Subjects: WA state election; Perth Freight Link; One Nation; infrastructure.
SABRA LANE: For Federal Labor’s take on the result, I am joined now on the phone from Sydney by Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese, good morning and welcome.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Sabra.
LANE: What implications do you think there are federally for the Labor and Liberal parties?
ALBANESE: Well I think there are significant implications federally. This was a campaign where federal issues entered into the consciousness of West Australians. The issue of penalty rates was very much front and centre. Labor campaigned on it. The Liberals and indeed One Nation made it clear that they supported the Fair Work Commission cuts to penalty rates that make …
LANE: Can I just stop you there? Not one candidate, MP or volunteer I have spoken to since I have been here this week have mentioned penalty rates.
ALBANESE: I tell you what, they were mentioning it, not to you Sabra, because you didn’t have a vote. Labor people were mentioning it on the doors, in the shopping centres and in the community. And it is something of concern. There were also federal issues – I mean I am amazed that Mathias Cormann still hasn’t got the message. This was a vote about a dud project – Perth Freight Link – thought up by Tony Abbott and Mathias Cormann in their 2014 Budget – one that that didn’t have a business case, didn’t have an environmental impact statement, doesn’t actually take freight to the port. People saw that for what it was and they wanted Mark McGowan’s plan for METRONET and they voted that way and when Malcolm Turnbull threatened West Australians by saying unless you vote for the Liberal Party we will rip $1.2 billon away from Western Australia, they reacted badly to that. They need to get that message very clear. And the rail link to Forestville – Western Australians know that that was the $500 million they ripped out of the Budget that had been put there by the former Labor Federal Government in 2013.
LANE: How do you interpret the One Nation result?
ALBANESE: Well the mob have worked her out. She is good at identifying problems and grievances but she doesn’t provide solutions and the deal with the Liberal Party showed her to be just another political party looking to put people into Parliament rather than someone who acts as a matter of principle and I think it hurt both of them. Mark McGowan and WA Labor stood up as the real alternative, as the party that had a plan for Western Australia’s future and I think this is a rejection and a very bad result for One Nation. And again, the Liberal Party have to decide if they are going to be a partner of One Nation or if they are going to stand alone as a party of mainstream Australia.
LANE: Barnaby Joyce this morning has said it was a mistake.
ALBANESE: Well it certainly was a mistake but it is one that they are not prepared to commit to not repeating. In the Queensland election, unless they commit to not give preferences to One Nation above mainstream political parties, they will be committing exactly the same mistake.
LANE: On the states’ GST share, federally Labor has voiced some sympathy to improving WA’s share. But you’ve all been very careful to avoid saying what exactly you will do. Will Labor formalise a policy before the next federal election?
ALBANESE: Well we will have policies across the whole range of issues but I think people in Western Australia know that when we were in office we delivered for the West. We didn’t play this game of ransom that Malcolm Turnbull played prior to this WA election. We built the Gateway WA project, we widened the Great Eastern Freeway, we funded the Swan Valley Bypass, we did the Port Esperance Road, we did Perth City Link project as well. So we co-operated with whoever was in government in Western Australia. I had a good relationship with people in the state Barnett Government and was prepared to act in a mature way. This Federal Government have reduced Victoria to 7.7 per cent of infrastructure funding as a result of their petulance at people having the temerity to vote Labor. People in Western Australia have overwhelmingly voted Labor and Malcolm Turnbull needs to stop these games, sit down with Mark McGowan and his ministers, including Rita Saffioti, who I would expect would be the Infrastructure Minister, and deliver for Western Australia its fair share.
LANE: Mr Albanese thanks for joining AM this morning.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.