Brisbane Doorstop Interview

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Monday, 3rd May 2021

Brisbane Doorstop Interview

Discussing the Brisbane Labour Day march and more.

SUBJECTS: Brisbane Labour Day march; women’s safety at work; Australians stranded in India; the need for a better quarantine system; Queensland Industrial Relations Act; Australians facing jail time for returning from India; Steven Miles speech; Port of Darwin.

 

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much for joining us. It’s been a great privilege today to march on Labour Day here in Brisbane, the largest May Day march anywhere in Australia. It’s about celebrating the gains that have been made for working people over more than a century. But it’s also about setting down markers about what the challenges are going forward. We’ve had wage stagnation in this country for eight long years of this Government, we have a rise in insecure work, increased casualisation. We have people doing the same job next to each other but could be paid $40,000 or $50,000 less than their co-worker, so we support same job, same pay. It’s about secure work that’s so essential for driving our economy. And it’s about fairness as well, including, of course, fairness between men and women in the workplace. Too many women are not safe going to work. It’s about issues like those raised in the Respect@Work report, making sure that we deal with issues like domestic violence leave, making sure that we allow the Fair Work Commission to be able to look at professions which are dominated by women and take that into account, as they did in 2012 with the community services award. Today also, because it’s an international day, we think about issues including the impact that COVID is having in India. We think the Federal Government should be doing whatever it can to assist the Indian Government to deal with this crisis. But we also think that Australians who are in India shouldn’t just be left stranded. This Government seems to have a policy of ‘locked out or locked up’ for Australian citizens who are in India. And it’s not good enough to say, ‘You’re an Australian citizen but we will lock you out and lock you up if you try to return’. The basis of that is because of a failure of the Federal Government to establish and appropriate quarantine system here in Australia. They need to do much better than what they're doing at the moment, because Australian citizenship does matter. There are rights attached to being an Australian citizen and the Australian Government has obligations to fulfil those rights.
 
STEVEN MILES, QUEENSLAND DEPUTY PREMIER: Thanks Albo and it’s great to have you in Brisbane for Labour Day, a great celebration of the achievements of the Labour Movement. The Premier has announced from Barcaldine a special review that the Palaszczuk Government will undertake into our Industrial Relations Act to ensure it’s fit for purpose and that it provides all of the protections to Queensland workers that they need to protect them from sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace. We’ve heard so many stories this year about particularly women’s experiences at work and this review is designed to ensure we have the best possible laws to protect them and to ensure that employers have and meet their responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace.
 
ALBANESE: We’re happy to take questions. Me first.
 
JOURNALIST: Are you comfortable with Australian citizens being convicted and facing jail time for flying here to Australia?
 
ALBANESE: Well I’ve said that this Government seems to have announced a policy without a great deal of thought. But to have a policy of locking people out and then locking them up if they do try to return is one that requires a justification from the Australian Government. I think, quite clearly, that Australia has obligations to our citizens. It's a fundamental right that this Government seems to have ignored. It's not clear in terms of its policy of how they would go about locking people up for five years for being an Australian citizen trying to return to Australia. Now, we need to make sure that Australians are kept safe. And that is obviously very important, and issues such as restrictions for international visitors to Australia are entirely appropriate. Also, quarantine measures for Australian citizens are appropriate. This Government has had a long time to think these issues through. These issues have been coming for more than a year. And the question is this – Why is it that Scott Morrison gave a commitment that all Australian citizens would be home before Christmas? We’re now at May, and there's more than 35,000 Australians who have been stranded overseas who are now being not just abandoned by their Government but threatened by their Government.
 
JOURNALIST: Is the jail time the only issue (inaudible)?
 
ALBANESE: This Government needs to come up with a plan that deals with the rights of Australian citizens. As it is, what they've come up with, as is the case in so many cases, is political management. How to get a headline or to make a statement out there without thinking through the implications of what they're actually saying. And the Government has to explain how it is in practice that this would occur. If Dave Warner returns to Australia, is the Government really going to look him up for five years? Other citizens, who are Australians, do have rights and obligations. This Government is consistent in the way that it makes knee jerk responses rather than considered policy-making. They have had a very long time to fix this.
 
JOURNALIST: Should the travel ban from India be extended beyond May 15?
 
ALBANESE: Look, we should take appropriate advice from health authorities about those issues. But the Government needs a plan. I, almost a year ago, spoke about how the Government could use the aviation assets at its disposal to fix some of these issues and get Australians home. We brought Australians home from Wuhan in the middle of this outbreak and now, apparently, that's impossible. What we need is a government that actually has solutions. But everything this Government is responsible for it either hands off to the states or then says that it's just too hard to resolve, whether it be the rollout of the vaccine or quarantine issues. Now quarantine and vaccinations are the key to opening up our economy and the key to being able to return as normal. Thanks very much.
 
JOURNALIST: Steven, just a quick one. You were talking about Scott Morrison inside, and you used a word there and it got quite a cheer from the crowd. Can you explain why you used that word?
 
 
MILES: I understand I might have stuttered while speaking earlier and some in the crowd might have misheard. What I said I want to be very, very clear that I was using the word ‘contrast’, the word ‘contrast’. Whatever I think of the Prime Minister, I would never ever use, never ever use language like that. So I want to be very clear, ‘contrast’ was the word I was using.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

MILES: Look, I understand that was a slight stutter and people might have misheard me but it certainly wasn’t my intention to say anything other than that.

JOURNALIST: There was some applause and a cheer from the crowd (inaudible).

MILES: I can’t speak for the crowd’s reaction. It was not my intention in any way, and I want to rule that out as clearly as I possibly can.
 
JOURNALIST: What’s your concern with the Landbridge lease of the Darwin port and should it be cancelled?
 
ALBANESE: The concern is the one that we put in place in 2015. I can't think of a more strategic national asset than the Port of Darwin. It was sold to a company that was connected with a foreign government under Scott Morrison’s watch by a conservative government in the Northern Territory. I as Shadow Infrastructure Minister raised concerns at that time.

Thanks.
 
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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