Sydney Press Conference

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Sunday, 8th May 2022

Sydney Press Conference

with Labor Candidate for Bennelong Jerome Laxale

SUBJECTS: 2022 Election; Pre-polling; Labor’s spending commitments; Labor’s climate change plan; Labor’s Rewiring the Nation Plan; John Howard; Labor’s commitment on wage increase; Labor’s plan to improve pay equity. 
 
JEROME LAXALE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BENNELONG: G’day everyone I'm Jerome Laxale, Labor’s candidate for Bennelong. I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land the Wallumettagal people of the Eora Nation and welcome you to fantastic Bennelong down here at Meadowbank on Mother's Day. This is the third time Albo’s come to Bennelong and we're really excited. I think the electorate's ready for a change, and they're ready to back an Albanese Labor Government. I'd like to publicly thank Albo for not giving me COVID last time he visited, that was fantastic, and you're more than welcome to come back. Bennelong’s ready for change and hopefully, we can get rid of this Scott Morrison government and you know, change our nation. Anyway, here he is, Albo.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Jerome. I'm sorry, you reminded everyone about that. I've gotta say yeah, I was with you at I think about three o'clock that afternoon. I tested at 4:15. And some time after 5:30 I got a text message to say I tested positive. I did ring Jerome, it must be said, and you were one of the first people to know, to let you know. But as you know, that day in Top Ryde, I was feeling pretty good, I've got to say, that afternoon.

Look, the first thing I want to say today is Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there. Every mum is special and mums just play such a critical role in the lives of their children, the lives of their grandchildren as it goes through and it's a very special day. It's a bit of a sad day for me. I've got to say 20 years ago today, my mum left home for the last time. She had a brain aneurysm on Mother's Day. In 2002. I'd come back from Canberra - one of the one of the things about this job is you know, you're not home. So I was going to visit her at home there in Camperdown. I knew something was up because the door was open, and she went to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. And she never, she never came home. So I pay tribute to my mum today. And I pay tribute to all those out there who will be feeling like me. I think we all, anyone who loses their mum cherishes their memory, and I honour her memory in what I'm doing in this campaign. I honour it each and every day. And as the Labor Prime Minister, if I'm elected on May 21, I will think about as I do, all the time, think about what would mum do? Because she was someone who didn't lead a life of privilege or relative privilege like I have. She didn't get any formal school qualifications because of illness. She did it tough, but she gave me unconditional love. And that is what mums do. And I pay tribute to them. 

Today, on Mother's Day, it is appropriate to make the announcement that we're making. An announcement about additional funding for playgroups. Playgroups play such an important role I know for my son Nathan, his first social interactions were from the playgroup that used to meet at, near St. Stephen's church in Newtown, I’d take him up there and it was the way in which, it plays such an important role for children to interact. But it also plays an important role in building up community. It's how mums and dads can get together and exchange information, talk about postnatal issues. It can be a really difficult time in people's lives, and playgroups play such an important role. So we will support Playgroups Australia and Toy Libraries Australia to grow their membership to offer free playgroups with this funding and to set up new services in regional areas as well. We want them to be able as well to have funding to upgrade facilities and toys for many kids who come from underprivileged backgrounds, this is an opportunity that they have, that they can't afford to have all the toys and gadgets at home, but they can go to the playgroup and get that experience as well. And of course we know that 90 per cent of human brain development occurs in the first five years. So it's really important that we take every opportunity which is there, and that's why childcare is our largest on-budget commitment - $5.4 billion during this campaign, because we understand that as well. Part of this funding as well will help intergenerational playgroups. Now, I gave in my, one of my vision statements was about ageing and seniors…[pauses] Thought I was away from the flight path. It was about ageing and seniors. And there I spoke about the ABC program, that anyone who watched it just loved it. Old People's Home for Four Year Olds. That interaction of these young kids with the elderly, that was good for the kids, good for our oldest Australians as well - that interaction and the imparting of knowledge. It took years off their life, the older people who participated in that program. And that's the sort of thing, the innovation, that frankly, I wasn't aware of before that show. But it's a fantastic thing as well. So these programs, I think, is an appropriate announcement to make on Mother's Day. 

Can I also say that tomorrow, early voting starts. And I do note that the Liberal Party seemed to have had this rather bizarre message out there telling people not to vote. I want people to vote. I want people to vote in elections, whether it's on polling day, or whenever it's convenient for them. Our democracy is precious. People should cast their vote and should participate in the democracy here today. We've seen stalls from a number of political parties. That's a good thing, our democratic processes. And I do note that from tomorrow, two weeks to go, in terms of the pre-polling, and then an election on the 21st.

JOURNALIST: On pre-polling, why haven’t you released your costings if people are going to the polls tomorrow? They will essentially be voting without knowing how much your policies are going to cost?

ALBANESE: Well, that's a big call. Hands up those who lead a political party that's had its campaign launch? Seriously? The Liberal Party are not doing their campaign launch until next week. We have no idea what the costings are. We have no idea what their commitments are, Scott Morrison is waiting for people to have voted for a week before he outlines what his costings are. 

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says there's no evidence of gay students being expelled from school but there is evidence of religious discrimination. Do you agree with him? 

ALBANESE: There is evidence of religious discrimination, which is why we support religious discrimination legislation. I'm aware, I've spoken, a senior Catholic figure in Australia who has been abused for walking down the street, dressed as a Catholic, almost identified him here - a senior person who has been abused because of who he is. And because of his faith. I've spoken to women who've been spat on for wearing a hijab in the street. We do need religious discrimination legislation, and it should include anti vilification and can I make this point as well. That if people don't think that some young people are discriminated against and vilified, because of their sexuality, then that just does not reflect reality.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Albanese just on costings, will budget deficits be higher or lower under an Albanese Labor government? 

ALBANESE: Well, we'll wait and see what the government comes up with. We know what our plans are. We know what our commitments are. We've put out costings as we've gone and we’ll release all our costings in the usual way as Oppositions have. What we know is that the government has committed a lot more spending than we have on just about every single day of this election campaign. And what we know also is that Labor has prioritised spending in areas that will produce future income. So it’s incomings, not just outgoings. So that's why for example, childcare will produce additional revenue - by women being able to work five days a week, by growth in productivity and growth in company profits. By the benefit that comes from that. We know that investing in the National Broadband Network and updating it will produce productivity benefits as well. We know, as well, that if you invest infrastructure on the basis of productivity rather than colour-coded spreadsheets, you'll get better outcomes.

JOURNALIST: So Mr Albanese, yesterday, you denied that the budget will be 10 billion dollars worse off. You said that’s not that plan.

ALBANESE: I said the article is not the plan. The article is not the plan, all of our costings will be released, will be released as the Opposition in the usual way. We don't know what the other side is. Think about your question. Your question is a comparator between Labor and the Coalition. We have no idea what the coalition commitments are, they haven't even had their campaign launch yet.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese on climate change, the government says that its plan has already reduced carbon emissions by 20 per cent. But those figures have been criticised quite a lot, particularly the use of LULU-CF numbers in those. Under your plan, which will decrease carbon emissions more, will you use the same accounting or will you use different tactics and then review the government's numbers?

ALBANESE: Look, we've used the government's figures, have been fed in through the RepuTex model, what we've said, what we did was we didn't come up with a target, and then work out how to get there. What we did was work out good policy, and then RepuTex did the modeling that shows a 43 per cent reduction by 2030.

JOURNALIST: Given what you just said about students facing discrimination at schools, will you commit if elected a Labor government would make changes to the Sex Discrimination Act to protect LGBTIQ and would that done this year and would you deal with that, at the same time as you deal with the Religious Discrimination Act or as the Prime Minister has flagged today, would they be done sequentially?

ALBANESE: Well, the Prime Minister wrote to me, wrote to me, when the debate was on in the national Parliament, and said that he would do, take action to protect students, gay and lesbian students. I'm astonished that he has walked away from that. We need to protect people from discrimination, whether it's religious discrimination on the basis, or on the basis of people's sexuality.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, the RBA has warned that real wages will fall by 3 per cent this year. Isn’t it right that even with your cost of living policies already announced that voters will be in more pain by years end?

ALBANESE: Well, this government, this government have been in office for almost a decade. What you can't do is undo a decade of damage, where a government has consciously, consciously held down wages. It's a key feature of their economic architecture. We will put in place mechanisms that provide cost of living relief, through cheaper childcare, cheaper electricity prices, cheaper medicines. We will have a range of measures in terms of wages as well, including making sure that we outlaw wage theft, for example, make it a crime; including same job, same pay, including better regulation of the gig economy. The truth is, though, that on day one, you can't undo ten years of damage, which this governments has had.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Albanese through this campaign Labor has promised to match around $1.5 billion dollars of coalition spending commitments. Things like the diabetes funding, also the Seniors Healthcare Card, will you announce offset savings?

ALBANESE: We'll announce all of our costings, like every Opposition has, in the usual way.

JOURNALIST: Will you match the funding today, the IVF stuff, and can you elaborate on your plan to make pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Commission?

ALBANESE: Yes, we will match that. When the government comes up with a good policy, we're prepared to support it. And IVF for people who are suffering from cancer - we don't want people to be in a position whereby they're having to face those options. That financial support for them is to my mind, a commonsense position going forward.

JOURNALIST: And with pay equity? 

ALBANESE: We’ll include it as an objective of the Fair Work Act, like we’ll include secure work as an objective. 

JOURNALIST: Just on your push for [inaudible]. If that is such a big commitment, why wouldn’t you commit to superannuation under the paid parental scheme as part of your announcement? And also tonight, you've got the second leaders debate tonight - Nine’s Great Debate, what is your biggest worry ahead of it? 

ALBANESE: Good ad for Channel Nine there, slipped in seamlessly. I look forward to the debate. I challenged Scott Morrison to debates and moved resolutions in the Parliament for three years. For three years, the most common phrase heard from government benches is to move that the member be no longer heard. They have shut down debate day after day in a way that other Prime Ministers - whether it was Abbott, Turnbull, Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Keating, Hawke, they just didn't do. The idea of debating ideas has been trashed under this government. So I look forward to tonight. And on super, we’ve said very clearly, that's something we'd like to do. But to go to the other questions as well. We're very conscious of the fact that if we're successful on the 21st of May, we will inherit a trillion dollars of debt, a trillion dollars of debt. So one of the things that we're doing is being very modest in our spending commitments, because of the circumstances in which we will inherit - you can't undo ten years of damage in such a short period of time. And one of the things I'm also really committed to was speaking to the young woman over here, who's going to get to vote. And she's already declared she's voting Labor in 2025. I'm very conscious that if I'm successful, on the 21st of May, that I want to go to the next election, not having anything in which I've said I would do, where we say, well, actually, it's a bit difficult. You see, governments do it all the time. They come in, remember Tony Abbott in 2013. Came in, this is what Liberals do - came in and said, there'll be no cuts to education and health and ABC, all the things that he said, and then the 2014 budget, just slashed everything and had an enormous impact. So I would like to do it. I've indicated that it would be a good thing to do. There are a range of things I would like to do. We'll consider it in government. We'll consider it in government. But what I will do is underpromise and overdeliver in government. 

JOURNALIST: Mr. Albanese yesterday you were in Tasmania, promoting your Powering Australia policy, that aims to create 600,000 jobs. How many of those will be for women, given traditionally energy and manufacturing have been male dominated areas? 

ALBANESE: Well, it's 604,000 new jobs, five out of every six of them in regional Australia. it will be good for men and it'll be good for women. It'll be good for people in the regions, it'll be good for people in the cities, it'll be good for households. It'll be good for businesses. If you lower power prices for businesses and for households, what you do is turbocharge employment across industries, including women, women's industries, or feminised industries, as well as more male dominated industries. That's why it's good policy. Last one here. 

JOURNALIST: How many more women? You haven’t answered that.

ALBANESE: It is good for men and for women. If you reduce, [interruptions] No, no if you reduce power prices for businesses, and for households, what you do in particular with businesses. If you reduce the small business price, the energy price costs of the small business up the road there by lowering their energy costs, it could be a small business which relies upon women for the workforce, you'll lower their costs. If you increase a manufacturing plant – I don’t know if you've been, we’ve been to a few manufacturing places too [interruptions]. Modern manufacturing. [Interruptions]. Well, you should have been following me since January 2. If you go into a modern manufacturing plant, what you don't see is just people on assembly lines. What you see, what you see is people behind computer screens, people with skills in IT, people operating those areas, you see women and men working in manufacturing. When we've been to Western Sydney, for example, around those sites - none of those sites were gender specific. They all had women and men working in them.

JOURNALIST: We’re in Bennelong, John Howard’s old seat. He claims you lack policy substance. With early voting starting tomorrow, have you done enough? Have you put it all on the table?

ALBANESE: Well, thanks. Thanks very much. Look, I respectfully am untroubled by John Howard's comments. The comments of a former Liberal Prime Minister, who won four terms as the Liberal Prime Minister, and that is worthy of respect. Quite an achievement. And so I'm respectfully untroubled by John Howard saying ‘vote Liberal’. You know, what's amazing? The former Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who can't say that people should vote Liberal, can't say that he will vote Liberal at this election. That's what's remarkable. Scott Morrison, was Malcolm Turnbull’s Treasurer. One of the things about Scott Morrison is that those people who've worked closely with him, whether it's Malcolm Turnbull, or whether it be Barnaby Joyce, his Deputy Prime Minister, or whether it be Gladys Berejiklian, whether it be other members of his cabinet, including people like Michael Keenan who gave a character assessment on the way out the door. They all say that the more you know him, the less trustworthy he's regarded. That is what they all say. And I think that John Howard - I was there from 1996. John Howard's government was relatively to this mob, united. He had views. He had ideas, many of which I disagree with fundamentally, including ideas like work choices. Others, like gun control, I respect him for the courage that he showed on gun control. But John Howard, if he was sitting in the caucus today, would not recognise the rabble that is the Liberal Party under Scott Morrison. A rabble whereby you have a Liberal Prime Minister, who can't visit Liberal heartland, like just next door here in North Sydney, or Warringah, or Mackellar, or Wentworth, or other seats. John Howard would not recognise the rabble that is there. And John Howard had Tim Fisher. Tim Fisher was a great Australian. I admire him so much. Scott Morrison has Barnaby Joyce, not once. But Barnaby Joyce the sequel, is even worse than the horror show we saw in the beginning. And that's holding - even if the Liberal Party did want to do the right thing, and they don't. That's holding them back. I note Matt Canavan’s extraordinary comments today, going out there campaigning essentially against the coalition government. Again, saying climate change action is nonsense. Net zero is dead. Saying all of those things that would never have happened under John Howard, because John Howard led his party in a way that Scott Morrison never has and never will. 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
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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

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the sorrow of the Stolen Generations and the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also recognise the resilience, strength and pride of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Authorised by Anthony Albanese. 334a Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204.