4BC Breakfast with Neil Breen

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Tuesday, 19th April 2022

4BC Breakfast with Neil Breen

Discussing the federal election, lack of wage growth under Scott Morrison and more.

SUBJECTS: Federal election; lack of wage growth under Scott Morrison; aged care; Liberal scare campaigns; cashless debit; Morrison Government's waste and rorts; NBN; Elida Faith in Leichhardt; high value manufacturing.
 
NEIL BREEN, HOST: 32 days until the poll, seems like the election campaign has been going forever, but it's only been going for a few days. It's been a rough start to the election campaign for both leaders really. But the Leader of the Opposition has had a couple of stumbles here and there. He's in the studio with me now and we got new polling numbers today, Anthony Albanese, your approval ratings down a little bit in Newspoll today, does that worry you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, I don't worry about day to day polls. The polls are the same outcome as were there a couple of weeks ago. But polls will come and go during the campaign. I've been very focused on May 21 now it's actually finally been called and focused as well on making sure that we have a plan for a better future that we outline, so that we have that plan for a first term Labor agenda of strengthening Medicare, a future made in Australia. Today, I'll be talking about that, here in southeast Queensland, how we can make more things here. How we can benefit from clean energy, and how we can drive down power prices. And also, the cost of living issues out there. People know out there, your listeners know that their everything is going up, except for their wages. And we need a plan to address that as well and to address secure work.

BREEN: Wages have been key in your campaign, driving wages up, how are you going to do it? Everyone goes, okay, it's okay for Anthony Albanese to say it. But how's he going to do it? 

ALBANESE: Well, we're going to for a start - do you know that secure work isn't even listed as an objective for the Fair Work Act? I find that a real gap which quite clearly is there. We know now that over half a million Australians are working three jobs or more, that's doubled on this government's watch, we need a proper definition of casualisation of what a casual worker is, casual workers are really important. I was a casual worker, everyone's done it...

BREEN: Some people like it.

ALBANESE: Exactly. But what it shouldn't be is used as an excuse to undermine job security for people who aren't really casual workers, so really permanent workers either full time or part time, and a range of other measures as well. We have a specific plan. For example, for aged care workers. We know that the Aged Care Royal Commission has told us that if we don't increase the wages of people in aged care, we won't have a workforce, they won't be able to look after our older Australians...

BREEN: Well, what will you increase wages by?

ALBANESE: Well, we'll make a submission to the Fair Work Commission saying that they should have a look at what's in the Royal Commission, they should have an increase, we support one, it's up to the Fair Work Commission, it's independent...

BREEN: On what sort of increase? They want 25 per cent, and there's talks of strikes before the election. 

ALBANESE: Well, that's why we have a Fair Work Commission to make those decisions independently. We don't have government making decisions about the amount of wage increases. But quite clearly, we do need to give people who are currently on $22 an hour, you know, the minimum wage in this country is $20.33. So it's just above the minimum wage.

BREEN: One of the things, it’s hard to be a front runner, you've been a front runner now for probably two years to win this election. Because the Coalition, they look ripe for the picking, they're down and out. But it looks though after this first 10 days of the campaigns and we won't drudge over that ground but your stumbles over unemployment and the cash rate and those things have bitten in the public. Are you worried you're going to be Bill Shorten 2.0? Because he looked unbeatable too?

ALBANESE: Look, I'm focused on winning this election. We know that it's a mountain to climb for Labor to win from opposition. We've won three times and...

BREEN: And they were guys with big charisma, do you have the charisma to match Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd?

ALBANESE: People will make their own judgment. But what I have is a plan for a better future. I have policies which will lift living standards, policy which will take us into the future. This government don't have a plan for today, like they didn't have, the problem with this government is last time around. You're right. It was expected they wouldn't win. So what they did was they ran a campaign just based upon a scare campaign and don't vote Labor. All the spooky music stuff happened...

BREEN: But the public made their own mind. They didn't like franking credits. They didn't like changes to negative gearing. They didn't like, they were worried about death duties, all sorts of things... 

ALBANESE: Which didn't exist, which still doesn't exist still...

BREEN: I still get emails about it, I still get emails about it...

ALBANESE: Because there's a lot of nonsense. One of the things that the Coalition, the LNP are expert at is scare campaigns. That's what they've got one going...

BREEN: You've got one going at the moment over the cashless card for pensioners...

ALBANESE: Well Anne Ruston and Scott Morrison themselves have said that they support this scheme, we'll get rid of the cashless debit card.

BREEN: Just to be clear the scheme operates in certain areas - Hervey Bay, Bundaberg in Queensland, certain areas around Australia. It's for under 35s but there are pamphlets in - some of the electorates are Lilley, Longman, some of the tight electorates in Queensland that Labor needs to win, saying that the federal government, Scott Morrison wants to bring it in for pensioners. Anne Ruston said this on my show yesterday. Just have a listen.

RUSTON: We never have and we never will have a plan to force age pensioners onto the cashless debit card.

ALBANESE: Well, here's what Anne Ruston said on the 1st of February 2020. "We're seeking to put all income management onto the universal platform, which is the cashless debit card." They're her words Neil, not mine. Her words.

BREEN: Yeah. And you're using them against her in those key seats. I was reading in the paper very interesting thing that you said. And you've said that you're looking towards tomorrow night, it's not really a leaders debate, it's the forum where you go head to head with Scott Morrison in Brisbane, 100 undecided voters, that you're looking for that as a reset. Why do you need a reset 10 days into a campaign?

ALBANESE: No, what I said was is that every day is a reset in the campaign. Every day we get, do different things. Today we'll be here in southeast Queensland. I'll be meeting with veterans this morning. We'll be meeting with Australian manufacturing. Doing a press conference later today as well. We're out there campaigning, but it's a consistent campaign Neil. We've done three years of hard work to make sure we have a plan, a better future....

BREEN: I know you've done three years...like the border protection policies. 

ALBANESE: That's not right. That's not right. 

BREEN: But it does seem to, you might say it's not right, but it seems to the public that you've had three years. And then all of a sudden we've got to the election campaign and you've got problems with some of these policies?

ALBANESE: Well, that's not right, our plan is very clear. Offshore processing, of course, began when I was Deputy Prime Minister back in 2013. 

BREEN: So we keep offshore processing and turn back the boats? 

ALBANESE: We turn back the boats. We have settlement in third countries, we've been saying, talk about scrambling Neil, how's this for a definition of scrambling - New Zealand did a deal. Julia Gillard was Prime Minister, John Key was the Prime Minister of New Zealand a long time ago, and they did a deal whereby New Zealand would take people from Nauru or PNG and settled them in New Zealand. The government said if you do that, it'll all open up…the everything will start again, you can't possibly do that until the eve of the election and all of a sudden it was now okay to do so. So we've been saying for ages, it would have saved so much money if that deal had been dealt with at the time. And you could have had people settled in New Zealand each and every year, which is what the deal on offer from New Zealand was. What's changed? All that's changed, Neil, is an election campaign. This government haven't been governing in Australia's interests, they've been governing in their own interests. People know that debt has never been higher, deficits have never been higher...

BREEN: A lot of people would argue the debt was necessary because of coronavirus. And the threat to people's...

ALBANESE: Well the waste wasn't necessary, Neil, it wasn't necessary to give $20 billion of your listeners’ money to companies...

BREEN: There was a lot of waste in the GFC too when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, plenty of waste…

ALBANESE: $20 billion, $20 billion,  there wasn't in any one program. This is the most significant waste, $5.5 billion for subs that don't exist. All that there is left from that is a torn-up contract. And that's before you get to the blowout in the National Broadband Network, it was supposed to cost $29 billion, it's cost almost double that. And all we've got is an inferior product replacing fiber high speed broadband with last century's copper. Enough copper was bought under this government to wrap around the earth one and a half times, Neil, it's absurd. And it's left Australia now with a two tier system whereby we're now having to go back including...

BREEN: You will have to tax us more to get it back.

ALBANESE: No, this government have announced, this government have announced and have had to put in billions of dollars of additional money to go back and retrofit their own system that they stuffed up by not acknowledging the fiber was better than copper.

BREEN: Okay, can I play rapid fire with you on a few? 

ALBANESE: Sure. 

BREEN: Kevin Rudd, are we going to see him on the campaign trail?

ALBANESE: I assume so, I assume.... 

BREEN: With you though?

ALBANESE: With me? We have no plans at this point in time, but I'm always be happy to be seen with Kevin Rudd, Paul Keating or Julia Gillard and I must say I was thinking that how much we miss Hawkie because it's, I can't believe it three years...

BREEN: Is it really? 

ALBANESE: Three years since he's passing remember it was during the last campaign...

BREEN: You could have done with him now, Hawkie, the charisma... 

ALBANESE: We could always do with a Bob Hawke, he was, he was one of a kind. 

BREEN: We're playing rapidfire, okay, Kevin Rudd, there's reports in the paper though you're gonna make him our Ambassador in Washington?

ALBANESE: I've had no discussions about anyone being an Ambassador to any place, complete nonsense. Yesterday, could I make this point, Neil, yesterday it was Kevin Rudd wasn't going to be on the campaign, he'd gone missing, the same journals today are appointing Ambassadors. Seriously, they need to get over the obsession. 

BREEN: Okay, rapid fire still, coal mines in Queensland. It's a big issue the Galilee Basin and you're gonna probably have to do a deal with independents if you want government, eight seats you need, those coal mines are they yes or no? Because under the deal with the independents, they won't cop it. 

ALBANESE: There will be no deal with the independents and crossbenches, I'm seeking to form a...

BREEN: No you're seeking but eight seats.... 

ALBANESE: ....government in my, in my own right. I'm the only person running for Prime Minister who can form government in their own right. And on coal mines. Our position is very clear that there are environmental processes to go through. If projects stack up environmentally and commercially, they go ahead and we welcome the jobs.

BREEN: Now the eight seats you have to win, you've named eight seats today in the paper, I hope you were reported correctly. One of them is Brisbane. That's the only seat in Queensland that you named.

ALBANESE: Well, I didn't. They were talking, the journalist was raising the seats with me rather than...

BREEN: Oh ok, so the Victorian seat of Hawke and others through the country. In Queensland, you spent a bit of time in Cairns, do you think you can win Leichhardt? What else can you win in Queensland?

ALBANESE: We're very up for the contest in Leichhardt and in all those seats. Now last time I was in Queensland, well, not last time I've been back here since then, but in January, I drove from Leichhardt to Maryborough, I this term have done four big road trips throughout regional Queensland. I'm very positive about the reception that we've received. But we have big margins that we have to make up in many of those seats. But in Leichhardt, we've got Elida Faith, she's a great candidate.

BREEN: All Prime Ministers end up with something major they've done, something major, you go back to Gough Whitlam. You could, you could talk about free university education, like...

ALBANESE: What are the major things that this government have done Neil?

BREEN: Well, they'll probably talk about saving the economy…

ALBANESE: They haven't transformed anything. That's the point, Neil.

BREEN: John Howard will talk about the GST as one and you know, there's all sorts of things with most governments. What's the big thing that Anthony Albanese who spent his life in politics wants to do for this country as Prime Minister, this is my last question, what's the legacy?

ALBANESE: High value manufacturing driven by clean energy, providing good, secure well-paid jobs in the future industries of Australia, setting us up, setting us up to take advantage that we're in the fastest growing region of the world in human history.

BREEN: Best of luck over the next few weeks Anthony Albanese, Opposition Leader, you could be Prime Minister in 32 days or you could be locked in a room with teal candidates and Greens candidates doing a deal.

ALBANESE: Ah no, I'll be, I'll be, I very much hope with people's support, leading a majority Labor Government. And we're the only party that can do that. So if people want certainty and stability, they need to vote Labor because I noticed that the Prime Minister was already talking about arrangements with crossbenchers potentially, I want a stable and secure government. And we have already seen the instability that's there in the so-called Coalition. Here we are in the state where the LNP exists, but the Liberals don't like each other. The Nationals don't like each other, and the Liberals don't like the Nationals. And we're seeing that chaos having a real impact on the government. And I think you're largely...

BREEN: I don't think everyone in Labor likes each other. There’s been some reports lately, we didn't get into it today.

ALBANESE: We are a united team Neil. And I make this point. After almost a decade in office, no one can name what's the big legacy of this government. What's the big legacy? And JobKeeper, of course, is something that was campaigned for by Labor and business and unions, and when it was first proposed, wage subsidies, this government said it was a dangerous idea.

BREEN: Maybe the listeners can tell us the big thing they've done. Anthony Albanese, good luck in Queensland for the rest of your stay and campaign.

ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Neil.

ENDS

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Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road
MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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