Subjects: By-elections, WA infrastructure, NBN, Newspoll, Senator Steve Martin, Barnaby Joyce.
JOSH WILSON: Hi I’m Josh Wilson, I’m Labor’s candidate for Fremantle and it’s great to welcome you all here to Fremantle, or Walyalup as we call it – the lands of the Whadjuk-Nyoongar people, and we pay our respects to elders past and present.
We’ve been through a difficult time here in Western Australia over the last couple of years. We’ve been in recession, we’ve faced at times the highest unemployment in the country. Unfortunately we haven’t been supported in investment in productive infrastructure, job creating infrastructure by the Turnbull Government – whether that’s in transport manufacturing or the NBN.
I’m particularly concerned that we’ve got a terrible share of defence shipbuilding and that Western Australia is getting far and away the worst form of the NBN. We’re getting half as much again of the worst technology in fibre to the node than Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and that’s going to hold us back.
But look there’s no person who understands the social and economic benefits of investment in infrastructure than my guest, my friend and colleague Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. It’s great to have him here in Fremantle, and I’ll hand over to Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks Josh. It’s great to be back here in the West. This is my seventh visit to Western Australia just this year. And one of the reasons why I continue to come back to support people like Josh – and his now re-election campaign as the Member for Fremantle – is that Western Australians haven’t been getting a fair deal from the Commonwealth Government and it’s due to get worse rather than better, unless we get a Labor Government here federally, working with the State Labor Government of Mark McGowan.
The fact is that the Budget Papers showed of a fortnight ago, that infrastructure investment for Western Australia falls from $1.2 billion in the coming year across the Forward Estimates, to just $411 million. Now that cut, of some 75 per cent in infrastructure investment for Western Australia, will lead to fewer jobs, less economic growth and a contraction in the economy unless it is reversed.
This is a government that made a lot of promises from Malcolm Turnbull when he dropped in for an hour or two recently, in the lead-up to the Budget – with a very big figure mentioned. But he didn’t mention the timeline and the truth is that most of this funding is off into the Never-Never. We need investment here in Western Australia now – investment in Perth METRONET, investment in local roads, investment in the Outer Harbour – which will transform the way that Fremantle functions as a working city.
So those investments are all important, as is investment in the NBN. We know that – In terms of overcoming the tyranny of distance from the world’s city that is furthest away from any other major city, that Perth is. The NBN can overcome that tyranny of distance and we haven’t had that investment here in WA.
WA is suffering as a result by having businesses that can’t compete. Whereas if you overcome the tyranny of distance and a business in Perth or Fremantle has the same access to markets nationally and globally, as one in the CBD of Sydney or Melbourne, then that becomes a huge advantage for people here in the west.
I’m very proud to support Josh, he’s made an outstanding contribution already in his short time in office as the Member for Fremantle. The work that he’s done, for example on the live sheep trade, has made a real difference to government policy but also to Labor policy and I’m very confident that Josh will be returning after July 28, to be part of our team.
I think it is unfortunate that the Government has chosen to put off these by-elections and to leave Fremantle without a representative until then. But we’ll get on with it and we’ll be campaigning each and every day as the Labor Party, to make sure that Josh is returned and that Fremantle, which historically has had some great Labor members – John Curtin and Carmen Lawrence amongst them, Melissa Parke, Josh’s predecessor as well. I’m convinced that Josh will be another long-term Labor member who’ll make an outstanding contribution to Fremantle, but also to the nation. Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: In respect to the Newspoll, voters prefer you as Labor leader. Considering Bill Shorten’s personal unpopularity as preferred Prime Minister, would the party have a better chance of success with you at the helm?
ALBANESE: Today’s Newspoll shows that once again Labor is ahead. I don’t know if that’s 32 or 33 polls in a row now. Malcolm Turnbull himself set the test when he rolled Tony Abbott as the leader of the Coalition and as Prime Minister – a first term elected Prime Minister. So we are determined to continue to campaign in the lead up to the election and once again we are ahead in the polls.
REPORTER: How does it feel though, to be more popular than Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: I’m concerned about the team, I’m a team player and every member of Labor’s team is playing their role and we only have one priority – which is to get rid of this rotten Government, this Government that doesn’t have an agenda for the nation.
Part of the problem, I think, is that Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott but he didn’t have a plan to govern. Once he got the job – he’s like the dog that caught the car, he doesn’t know what to do with it.
What we do know, is that he is not standing up for the values that he had on issues like climate change, over such a long period of time. And now we’ll wait and see what he does on company tax cuts, now that there is a great deal of difficulty to say the least, in him getting it through. And members of his own Coalition are calling for him to abandon his own policy.
REPORTER: I mean, it is impressive numbers though. Would you ever consider running yourself?
ALBANESE: :Look, I’m determined to do the job that I have and to do it to the best of my capacity as part of the Labor team. And what I do every day, is develop alternative policies for Labor in government on infrastructure, on transport, on tourism here in WA. At lunchtime I have a round table with all the executives from Tourism WA, again engaging with them about how we promote the west, about how we increase tourism opportunities, both in terms of domestic tourist numbers, but also global tourism numbers.
I was quite proud to play a role in ensuring that we now have direct flights from Perth to London, through Qantas. That will – in terms of the return journey – make a big difference to tourism here in the West, not just in Perth, but in those important regional areas like Broome, the Kimberley, down around Margaret River, Kalgoorlie. WA has so much to offer and we’ll be today talking about those issues and that’s what I’m concerned with and each and every day as well, campaigning against the Coalition Government.
I once said in a press conference – I like fighting Tories that’s what I do. Indeed that’s what I’m doing here today and that’s what I’ll continue to do, in the lead up to the next election.
REPORTER: It has just been confirmed that Tasmanian Senator, Steve Martin is joining the National Party, what’s your response?
ALBANESE: I do think that when members are elected under a particular political party, in my view they have a moral obligation to – if they’re going to change parties, to put that towards the public. Senator Martin was elected as a member of the Jacqui Lambie Network. That means he’s changed twice since he actually stood on that platform, when it came to the last election and received a very small number of votes. So call me old fashioned, I think that voters deserve more respect than Members of Parliament just deciding to change their political allegiances without reference back to those voters.
REPORTER: Can we talk about Barnaby Joyce for a moment? What are your thoughts on the fact that he is doing a paid interview now – $150,000 interview with Channel Seven on Sunday night, to talk about his situation. What do you think about it?
ALBANESE: My view is that Barnaby Joyce’s personal life is a matter for him and his family. It’s a matter for him to make those decisions and I’d make no comment about that. I do think though, that as politicians as parliamentarians we’re paid by the Australian public to do our job. Part of that job is media interviews such as this and I don’t think that parliamentarians should be paid for media interviews, full stop. I think that is a pretty important principle. That’s my personal view. It’s one that I’ve always engaged in and certainly it’s up to Mr Joyce to explain why it is that principle is being breached.
REPORTER: Do you think it’s a bit rich, him asking for privacy now, given that he is telling everyone about his life and asking the rest of the media and Australia for privacy?
ALBANESE: I don’t make any comment about his personal life or those issues, but people will draw their own conclusions.
REPORTER: This might be a repeat, but if the Labor Party loses one of the by-election seats, are you ready to put your hand up at the National Conference and run for the leader of the Party?
ALBANESE: I’m ready to ensure that – with the rest of the Labor team we win these by-elections. That’s why I’m here today. I was in Braddon on Friday with Justine Keay. I’ll be spending time with Susan Lamb in Longman. Later today, I’ll be with Patrick Gorman in Perth. I’m determined that Labor will win these by-elections and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that occurs, because we need to get rid of this Government.
We have an agenda for nation-building infrastructure. We doubled infrastructure investment when we were in government. When we came to office we were 20th amongst advanced economies for investment in infrastructure as a proportion of the national economy. When we left office we were 1st. I’m committed to nation-building infrastructure whether it be public transport, where we transformed the way that public transport was dealt with by the national Government to investments like Perth City Link, here. We invested in roads like Gateway WA, the Great Eastern Highway. We invested as well, in local community infrastructure here in Perth and Fremantle and that made a major difference. So I’m looking forward to being the Infrastructure Minister in a Labor Government after the next election, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that happens.
REPORTER: Surely you would be seriously considering it though? I mean if this gives Labor the best possible chance to get their foot forward, surely you would be considering it?
ALBANESE: The fact is that Labor is ahead in the polls yet again today. Indeed ahead by more than we were a fortnight ago. I’m determined that Labor will win the next election. I want to do everything I can to make sure that the opportunities are maximized – not as the end in itself, but because of what Labor governments do.
Because I want to see investment in education.
Because I want to see TAFE re-energized.
Because I want to see young people have the opportunity to be the best they can in life, and that starts with early childhood education.
Because I want to see health care prioritised, with Medicare as its centerpiece.
Because I want to look after our ageing population and we’re not developing those long-term strategies.
Because I want to invest in infrastructure and because I want to protect our pristine natural environment and there’s nowhere better than here in WA.
I want to see a Government that is committed to real action on climate change and a Labor government would be that.
That’s what I’m determined and focused on.
REPORTER: But you haven’t ruled it out?
ALBANESE: I absolutely have said that my priority is one and one only, which is to be a Minister in a Labor Government and to see us elected. I expect that to happen. Thanks.
MONDAY, 28 MAY, 2018