Transcript of doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra
Thursday, 20 September 2007
E & OE – PROOF ONLY
Subject: Kim Beazley’s valedictory; Parliamentary standards; Alexander Downer running for SA Premier; Eden Monaro; Government Dirt Unit attacks on Kevin Rudd.
REPORTER: It’s Kim Beazley’s last day today, have you got any words for him before his final speech?
ALBANESE: I think Kim Beazley has made an outstanding contribution to the Labor movement; he’ll be regarded very well by Labor History. He took on the leadership after the massive defeat in 1996 and won a majority of the vote in 1998. After the despair surrounding the demise of Mark Latham he regained the leadership and made us competitive again. Kim Beazley goes with the well wishes of everyone in Kevin Rudd’s Labor team.
Yesterday in Parliament we saw extraordinary inconsistency when it comes to the approach to Standing Orders and to Parliamentary Procedures of the Government. The day before yesterday, the Prime Minister used a phrase, which he was allowed to use in spite of the objections of the Opposition. Yesterday Lindsay Tanner received a 24 hour expulsion from the Parliament for using the same phrase. During the dissent motion on the Speakers ruling, Alexander Downer used the same phrase, but he was only required to withdraw it.
Today we see the extraordinary revelations that Alexander Downer was considering becoming State Leader of the Liberal Party in South Australia. These are really bizarre revelations from a Government that is in disarray, from a Government so arrogant that it wants to go to the next election, with a leader not supported by a majority of his Cabinet colleagues only to then impose a leader, perhaps Peter Costello perhaps someone else, on the Australian public without going to an election.
The Government’s arrogance is reflected in the Parliament, and the way that it’s being presided over. Labor will continue to hold the Government to account in the parliament in what may well be the last question time before the election.
REPORTER: Is the internal polling on Eden Monaro accurate?
ALBANESE: As a member of the ALP National Executive, I’m not allowed to talk about internal polling, but it’s certainly consistent with what I’ve seen in that particular electorate. It really highlights the extraordinary statement from the Prime Minister to his own caucus last week, where because he was under siege he was prepared to do this.
We see the Government under siege and thrashing out in a number of ways. The revelation to the media of Kevin Rudd’s health condition of more than a decade ago is of real concern. I’m very concerned about the Americanisation of Australian politics. On August 20 Tony Abbott conceded on ABC radio that the Government does have a dirt unit.
What we are seeing is these dirt units going into people’s background and not just their political background. Someone has revealed the details of a Member of Parliament’s health background now. Where does it stop? The Government really does have to answer the question whether it was responsible for this. All Australians know that Kevin Rudd has extraordinary health and vitality, I certainly wish I was 25 per cent as fit as he is. These revelations really are quite extraordinary.
REPORTER: What is Kevin 07 if not the Americanisation of Australian Politics?
ALBANESE: Kevin 07 is a legitimate slogan that highlights the fact that we have a leader who we are proud of, unlike the Liberal Party which has a leader who the majority of Cabinet want to go and a leader in waiting perhaps in Peter Costello who no one in the Australian public wants to lead a Government.