Subjects: Coalition infighting; Gold Coast Light Rail; Government’s attack on Australian shipping industry
REPORTER: What do you think of the fact that we are infighting about issues of national security? How much of a concern is that?
ALBANESE: It’s quite extraordinary what we have seen. National security should be above any political conflict.
What we are seeing though is national security being at the heart of the conflict between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and we see a dysfunctional government that is simply not acting in the national interest. Malcolm Turnbull promised new politics. All we are getting is an old vendetta.
REPORTER: Any comment on Malcolm Turnbull’s press conference just before?
ALBANESE: Well Malcolm Turnbull is simply all over the shop. It’s very clear that he had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott, but he doesn’t have a plan to govern. And that is why you have a dysfunctional government that six months later people are discovering Malcolm Turnbull is just Tony Abbott in a top hat.
REPORTER: Local question, the Gold Coast Mayor has just announced that he wants Stage 3 of the light rail which would go all the way down to the airport if you guys get in at the next election, would you look at that?
ALBANESE: We certainly would and we would refer it to Infrastructure Australia.
Infrastructure Australia previously examined the Gold Coast Light Rail project and of course we funded more than $350 million for that first stage.
The government has reluctantly transferred some of the money that was left over that we provided for the Moreton Bay Rail Link for Stage 2 which will connect up with the main rail line.
But Stage 3 makes absolute sense and the cost benefit analysis, I’d be very confident, would be positive because it will connect up with the airport with the main rail line right through the Gold Coast.
We know that the local Liberal National Party opposed the Gold Coast Light Rail. Well, Gold Coast residents and visitors have voted with their feet by walking on to the Gold Coast Light Rail and using it each and every day.
The patronage figures are far higher than the forecasts and that is not surprising. That’s why the Federal Government needs to be engaged in public transport. Something that we did when we were in government that ground to a halt under the Abbott and Turnbull Government.
REPORTER: Is that an election promise to fund it?
ALBANESE: No, that’s an election promise to go through proper processes and refer it to Infrastructure Australia. But we stand by our record of what we have done in the past, so that’s the context of that.
We funded the Moreton Bay Rail Link. We funded the Gold Coast Light Rail, we put funding in the Budget for the Cross River Rail project, all of which was of course was cut by the incoming Abbott government.
So we believe that public transport is essential.
I’d be very confident that there’d be a very good return on investment for the stage down to the airport because the first stage has been an enormous success and when you build the entire project, which is what it was always envisaged as doing, when it was broken up into five parts in the original studies that were done. It showed that it would be extremely positive, the return. The first part was always going to be the busiest part of the line which is why we provided the $365 million.
I’m very proud of our record. It’s a pity that the local Liberal National Party representatives voted with the then Coalition opposition to oppose the federal funding of that vital project.
One of the things that has to happen, and I call upon the local Coalition LNP representatives who were happy to ride on the first trip on the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 1 after they opposed it in the Parliament.
How about they do something other than ride and take selfies, and try and take credit, and actually do something, and in the upcoming Budget provide some funding.
REPORTER: Can you tell us more about what’s happening with the Australian shipping industry, Albo?
ALBANESE: It is in Australia’s national interest – in our economic interest, in our environmental interest, and also in the interests of our national security that we have an Australian shipping industry. And what’s occurring with the loss of jobs is a loss of the Australian national interest.
We know that it’s absolutely vital that this occur and what’s happened is that the government, after it lost its WorkChoices on Water legislation, is trying to implement this agenda of replacing the Australian flag on the back of ships with a foreign flag and replacing Australian crew with foreign crew being paid $2 an hour through the back door, through the issuing of temporary licenses, in direct contravention to the legislation which is there.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.