Melbourne Doorstop Interview

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Wednesday, 13th April 2022

Melbourne Doorstop Interview

Discussing strengthening Medicare and more.

SUBJECTS: Strengthening Medicare; employment history; only person seeking to be Prime Minister in own right; JobSeeker; 2022 policies; protesters; civil engagement and safety. 
 
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Hi, thanks for joining us. That was a very exciting thing to do. I came to this building as one of my first visits as Labor Leader, and our nurses and midwives do such extraordinary work. And during the pandemic we do need to have practical measures that strengthen Medicare, that take pressure off emergency departments. And that's what our announcement today will do. 50 urgent care clinics around the country in every state and territory, the cost of $135 million dollars. And, of course, also looking at the model that's there in Victoria for nurses and midwives. Health services, they've been doing it really tough, we need to look at ways in which we can keep people in the sector. And the feedback that I've had as I've gone around the country, is the pressure that they're under. So, a practical measure as well, some $23 million. Medicare is something that Labor will always strengthen. It's no accident, that on the first three days in this campaign, I've had three health announcements, there'll be more to come. Happy to take questions. 
 
JOURNALIST: Do you think your role as a Research Officer for Tom Uren really constitutes an economic adviser to the Hawke government? And how do you reconcile your opposition to major economic reforms at the time with your attempts to align yourself with him now? 
 
ALBANESE: I was employed as an economic policy adviser to a minister in the Hawke Government. That's not a surprise. That's just a fact. If you actually go and have a look at the relationship with Paul Keating and Tom Uren, I assure you, they had seats next to each other, they had a fantastic relationship. 
 
JOURNALIST: We're in the seat of Melbourne, which is held by Greens Leader, Adam Bandt. All experts in the polls are saying this election will be tight, we could have a hung parliament result. You've ruled out doing a deal with the Greens in the eventuation of that. Who will you do a deal with? And what won't you compromise on?  
 
ALBANESE: I'm the person who's standing to be Prime Minister in my own right. The last time around I was in a position of negotiating as Deputy Prime Minister we made it clear, at that time in 2013, that the crossbenchers could make their decision. They had a decision to make over whether they continued to support a Labor Government, which was then led by Kevin Rudd, or they could have, that day, put in Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. We didn't do any deals. There were no arrangements, there'll be no arrangements with the Greens. I'm the only person standing in this election, who can be Prime Minister in their own right. 
 
JOURNALIST: Could you live off the JobSeeker rate of $46 a day? Why has Labor dumped its policy to review the JobSeeker allowance? 
 
ALBANESE: Well, we haven't dumped anything. What we've said is we don't have a plan to increase the Jobseeker Allowance in our first budget. But what you would do, and I've said this on a number of occasions consistently that I've been asked, every time governments do a budget, they should look at what is responsible and do what they can to help those in need. Job Seeker is $45, $45 a day, 45 point something. $642.70 a fortnight to be precise. And that $642.70 a fortnight is obviously a lot less than I earn and a lot less than any of you earn. I think it's disingenuous for people to say, who are politicians, “oh, you know, I can live on that”. I know what it's like to live on a fixed income. And I grew up in a household that did just that with a mum on what was then called an invalid pension. So, I know that they're doing it tough. But the truth is, if we are fortunate enough to form government we will form government at a time where debt's heading towards a trillion dollars, whereby you can't repair all of the damage or do everything you want to do immediately, you'll be fiscally responsible. And one of the things I'm being careful to do is all of the policies that we've put out are fully costed.  
 
JOURNALIST: You left it to Andrew Leigh to make this announcement yesterday. What about people who were expecting or hoping that perhaps Labor might do better for people on JobSeeker that they're feeling a bit let down today aren't they?  
 
ALBANESE: As I said, I refer to my previous answer. We can't do everything given the circumstances in which we're in. Yesterday, there was no policy announcement yesterday. I've said consistently that there would be, you'll consider these things in every budget. That's what every government should do. It's what this Government should do.   
 
JOURNALIST: (inaudible)… Will you review the amount? 
 
ALBANESE: Well, every payment should be reviewed. Each budget. Every payment should be reviewed each budget. 
 
JOURNALIST: Is this not just a reheat of Kevin Rudd's super clinics? 65 were promised only 33 were ever delivered. Is this another hollow promise? 
 
ALBANESE: No, it's not. This is a very different promise and a very different commitment. This is something aimed at removing pressure off ED departments. 
 
JOURNALIST: In 2019 Labor took an election commitment to build an urgent medical urgent care medical facility in Logan. It was to have eleven urgent care beds and an outpatient facility. It was to cost about $33 million. You're building 50 for $135 million, roughly $2.7 million each. When you consider the fact that a GP earns about $200,000 a year and you want them to staff 50 facilities seven days a week, 14 hours a day, how are you possibly going to afford to build 50 of these facilities when in 2019, building one costed 15 times as much? 
 
ALBANESE: Because it wasn't the same commitment. It wasn't delivering the same service. We promised different commitments in 2019. We promised also a commitment in Fremantle and something in Bribie Island. There's a different commitment, different policy. This policy has been costed, like all about policies by the Parliament. But this has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the PBO.*
 
JOURNALIST: Last week you said that the protester, not the protester, the bloke trying to ask you a question was associated with that Chinese Communist Party sign truck. 
 
ALBANESE: That was what I was told.
 
JOURNALIST: This guy Norm Bedford says he says he wasn't at all. If that's the case, would you apologise to him? And who told you that? Who made you believe that was the case? 
 
ALBANESE: Of course, if that's the case, there were security concerns raised during that period, that truck has appeared outside Mark McGowan's office. And that was a concern that was raised. If there was any error made, I of course would apologise. 
 
JOURNALIST: The PM was confronted by a Young Labor supporter at a private event last night. Do you condemn his actions? And what's your message to other Labor supporters who are thinking of doing the same thing? 
 
ALBANESE: I condemn any action that's inappropriate. And I've seen footage of it and I think that gentleman, I don't know who he was, his actions were entirely inappropriate. We need to have civil discourse. And similar to refer to the previous question, when people jump in, in circumstances whereby you don't know where they're from, there are security concerns. You'll note that I have substantial security at the moment, and there's a reason for that. People should behave civilly. Our democratic processes can be robust, but people can be polite, and people can engage in appropriate forums in appropriate ways. And we should make sure that happens. 

ENDS

* See clairifcation here.

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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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