May 31, 2019

Transcript of Doorstop – Canberra – Friday, 31 May 2019

SUBJECTS: South Sydney Rabbitohs; new Labor shadow ministry; Liberals’ infighting and lack of agenda; religious discrimination

JOURNALIST: While we’re waiting, Anthony – score prediction for the Bunnies?

ALBANESE: Score prediction? I think given South’s team I was expecting to get a call up. I think Andrew Denton’s playing halfback. Ray Martin’s at five-eighth. We’re struggling. Sam Burgess is playing on the wing. We’re struggling to put together a team, I think. I mean, it’s good, actually, that some young blokes will get an opportunity. It’s good to see Adam Doueihi back. He’s a real talent and starred for Lebanon in the World Cup.

JOURNALIST: They’ve got their front bench together. Have you got yours together?

ALBANESE: Seamless segue! Adam Doueihi into front bench. Ask Scott Morrison if he thinks Tommy Bishop was the best hooker that Cronulla ever had. Trick question. You’re too young to even get that that was a trick question. The camera guys get it.

Ready to go.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, does Bill Shorten harbour leadership ambitions?

ALBANESE: No. What Bill Shorten harbours, like the rest of Labor’s team, is a passion to get into government, and the entire team know that we must be united if that is going to be achieved.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to him about what role he might take on?

ALBANESE: Look, I’ve had discussions with colleagues. What I’ve said about all of those discussions is that everyone will know when the announcement is made and that we’ll make that before the shadow ministry meets next Tuesday in Brisbane.

JOURNALIST: He pledged his allegiance to you yesterday but he has been your long-time rival. Are you concerned there’ll be undermining and sniping?

ALBANESE: I am very confident that our entire team will work for the election of a Labor government, and one of the lessons of our period between 2010 and 2013 is that unless that happens then the only winners are the people on the other side of politics.

We’ve seen the Government be a rabble. Three prime ministers, three deputy prime ministers. They’re now into their third term, and in part when you look at their cabinet lineup, it is, in my view, a very, very weak lineup because they’ve lost so much talent.

Just in the last period they’ve lost Malcolm Turnbull. They’ve lost Julie Bishop. They’ve lost Christopher Pyne. And they’ve chosen to lose Arthur Sinodinos and Mitch Fifield. In my view it’s very much a weakened lineup as a result of the loss of that talent, and the loss of that talent is directly linked to the fact that they are at war with each other.

Within the Liberal Party, within the National Party, you’re already seeing Barnaby Joyce out there sniping away from the backbench. He’s not going to be quiet. You have a blue within the Liberal Party, a blue within the National Party, and a blue between the Liberal Party and the National Party. That’s what we’re seeing played out, and we’ll see that played out in government.

One of the reasons why this Government is going to struggle, in my view, is that they don’t really have an agenda for this term. They’ve been elected for a third term in office. They’ve been there now for six long years. It must seem a lot longer for some of the participants in the ongoing ruck and maul that is the Coalition party room, and what we see is that they don’t really have an agenda for this term.

They’ve already broken a commitment. That commitment was that tax cuts that were promised would come into play on July 1. They could bring Parliament back. I’ve made that offer. We could have a speaker each side in each chamber, take a couple of hours.

JOURNALIST: One thing they said they will do, though, was introduce this religious discrimination bill. Will you work with the Government on this?

ALBANESE: I’m certainly prepared to work cooperatively on issues which should not be the subject of partisan politics, and that includes that issue.

Thanks very much

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, sorry, just one more before you go. You mentioned that the government was a rabble, that they’ve been in chaos, but they were elected again. Have you sought assurances from your colleagues that there will be no sniping, no undermining, so you can lead a united team the next three years?

ALBANESE: My colleagues are absolutely committed, and we saw that unity yesterday: the fact that I’ve been elected unopposed as leader of the Labor Party; the fact that our entire leadership team were elected unopposed; that people put the needs of Labor before individual needs on a range of issues going forward.

I’ve got a very effective shadow ministry team that’s been elected yesterday. There was a good feel in the party room. People are disappointed with the outcome but they’re determined that the next election we’ll be sitting in the government party room. Thanks.