Tasmania Talks with Mike O’Loughlin

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Wednesday, 15th December 2021

Tasmania Talks with Mike O’Loughlin

Discussing manufacturing, Labor’s policy agenda and more.

SUBJECTS: Tasmania border easing; COVID-19 pandemic; manufacturing; Labor’s policy agenda; quarantine; COVID-19 pandemic; climate change; Labor’s Powering Australia Plan; skills; need for a National Anti-Corruption Commission; rorting; Federal election.
 
MIKE O'LOUGHLIN, HOST: Anthony Albanese has touched down a little while ago this morning in Tassie, one of the first flights coming into Launceston as borders reopened today. He join us on the line now. Good morning. Welcome back to Tasmania Talks. And welcome back to Tassie.
 
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Mike. It's fantastic to be here. And you've put on a beautiful day here in Launnie, I've got to say.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: We did it on purpose, there's no doubt about that. First of all, tell us about your experience flying in with our new border changes.
 
ALBANESE: Well, it's pretty smooth, I've got to say. I had my COVID test yesterday. So, I had that. I, of course, have been triple vaxxed, I've had my booster shot. So, I had that and applied for the border pass. That was all pretty smooth. So, well done to the Tasmanian authorities for making it smooth. Everyone was going through in a pretty efficient way. And it was just fantastic, actually, to see families being reunited. They were handing out flowers at the airport, there was a muso playing to give people a bit of atmosphere. And I met the CEO at the airport there at Launceston. And it was a really great experience and a pleasure to be a part of.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: And I guess, visiting a beautiful state, you're having a bit of a blitz on marginal seats. And I guess it'd be nice to pop in, you've got a couple there to work on.
 
ALBANESE: Indeed. Well, I've just done a doorstop and a visit to Definium Technologies here. They produce high-value manufacturing here, a start-up company run by Michael that he started five years ago. It's already employing 16 full-time people. They want to employ more. And I am visiting with Ross Hart and Brian Mitchell to see the opportunities that are there. One of the lessons of this pandemic is we need to make more things here. And Australia has great opportunities to produce high-value manufacturing. We produce all these natural resources, all these minerals, we export them overseas, we see the value-add and the jobs created over there, and then we come and pay a lot to import it back. We need to make more things here and particularly that high-end of value, because that's where we can be extremely competitive. And this company, Definium, they're showing that they can compete with the world. They're producing products for Australia, but also producing products for the entire world and exporting them.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: And I gather industrial relations certainly would be front and centre of your election campaign. I guess, as I was reading, and it probably is quite apt to say, to repair trust with blue-collar workers who turned their backs on the ALP back in 2019.
 
ALBANESE: Well, we need to secure work. That is one of the three big themes that I have. A better life for working families by supporting Medicare and stopping the undermining of it that's gone on, by having cheaper childcare, by lifting living standards up. Secure work by lifting wages. Wages have been going backwards since the Government changed in 2013. And this Government's last Budget showed that wages would not keep up with the cost of living over the next four years. We need secure work that values permanency. We are at real risk in this country of having more and more casual jobs, more and more insecure work, and people not being able to get the hours that they need. And we need to address that. And that will be the second big theme. And the third is a future made in Australia, part of which is the opportunities that will come from a clean energy economy. Tasmania, of course, has a target for 100 per cent clean energy net by 2030 and is leading the country. And we need to make sure that Tasmania exports some of that clean energy across to the north island.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: I know Prime Minister Scott Morrison has claimed that power and petrol prices would rise under a Labor Government, forcing interest rates higher than they would need to be. So, realistically what tax agenda is Labor going to take to the next election?
 
ALBANESE: Well, it is just a nonsense scare campaign from a Prime Minister who doesn't want to talk about his own record of failing to secure vaccines, failing to setup purpose-built quarantine, failing to have an economic policy. The fact is debt had doubled under this Government before the pandemic. And now, it has risen to a trillion dollars with no legacy to show for it. People are under more and more pressure. He just makes things up. Someone should tell him that if a 43 per cent target of reducing emissions by 2030 is an issue well, what's 100 per cent for Tasmania? That must completely horrify him. He needs to have a chat to Premier Gutwein about the Tasmanian target. That just shows what a nonsense it is from this Prime Minister. The three Liberal state governments in this country have 100 per cent target in Tasmania and 50 per cent in New South Wales and South Australia. And yet, he made those comments in the wake of a 43 per cent target that Federal Labor has adopted in order to bring us in line with the rest of the world.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: If I can just go back. What tax agenda is Labor going to take to the next election?
 
ALBANESE: Well, we're not proposing to have any new taxes. We haven't proposed. We have proposed the big tax agenda is to reduce taxes on electric vehicles. That's the tax policy that we announced. We'll have more to say about multinationals paying their fair share of tax. But we've announced that our policies, and they're the ones that I will take forward to the next election, we've made it clear that on areas like franking credits and negative gearing, we won't be taking those policies to the next election.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Look, let's go back onto climate change. It is such a huge issue. The Launceston Chamber of Commerce, they've been advocating for strong climate action at all levels of government for the past few years with aspirational targets for decarbonisation of both federal and state levels, which does play to Tasmania's competitive advantage. But it's interesting when you've said you're cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 if you win the next election, because Morrison, we know that is 26-28 per cent reduction on the 2005 emission levels by 2030. But projections apparently show, and I am not exact on this, show reductions of up to possibly 35 per cent will be reached. But I know the Greens have come in fairly strongly attacking Labor's emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by just 2030. Greens Leader, Adam Bandt, said, and I quote, 'You're going backwards'.
 
ALBANESE: Well, he's just making up numbers, of course. They'll never have to deliver anything. I, as the alternate Prime Minister, have put forward a fully costed, fully modelled plan that will create 640,000 new jobs, that will result in power prices in the national energy market reducing by $275 by 2025, $52 billion of new private sector investment. And it's been backed in by the Business Council of Australia, they know something about business. The Australian Industry Group, they know something about industry. By the National Farmers' Federation, they know something about farming and rural community. By the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the Australian Council of Trade Unions. They know that our plan will also defend workers and workers' interest. So, this is a chance to end the climate war. To end this nonsense of having a Prime Minister who just makes things up. We remember about whole towns were going to disappear if we took action on climate change, and that people weren't going to be able to have roasts. If you had an electric vehicle, it would end the weekend, according to this Prime Minister during the last election campaign. And people need to remember that this Prime Minister ran a dishonest scare campaign the last time round. We expect him to do exactly the same. And they need to have a look at what the Business Council and what the experts, who aren't Labor's natural allies, have said about the plan that we've put forward, which is a positive plan, a realistic one, and one that can be achieved and one which is very much in Australia's national interest.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Your Powering Australian plan is a good read.
 
ALBANESE: It is a good read because it is a practical plan that will take advantage of the opportunities that are there from us acting on renewables. Renewables will grow to above 80 per cent of the national energy market between now and 2030. That won't occur if we continue to add the sort of nonsense that we've seen from the Federal Government denying any change and just running a scare campaign. And even their own figures, here you have a target of 26-28 per cent. They themselves say, 'Oh, but we might reach between 30 and 35. But we won't put that as a target because Barnaby Joyce won't let it'. We cannot allow the National Party, that have no representation here in Tasmania, to hold Tasmanians back. But that is what will happen if Australia continues for another three years to be held back by the climate change denial mob who won't allow the Coalition Government to take any action.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Well, of course, we've got to great success in Tasmania, as you have said, with our renewable energy. And the fact is we're doing so well in that. And the Marinus Link, I think, hopefully, we'll get that up and running sooner than later so we can bring just the generic power bills down for Mr And Mrs Ordinary, who will just nicely make some money on that, we hope. And green hydrogen. There are the things Tasmania could look forward to. But also, something else concerns me. I had a listen and I tend to agree with a caller with a question. She says, 'Albo, if Labor win the election, will the ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, will you plan to introduce retrospective powers?'
 
ALBANESE: Well, they'll have the opportunity to look at the measures going back. We won't direct them what to do. We know that it's now this week, three years since Scott Morrison committed the Government to having national integrity commission. And we haven't even had the legislation introduced into the Parliament. It's very clear that this Government, with the figures that are out today in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, that $4 has gone into Coalition seats for every dollar that's gone into a Labor-held seat. And the fact of the Prime Minister's office getting out colour-coded sheets based upon the marginality of electorates. We need funding based upon need, and not based just if you're in a marginal seat, you get funding, and if you're not, well, you're on your own. This Government has treated taxpayer funds like they're the same as the funds of the Liberal and National Party. And it simply has got to stop. And a National Anti-Corruption Commission is needed. And it's not surprising that a Government that is engaged in this practice on a day-to-day basis doesn't want one and has failed to introduce legislation. We will do it. We'll have legislation up and running. And we'll make sure that the National Anti-Corruption Commission as well can do independent inquiries, not be directed by Government, that can look at whatever it thinks is appropriate. And I'd be amazed if they didn't look at some of the programs, be it sports rorts and other programs, that have resulted in the distortion of this funding.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Tell me about, if we move on before I run out of time, are casual worker entitlements still a key Labor focus for next year's election campaign? I know there was a private bill but haven't chose to amend the existing employment laws. How is that travelling?
 
ALBANESE: Look, it is. I've introduced a bill on same job, same pay. One of the things that's happening is that permanent workers are seeing employers essentially using labour hire, cowboy labour hire companies, to employ people doing exactly the same work as permanent employees but without the same entitlements. And in some cases, up to 40,000 or more dollars less in their pay packet every year. We think that if you're doing the same job, you should be entitled to the same pay. We think that with regard to casual employees who are defined as that in order to minimise their entitlements, that's not appropriate either. There will always be a role for casual work, of course, and there will be a role for labour hire. But it shouldn't be used to undermine our wages and conditions. And it's one of the explanations for why wages have gone backwards in real terms in recent years.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: We need more people to get into a job soon in Tassie. Over 6,000 people arrived today, but they will be holidaying and renewing relationships, I see. But tell me in your opinion when will the election be called? I mean, are we talking March or May?
 
ALBANESE: Look, we will be ready for March 5. But it could be that this Government wants to roll out some more pork-barrelling exercises. Effectively, we're in the election campaign now. The Prime Minister declared that a month ago. Why he did that is the beyond me. I think it would be better if we had a Government that was actually just interested in governing, rather than campaigning on an ongoing basis. But for this Government, it's all about just campaigning and election frames, not about acting in the national interest in just doing what governments are elected to do.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Well, I'll tell you, we've got to go. But I do appreciate your time. And I appreciate the fact that you just ring us up when you can get a chance to have a chat. And I do appreciate, and I hope you and yours have a great Christmas. Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor Leader, there. Thank you, indeed.
 
ALBANESE: And the same to you, Mike. And for all your listeners, stay safe over Christmas. There are still health issues out there. So, if you can get vaccinated, do so if you haven't so far. And if you can, get your booster shot when you're eligible.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Alright, enjoy Tasmania. It is beautiful weather. We turned it on for you.
 
ALBANESE: It is gorgeous.
 
O'LOUGHLIN: Good to talk to you. Thanks so much. Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor Leader.
 
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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