SUBJECTS: Federal Election; Listening Tour; Shadow Cabinet; Staffing appointments; ANU data breach
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good afternoon. It’s great to be here in Brisbane and a great honour of me to chair the first meeting of our new Shadow Ministry. We’ve had a very good discussion this morning. One of the things that we’ve indicated very clearly is that we need to learn the lessons of the loss that occurred on May 18. Of course we know that Labor received the votes of one in three Australians as their first preference, but one in four Australians here in Queensland.
After this media conference I’ll be headed to Mackay to talk to people there about those who voted for us, to thank them for their support, but also those who didn’t to talk to them about how we can do better next time.
We had a discussion about the Government’s proposed tax cuts. Of course, what we know now is that Scott Morrison didn’t tell the truth throughout the entire election campaign. We know that he, when he saw the Governor-General, indicated that the writs should be returned on June 28, therefore making it impossible for the tax cuts particularly aimed at low- and middle-income earners, which were supposed to come into force on July 1, couldn’t happen. He knew that. It was the one big commitment they made during the whole election campaign, but he didn’t tell Australians the truth. And thanks to the media, Sam Maiden in particular, we now know that he knew all along that that wouldn’t happen, which is why he has rejected my offer to resume parliament, quickly pass the tax cuts that come into effect – or were supposed to come into effect – on July 1.
So Scott Morrison deserves particular praise, I think, for winning an award: the earliest broken promise of any newly elected Prime Minister, because he didn’t wait till after the election to break the promise, he did it during the election campaign when he set the date for the return of writs.
Can I also say that today I’m announcing that Tim Gartrell will be my Chief of Staff. I can think of no-one more up for the task than Tim Gartrell. He’s been a very dear friend of mine. He was my first campaign director in 1996 in Grayndler. He went on, of course, to lead the campaign that saw Kevin Rudd be only the third person to lead Labor into Government from Opposition in 2007. Since then he’s worked for the private sector; he’s worked in areas including Reconciliation Australia; he’s worked for people like Twiggy Forrest and others; built a business working with people in the private sector; but he also of course was the campaign director in the successful marriage equality campaign that Australians went through in 2018.
So, Tim Gartrell is experienced. He knows about politics. He knows about running an office. He’s worked, importantly, with the business community, as well as with the Labor Party and with civil society, including those people who were engaged in that marriage equality campaign. And I’m looking forward to him starting tomorrow and for us moving forward as we engage in this telling it straight listening tour, which will now fan out around the country: Mackay later today, but then on the weekend Perth, Melbourne next week, Adelaide the weekend after and the day after that straight up to Darwin.
I want to visit every corner of Australia as quickly as possible to talk with people, to engage with people, to say that we’re going to hasten slowly in terms of new policy but what we won’t ever stop doing is engaging with Australians. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, you said that the election result was partly due to vested interests. Who are those vested interests and what impact did they have on the result?
ALBANESE: Every single person has a vested interest. Every single person, including yourself, and I’m not sure where you’re from, but I’m sure there’s a vested interest there as well. That’s what election campaigns are about: people defend their interests. Here in Queensland, of course, Clive Palmer in particular ran a very big campaign, but everyone has vested interests. Trade unions, employers, different groups in terms of, in society, will campaign for their interests, but they’ll also of course try to put forward a view that says ‘this is in the national interest’. Our job is to defend the national interest.
JOURNALIST: Who was it that was against you, though?
ALBANESE: Well, you can work that out. People, people engage in campaigns. I’m not sure what you think, trick question it is, that you’re asking. I’ve indicated very clear…
JOURNALIST: You’ve said that vested interests have impacted…
ALBANESE: Yeah, and everyone has a vested interest. Everyone.
JOURNALIST: How concerned are you about the data hack at ANU dating back (inaudible)
KRISTINA KENEALLY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: I might take that question, thank you. The reports that have come forward today about the police raids that have occurred on a particular residence came through while we were in shadow cabinet. Now, we don’t have any information to add at this point. It is now incumbent upon the government and the AFP to speak more to this matter.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, in terms of your policy review, are you trying to pull together a comprehensive package of policies ahead of the next election or will you take a small target strategy?
ALBANESE: Yes, to the first part of the question.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, when you’re on your listening tour, how are you going to manage the conflict between different constituencies that Labor’s trying to reach out to? Like, those in inner city seats like yours and those in central Queensland where you’re going?
ALBANESE: By engaging with respect for all Australians, regardless of where they live; regardless of how old they are; regardless of what profession they’re in. All Australians are deserving of respect. That’s the starting point. If we do that, we’ll be a long way along the path to actually having a policy that can win the support of Australians wherever they live, whatever their background, whoever, whichever faith they follow, whoever they love. What we need to do is to engage respectfully with all Australians because everyone is deserving of a fair hearing and a fair go. That’s the Australian way.
We need to stop this issue of trying to divide Australian against Australian. The fact is we all have, we’re all just people when it comes down to it and people have common interests. What do they want? They want a better life for themselves. They want a better life for their family. They want a better life for people in their neighbourhood, in their community. They want a better position for their country. Australians believe in this country. We are a great country already. I believe we can be better.
JOURNALIST: Federal Police raised a journalist’s home in Canberra today…
ALBANESE:…That was a question…
JOURNALIST: …No, I was asking about the ANU data breach.
JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns about the chilling effect this might have on journalism?
KENEALLY: As I said, we have just been being made aware of all of these reports while we’ve been in shadow cabinet. We’re not going to be providing a running commentary on them and right now we are awaiting further information from the Government and the AFP as to the nature of those raids and any other further information they can provide.
ALBANESE: Thanks. Thank you very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.