Aug 5, 2013

Transcript of interview – Today Show

Subjects: Newspoll; Choice at the Federal Election; Tony Abbott’s refusal to debate Kevin Rudd; Australian economy; Daily Telegraph editorial. 

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Right now Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is in our Parliament House studios. G’day Anthony.


KARL STEFANOVIC: Today’s poll is not flash for you. You aren’t going to change leaders again are you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  We have made our choice and we are very confident that our positive plans for the future will be contrasted with Tony Abbott and his negativity. You can’t get through a campagin just saying no, no, no Karl. He will have to come up with a policy eventually.

We, in contrast, have serious plans for the future on education with the Better Schools plan; we had Victoria sign up yesterday. On the National Disability Scheme, on the National Broadband Network.

All of these policies and plans are out there dealing with the challenges of the future represented by the decline in the China resources boom. This is a time where we need a steady hand, not someone who is reckless. Might have been a good Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, no question about that. But he’s not up to being Prime Minister.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Tough way to start the campaign though with those poll results this morning, and also those economic figures towards the end of last week especially when you are basing things on trust. He’s calling himself Kevin Rudd the underdog, but hadn’t you hoped the changes he made in the last couple of weeks would have led to better poll results?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Look Karl, we start off the election campaign slightly behind, but we are certainly competitive. Tony Abbott has refused to debate Kevin Rudd, he’s not ready for a debate tonight. Kevin Rudd is up for it, as he has been up for three debates over asylum seekers, over climate change, over the economy, debt and deficit.

He has been prepared to debate Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott has been running from the debate as he ran from Parliament during the last term.

But you can’t keep running from debates and during this campaign we are very confident about our vision for the future – our positive plan with new ways such as the National Broadband Network, which will support new industries. As opposed to Opposition who have been pretty good at the negative politics but I think Australians want more than that.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Alright, you have said that it’s about trust – Kevin Rudd said it was about trust yesterday – you have got to build up trust based on the past and the past hasn’t been terrific for you. I’m taking a look at pink batts, the BER, the carbon tax, chopping and changing leaders, incidents with Eddie Obeid, the list is very long and it’s very hard to overcome.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Let’s have a look at that Karl. The BER – there are school facilities, new libraries, new school facilities right around every school in Australia now. There were less than one per cent of issues with it. I tell you what, if I get 100 trades people into my home and there is less than one per cent of difficulties after they leave, that’s not a bad outcome.

What we did was see Australia through the Global Financial Crisis in partnership with the Australian people and the business community. We’ve shown that we can make the big calls and get them right. We did that.

If you compare Australia with the rest of the world, we have low inflation, we have low interest rates, we have relatively low unemployment, we have higher workforce participation, we have economic growth.

The fundamentals are good but there are risks in terms of what is occuring in China, the writedown in the global economy meant that we had to deal with that last week. We dealt with it honestly and upfront Karl. We didn’t try to guild the lily and slide through until after the election –

KARL STEFANOVIC: It’s always better to be honest about your stuff ups.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’re not responsible for the entire global economy Karl –

KARL STEFANOVIC: I understand that, I understand that. Let’s move on though. What about the Daily Telegraph this morning? They don’t hold back. Look who’s back, Col Allan with that front page, “Kick this mob out” and the editorial doesn’t miss:

“Kevin Rudd is the leader of a Government that attempted to intimidate a free media into docile compliance, silence. Kevin Rudd is the leader of a Government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax, a Government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus, a Government that in the end didn’t keep its word on a 2013 election date.”


ANTHONY ALBANESE: Pretty extraordinary, and I think Australians are a bit smarter than looking at that headline and going oh well, that must be right. They will look for what the agenda is behind the headline.

It’s not terribly subtle and in terms of the media, I reckon Telegraph readers will be picking that up and thinking well I deserve better than that as a Telegraph reader. That is an extraordinary intervention on day one of an election campaign.

We saw headlines last week all along the same way, and guess what Karl, if we hadn’t called the election yesterday the Daily Telegraph front page would have been why haven’t they called the election? Today they bag us on page one for calling the election!

KARL STEFANOVIC:  You’ve got a fight with News Limited at the start of your election campaign, that’s not flash.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: They will make their own judgments. We do have a free media in Australia, but we also have freedom to look at it critically. And people will look at it critically. People will wonder what discussions have taken place in order for a headline like that to occur.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Alright, well we will let the intrigue continue. I want to finish with this one though, it’s been an interesting start to the campaign. I don’t want it all to be about negativity though. I’m going to ask you this question, Anthony, we’ve known each other for a while now. What’s the best thing about Tony Abbott?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think his commitment to family is very genuine and I think that is important. I get on with him okay outside of politics, and he is a believer in the Liberal Party and in their brand. I am a believer in the Labor Party. I respect that.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Well answered my friend, well answered. Good luck in the campaign, we will see you along the way.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Thanks mate, good to talk to you.