Subjects: Labor Loves Live Music, marriage equality, US Alliance, Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership
ALBANESE: Thanks for joining us. I’m here at the latest Labor Loves Live Music event. This is a pub, the Harold Park Hotel, in Forest Lodge. I grew up around the corner from here and when I was in my late teens and early twenties, still living around the corner from here, I’d come up here on a Friday or Saturday night to see live bands play. But recently the pub has been stopped from having live music on a Sunday afternoon that finished before 8pm. This is ridiculous. It’s part of the shutdown of this global city of Sydney that’s happened under the Baird and now Berejiklian governments. What we need is cities which are vibrant, which are dynamic, which create employment and which are good places to live. That’s why people live in cities; so they can gather together as communities and to support the cultural life of a city that’s so important.
That’s why I support Luke Foley’s plan for 24-hour public transport to be available on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s why I support the concept of having a live music licence to encourage live music to be played in suburbs throughout Sydney.
It’s so important for how our cities function that live music is encouraged, rather than stopped, by one or two residents who are recent arrivals to a particular community. And that’s why the Labor Party is encouraging the live music scene, and why the Labor Party, nationally, is supporting the arts; whether it be live music, whether it be theatre, whether it be the publishing of Australian stories through books and our opposition to the Federal Government’s plan that it has announced through the Productivity Commission reports to shut down, essentially, Australian publishers. We stand with Australian authors, Australian publishers and, indeed, the Australian printing industry in support of the creative sector. Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Liberal MP Tim Wilson has told the ABC that he thinks Trump’s immigration ban is, I guess, it’s not anti-Muslim and it has some merit. What do you think?
ALBANESE: Well I guess Tim Wilson needs to have a look at what President Trump has said himself. Seven countries have been singled out for being predominately Muslim nations. Indeed, US justices have intervened to say that such a ban is unlawful because it is discriminatory. Now if you substitute any other religion for Muslims, then I think people would be horrified and would draw their own conclusions, if it was that of another religion as well.
But I think here in Australia we have supported non-discriminatory immigration policies. I support that, the Liberal Party has supported that historically and I’d be disappointed if there was any move away from such a policy for this nation.
REPORTER: The Greens Leader, Richard di Natale, has put forward an idea that maybe we should reconsider our relationship with the US. Do you agree with that?
ALBANESE: The US alliance is important. There is bipartisan support for it, as there is a need for support for engagement with our region and support for our engagement through multilateral forums, in particular the United Nations. They’re the three pillars of foreign policy; alliance with the United States, engagement with our region and support for engagement with the world through the United Nations and international and multi-lateral forums. All three are important. That doesn’t mean Australia shouldn’t stand up for our own interests within the US alliance, within our region and within global forums. And Australia, under the Labor Party, has always done that. So we support Australian interests, but we also support strongly the US alliance.
REPORTER: On another topic, Christopher Pyne has said that Bill Shorten was the reason why we don’t have marriage equality, because he blocked the plebiscite. What do you think of those comments?
ALBANESE: You can contrast Christopher Pyne’s comments today with the comments that he made when he was in his party room opposing the idea of a plebiscite. He was one of the people in the party room, along with other senior Liberals including the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who opposed the plebiscite and wanted to get on with a vote of the Parliament with a conscience vote from across the Parliament.
That’s the way that marriage equality should occur, and it should occur as soon as possible. If we have a conscience vote in the next fortnight we can get it done. And if we get it done people will wonder what the fuss was about. Because it won’t take away any existing rights from heterosexual couples and people who are married. It will simply give a group of people who happen to be in same-sex relationships and who want to declare their love for their partner and their lifelong commitment in front of family and friends. That will strengthen the institution of marriage, if more people are able to participate in it, and it’s why the legislation should be put to a vote and it should be put to a vote in the next sitting fortnight.
REPORTER: Parliament resumes on Tuesday, how are you feeling about going into 2017? Is Labor looking to implement a whole bunch of changes?
ALBANESE: Labor will be aggressive in pursuing our agenda. It’s very clear that the Government doesn’t have a sense of purpose about it; that Malcolm Turnbull is someone for whom becoming Prime Minister was the end game in itself but he doesn’t have a reason for being Prime Minister. Therefore it’s up to Labor to step up to set the political and policy agenda in 2017. We’ll be doing that, just as we did in 2016.
Setting the agenda about housing affordability, about education and training and giving skills to Australians. Setting the agenda about employment, setting the agenda about infrastructure projects including support for public transport. Setting the agenda for social reform, including support for marriage equality. Setting the agenda on healthcare, with Medicare at its core of our health policy in this country. Setting the agenda across the political spectrum because the Government doesn’t have any idea, and this is a Government that has given up on governing.
It is simply concerned with dealing with its own internal politics and whether Malcolm Turnbull will see this year out as the Leader of the Liberal Party. It’s very clear that Tony Abbott and the conservative forces within the Liberal Party are on the march, and it’s very clear also that Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t had the ticker to stand up for them on all those issues he has held dear for a long period of time; be it action on climate change, be it action on marriage equality; be it action on public transport. And that’s why Labor will be setting the agenda in the Parliament this year. Thanks.