SUBJECT: Polls, Clive Palmer, debate.
JOURNALIST: Can I take you to Newspoll today? I know politicians don’t comment on polls, but you know we’re at the pointy end of this campaign. What do you make of today’s results?
ALBANESE: Well we always expected the election to tighten. We’ve always said it would be close. But what is very clear from this campaign is that Labor is rolling out policy. Yesterday major policies on child care, on support for pensioners to receive dental care when they need it, and the Government is just attempting a slide through with a scare campaign. It’s all negative. If you ask a Government Member a question from the Prime Minister down, they just talk about Labor. What Labor’s talking about is the needs of the Australian people, whether it be child care, whether it be education, whether it be infrastructure, whether it be health care. We’re talking about the practical issues to improve the living standards of Australians.
JOURNALIST: But with three weeks to go the Government’s within striking distance. Is that a worry?
ALBANESE: The fact is that we will continue over the next three weeks to roll out our positive plan for Australia’s future. We have circumstances whereby this Government is focused on itself, focused on its internal fights which are there. They’ve got Cabinet Ministers who’ve taken a vow of silence. You can’t get a debate between a Shadow Minister and a Minister under this Government because their record is so bad. Whether it’s a record in my area of underinvestment in infrastructure, of not even bothering to have a tourism minister; whether it be on broadband where Australia is now ranked 62nd in the world for the speed of our broadband; whether it be child care and education where costs are unaffordable in terms of families struggling over meeting child care costs and the Government doesn’t have a plan for it.
JOURNALIST: May I take you to Clive Palmer? He said on the Today Show earlier that he has transferred, or he has paid for $7 million into a trust account to go towards paying back those Queensland Nickel workers. Can he be trusted though?
ALBANESE: Oh, good old Clive. There he is. We all know the way that work happens. All of you, I’m sure, and the people watching this interview will receive a salary from their employer in their bank account every week or every fortnight or every month. Not Clive. It’s in a trust account. Well, the trust is not there with Clive Palmer. That’s the truth of the matter. Clive Palmer can’t be trusted. At the same time as he’s boasting about having $4,000 million dollars, he left workers stranded after he shut his nickel refinery in Townsville and he simply can’t be trusted.
The concern here isn’t that this fringe dweller is running for Parliament again, a bloke who when he was in Parliament didn’t bother to turn up most of the time and then fell asleep during Question Time; a bloke who couldn’t pay his workers but boasts about how much money he had; a bloke who kept a Rolls Royce in the Parliament House car park here, just sitting there taking up a spot, not driving it, just sitting there as a sign to everyone of his enormous wealth; but he couldn’t pay his workers. And Scott Morrison, in doing a deal with him, is saying: “That’s fine by me. It’s fine for employers who are incredibly wealthy to enjoy that private wealth but not bother to pay their workers properly when they were due to be paid”. I mean the fact is, that putting money in a so-called trust fund if that is what’s occurred, doesn’t make up for the lack of trust that’s there from the workers who were committed to Clive Palmer’s company, who made Clive Palmer a lot of money through the fruits of their labour. Labor is the party of working people. We were formed by working people; we will continue to stand up for working people. And that’s why Bill Shorten made it very clear there’ll be no deals until all of the workers are paid, and that we think that Clive Palmer, just like One Nation and these fringe parties shouldn’t be promoted and shouldn’t be given legitimacy by a party of government. Scott Morrison has given Clive Palmer legitimacy. He’s attached at the hip to Mr Palmer and in effect what he’s saying to the Australian people is that Clive Palmer would be the Deputy Prime Minister under his government.
JOURNALIST: Can I take you to the debate?
JOURNALIST: You’re not seriously suggesting that Clive Palmer would be Deputy Prime Minister?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that, who is the Deputy Prime Minister now? Australians will be asking themselves, because it’s not clear, because I can’t get a debate with the bloke who calls himself the Deputy Prime Minister. What Clive Palmer will be is a major power broker in a Scott Morrison Government. If Scott Morrison pulls this off and is re-elected or elected, it must be said, because he hasn’t been elected by anyone except for a few people in his party room, where he was the fourth choice as Prime Minister, Clive Palmer will have a major say in legislation and in the way that the Government operates. And what Scott Morrison has shown is that he’s prepared to just roll over. What is the deal between Scott Morrison and Clive Palmer? Scott Morrison has to come out and say exactly what the issues are.
JOURNALIST: Why won’t the Labor Party commit to doing a prime-time leader’s debate?
ALBANESE: Well the Labor Party is having a debate today.
JOURNALIST: Not in prime-time.
ALBANESE: Bill Shorten …
JOURNALIST: On a free-to-air major channel.
ALBANESE: Well, that’s a choice, my understanding is, of the West Australian and Channel Seven so you’ll have to go and ask them about that. But in terms of a debate, Bill Shorten’s agreed to two. There are negotiations over more. But one of the things that we’ve also said, I’d like just one. I’d like a debate with the Shadow Minister or a Minister because I haven’t had one since 2007, I’ve been calling for debate, including at the National Press Club. I’m available, Michael McCormack, the acting Deputy Prime Minister. I’m available. I’ll be at the National Press Club tomorrow, the next day, the day after. We can do it on the weekend if you like. We’ve got our policy launch on Sunday, but apart from that I’ll change my schedule and I’m sure that our other Shadow Ministers want that as well.
But the problem for the Government is that it’s hiding its Ministers because its Ministers aren’t up to the job of governing. We’ve seen that in Parliament and we’ve seen that with people like Angus Taylor who has all sorts of issues.
Melissa Price is struggling away in between abusing foreign dignitaries visiting Canberra, she hasn’t troubled the scorers on her portfolio. We’re all happy to debate. We’re happy to have a debate about health. We’re happy to have a debate about education and this Government is running from those debates. And that’s what you should be asking every one of the Ministers when they hold a doorstop, or press conference, not one that’s available like Labor people are to put to the media all of the time.
The fact is that if you do that you’ll get, I think, much better policy debate across the board. So let’s have more debates. Let’s have their entire team versus Bill Shorten and our team, because Bill Shorten and our team are ready to govern. We’ve put out comprehensive policies. We’re ready to roll. And we’ll continue to do that over the next three weeks. We’ll leave the scare campaigns and the dirty deals with One Nation and Clive Palmer, to the other side. We’ll be busy putting out our positive vision for the nation’s future. Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.