Aug 24, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Brisbane – Friday, 24 August, 2018

Subjects: Linkfield Road overpass; leadership spill; Peter Dutton; election; health.

ALI FRANCE: Well, good morning everybody and thank you for being here today. I have with me here today the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport Cities and Regional Development, Anthony Albanese and the Labor candidate for Petrie, Corinne Mulholland.

We’re all here today to make an announcement that is going to be a game changer for businesses and residents in Dickson and Petrie. I’ve had a lot of feedback from residents who live in Albany Creek, who live in Brendale, Warner and Eatons Hill, about congestion in this area.

And what they’re telling me is they’re frustrated about having to sit bumper to bumper, day in day out, in traffic while they’re trying to get to and from work and I absolutely feel their frustration because I regularly travel across the Linkfield Road overpass, and the traffic is always at a standstill before and after work.

We know that the Linkfield Road Overpass is a bottleneck and the RACQ has determined that it is a key area for future government action. So I’m really pleased to have Anthony here today, to make an announcement that will reduce congestion in this area and will be of great benefit to all the residents here in Dickson. Now before I hand over to Anthony I’m just going to let Corinne say a few words.

CORINNE MULHOLLAND: It’s great to have Albo here in Petrie and neighbouring Dickson. We are a fast growing community, in fact one of the fastest growing communities on the Australian continent. We’re a big, bold area here on the north side of Brisbane and we are absolutely hungry for infrastructure, just as Ali has said. Our community sits in traffic like you can see here today and our Federal politicians are sitting in Canberra talking about themselves.

Our locals have been outraged by what they’ve seen in Canberra this week. They’re supposed to be delivering for us and they’re not. So while Luke Howarth and Peter Dutton are sitting in Canberra playing political games, we’re here on the ground standing next to this bottleneck, doing something about it. So it’s great to have Albo here talking about this announcement, great to be working with my federal colleague Ali France delivering for the people of the north side.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well thanks very much Ali and Corinne for being here with me for this important announcement today. A Federal Labor Government will deliver $60 million for the duplication of this Linkfield Road overpass. This has been identified by the motoring organisations as well as by the Queensland State Government as an absolute priority, because of the growth that we’re seeing in the suburbs of Dickson and Petrie. They have currently two local members who are more concerned about internal squabbling within the Liberal Party than they are about actually delivering for their electorate. And it’s just like these two who opposed, of course, the Redcliffe Rail Line, first promised in 1895, but delivered by Federal and State Labor as well by the Moreton Bay Council. It’s just like these two who oppose Federal funding for the Cross River Rail project. They’ve done nothing to fix this bottleneck. Well Federal Labor won’t just put out petitions, as if we’re not in any authority. If we’re in government we will deliver and we’ll work with the Queensland State Government to deliver this vital project.

Nothing can symbolise more the difference between the current Government and Federal Labor under Bill Shorten than this announcement here this morning. We have a Government that yesterday put its hand up and said it’s too hard to govern even though they have an absolute majority on the floor of the House of Representatives. They shut down Parliament and it’s like workers walking off a workplace because they don’t like the boss. These same people who would criticise unions if they did that – did exactly that yesterday.

Well we have been preparing for government with the hard policy decisions, with decisions to fix up commuter parking at places like Mango Hill Station, with the delivery that we did consistent with what we did last time when we were in office when we actually delivered on projects like the Gateway North project, when we delivered the Redcliffe Rail Line, when we delivered the upgrades to the Bruce Highway.

This is an absolute priority. It’s something that Ali and Corrine have consulted with their local communities about. They’re showing more leadership today than Peter Dutton or Luke Howarth have showed in the many years that they have represented these electorates. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, when was your visit here to make this announcement planned and was it brought forward to coincide with the leadership challenge?

ALBANESE: Well we’ve been working on these announcements for a considerable period of time and both Ali and Corrine have raised this issue. We have a policy development process and this is my third visit to Dickson and third visit to Petrie in the last six months. So we’ll continue to come back. We’ll continue to have policy announcements to make because we are doing the hard work in Opposition to prepare for a stable and effective government.

And what we see at the moment is anything but that. I mean, Peter Dutton is putting himself forward for the leadership today even though if you look at the Solicitor General’s advice, the same advice that told Tony Abbott “nothing to see here, no problem”, the same advice that was relied upon by Government members to stay in the Parliament, the same advice that was overturned by the High Court. Today the Solicitor General has produced advice that says: “Well I think he might be OK, maybe not. The High Court might determine something different, but we think, on balance of probability, my opinion is it’s OK”. And this guy thinks that that’s an acceptable level of assurance, that he even has a right to sit in the Parliament, that he wants to be the Prime Minister of the nation. It’s quite extraordinary.

JOURNALIST: It’s been over a decade since a Prime Minister last served out their full term. Do you give an iron-clad guarantee that you’ll support Mr Shorten’s leadership not only in this Parliament but the next?

ALBANESE: It’s a bit of a boring question really. If you watch what’s happened on our side of politics, I have my entire political career been loyal to leaders. I stood up on 23 June, 2010, and said that on that night what happened would be that we would destroy two Labor Prime Ministers, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. I’ve been consistent about my views and in spite of the fact that I stood for the leadership in 2013, what I’ve done since 2013 is get on with the job of being part of the Labor team under Bill Shorten.

JOURNALIST: And you won’t deviate from that principle?

ALBANESE: It’s not words. It’s what you do that’s important. Have a look at what I have done, which is to work each and every day, as a member of the Labor team. What’s important is that you work as a member of the team. I continue to do that. I’ve done it each and every day. Five Ministers misled Parliament, on Wednesday. It’s a serious offence to mislead Parliament. They stood up and they said when asked directly in the Parliament, not at a press conference, in the Parliament where they are obligated to not mislead, they said that they were loyal to Malcolm Turnbull. Have a look at what they’ve done, have a look at what I’ve done. I stand by my record.

JOURNALIST: What about your colleagues,? I mean Labor started off this idea of knifing a Prime Minister.

ALBANESE: Let’s be very clear – what happened in June 2010 was a mistake. I said it at the time. I think history has proven my judgement on that night to be right. Notwithstanding the fact that I think both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were outstanding Prime Ministers, there’s no doubt that we were damaged by those events. But there’s no doubt also – I was the Leader of the Government in the House of Representatives in a Parliament where we had 70 votes on the floor. We managed to do the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski reforms on education. We did climate change policy, we did infrastructure policy. We did policy right across the board that made a real difference to the way this nation is run. What we’ve got under this mob is a Government that on Monday said we can’t have an energy policy, because we can’t get agreement to it. Regardless of the fact that everyone in the sector is saying what they need is certainty in order to invest, in order to reduce prices and the cost of energy and to reduce emissions.

This Government can’t function and we see that each and every day and the idea that they will turn to Peter Dutton, who is a cold character – I mean it’s one thing to have a hard head and you need that to lead the nation. But you also need a heart and a soul. There’s no evidence that Peter Dutton has either. He’s a cold character who has no empathy for people who aren’t the same as him. And that’s a real problem for the nation and it’s extraordinary that they are considering putting him up as the Prime Minister. And we saw that, we know what a Peter Dutton prime ministership will be like, because we saw that when he’s performed as Health Minister. He ended up being ranked as the worst Health Minister in Australia’s history, not by the Labor Party, didn’t say that – the doctors of Australia said that. And he tried to of course introduce the GP tax. He ripped $50 billion out of the health system and he initiated the inquiry into privatising part of the Medicare health system. This is a bloke who can’t be trusted to support Medicare, a bloke who’s saying that the Liberal Party should just go back to the past, a bloke who wants Australia to be a nation that isn’t one of the 21st Century.

JOURNALIST: Ali can we ask you a couple of questions?


JOURNALIST: Hypothetically, Peter Dutton does become the Prime Minister today. What’s it going to feel like for you challenging the Prime Minister at the upcoming election?

FRANCE: Well, it doesn’t matter whether I’m up against a Prime Minister, a Minister or a backbencher. My job is the same. I will be focused on talking to and listening to the people of Dickson about the issues that they are really concerned about. And that is health, education, penalty rates, TAFE. These are the things that I am hearing about all the time and that’s what I’m going to be focused on.

JOURNALIST: What sort of impact do you think it will have on your chances? He’s clearly going to have a much bigger profile.

FRANCE: Well I think Peter Dutton should be concerned. This is a marginal seat and the people of Dickson will have a clear choice at the next election between somebody who is going to fight for them on the issues that matter or somebody who is really only concerned about furthering his own career.

JOURNALIST: What sets you apart from Mr Dutton in terms of your character?

FRANCE: My story I think everybody knows. I’m quite different to Mr Dutton. Seven years ago I lost my leg in an accident and seven years ago I was in a hospital bed coming to terms with the fact that I had lost my leg and I might never walk again. And from that I spent many years in hospital in and out of doctors surgeries and I saw that a lot of people were struggling. I see the issues that we are having now with cuts to our health system. I went on to represent Australia in sport. I won a gold medal last year and now I am taking on Peter Dutton and I feel stronger than I have ever been.

JOURNALIST: But in terms of, rather, do you have any reflections on Mr Dutton and his character?

FRANCE: No I don’t. I’m purely focused on doing the best I can in Dickson and in terms of what I’m fighting for in this electorate. This Government is going to be cutting $130 million from our Metro North Hospital. We’re going to lose over $13 million from our local schools. Eleven thousand people are losing penalty rates. We’ve lost over 200 apprentice places here in Dickson. So I’m not  focused at all on Mr Dutton. I will be spending every day up until the next election, talking to people, door-knocking and campaigning on the issues that matter.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the vandalism of his electorate office overnight?

FRANCE: Well I condemn that, I condemn any act of vandalism or aggression against any Member of Parliament. I think that people should take out their frustrations at the ballot box.

JOURNALIST: In contrast to Mr Dutton you are on record as having a very compassionate view towards refugees. Where would you like to see Labor’s policy go in that area?

FRANCE: I support – Labor’s policy on this issue is very clear and I support Labor’s policy 100 per cent.

JOURNALIST: Do you support it because it’s Labor’s policy or because you share that (inaudible).

FRANCE: I support it because it’s Labor’s policy.

JOURNALIST: Does that policy reflect your personal opinion?

FRANCE: Yes, it does. I want to see an end to indefinite detention. I want to – I think we can be tough on people smugglers while at the same time treating people humanely.

JOURNALIST: Might that involve bringing them to Australia?

FRANCE: I completely support Labor’s policy on this issue and I have said that so many times. I am 100 per cent supportive.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, where are you going to be at midday today? Any special plans?

ALBANESE: Well, we will wait and see what happens at midday. But regardless of who emerges from what is a rabble of a government, they will inherit just rubble. It is just a mess and it is impossible to think that whoever emerges will be capable of uniting the Liberal Party. One of the things that we have done is to work as a united team, is work on policy and to be effective in doing it. And today is just another example of that. Labor here, Shadow Minister with two local candidates, standing up for the issues based upon the feedback that Ali and Corinne have had about the needs of their electorates where they are running. Peter Dutton is senior member of the Government, or he was, for a long period of time. He wants to be the Prime Minister. He’s out there doing a website about this issue. If you want websites and petitions in the electorate of Dickson, then vote for Peter Dutton. If you want someone who will actually get things done, vote for Ali France.

JOURNALIST: Just one more question for Ms France. What will be your signature thing that you pursue in Parliament? When people think about Ali France, what policy area should they (inaudible)?

FRANCE: Health. I have been in and out of hospital over many years, I have been sitting in doctors waiting surgeries over many years, and I know that people are struggling. The things that I hear all the time, and the feedback I get from the people in my electorate is that they are struggling with out-of-pocket health expenses. That they can’t afford the extra for scans and tests. That they can’t afford the gap to go and see a specialist. This is my number one issue, because I have been through it myself.

JOURNALIST: Is that a question of funding or do you have new and innovative ideas that you might share?

FRANCE: Absolutely it’s a question of funding. Cutting money from hospitals impacts patient care.

JOURNALIST: But other than funding do you have anything else in the health space that you might pursue?

FRANCE: Funding makes a difference. Medicare; what I’m hearing from a lot of the people in my electorate is that they are starting to pay money, having to pay more when they actually turn up to a doctor’s surgery. I spoke to a woman the other day who had to leave her doctor that she’d been with for 20 years, because they started insisting that she make the co-payment. Things like that I am hearing all the time. I think that prevents people from going to see their doctor and I think that’s a real problem in our health system. And we saw a report only last week in which one million people had said that they had – that the cost of going to the doctor had prevented them from going to see the doctor or they had put it off and I think that is a massive concern for this area.

ALBANESE: Can I finish up by saying that whoever emerges after noon today I think has a responsibility to actually go to see the Governor General and to call an election. This farce must end and it’s about time the people of Australia had a right to make a judgement on this Government. When it comes to health and the need to defend Medicare, when it comes to proper funding for our schools and our universities and our TAFE colleges, when it comes to proper nation building infrastructure, this Government knows that it is not capable of governing and it’s about time the Australian people got a say. And when they do, I am very confident that Ali and Corinne will join the Labor Caucus in Canberra after the next election.