Transcript of interview on ABC Radio National Breakfast
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP – MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS
E & OE – PROOF ONLY
Subject: Election campaign; differences between the parties; Labor’s policy to address homelessness; key moments of the campaign
Friday, 23 November 2007
FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese is Labor’s Manager of Opposition Business in the House. He joins us now from Sydney.
Anthony Albanese good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Fran.
FRAN KELLY: Are you nervous?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Oh, I’m always nervous the day before an election campaign. It’s been a long, long campaign, a conscious decision by the government to drag it out. And what’s been extraordinary is that over this long, long campaign they haven’t put forward any positive plans. And what we heard from Alexander Downer then was just more of the same; more of the scare tactics, trying to scare people out of voting Labor.
FRAN KELLY: Well, Labor keep—you and others—keep saying the government doesn’t put forward any new plans, they keep saying they’re going to hear slogans out of Kevin Rudd. I don’t know what the wash up of all this will be, nobody knows, but Kevin Rudd says it will be tight despite what much of the polling has told him for the last year. Tight but a Labor victory, is that your call?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I certainly think it will be tight. It is hard for us to win those 16 seats, but I think we have been putting forward plans for the future. Particularly about the longer term issues, the issues that this government—it’s beyond them to deal with: climate change and water; broadband; child care; education. These are all issues that are beyond the capacity of the current government to even conceive as issues—with some of them.
I mean you still have had, during this campaign, climate change denial from senior members of the government including the Deputy Prime Minister.
FRAN KELLY: How do you factor in today’s Galaxy Polls? Is that a shock for you? Has it given you a bit of a scare?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, not at all. We’ve always said this will be tight and ….
FRAN KELLY: Yes, but that’s not what most of the polls show, and even another poll today says it’s going to be a landslide.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think it will be tight tomorrow, 16 seats is a lot. The value of incumbency, this government have really pumped up the resources to sitting members and we expect a very close result tomorrow. I’m very hopeful that Australia will vote for hope over fear, that they won’t be driven back to the government by their scare campaigns, that they’ll actually recognise that Labor has put forward positive plans out there and including on … we saw again the union scare campaign.
The big difference between Labor and the government was I think shown for me last night; the best event I’ve been to this whole campaign was going to the celebration of victory for the Tristar workers in my electorate. A group of workers who for 18 months were engaged in a dispute where they had to turn up to work every day, clock on with no work to do simply because the employer wanted to get rid of their redundancy entitlements. And because the third umpire has been taken away you had no way of resolving that dispute but the workers stuck together collectively and managed to achieve a good outcome. And I think that’s the big difference on IR will really come home to roost. Labor’s plan for fairness, flexibility and the government’s plan essentially to compete with our neighbours by driving down wages and conditions through WorkChoices.
FRAN KELLY: If you win, if Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister on Sunday, you’re a senior member of Labor’s left sometimes called the conscience of the party, the Labor left faction. Where has Kevin Rudd’s inspiration or vision been in this campaign? We haven’t had a Redfern Park Speech, a Light on the Hill Speech, anything like that, not a lot of passion or even not a lot of visible compassion coming out of the mouth of the Labor leader.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s not right at all. A whole lot of policies in this campaign have not received the publicity they deserve. For example Labor’s put forward a $150 million plan to deal with homelessness, to try and reduce by half the number of people who are turned away from refuges and accommodation provision for the homeless. Now in a place like the inner west of Sydney for services that … I have the highest number of boarding houses in my electorate for example, this is a real difference. And on the big vision, the big issue of our generation is climate change and the water crisis and we’ve put forward a comprehensive plan on that issue …
FRAN KELLY: Sure ….
ANTHONY ALBANESE: … ratifying Kyoto, 20 per cent renewable target by 2020; emissions trading system, a green car plan, dealing with housing, a comprehensive water plan that I released on Tuesday dealing not just with the Murray Darling Basin but with the urban water crisis …
FRAN KELLY: Okay Anthony …
ANTHONY ALBANESE: … the government hasn’t put out a water policy during this campaign.
FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese, I’m moving you on because we do need even time this morning, we will run out of time. Kevin Rudd said yesterday, again, if he wins he would be selecting his ministry, not the factions. Now you’re a head of the left faction, will you still be providing him with a list of your recommended ministers from the left? Will you be expecting to dictate that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, not at all. Kevin Rudd is, when he’s successful, I hope tomorrow, he will be the leader of the party whose delivered this victory. I think largely a lot of the old factional divisions, the world’s moved on and what we need is the best and most talented people on Labor’s front bench, Kevin will be selecting that and that position I believe will be unanimously indorsed by the Caucus.
FRAN KELLY: And in 30 seconds can you tell us what the defining moment of this campaign has been for you?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think the defining moment has been the debate where Kevin Rudd put forward new ideas and a vision and the government and John Howard essentially opened the cupboard and found it was bare – no new ideas, no reason to give them yet another term.
And I think the other defining moment is that John Howard’s only plan is a plan to retire. Why would you vote for someone who a majority of the Cabinet suggested should move on just two months ago?
FRAN KELLY: Okay we must leave it there. Anthony Albanese thanks for joining us.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to talk to you Fran.
FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese is Labor’s Manager of Opposition Business in the House.