Subjects: Daily Telegraph editorial; Labor’s economic record; Australian economy; Better Schools Plan; Australian manufacturing; The Coalition’s $70 billion black hole.
LINDA MOTTRAM: Anthony Albanese is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport as well as Broadband. Mr Albanese, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Linda.
LINDA MOTTRAM: Kick this mob out. Does it sum up your key electoral problem that people have just had enough of Labor?
ANTHONY ALBANESE:No it sums up what that particular part of the Murdoch press think, and I really think that the readers have been done a disservice.
The people who read the Daily Telegraph get to determine elections, not the people who own it.
And democracy is a very valuable thing that we have and I would encourage people to get online and get on the roll if they are not on the roll already, or update their details. And cast their own vote according to what they think, rather than what the Telegraph is trying to tell them to do in a pretty spectacular and extraordinary and blatant way.
LINDA MOTTRAM: If the election is about trust, in good economic management in particular as the Prime Minister says, why should voters choose a six year old government with a growing deficit, repeated failure to deliver promised services, a slew of heavily criticised policy actions, on again off again approaches on climate action and an obsession with self?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Almost one million jobs, low interest rates, low inflation, higher workforce participation, economic growth of consistency for more than two decades, seeing Australia through the Global Financial Crisis stronger than any economy in the world. That’s why. And we have plans for the future.
Plans like the National Broadband Network, like the Better Schools Plan, like the National Disability Insurance Scheme. These are all plans setting Australia for the future.
Tony Abbott has had an effective way of running around and saying no, no, no to everything. But you can’t run a government by just saying what you are against.
And in terms of different plans in terms of the environment, we have consistently wanted an emissions trading scheme. That is what we will have on 1 July next year.
We would have had one had the Liberals and the Greens not knocked it off in the first term of the Labor Government. And it has been effective in terms of putting a price on carbon and seeing a growth in the renewable energy sector by something like 30 per cent.
You can’t have a plan for infrastructure, as Tony Abbott says, while wanting to destroy the NBN, while opposing any public transport investment by the national government, and while opposing investment in clean energy.
LINDA MOTTRAM: The economic statement out last week though, there was a big blow out in the deficit to $30 billion in a very short period of time. Some would say you failed to judge and manage the end of the mining investment boom despite plenty of evidence it was coming.
Australia’s competitiveness has been buffeted now; we are looking at a higher jobless rate. Plus the divisions in the Labor Party. How can voters trust you with that record?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You look at what occurred last week with the economic statement. The Federal Government – any federal government – does not control the global economy. And we have had, due to the China resources boom and the demand for our resources diminishing, a reduction in commodity prices. That’s had an impact on our revenues and a write down in revenues. That would have occurred whoever was in government.
What we did though was be honest about that, say that’s a challenge and put together a plan to deal with that write down what we confronted. And we did that in a very open and transparent way just a couple of days before the election was called because we feel that you have to be frank with the Australian people about the challenges ahead. And you have to put up what the solutions are and we’ve done that.
In terms of our internals, there is no point pretending there haven’t been internal difficulties in the past, but that is behind us. We are a united team behind Kevin Rudd.
Malcolm Turnbull is running around the country – if you want to know how popular he is, just ask him. He will tell you.
LINDA MOTTRAM: But how is Kevin Rudd ‘new politics’ as he’s terming it? He is part of the old politics, isn’t he?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Certainly not. He is about the future. Kevin Rudd is someone who is about having a positive plan. The old politics of division, Tony Abbott is a master of trying to inflame.
This is a guy who has called for a peoples’ revolt to bring down the Parliament. This is a guy who spoke in front of those extraordinary banners about Julia Gillard at the front of Parliament House. This is someone who has on every policy issue just taken a negative stance and now, in the coming five weeks, he will have to actually put up something about his own plans.
We saw last week in terms of education, having said that Gonski was ‘conski’, having said that there was no new funding. Even just the day before they came out and said oh well we’re sort of for it but we’re only for it for four years, and the state governments will be able to rip out money as the Federal Government puts in extra money for education.
LINDA MOTTRAM: Mr Albanese, one of the first election announcements seems to be dipping into the contingency reserve to prop up the car industry. Seriously dipping into the contingency reserve up an old industry?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Seriously Linda this was all a part of the economic statement that we did on Friday. There were some decisions taken but not announced. Negotiations have been taking place with the car industry.
We are a great supporter of Australian manufacturing. The car industry plays a vital role in that and we make no apologies for supporting those jobs and the other jobs that come from the motor vehicle industry.
There’s a reason why nation states around the world try to have a car industry. There’s only three of four in the world that can make a car from go to whoa; the whole process. Australia is one of them.
It’s very important that we maintain this industry because we need to diversify the economy. We need to have other support for manufacturing as well. The NBN will be really important in terms of smart manufacturing, gearing up Australia for the challenges ahead. But there are also opportunities due to the growth in our region.
LINDA MOTTRAM: One of our contributors on Facebook – we put a question out last night asking what policy areas people are interested in – and one of our contributors says why not get rid of middle class welfare and they list baby bonus, parental leave, private health rebate and child care rebate.
Is that something you need to turn your mind to get the budget back into balance?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look we went through our economic statement on Friday, so we’ve indicated where our priorities are. We’ve made some difficult decisions, and have been criticised for it.
The Opposition start with a $70 billion black hole, then they want to oppose every single savings measure which is put up, and pretend that somehow that will all add up and they won’t even submit their costings to Treasury.
What we’ve done is we think get the balance right. We don’t want to see cuts to the bone in education, in health.
We’ve seen state governments around the country – Coalition governments – do that. We think that undermines long term growth and long term employment, and don’t think that is the way forward.
LINDA MOTTRAM: There are so many other policy areas, I’m sure we’ll have a chance to talk during the five week campaign. Thanks very much for your time Mr Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look forward to talking to you again.
LINDA MOTTRAM: Thanks. Anthony Albanese, the Deputy Prime Minister, joining us there.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.