Transcript of doorstop interview – Martin Place, Sydney.
Saturday, 2 June 2007
E & OE – PROOF ONLY
Subject: Federal Police raids on QLD Liberal Party office; abuse of taxpayer funds for Government advertising; Government’s proposed ‘Pipelines to Recovery’ program.
ALBANESE: A cloud hangs over the federal council meeting of the Liberal Party being held at the Westin Hotel this weekend, and a cloud will continue to hang over the QLD Division of the Liberal Party unless the Prime Minister intervenes to take action.
Geoff Greene, the QLD Division Secretary, was named in search warrants during the raid on the QLD Liberal Party conducted by the Federal Police yesterday, which followed raids on three members of John Howard’s caucus’s offices in recent times.
It is imperative that John Howard intervene and ask his QLD State Campaign Director of choice, Geoff Greene, to stand aside while these enquiries of the Federal Police take place.
The Prime Minister has ensured that Geoff Greene has remained his Campaign Director in the upcoming federal election, in spite of Geoff Greene and the QLD Liberal Party’s quite frankly woeful performance in the recent QLD state election campaign. It’s important that the Prime Minister ask Geoff Greene to stand aside while these enquiries take place.
REPORTER: Shouldn’t there be a presumption of innocence before anyone has to stand down?
ALBANESE: Of course there is a presumption of innocence, but there are many precedents for people in high political office, including premiers, standing aside while enquiries take place.
These are very serious allegations indeed, and it is appropriate that Mr Greene stand aside while these investigations occur, and that he doesn’t continue on as John Howard’s Campaign Director of choice during the upcoming federal election campaign.
REPORTER: How do you know that he was named in the search warrants?
ALBANESE: It has been reported that he has been named in the search warrants. We know that the raids took place on the QLD Liberal Party office yesterday, and we know that this follows raids on three of John Howard’s caucus members.
These are very serious allegations indeed about a misuse of taxpayer’s funds.
We know from the last Parliamentary sittings that we have a Liberal Government that is prepared to abuse taxpayer funds for advertising purposes to increase its chances of re-election at the federal election later this year.
And we know that John Howard has been prepared to mislead Parliament about the nature of that advertising and about the expenditure of those taxpayer funds. What we actually need is to move forward.
REPORTER: These allegations aren’t new, they’ve been around since March. Why should he go now?
ALBANESE: The raid on the QLD Liberal Party office where Geoff Greene was named in the search warrant, occurred just yesterday. It is appropriate that he step aside.
REPORTER: Should the MPs step aside as well?
ALBANESE: We think that Geoff Greene has a particular responsibility. The QLD part of the next federal campaign will obviously be critical. The Liberal-National Party coalition hold 22 of the seats there.
It’s extraordinary that after the state result during the QLD state election campaign, where the Liberal Party campaign was quite frankly abysmal, against Premier Beattie and his Labor Government, that Geoff Greene has stayed on.
REPORTER: If he’s that abysmal, why wouldn’t you want him to stay where he is?
ALBANESE: Because it is appropriate that he step aside while this enquiry takes place.
REPORTER: Wouldn’t it be better for him to stay? You blokes would kill it in if he stayed there, surely.
ALBANESE: This is a question that goes to the integrity of the Liberal Government. What we know is that John Howard is prepared to do anything and say anything to stay in office. We know that he’s been prepared to abuse taxpayer funds with his multi-million dollar advertising campaign.
We know also that there is a range of policy initiatives that he is holding back from the public, including that the Howard Government intends to announce a ‘Pipelines to Recovery’ program to mirror Labor’s Water Security Plan for Towns and Cities that was announced in Kevin Rudd’s Budget reply.
So we know that this is a Government that is desperate, and we believe very firmly that it is appropriate that Mr Greene stand aside while these enquiries take place.
REPORTER: Wouldn’t you acknowledge that this latest development is good news for Labor in QLD federally?
ALBANESE: Well I don’t think it’s good news for the taxpayer to have concerns over allegations such as this. I certainly don’t think it’s good news for the political system as a whole, and certainly I think that’s why it should be resolved quickly, and it’s appropriate Mr Greene step aside.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.