Sydney Doorstop Interview

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Tuesday, 14th September 2021

Sydney Doorstop Interview

Discussing the state of the economy, Scott Morrison’s failure to fix vaccine rollout and national quarantine and more.

SUBJECTS: State of the economy; Scott Morrison’s failure to fix vaccine rollout and national quarantine; aged care sector; George Christensen; Australian citizenships; Federal election; seat of Fowler; Labor’s policy agenda; diversity within the Labor Party.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thank you for joining me. Later today, the Reserve Bank Governor will be giving a speech about the state of the economy. There's no doubt that Scott Morrison's lockdowns are costing billions of dollars for our national economy. The reason why more than half of Australia is in lockdown today is a direct result of the failure of the Federal Government to roll out the vaccines early enough and to fix national quarantine. And I know that Jane Halton is doing a review again into national quarantine. But her recommendations from last year's review still haven't been taken up and haven't been implemented. Recommendations including fixing ventilation issues, including having purpose-built quarantine and using facilities that are at Australia's disposal right now. We need to do much better. And Scott Morrison needs to do more than just come up with excuses. We know that Moderna will be arriving here soon. But why wasn't Moderna being distributed many, many months ago, as it was right around the world? That's because our Prime Minister said that this wasn't a race. Well, it always was a race. And now there are real consequences of us having run last in that race. Consequences for our health but also consequences for our economy.

JOURNALIST: The aged care sector is part of the Federal Government, they're in charge of it. But the deadline for mandatory vaccination is this Friday. How worried are you about the ability of the sector to get there by Friday?

ALBANESE: Well, I'm very worried about the aged care sector. The nursing home at Summer Hill in my electorate has seen at least five deaths as a result of the current outbreak. That was a direct result of the fact that you still had unvaccinated aged care workers working at multiple facilities. And we should do better. Aged care workers were supposed to be in category 1A at the front of the queue. And they were supposed to be vaccinated by Easter. We know that, as of now, aged care workers still aren't fully vaccinated. And we need to make sure that is the case in order to protect their own health but also the health of those elderly Australians who they're looking after. The Federal Government is responsible for the regulation, the funding and the oversight of aged care. And it has been quite extraordinary that we're now more than 18 months into this pandemic, and we still have unvaccinated aged care workers.

JOURNALIST: George Christensen is lobbying the TGA to change advice on Ivermectin. Are you surprised the Prime Minister hasn't done more to stop him from sharing these views?

ALBANESE: Well, the Prime Minister still refuses to distance himself from George Christensen. This is a member of the Government who has promoted dangerous ideas for 18 months now and hasn't been shut down by the Federal Government. This is a Prime Minister who, when I moved a motion distancing the Parliament from George Christensen's views, refused to say the name George Christensen. Scott Morrison has a responsibility to come out today and to say that George Christensen is wrong, to distance himself very clearly from George Christensen's comments. To follow appropriate health advice is what we need to be doing. And Australians should listen to the health experts, not listen to theories on Facebook, not listen to the ideas of people like George Christensen, who has attended rallies. But this is a Prime Minister who never shows leadership, whether it's about George Christensen or whether it is Andrew Laming, who months after the Prime Minister said he'd be removed from his parliamentary positions remained as chair of an important parliamentary committee and remains as a member of the Government Liberal and National parties.

JOURNALIST: David Littleproud also this morning refused to pull him into line. Is there anything that can actually be done to stop him from sharing this?

ALBANESE: Well, it would be a good thing if Government leaders, the Prime Minister and Government ministers disassociated themselves from George Christensen's views. These are views that will have reckless consequences for people's health. We indeed need as a nation to move forward as one. And we don't need Members of Parliament promoting theories that are not in the interests of people's health.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible). 

ALBANESE: Well, they don't need to do that. The ministers have discretion when it comes to citizenship and when it comes to visas. And they have that for a reason. Because where circumstances don't fit a category or don't fit in a box, what we should have is a common sense principle. And the common sense principle tells you that Quade Cooper should be granted Australian citizenship. That's why Kristina Keneally has advocated so strongly for it for a long period of time now. It's quite absurd that it could be knocked back on the basis that it's unclear what contribution Quade Cooper could make. Those people who watched him kick the winning penalty goal the other night in the test against South Africa know that's the case. I've seen Quade Cooper play for Australia in a World Cup semi-final. Quade Cooper's represented Australia many times. And we need to have a bit of common sense here. Where people want to be Australian citizens, where they make the contribution to the country, we should be welcoming. This Addison Road Community Centre where I am right now is very much a community centre that welcomes people from all over the world to make a contribution. And behind me, we have people who were born outside of Australia, who are volunteering their time to help their fellow citizens here. And it's an example of what makes Australia a great country. So Quade Cooper should be welcomed here. Most Australians would find it bizarre that there be a question mark over whether he can become an Australian citizen or not.

JOURNALIST: Labor has quotas to increase the number of women in the Party. Would you do the same to increase cultural diversity?

ALBANESE: Well, what we've done is make a huge difference on cultural diversity. You look at the makeup of our Parliament, and you not only have us heading towards 50 per cent gender equality, but you have a very diverse representation, whether it be First Nations people, whether it be people who were born overseas, or whether it be people from all over Australia. In our state and national parliaments, we have very diverse representation, including at senior levels. And at the most senior levels, the Leader of the House of Representatives is someone called Albanese and the Leader in the Senate is someone called Wong. So the Labor Party has done an enormous amount for diversity. And by the way, our Deputy Leader in the Senate, Kristina Keneally, was born in the United States, came to Australia, and is another great Australian success story of a migrant who's come here and became the New South Wales Premier. And she followed, as the New South Wales Premier, my good friend Morris Iemma, also of Italian background. So the fact is that Labor is the party of multiculturalism. We have been since the days, at least, of the great Whitlam Government and the advances that we've made. And indeed, this centre where we are right now, if you walk around here, you have huts, you have Turkish welfare, you have Greek theatre, you have ethnic child care, you have the community centre here packing up food hampers for people of diverse backgrounds. This very centre was purchased by the Whitlam Government as a centre for multiculturalism, for groups to come here and to engage with each other and with the community. And so I'm very proud of Labor's multicultural commitment and we will continue to have that into the future.

JOURNALIST: Why won't you commit to affirmative action for cultural representation?

ALBANESE: We're doing it through results, through the election of, just down the road here, Linda Burney as the Member for Barton. People like Ed Husic and Anne Aly, the first two men and women from Muslim backgrounds respectively, elected to the House of Representatives. We're doing it through the diversity that we have in our ranks. And we'll continue to do that.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Tu Le about what has been happening over the last few days?

ALBANESE: Yes, I have spoken to Tu Le. I think Tu Le is an outstanding Australian and she has a great commitment to the country and to political change. She's a great social justice advocate. And I've encouraged her to hang in there. She's 30 years old. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her. 

JOURNALIST: Are you not concerned at all that people like Tu Le will be put off and disappointed by how she's been sidelined by Labor?

ALBANESE: Well, not at all. The truth is that Kristina Keneally is a former Premier of New South Wales, is a Deputy Leader in the Senate, and is a valued member of the team. And Kristina Keneally will make an outstanding contribution to the House of Representatives as she has to the Senate. And so, from time to time, in terms of competitive environment, in terms of politics, this occurs. But Tu Le, I think, will have an outstanding future. I think she's an articulate, very talented, passionate advocate for her community and for the cause of Labor. And I certainly hope that she hangs in there. And I'm sure that she will have a bright future. 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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