Subjects: Metro West Project, Sam Crosby, Craig Laundy, Fiona Martin, Coalition chaos.
SAM CROSBY: Thanks everyone for joining us here today in the seat of Reid. My name is Sam Crosby. I am Labor’s candidate for Reid. This is a seat that is absolutely up for grabs. I think the reality is that if you win Reid, you are going to win the government. I have been the candidate now for a little bit over a year and as I have been getting around and talking to people and having lived here for a considerable number of years in my life, you realise that the big central question that everyone has is around congestion. The trains are too full. The roads are too full and they looking for a Government that has answers on this central question so I am exceptionally proud and pleased that we’ve got Anthony Albanese here today who is going to talk us through one of those main commitments that the Labor Party has made to this area.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Sam. It is great to be here in Reid with a candidate who is actually supported by their party. Sam has been our candidate now for over a year working hard each and every day to talk to the voters of Reid about what their concerns are. And Sam made representation to myself and Bill Shorten about the number one priority that he had in terms of a large infrastructure investment that would benefit the people of this community.
The Metro West project is a vital one for Sydney. What it will do is go through the important employment precincts that will occur around Rozelle Bay and around Homebush, but also it will open up to rail transport this community here in Five Dock and other suburbs along the route between the City and Parramatta. This will take literally thousands of cars off the road and it is one supported by of course by the Berejiklian Liberal Government here in New South Wales. But they were unable to secure the support of the Federal Coalition for this project.
And this highlights one of the big differences at the election on May 18. A Shorten Labor Government will once again go back to where the former Labor Government was and invest in public transport. A Shorten Labor Government will invest in Metro West with a $3 billion commitment, will invest in the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane and will invest in the Suburban Rail Loop and Melbourne Metro in Melbourne. The big three east coast capitals require that investment if we are going to deal with urban congestion. And this Government in the budget last week spoke about urban congestion, they just didn’t fund the vital projects like Metro West that are required to actually make a difference to our cities and to improve the quality of life and well as of course boosting productivity and boosting economic growth.
Sam Crosby will make an outstanding representative if he is successful in Reid. I have known Sam for a long time. He is someone who has played an important role in policy development. He is someone who is a part of this local community and who is raising his family here in this community of Reid. And unlike the Coalition, that have got a last-minute candidate, what Sam has been doing is working for this community over the last year, but even before then, working as a local activist on the concerns that have been raised with him by local residents.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, we have seen these captain’s pick candidates from the Coalition before. We were talking earlier about Mr Mundine and now of course Fiona Martin as well. What does that say about how the Coalition are treating this particular seat?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that the Coalition are a bit of a rabble. I mean, you have had Craig Laundy express no confidence in the Government by walking away after a very short career in politics and it is not surprising that people who were supportive of Malcolm Turnbull have walked away from the Coalition. Some have become independents, such as Julia Banks. Some have left Parliament early, such as former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself and some have chosen to retire prematurely. Craig Laundy of course resigned from the front bench and then resigned from Parliament itself and what he is saying is that the Coalition aren’t up to governing this country by his decision to walk away. Well, Sam Crosby is up to representing this local community but as part of a Shorten Labor Government that will deliver firstly by delivering on the Metro West project.
REPORTER: How important is Reid to Labor’s chances of winning the election?
ALBANESE: Reid is absolutely critical. Reid is a seat that was held – of course there’s different boundaries- but it was held by my mentor, the great Tom Uren. It’s a seat that was held of course by John Murphy. It’s a seat that has been in Labor hands for most of the time that it’s been in existence. It’s a different seat now and it’s a tough seat and it will be a tough fight, but I think the voters of Reid will weigh up whether someone who’s been fair dinkum and out there campaigning for a year, as opposed to someone who was the ninth or tenth choice of the Liberal Party being parachuted in at the last minute.
REPORTER: Sam could I ask you, I mean the Liberal Party will say that you’ve grown up in the Labor Party political machine, whereas they have a candidate who is a small business person who has real world experience. They’re right, aren’t they?
CROSBY: No, not at all. Before working at the McKell Institute, I worked for Johnson & Johnson, I worked in the mental health space helping get help for people with serious schizophrenic conditions. But you know what, I think people around here are going to reward a local. I think they’re going to reward local work with local projects, funding for local schools, I think they’re going to reward local work with local projects, funding for local schools, funding for local transport commitments. I think that’s what people are going to reward. But we’ll have to wait and see.
REPORTER: What do you think are the big issues here?
CROSBY: Overwhelmingly, congestion. Overwhelmingly, people in this area are sick and tired and fed up with the number of people being dumped on top of us without adequate services. You see it in the schools, you see it in the hospitals, you see it on the roads, you see it on the trains. We are sick and tired of having to cop thousands and thousands and thousands of extra people without the services to cope for it. That’s why today is so important and getting this extra $3 billion for the Metro West rail line is so critical for this area.
REPORTER: What do you make of the fact that we haven’t seen Fiona Martin yet? We haven’t seen her yet on the campaign trail or I don’t think on any media at this point.
CROSBY: Honestly that’s going to have to be a question for them. I don’t know what to make of it. I would have thought that …
REPORTER: Difficult situation for her being parachuted in?
CROSBY: I would have thought that at this stage that you, like me, you would be keen to be in front of as many people as you possibly can be, getting your name and face out and talking to as many people as humanly possible. But that is a question for the Liberal Party.
REPORTER: How much easier is your job now that you are not facing Craig Laundy?
CROSBY: There’s no doubt Craig was a popular member. There is no doubt in my mind. Every couple of days you talk to another person who says that they were traditional Labor voters, but they were going to vote for Craig, and now they’re happy to come back and vote for Labor. I think the fight was very live when Craig was there, and there’s no doubt we received a big boost without him there. But I don’t want to sound like we’re taking this for granted. This is going to come down to the absolute last vote. If we win this seat, it’s going to be by a point or so, and if we lose this seat, it’s going to be by a point or so.
REPORTER: You think you can swing it?
CROSBY: Yes. I do.
REPORTER: Confidence is there.
CROSBY: We’ve worked really hard. We’ve door-knocked literally thousands of houses. We’ve made phone calls into literally thousands of houses, tens of thousands of houses, over a year now. We’ve done the ground game, and when you go out you talk to people, and they say, ‘Oh yeah, you doorknocked us six months ago, you doorknocked us six weeks ago’, whatever it happened to be. I’m hoping that that is going to get rewarded.
REPORTER: Albo, just one quick other thing. This is Reid. Obviously there are a handful of seats in Sydney that really, they say, can determine the outcome of the election. It comes down to those seats pretty much every time. How confident is the ALP, how confident are you, about swinging those marginals back around your way?
ALBANESE: Well, we certainly don’t take it for granted. The fact is that we started ahead in previous campaigns, since I’ve been in the Federal Parliament, and we haven’t been successful. So what we’ll do is do what we’ve been doing for the last two terms – continue to put forward a positive vision, continue to talk about the need to properly fund education, to properly fund our health system, particularly through Medicare, give support to public transport and infrastructure.
Later on today, I’ll be in the electorate of Macquarie. We’ll be campaigning right around the country. But one of the things that is obvious about here and the last-minute candidate, is just the chaos in the Coalition. I think that people will weigh up the fact that we have had unity, and a sense of purpose, to our time. We’ve used our time well, to develop a coherent policy across the board, to put forward some of the policies are difficult. We’ve said exactly where the money is coming from for all of our commitments, including closing tax loopholes and that stands in stark contrast to our opponents.
They’ve had three Prime Ministers. We’ve had one Leader. They’ve had three Deputy Prime Ministers. We’ve had one Deputy Leader. I have shadowed 13 people as either Ministers, in the Cabinet, for infrastructure, or urban infrastructure or Assistant Ministers, over the time where I’ve had responsibility since 2013 for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Cities and Tourism. It’s been a revolving door and it’s no wonder they haven’t been able to govern, because before they can get on top of their portfolios, they are moved on and that has resulted in chaos and we’ve seen chaos with a failure to have a candidate in a seat like Reid until the last minute. I understand that the candidate against me has been pre-selected by the Liberal Party – some fellow from Concord. I’m yet to see him anywhere in the electorate of Grayndler, but that’s the case right around the board.
A political party that is in government, that gets to choose when the election is held and when Scott Morrison visited the Governor General, couldn’t even get its act together to select candidates in advance so that they could campaign. They’re not worthy of re-election. Labor is ready for government. Bill Shorten and our entire team are united. We have a positive vision for the country based around the theme of a Fair Go for Australia and that is what we would deliver. Thanks very much.
REPORTER: Just quickly though, Mr Albanese, if Mr Shorten doesn’t win this election, will you be the Labor Leader by Christmas?
ALBANESE: We are absolutely determined to win this election and I’m determined and focused on being a Minister in a Labor Government and being able to work with governments of whatever persuasion, such as at the Berejiklian Government here in New South Wales to see how we can bring forward this project with this additional funding; how we can fast track it, because urban congestion is an issue right now. When you look at the Budget announcement from last Tuesday, Josh Frydenberg announced over $6 billion of new funding, of which some $240 million is available in the forward estimates. That’s all. 4 per cent over the first four years and 96 per cent of that funding back-ended. That’s not good enough and that is why I’m determined to do everything I can – one, to win my seat, but two, to have a Sam Crosby as my neighbour here in Reid. Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.