Subjects: Grayndler electorate, Liberal-Greens preference deal, Greens strategy, asylum seeker policy, Malcolm Turnbull
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for joining me. This morning many of the journalists here have been at Richard Di Natale’s first press conference of the election campaign as the Greens political party leader. We’ve seen him today visit the electorate of Grayndler and of course everyone’s always welcome to come to the inner west of Sydney to see the vibrant and dynamic community that we have here and that I’m committed to keeping.
But it says a lot about Richard Di Natale and the Greens political party during this campaign that they’re targeting the electorate of Grayndler rather than targeting a Coalition seat. This is consistent with a political party that has prioritised getting Adam Bandt someone to talk to during Question Time over defeating the Malcolm Turnbull led Coalition Government.
You can’t say that you’re opposed to the cuts to the NBN, the cuts to education, the cuts to health, you’re opposed to Peter Dutton as the Immigration Minister, you’re opposed to the right-wing conservative agenda that has continued under Malcolm Turnbull after he has replaced Tony Abbott, but then issue split tickets in marginal seats which the Coalition seeks to hold or to win in return for getting Liberal preferences against progressive Labor members in electorates like Grayndler, Sydney and Richmond on the NSW North Coast.
This morning Richard Di Natale questioned my voting record and said that he would be consistent in putting a progressive view and that they’d vote every time. Well, the Greens political party are those that are responsible for there not being a price on carbon right now.
Had the Greens voted for the price on carbon in 2009 in the Senate it would have been entrenched, we would have had a different debate about climate change in this country. But they chose not to. He used the example about renewable energy.
Well, under Labor the number of solar panels on our roofs went from just a few thousand to over one million. The Renewable Energy Target of 20 per cent by 2020 that was started and the policy written by myself as Labor’s environment and climate change spokesperson was in place until the Coalition sought to tear it down. The renewable energy sector wanted Labor to vote for the position that we did.
Labor has been consistent and courageous about our position on renewable energy and action on climate change. That’s why we have a target that’s consistent with that of the Climate Change Authority. That’s why when it comes to renewable energy we’re seeking a fifty per cent target in the coming decade and a half.
It’s Labor in government that can change the country. That’s why during this election whilst the Greens political party will be spending all their time trying to defeat me, I will be out there trying to defeat the Coalition Government.
REPORTER: Where do you think their priorities should be lying if it’s not in your seat, not in this type of marginal seat?
ALBANESE: Well, if they say that they’re committed to opposing the Coalition Government’s conservative agenda, then they might like to try campaigning against Coalition members. To actually try campaigning to make a difference to the balance in the House of Representatives by supporting Labor members where they can’t be elected, fair enough to go hard, to try to win seats.
But don’t do a deal with the Coalition which increases the chances of a return of the Coalition Government by issuing split tickets. Now Richard Di Natale said just this morning that at the end of the day, the Greens would have to make a choice over whether they put Labor or Liberal first after the Greens, but he also said that nowhere would he put Liberals above the Labor Party.
Well, if he’s serious about that, and he has to make a choice, he should do it. That means in every seat putting Labor above the Coalition. Richard Di Natale can end the debate about preferences by simply saying he will put Labor, progressive candidates, above Coalition candidates in every seat in the country.
If he’s fair dinkum about stopping the Coalition Government he would do that.
REPORTER: Albo, Sophie Ismail the Labor Candidate for the seat of Melbourne has spoken out against turnback policies and a whole other range of issues that Labor supports on asylum seekers including mandatory detention. Would you sort of condemn her for speaking out against the Party’s policy on the first day of the campaign?
ALBANESE: This is such an old fashioned question. I got asked just ten days ago about other people’s candidates – other people’s comments who were Members of Parliament, not candidates and I’ll say there what I say now which is that I’m not about condemning people for putting forward their views. They’re entitled to do so. The Labor Party has positions on these things. I argue my position within the Labor Party. The difference is that when the Labor Party makes a decision there’s potentially a decision of government rather than of just a couple of people.
It must be difficult for Adam Bandt. He sits there with his imaginary friend in the House of Representatives. It would be nice if he had someone real to talk to. But why target specifically progressive Labor candidates if you’re serious about a progressive Australia?
I’m standing on this election campaign as someone who’s progressive, as someone who’s effective and gets things done but also someone who is ours. That is, I’m a part of this local community. I was born here, I went to primary school here, I’ve represented here. I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m engaged with the local community. I’m prepared to stand up for my values and I’ve done that pretty consistently.
REPORTER: Peter Dutton has just given a press conference on Operation Sovereign Borders. Given it’s a caretaker period, do you think Labor should be briefed on the operation?
ALBANESE: Of course. Caretaker conventions kick in from the day the election was called and this morning at 9am it’s my understanding that the Parliament was dissolved. If there are any matters which relate to national security or indeed any policy issue, then the government has an obligation to brief the respective Shadow Minister, and that’s something I would expect in my portfolio, and I think it is something that’s required and made very clear. This is a government that has shown contempt for normal processes.
Indeed, why we’re in an election today is beyond the comprehension of most Australians. I don’t think there are many people out there in voter land saying “I’m glad there’s an eight week campaign”. I think what they need to do though, is understand that that is a direct result of the fact that Malcolm Turnbull has run out of ideas, has run out of steam, and has run out of an agenda, after just six months in the job.
He had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott. He doesn’t have a plan to govern and for someone who coveted the Prime Ministership for so long to have so little idea of what to do once he has gained that Prime Ministership is quite extraordinary. That’s one of the reasons why Australians are so disappointed with Malcolm Turnbull.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.