Issues: Greens preferences, carbon price, Canberra Airport
MARK PARTON: Anthony Albanese is the Minister for Transport and he joins this program from time to time, and we’re pleased to say he’s on the line right now. G’day Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day Mark, how are you?
MARK PARTON: Not bad. It’s taken you blokes a while to work out that the Greens are extremists hasn’t it?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I’ve been engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the electorate of Grayndler in the inner west with the Greens for some time. I think it’s important to draw a distinction between Greens supporters and the Greens Party. Many of the Greens’ supporters support them for all sorts of reasons. While many in the Greens Party are genuine environmentalists, many others have a very ideological view of the world that is very different from a Labor view of the world.
MARK PARTON: Now, there’s been fighting words from the Prime Minister on this issue in the past. There’s certainly been very, very strong words in the last couple of days from the likes of Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes and others. Does this signal the end of this marriage?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, there has never been a marriage so there can’t be a divorce. You deal with the Parliament that you’ve got.
John Howard had to deal with the Democrats for many years when they had the balance of power in the Senate. That’s a fact of life. We live in a proportional system and you’ve got to deal with people who aren’t in your own party.
Unfortunately, what we saw in the Parliament over the asylum-seeker issue is both the Coalition and the Greens were not serious about trying to negotiate through a solution.
MARK PARTON: I just had a comment put up on my screen that I’ve got to share with you. It’s been suggested to me, if it wasn’t a marriage or a de facto, maybe it was a civil union.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, perhaps.
MARK PARTON: Sarah Hanson-Young was interviewed on ABC TV in the last 10 minutes or so, and she said that she thought young Greens voters – I don’t know why in particular she’s gone with Greens voters. But young Greens voters would be confused by the Labor Party preferencing the Coalition ahead of the Greens. That’s what Sarah Hanson-Young said.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, no-one has said that we’ll do that. All that people are saying is that there shouldn’t be an automatic preference of the Greens Party, and that has always been the case.
We negotiate with different political parties about preference arrangements. In the New South Wales election, the Greens Party chose to not preference Labor in a range of seats and that cost Labor those seats.
Political parties will negotiate preference arrangements on a case-by-case basis. In Grayndler, I’ve tended to preference the Greens.
But, importantly, it’s the Coalition who are responsible for the Greens’ political party being in the House of Representatives. They gave the Greens preferences in the electorate of Melbourne. They ensured that Adam Bandt got elected.
They preferenced the Greens before myself and the Greens finished ahead of the Liberals in my seat. So, they were trying to get a Green elected rather than myself in the House of Representatives.
MARK PARTON: Let’s talk about Tony Abbott who, of course, has been on an endless trail – endless campaign trail against the carbon tax.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, now he’s going overseas for a couple of weeks, I see. The cue’s been put in the rack.
MARK PARTON: Well, I don’t know if that’s really fair. I mean, leaders go overseas from time to time. Yours has just returned.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve got no problem with that at all, except that Tony Abbott said that he wouldn’t. He said he was going to be campaigning day in and day out, nothing else, and he’s dropped off already.
MARK PARTON: It was pointed out on the Insiders program yesterday, I think, by David Marr that Tony Abbott’s speaking on behalf of a lot of businesses regarding the carbon tax. But interestingly, without him there, they’re not moaning much about it.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s exactly right, because they know the reality is very different from the scare campaign. The reality is that the inflationary effect of the carbon price is 0.7 per cent or 70 cents in every $100 compared with the change that occurred with the GST which, of course, was $10 in every $100.
This is a very minor change that’s occurred. He’s gone into businesses and talked them down, especially in the area of transport.
Tony Abbott was out there at Brindabella Airlines near Canberra talking about how the carbon price was stopping routes being flown. But, when you looked at Brindabella’s own statements, what they were doing was using some aircraft for fly in-fly out jobs because they could make more money out of it and that’s fair enough.
MARK PARTON: The other thing I’ve got to talk to you about this morning is Bob Winnel from the Village Building Company has been having a go at you on the Village website over the last couple of days. He’s attacked the Federal and New South Wales governments over their handling of Tralee’s planning assessment and, basically, what he’s saying is that there was a bias towards the Canberra Airport. They’re pursuing the fact that there was too much weight put on these documents that he hasn’t seen, because I think they’re – he says they’re being hidden from the airport. How do you respond to those?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: They have a vested interest and vested interests will always speak in a particular way. I have no vested interest in either the Village Building Company or the owners of Canberra Airport.
What I do say though, as the federal Aviation Minister, like my predecessors, like my department has over a long period of time, is that commonsense tells you that you don’t build residential houses directly under flight paths, particularly where you have a greenfield site.
Commonsense tells you that site should be used for other purposes – for industrial purposes. My view isn’t that people shouldn’t be able to make money out of land ownership under flight paths, but where you have a flight path that doesn’t have housing under it, then it’s unusual to argue we shouldn’t learn the lessons of the past.
Where I am here in Sydney, you can’t do anything about that. There are houses under the flight paths, including mine. You might have just heard a plane over the top of my house just then. For me, none of this is personal, it just makes common sense. Every time there’s been an independent assessment of this, the outcome has been exactly the same.
MARK PARTON: Albo, thanks for your time this morning and good luck.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to talk to you, mate.
MARK PARTON: Good luck in that hand-to-hand combat with the Greens.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much.
MARK PARTON: Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.