SUBJECTS: Drug testing welfare recipients; the economy.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, the Prime Minister says he’s puzzled that Labor and some of the Independents aren’t supporting this drug testing of welfare recipients?
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: This Prime Minister himself went to the New South Wales Liberal Party Conference on the weekend. And he didn’t say he was going to come to Parliament this week with a plan for the economy; or a plan to deal with social justice; or a plan to deal with climate change and the fact our emissions are rising. He said he was going to provide a test for Labor. This is a government that’s acting like an opposition in exile on the Government benches. It’s about time that he dealt with the real challenges, and the real challenges are the fact that economic growth is slowing. Consumer demand is low; interest rates are at 1 per cent, one third of where they were during the Global Financial Crisis. And productivity is actually going backwards. And the fact is, that economic growth is lower than population growth. What that means is that if it wasn’t for that population growth, the economy would be going backwards. Now, the Prime Minister must deal with these significant challenges. On his other issues, he needs to provide the evidence that these measures are working, or would work, because when you look at international examples there are none. Whether it be New Zealand; whether it be in the United States – where this has been tried in various states – the evidence is that this is not working. The Prime Minister needs to stop looking for distractions from the main game. The main game in this country is the economy and the fact that people are really struggling. And this Prime Minister is out of touch.