Sep 17, 2012

Transcript of Interview – Sky Am Agenda with Kieran Gilbert

Issues: Polls; Coalition’s negativity; Sydney protests; Pacific Highway

KIERAN GILBERT: First though the Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese.  Thanks for your time.


KIERAN GILBERT: Your colleagues will be buoyed by these numbers.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Polls come and go.  We don’t get overexcited or depressed by a poll from day to day.  But there’s no doubt that there’s a trend out there that reflects Tony Abbott’s scare campaign that on July 1 the sky was going to fall.

I mean, this is a campaign that has hit a brick wall of reality.  Reality has hit the rhetoric and reality’s winning.

KIERAN GILBERT: So you’re putting it down totally to the – your view that the carbon tax is waning.  Is that the turnaround here?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   That’s certainly a big element.  The other elements are our management of the economy.  Essentially, if you look at the rest of the world, we’re doing extremely well.

On any indication, growth is there, unemployment’s down, we have inflation under control – all the key economic indicators.

If you look at our management of the big issues – education, we’ve got a big reform agenda. We’ve got a big reform agenda in the NDIS, in health and in my area of infrastructure and transport.

But the other side of the ledger, they have a look at Tony Abbott and they just see destructive negativity.

KIERAN GILBERT: Well, that’s what the Coalition is saying about you.  In this poll, they’re saying that it’s largely the result of personal attacks against Tony Abbott’s character.  Is that the ALP strategy, because we have seen that’s been the main focus over the last week?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   If you look at Tony Abbott, what you see is someone who is engaged in destructive negativity every single day.

It’s not our fault that he goes out and does a doorstop in order to get his robocall out – you know, press one for scare campaign on carbon price, press two for scare campaign on asylum seekers.

That’s all we get. Malcolm Turnbull belled the cat on the Coalition a couple of weeks ago when he spoke about their negative tactics in Question Time and last week we had the same.

KIERAN GILBERT: The Government’s been doing a fair job of its own at being negative.  You’ve been going at his character for the last week or two.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ve been out there explaining our agenda for the nation.  That’s what I’ve been doing both in Parliament and outside. I was in Adelaide, Port Augusta and Brisbane in between last sitting week and today and I’ve been engaged in that positive agenda, which I think really contrasts with Tony Abbott, who people just see and think what’s he got, what’s he got?

He’s like the sort of pugilist who goes in there swinging punches, haymakers everywhere, and when it doesn’t land and he’s out of puff, what else is there?

KIERAN GILBERT: I want to ask you about a few other issues.  Your electorate is in the inner west of Sydney.  What did you make of the riot at the weekend?  Obviously some really disturbing images there for many Australians watching them on the television, seeing them in the newspaper.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   I was disgusted and disturbed by it.  I think the worst image on the weekend was that of the young child holding up that quite horrific banner that obviously had been given to the child by an adult.  What sort of mentality gets you to that point? We’re a tolerant society.  We need to make sure that we continue to reinforce that tolerance and multiculturalism.  At the same time, we need to say as a community what everyone is saying, including, importantly, the leaders of the Islamic community, that this is just unacceptable.

KIERAN GILBERT: Have they been strong enough, do you think, those from the Islamic community organisations?  Have they been strong enough, quick enough in their condemnation?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I saw Barry O’Farrell yesterday morning on Sky Agenda.  I think he did a very good job of talking about how he’d spoken with the Islamic leadership.  They’ve were out there with their statements immediately.

KIERAN GILBERT: All right.  Just finally on the Pacific Highway.  This is your area of responsibility.  The Coalition says it’s going to throw more money at this.  It’s showing  commitment to it, to finishing it.  Is it time the Government did up your stake in this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   This is a mob that put $1.3 billion in over 12 years. We’ve already invested $4.1 billion.  We’ve put another $3.5 billion on the table.  If matched by New South Wales, that would mean the duplication can be finished by 2016. What they’re doing is giving a green light for delay. And Warren Truss on yesterday’s Australian Agenda program reinforced the fact that this would mean a delay until at least 2020.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay, all right.  Anthony Albanese, I’m sorry we’re out of time, but I appreciate your time this morning.  Thanks.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Good to be with you.