Transcript of doorstop interview, Domain, Sydney
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND WATER
MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS
Monday 19 November 2007
E & OE – PROOF ONLY
Subject: Coalition preferences One Nation in New England and Riverina, Insulation of Fort Street High School from aircraft noise, Peter Debnam’s comments on the need to ratify Kyoto
ANTHONY ALBANESE: John Howard needs to explain to the Australian public why he has walked away from his 2001 commitment that the major parties should put One Nation last. This how-to-vote, from the Coalition government, with John Howard and Mark Vaile in the corner, authorised by Graham Jaeschke, the State Director of the Liberal Party, gives One Nation preferences in the seats of New England and Riverina above both Labor and the Greens candidates.
It is imperative that we assign Pauline Hanson and also One Nation to the dust bin of history. In 2001, having flirted with Pauline Hanson and welcomed many of her comments, John Howard gave an unequivocal commitment that One Nation would be put last on Coalition how-to-votes. That hasn’t happened at this election in the important electorates of Riverina and New England. John Howard has to explain why it is that that he is refusing to fulfil that commitment to put One Nation last.
One Nation are a divisive party, and over the weekend we saw John Howard liaising and courting particularly the Asian communities in his electorate of Bennelong. And yet the Coalition has been prepared to give One Nation preferences in the electorates of Riverina and New England above Labor and the Greens. I think that John Howard owes the nation an explanation for why, once again, he is prepared to give One Nation preferences.
The fact is that One Nation would never have got a member elected to a Parliament, state or federal, were it not for Liberal Party preferences. That’s why this shouldn’t be occurring. Labor is calling upon John Howard to explain why it is that he has walked away from that commitment.
JOURNALIST: Can you describe those two seats?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Riverina is held by Kay Hull, the National Party Member. New England is held by Tony Windsor, the Independent. Certainly Labor is putting One Nation last in all of our how-to-votes in every single seat. The Coalition is doing it where it is convenient, but where it is not convenient they are not doing that.
JOURNALIST: Is Labor putting One Nation last in the Senate for voting above the line?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We are putting One Nation and Pauline Hanson last on all of our how-to-votes, right across the board.
JOURNALIST: I understand the Climate Change Coalition has done a deal with One Nation. Does that somewhat undermine their moral credibility to you as a former environment spokesman?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think the Climate Change Coalition deal is a sleazy deal. I don’t think it is appropriate for all those who purport to support decency and tolerance in our society to do deals with One Nation or with Pauline Hanson. It is very disappointing that the Climate Change Coalition have chosen to do that in NSW, and as I understand it, in Queensland as well.
JOURNALIST: To the $3 million for noise insulation for Fort Street High School; does that promise from Labor show that they are worried about losing Grayndler?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It shows that we are committed to good policy. That is a commitment that we have made at the previous two elections. For those of you who were not at the press conference this morning, it had to be interrupted every three minutes by aircraft noise. Disruption to the press conference was annoying however disrupting HSC exams, disrupting peoples ability to learn, is a real concern. Labor is committed to an education revolution. Part of that is providing a learning environment that is conducive to good learning. Fort Street High School has a proud history. It has produced many great Australians who have made a great contribution, and the students there have been campaigning for years for justice. Taverners Hill Infants School, just down the road, about 200 metres, has been insulated, but because the line on the map doesn’t include Fort Street it has been excluded. I am very disappointed that over eleven years not a single Transport Minister from the Howard Government has been prepared to visit the school and explain why it is that they have missed out on this insulation. I am very proud that Labor is a Party that is putting forward good policy and I am very pleased that Martin Ferguson made that commitment this morning.
JOURNALIST: On the One Nation issue, Pauline Hanson is no longer the leader of that party, she has her own party now. John Howard might say that I only promised not to preference Pauline Hanson. What is your response to that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I think that Pauline Hanson and One Nation might have split but they have the same policies. They have the same xenophobic attitude towards Australian multiculturalism. They have the same policies of dividing the community. Particularly I think for someone like John Howard who of course got himself into a spot of bother, years ago when leader of the Liberal Party, in supporting race based migration policies. People will recall that Philip Ruddock crossed the floor to uphold the principal of a non-racial migration policy for Australia. I would have thought that John Howard would have learnt that the flirtations with One Nation or with Pauline Hanson can only cause, not just division within Australia, but also cause problems with our international standing, and that is why all political parties committed to putting them last. We did it as a matter of course, but John Howard committed in 2001 to put One Nation and Pauline Hanson last, and that hasn’t occurred.
JOURNALIST: Why not the Christian Democratic Party who propose a ban on Islamic immigration. Why are they any better?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think that when you talk about mainstream political parties, the Christian Democratic Party are a party that I have many differences with, and I am sure they would say that they have many differences with me but I certainly don’t put for one second put Fred Nile in the same category as Pauline Hanson and One Nation.
JOURNALIST: On that point which would you put last?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well wherever they are they should be last and second last. The fact is that they are a divisive party and they should never be given support.
I also might make a comment that given I am outside State Parliament House here, on Peter Debnam’s extraordinary contribution this morning. Peter Debnam is saying that Australia should have ratified the Kyoto Protocol many years ago. It would appear that only John Howard is isolated on this issue. We know that Malcolm Turnbull took to the cabinet that position and he was unable to get the support of the cabinet. Now we have the former State Liberal Leader coming out and saying just that. The Howard government is completely isolated from the Australian communities views on climate change, from the global community through the United Nations on climate change, and pretty much isolated from many members of their own party now when it comes to climate change.