERT: But you’ve got to have proper administration.
ALBANESE: We absolutely need to have proper administration, we need to get it right and we’re confident that we can do that. But we can’t do it if you are trying to look for savings while the NDIS is being established. Look, it is the case that the Government has supported the NDIS, but what they haven’t done is what they themselves said they would do in terms of the allocations that they’ve made.
JAYES: As for the announcement last night from Bill Shorten promising to list all medicines approved by the committee on the PBS, this is good politics Anthony Albanese but it’s bad negotiating tactics isn’t it? Now that drug companies know exactly where you stand and you’ve declared your hand, won’t taxpayers be paying more?
ALBANESE: No, because the PBS goes through a process which is independent of the pharmaceutical companies. They don’t get to list it by themselves. The assessments are made and then recommendations made to government. We’ll also make sure that for diagnostic imaging – everything from x-rays to MRI’s – that that’s covered. What we’ll do is ensure that when people are going through cancer, and one in two Australians will be impacted, will be diagnosed at some stage in their life. Every single one of us knows people in our family and our friends who’ve been impacted by cancer. At that time there can be massive out of cost expenses and what people need to do is to be able to concentrate on their health and getting better, concentrate on their treatment without worrying about whether they’re going to be able to afford that treatment.
Australians are generous people, we’re a wealthy enough country to be able to afford to look after those people who have cancer, who are going through these difficulties. Because at the same time that people are getting treatment, they’re getting chemotherapy, they’re getting radiography treatment, what occurs is that they often have to leave either full time employment or reduce their working hours to part time. So at the same time their income is going down, they’re getting hit by bills, they’re dealing with these health issues. How about we actually do better than that? And that’s what our reforms announced last night will do – the biggest improvement to the functioning of Medicare since Bob Hawke and Labor created Medicare.
GILBERT: Well it’s an ambitious program, there’s no doubt about that and I think across the board there has been support for the notions of greater support for people who are going through cancer treatment. I wonder can you reflect for us though this morning in terms of what is a big taxing agenda, a tax and spend agenda from Labor? It seems to go against the grain of not just recent political approach in Australia but in the western world, in terms of a big taxing approach. Can you explain that vision for us after the budget reply?
ALBANESE: Well what it’s about, Kieran, is removing loopholes from the tax system. Doing it in two ways. Making sure that in terms of negative gearing which was designed to encourage the construction sector, it was supposed to boost supply. But what we’re seeing is the first home buyer rocking up to an auction in Marrickville and competing with people who are investors and not being able to get into the market.
What we’ll do is quarantine anyone who has existing arrangements, nothing changes. But if you want to go into negative gearing, and we know that the most recent figures show that it’s people getting their fifth or sixth or tenth or twentieth house, is where most of the deductions are coming from in recent times. If you want to do that then invest in new housing that will boost construction and boost supply.
And with regard to the imputation issue, it’s simply the case Kieran that we are approaching $6 billion a year it’s costing to give people money, who currently aren’t paying any tax at all. So you can’t get a refund on your tax when you’re not paying anything and it’s simply not sustainable. This is a loophole, it’s grown. It was put in there by John Howard in 2001 or 2002 when they were looking to just throw money out the door at the height of the mining boom. The truth is that it’s not sustainable, we’ve said upfront that that’s the case.
When people think about it, that very soon there’ll be more money given to people, as a gift, than we currently spend on public schools as a national government, so we need to make these reforms. What we’re saying on all of our commitments – on education, on health, on infrastructure is exactly where the money’s going to. We are saying tax cuts for middle income earners will be the same; people under $40 000 though will be better off under Labor.
JAYES: Ok, just quickly on the Disability Commission that Scott Morrison is about to announce; they’ve allocated $527 million, Labor has only allocated $26 million. That’s a big difference, will you match the Government?
ALBANESE: Of course we’ll properly fund the Disability Royal Commission. The fact is that we supported and called for the Royal Commission. We await the announcement of this.
JAYES: So that’s a yes?
ALBANESE: The Government has of course been rolling out a range of appointments this week. In my area I’ve got to say, I think it is completely outrageous that the Government appointed Infrastructure Australia board members this week who went on to make partisan political comments. When we talk about lifting things up from the political fray and the ‘argy-bargy’ of day to day politics, that’s one of the things that Infrastructure Australia was created to do.
GILBERT: Anthony Albanese, we will talk to you next week, maybe at the start of the campaign.
ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see, I suspect that they might want to spend more of taxpayers money on advertising in the next week before they call it, but we’ll wait and see.
Subject: Queensland infrastructure.
CORINNE MULLHOLLAND: Welcome to the Federal Electorate of Petrie. My name is Corinne Mullholland, I am Labor’s candidate here in Petrie. Where we are standing is one of the fastest growing communities on the Australian continent. This part of the world, the Northside of Brisbane, is forecast to grow by over 40 per cent over the next 20 years and big numbers like that require a big plan of government. The Federal Liberals have had six long years to do something about major infrastructure here on the Northside. We’re standing here beside the Gateway Motorway and motorists here on the Northside have been left wanting on every single occasion from this Federal Liberal Government. What we’ve seen from our local federal representatives Luke Howarth and Peter Dutton, is that they would rather bicker and fight amongst themselves than fight for additional funding for roads here on the Northside. And while they fight each other, motorists here on the Northside are left to fight their way through traffic every single day just to get to work, get around, and get the kids to school. So I’m absolutely excited to be here today with Anthony Albanese our Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. And I’m doubly pleased to be standing with my Federal Labor candidates Ali France, Anika Wells and Susan Lamb, who are just as pleased as I am to see a great announcement. So without further ado I will ask Anthony to say a few words about this exciting announcement for the Northside.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Corrine. It’s fantastic to be here on the Northside of Brisbane with four fantastic Labor women who will transform the politics of this region. The fact is that this region has been left behind and has been taken for granted. We know there’s enormous growth here, and the last time we were in government we did two major projects. We did the Gateway Motorway North, where we put the money into the budget. And of course we did the Redcliffe Railway Line, first promised in 1895, but it took a Federal Labor government to deliver it, because it takes Federal Labor to deliver infrastructure, not just talk about it. I want to talk about two projects in particular. Firstly, Linkfield Road, what we have from the Government is a commitment that they’ll do something about it if you elect Scott Morrison, and if you elect whoever would lead the Liberal Party after they knock Scott Morrison off in the next term to the following election. So, not this term, not next term, but the one after they say they’ll do something about this. Well, Labor will get this done and we’ll get it commenced in our first term with a $100 million commitment. The second issue is the very important extension of the Gateway to the north, up to Pine Rivers, and the improvements in the Bruce Highway between its beginning and Dohles Rocks. We will contribute $1.5 billion for what is a critical pinch point. That will deliver not just an upgrade with extra lanes, but also improvements in terms of the access points to the Bruce Highway. We know this is absolutely critical because of the growth that is occurring here in the population. We know also that what you need to do is to invest, not just in roads but rail also. So this complements our $2.2 billion commitment to the Cross River Rail Project which was contracted just yesterday. What we have from the Federal Coalition is not a single dollar in Tuesday night’s budget for the Cross River Rail Project, road announcements off on the never-never, and no plan to actually deal with the challenges that are needed to seriously deliver on reducing urban congestion. Making sure that people can get to and from work quicker, making sure that in terms of access to public transport that people are able to have that, and making sure that people can just get around their local community. Some of the work that’s been done by the Queensland Government in planning about the exit points to the major highway are critical for that. At the same time of course like other infrastructure projects funded by the Federal Budget, we’ll make sure ten per cent of the workforce are apprentices, that locals are being skilled-up at the same time as the infrastructure’s being built. We’ll make sure that medium-sized Australian-based firms get a crack at the work here. We’ll make sure that intelligent transport systems are built into the off-ramps and on-ramps on the expansion that occurs. We’ll make sure that we maximise the benefit of this infrastructure investment. I’d ask the other Member and candidates if they’d like to say a few things.
SUSAN LAMB: Thanks, Anthony. Well, last night the Australian people heard about a plan to move our country forward. They heard about a plan to properly fund our schools and hospitals. They heard of a plan to take real action on energy and climate change, and they heard about a plan to invest in infrastructure and jobs. For over six years now this Liberal Government has done nothing but ignore people who live on the Northside of Brisbane. Our tradies are sitting in traffic every single day. People are spending more hours away from home just trying to travel into work. We’ve got one of the fastest growing regions in the country and people need a job. Well this Government has ignored it, they’ve taken no action. They have totally just walked away from people in Queensland. In actual fact there is not one dollar for an infrastructure project in Queensland this year. Well today the $1.5 billion announcement for an upgrade of the Bruce Highway from the Gateway all the way though to Caboolture is very, very welcome for our community. It’s welcome for infrastructure, it’s welcome for jobs that people in our community need. I’ll hand over to the next member for Dickson, Labor’s candidate Ali France to talk to us about what this means for her community.
ALI FRANCE: Thanks Susan, and it’s really wonderful to have Albo up here again with us on the Northside, and also to be surrounded by the member for Longman and our other fabulous female candidates. It’s really wonderful to be able to announce such a significant $1.5 billion road infrastructure investment in this area. People who live in my electorate of Dickson have been crying out for extra federal funding for road projects across this region. I think what they’re going to be most excited about is road upgrades between the Gateway and Dohles Rocks Road, and the $100 million that’s been committed towards fixing Linkfield Road. I’m really pleased that this will be commenced within the first three years of a Labor Government. These projects will deliver much-needed, many thousands of jobs for our region. They will ensure that people spend less time in their cars, and ensure that roads are safer. I’m really pleased with this announcement here today and I think the people of Dickson will be absolutely thrilled. I’m now going to hand over to Anika Wells.
ANIKA WELLS: Hello everyone, I’m Anika Wells, the Labor candidate for Lilley. I think Albo and the girls have said it already for you but I must say I’m so pleased to see that the Labor team will commit $1.5 billion in the first term of government to help upgrade Northside roads. We’re crying out for it, people want to know – what is our vision for Northside? Will it remain a great place for people to live, work and raise their children? With an investment of $1.5 billion in our roads, it’s something we can commit to making sure will happen. That, plus our commitment to Cross River Rail means that we’ll make a very real difference to the everyday lives of people here on the Northside if they trust us with their vote this election.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much, happy to take any questions.
REPORTER: Just in terms of Linkfield Road, I know you are saying the Coalition hasn’t put the money aside but if you ask them they actually say that that $100 million comes from the $1.4 billion Bruce Highway Future Priorities Commitment which was in the 2018-2019 Budget. So they’re saying the money is there.
ALBANESE: Well that’s not right. If you have a look at the budget papers and the documentation that has gone forward to Queensland, there is not a single dollar allocated for this project over the next three years, over this term that is coming up. There’s simply not and the fact is that this Government has been caught out. The fact is right across the country they’ve used big figures. When you look at the detail it’s simply not there it is off beyond the forward estimates. In Queensland’s case it is well under 10 per cent off in terms of the Forward Estimates, there’s under 10 per cent of funding. So what Queensland needs and what growing regions like this need is action and it’s not surprising, that’s consistent. Peter Dutton has been promising to do something about this during this term. He promised it last term. He promised it the term before. He’s been there for years
I can confirm that when I was the Transport and Infrastructure Minister there was no representation from Peter Dutton about this project. It took Ali France and Corinne Mulholland to approach, ask them to do the work and to make sure that this commitment was given. The only reason why there was a commitment, even, into the never-never given by Peter Dutton and the member for Petrie who also of course opposed the funding of Redcliffe Rail Line when it came out. The fact is that they haven’t delivered, and it will take a Labor Government to deliver it. Just like it took a Labor Government to actually fund in the Budget: Gateway Motorway North and Redcliffe Rail Line and other important infrastructure. We did fund of course Cross River Rail as well and the incoming Abbott Government with these two people as local members, ripped that funding out of the Budget even though it was an agreement that had been undertaken with Campbell Newman’s Government. So it’s quite extraordinary that they’ve been let down by these local MPs, the candidates I have with me today, I am proud to say would actually deliver. And it’s significant that Bill Shorten’s major new announcement on infrastructure last night was the $1.5 billion upgrade for this region because Bill Shorten and I, and Chris Bowen as the Treasurer, and Jim Chalmers certainly as the Finance Minister, a great advocate for Queensland, understand that this growing part of Australia needs that infrastructure investment.
REPORTER: That $1.5 billion for the duplication up to Caboolture, is that like 50/50 with the State?
ALBANESE: No. It’s a significant contribution. The final costings on the second section haven’t been done as yet but it will be far greater than a 50/50 contribution. We want to make sure that it gets done. This is a significant contribution from Federal Labor and this will be very much a majority funding of this project. We’ll wait and see how the final costings come in and of course we want to do that. We’ve been talking with the Queensland Government about this project, about how we do the next step and deliver in terms of the Bruce Highway. Of course, it has to be remembered when you’re talking about the Bruce Highway, the Howard Government was there for twelve years. They delivered over twelve years, $1.3 billion total funding for the Pacific Highway. $1.3 billion. Over that whole time. We delivered, we’re delivering today a commitment for more than that for just that section of the Gateway and the beginning of the Bruce Highway.
REPORTER: Ok, when you say the second section is that the second bit from the Pine River to Caboolture.
REPORTER: Ok. Is there likely to be any land resumptions along that section you think.
ALBANESE: That should not be a significant issue, my understanding is, what you’re talking about is extra lanes both ways but also, extra entry points and exit points as well.
REPORTER: Where will they likely be, those exit and entry points?
ALBANESE: I can get that detail for you.
REPORTER: Ok. And also, with the bridge over the Pine River, is that just upgrading the current bridge or is it a new bridge somewhere else?
ALBANESE: It will be effectively a new bridge because you can’t just put in an extra lane. But the engineering work will be done by the Queensland Government and that will commence immediately if we are elected and will be available as soon as possible, but we need to finalize the planning work. A lot of work has been done. But most of the planning work has been done on that section with Gateway Motorway North, that extension up, to the commencement of the Bruce Highway. But we will work with the Queensland Government on this. But we want to make sure that planning work will be undertaken with the confidence that it will be a $1.5-billion commitment from the Commonwealth.
REPORTER: And in terms of the intelligence systems that you said will be there, is that something that’s new or is that already in place?
ALBANESE: In some places it’s called Managed Motorways, Smart Infrastructure or Intelligent Transport Systems. Essentially, what it can do very effectively is increase the productivity of the road by essentially making sure that traffic can flow smoothly onto a highway or motorway. And we know that out of that you can get significant boosts in terms of bang-for-the-buck. When I was Infrastructure Minister, Infrastructure Australia did a study into these systems. It found that the benefit cost was more than ten to one in most cases. So, this means ten times the productivity to every dollar that was spent on intelligent transport systems. So, what we want to do, is to make sure that particularly in the congested parts of highways, where there’s significant traffic volume, that we have smart infrastructure. It’s just the sensible thing to do. And it’s easier to do that at the time that new construction is occurring rather than to go back and to rectify it. So, the cost is minimal, the benefit is great indeed.
REPORTER: What does it actually do?
ALBANESE: What it does, say for example, where there’s an on-ramp onto the Bruce Highway, essentially is to put traffic lights, connected to sensors to identify where the gaps in the traffic are so that the traffic can flow smoothly on. We’ve all driven down highways, we all know that if you’re in a lane and a car or heavy vehicle comes out in front of you, the whole lane of traffic slows down. What that does is have an impact then on the traffic behind as well. So, what Intelligent Transport Systems do is make sure that there’s a smooth flow of traffic. That you minimize the slow down, that you minimise the disruption. And it’s also, of course, a great safety measure. If you look at some of the incidents that have occurred on our highways it can be about traffic either going on or off in those initial stages and the difference between, you can’t of course go from 0 to 100 or whatever the speed is in that particular section of the highway. And it also, in one second you have to get up to that speed. And it also enables you, as you drive down our highways, quite often there will be a slowdown, where all the traffic has to slow down at an entry point as a safety measure. What it enables you to do, is to minimize that as well and so you get consistent flow of traffic.
REPORTER: And Dohles Rocks Road, the intersection there, what are your plans for that?
ALBANESE: Well that’s in terms of the upgrades we know a lot of the planning has been done for there. We think that this work can go essentially up as far as Caboolture, we’re hoping in terms of the funding, can be up there, identifying how you maximise the benefit for this funding.
5AA ADELAIDE – TWO TRIBES SEGMENT
WEDNESDAY, 3 APRIL, 2019
Subject: Budget 2019.
HOST: It’s time for a special Federal Budget Edition of Two Tribes. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning and welcome.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, Will.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. Good to see you still here, Chris.
PYNE: Of course, very much so, alive and kicking.
HOST: He hasn’t totally checked out. He hasn’t been seen walking around Campbelltown drinking Pina Coladas just yet.
ALBANESE: He’ll be on the beach soon enough.
PYNE: It was good to catch up with you last night, Anthony.
ALBANESE: Now we’re breaking news.
HOST: Come on, share.
PYNE: Anthony and I had a farewell drink last night in my office.
ALBANESE: We did. It was very nice.
PYNE: Which is exactly what people should do. Hands across the aisle, friends on both sides. It was very pleasant.
ALBANESE: A good glass of South Australian red.
HOST: That’s very civilised. What was the red?
PYNE: A Mamre-Brook, actually.
HOST: Are you feeling a bit dusty this morning?
PYNE: No, absolutely not. We were out by ten. Home in bed, it was all good.
HOST: In all seriousness did any part of you guys discuss the Budget last night when you got together for that drink?
PYNE: I can’t remember the Budget being discussed, Anthony?
ALBANESE: We were discussing how upbeat Christopher is feeling now that he has made the decision, actually. It was a good gathering. There was one other person there as well and it was one bottle between three, it was very …
HOST: Leaving out lingering details.
ALBANESE: Very polite.
HOST: Who was the other person?
ALBANESE: Well, we’re not giving you that.
PYNE: Can’t give you everything.
HOST: You tease like no others, it’s amazing.
ALBANESE: You’re going to have to get the CCTV footage to find that out.
HOST: We’re guessing it wasn’t Cory Bernardi.
ALBANESE: That’s a fair bet. Or Mark Latham.
HOST: Latham, what about that. But what we thought we’d do guys, so that it doesn’t turn into a slanging match, we’ll give each of you three minutes to do your stump speech about last night’s Budget. You can kick off, Chris, you’re the Government of the day. Do you think that this is the blueprint that should see the Morrison Government returned?
PYNE: Well, it’s a very good Budget. I mean five years, six years ago when we got elected in 2013 we said that we’d stop the boats, we’d abolish the Carbon Tax we’d balance the Budget and we’d build the infrastructure of the 21st century. And last night we did the final one of those four, which is to balance the Budget. It’s something that Labor governments never do and we do. We fix the economy, we fix the Budget when we get into government and for South Australia, fantastic news around infrastructure. We’ve already stopped the boats and we abolished the Carbon Tax that Labor wants to now bring back. But for infrastructure for South Australia, another $1.5 billion to finish the North South Corridor, $115 million for the Torrens Road Level Crossing, $74 million for the duplication of the Victor Harbour Road, $50 million for the Portrush Road, MaGill Road Intersection in my seat of Sturt. And $30 million for the Fullerton Road and Cross Road Intersection in my electorate of Sturt. But also don’t forget we put $135 million to support projects at Lot 14. Like the $85 million for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery, $30 million for the new International Tourism School. Of course the Space Agency that is now to be at Lot 14 and a new Brain and Spinal ward at the Repat Hospital. So we’re investing in the services and the infrastructure that the Australian people, and in this case the South Australian people, expect and deserve. But also delivering tax cuts for 780,000 South Australians, who will get a thousand dollars, 710,000 of them will get a thousand dollars and eighty, in July this year. Because of the good economic management of this Government. So I guess the pitch is in this election campaign: don’t put any of that at risk. Every time Labor gets into government they make a mess of the Budget and a mess of the economy.
HOST: All right, Albo, hit us with your best stuff.
ALBANESE: This Budget is not a plan for a better or a fairer Australia. It fails to reverse the cuts to schools and hospitals. It fails to reverse the cuts to TAFE apprenticeships. We’ve seen some 150,000 apprenticeship places lost on this Government’s watch. It promises a surplus but that’s subsidised by short changing people through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Christopher speaks about infrastructure investment. The Budget says there’s an extra $1.8 billion to South Australia. But guess what? Only $95 million of that, $95 million, is available over the next four years. Of the 18 projects in South Australia, road projects, only one of them is in a Labor seat. Of the seven road projects in Adelaide only one of them is in a Labor seat. This is a plan for an election, not a plan to deal with urban congestion. Urban congestion isn’t confined to Sturt and Boothby. It’s not a fair Budget, it’s not a fair dinkum Budget and you would have to elect Scott Morrison two more times before the big tax cuts come in. And if you elect Scott Morrison, or whoever the leader is in the next term and the term after that, because they change every term, what you will have is a nurse on the same tax rate as a doctor and that is not fair.
HOST: To that point, Albo, can I jump in? When you talk about that and this is about the flattening of the 37 per cent marginal tax rate. Is Labor likely to block those tax cuts at the higher end?
ALBANESE: We will have our announcements tomorrow night in Bill Shorten’s speech. But you can say that Labor believes in fairness and we judge everything through that frame.
HOST: We’re going to leave it there guys. Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese and given that you didn’t get a …
HOST: Hang on a second, there is one last piece of business, not Budget related, that we need to get their thoughts on.
PYNE: What’s that?
(Recording of Christopher Pyne singing plays.)
HOST: Who wants to go first?
ALBANESE: Think of the listeners. Why are you doing that to them? No one is listening now, radios were just turned off.
PYNE: I’m in tune. It’s amazing. I’m ironing my shirt singing a bit of Spirit in the Sky, it’s a great song.
HOST: Where were you doing that, Chris?
PYNE: In my home in Deakin, in Canberra, I was preparing for Budget Week. I iron my own shirts.
HOST: Man of the people.
HOST: Good on you, guys.
ALBANESE: Pity no one is listening.
WEDNESDAY, 3 APRIL, 2019
TUESDAY, 2 APRIL, 2019
Subjects: Budget; electric vehicles; the hypocrisy of the Greens Political Party.
LAURA JAYES: Shadow Minister Anthony Albanese joins us now in the studio on this Budget Day. A bigger than expected surplus next year from Josh Frydenberg that will be delivered tonight. Do you give the Government any credit for what they have done over the last six years to bring the Budget back to where it is?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well of course this is a Government that promised a surplus in its first year and every year thereafter. This is a Government that has had six years of cuts to education, cuts to health, cuts to infrastructure. This is a Government that has six years of division and disunity and they want Australians to forget all about that – “we will be good into the future’’. Well Australians won’t forget about what they have done and what a shambles they have been and in tonight’s Budget I am sure there will be further signs of that.
KIERAN GILBERT: You talk about shambles, but this looks like a very much, you know, planned, achievable, not just surplus by 2019-20, but wiping out Government debt by 2029-30. That’s going to appeal to a lot of voters isn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well we will wait and see what they actually have tonight of course but what they are asking voters to do is to forget about the past. “Just trust us and we will have all these surpluses into the future and we will remove debt into the future.’’ But Australians I just don’t think they will be conned. I think they won’t forget what a shambles this government has been. I mean this is Josh Frydenberg’s first Budget of course because we have had three Treasurers, three Prime Ministers, three Deputy Prime Ministers. I have shadowed 13 separate people while I have been in the one job over the last five and a half years.
JAYES: That’s quite remarkable, 13 people, but I don’t think voters will forget the words uttered from your former Treasurer: “The four surpluses I deliver tonight,’’ which never eventuated. So if you want to make that political point about promises on the never-never, I think it can be blood on both sides of politics which just feeds into a cynical public. But Kieran’s point about paying down net debt in a decade, it’s essentially the Government’s credit card debt. Can Labor make that same commitment on a time frame?
ALBANESE: I make two points. The first point is that we had the Global Financial Crisis. It was pretty important.
ALBANESE: The Government likes to forget about that, but Australia performed better than any advanced economy in the world and our stimulus plan was recognised as the best in the world, the best designed and Wayne Swan of course was awarded World’s Best Finance Minister for that package. So that is the first point. The second point is last year we had a Budget where they announced tax cuts and we announced bigger tax cuts – instead of $500, $900 for working Australians and we were able to do that because we, unlike previous oppositions, we have put out there a courageous amount of policy, including on tax. We have said where the money will come from for the commitments and priorities we have – for education, including early childhood right through to university …
GILBERT: So that won’t prove too hard then to match the Government. Sky News understands that the Government is going to double that low and medium income tax offsets.
ALBANESE: What, they are going to match what we did last year?
JAYES: And go on a bit further. Will you now match them?
ALBANESE: Of course they will go sort of a dollar or so further. That is not surprising. But the fact is that they are playing catch-up. It is Labor that has led the policy debate from Opposition. I mean, someone has had to lead in this country over the last few years and Labor has been prepared to do that. We were doing it yesterday again on climate, on our electric vehicle policy on transport …
GILBERT: We will get to that in a moment. But it’s still important for you to also show that you are economically credible in terms of the forecasts. You could easily outdo them tonight. But you want to also show voters that you can do better.
ALBANESE: Well, Kieran, Bill Shorten will have his Budget reply on Thursday night and you will hear our response to tonight’s Budget. It’s a bit hard for me to comment on our Budget reply before the Budget is held with respect.
GILBERT: That’s true.
ALBANESE: Good try.
JAYES: But on the net debt and paying that down in ten years it seems like a reasonable timeframe. Labor wouldn’t want to see that blown out even further would it?
ALBANESE: Well have a look at what we did last year. Bigger tax cuts and a bigger surplus was what we offered in our Budget reply last year. We will have our reply on Thursday night, but we have been prepared to make tough decisions. We’ve been prepared to lay out our priorities. We’ve had consistency in policy. We have had consistency in personnel, consistency in our values that reflect what we think the priorities for the nation should be. Meanwhile, we’ve had a Government that in a whole range of areas, like energy policy have had 13 and adopted none of them.
JAYES: Consistency to your detriment in some ways do you think? I mean Chris Bowen, before even seeing the Budget that will be handed down tonight, before seeing the growth forecast is already committing to bringing in the negative gearing changes on the 1st January next year. Now that is eight months away. Sure, the timeframe is fine. But I mean your constituents must be concerned particularly about house prices. You are in Sydney, in inner Sydney. It’s a little bit reckless isn’t it?
ALBANESE: Not at all. What is reckless is not having policies out there, is not having certainty. And one of the things that business and investors want, whether it is in climate policy, whether it is in housing policy and the need to increase housing affordability, on all of these issues, in the transport sector, what they want is certainty going forward. What they don’t want is short-term political decisions made in a 24-hour time frame and this isn’t a Budget …
GILBERT: Do you think that is already priced into the housing market.
ALBANESE: Our policy has been out there since prior to 2016.
JAYES: But so much has changed since then.
ALBANESE: What Treasury has said, what actual modelling has said, is that this will have a minimal impact. But one of the things that it will do is to encourage investment in new construction and that is after all … when negative gearing was introduced, that was what it was introduced for.
ALBANESE: Two things about our policy – one is, it is not retrospective, so no-one who currently has an investment is impacted. But secondly, going forward, if people want to access the negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount then they have to invest in new housing. What that will do is stimulate housing supply and therefore – laws of supply and demand – the more supply you have in terms of having a benefit and giving people …
GILBERT: Let’s talk about the other issue of certainty because there is still no certainty on climate policy. We see Brexit and the chaos of Brexit, but I mean our version of that is energy and climate policy in this country. Both sides and the Greens are to blame I think it is fair to say. In terms of your response yesterday, the Government when it put in direct actions said that the market safeguard mechanism was scaleable. Now you are seeking to scale that up in terms of its ambition, they say it is a carbon tax. What do you say in response?
ALBANESE: Well that just shows how disingenuous they are. Of course we had one of your co-commentators Peta Credlin bell the cat on the Abbott Government’s rhetoric about the so-called carbon tax. She basically declared on Sky News that that was all a fiction; that it wasn’t a tax at all. Now what we have is Labor essentially taking the same mechanism that the Government has and scaling it. Whatever description is used on our policy equally applies to what they have done and it’s just farcical frankly. What they have is not a policy. They just have a scare campaign and it is so predictable, the screams from the Coalition. I mean, take for example their opposition to electric vehicles, the fact is that – the document is here (waves mobile telephone) – Australia has the highest take-up of new technologies in the world as they come in. We are great takers-up. Except what we are seeing with electric vehicles, we are the lowest in the OECD, the lowest on 0.2 per cent and the rest of the world is moving forward as you both know, because we had a discussion from London. When I was in London, where I was staying, in the street attached to the poles there were overnight – every second pole has a plug and cars are plugged in there to charge up overnight. We are getting left behind.
JAYES: Sure iPhones are very different to an electric car, I would argue. Where is the detail from Labor in terms of how you get that increase over the next decade? How much is it going to cost and what is the plan to do that?
ALBANESE: Well we have a comprehensive plan. Firstly, accelerated depreciation of 20 per cent in the first year to encourage the private sector to take up …
ALBANESE: Secondly we have a target of 50 per cent for the Government fleet. The Government fleet is a major contributor to new car purchases in this country. New South Wales – a range of state governments – already have various mechanisms in to encourage electric vehicles. We have a target of 50 per cent of new sales by 2030. That is very modest. So the call that was made yesterday by the NRMA – the NRMA, not the Labor Party – called for a ban on the sale of petrol vehicles after 2030.
GILBERT: What do you say to the Greens then who argue that the Government, the hopeful Government, the Opposition, dismisses as a cop out from you in terms of including international permits, that you are basically offloading Australia’s …
ALBANESE: Well, what hypocrites the Greens and Adam Bandt are. This is the mob that if they had got up in the Senate and walked across the Chamber and voted for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009 we would have avoided the decade of wars on climate and energy policy. They are responsible. Two Liberals cross the floor. All it needed was the Greens to vote for it. It would have been there. And the hypocrisy is shown again by their criticism of the international permits because they of course want to take some credit for the scheme that was introduced under the Gillard Government that of course allowed international permits that they voted for, that they championed, that they say was good policy. They are exposed yet again for being just opposed to anything that Labor puts up. As far as I am concerned they are as bad as the Coalition in not wanting to find a way through on policy.
JAYES: One final question: reducing emissions isn’t free. I think that is the only thing that this Parliament over a decade has been able to agree on. Why can’t Labor say how much your plan is going to cost?
ALBANESE: Well have a look at what the costings have been. Have a look at what Warwick McKibbin did in his modelling for Tony Abbott that says …
JAYES: So you are relying upon Tony Abbott’s modelling?
ALBANESE: We are relying upon Warwick McKibbin, who is a senior economist and who is respected. His modelling went to those issues. What we’ve got to talk about when it comes to cost is the $550 that the Coalition themselves said that having the NEG would save households. They said that. The $500 that we know motorists are paying extra at the bowser because we have inefficient fuel in our cars.
GILBERT: Okay, Anthony Albanese. Appreciate it. A big day.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
TUESDAY, 2 APRIL, 2019
Subjects: Pauline Hanson, Greens political party.
SMITH: Good afternoon.
ALBANESE: G’day Chris, good to be with you again.
SMITH: This is quite mammoth and we shouldn’t underestimate what he has done. Scott Morrison has finally succumbed to the pressure and has announced that the Liberals will preference Labor above One Nation. Here’s how it happened:
SCOTT MORRISON: I am disappointed and I find the response to the actions of those One Nation officials unsatisfactory. There have been further revelations overnight also, which have led me to the position this morning. I have consulted with the party organisation – I have been in touch directly with them today and overnight, because ultimately this is a decision for the party organisation but my recommendation to them, which they are accepting, is that One Nation will be put below the Labor Party at the next election by the Liberal Party.
SMITH: He was put under enormous pressure. What is your reaction to that?
ALBANESE: He was put under pressure by One Nation’s own actions. I listened to your callers and with respect, the gentleman who said almost this is just business as usual, all the parties do this; neither the Liberal Party nor the Labor Party have flown to the United States and solicited a $20 million donation in return for arguing that they would assist to dismantle Australia’s gun laws and the revelations overnight of course that Pauline Hanson has suggested, in a conspiratorial way, that the Port Arthur massacre was somehow a part of a conspiracy as well. There is bipartisan support in this country for our gun laws and if you want to have a look at why that is there just have a look at what occurred with the tragedy in Christchurch just weeks ago and I think Scott Morrison has done the right thing. Labor will of course be doing the same as we have done consistently and I make this point to your comment saying that people are loyal to Pauline Hanson: they were last time around until they got on to her and then she was dismissed of course and wasn’t able to be elected, ran in New South Wales elections, Queensland elections, federal elections, unsuccessfully for a long period of time until she got this second lease of life.
SMITH: How is that different, what they got up to in the United States, how is that different to all the major parties, including the ALP, taking money from pro-gun groups?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that no one in the Labor Party or the Liberal Party – far be it for me to defend the Liberal Party here, but I will on this issue – no one in either of those major political parties, that seek to govern this country, has suggested whatsoever any dismantling of our gun laws. Now I am not aware of what the donations, the nature of them, are, whether it’s the Sporting Shooters Association or what it is, of course. We don’t outlaw the use of all guns in this country. We acknowledge that farmers need guns. The Sporting Shooters Association engage in legitimate activity. What we do in this country though, and successfully, we are a model for the world, where there are shootings every day in the United States and there appears to be a massacre at least once a month, because of the laws that they have in place there. This is a good thing that we don’t have those laws. The fact is that One Nation are a fringe political party and they should be put last and it is good that the Liberal Party are joining the Labor Party in doing this. It is unfortunate that the National Party have said that they won’t participate with their Coalition partners in this, but that again just shows the division that is there on the Coalition side of politics.
SMITH: My gut tells me that loyal Pauline Hanson fans will stick with her no matter what the Prime Minister said today. I’ve got Graham on the line. You have been loyal to Pauline Hanson, Graham?
CALLER: Chris, from day one I have been loyal to Pauline because she fights for Australia, Chris. She keeps the B’s honest mate and she has got my vote this time too. I am shocked that Scott Morrison coming out. I was stunned when I heard that this morning, you know?
SMITH: But if the One Nation Party poses a threat to our tough gun laws, didn’t he have to do what he did?
CALLER: Yes, that’s the little thing that I do question. Even though she’s still got my vote Chris, I was a bit stunned about that this morning with this Ashby thing and all that. I can’t get my head around that. But she has still got my vote.
SMITH: Anthony Albanese, a very familiar retort that I have received on email since about midday today saying exactly the same thing – ‘I am sticking with Pauline’. This will hurt the Liberal Party won‘t it?
ALBANESE: I don’t think it necessarily will because what it will do is send a message that this is a fringe political party. That is what the decision is that has been made and it is the right thing to do and in politics sometimes you’ve just got to do the right thing and that is what it is here. We’ve been doing it consistently – arguing the case. I understand people’s frustration and I am not critical of what way anyone votes in this country. We are a democracy and it is important that people have the right to express their views and undoubtedly many people, as we see, one in three are voting for neither of the major political forces in this country. But it’s up to the major political parties, as well, to speak about why it is that major parties are worthy of their votes. I’ve got to say I am someone who doesn’t argue for any of the non-mainstream political parties. I, of course, always advocate a vote for Labor. But I do argue that he big difference between a party that seeks to form government and after the next election either Bill Shorten or Scott Morrison will be the Prime Minister of this country. If Bill Shorten is successful, I will be sitting around a Cabinet table making decisions. Those people, whether it be One Nation or the Greens or the Shooters Party or the Animal Justice Party or others, what they get to do is to wait until decisions are made and then decide whether they are going to protest against them by voting against them or not.
ALBANESE: To me if you are serious about making real change in society, then you have to be a party of government. They are the ones that really make a difference.
SMITH: All right, let’s talk about preferences and extremists. The Greens today have released their policy plan. By 2030 – in ten and a half years’ time – they want 100 per cent renewable energy, a total ban on coal-generated power. We will have no baseload power. The whole country will fall on its knees. When is Bill Shorten going to disown the Greens like Scott Morrison has disowned One Nation today?
ALBANESE: Well we are opposed to the Greens. We seek people to vote Labor and of course. Why didn’t they put that forward until 2020? Why wait until 2030 if that is the sort of fantasy position that is put forward? But these fringe parties are able to do that, to put forward ideas that simply don’t stack up. They don’t have to pay for any of their promises.
SMITH: You’ve been having an affair with the Greens for years. You have been having an affair with the Greens for years.
ALBANESE: As you full well know, Chris, I am in an electorate whereby my main opposition is the Greens at every election and it will be the case this time around again. So you can’t accuse me of having a close relationship with the Greens.
SMITH: Well we can accuse the Labor Party of hopping into bed with the Greens and back out and hopping back in again. You formed government one time with the Greens support?
ALBANESE: No, we didn’t form government with the Greens at all, ever. What we did do was have an agreement over confidence and supply, which someone had to do because no one had the absolute majority in the Parliament just as the current Government has an agreement over confidence and supply with a range of the crossbenchers.
SMITH: Okay, so what’s your message to voters who think the Greens are on the right track in pushing for 100 per cent renewables in ten and a half years’ time?
ALBANESE: Well it’s simply not a real promise. It doesn’t stack up economically. It would damage the economy. What we need to do is to transition in a sensible way to a clean energy economy. We know that the future is renewables, but that future can’t be done overnight and we need practical policies. And what the Greens do all the time, is to come up with with policies that that sound good because they know they’ll never be in a position to actually have to implement them and this is the same Greens political party that of course voted against a carbon pollution reduction scheme under the Rudd Government twice. If that had occurred then the last decade of war over energy policy would have been put to rest at that time.
SMITH: True. Very true. Thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Good to catch up.
ALBANESE: Always good to talk to you.
Subjects: Population growth, infrastructure, NBN, Budget, election.
FAINE: Good morning to you.
ALBANESE: Good morning. Thanks for having me on the program.
FAINE: Does the Labor Party believe in reducing migration to Australia?
ALBANESE: No we don’t. We understand that migration is an essential part of who we are. We are a migrant country. With the exception of course of First Nations people we are all either migrants ourselves or sons or daughters of migrants. What we do believe in is making sure that infrastructure keeps up with the growth which is there and the Victorian Government have essentially been going it alone because of a failure of the Feds to kick in Victoria’s share of the Federal infrastructure budget over recent years.
FAINE: There is a fair view though of public sentiment that we should perhaps either have a pause or a slight reduction or in some way this continued growth, growth, growth it is unsustainable.
ALBANESE: What is required is a sensible migration policy. It shouldn’t be a free-for-all. There is rough consensus at the national level that the figures have been right.
FAINE: Which figure? The figure that is the target or the figure that is the actual, because there has been about …?
ALBANESE: There has been a reduction in recent times in terms of actual migration to Australia and of course …
FAINE: So which figure does the Labor Party subscribe to? The 160,000 a year target or the 120,000, that is the actual number of people who make it here?
ALBANESE: Well in terms of the numbers we support the existing target which is there but also one of the things …..
FAINE: So you would increase migration because at the moment that target is not being achieved?
ALBANESE: No, we wouldn’t. We think the numbers have been just about right and what we don’t want to get into in spite of attempts by some is a debate which is counterproductive. We will work …
FAINE: Well I don’t want to be belligerent about this but which figure are you saying that … ?
ALBANESE: We think it is about right right now. The numbers of people coming in are about right right now.
FAINE: Well that is the 120,000, Mr Albanese?
ALBANESE: Yes it’s about right right now.
FAINE: Ok then in that case …
ALBANESE: I’m not going to get into a partisan debate about numbers and population.
FAINE: I’m not trying to get you into one. I am trying to be factually accurate.
ALBANESE: And I have said the answer, which is ….
FAINE: You are backing away from the 160,000 target too.
ALBANESE: I am saying the numbers have been about right, right now
FAINE: At 120,000 people a year.
ALBANESE: One of the things that we need to do is to make sure for example that one of the issues is people coming in in terms of labour market. We think there needs to be proper labour market testing. And when it comes to ….
FAINE: What does proper mean?
ALBANESE: Well it means making sure that there is actually some vigilance over whether Australians are available for jobs that are needed and at the moment that hasn’t occurred. There’s lots of examples whereby jobs have been taken by people coming in on overseas visas.
FAINE: You don’t base policies on anecdotes surely?
ALBANESE: Well it’s not a matter of anecdotes. It is a matter of looking at what is actually happening on the ground and then responding to it and making sure that labour market testing occurs so that where Australians are available to do work they get the opportunity to do it. You also …
FAINE: So the Labor Party, along with the Coalition, you both agree on reducing the targeted migration take of 160 to the actual 120?
ALBANESE: I am not the migration spokesperson, Jon. Let’s be very clear about that.
FAINE: I think the last five times we have asked Mr Neumann to come on air he has declined. So you are as close are we can get.
ALBANESE: Well that is a matter for him. I am not the migration spokesperson. I am not about to announce our migration policy on your program this morning. Nor am I about to announce other people’s portfolio responsibilities either.
FAINE: All right, well on your portfolio area, does the Labor Party believe in trying to incentivise or force people to go into the bush?
ALBANESE: Well the problem there is it’s a good idea if you are matching up a demand for people, which there is in a whole range of communities, by ensuring that they are able to go there. But it is a matter of keeping them there as well and what you need to do if we are going to have that growth in those regional communities is make sure that there are jobs and it is sustainable for people to move there.
FAINE: And how do you do that?
ALBANESE: Well it’s a challenge. You need to …
FAINE: That’s not giving us much of a clue saying it is a challenge.
ALBANESE: Well there aren’t simple answers for this, Jon. If there were simple answers it would have been done.
FAINE: Well that’s why you get the big bucks, Mr Albanese, so you come up with the answers.
ALBANESE: Well what we don’t come up with is platitudes and statements that can’t be resolved.
FAINE: So trying to manage people; Mr Tudge has at least put some policies on the table. Is Labor going to come up with some ideas? Are you going to come up with some initiatives or just statements of intent?
ALBANESE: No, well one of the things that we have done for example, the National Broadband Network was one essential, practical way to overcome the tyranny of distance. What that was about was making sure that if you are in town like Shepparton or anywhere else in regional communities, you get the same access to markets that you would if you were in the CBD of Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane and unfortunately a lot of that has been undermined. That was about a practical plan to make sure businesses were encouraged, because of the lower overhead costs of establishing businesses in regional areas as opposed to in CBDs, that there would be a real economic incentive to be based there.
FAINE: Is the Government going to provide subsidies if you are indeed elected and you form the government?
ALBANESE: Well we don’t have plans for that at this stage.
FAINE: Then how do you make it happen?
ALBANESE: Well we don’t have plans for that at this stage. What we will do is to come up with regional economic development plans to make sure – including having proper industry policies and Kim Carr is doing work on that – to make sure that we encourage businesses to locate in those communities.
FAINE: How do you encourage businesses to locate in those communities? Saying it is one thing, making it happen is another.
ALBANESE: I’ve just raised one issue in terms of making sure that those businesses have access to markets through the National Broadband Network, by fixing that up. Another plan that we have …
FAINE: That’s going to happen overnight.
ALBANESE: No, but you can’t fix these things overnight, Jon. And anyone who comes on your program and tells you that you can fix the issues of population distribution overnight is lying.
FAINE: In the Budget one of the comparative advantages that’s certainly been your main campaign point in the Clayton’s campaign we’ve had until next week, when it probably gets underway for real has been the so-called living wage policy that Mr Shorten has made his own, which is where he says that he’ll deal with stagnating wage growth by providing for a living wage. The Liberal Party are slowly leaking out that Josh Frydenberg’s Budget on Tuesday is going to lift wages as well as deliver tax cuts. There goes your comparative advantage, does it not?
ALBANESE: We’ll see what their actual plan is. All we’ve seen from the Liberal Party up to now is support for cutting penalty rates and undermining of wages and conditions, an ongoing attack on people’s right to belong to trade unions and therefore to be able to bargain collectively and a strategy of damping down wages.
FAINE: So if indeed you’re going to increase minimum wages the Small Business Council and the big business organisations are all in furious agreement that that will cost jobs …
ALBANESE: They’re not actually. What was interesting about this week is that the Business Council of Australia came out in support of the plan of a living wage.
FAINE: Depending on where it’s set and how big the increases are going to be. Innes Willox is on the record as saying ….
ALBANESE: Our plan for having the Fair Work Commission work these issues through for not an instant increase, but working it through in the context of making sure that the economy as a whole benefits because what every economist is saying, from the Reserve Bank Governor down, is that one of the problems in this country is the fact that wages aren’t keeping up with inflation.
FAINE: Sure, but if you push wage growth too far then you’re going to have job losses. So is the solution that the Government is going to end up being the major employer? We go back to the days of big government, lots of government spending on infrastructure and other projects as we’ve seen the State Government do here, soaking up those who lose jobs in the private sector.
ALBANESE: No, the solution is in part that is in terms of – I support what the Victorian Government have done on infrastructure and we will certainly do more on infrastructure as well. But the solution is what we’ve put forward, which is to instruct the Fair Work Commission to do an assessment based upon the concept of living wage rather than minimum wage. Surely it’s not too much to ask in a country like ours, as wealthy as we are, that people are allowed to live on the wage in which they’re given.
FAINE: Next week Parliament resumes and on Tuesday evening Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer of Scott Morrison’s Government, delivers a Budget. The Prime Minister could then reap all the publicity that comes from the Budget all day Wednesday and then Wednesday afternoon is there the chance that Scott Morrison could go see the Governor-General in the afternoon or evening of Wednesday and deprive Bill Shorten of his Budget Reply speech?
ALBANESE: For an arrogant government that would be the ultimate act of undermining our democracy. And I can’t see that anyone in the Coalition would support that happening. Unless it was a crazy discussion at 3am in the morning and when they woke up they’d realised that was a very, very bad idea.
FAINE: Dissolve the House on Wednesday night and avoid, not just Bill Shorten’s speech in reply, but probably Senate Estimates can’t sit thereafter either. It avoids several days of bad headlines for the Coalition.
ALBANESE: Senate Estimates won’t be able to sit if they call it on the weekend. So in terms of the denial of the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity to give a Budget Reply, I can’t see that any government that did that wouldn’t bear the consequences of that, which would be to be marked down.
FAINE: Only by the political class. Those of us, people like you and me and many of the people listening. But by and large the bulk of disengaged Australians wouldn’t even know what we were talking about, would they?
ALBANESE: I think this is a theory that will not come into practice.
FAINE: I won’t have a wager with you, I know you’re fond of a punt, I’m not. We’ll see what happens.
ALBANESE: I’m not either actually, Jon.
FAINE: Aren’t you, I thought you were?
ALBANESE: No, I’m not a gambler.
FAINE: Well, that changes …
ALBANESE: I’m a sports nut, but I’m not a gambler.
FAINE: I think Estimates is sitting Thursday and Friday next week, so if the House dissolves on Wednesday evening, then Estimates on Thursday or Friday?
ALBANESE: And that was an agreement between Mathias Cormann and Penny Wong. There has to be some honour in this game. And I doubt very much that there would be such a breach. I think that for a government going into an election that would put it very much on the defensive and on the back foot. And I am of course a former Leader of the House of Representatives and if someone came to me with such a proposition I would dismiss out of hand and I would have thought that anyone of integrity would do that.
FAINE: Well, let’s wait and see what happens next week. Thank you for your time.
Subjects: Coopers Plains level crossing, One Nation, Federal election campaign.
GRAHAM PERRETT: I am Graham Perrett. I am the Federal Member for Moreton and I am here in the middle of my electorate with the Federal Infrastructure and Transport Shadow Minister, Anthony Albanese, to talk about one of the biggest choke points in my electorate – the Coopers Plains rail crossing, where we’ve got east-west traffic, heavy traffic, local traffic, local roads meeting one of the busiest train lines going down to the Gold Coast and Beenleigh and I am proud after years and years of lobbying to say that Anthony Albanese has come to the table with a great solution.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Federal Labor will contribute one third of the funding for this project. We want a partnership between the three levels of government with $73 million from each level in order to fix this level crossing. This is the choke point on the Southside when it comes to traffic. What we can see behind us is 1000 cars an hour passing through this intersection – passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles. And because of the fact that 138 times every day the boom gates come down on this level crossing, it is completely unacceptable that you have hold-ups on 138 separate occasions every single day and what we have also seen is four accidents a year where with these boom gates, cars have hit the boom gates. These are circumstances that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. The three levels of government should get together to fix this choke point.
PERRETT: And we have seen the Lord Mayor say he is prepared to put in 15 per cent. I am saying as someone from the Southside, and I need his Southside councillors to speak up, what’s wrong with the Southside? On the Northside they put in 50 per cent for two grade separations. This one, as seen by the RACQ as a greater problem, they are only prepared to put in 15 per cent. We are not even asking for 50 per cent. We are prepared to do a deal and give us a third. So the Southside says treat us the same as the Northside. Don’t ignore us Lord Mayor. We need the LNP councillors to speak up for the people they represent and actually get one third of the funding from the Lord Mayor to match the State Government and the money that Albo is putting on the table.
REPORTER: Do you think politics came into play in those two previous decisions?
PERRETT: Well the Lord Mayor said it was an LNP area. I don’t know it very well. I will leave it to them. That’s a question for the LNP councillors. All I know is that the former Liberal Member for this area said this problem should have been sorted nearly 40 years ago. It’s time to look after the Southside. We need the LNP to step up.
REPORTER: Given that this is the main rail link down towards the Gold Coast, do you think this adds extra priority to having the State Government and the Brisbane City Council seriously consider your offer?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. There’s a clear case for them to intervene and to give support for this project. Both the State Government, by the fact that they’re doing the study, and the Brisbane City Council has acknowledged this as well. But they haven’t come up with the funding that’s appropriate for this project. So the reason why we’re intervening, due to the lobbying and hard work of Graham Perrett, is to put the message out there that this is a priority. Federal Labor is prepared to do our bit. And frankly I hope that the current Federal Government actually funds this project in the Budget that’s coming on the 2nd of April and then we can just get on with it. But it’s a reasonable proposition to have a third, a third, a third funding. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue because the people in these cars that we see crossing here now – and indeed the heavy vehicles that are crossing past us right now – don’t contain Labor or LNP voters; they just contain Queenslanders, trying to get to and from work, trying to get to and from their recreational activities. It is absurd that they’re held up no less than 138 times every single day.
REPORTER: City Deal arrangements sort of opens the door to more flexible funding arrangements under the Coalition. Do you tend to think that is the way levels of government are going and do you think that’s also a reason why the Lord Mayor should look at upping his current 15 per cent offer?
ALBANESE: We think that there should be genuine city partnerships, not a one-off deal with no funding attached, which is what we’ve actually got at the moment, but an ongoing partnership between the different levels of government about planning, about funding, about making sure that South-East Queensland can function as well as it should. But we’ve got a Federal Government of course that refuses to fund the most important project for South East Queensland, which is the Cross River Rail project. I was there just two weeks ago with Jackie Trad, the Treasurer, examining those issues.
REPORTER: On other issues, what did you think of the behaviour of James Ashby and Steve Dickson going to the States to get money from the NRA?
ALBANESE: This is extraordinary that you have One Nation here in Queensland and also Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff travelling to a foreign country to get donations from a foreign organisation in order to do a deal over removing some of the gun law reform that has bipartisan support in this country. This is completely unacceptable and they have been caught out essentially being prepared to have policies bought for $20 million of donations in order, explicitly on camera, to be able to get additional One Nation senators elected in order to undermine Australia’s strong gun laws that have protected Australians from the sort of events which tragically we saw recently in New Zealand.
The fact is that Pauline Hanson needs to be held to account for this. James Ashby isn’t a lone soldier on this. He is someone who acts in accordance with the direction of Pauline Hanson and this is an outrageous circumstance of travelling to an overseas country, to a US-backed organisation – the NRA – in order to undermine Australia’s laws at the same time as there was a debate in the Senate about foreign donations in which Pauline Hanson was arguing when it came up for debate that she supported a ban on foreign donations. Well this is foreign interference in Australia’s electoral process deliberately done prior to those laws coming into effect to be undermined to the tune of some $20 million.
REPORTER: If they say Ms Hanson knew nothing about their trip do you think that would be reasonable?
ALBANESE: It is simply not credible to argue that Pauline Hanson wasn’t aware that her chief of staff was in the United States soliciting donations from a foreign-backed organisation in return for changes being made to Australian law.
REPORTER: Was it actually lawful to accept money from the NRA?
ALBANESE: Well it isn’t now. But the fact is that this has only come to light because of the activities of this journalist. Otherwise we would never have known what actually occurred and the actions of Mr Ashby in particular and the Queensland One Nation group. So what we know now is the details of this – a very specific ask of $20 million to elect more One Nation Senators with a commitment that they would vote in a way determined by a foreign-based organisation. What we need to know is what other deals One Nation was prepared to do to allow policy in the Australian Parliament to be determined by overseas-based organisations.
REPORTER: One Nation positions itself as very much a pro-ordinary Australian kind of party. What do you think this says about what the reality of the party is?
ALBANESE: What it shows is the hypocrisy of One Nation. Here we have One Nation that speaks about that nation as being Australia, having Australian law being determined as a result of soliciting donations to change Australian law from a foreign-based organisation based upon the views of that US organisation, the NRA; the NRA that has a history that is quite outrageous in terms of defending the indefensible. We know that Australia has been, since the Port Arthur massacre, free from mass shootings that occur on far too regular a basis in the United States. Very clearly as a direct result of the lobbying of this organisation, the National Rifle Association, that seems to be completely incapable of any sense of responsibility or compassion or concern for the victims of gun crimes that occur so frequently on the streets of the United States and in the United States’ schools, churches, synagogues and mosques. The fact is that this is a reprehensible organisation that One Nation, through James Ashby, Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff, were prepared to sit down with and negotiate the way that One Nation would vote in the Australian Parliament in order to suit this US-based organisation. It exposes One Nation for the hypocrites that they are and indeed the dangerous representatives that they are.
REPORTER: One final issue, the Coalition is planning to set up headquarters here in Queensland because Queensland will be a very important state during the next Federal election. Will Labor do the same thing?
ALBANESE: Well we have headquarters here already and indeed not just headquarters in terms of the Queensland branch of the Labor Party, but regular visits. This is my fourth visit to Queensland in the last two months. I will be back here regularly, as will the rest of our shadow ministry team.
REPORTER: Are you saying Peel Street is effectively your headquarters?
ALBANESE: Peel Street is our headquarters right now for the campaign and what we have also right throughout Queensland, whether it has been – I have visited so far this year Rockhampton on a couple of occasions. I have been to Townsville, I have been to Yeppoon. I have been to Cairns and I have been to Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast and we will continue to visit Queensland and the difference is that when Labor people come, we come as a united team with a coordinated response. When the LNP comes it is unclear whether they are campaigning against each other or campaigning against the Labor Party because they really are rabble and we have seen that with Barnaby Joyce’s behaviour in recent days reinforcing that in the aftermath of the NSW election result.
REPORTER: Labor doesn’t see the need to have a specific election campaign?
ALBANESE: We have one. We have one and not just that, we have a mobile one as well and it’s a mobile one that went right up and down the coast. I sat on that bus with Bill Shorten in Central Queensland and at that time we had Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier, and we had other senior members of the Labor team, the united Labor team, on board as well. What Scott Morrison does is have a bus and then fly in between pictures outside of the bus. He doesn’t actually spend time travelling around talking to Queenslanders.
Subjects: NSW election, Mark Latham, minor parties, Michael Daley, Medicare.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Welcome to the program.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on Patricia.
KARVELAS: At the weekend we saw State Labor fail to gain any ground against the Liberal Party especially in Sydney. Were you surprised by the results?
ALBANESE: Well it was a result that was disappointing for New South Wales Labor. There’s no point gilding the lily there, but Gladys Berejiklian I think has shown herself to be a formidable political figure and it was a tough campaign. New South Wales Labor of course had a relatively new Leader in Michael Daley. They put forward I think an effective program making the point about schools and hospitals being the priority for expenditure, but clearly they had some issues in the last week of the campaign that distracted from the message that New South Wales Labor was attempting to put forward to the electorate.
KARVELAS: New South Wales Senator Arthur Sinodinos says he thinks seats like Lindsay, where Emma Husar was forced out, and Gilmore, where Warren Mundine is running, are now competitive. What do you make of that?
ALBANESE: Well it is pretty extraordinary that you have a Liberal Party Senator in Arthur Sinodinos saying that they are competitive in Gilmore. That is a held seat. It is a seat they have held for a very long period of time. They have had successive members. Indeed, there’s only been one Labor Member for Gilmore ever and that was very short term in Peter Knott. So it shows how dire the situation is if anything, the fact that they are putting that forward and I know In Gilmore we have a circumstance whereby the Government has imported a candidate in Warren Mundine who has no connections with the local area.
KARVELAS: Labor’s former Federal Leader Mark Latham is getting a second act as a One Nation New South Wales Leader. He is obviously in the upper house now. He has been elected. How should the Government handle his vote in the upper house?
ALBANESE: I think they should ignore him as much as possible. Mark Latham is someone who seeks attention. This is someone who ran for the prime ministership of the nation as the leader one of the two major political forces and is now reduced to being a backbench upper house member in a State Parliament for a fringe political party led by Pauline Hanson who he once expressed contempt for. Mark Latham, we will wait and see how long that relationship with Pauline Hanson lasts. Mark Latham has a history of course of not being able to sustain political relations and I think that you know in terms of the upper house and the running of the Parliament, I don’t see that he will be playing a major role.
KARVELAS: Should New South Wales State Labor rule out ever working with him?
ALBANESE: Well I don’t think that there will be a constructive relationship with anyone. That’s the history of Mark Latham and I think that will play out and Mark Latham will make, from time to time, outrageous statements in order to get publicity. I don’t intend to add to that during this interview.
KARVELAS: And how should the media deal with Mark Latham? There has been a big debate after Christchurch about how the media deals with some of these more extreme politicians. What’s your view?
ALBANESE: He is one of how ever many people there are in upper house these days. I think it is something like 42. I might be wrong on that. They should treat him the way they would treat the other members of the upper house who have no positions in the Parliament and aren’t on the frontbench of either major political party. There is no reason at all why he should have been given the prominence frankly on Channel Seven in particular that he and Pauline Hanson have been given in recent times.
KARVELAS: Both major parties saw a drop in their primary vote. It has been a trend in the last few Federal elections as well. What does that say about you and the underlying strength of the Labor vote?
ALBANESE: Well we need to acknowledge that that has happened to both major political parties. I have been talking about this for some time Patricia. We need to address it. We need to restore faith in the major political parties who can actually form government and get things done. Decisions are made around cabinet tables and people who seek election who then get to wait for a decision to be made and then decide whether to protest against it or not aren’t the people who actually get to change fundamentally our society and the major parties I think both have been given another wake-up call about that. We need to do better. We need to engage with people. We need to talk about the issues that they are concerned about. We need to make sure that we don’t over-promise and I think that if you look at a government such as Daniel Andrews, who I was with yesterday with Bill Shorten, what we saw there was a major political party whose vote went up significantly across the state of Victoria because he had done exactly what he promised to do and had a vision for the next term. So I think there are models that show that you can bring people back to the major political parties with the right leadership.
KARVELAS: And on this issue in New South Wales, do you think Michael Daley should stay on as Leader? I know that they’ve delayed leadership discussions until after the Federal election, but given the issues and the things he said around race in the last week, are you surprised by those comments and do you think it means he shouldn’t stay on as Leader?
ALBANESE: Well those comments weren’t appropriate and Michael Daley has certainly acknowledged that and certainly it had a negative impact on the outcome of the election, there’s no question about that.
KARVELAS: Sure, but if a Coalition Member said them you would be thumping the desk. I don’t know if you literally would, but you know what I’m trying to say, you would be pretty outraged by them. Shouldn’t you show the same level of outrage to Michael Daley?
ALBANESE: I’ve just distanced myself from those comments. This is the first time I’ve been asked about it. As you know, Patricia, I wasn’t around in Australia last week so at the first opportunity I’ve stated my opposition to those comments.
KARVELAS: Does it mean he’s not fit for leadership though, if he can make those comments so flippantly?
ALBANESE: That’s a matter for the caucus and for the party membership. The good thing about the rules changes that were championed when Kevin Rudd and I had the leadership of the national ALP, and then have now gone through state ALP branches as well, is that it’s very empowering for the membership to get a say. I would expect that there will be a contest, but it will be after the Federal election, which is appropriate. It’s important that all ALP members in New South Wales, and indeed around the country, focus on the need to get rid of this incompetent, hopeless Government and rabble that we see at the Federal level. That will be the focus up until a May 11 or May 18 election, whichever date the Prime Minister choses. After that there will be a contest if more than one person puts their name forward. I hope they do, frankly, and that the party then gets an opportunity to have a debate moving forward. I think that the leadership ballot that we held in 2013 is one of the reasons why Labor, after our defeat, managed to very quickly, even while that leadership ballot was taking place, we moved ahead in the polls, because they could see that we were interested in the future and in a contest of ideas and that would be a constructive thing for the Labor Party to go through.
KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese, just on today’s announcement: Labor’s pledge to end the remaining freeze on the Medicare indexation rebate by July if you win government. Can we expect another Mediscare campaign by Labor and do you accept that some of the exaggerations in that Mediscare campaign went too far and do you think that you should stick to the facts rather than exaggerate the possibilities?
ALBANESE: Well what I accept, Patricia, is that it’s Labor that created Medicare, it’s Labor that believes in Medicare and it’s Labor that have that at the centre of our health policy. And I also accept that Coalition members, when given the opportunity, will undermine Medicare at every possible opportunity. What we saw was the Medicare freeze is about undermining bulk-billing, it’s about undermining the public system and we know that from John Howard down – John Howard, of course, promised to destroy Medicare and then had to back off, but then, of course, had a series of measures that undermined the system. And the reason why people are concerned about the Coalition’s attitude towards Medicare is that they know, deep down, that they don’t support it. They’re very grudging about it.
KARVELAS: Well they say they support it.
ALBANESE: Well their actions speak very differently.
KARVELAS: Well they haven’t dismantled Medicare though.
ALBANESE: Actions speak louder than words.
KARVELAS: But they haven’t dismantled Medicare, have they?
ALBANESE: They’ve frozen the Medicare rebate.
KARVELAS: That started under Julia Gillard in 2013.
ALBANESE: No, it was a very temporary measure designed very clearly in terms of just for a couple of years. This Government is the Government that are responsible for the Medicare rebate being frozen right now and at every opportunity, we know from what they say, sometimes in public, but always in private, that they really believe in services being available on the basis of a capacity to pay. That’s essentially the difference. Labor believes in health care being available on the basis of need.
KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese, I’m out of time. So you have to come back so we can talk about High Speed Rail. Thanks so much for joining us today.
ALBANESE: It’d be a pleasure.