Dec 8, 2009

Transcript of doorstop interview – Tony Abbott’s frontbench

Transcript of doorstop interview, Marrickville

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Subject: Tony Abbott’s new frontbench

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we have seen today is final proof that the extremists and climate change deniers have taken over the Liberal Party.

The fact is that John Howard and Peter Costello would have struggled to be promoted in Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party.

This is a frontbench in which climate change deniers and extremists have been promoted and those with more modern views have been demoted.

The fact is that climate change is real.

Today the Copenhagen conference has commenced. We are seeing more than 100 of the world’s leaders go to Copenhagen to discuss taking action on climate change, and yet what you have with Tony Abbott’s frontbench is a denial even of the term climate change. The Shadow Minister for Climate Change has had a title change to ‘Shadow Minister for Climate Action’.

This is a frontbench that is out of touch with modern needs. Out of touch with the need to tackle climate change. And one in which the climate change deniers have become dominant.

The fact that Bronwyn Bishop has been returned to the frontbench of the Liberal Party just shows how out of touch Tony Abbott is, if he thinks that that is a move for the future of the Coalition.


QUESTION: Well, Kevin Andrews and Philip Ruddock have also been brought back. Is this looking like the Howard Government?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is much more extreme than the Howard Government. The Howard Government went to the last election with a policy of supporting an Emissions Trading Scheme.

What you have now is Kevin Andrews brought back, Philip Ruddock brought back, Bronwyn Bishop brought back. It shows that the Liberal Party, under Tony Abbott, simply can’t move forward into this century.

What we’re seeing is an extremist view taken. You have the promotion of the climate change deniers, whether it’s into Shadow Cabinet, into the Shadow Ministry, or into Shadow parliamentary secretarial roles.

We have the rewarding of those with the most extreme right wing views, particularly when it comes to climate change.

QUESTION: What about Barnaby Joyce, what do you have to say about his promotion?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Barnaby Joyce now has to make a decision as to whether he wants to be taken seriously or not. He is now the Shadow Finance Minister and he has to match Labor’s commitment to fiscal responsibility if he’s to be taken seriously.

QUESTION: But he’s basically saying it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to approve this ETS scheme. He just thinks it’ll send the place broke.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, had something to say about that in the Shadow Cabinet room when he costed Tony Abbott’s policy at some $50 billion.

The fact is that Labor’s plan, put forward in legislation and negotiated with the responsible members of the Coalition, supported by the then-leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, was a responsible, fully-costed plan.

What we have from Tony Abbott’s Coalition is simply climate change denial, a magic pudding solution pretending that action can be taken at no cost to anybody, and that’s because they simply don’t believe in taking action on climate change. That is why they’ve taken the title climate change out of their front bench.

QUESTION: Would you almost be willing to take on Malcolm Turnbull if he decided to defect to the Labor Party? A lot of people were saying they couldn’t tell the difference a couple of months ago.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I don’t think there’s a prospect of that.

But what we see with Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott is that Malcolm Turnbull, a conservative leader of the Liberal Party, chosen by his party to lead this year, for just one year in office, is now looking very much like a centrist.

That is because the Tony Abbott-led Coalition have shifted so far to the right they’re almost off-screen. When it comes to climate change, I say to Tony Abbott and the Coalition, go into any school in the country and say to those young people that climate change isn’t real.

That’s what Tony Abbott had to say on the Alan Jones program this morning. He was out there saying that the climate wasn’t warming, that climate change has stopped, and therefore, if you believe that that’s the case you don’t have to take any action.

QUESTION: Eric Abetz is in the position for WorkChoi… for Workplace Relations. What do you have to say about that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Eric Abetz is certainly the Shadow Minister for Reintroducing WorkChoices. There is no doubt that what we have across portfolios is the hard right of the Liberal Party being rewarded. There is no doubt that is the case.

The fact that Eric Abetz has been given that position by Tony Abbott just reaffirms the view that Australians hold, which is that the Coalition haven’t learnt the lessons of the last election. If they were to be re-elected back into office then WorkChoices would return, and unfairness would return to the workplace. That is why Eric Abetz has been put there, just like all the other extremists in the Liberal Party have been rewarded under this reshuffle.

QUESTION: What’s the appointment that concerns you the most, in terms of the appointment you think will give the Government most trouble?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The appointment that concerns me most as a citizen is the election of Tony Abbott as Leader of the Coalition. What that signals is the mainstream political party, the Liberal Party and National Party Coalition, the alternative government of this nation is shifting away from mainstream politics; going into climate change denial. We see that by the fact that Tony Abbott has promoted the extremists and the climate change deniers in this reshuffle.

Thank you.