Subjects; Narangba station, Labor’s Park and Ride fund, Emma Husar, by-elections, aviation safety
SUSAN LAMB: Well here at Narangba Station, I’ve spent week after week speaking with commuters about the challenges they face in trying to find a carpark here. We know the best way to bust some of those congestion problems on the Bruce Highway is to get the cars off the road and get them right here to Narangba Station and get people onto trains. Now today we have a great announcement. Under a Shorten Labor Government we’re investing $5 million for a Park and Ride facility here. A hundred more parks for the commuters to catch the train into the city. We welcome of course the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, to talk to us about this great announcement for our growing community.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Susan and it’s great to be back here in Longman. Susan and I actually caught the train from Brisbane Central to this very station one afternoon a few weeks ago and talked to commuters. One of the things that commuters were concerned about was the issue of parking at this railway station in this growing community.
We know that at the moment there are 387 parking spots at this station, but 559 cars on average park here every day for commuters travelling to work to the south, largely. The fact is that Park and Ride is a necessary component, consistent with Federal Labor’s commitment under Bill Shorten to deliver on public transport. We’ve got over $2 billion committed to the Cross River Rail project – a project that was identified as the number one priority by Infrastructure Australia way back in 2012, but which the Abbott Government cut funding for and the Turnbull Government has refused to recommit that funding that was ripped out of the Budget by Tony Abbott when he became the Prime Minister. We created some six weeks ago a Park and Ride fund of $300 million, seeking matching funding from the other levels of government for Park and Ride facilities in communities such as here and, last week, we had an announcement at Mango Hill station to the south of here.
What Cross River Rail will mean is increased capacity, more frequency of trains, more people being able to access public transport. But they need to have access to the train station as well, which is why Federal Labor’s commitment of $5 million towards an upgrade of Park and Ride facilities here at this station at Narangba is so important for the local community. We would anticipate matching funding at least from the Queensland Government who’ve identified this station as a priority for an upgrade of these facilities and who also have created a dedicated fund for just this activity. Park and ride is so important, public transport is so important and because Susan Lamb is in touch with her local community, she has been able to identify this as a priority.
JOURNALIST: How soon will you roll Bill Shorten if Ms Lamb loses this election?
ALBANESE: The fact is that Susan Lamb is on track to win this by-election. We’re determined to ensure that Susan is re-elected. She deserves to be, she’s been an outstanding advocate for this seat. Unlike Wyatt Roy who was more concerned with media stunts, Susan Lamb has been a strong advocate – Whether it be public transport facilities, whether it be the Caboolture Hospital, whether it be the schools in this electorate and what Saturday is about is an opportunity for the people of Longman to send a message on behalf of the people of Australia that they prioritise investment in education and health and infrastructure over tax cuts for the big banks, over giving the big banks $17 billion. Malcolm Turnbull can’t find any money for the Cross River Rail Project but he can find $17 billion for the big banks, that’s not the priority of this community.
JOURNALIST: You said yesterday you were willing to be a team player. Can you a hundred percent guarantee today that you won’t challenge for the Leadership?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. What I’m concerned about is one thing and one thing only; being a Minister in a Labor Government, being able to deliver on infrastructure, being able to deliver on transport. I want to come back here with Bill Shorten as the Prime Minister and myself as the Infrastructure Minister and Susan Lamb as the Member for Longman and have a celebration of not just the beginning of works to upgrade this facility but the completion of works as well.
JOURNALIST: Just to be clear you absolutely there ruled out a Leadership challenge if Labor loses a by-election?
ALBANESE: Well that’s very perceptive mate, I’ve been asked –
JOURNALIST: I’m just giving you a chance because you dodged the question for five days.
ALBANESE: No I haven’t. No I haven’t.
JOURNALIST: You talk about being a team player but you haven’t said categorically yes or no.
ALBANESE: You haven’t been paying attention and you need to pay attention. You need to look at the transcripts, they’re all there. The only thing I’m interested in is being a Minister in a Labor Government, it will be led by Bill Shorten, that’s my only priority, my only concern and Labor’s not talking about internals. What we’re talking about is defeating the Turnbull Government because the Turnbull Government is having a devastating impact on families in areas such as this. Malcolm Turnbull might be okay looking after the people of Point Piper; he’s not good at looking after the people of Narangba and the people of Caboolture and the people of Morayfield and the people of this community.
JOURNALIST: You’re priorities may however change though, so can you give a definitive no that you will not challenge Mr Shorten?
ALBANESE: Well I don’t know how many times I can say it. Here’s this, I’ll say it really slowly – No. There you go. There you go in a word, it’s not hard.
JOURNALIST: It’s because you don’t have the support of Labor’s Right faction, is that it? Is that the reason why, you don’t have the numbers on the Right?
ALBANESE: My priority – You can ask the same question different ways if you like, you’ll get the same answer. You’ll get the same answer and it’s the same answer that I gave in Perth two days ago, it’s the same answer I gave on 5AA yesterday, on 6PR, it’s the same answer I give every Friday on the Today Show.
JOURNALIST: It must be hard though because you want a crack at it though, you want a crack.
ALBANESE: You should pay attention. What I want to do –
JOURNALIST: Isn’t it your time Albo? Isn’t it your time?
ALBANESE: I’ve had a great privilege of being a Minister in a Labor Government. And you know what I know the difference between? I know the difference between being able to put into practice your policies and I know the impact that this failure of a Government is having. Here we have on energy policy – We still don’t know where they want to go after five years. We’ve got a Prime Minister who likes travelling on trains and he’s prepared to take selfies on them he’s just not prepared to fund them. He’ll turn up to the opening of the Redcliffe Rail Line, he’ll turn up to the opening of the Gold Coast Light Rail, he just won’t fund Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Project. What we need is a government that actually looks after the people not themselves and their mates. What we have at the moment is a government that just looks after the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: Susan can you say what you think will be the key two or three issues that will determine the election?
LAMB: Easy – jobs, health and education. Top three that will be the key focus points, absolutely.
JOURNALIST: Susan when did you start organising your election campaign? There are reports you started in April, which seems a bit early for a Federal election.
LAMB: Well look when you’re dealing with a government like the Turnbull Government no time’s too early. It’s general campaigning. Who knows when we were going to an election. We’ve got a really unstable Government, we needed to be prepared nice and early for a general election and that’s what we were doing.
JOURNALIST: So you weren’t planning before the High Court ruling on Katy Gallagher thinking you might have some dual citizenship issues?
LAMB: We were planning to win the next general election from the third of July, from the day that I took office it was back into it. We might have won the seat, we didn’t win government and I was back in fighting to win in the seat again.
JOURNALIST: Albo can I ask you about Emma Husar? It seems that there’s been a lot of talk about allegations about her office that many people within the ALP and perhaps within Parliament have known for some time. There was an expert brought in to fix things up, there were 20 people apparently who complained. It has a bad stink to it. What do you make of the issue and how long ago did you know of problems?
ALBANESE: Well there’s an investigation taking place. I knew some time ago, I heard that that investigation was taking place.
JOURNALIST: Could you be specific Mr Albanese – Some time ago?
JOURNALIST: Was it a month, two months?
ALBANESE: Well I don’t know.
JOURNALIST: Certainly earlier than last Wednesday?
ALBANESE: Yes certainly. I knew at least a number of weeks ago, whenever the State Conference was people raised it with me there. I think that was in, I’m not even sure when that was. Seems like a long time ago we announced the Park and Ride fund, was a few weeks ago. So I knew at least then. I think I had heard something beforehand about the Administrative Committee setting up a process with Mr Whelan, the details of which I wasn’t aware. The only details I have are those that I’ve read in the paper, some of which may be accurate, some of which may not be.
JOURNALIST: So it’s a bit surprising that you’ve known for a few weeks, but Bill Shorten says he found out last week?
ALBANESE: Well I got asked a question and I gave an honest answer to you. That’s when I heard about it. I’m a member of the NSW Branch; you have a State Conference in NSW you expect people to be talking.
JOURNALIST: What concerns were conveyed to you?
ALBANESE: None, just the fact that, no one directly involved, I have no idea who some of the people are. I don’t think I’ve ever met, I might of in the corridors, met any of her staff. I don’t know any of the names that have been mentioned. The so-called expert who was put in there I’ve never heard of him, but that wouldn’t be all that surprising.
JOURNALIST: Should she be disendorsed if she’s found to have breached Fair Work laws?
ALBANESE: Let’s allow the process that has been established to take its course.
JOURNALIST: Obviously you have a personal opinion on the allegations?
ALBANESE: No I don’t. Because I don’t know whether they’re true or not. And so therefore, you know, let the process take its course. Emma Husar, my contact with her has been very positive as the local member. I’ve been to her electorate and met with the council with her over a range of issues related particularly to growth and development in that area. She is very concerned about the issue of jobs. I’ve been out there as well talking with her about roads. She’s a diligent local member who has taken leave and she should be allowed to do that. That is appropriate that the investigation take its course and that it not be pre-empted.
JOURNALIST: Did you raise it with Mr Shorten’s office?
JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about My Health? Will you be signing up to the online database of your own personal information for health reasons? Do you see any potential problems with it?
Would you be advocating for people to steer clear of it?
ALBANESE: I got asked this on Monday and I said that I had some time. If you read, so you’ve got to read my transcripts, if you did we wouldn’t get the same questions. I said then, that I’d have a look at it. I haven’t had time to have a look at it in the last couple of days in between going to Perth and coming here and doing things for the Republic movement yesterday and chatting with Christopher Pyne who I understand is up the road today. So I will have a look at it. My default position would be that it’s a good thing that there be electronic data, if you like, so people can get proper care and can get those details. But I’ll have a look at it and make a decision in conjunction with my family.
JOURNALIST: The latest inflation figures show that petrol prices have skyrocketed, what will a Labor Government do to bring those down?
ALBANESE: There’s a whole issue of petrol prices and – relating to motor vehicles, that myself and Mark Butler had a very successful roundtable on just a few weeks ago. We need to look at the issue of fuel security in this country – is one of the things that needs to be addressed. I think there’s some complacency about the issue of fuel security. We’ll continue to work on those policies. Mr Butler has responsibility for that. But it’s something that I know because I’ve participated, not from that perspective, but from the perspective of the growth that we can anticipate in electric vehicles. And the need to prepare for that change, that we’ve had discussions including with the fuel companies. I’ve had a couple of meetings with Caltex in recent weeks and we’ll continue to work on it. Mark Butler is busy preparing a comprehensive policy that we’ll announce in due course.
JOURNALIST: Labor has received $150,000 in donations in Queensland in the past month, mainly from unions. Would those unions consider this the best way to spend their money?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that working people know that they’re suffering under the Turnbull Government. We have real wages in decline. We have a Government that is prioritising not dealing with those issues, not dealing with occupational health and safety issues, not prioritising the needs of working people, including the needs of working people to get to work, which is what today’s announcement is all about. So it’s not surprising that the organisations that represent working people, the trade union movement, are busy campaigning to ensure that we get rid of the Turnbull Government.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask where you will be on election night, or by-election night?
ALBANESE: I haven’t made a decision yet, I’m not sure. I think Souths are playing at some stage. But I’m not sure even when they’re playing on the weekend. It’s a bit like your question about e-health. When you’re really busy, and it’s Thursday, I’m aware that it’s Thursday, it’s a long way to go to the weekend. I can confirm I will be on the Today Show tomorrow morning and then I have another commitment, media commitment, after that. Beyond that I haven’t finalised my itinerary for the weekend. But I appreciate …
JOURNALIST: An aviation question for you. Do you think the Civil Aviation Act should be changed to have a balance with the highest level of safety and air navigation and the need for an efficient and sustainable industry?
ALBANESE: Well read!
JOURNALIST: Thank you. Want to get the quotes right.
ALBANESE: (Inaudible) get the quotes right. The fact is, that I have said that we need to ensure safety needs to be an absolute priority and people would expect that to be the case when it comes to aviation. But we also need to make sure that there is an industry that is growing, an industry that’s supporting jobs, and economic activity. And the general aviation sector held a conference – just two weeks ago in Wagga Wagga that I went and addressed. My policies were outlined in great detail there. So you can take any of those quotes from the comprehensive policy we outlined. One of the things also that I said there, was that I sought a bi-partisan position with Michael McCormack. I sought that with Barnaby Joyce, I maintain that position. We cannot afford, in this country, to have aviation safety or security to become a partisan party political issue. It needs to be the national interest which is put first. I have always done that, I am confident that Michael McCormack will also do that.
We’ve had constructive discussions and it is beyond my comprehension, but not up to me, why people choose to disrupt those constructive discussions, which have taken place and which both of us agree we would meet with the representatives of that conference when Parliament resumes in August in order to map out a way forward.
JOURNALIST: Can I just bring you back to Longman? Given the Liberal Democrats have come out on top of the ballot is it time for a fresh look at banning party names that are similar and do you think that voters would find it confusing between the Liberal Democrats and the Liberal National Party?
ALBANESE: I think those issues have been dealt with, not just by the courts in recent times but there was a political party that kept us out of office for 23 years called the Democratic Labor Party. Now I appreciate not everyone here at this press conference would remember that but my mum certainly remembered it and as a good Catholic Labor supporter never forgave the splitters who kept us out of office and kept Robert Menzies there for all of that time. That was one of the things I was raised on. So your question isn’t new, there have been numerous legal cases over the use of party titles. I would just say this: that it is pretty hard to argue that anyone on Saturday in this by-election, which Malcolm Turnbull has shown his judgement yet again by having following the world’s longest election campaign in 2016 with the world’s longest by-election campaign this year, if people don’t know that Susan Lamb is the Labor candidate and what’s-his-name is the Liberal candidate, note the discipline there, but what’s-his-name is the Liberal candidate, then there’s something wrong. They haven’t been anywhere near the electorate.
JOURNALIST: What is your message to voters who might consider voting for One Nation on Saturday?
ALBANESE: One Nation vote all of the time on all the big issues with the Coalition. They stand side by side with Malcolm Turnbull for the big end of town and against the battlers in this electorate. If you want a representative who’ll stand up for you, someone of integrity, someone who will fight damn hard with every last breath that she’s got, Susan Lamb has shown in the time that she’s been in Parliament there is no one in the Parliament I would want fighting for me more than Susan Lamb. Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.