SUBJECT/S: Drought fund; national security; foreign fighters legislation
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: This week in Parliament just reminds everyone that this is a third term government without an agenda. They’re just interested in playing politics, whether it’s on national security issues, where they’re not prepared to agree to the Joint Committee where they have a majority of their recommendations, where they’re playing politics. They say that the water fund legislation is now urgent, they announced it last October. They didn’t bother to put it to the Senate in the last Parliament and they didn’t bother to introduce legislation during the last parliamentary sitting week. And here they have no link with the Building Australia Fund, that they seek to undermine Infrastructure Australia by abolishing, even though there is no link between the two issues whatsoever. They also say it’s urgent, so you’d think that the funding is about to flow in this water fund. It won’t flow this week. It won’t flow this month. It won’t even flow this year. It won’t flow this financial year. There is no funding in this for more than a year. And they use big numbers of $5 billion, but when you look at the detail, this provides for $100 million in more than 12 months time and then $100 million each year after that. So in fact, across the forwards this fund would provide under $300 million.
JOURNALIST: Just on the foreign fighter laws, the Government says Labor needs to decide whose side it’s on when it comes to this issue. What do you make of that?
ALBANESE: Well, that’s an incredibly provocative statement from an immature Government. The fact is that everyone in this Parliament opposes terrorism. Everyone in this Parliament wants to keep Australians safe. And what the Government, with statements like that, does is actually undermine the bipartisan process that has occurred very effectively, where we’ve had a Joint Committee that’s examined these national security issues, and without exception, has had its recommendations adopted by the Parliament and supported through the Parliament by Labor and the Coalition.
JOURNALIST: Centre Alliance wants to give the Parliament oversight of operational matters for intelligence agencies, do you think that’s worthwhile?
ALBANESE: I think the issue of accountability is something that can always be looked at, and people need to ensure that there is appropriate accountability by the Parliament because we have responsibilities. We will look at any practical proposal, which is put forward and will judge it on its merits rather than trying to play politics with it. Thanks.