LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
SUNDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2020
SUBJECTS: Sports rorts saga; importance of women in sports; Coalition of chaos; Coronavirus; disunity within the National Party; climate change.
PATRICK GORMAN, MEMBER FOR PERTH: I am Patrick Gorman and I am Labor’s Federal Member for Perth. It is great to be here at Kings Park with Anthony Albanese, Labor’s Leader. This is a beautiful part of the Perth electorate. A great place for families, a great place for tourists to come, and see the best of Western Australia. And it is not just a great place because you have a view of the Applecross Tennis Club, one of the recipients of a half a million-dollar sports rorts payment that should have gone to the Noranda Netball Association in my electorate of Perth. One of the biggest things that has been talked about today is the division in the National Party. Here in Western Australia, Anthony has been to WA twice this year. The Deputy Prime Minister has not even been here once. What does that tell you about their priorities? And if we think about policy, the Perth City Deal is now ten months delayed. That is ten months late in investing in WA roads, WA infrastructure. Michael McCormack and the Nationals need to sort themselves out, stop talking about themselves, and start worrying about what Western Australians and all Australians want, which is a Government that cares about people. Now, someone who does know something about investing in Western Australia infrastructure is Anthony Albanese. So, I will now pass over to him.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks, Patrick. And it is great to be back here in the west for my second visit. I have committed to come here ten times a year, at least. I did that last year. And indeed, the venue just behind us is where we did the first vision statement on jobs and the future of work. We have been ensuring that we don’t just hold the Government to account, but we put forward positive vision and positive policies about the issues that impact Australians. One of the issues that I will be talking about this week is my fourth vision statement which is on respecting older Australians. And when we asked questions in the Parliament on Thursday, Josh Frydenberg’s response was to say that this was a distraction. That was what he yelled across the chamber. Caring about older Australians and the aged care crisis, the fact that half of our older Australians who are in aged care are malnourished, was seen as a distraction by this Government. They’re just obsessed with themselves and their internal fights. And they’re playing politics. And here, as Patrick has said, we see the Applecross Tennis Court, a recipient of an extraordinary grant, just like Mosman Rowers and other institutions with connections to the Liberal and National Parties. At the same time, yesterday, I visited a local cricket club down at Shoalwater that the young girls have to go past the urinal in order to access bathroom facilities. It’s simply not good enough. And this morning with the sports rorts scandal, Michael McCormack was asked on Insiders about the fact that regional communities have missed out on this $150 million, $150 million for sports rorts mark two that was set out for women’s and girls’ change rooms in order to encourage people to follow their heroes. The sort of young girls and women I saw at the Optus Stadium yesterday watching Freo and the Eagles have the first Derby here in AFLW, here in Perth. The fact is that if we’re going to increase young girls and women’s participation in sport, they need facilities. You have $150 million fund that was just siphoned off, siphoned off at 40 per cent of it in two electorates; one of them Pearce here in WA, the other one Corangamite, for essentially electioneering based upon marginal seats. The problem with this Government isn’t just that it is obsessed with fighting each other, fights between the Liberal and National Parties, fights within the Liberal Party, fights within the National Party. The real problem is that it’s distracting them from actually governing the country, being concerned about the issues that are the everyday concerns of the Australian people. And that is why this Government needs to get its act together. But I can’t see it happening. The truth is they hate each other. And Michael McCormack this morning, expressing faith that the bickering has been put behind them on ABC TV. At the same time, Matt Canavan was on Sky News, threatening to cross the floor. It says it all about this chaotic Government. They can’t even coordinate their media appearances. Contradicting each other at the very same time on a Sunday morning. This is a mess. It’s a chaotic Government. This is a rabble without a cause. And what they should be concerned about are the causes that Australians care about including aged care crises, including addressing the flatlining economy, including dealing with the challenge of climate change.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor maintain its long-term goal of zero emissions by 2050?
JOURNALIST: Will Labor maintain its long-term goal of zero emissions by 2050?
ALBANESE: Well, we’ll be making our announcements at an appropriate time, both in terms of long-term dealing with climate change, and also short and medium-term. We have made it very clear that we take the challenge of climate change seriously. We’ve consistently taken policies to the election that would address it. The only time that climate change was actually being addressed was when we were in Government. We’re now seeing last year, a more than 50 per cent drop off of investment in renewable energy. That’s because there’s not that investment certainty. What that’s doing is costing jobs. It’s costing jobs here in the west. It’s costing jobs throughout the country. Because business doesn’t know what the Government’s policy is. Because frankly, they simply don’t have one.
JOURNALIST: Just going back to your goal. That commitment is in Labor’s National Platform. So, are you saying that you are going to be changing that?
ALBANESE: Well, we don’t have a platform in terms of an updated one. That process has begun. I’ve announced that the first meeting of the policy committee took place in Sydney in December. We will be having our national conference in Canberra, in December this year. So, that we will have our platform out there published for all to see. And that process following the review, will enable us to have a policy well in advance, a platform well in advance of the next election going forward.
JOURNALIST: The next global climate talks are in Glasgow in November. What in your view should Australia’s position be there?
ALBANESE: Well, what we should be doing in Glasgow is not doing what we did in Madrid, where Australia went and argued for an accounting trick rather than a reduction in emissions. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. Australia needs to do two things. The first is we need to get our act together domestically. We need to have a policy. And this week, we’ve seen this announcement of $4 million for a study. That’s a lot of money for a study. Just think about that, $4 million for a study with no tender just given to the proponents. Now, this Government likes to speak about taxpayers’ interests. You know what? Four million dollars of taxpayers’ funds mean taxes. Taxpayers’ funds come from taxes from the population. They are taxing every Australian in order to give $4 million to the proponents of a project that can’t possibly go ahead without a $17 billion, $17 billion indemnity against risk. That’s what’s happening here. The truth is that this is an outrageous use of taxpayers’ funds with no tender processes, just handing over $4 million of taxes based upon wanting to con people to think that something is going ahead that can’t possibly go ahead without that $17 billion subsidy.
JOURNALIST: You say that Australia needs to get its act together domestically. What do you think about 30-year goals in terms of climate and emissions? Matt Canavan has described that as fantastical. Do you think that’s the case?
ALBANESE: Well, Matt Canavan knows about fantastical. He’s been talking about a new coal-fired power plant in terms of North Queensland and other places for many, many years. They’re in their third term. They’re in their third term and all they’ve done is $4 million directly given to the proponents, which isn’t, it’s not a big-time operation. This $4 million is quite extraordinary. Matt Canavan has no credibility. Matt Canavan is someone who was too busy concerned with undermining the Leader of the National Party, Michael McCormack, to actually get serious about policy. We need a serious domestic policy. And that would give us credibility to then argue for a strengthening of international arrangements.
JOURNALIST: Is it true that you called a leadership group meeting last Wednesday after the 10 News story about the Otis group?
JOURNALIST: Any further discussions about that?
JOURNALIST: On coronavirus, how concerned are you about the shipping containers coming in from China potentially spreading the virus?
ALBANESE: Well look, we need to make sure that we put the health interests of people first. It’s absolutely critical that that occur. And the Government, we have been briefed by the Chief Medical Officer. We will continue to raise these issues as we have with the Chief Medical Officer. I’ve met directly, and Chris Bowen is in regular contact.
JOURNALIST: Also, does the Australian Government need to do more to evacuate Aussies from the Japanese ship?
ALBANESE: Well, the Government is meeting about that at the moment. We need to put the health of Australians as our absolute priority. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: Should they be doing more?
ALBANESE: We need to put the health of Australians as our absolute priority. I don’t seek to politicise this issue. What I seek to do is to ensure that the health of Australians is looked after.
JOURNALIST: One final question. You referred to the Nationals at the beginning of the press conference. In terms of the leadership comments, the process comments made by Mr McCormack with this morning on Insiders, do you have any thoughts on that? He said it’s a matter for the Party room.
ALBANESE: Well, there’s no leadership from Michael McCormack. Michael McCormack said this morning that he wanted to change the rules to give more security to the Leader, as has occurred, in terms of the Liberal Party and occurred from the Labor Party. And on both of those occasions, the respective Leaders showed leadership and got it done. Michael McCormack isn’t capable, because of the turmoil in his Party room, of providing that leadership. And that is not of interest to me re the stability in the National Party. My concern is that is having an impact in terms of a failure of the leadership from this Government on so many issues. I mean, what is their legislative agenda for this year? We’ve just had the first sitting fortnight of Parliament, and all that people can remember is that the Scott Morrison and Michael McCormack candidate for Deputy Speaker got rolled 75-67. And the only other thing they can remember is that every time Parliament should have been concentrating on issues of concern to Australians, including paying our condolences to the bushfire victims, praising the firefighters who have served their nation and their local communities so extraordinarily well with such bravery over recent months, the National Party were too busy trying to knock off their Leader to be concerned about that. It’s a disgrace. And it’s undermining the standing of politics in this country, and they need to get their act together, because it is two years to the next election. And we simply can’t afford two years of ongoing chaos. Thank you.