Subjects: Retirement of Christopher Pyne.
HOST: Well, perhaps giving us something of a taste of the future, he jokingly last night tweeted that he’s looking forward to becoming One Tribe, Anthony Albanese’s on the line. Albo, good morning to you.
ALBANESE: I reckon me arguing with myself would be gold.
HOST: Well, guess what Albo? You get to audition in that capacity this morning because, I don’t know, maybe Christopher’s just turned off all the alarms now.
ALBANESE: He’s given up. He’s given up.
HOST: He’s checked out already.
ALBANESE: He’s gone. He’s slept in.
HOST: Normally he’s extremely fastidious. He’s normally even quicker than you when it comes to calling in, but we’re chasing him down ourselves so hopefully we’ll get him on the line shortly.
ALBANESE: I can speak on his behalf perhaps.
HOST: What do you reckon he’ll say?
ALBANESE: I reckon he’ll say, “I’ve recognised after all these years that my party is hopeless, the Government is hopeless, all is lost and that’s why I’m going.”
HOST: “I am leaving a sinking ship”. Hey Albo, last time we spoke …
ALBANESE: “I’m so in favour of subs I got on one and it sunk.”
HOST: We only make the best here in South Australia. Hey, when we last spoke a couple of weeks ago …
ALBANESE: They are meant to sink, by the way.
HOST: Yeah, they just come back up again. There was a great poll out for Chris, clearly wasn’t great enough that he wants to stick around after the next election, but you made the point then that you don’t think you’re targeting Sturt, has that changed with Christopher Pyne now stepping away from the seat?
ALBANESE: Look, I think it’s a whole new dynamic. On a serious note, I very much wish Christopher well, for both him and Caroline and the kids. I spoke to him after his resignation and I must say he wasn’t having second thoughts, and I think that it opens it up. He’s obviously been a very strong representative. He’s also been, I think, a progressive within the Liberal Party. He’s obviously supported Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership strongly and was a strident opponent and blocker of Peter Dutton becoming the Prime Minister. I think that would reflect the views of his electorate, of Sturt. It’s a progressive electorate, and I think we certainly are targeting Boothby in Adelaide with Nadia Clancy who we think is a fantastic candidate. I think we’ll wait and see how it goes.
HOST: Do you shift your focus now though? Incumbency – the word meaning the level of support for a long-term sitting member has – can be worth five percent, even more in some seats. He’s been there for three decades almost. Does it mean that you guys now regard Sturt as winnable?
ALBANESE: I think we regard all seats as winnable as our starting point, but we’ll be campaigning there. We regard the sitting member in Boothby, who supported Peter Dutton as Prime Minister, as being an asset for us in the election campaign. It’s not always a plus.
HOST: Those flyers are out in the seat, that’s for sure. Christopher Pyne now is on the line. Christopher, good morning to you.
PYNE: Good morning. I apologise for not being available when you were ringing. It’s very unlike me.
ALBANESE: I’ve been speaking on your behalf, Christopher.
PYNE: I’m sure you’d have been saying nice things too, especially now that I’m retiring. When you’re retiring everybody wants to be nice.
HOST: Chris, can we ask, was there a moment or event that galvanised your decision to quit?
PYNE: No, not really. I decided in January and February down at the beach and then back to work, I thought I’d better think about whether I’m going to go on or not. I went to Canberra on about February the 6th to get ready for Parliament and do some ministerial duties and thought, “I’m not certain I want to necessarily be here after the election,” and I thought, “I’ll get them through the two weeks of the sitting, and think about it on the weekend.” I did that and I decided enough was enough. Twenty-six years have been great, I’d been very lucky, but it was time for renewal and I told the Prime Minister on Tuesday and told the world on Saturday.
HOST: So how do you want to be remembered and, separately from that, how do you think you’ll be remembered?
PYNE: A difficult question. Look, I’ve absolutely loved being a local member of Parliament, representing my electorate and dealing with the individual constituent concerns which, for those people who come to see a Member of Parliament, or write or phone – to them that’s a very big issue in their day, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing that. So solving their problems has been a very exciting part of the job. Then there’s the big parts of the job, like the Submarine Project, the Hunter Class of frigates, the Space Agency, the various things that I’ve brought to our State, and invested in through defence capability. But I guess if you summed all that up I’d like to be remembered as a fierce advocate for my electorate, for my State, and for my country.
HOST: A lot of people, in covering your departure, talk about the factional player, the numbers man.
PYNE: Well, as you said in your column on the weekend, you can’t actually get to be a Cabinet Minister, a Member of Parliament, an advocate for your side of politics, unless you win the internal battles which are inevitable in every political party, to get elected. There’s a lot of people who wanted to be the Member for Sturt over the last thirty years, or wanted to be Minister for Defence or Defence Industry, or Education, or whatever it might have been, but I played politics in the situation where I was in a position to get appointed to those jobs or to get elected. Now, there’s a lot of people who turn up with a handful of want and a mouthful of gimme, but unless you’ve got the numbers, you don’t win.
HOST: Do you have any concerns now, you step aside at the same time as Julie Bishop, and you’re probably one of the most influential, progressive voices within the party, that it’s been lauded by some on the Right as a sort of a returning to conservatism in the Liberal Party federally? Have you got any concern about the shift or where the party is broadly?
PYNE: Look, the Liberal Party has been a broad church since 1944. We’re not shifting to any particular political dynamic. There’ve always been a large number of people who would regard themselves as more to the centre of the political spectrum in the Liberal Party, particularly in South Australia, and there are people who regard themselves to the right of the political spectrum, but one person retiring, in my case, doesn’t mean that that has changed that shift or that dynamic. There’ll always be two wings of the party and for the party to be successful both of those wings need to be healthy.
HOST: Do you want to respond to Julie Bishop suggesting that you were influential in orchestrating, in denying her the leadership of the party?
PYNE: I don’t see any point in raking over those old coals, it’s time to look to the future and I’m sure Anthony’s desperate to say something about how much he likes me.
HOST: He got a huge run at the start.
ALBANESE: I’m just being polite now, Christopher.
PYNE: Thank you. Thank you.
ALBANESE: Can I make this point though? On Saturday I put out a positive tweet about Christopher. We’re genuine friends. One of the things that we’ve spoken about is that we would catch up post politics, and that’s something that I won’t do with all of my side, let alone people on the other side. Some of the responses to that, I just say to people look, you can have political differences whilst having having respect for people from the other side, and Christopher and I have a friendship, and if people don’t like that, well frankly, bad luck. I genuinely wish him well, both privately and publicly, and I stand by that. I am disappointed at some of the polarisation that has happened in politics. It seems to be exacerbated by Twitter and by people saying things behind fake names or in private that they’d never say to your face. Christopher has been an honourable opponent.
HOST: It’s a generous assessment. You guys are like Sam and Ralph in the Warner Brothers cartoon – you tear each to shreds during the day and then knock off.
PYNE: Morning Ralph.
ALBANESE: Morning Sam.
HOST: Chris, finally, have you got any ideas about what you’re going to do next, because you’re young enough to have a second career?
PYNE: Well that was a big part of my consideration. One, I’d been in Parliament for over a quarter of a century. Two, I’m fifty-one, and three, it’s nice to choose your own time of departure in politics, and it’s quite frankly very rare. Most people lose their seats or their pre-selection. But my intention is to have another career, to go into business, to promote defence, defence industry, to work with businesses here in South Australia that want to export, trade, grow, and I think that’ll be something I’m excited about. I’ll bring that same energy to that passion that I’ve brought to politics and I’m looking forward to it.
HOST: A lot of ex-politicians Christopher, go into the media. You’ve always been a sensational media performer, maybe could we find a role for you here behind the microphone?
PYNE: Maybe as a guest commentator every now and then. I could come in and replace you so you could go on holiday.
HOST: I like that idea.
ALBANESE: I’d have to come in too.
PYNE: You would.
ALBANESE: But they wouldn’t let that happen because the ratings would jump.
HOST: You never want to be replaced by someone that’s better than you, that’s for sure. Guys, we would love to keep Tribes going up until the election. Obviously after that we’ll have to have pack down and rethink.
ALBANESE: After that it’s One Tribe, we’ve done that deal.
PYNE: Well I’m in.
HOST: I’m not sure what ACMA would think about that. Good on you, Chris. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thank for joining us this morning. We’ll do it again next week.
ALBANESE: Good on you, guys.
Subjects: City Partnerships Tasmania; Election 2019.
JULIE COLLINS: It’s great to have Anthony Albanese here in Hobart with us with our candidate for Clark, Ben McGregor, but also with our colleague Senator Carol Brown and of course our State Labor Leader Rebecca White and our State Shadow Minister David O’Byrne, and also fellow Member for Franklin. We’ve had a great meeting with the mayors, the Lord Mayor of Hobart, the Mayor of Clarence, the Mayor of Glenorchy and the Mayor of Kingborough; talking about a true partnership going forward should a Shorten Labor Government win the next election. We want to work with the Greater City of Hobart mayors to actually deliver for the people of Hobart. What we saw recently from the dud deal by the current Federal Government, was a whole heap of cobbled together policies and re-announcements that really won’t see anything change for the residents of Greater Hobart.
I know when I’m out and about talking to my constituents, people say: ‘What’s in this city deal for us?’ And when you tell them that most of the money is being spent on Antarctica, when you tell them that the $25 million for light rail has been spent on some strategy that nobody can explain, and when you tell them that the only other thing in it is a heap of re-announcements and $30 million for housing over five years, they look a little bit stunned. They were expecting a lot more from this after 800 days. But it’s been terrific to have Anthony Albanese here to talk about what true City Partnerships look like when you actually engage at the local level with local mayors. I’ll hand over to Albo.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Julie. It’s great to be back here in Tasmania for the second time in the past five days. I always enjoy coming here and it has been a very constructive meeting between Federal Labor, State Labor and the four mayors from Greater Hobart; talking about our vision for City Partnerships. And the key is in that word. A deal is something that is essentially a fix and this is a fix to get the Coalition Government through an election. It wasn’t thought through; after 800 days all they could do as the centrepiece was give back the money for Customs and processing at the Airport that they themselves had taken away in a decision of just a few years ago.
We’ve seen Macquarie Point down here that we funded $50 million for way back in 2012 and the State Government has been unable to progress what is a vital urban revitalisation project. We want to see, under City Partnerships, true partnerships; priorities determined by local communities to benefit local communities. And that’s what’s missing from the so-called City Deal.
Our partnerships will be overseen by the Major Cities Unit that we will recreate at the Commonwealth level after its abolition on the very first day that Tony Abbott was elected as the Prime Minister. That Major Cities Unit will oversee a process of how we get better coordination between the Federal Government, State Government and local government; about how they work with the private sector to enhance the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities. We’ll actually have guidelines developed in consultation with local government, making sure that it’s very clear that there is a transparent process whereby local government can put forward proposals for City Partnerships supported by state and territory governments.
This is, I think, a vast difference and the people who we met with today, the elected mayors, are in a very strong position to know what is needed in their local communities. That’s why when we were last in government we established as well, the Australian Council of Local Government; for the first time having a direct relationship between the mayors in the 500 councils around Australia and the national Government. They got to actually meet with the Cabinet from the Prime Minister down, and talk about what their priorities are. We want a new respectful relationship, not one that imposes from above, but one that builds from below based upon the fact that local government is in the best position to know what local communities need and what they want. Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Do you intend on scrapping any of the parts of the City Deal that currently exist?
ALBANESE: What we’ll do is we will maintain all of the funding that is budgeted for as part of any City Deal arrangement. One of the things that people are annoyed with is that when there is a change of government, often things have to go back to the beginning. We want to build on what’s there. But we think, frankly, there’s not that much there in terms of a foundation. So for example the $25 million on light rail, it is very unclear what it is for because there’s not enough to build the project, but it’s too much if it’s about having a business case. So we’ll maintain that funding for public transport, but we’ll make sure it actually makes a difference. At the moment it’s $25 million that won’t produce anything.
REPORTER: You mentioned the Macquarie Point re-development, which sits right next to Macquarie Wharf, which is a working port and will continue to be a working port with logs there. Do you have any concerns about log truck movements through the city of Hobart and is there anything you would do to address that?
ALBANESE: We can work through those issues. One of the things that we were responsible for when we were last in government was making sure that we built the Intermodal and we took a lot of the freight pressure off. We had the rail revitalisation plan that – I worked with David O’Byrne and one of the things that’s happened under this Government is they took a whole lot of funding out, put a little bit back and called it new funding.
There is not a single major infrastructure project underway in the State of Tasmania that was not funded in the 2013 Budget or before. And that is an indictment of the Government. When you look at the work that we did on the Midland Highway, the Brooker Highway; Burnie Port around Bell Bay. When you look at the upgrades that we had to Bellerive – to Aurora – I think it’s called something else these days. When you look at the investment that we made here in Tasmania, we more than doubled the Infrastructure Budget here in Tasmania and that was making a big difference.
This Government if it is re-elected, we know that the Forward Estimates show that infrastructure funding essentially falls off a cliff. And what they’ve done with this so-called City Deal just before an election is called, having had 800 days to actually do something about it, is come up with essentially a smokescreen, where they have cobbled together different things that were happening anyway and called it a City Deal. Well it’s not good enough. Tasmania deserves better. And this growing city, thriving city of Hobart, deserves better as well.
REPORTER: Is there anything that you would specifically do to reduce forestry freight or logging truck movements through Hobart?
ALBANESE: Well we’ll work through all of those issues. One of the things about Macquarie Point is that, when I was the Minister, we began the process of appointing a structure, a board, to advance that project. Now after 2013 the momentum for that from the federal level disappeared completely because Tony Abbott wasn’t interested in cities at all. And the State Government here under Will Hodgman, into its second term, hasn’t been able to advance that project at all. And the $50 million that was got for that project, handed over by the Federal Government, was supposed to facilitate the State Government progressing that project and it simply hasn’t happened and they are wasted years. And if we are elected in May then one of the first things I’ll be doing, is sitting down with the State Government and demanding to know why it is that they have been unable or incapable of advancing that project. I know that Rebecca White wants to advance the project and wants to work with us constructively. But we’ll work with the Government of the day in advancing these issues.
REPORTER: Do you support State Labor’s position on making the inclusion of a child’s sex on birth certificates optional?
ALBANESE: That’s a state issue. I’m here to talk about the Commonwealth’s role in City Partnerships and that’s my focus here today.
REPORTER: Are you pleased that State Labor has taken a step back from its pokies policy?
ALBANESE: Once again I’m not a State Labor spokesperson. I have a big job in the Federal Opposition as Spokesperson for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Cities and Tourism. I was here on Friday with my tourism hat on, with Rebecca at what was the biggest dinner ever held in Launceston, I’m told. It was a great success. And later today I’ll be talking to the Tasmanian tourism sector about ways in which we can advance tourism here in Tasmania. We know that it already employs – about 15 per cent of employment in Tasmania comes directly from the tourism sector. I’m very focused on the job that I have.
REPORTER: Pokies obviously isn’t just a state issue though. For example independent Andrew Wilkie will certainly be campaigning on it for the seat of Clark. So surely Federal Labor has a position on it?
ALBANESE: What Federal Labor will be doing is campaigning on federal issues and we think that what we would want to do is to hold this Government to account. I mean what we see over the last week is Ministers running for the door. We expect that there’ll be more vacancies in the coming couple of months. Our focus is on Federal issues and we’ll continue to campaign on Federal issues in the lead up to the election.
REPORTER: On that – same topic – is the poker machine issue something you would prefer not to become a part of the Federal Election?
ALBANESE: Well we’ll be campaigning on Federal issues and I’ll be campaigning particularly on my portfolio. But we’ve got a big job. The Federal Government is responsible for running the national economy and we have low wages growth, we have some dangerous science on the global horizon. Some clouds are out there and we need to make sure that we have that sustainable economic growth. How do you do that? You invest in infrastructure and you invest in people through skills and through education, early childhood education and right through to university and TAFE, as well as the school system.
We’re responsible, of course, for Medicare which will be at the centre of the health system that we run. We have Julie Collins here and Carol Brown will both be playing important roles as Shadow Ministers. So we have an important task to do. We think that we are in a position whereby we are united, we have a vision for the country, we know where we want to take it. We want to advance opportunity, not entrench privilege. And one of the things that means, is making sure that we invest here in Tasmania. And it’s why this is my second visit here in a week, I’ll continue to be back here campaigning on Federal issues. Thanks very much.
Subjects: George Pell, border security.
DEBORAH KNIGHT: Good morning to you both.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.
KNIGHT: Christopher, to you first: John Howard wrote a character reference for George Pell after his conviction in December and Tony Abbott, who we know is a friend of Cardinal Pell, called him after the guilty verdict was made public. There is of course loyalty at play here because they are friends. But do you think they have made a mistake here?
PYNE: Well that’s a matter for them. They are personal friends of Cardinal George Pell. I have known Cardinal George Pell for a very long time – 20 years. I think John Howard wrote a character reference after the conviction of the Cardinal for the sentencing in terms of the sentence that Cardinal Pell might now receive and that is not an abnormal thing for that to occur in these situations, but whether this was a good idea is really a matter for them to answer, not for me to answer.
KNIGHT: Because I think I suppose, thinking about the victims here and that is where the criticism is coming, that there is not much thought going to the victims themselves.
PYNE: Well I do think that the conviction of Cardinal Pell should give a sense of justice to the families of the victims and to the victims themselves. I think that is very important. We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the conviction was recorded and the action was taken to protect the justice of the country we live in and to make sure that those people who felt that a crime had been committed had that chance to be tested in court. They were found to be right and we don’t want to start re-contesting that case. There will be an appeal. Apparently Cardinal Pell intends to appeal and that needs to be given its chance to run. But primarily here victims of an historic sexual offence have had their day in court and justice has been served.
KNIGHT: Have you contacted him?
KNIGHT: Anthony you are a Catholic and the faith of a lot of Catholics has been tested as a result of this. What was your reaction to hearing of the conviction?
ALBANESE: I think it showed that no-one was above the law in this country and that is a good thing. I think for the victims of institutional abuse that occurred of course not just in the Catholic Church; in all of the churches; in organisations like the Boy Scouts, I am very proud that Julia Gillard had the courage to call the Royal Commission and that arising out of that many people have been able to get some sense of justice. Of course nothing can repair the damage that has been done and I think what is unfortunate about the nature of John Howard and Tony Abbott’s interventions after the verdict is that John Howard’s letter, and he is someone I have respect for, but it made no reference at all to what had occurred and it also suggested that his view of George Pell had not been changed, and that I think was very unfortunate and it does show a lack of judgement.
KNIGHT: When it comes to the Royal Commission we know that the national redress scheme has been set up in the wake of that but there are so many of the victims who are still in limbo waiting to actually get access to compensation because the church as an institution has not signed up to that. Christopher, do you think they should be made to.
PYNE: Well they are, they are signing up individually as each diocese or archdiocese or education systems or state-based institutions.
KNIGHT: But should they come as a body?
PYNE: No that is entirely a matter for them. Every organisation runs their own system. Whether they joined up as one national organisation or whether they come as individual institutions is really neither here nor there. The important thing is that there is a redress scheme that was set up by the current Government, coming out of the Royal Commission that was set up by the previous Government. So this is not an area of partisanship. We want to make sure that there is compensation for those people who have been damaged. I think that’s the most important thing, not whether it’s set up with one institution or many institutions. I don’t know how the Catholic system operates, I’m not part of it, apart from being a Catholic myself of course, but I’m not working for it, so I can’t talk to why they have that set up.
ALBANESE: I think quite clearly this verdict, if it needed anything more for the Catholic Church and other institutions to wake up, that they needed to stop dragging their feet, stop trying to minimise compensation and actually look after the victims of this abuse, then surely it’s time, and part of the criticism, I think legitimately, of the Church is that the Melbourne compensation appears to have been – set up a number of years ago before the Government intervention, which was bipartisan as Christopher has said – appeared to minimise the compensation that would be going to victims.
KNIGHT: And to have a convicted paedophile as the architect of a scheme for victims of abuse just seems quite strange.
PYNE: Well Deb, he wasn’t a convicted paedophile at that time, so…
KNIGHT: No, but to still have it in place at the moment is what a lot of the victims are looking at, at the moment.
PYNE: I was very impressed this week with the committee that met in the Vatican to talk about this, with Archbishop Coleridge of Brisbane’s comments, where he actually faced up in front of the Pope and said: ‘We only have ourselves to blame’. There was no sense that the Church in Rome was trying to shift blame to anyone else and I was proud as an Australian that the one of the leading voices was Archbishop Coleridge from Brisbane saying: ‘Let’s not try and blame anybody else for this. We only have ourselves to blame’. And I think that’s a very important step.
KNIGHT: A very important point to make, Christopher, that is true. Now the election may not have been called yet, but of course the campaigning is in full flight, and Albo it looks like Labor’s been snookered to some degree on the issue of border security. This was the Tweet that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton put out yesterday, which I think we have here (Tweet shown onscreen) and the Government really has put it into points here that they’ve delivered. You can’t argue with that, can you?
ALBANESE: The fact is that this is a Government that is continuing to play politics with this issue. I saw Peter Dutton’s comments yesterday suggesting that people couldn’t get healthcare, into hospitals, because those places were being taken by refugees. I mean that sort of grubby politics really is unacceptable in this country. All the Government’s got left is a fear campaign, because they don’t have a positive agenda for governing the country.
KNIGHT: And how can that be right, Christopher, that they would be losing out, Australians, on hospital places or public housing places? Because I thought that the treatment of any asylum seekers would be taking place on Christmas Island?
PYNE: Well the more important point, Deb, is that under Labor is cost $16 billion to fix up their failed border protection policies. They had 8,000 children in detention, 50,000 unauthorised arrivals. They opened 17 detention centres. Now we fixed all that and Labor wants to take us back to those dark days again. They’ve weakened our border protection. We’re finding it very difficult to implement, for the reality is that we can’t actually return people once they come to Australia. The asylum seeker lawyers are all sharpening their pencils because they know that they’re going to be able to completely dismantle offshore protection, and that’s unfortunately because of the weakness of the Labor Party on border protection. I don’t like having to have strong border protection, but it’s better than people smugglers being in business.
ALBANESE: None of that’s true, of course.
KNIGHT: We will hear lots of this during the course of the campaign, no doubt. Plenty to come. We’re out of time. And Christopher, it’s lovely to have you back. We’ve missed you.
PYNE: I know, I’m sorry. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been on a plane at this time, so I’m very glad to be here.
KNIGHT: Well we’re glad to have you. Aren’t we, Albo?
PYNE: Looking forward to next week well.
ALBANESE: He’s all right.
KNIGHT: He’s all right.
ALBANESE: He’s all right.
PYNE: You’ve missed me. You have missed me.
KNIGHT: We have. It’s good to have you both here with us.
PYNE: Thank you Deb.
KNIGHT: Lots to discuss, as always. Thanks again.
ALBANESE: Thank you
Subjects: Tasmanian Tourism; Quality Tourism Framework.
PIAA WIRSU: Anthony Albanese is the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism. He arrived not that long ago, mere minutes ago in fact, I believe for the Awards. Welcome to Drive, what will you be talking to operators about at the awards tonight?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I’ll be talking about what they’re interested in, which is how government can actually facilitate tourism investment here in Australia and particularly in Tasmania. We know that there’s a million Australians rely upon tourism for their jobs. And tonight I’ll be announcing our support for what the sector have put themselves forward, through the Australian Tourism Industry Council, of a Quality Tourism Framework. Basically small grants, but which can really help tourism operators to develop their IT systems, to develop their marketing, to develop their skills. So that small businesses can become bigger businesses employing more people.
WIRSU: We will be headed to a Federal Election in the near future, there’s every chance you will become the Minister for Tourism out of that Election. What’s your vision for tourism in Tasmania?
ALBANESE: For Tasmania tourism is obviously absolutely vital. You have such an extraordinary natural environment. You have such an attractive range of destinations, whether it’s here in the north, or in the centre around Cradle Mountain, or whether it be your cities of Launceston and Hobart with food and wine and all that you have to offer here. It is an exciting destination and I have been very engaged with the Tasmanian tourism sector. One of the other advantages that you have is that they tend to speak on most occasions with one voice and that’s a very good thing. That isn’t always the case around the country; that really helps. So for example when we were last in government, we funded everything from bike trails here in the north, down to the Three Capes Track down in the south, and we funded upgrades to the Cradle Mountain infrastructure. We really think that tourism has an opportunity to be even a greater provider of employment here in Tasmania.
WIRSU: If your government is elected come the Federal Election that will happen in the next little while, what funding commitments do you have? What ideas do you have in mind to harness that opportunity in Tasmania?
ALBANESE: Well recently we have committed $30 million for Cradle Mountain. We’ve committed $8.8 million towards completing the North West Coastal Pathway. We have more announcements – tonight’s announcement is another $6 million – it’s a national announcement, but that has been a big priority including here in Tasmania. We think that there is much more that can be done here. And one of the things I’ll be doing while I’m here is once again talking to the sector – not just tonight but tomorrow morning as well.
WIRSU: Anthony Albanese as I’m sure you know there’s a real tension in Tasmania at the moment between expanding tourism visitation and development and on the other side environmental protection. What is your priority when it comes to tourism in the state, development or environmental protection?
ALBANESE: Look I don’t think it is a matter of either-or. I think that good development for example, there was some opposition to the Three Capes Track investment, because it was providing budget accommodation as part of that walk. But it’s now world renowned. It’s been very positive, that investment and I don’t think anyone is saying that the environment has been damaged. We need to make sure that what’s special for Tasmania, its natural environment, is protected and that any tourism proposals are sustainable, but we also need at the same time to make sure that jobs and economic activity come to Tasmania.
WIRSU: It’s 5:17, you’re hearing from the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism Anthony Albanese. Do you have any specific policy in mind to get people out of the major cities into regional areas in Tasmania?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. One of the things that the Quality Tourism Framework is about, really, is helping not the big players in Hobart and Launceston, it’s about helping your smaller operators. If you look at the walks that are here in Tasmania, if you look at the destinations like Pumphouse Point is a great example of restoration of an old facility, at Lake St Clair there, that is quite an extraordinary accommodation precinct, one that has a waiting list of months, not just weeks. And that’s an example of a small venture, but one that has been extremely successful in the regions and gets people out of the cities.
WIRSU: So what will you, if you’re elected to government, do to help generate projects like that?
ALBANESE: Well I think that’s what the Quality Tourism Framework is about. Helping up to thousands potentially. It could develop up to 10,000 high quality tourism experiences. That will be a very good thing.
WIRSU: Just finally before I let you go, there are also community concerns in Tasmania about the lack of infrastructure to handle the increasing numbers of tourists to the state. What’s your plan to make sure that infrastructure needs keep up with the demand from tourism?
ALBANESE: Well when we were last in government, of course, we doubled the roads budget. And we had significant investment here in the north and in the north-west and I think …
WIRSU: But looking into the future, what are your plans for the future?
ALBANESE: Well our plan is for further upgrades, we’ve committed to on the Bass Highway for example. And that is obviously the critical highway. We’ve put additional money on the table for the Midland Highway to connect the north and the south as well.
WIRSU: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time this afternoon. And as we speak to you from the airport just a few minutes off the plane Anthony Albanese is the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism, of course a Federal Election coming up every chance that Labor will become the government, hearing about what their priorities are for tourism in Tasmania should that be the case.
Subjects: George Pell, Catholic Church.
HOST: It’s a big good morning to Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
PYNE: Good morning Will. Good morning David. Good morning Anthony.
HOST: Guys we want to kick off by talking about Cardinal George Pell. Obviously the discussions we have been having on air today have been predicated on the fact that it is still before the courts. He has been found guilty, but he has the right to appeal and we as a result suspend a degree of judgement. But I just wanted to get some thoughts from both of you about the broader issue of the manner in which these cases have been handled by the Church. What are your views Chris, particularly as someone who as a graduate of St Ignatius, was brought up in the Catholic faith. Have you found this testing?
PYNE: Look it’s clearly testing. It’s a very depressing time for the Catholic Church and as Archbishop Coleridge, the Archbishop of Brisbane, speaking in the Vatican, said a couple of days ago, the Church only has itself to blame for decades of covering up abuse of sexual assault victims. So as a Catholic and a practising Catholic I do find it very disconcerting. Of course with Cardinal Pell he is appealing. But there must be a sense of justice for his victims and I’m glad that they have had justice. For him, he intends to appeal and if his appeal is successful as it was for Archbishop Wilson of course then we will be resetting this debate about him. But that won’t change the underlying issue that we have had in the Catholic Church now for too long which is the attempt to cover up what should have been referred to the police for police action.
HOST: What’s your view of this Albo? I’m not sure of what your religious background is. But obviously it was Labor in government that established the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Abuse. Do you think the church has changed its ways enough, not just the Catholic Church, but all churches?
ALBANESE: Quite clearly not and it is important to recognise. I certainly was raised as a Catholic. I went to a Catholic School. I indeed went to St Mary’s Cathedral High School in Sydney where one of my former principals is in jail for sexual abuse of minors and the fact is that the Catholic Church for a very, very long time just turned a blind eye to this and it’s got to accept responsibility for it. The issues that were there while I was at school, I’ve talked to my fellow students about it in recent times. It’s almost as if people were just aware of, you know, don’t find yourself alone with person X. And you know it’s quite shocking. I know George Pell. He is someone who I have had a friendly relationship with over the years and it’s very shocking.
But the thoughts have to go with the victims here. This ruined people’s lives, so many. I remember the Cabinet discussion. Of course the 30-year rule still applies so I can’t talk about all the detail, but what I certainly can say is that we really wrestled with it. It wasn’t something that was a five-minute, one-meeting discussion and in the end we came down to making I think what was seen at the time as a courageous decision and Julia Gillard I think deserves incredible praise. It was a very gutsy call for her to make particularly I think in the context of she doesn’t come from a religious background and was attacked for that. But it was the right thing to do and it isn’t of course just the Catholic Church. It was all of the churches plus institutions like the Boy Scouts where people were abused. Let’s just hope that the openness that is now out here of these crimes, and they are crimes, is some comfort, just a little bit, to the victims.
HOST: A constant theme that has come up from our listeners today guys regarding the Catholic Church and the issues within has been its reluctance to take what they say are really significant steps to combat the systemic nature of this and they point to a couple of things that are sacred Catholic traditions like the confessional seal, like celibacy for priests. Would you, given your backgrounds, and I put this question to both of you starting with you Chris Pyne, would you be happy to see changes on those fronts or something similar to that as a sign that the Church is willing to do whatever it takes to combat this scourge?
PYNE: Well I think one needs to tread very carefully. For example the Church has made tremendous reforms in recent years. There have been startlingly good examples of segments of the Church understanding their responsibility. I am proud as a Jesuit-trained student that the head of the Jesuits in Australia, when asked if there were any cases involving the Jesuits over the last 30 years whether they would fight compensation, and he said they would sell every building that they owned in Australia to pay whatever compensation was required because they weren’t in the business of owning real estate; they were in the business of saving souls, and I was gladdened by that response. It’s not all doom and gloom and there has been a lot of reform in the Catholic Church.
In terms of celibacy, it’s easy to say well, if the priests were allowed to marry, things would be different. But that completely ignores the fact that the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse found that there was child sexual abuse across all the institutions and churches, whether it was the Jehovah Witnesses, the Jewish faith, the Anglican Church, the Salvation Army. So you can’t blame celibacy and say that was the problem. In fact the experts in this area, and I am not an expert in this area I hasten to add, say it wasn’t an issue of sexuality so much as an issue of power – the power that priests and others in institutions felt that they had and that there was no accountability.Now I think that has changed and is changing. But what we are seeing at the moment is the Church, not just the Catholic Church, but all the institutions who have been guilty of this, having to face up to their pasts. But let’s hope that facing up to their pasts means that in the future, in the future, we won’t have these issues again.
HOST: Albo, what do you say about these calls for what would represent more dramatic reforms in the church?
ALBANESE: I think the Church has to have a very long hard look at itself – the way that it is organised, including the issue of celibacy. Let’s be clear; it hasn’t always been the case and you know there are issues with regard to property rights that come if people are married and have children and there is a range of economic drivers of these issues as well. But it just seems to me that the Church does need to modernise. It has in many ways of course since Vatican II and in a range of ways particularly under Pope Francis, who I think is quite an extraordinary advocate of social justice and has moved the Church forward substantially in the short time in which he has been the Pontiff.
But I think that they really do need to look at their institutional structures. I do not think it is a normal situation for people to be celibate for life. That is my view and you know the Church does need to evolve, just as so many people in the Church for example, have accepted, certainly the majority of Catholics in my local area of Marrickville I think supported marriage equality for example; that they recognised that the Church’s teachings can’t be the same today as they were 2000 years ago.
HOST: Well we normally busy ourselves with matters of State rather than matters of Church in this segment, but we thought we would get some good candid insights from both of you, particularly being from the Catholic tradition into what is the biggest story in the Church in the world today. So we will resume the hostilities next week.
ALBANESE: I’ve got to say though that I think both Christopher and myself, like so many of your listeners right now, are struggling with all this. It is a complex issue. I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers to it, but I am very glad and it is important that it did move to a bipartisan position of having the Royal Commission and it’s a good thing that that happened.
HOST: Thank you for that guys.
Transcript of Radio Interview – 2HD Newcastle, Richard and Kim Program – Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Subjects: Singleton Bypass, High Speed Rail, Rabbitohs.
KIM BAUER: Anthony Albanese joins us now. Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Kim.
KIM: Will you be going to buy your tickets for Hugh Jackman? Are you that sort of guy?
ALBANESE: I have heard that he is absolutely amazing live. He’s got rave reviews overseas and it is good that he is bringing it to Australia.
RICHARD KING: Well your government will be getting, if you are elected in May, getting rave reviews certainly for the announcement you are about to make officially today. Singleton Bypass seems to be the forgotten one. The New South Wales Government has committed funding for the Muswellbrook Bypass, but Singleton – we get calls every morning because of particularly people heading up to the mines to work etc. I think it is 26,000 vehicles, about 4000 trucks every day along George Street. A bypass long overdue Anthony?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Muswellbrook Bypass is very much needed and both Labor and the Coalition – whoever wins the New South Wales election has committed to that. That’s a good thing at the state level. But there is a little something in between which is Singleton. It has been left out and Singleton Bypass is dearly needed. We know it is one of the region’s worst traffic choke points. Every morning and every afternoon it’s a nightmare. And it’s not just the workers travelling to the mines and the through traffic in terms of passenger vehicles of course; there’s also substantial numbers of heavy vehicles that make this even more needed. So I think that following on from the work that we did last time round, with the fantastic Hunter Expressway – we put $1.5 billion into that last time I was Infrastructure Minister – this is something which has been campaigned for with great vigour by Joel Fitzgibbon and it will be a great day today when the announcement is made.
KIM: Construction due to start, should this go ahead, in 2022. Estimated to take three or four years. Is that realistic? Can it be done in that time?
ALBANESE: Yes it can be. The key is to get all the planning work done properly. If you get that done properly then you can minimise the construction time. There has been a lot more advanced work done on planning for Muswellbrook but for Singleton the planning work hasn’t really been done. Michael Daley and New South Wales Labor have committed to getting on with that if they are elected. I would like to see the construction period brought forward quite frankly but we are being very realistic and modest in what we are promoting and saying can be done because it is always better I think to under-promise and over-deliver.
RICHARD: Hear! Hear!
ALBANESE: But we want this to happen and I know that the people not just of Singleton of course, but of the entire region, want it to happen.
RICHARD: Definitely. We’ve had an email from one of our listeners. “Ask Albo if he is still on about very fast trains and if there is anything he can do to get a non-slow one between Sydney and Newcastle?’’
ALBANESE: I certainly am. It is appalling that it takes longer today to travel by rail to Newcastle from Sydney and the other way around than it did 50 years ago unfortunately. But the truth is the terrain is difficult which is why, in my view, we should bite the bullet and go for a High Speed Rail connection not just through to Sydney but right through to Melbourne and then north to Brisbane. The route that would make the most sense is that corridor between Melbourne and Newcastle. It would be a real game changer. It is expensive, but nation-building requires vision. We have done the study. We did that last time we were in Government. We were ready to create a High Speed Rail Authority. I’ve still got legislation before the Parliament and I know that certainly Sharon Claydon and Pat Conroy and all of the MPs in the Hunter are very, very keen on it, as they are indeed on the Central Coast. There’d be a stop on the Coast and then straight through to Sydney.
KIM: Well it’s a dream. Hopefully it happens and hopefully they are built in Australia. But before you go Anthony, I know you are a big Rabbitohs fan, a life member. How will they go under Bennett this year?
ALBANESE: They are very confident. But I always think we are going to win the comp every February.
RICHARD: (Laughs) Yes.
ALBANESE: I thought that during the 43-year drought between drinks from 1971 to 2014. So I am very confident at this stage. But I do note that we signed Ethan Lowe yesterday which gives us I think a really powerful back row. Ethan is going to be playing at second row this year, and we’ve got Johnny Sutton of course and I think it is a very, very good team. Wayne Bennett is a very experienced coach of course – a seven-times premiership winner. So hopefully he can bag us an eighth.
RICHARD: Good luck. But not when you play the Knights.
ALBANESE: Indeed. It’s always a really good game though. I was at the stadium there to watch a Knights-Souths game with Joel Fitzgibbon a couple of years ago and I love the way that the people of Newcastle embrace rugby league. It’s fantastic, your loyalty. I cheer for the Knights except when they are playing the Cardinal and Myrtle.
RICHARD: Good on you. Thanks you very much for your time. Have a good day.
Subjects: Mandurah Train Station car park project, Christian Porter’s bus, public transport.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is a very exciting announcement. I visited here during the Canning by-election – this station. I have been back to Mandurah three times in the last 12 months and what is very clear is that commuter car parking is at a point whereby it is broken. It needs new infrastructure and that is why our commitment of $16 million, to be supported by the State Government, is about us supporting people’s capacity to get on to public transport and it is so important.
This line is a great legacy of course of a previous State Labor Government. Labor Governments do public transport. The Coalition get dragged kicking and screaming to do anything on public transport and this is important here in Perth. The whole METRONET project is the centrepiece of infrastructure investment here in Perth, the capital of WA, and it is great to be back here again.
MELLISA TEEDE: It is so important. This train station is a major hub for a very large part of the Canning area. So people from Preston Beach, people from Waroona will be able to come here and know that they have a good chance of getting a car park. But I’d also like to say that this will be another major State Labor project and that I will make sure that, if we win government and we get this station built, that we have apprentices actually employed in the construction of this.
REPORTER: Why is it so important that you encourage people to use public transport?
TEEDE: We all see the congestion on this freeway and it is so important that we encourage people to take public transport to be able to move about (inaudible) … you know support our young people when they heading off to work and uni and as I said particularly the outer regions as well, knowing they can come in here to Mandurah and catch a train.
REPORTER: And just on transport in the Peel Region, have you identified any need up in Lakelands and will there be an announcement on the Lakelands train station?
ALBANESE: Well what we are doing is we are working our way through it one at a time and we will be making further announcements during the campaign across Perth and indeed across WA about infrastructure.
TEEDE: I am talking to people in Lakelands and definitely there is strong desire from sections of that community to have a station there. I have to say equally there are some people that say that as long as we have adequate parking here and Mandurah and I understand the State Government is going to be looking at Karnup that will take the pressure, to give them access. I am still listening to what the people are saying and take on board and have those conversations with David as my State counterpart.
ALBANESE: Can I also say that this is an example of Labor’s priorities. Labor’s priorities are practical. We are about putting more investment into schools, more investment into TAFE and universities, more investment into health care. When it comes to transport we are about improving the road network but we are also about boosting public transport and that stands in stark contrast to the current Federal Government.
We have Christian Porter today exposed as getting essentially a free bus from someone who just a week ago, a former state MP, was appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal as a part of a very politicised list just last Thursday. He calls it the Porter Transporter. I think we will be calling it the Porter Rorter because it just continues on and it follows on of course from the Mathias Cormann scandal, whereby he doesn’t seem to notice that someone else pays $3000 of airfares. It follows on from the fact that we have Tim Wilson here today chairing a Parliamentary Committee when one of his relatives is responsible for promoting these Parliamentary Committee meetings around the country. This really is a Government that is unravelling and isn’t focused on practical issues like the one that we’re dealing with here today.
REPORTER: Yep. And just back to the car park, what’s the consultation been to establish that need? How do you know that (inaudible) are needed?
DAVID TEMPLEMAN, LABOR MLA FOR MANDURAH: The sign says it all. The sign says it all: car park full. Look, let’s just be very clear. State Labor and Federal Labor are together on this. We recognise very, very clearly that we need to keep on investing in public transport. We’ve got a track record. I can remember very, very clearly when the Liberal Party argued against the railway line to Mandurah. It was outrageous, but the people of Mandurah saw through that pathetic argument and voted with their feet. Now we see that this railway line to Mandurah, allowing people to connect from other parts of the region here – they voted with their feet.
Now what we need to do is invest more money so that more people can have access to this very, very successful railway line, which of course is part of the State Government’s METRONET Program. The METRONET Program is a comprehensive program about linking people through the Perth Metropolitan area and down through to here, and of course through to Byford in the eastern part of Canning, so that they can get to good quality jobs, so that they can get to good quality education, so that they can actually go and visit their families and friends.
This line is very successful for seniors. A lot of people travel up and down this line to see their families, and also to seek appointments in Perth. That’s brilliant. We want more people on trains, less in cars. Go on the freeway up to Perth on a weekday, or any day, and people know about the congestion. But this is an absolutely magnificent commitment by Anthony, and Mellisa, who’s advocated so strongly for this, and now matching that commitment, a Shorten Labor Government is going to ensure that this happens.
REPORTER: And sorry Robyn, obviously your constituents can’t walk to the train – how good is this to have extra parking?
ROBYN CLARKE, LABOR MLA FOR MURRAY-WELLINGTON: It’s going to be great, because as you know in my electorate we’ve got one bus service from Pinjarra to Mandurah, but for the rest of the electorate they have to drive and this is their only car park really that they can come to, to have access to the train line and to get up to Perth. A lot of them are retirees, they need medical appointments at the hospitals, and when they arrive here at nine, ten o’clock in the morning to try and get parking there’s just nothing available. So this is a great announcement from Federal Labor. What David reiterated – it’s been a Labor Government that has been the forefront of rail infrastructure and I’m so proud because I can go back to my electorate and say that we are building a multi-storey car park and there’ll be extra parking now available to the constituents of Murray-Wellington.
REPORTER: I know this is early days and you don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like, but is there going to be some security elements in there?
TEMPLEMAN: Look, CCTV security is very important. We’ve got to make sure people get on and off their train system safely. This already has of course a fairly comprehensive CCTV but obviously with a new multi-storey car park those will be very active considerations. Let me just underpin this – only the Labor Party has a track record in delivery of quality public transport in this state. We were the party that electrified the system throughout Perth. We were the party that extended the rail both north and south. We’ve got the METRONET plan of course, which connects circular connectors east and west, and of course we have a commitment that is there to be seen – stark contrast to the Liberals which of course closed the Fremantle line in the past and never had their heart in actually delivering quality public transport. We have got a track record. With Mellisa as our member for Canning, and with Anthony as our Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister, this project’s going to be delivered.
Subjects: Park and Ride Scheme; infrastructure; WA politics; Christian Porter; Kevin Rudd; Joe Hockey; Mathias Cormann; pensioners; Uber; drought; Mitchell Freeway; Perth; wages; Safe Rates; road safety; Election 2019; travel; unions.
OLIVER PETERSON: Anthony Albanese live in the studio. Good to see you, welcome back.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having us on again, Ollie.
PETERSON: If you want to ask Albo, hit the phones right now – 9221 1882 – another edition of Talkback Democracy. What are you doing back in Perth?
ALBANESE: Well I was down in Canning earlier today at Mandurah Station with Mellisa Teede, our fantastic candidate. I went down there during the by-election that was held and quite clearly there’s a need for increased commuter parking there. So I did that. I then had some meetings with Kim Travers, our candidate for Pearce. We met with some business people. I then had a meeting at Woodside. I’ve got some things on tonight. I’ve got a sundowner on after this.
PETERSON: Oh okay, come have a beer with Albo.
ALBANESE: It’s a busy time. Beer with Albo. Even better than talkback with Albo is beer with Albo.
PETERSON: Ask Albo – 9221 1882.
ALBANESE: Maybe we could combine the two.
PETERSON: Yes beer and talkback.
ALBANESE: That’s vision!
PETERSON: What could possibly go wrong? The Mandurah train station, you were there promising the car park, that’s been on the cards though since Don Randall’s passing really; at any by-election either party has been promising to do it. So if you want the car park, vote Labor, is that your message?
PETERSON: There will be a car park in Mandurah at the Mandurah Train Station.
ALBANESE: Absolutely with $16 million from each level of government – a multi-storey car park. It is of course the end of the line. A line built by the former Labor Government here in WA and I’ve always loved going down the Kwinana Freeway when you see the trains go past the cars. It really is a great example of public transport that was – basically its patronage far exceeded what the forecasts were and I think that will be the same with the whole METRONET roll-out that Mark McGowan’s Government is doing it in partnership with us, I hope.
PETERSON: Would the Lakelands train station be on your radar?
ALBANESE: It is and Mellisa certainly has raised that with me. We’re in a process of consulting out there.
PETERSON: Does it depend on whether or not you beat Andrew Hastie?
ALBANESE: No, no we will, if we are in government, we will be fulfilling the commitments that we make. It’s as simple as that. But, I’ve got to say, that Andrew Hastie hasn’t delivered much since the by-election. He’s gone a bit missing and the WA Liberals are just too busy fighting over seats and arguing with each other and getting campaign buses for free and getting free international trips to worry about the people who actually vote for them.
PETERSON: So what do you make there of Christian Porter’s appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the buses and Joe Francis, the former Corrective Services Minister, getting one of those roles?
ALBANESE: Well it’s red hot to announce in the very last hour of the Parliament sitting last Thursday, after everything else that had happened over the Helloworld, hello conflict of interest scandal, over everything else that had happened, to make all of these appointments and multiple former MPs, former staffers, including one of his own staff, and then we find that Joe Francis, this former WA Liberal MP, has given him a bus for free and he seems to of…
PETERSON: He says he gave it to the party, not to Christian Porter directly.
ALBANESE: Well I’ve seen the bus and I’ve seen Christian Porter standing in front of it with a super-duper Christian Porter big sign.
PETERSON: Would you catch it?
ALBANESE: No, I think that that bus is stalled and it’s like the Government, it’s rusted and it’s just dealing with itself. It doesn’t go anywhere. That’s the problem; it doesn’t move forward.
PETERSON: But shoe on the other foot, don’t you scratch each other’s backs? When Labor is in government don’t you appoint and give special consideration to some of your old mates and give them jobs? Jobs for the boys or the girls, isn’t that what everybody does? If you’re a Liberal, you help your friends out. If you’re a Labor Government, you help your mates out.
ALBANESE: Have a look at what we did in government, the appointments that we made. People like Brendan Nelson, we appointed as an Ambassador, former Liberal Leader. I appointed Bruce Baird as head of the Heavy Vehicle Regulator. I appointed Mark Birrell, a former Kennett Government Minister. It should be on merit and far be it from me as a politician to say that former politicians don’t have merit, because they can, but you look at this Government’s appointments and it’s dozens and dozens and dozens of mates and no meritocracy here. They’ve been mean spirited. They refused to back Kevin Rudd for the UN Secretary General position.
PETERSON: Would Labor appoint Kevin Rudd to that role? Would you endorse him if you could?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s a UN position.
ALBANESE: Of course we would. We would back any Aussie candidate.
PETERSON: But Kevin Rudd’s an old mate of yours?
ALBANESE: But we’d back any Aussie candidate. We supported Malcolm Fraser, in spite of the history, for playing an international role. We’ve said that people like Julie Bishop, if an appropriate position comes up for Julie, she’s obviously a distinguished former Foreign Minister and she would make a good appointment some time down the track.
PETERSON: Would she be a better appointment than Joe Hockey? Would you remove him from his post?
ALBANESE: Well I think that Joe has some questions to answer about the Helloworld issue, but we’ll see how that plays out. I think he does have questions to answer. I quite like Joe, personally, but I just find the whole Helloworld stuff quite extraordinary.
PETERSON: This is starting to tell a little bit of a tale, Albo, and you’ve been around for a very long time as well in politics and it’s one thing that many people ring us and say: ‘I’m just sick of this kind of sense of entitlement or the backscratching that goes on’. Does it worry that this really goes to the to the heart of all politicians and your integrity when you get labelled with this regardless of whether you’re Labor, Liberal, Green, One Nation, whatever you might be?
ALBANESE: Oh absolutely. Look there’s no doubt that people out there think about themselves and their lives and what it’s like. The idea that you get a $3,000 trip and you don’t notice that it’s not on your credit card and that you haven’t paid for it, which is basically what the excuse is…
PETERSON: From Mathias Cormann.
ALBANESE: Yeah, Mathias Cormann basically saying that it’s a stuff up. Helloworld is of course run by the Treasurer of the Liberal Party and Helloworld have benefited from significant government contracts. Now in politics I think you’ve got to be really, really careful about these issues. You have to declare things above three hundred dollars. I declare all sorts of things, you know if I get a pen or something simple, someone gives me a footy scarf I declare it, because I think that we have a responsibility to be cautious and we are in a privileged position compared with the people, most of the people, that we represent. That’s not to say we don’t work hard. I mean I woke up this morning in Melbourne…
PETERSON: Here you are in Perth, going to a sundowner.
ALBANESE: Here I am in Perth, down to Mandurah and I’ll be going into the evening. It’s pretty tough sometimes, and people look at that and go: ‘Oh, he’s flying around isn’t that luxury?’. I’d be very glad to never get on a plane again, I’ve got to say, but then again – except to come here!
PETERSON: To come to Perth.
ALBANESE: Yes, to come to Perth.
PETERSON: For Ask Albo.
ALBANESE: But for a couple of weeks, not for a day.
PETERSON: For a flying visit. Let’s go to Paul who wants to put a question to you. Good afternoon.
CALLER: Good afternoon both Ollie and Mr Albanese, how are you both?
PETERSON: We’re fantastic, mate.
ALBANESE: I’m good thanks, Paul.
CALLER: Good to hear you’re in Perth. Listen though I’m just asking a question about pensioners. Does the Federal Liberal Party were in the pipeline, I heard it on 882 6PR was going to do with once of payment to pensioners. Now if they do that will Labor Party tick it or will they reject it?
ALBANESE: Well, I haven’t I haven’t seen that, Paul, that announcement here. I haven’t had the opportunity to be listening to 6PR today, I’ve been on the road and at meetings. Can I say this though, the last time we were in government we put through the largest ever increase in the pension in Australia’s history, and that’s something that I was very proud of. We also of course tripled the tax free threshold for those people on really low incomes, from $6,000 to up above $18,000, and Labor will always stand up for those people who are most in need.
PETERSON: Hello Gary. Gary, go ahead.
ALBANESE: G’day Gary.
PETERSON: I don’t think Gary’s there at the moment. Hello Clark.
CALLER: Yeah, hey Albo.
ALBANESE: Hey Clark.
CALLER: Yeah just had a query, I’ve just come back from Phuket actually on a holiday and they banned Uber in Phuket because it was affecting the taxi drivers and it’s been banned in other countries of the world. What’s Labor’s stance on Uber? They going to ban it if they get in?
ALBANESE: No we’re not about banning it. We think the emergence of the share economy is really important, it’s significant, whether it be Uber, Airbnb, there’s a range of companies in terms of – shared motor vehicles, there’s various schemes around the states. We do think there’s a need for proper regulation to make sure that people who are working for companies in the share economy aren’t ripped off, but we think that that is a legitimate way in which, for many people, they’re earning a few extra dollars that might help them pay for a holiday to Phuket. But there is a need, I think for, an appropriate regulatory oversight of all of these companies, plus one of the issues is food delivery companies as well have come under scrutiny and we just need to make sure that whilst we’re not limiting entrepreneurship, we’re making sure that people aren’t getting ripped off at the same time.
PETERSON: This is ‘Ask Albo’ – one from Facebook on the Oliver Peterson 6PR Facebook Page – comes from Wade. He says: ‘What is the Labor Government’s stance on helping out our struggling farmers all over Australia and also what are you going to do about the large amount of nations buying up large amounts of quality land in the north of Western Australia? Keep Australian farmers Australian.’ He writes.
ALBANESE: On the second point of course foreign investment has always played a role. We need to make sure, though, that the national interest is put first and there are various mechanisms to make sure that happens. Overwhelmingly land in this country is owned by Australians and it is important that we support our farmers. They’re doing it really tough. There was a debate in the Parliament last week for example, about establishing a drought fund. The Government, what it wants to do, and it’ll be debated in the Senate when we get back, it wants to take money from the Building Australia Fund – which is used for major infrastructure projects, that’s how we funded Perth City Link here, the upgrade for example – and give that into a drought fund. What we said is no, farmers are doing it tough they need their own fund but we won’t take it from somewhere else. We think it’s deserving in its own right. So that’s a position that we took, but our farmers you know they do it really tough at times like this. And one of the good things, I think, is that I represent an inner city seat …
ALBANESE: … is the way that people – regardless of where they live – have respect for our farmers and have dug deep to provide them with assistance. I know my electorate office in the Inner West of Sydney, we were collecting funds for the farmers and that’s a good thing.
PETERSON: Hello Gary.
ALBANESE: Hi Gary.
CALLER: (Inaudible) I spoke to the Premier in January on one of the shows on this radio station, about what’s going on with the third lane for the Mitchell Freeway, between Aussies Drive and Hepburn. Because it was supposed to be done a couple of years ago and now all of a sudden it’s paused because of the State’s financial worries. We need it back on the agenda, to get done, because traffic is an absolute nightmare. From 5:30 in the morning until 11:00 in the morning (inaudible).
ALBANESE: It is and I’m very conscious of that, and that’s another issue that our candidate for Pearce, Kim Travers, has very much raised with me and we’ve committed to the upgrade in terms of the Mitchell Freeway just extending the widening further up to the north. Of course, Perth is a city – in the time I’ve been coming here it’s grown. And it’s grown to the south and it’s grown to the north in particular. Obviously residents of this great city like living pretty close to the coast and it’s …
PETERSON: Why not, it’s so good.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Your beaches – I reckon for people who aren’t from Perth – I always say to them go to Cottesloe or Scarborough, they are amazing beaches …
PETERSON: Better than Sydney beaches?
ALBANESE: They’re different. They’re different.
PETERSON: Come on, no one in Sydney is listening at the moment, you can say it, it’s all right.
ALBANESE: There’s this new thing called the ‘Interweb’, and they might be listening. But I think Australia has the best beaches in the world and many of the best ones are right here. I’m a big fan of Smiths Beach down the coast.
PETERSON: What, because Stephen Smith hangs out there, does he?
ALBANESE: Smithy was actually the person who told me about Smiths Beach. I think he was trying to claim it was named after him.
PETERSON: Sure he is.
ALBANESE: But it’s just extraordinary and right up and down the coast, of course, this is a great state. Let alone the beaches around Esperance as well, I’ve got to say,
PETERSON: Yeah, lovely. They’re outstanding. We’re going to take a couple more calls in a moment. It’s ‘Ask Albo’ – your opportunity to access one of Labor’s most senior politicians and soon he may be a minister if the polls are to be believed; they are on course to defeat the Government. So if you’ve got an issue for him …
This is ‘Ask Albo’ with Anthony Albanese – Hello Daniel.
CALLER: G’day Anthony, g’day Ollie.
ALBANESE: G’day, Daniel.
CALLER: Number one, I’m a big fan of your work. I like the way you go about things.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much mate, very nice of you to say it.
CALLER: Just wanting to know, basically, I’m a truck driver sort of, you know, a blue collar worker. I haven’t really seen any sort of increase in my wage since about 2003. I know there has been increases in wages in some areas, but in real terms my rate hasn’t really gone up much since about 2003 and I was just wondering what your government – if you do form government – what you could do to put pressure on a bit of a wage rise?
ALBANESE: Not only do you think that it is a problem for you personally, the interesting thing about the low wage rises and not keeping pace with the increase in profits that we’ve seen, is that the Reserve Bank of Australia and every economist knows it is a problem for our national economy. Because if you lift your wage by a bit, guess what, you spend it. You don’t save it, you spend it. And that helps create more jobs for others. What we’ll do in the trucking industry in particular, is that we’re serious about Safe Rates. We don’t think the circumstance whereby truck drivers are put under pressure to lower their costs, or to drive too fast, or to drive for too long are acceptable. And we’ll work with industry to make sure that we do have Safe Rates so that we – not just lead to better living standards, but importantly keep not just you safe on the road, but everyone who shares the roads with you.
PETERSON: All right, I think Angela might be on a similar topic. Good afternoon.
CALLER: Hi, how are you going? What I wanted to know was, I’ve emailed Josh Wilson, I’ve had Glenn Sterle contact me, I’ve tried to contact the TWU both here in WA and federally, trying to get more detail on the Safe Rates. But everyone seems to be ducking for cover. So what we really want to know is a lot more detail and if there is a link or a release that can be sent out that has a lot more detail. I know Glenn Sterle did contact me and I left a message and called him back however he hasn’t called me back again. But everyone keeps talking about saving lives on the road, that’s what Safe Rates will do, but how the hell will it when – are you actually looking at improving road conditions and heavy haulage routes and keeping cyclists off heavy haulage routes? And with Roe Eight not being extended that would have helped keep our drivers safe as well. So what exactly is Safe Rates and when will we see more detail, a lot more detail, well before the election?
ALBANESE: There are three things you can do to improve road safety. One, better infrastructure, literally better roads. So we put in record funding, not just for roads around Perth like Gateway WA, but roads that are still underway that were funded by us when we were in Government like the Swan Valley Bypass. But we also did the Great Northern Highway, Muchea and (inaudible). We did a range of projects, the North West Coastal Highway, to make sure that roads were safe. The second thing is new technology which is important. The newer trucks have better technology and that can have an impact. The third is, of course, personal awareness; people being aware, drivers, when you’re behind the wheel, to drive safely. But the other thing is, what Safe Rates is about is pretty simple, it’s that you can’t have an unregulated area whereby drivers are put under pressure to drive without getting appropriate rest without getting appropriate conditions. And one of the things that we will do is to finalise that in consultation with industry. There was a two-day meeting in Parliament House during the last fortnight sitting. Glenn Sterle is hosting a Safe Rates forum with industry, with people from the sector as well as with the unions in Canberra during the break, because we have a part-time Parliament now. So they will be working on some of the detail and Glenn has carriage of it, as the Assistant Shadow Minister for Road Safety.
PETERSON: On that point of the part-time Parliament, you’ve got a couple of days before the Budget is handed down in April?
ALBANESE: We go back on Budget Day, April 2. And then we sit April 3 and then Bill will give the Budget Reply on April 4 and that’s it.
PETERSON: That’s it. Then Scott Morrison, you believe, will call an election?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. He said he will and there’s no doubt that they have to …
PETERSON: So what are you going to do between now and then?
ALBANESE: Come to Perth, here I am! I was in Melbourne yesterday; I’ll be in Perth obviously tomorrow morning. I’ll be in Melbourne at the Avalon Air Show as Shadow Transport Minister on Thursday. And on Friday I’ll be at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, which were held here at new stadium in Perth last year. This time it’s in Cataract Gorge in Launceston. They’re putting a huge marquee up, it is the biggest event for the tourism sector and WA did really well last year and I’m sure they’ll do well again.
PETERSON: All right, we’ll try and squeeze another one or two in. Paul, very quickly, how are you going?
CALLER: Good, how are you going?
PETERSON: We’re good, mate.
ALBANESE: Hi Paul.
CALLER: I know, Albo, you’re talking about the rail project – I was on that for two years. And one of the things that scares me about Labor coming back in, I sort of (inaudible) the unions run amok a bit there. There was many days where they’d go out and strike. Say it was 37.5 or 37.7 in Perth and they’d let everyone go all the way down to Mandurah, where the sea breeze might be – it was only 25 degrees there. It just was day after day there were many occasions, where you would go to work and it would end up being you’d go home half a day because we were short. And we ended up losing a lot of money.
ALBANESE: Which project was this, mate? Was this the Mandurah Extension or Perth City Link?
CALLER: It was, well basically the new rail line from Perth to Mandurah.
ALBANESE: The truth is, when we were in office, industrial disputation was down compared with during the Howard years. On average, in terms of number of strike days lost. We want to work with, we make no apology for saying we want to work with unions, but we want to work with employers as well. If you don’t have employers giving people jobs you won’t have trade union members. There’s a common interest and one of the things that I’ve done today, for example, is meet with many of the business sector and I’ll be doing that again in about an hour’s time.
PETERSON: All right, for the Sundowner. Anthony Albanese we are out of time. We’ll see you again here in the coming months, thank you very much.
ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on.
Subjects: Julie Bishop, women in politics, Labor’s plan for compensation for banking victims, Helloworld scandal.
DEBORAH KNIGHT: Good morning to you both.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
KELLY O’DWYER, MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Good morning Deb.
KNIGHT: Now Kelly you were quite emotional yesterday when Julie Bishop made her announcement in Parliament. She really was a trailblazer.
O’DWYER: An incredible trail blazer, an amazing leader and an inspiration and role model to women not only here in Australia but right around the world. Julie Bishop can stand very proud on her record of achievement. She is someone that I think most Australians admire and respect. She has been someone who has taken us through very difficult times with MH17 and she has handled it always with extreme strength and poise. It was an emotional moment. She is a good friend of mine and she will be greatly missed.
KNIGHT: And Albo, Julie Bishop’s achievements were recognised of course by both sides of politics even though Julie herself didn’t stick around to hear them. Was she the best Liberal Leader that that Liberals never had?
ALBANESE: I think that is right Deb. I think it is unfortunate that they didn’t take the opportunity to elect Julie Bishop as Leader when she put herself forward. She is someone who has my respect. I regard her as a friend. I’ve always had a very good relationship with her. I think she was I think she was a very good Foreign Minister and represented Australia on the world stage and I wish her well in the next stage of her life.
KNIGHT: Now Kelly, Julie’s announcement of course came a day after you delivered your valedictory speech. Two senior women bowing out. The party, we know, has a problem attracting and keeping women and you both raise a lot of money for the party. You have cut through with voters. It’s going to hurt the party and the Government isn’t it? You need every vote you can get.
O’DWYER: Well obviously we are after every vote that we can get. But there are very personal reasons for my decision as many people know that relate to family. It has been almost ten years in the Parliament for me.
KNIGHT: But losing two women of your stature though is a blow.
O’DWYER: There are incredible people who will also take our place. No job is for ever. As Julie has said and as I have said, there are incredible women in the field running for both of our seats to get pre-selection and I suspect that one of those women in Curtin and in Higgins will be very successful and of course will make a wonderful contribution here in the Parliament.
KNIGHT: And Albo, you know the personal toll politics takes on relationships and families yourself. Is it harder do you think for women than men in politics?
ALBANESE: I think that politics is a hard life. We give up a lot to do what we do. Here we are in Canberra on a Friday morning having been here all week. I go from here to Brisbane. I’m in Melbourne on Sunday and Perth on Monday. The fact is that it does take a toll and particularly I think Kelly has been a really important role model. Women who have children in politics – it’s a particular challenge. Myself and Carmel raised our young son with both of us in political life.
O’DWYER: Very unusual.
ALBANESE: It’s difficult but the fact is that what we need is a Parliament that is representative of the community and that is why I am very proud that Labor will hit 50 per cent women’s representation after the next election and I do think it’s a problem for the Liberal Party that they are losing two very senior women in Kelly and Julie. I perfectly respect Kelly’s decision. People will make those decisions at particular times in their lives.
KNIGHT: Now Julie Bishop’s departing gift of course was stealing the headlines from what was a good week for Labor. But Albo, you are desperate to get the focus off border security and on to the banks and making the banks pay for ripping off customers. This compensation scheme you are unveiling today, how much is it going to cost?
ALBANESE: Well it depends how much the banks have ripped people off. That’s the question. But people need to be compensated. That’s why we are increasing it four times up to $2 million. It will of course be paid for by the banks paying. They need to be held to account for the fact that so many individuals and small businesses have been worse off. It’s had a material effect on their living standards of themselves and their families and that is why they deserve to be compensated.
KNIGHT: And Kelly will the Government match Labor’s compensation scheme? It’s much more generous than the one you have got in place.
O’DWYER: We actually established the Australian Financial Complaints Authority so Labor has actually come to this a bit late. Of course we put on those big penalties to the banks and of course allowed small business to be able to access binding compensation. But of course Labor isn’t talking about the compensation that will be there for the retirees who are going to be hit to the tune of about $55 billion because of their retirees’ tax. They are not talking about compensation for all of those other Australians who will be directly affected by their more than $200 billion of new or increased taxes. So you know, it’s all very well to talk the talk, but you’ve actually got to walk the walk.
ALBANESE: Well the problem for the Government of course Deb is that when you raise issues of compensation and the banks they try to segue into something else, just as they did on the 26 occasions that they voted against the Royal Commission.
O’DWYER: It’s an uncomfortable truth.
ALBANESE: Twenty six times.
KNIGHT: Talk about uncomfortable. I’m loving the optics of seeing you two standing together and being very polite. This is kind of fun actually. We might try and replicate this again.
ALBANESE: We like each other. She’s nicer than Christopher.
O’DWYER: Well that’s not hard.
KNIGHT: The last time we saw Mathias Cormann and Joe Hockey get together they were sharing their love of cigars – that famous photo before the 2014 Budget ….
O’DWYER: We won’t be doing that.
KNIGHT: Well we will see about that, but at the moment their links to the travel company Hellowworld have them back in the spotlight. So Kelly, how do you think the average Australian who is struggling to pay the bills feels when they hear that Mathias Cormann didn’t realise his mate and the CEO Andrew Burnes had paid for these $3000 in flights because Gee, he didn’t notice his bank account was still flush with the cash?
O’DWYER: Well look clearly Australians are not impressed. Right? The point is there have been around this issue a lot of very big assertions made and there have been a lot of pretty vile smears. But of course the facts don’t match up with a lot of the allegations the Labor Party made in the House only this week. The truth is they are not prepared to repeat those allegations outside of the Parliament because they won’t stand up.
KNIGHT: How does it stand up though that Helloworld is given these lucrative government contracts when its CEO, Andrew Burnes is a Liberal Party Treasurer and your Washington ambassador, Joe Hockey, has a $1 million stake in the company? It’s on the nose. That’s all voters see isn’t it?
O’DWYER: I suppose there is a pretty fundamental point here and that is that the Ambassador and the Minister have no say in the procurement arrangements – no say at all. In fact these decisions are made by the department so it’s completely incorrect to actually link the two and that is what I think is pretty grubby actually about this exercise. I can understand people weren’t impressed by not paying for a flight. I can understand that. But to make these vile smears is actually not right and I think it is pretty much below the people in this place.
KNIGHT: Albo, will you remove him as Washington Ambassador if you win government?
ALBANESE: Helloworld, hello conflict of interest. Joe Hockey as the Ambassador was helping to organise – there’s a trail of emails here which indicate his direct involvement in organising meetings with a company Helloworld with Embassy officials when he had over $1 million of shares. They are shares that increased by the way in value at around 170 per cent once these Government contracts started flowing through. Mathias Cormann has questions to answer as well. This is all red hot. Helloworld have had these massive contracts from government.
O’DWYER: From Labor Governments, Labor Governments.
ALBANESE: They haven’t got a bit of it – they’ve got all of it, and the bloke who is running it is the Treasurer of the Liberal Party.
KNIGHT: Well, no doubt we will hear more on this topic and good on you for joining us in Canberra. Is there anyone else in the courtyard? Is it empty? Are there crickets?
ALBANESE: I just saw Bill in the corridor. Bill Shorten is out there working hard.
KNIGHT: All right, any opportunity Albo. Thanks for joining us.
O’DWYER: How shameless.
ALBANESE: Good on you.
FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY, 2019
Subjects: Cross River Rail, Olympics bid.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be back here in Queensland, in the great city of Brisbane, at this amazing project. When I was last here with Labor Leader Bill Shorten, we announced our commitment to $2.24 billion dollars of funding to deliver the Cross River Rail project in partnership with the Queensland State Government. This is a vital project. It was indeed identified by Infrastructure Australia back in 2012 as Australia’s number one infrastructure priority. That’s why we sat down and worked with – originally the Bligh Government – and then we worked with the Newman Government, as a Federal Government to get a commitment which we put into the 2013 Budget.
Of course we know what happened. Tony Abbott said that he would not fund any public transport projects that weren’t already underway. It was lucky that the Redcliffe project was under construction and couldn’t be stopped. But he withdrew funding from this project and then of course the Newman Government walked away as well.
Well this project is as vital today for jobs and dealing with urban congestion, dealing with improving productivity, sustainability and liveability here in Brisbane, as it was back in 2012. Indeed, it is more needed today because we’ve had lost years – because of the Coalition’s arrogance and their failure to support public transport.
We’re absolutely committed to this project. And I’d say to Scott Morrison and his Government that he has an opportunity over the coming weeks to ensure that this project receives Federal Government funding in the April 2 Budget. There’s no reason whatsoever why this project shouldn’t be bipartisan. But what we’ve seen from the Coalition Government in Canberra is that Malcolm Turnbull and his Queensland team were prepared to come and be at the opening of projects like the Gold Coast Light Rail, Redcliffe Rail, Gateway Motorway North and other projects, but they weren’t prepared to actually fund them. Well I say to them, this is a vital project, everyone knows it, it’s necessary to increase the capacity of the rail network here in Brisbane and they should put real money in the Budget in April.
JACKIE TRAD: Thanks, Albo. I want to start by thanking Anthony Albanese and the Shorten Labor Opposition for their steadfast commitment to the Cross River Rail project. Cross River Rail is critical to the South East Queensland area. It is critical to the Queensland economy and the national economy. There is nothing productive about having thousands of Queenslanders stuck on congested roads, or unable to get onto trains because they’re all full.
The Cross River Rail project will supercharge public transport in South East Queensland. It will double our rail capacity right across the South East Queensland region. That means more trains, more frequently, for Queenslanders to get into work and back home to their families in time. It means less cars on the road, less congestion on our roads. It is critical for South East Queensland but also for the state and national economy. We have had to make the decision to go it alone on this project, because we cannot wait.
Infrastructure Australia said when dealing with our business case that we had overestimated the patronage predictions on our public transport system – the patronage predictions that we’ve relied on to make the case for this project. They said here in South East Queensland we wouldn’t grow patronage on our public transport network by more than 6 per cent, per year. Well, this year, we are hitting a patronage growth figure of 6.5 per cent. There is no doubt that more people are turning to public transport because of congested roads.
Now we don’t want to wait until it becomes a crisis. We are just getting on and building this project in time for the growth that we’re seeing in our local community – in terms of population – but also in terms of public transport patronage. This is what good government is about – delivering infrastructure when it’s needed, not after it’s needed, after there is a crisis. This is what Cross River Rail is all about. And I’m so pleased to be standing here with Anthony Albanese. And the only way that Queensland will get its fair share, in terms of infrastructure spending in our state, is if Bill Shorten is elected with the Labor Party at this year’s Federal Election.
REPORTER: Albo, if you are elected would a Federal Shorten Government support whatever infrastructure is needed for the South East to host an Olympic Games?
ALBANESE: I’ve met with the South East Queensland Mayors just in the last fortnight. They were in Canberra. We’ll have a look at any bid and work cooperatively with Queensland. One of the differences, I think, between a Shorten Government and the Morrison Government is that we will work in the interests of Queenslanders, rather than in the interests of any parochial attitude. I mean, when I was last the Minister for Infrastructure, I worked cooperatively with the Queensland Government – both the Bligh Government, but I also enjoyed a constructive relationship with the Newman Government. When proposals were put forward we acted in a way that put the national interest first. And as Queensland is so important to our national economy as Australia’s most regional state as well, we worked cooperatively.
When we were last in Government we worked, for example, very closely with the Bligh Government on the infrastructure that was needed for the Commonwealth Games. And that Commonwealth Games was incredibly successful. That’s why we contributed $365 million to the Gold Coast Light Rail Project, a project that was opposed by Steven Ciobo, that was opposed by the Queensland LNP. We put $37 million into the stadium, which has had an ongoing benefit of course for the Gold Coast Suns and for sport and activity on the Gold Coast. We helped fund revitalisation along the beach front on the Gold Coast. We funded bike ways. We did our share. In spite of the fact, of course, that all of those seats were held by the LNP, that didn’t matter, we pitched in. What we have from the Morrison Government, frankly, is an attitude that says: ‘We’re going to keep Tony Abbott’s attitude of not funding public transport, we’re going to put all the money into Sydney toll roads’, money that should be going into the Cross River Rail project. That’s what happened when the Government changed in 2013. This project would have been well nearing completion now, frankly. (Inaudible)
ALBANESE: Well, we will have an upfront payment of $800 million as a cash injection. But we also recognise that this is an exciting project, and we’ve come up with financing of a long-term payment model that will be contributed over coming decades. Why do you do that? Because you recognise that the benefit of the project will be for decades to come. (Inaudible) That is absolutely necessary now for South East Queensland. But in many years and decades to come, people will still be reaping that benefit.
REPORTER: In terms of the Commonwealth contribution, how much would go towards the construction of Cross River Rail, how much towards operating costs?
ALBANESE: It’s not about operating costs. The Commonwealth doesn’t run trains and it doesn’t run roads. We have that delineation. What the Commonwealth can bring is, essentially, support for projects so that Queenslanders, who pay their taxes, work hard, get given something back in the form of infrastructure. And why should the Commonwealth do that? Because when you build something like Cross River Rail, you boost national productivity. The Commonwealth benefits from that through increased company taxes, through increased personal taxes, by improving the productivity and economic growth of the way that this vital part of Queensland . Because this doesn’t just benefit, this isn’t just about the local community – this is about the capacity of the entire network. This benefits the Sunshine Coast, it benefits the Gold Coast, it benefits Ipswich, it benefits the entire region.
FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY, 2019