Adelaide Press Conference

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Friday, 20th May 2022

Adelaide Press Conference

with The Hon Julia Gillard AC & Peter Malinauskas MP

SUBJECTS: Childcare; Climate change; Responsibility; Integrity; NDIS; Cost of living; Infrastructure; National Anti-Corruption Commission; Gender equality.
 
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, firstly, can I say thank you for the very warm welcome that we've had at this wonderful school, from the principal, from teachers, but most importantly, from the young students here. I think Libby has got a future career as an advancer in the way that she took everyone through what was a very difficult circumstance out there this morning, but it was, it was very heartening to see. I'm joined today by former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. The bells are tolling once again for the Morrison Government.
 
Premier Peter Malinauskas and members of my team, Mark Butler, Amanda Rishworth, Penny Wong, and Don Farrell. But importantly, as well, who I hope to be a future member of my team, Louise Miller-Frost our candidate here in Boothby. We're going to hear from the former Prime Minister, then the Premier, then myself, and I'll be happy to take questions. Thanks very much.
 
THE HON JULIA GILLARD AC, 27TH PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Well, thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. As you know, I don't do this much anymore. In fact, I never do it anymore. But I've made a particular exception today. And the reason I've done that is because I wanted to come and support my friend, Albo. Albo and I might look really young, but the truth is that we've known each other for more than 40 years, right back to when we were university students. And with the authority that the more than 40 years of friendship gives me, I can certainly say the following about Albo, he's ready to be Prime Minister, he will be a great Prime Minister.
 
And I've got a particular message for Australian women. Having served as the only woman to hold the job as Prime Minister, you would know in the years since that I've made my focus women's leadership, it's amongst one of the biggest things that I do. And what I want to see for this country is a government that cares about values and includes women. And I know that a government led by Albo will do precisely that. So, for Australian women, if you want to make a better choice, please, tomorrow, go to your ballot places, go to your polling stations and vote Labor and vote for Albo to be Prime Minister, I am very confident it will be a government for women.
 
And the last thing I'd like to say is I grew up in Boothby. I live in Boothby. My life has come full circle from when I was a school student here to living here now in my post political years. I get a postal vote, I've already proudly voted for Louise. So can I call on the people of Boothby to do exactly the same thing. Thank you very much.
 
PETER MALINAUSKAS, PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much, Julia. It's quite humbling to be able to follow you as the former Prime Minister of our country, our nation's first female Prime Minister. I'm very glad to be here this morning. Not just to endorse Anthony Albanese as hopefully the next Prime Minister of our nation, but just as importantly, the Federal South Australian Labor team. One of the things that excites me most about the prospect of a Federal Labor Government is knowing that South Australia will be punching above its weight, as it traditionally has, throughout the course of our Federation. To have the calibre of Penny Wong, Mark Butler, Amanda Rishworth, and Don Farrell, potentially, as ministers of this nation is something that I'm very excited about.
And South Australia is going to continue to punch above its weight when we think about prospective Labor candidates that could be in our national parliament. Not least of which, of course, Louise Miller-Frost, who is a good Australian, a great South Australian, with a track record of delivering for those people that need representation most within our community.
 
As we come out of the pandemic, it's easy to forget where we were only a couple of years ago. But there's one phone call, I remember quite profoundly, that I reflect on quite often when I think about this election. In the darkest days of the pandemic when the nation felt as though it was really descending into a deep crisis. We saw some other Opposition Leaders around the country seeing an opportunity to play politics, but I spoke to Albo in those early days of the pandemic, as we did frequently ever since. And Albo and I spoke about how we would confront the pandemic as Opposition Leaders. And we both had a very similar view, a shared resolve that our responsibility in opposition was to do what was in the best interests of the nation, to put politics second, and to put the interests of people first. And both of us decided that the pandemic was to be a politics free zone. Instead, we would focus on the policies that mattered most. And that's why both Albo and I provided an extraordinary degree of bipartisanship and support to our respective governments at the time to do the right thing by people. And I think that's a testament to the man. I think it speaks to Albo’s character, the fact that he will always put the interests of people first, particularly those that don't necessarily have a voice in the corridors of parliament, that don't necessarily have a big powerful industry group to speak on their behalf. Albo cares about people. And that's, I think, why he has had such a warm reception here in South Australia. But as we come out of the pandemic, I think there is a yearning in this nation for leadership, for a sense of healing, bringing people together rather than having them work against each other. And in Albo, we have such a leader who can deliver that, but also a vision about the future, setting the country up for the next generation. So that the legacy of the pandemic isn't just a bad memory and a big debt, but rather a better future for the next generation of Australians.
 
And that's why their policies around childcare, early childhood education, dramatically increasing investment in skills and training at both TAFE and universities, does speak to a vision for the future. And it's one that I want to be part of, and I believe the rest of the nation does, too. So, it's great pleasure that I'll now hand back to the man that I really hope is the next Prime Minister of Australia, not for the Labor Party's sake, but for the sake of our people, and our collective ambition for the common good.
 
ALBANESE: Well, thanks very much. Thanks very much. Peter. Can I thank Peter and Julia, my old friend and my newish friend, for the comments that they have made. Tomorrow, Australians do have a choice. They have a choice between a better future under Labor, a better future where they can vote for cheaper childcare, vote for ending the climate wars, vote for more secure work, vote for a government that understands that the cost of living pressures mean people are falling further and further behind, and that we need to address the need to lift wages, but also take pressure off family budgets.
 
They can vote to end the climate wars in the interests of the young people who we've been with today. Climate change is here. It's here right now, South Australia, under the former Labor Government, led the way in supporting renewables and understanding that it wasn't either or. That action on climate change is good for our economy and good for jobs. And it will be under the comprehensive plan that we’ve put forward. They can also vote to make more things here in Australia, to learn the lessons of the pandemic. That we’re vulnerable while we're at the end of global supply chains. We need to use the opportunities, which are here in South Australia and right around the country, to make more things here.
 
But we also need to be a government that represents the entire nation. What that means is dealing with inequality on the basis of gender. Labor has a plan to close the gender pay gap. We have a plan for cheaper childcare to boost women's workforce participation and boost productivity. We have a plan to implement all of the Respect@Work report so women can feel safe at work. We have a plan to make sure that women and children escaping domestic violence aren’t turned away from shelters at night, that they have somewhere to go. We have comprehensive positive plans, which we will be advocating right up until 6pm, tomorrow.
 
What the government has is just fear campaigns and smear campaigns. Shirking responsibility and smirking while they do it. A government that's left Australia with a trillion dollars of debt, but not enough to show for it. A government that took out the mortgage but forgot to buy the house. A government that has not enough to show for the debt that has been created. And remember a government that doubled the debt before the pandemic. That's the choice facing Australians tomorrow. Three more years of the same, three more years of dysfunction and disunity, or a Labor Government that’s united, which senior ministers who are with me today, who would be senior members of a Labor Government that I would lead. With a united plan, a plan for the future, a plan for a better future, in the interest of all Australians. Happy to take questions.
 
JOURNALIST: Thanks, Mr Albanese. Looking back over this campaign, do you think you’ve best foot forward? Are you happy with the way you’ve gone, do you think people know who you are now?
 
ALBANESE: I think they've always known that, and I was never worried by the spin that was put by our opponents in this campaign. One of the things about this campaign and putting my best foot forward, I'm very proud to have served in Julia’s Government and in Kevin's Government. I do note, we're now less than 36 hours from an outcome and I'm still waiting for a single criticism from the government of the time in which I served as a senior minister in the Labor Governments, over six years. During this campaign, I've been positive, I've been who I am. I don't pretend to be perfect. What I do, do though, is accept responsibility. And I step up and I won't go missing. I will accept the responsibility and the great honour, if I'm elected tomorrow, to be Prime Minister of this nation.
 
JOURNALIST: On the NDIS, do you concede that you do face a long term funding issue there? And you've ruled out increasing the Medicare levy. Given you're not doing that, how are you actually going to address that? And Ms Gillard, can we ask you, as the Prime Minister who introduced the NDIS, what do you make of those who say that funding is spiralling out of control?
 
ALBANESE: Well, we might leave questions for Julia to the end. Can I say on the NDIS, the NDIS principle is pretty clear, and it's what we will have at the heart of it, which is it's about the people who receive that support and their needs. One of the things about the NDIS as well, is that all the economic analysis shows that if you allow people to fully participate in society, it produces an economic return. It’s an investment. It's an investment in dignity. It's an investment in inclusiveness, it's an investment in our nation. And that's what we're committed to doing. The sort of cuts that we've seen, and the waste from the AAT procedures, and legalese, and the bureaucracies are really undermining the system. And that's why we'll have extra staff as well for the NDIA.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, we’re on the eve of the election, as you know, you’re with someone today who was regarded as a Labor luminary. Are you feeling the pressure for the Labor cause today? And are you contemplating the prospect of defeat?
 
ALBANESE: I feel a great responsibility to be successful tomorrow, because I know that there are so many Australians out there who are so passionate about changing the government. People have watched a Government, led by a man who won't take responsibility, who went missing during the bushfires, went missing during the floods, when it came to the pandemic, said that it wasn't a race to order enough vaccines and then saw worse health and economic outcomes as a direct result. And then didn't even learn those lessons in terms of the rapid antigen tests. So we have a Government whereby it never learns from the mistakes of the past. It struggles with the present, and it has no plan for the future. What we actually need to do is to change the government, this Prime Minister, a couple of weeks ago, said that he wanted to change. He wanted to be someone who he wasn't. He was going to distance himself from Scott Morrison. Even Scott Morrison wants to distance himself from Scott Morrison. We can do better than that. We can do so much better than that. I intend to lead a government that does do better than that.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, the polls are tight, the prospect of a hung parliament is a reality. Have you spoken to Julia Gillard about how to get through that time as leader? And Scott Morrison is spending the morning in WA, you want to win three seats there, are you worried that you're not in WA today?
 
ALBANESE: I can't be everywhere. I'm in four States today. That's not a bad effort. And so get your skates on, when this press conference goes, we'll be going to another State and then one after that. I spent from Sunday to Tuesday in Western Australia. I put my record up of being in Western Australia versus Scott Morrison's, not just during an election campaign, but over many, many, many years. And the difference is when I go to WA, I get off the plane, I go on Gateway WA, funded under the Gillard government, I go to the Great Eastern Highway, funded under the Rudd Government, I go into the city and I see Perth City Link that we achieved, a massive change in the whole nature of Perth. We're contemplating getting 76-plus seats for the Labor Party. That's what we're contemplating at the election. Just here -- Jonathan.
 
JOURNALIST: There was a time of division within the Labor Party, if you don't mind me bringing it up, where Ms Gillard couldn't rely on your support. Can you tell me, without being too personal, you know, what that, what that, what you've learned from that in your time? And have you offered Ms Gillard the chance to be Australia's ambassador in Washington, as has been suggested?
 
ALBANESE: Talk about getting ahead of ourselves.
 
GILLARD: Can I say the following about your question about the long and distant past. My clear memory of that period is that Albo and I worked together every day. We occasionally had differences of views, we never exchanged a cross word, we worked together productively in the interests of the government every day. And when the opportunity came to vote for Albo as Deputy Prime Minister, I did.
 
JOURNALIST: And the Washington job?
 
ALBANESE: I will treat that with the seriousness it deserves. Julia Gillard, is out there advocating for women, not just here in Australia, but throughout the world globally, and she's doing a fantastic job. Just here.
 
JOURNALIST: I guess a related one. It's been a long, six weeks, obviously you've owned up to a few mistakes along the way. My question is, what was the most important thing you did personally, after you made some of those mistakes, to actually, I guess, deal with that? Did you change the advice, you were given, change your daily routine? You've talked a lot about Scott Morrison not learning from his mistakes, what did you learn from yours?
 
ALBANESE: Own it. Hang on, Clare and then yeah, but I'm trying to get some gender balance as well here. Clare.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, cost of living has been consistently raised as a major issue this election. If you are elected on Saturday, what is the first thing that you would specifically do to immediately provide relief to households who are doing it tough right now?
 
ALBANESE: Australians are doing it tough. They know, they know, that wages have gone backwards by 2.7%. Now, the WPI has been collected since 1998. And it has never gone back by as much as it has right now. So, the difference between us and the current Government are many, but one of them is the current Government have low wage growth as a key feature of their economic architecture. It's not bad luck, it's bad policy, that wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living. And during this campaign -- still got it, $1, $1. This Prime Minister says that people who earn $20.33 an hour, and I'd suggest that some of them are Daily Telegraph readers, they’re viewers of all of your programs and readers of your newspapers, that if someone who cleans buildings, has kept the economy going during the pandemic -- remember the lines about heroes of the pandemic -- that if we give them one extra dollar an hour, the sky will fall in according to this Prime Minister. What I'll do is make submissions prior to June 7, about the minimum wage, about the minimum wage. And I will say to the Fair Work Commission in that new government submission, that they should bear in mind the cost-of-living pressures, which people are under. And in my view, the people who are the lowest wage workers in this economy cannot afford to go backwards.
 
JOURNALIST: You’ve made a lot of infrastructure announcements in this election, including the expansion of the medical centre made with the Premier.
 
ALBANESE: Terrific announcement.
 
JOURNALIST: And more than two billion dollars for an infrastructure project in Melbourne, and roads in Queensland as well. These projects don't appear to be in your costings. Why are they not in your costings, and if you say you're ready to fund them, doesn't that mean the deficit will be higher?
 
ALBANESE: They're all there. Greg. One of the things about this Government –
 
JOURNALIST: Are they actually in your costings, I couldn’t see them in your costings. Are they there?
 
ALBANESE: Finished? Yep. Thanks. One of the things about this Government is that they make announcements on infrastructure and then nothing happens. So I'll point you towards just one, just one. The Government in 2018, and it's included in the budget, announced a new rail project for Monash. With half a billion dollars in the budget. During this campaign, we have supported along with, in partnership with, the Andrews Government, because we want to work with State governments not against them, that what we will do is have a non-track rail project to that area. Now, the Government has said they going to back that commitment after we made it. So there’s $500 million for one project to the same area, other funding for a different project to the same area, which is it? It's them acknowledging that their $500 million commitment for Monash rail that they've made, and it's in the budget, allegedly, that hasn't happened and won't happen, will never happen. So, what we've done, as usual, with infrastructure budgets, I used to do it, I did six of them, major investments, is to take into account all of those factors as well. And that's the case right around the country. This Government also had this ridiculous thing about alleged contingency reserves for projects that are never going to happen, including projects in WA that have been rejected not at one State election, but at multiple State elections as well. We have fully accounted for all of our commitments.
 
JOURNALIST: You’ve mentioned your upbringing a lot during this campaign, you’ve mentioned your family a lot during this campaign. I want to know from you, how much have you thought of your mother during this campaign, and 36 hours out from the polls closing, what do you think she would make of the boy from Camperdown being so close to being the next prime minister?
 
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Jonathan. Julia knew my mum, and she'd be the only one here who did. She'd be proud as punch, she'd be proud as punch, because she made the courageous decision, in 1963 to keep a child that she had out of wedlock. She chose, in order to deal with the pressures that were on a young Catholic woman at that time in those circumstances, to take my father's name, and I was raised being told that that he had died. That's a tough decision. It says something about the pressure that was placed on women, and pressures that are still placed on women, when faced with difficult circumstances.
So, the fact that that young kid is now running for prime minister says a lot about her and her courage. But it also says a lot about this country, about this country. That someone from those beginnings, Julia went to my house there in Camperdown where I grew up, someone could stand before you today, hoping to be elected prime minister of this country tomorrow. And I hope what that does, is that it sends a message for people of whatever background, including the fact that it is the first time that someone with a non Anglo-Celtic name has put themselves forward for prime minister and we've got a fella called Malinauskas here as the State Premier, says a lot about our diversity, but also says a lot about our strength. And that part of what I've said during this campaign is no one held back, and no one left behind. No one left behind, because Labor will always look after the vulnerable and the disadvantaged. But no one held back because I unashamedly, and Labor should always be about aspiration. That's what we do. We give people from the humblest of beginnings, the best opportunity in life. And I pay tribute to my mum. But I also pay tribute to others who've helped me out along the way, no one gets to this spot by themselves. And I thank Julia and others who've helped me along the way.
 
JOURNALIST: You say you're only contemplating a majority win tomorrow, there's a huge early vote, big support for minor parties and independents, and the tightening in the opinion polls. Should Australians prepare themselves for the possibility that there won't be a conclusive result tomorrow night?
 
ALBANESE: Well, I think it's very clear that a whole lot of people who voted Liberal their whole lives have walked away from the Liberal Party. Why have they done that? Because they feel their party has walked away from them. That the values that they hold about individual liberty have been trashed, that a Government that seeks to divide people isn't in that tradition, that they're not conservatives either, because conservatives respect institutions. This is a Government that have trashed institutions.
We've had some discussion about savings, they've come up with further cuts to the public service. What, after Robodebt, isn't obvious that if you make cuts there are tragic circumstances to it, when you take humans out of human service delivery. This is a Government led by a bloke who speaks about a judicial or quasi-judicial body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and calls it a kangaroo court. There's nothing conservative about that. No wonder so many judges have come out on that.
So what has occurred is that in a range of seats, people have walked away from voting Liberal. What I would say to people is, vote Labor, vote Labor. Because there are two people running for prime minister, there's three more years of the same, or there's myself who wants to bring the country together, who wants to be inclusive, who wants to end the division, wants to end the climate wars, and have a look at the relationship that we have, not just with trade unions, but with the business community as well. I put my connections with the business community versus anyone across the parliament. And I see that as a great asset. I see that as a way that we can bring people together. This guy himself has said, remarkably, during this campaign, that he's a bulldozer. Bulldozers wreck things. I'm a builder, and I want to build things.
 
JOURNALIST: Just picking up on that, this has been a very personal campaign, and on a personal level in a word or just a couple of words, as leaders, what do you have that Scott Morrison doesn't?
 
ALBANESE: I have integrity, and the capacity to take responsibility.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, the question actually goes to Ms Gillard, just based on your plea to the Australian women there to vote for Labor to change the government. We've heard so much about the culture in federal politics, the culture in Parliament House, is changing the government enough to change that culture? And have you given the opposition leader any tips on dealing with a hung parliament?
 
GILLARD: Albo doesn't need any tips from me. On your substantive question, to change the culture of Parliament House, you've got to include more women. And as a political party we took that decision as long ago as the early 1990s, and I am of that generation of Labor women, everything about this press conference today seems to be revolving around my age, but anyway, I am of that generation of Labor women, Joan Kirner was the huge figure in this, who campaigned for an affirmative action rule. And as a result of that, the Labor Party is now a much more diverse party, a stronger party, and our political party sends around about half men, half women to the parliaments of Australia, the national parliament and the State parliaments. For a long period of time I've been advocating that the conservative side of politics take a similar step. And if they did, then we would have a parliament that was around half men, half women, and that's really important to changing the culture.
 
ALBANESE: Thank you very much. Thank you. See you at the next stop. And good luck to Louise tomorrow. We'll all be watching. Thanks very much. And thank you once again to the magnificent school leadership here for looking after us so well. And best of luck with your year 12 studies. Thank you very much.

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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