Oct 28, 2007

Transcript of media conference – Leichhardt Oval

Subject: Federal Labor announces funding for Leichhardt Oval; Malcolm Turnbull’s suggestion that the Government ratify the Kyoto Protocol; Climate Change; Maxine McKew’s campaign in Bennelong.

ALBANESE: Thanks everyone for coming today to this historic ground, Leichhardt Oval.

I’m very pleased as the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, as well as the local member here, to be announcing that a Rudd Labor Government would commit $3 million to upgrade Leichhardt Oval.

Leichhardt Oval is a historic ground. It plays an important role in the community, and I can well remember, one of the highlights of my younger years, being about the same age as the young lads here from the clubs in the Balmain Junior District, playing on this ground.

Labor wants future generations to have those same opportunities. We also think it’s critical that Wests Tigers continue to play at least three, but hopefully more home games here at Leichhardt Oval.

The excitement that was generated in the second last round of this season, when Wests Tigers played Souths here at the Oval, shows the commitment that is out there in the rugby league community, and from all those who gain a great deal of pleasure from following the great game of rugby league on local, community based ovals.

There’s no oval in Australia that’s better than Leichhardt Oval for the sort of spirit that comes out, that was shown at that game and at other Leichhardt Oval games.

The truth is that Leichhardt Oval has been neglected in past years. The Federal Government has refused to put any money into this ground, in spite of the fact that John Howard represents the area where juniors come from in terms of the Balmain District, and Maxine will have more to say about that.

But it is also important not just for Wests Tigers and rugby league, but for other sports, that the upgrade includes a resurfacing of the playing area here including proper drainage. It needs refurbishment of the amenities here at the Oval for the fans who come here, and it needs better seating.

It also needs a modernisation of the facilities here in terms of corporate facilities and media facilities so that Wests Tigers can actually get a decent income from home games here at the Oval.

I’m pleased that in the past, the State Government has given support to this refurbishment, and of course Leichhardt Council has a critical role to play in the refurbishment here as well.

This is an important local infrastructure announcement. The Oval plays a critical role in our local community, and I’m very pleased that Kevin Rudd has given his support, that a Labor Government would contribute this $3 million to what is overall a $7.8million refurbishment plan that has been developed by Balmain Tigers.

Can I say, for the Tigers, they deserve a great deal of congratulations, because they have developed a coherent plan of refurbishment across the board. This is a comprehensive plan that will benefit the club, benefit the local community, and have a great deal of long term benefit for the young people in our community. We know that this area doesn’t have a lot of space, we need to maximise the use of the space that is here, and a Rudd Labor Government will ensure that happens.

I’ll hand over to Maxine McKew to say a few words, and then Royce Simmons is going to say a few words on behalf of Wests Tigers.

MCKEW: Thanks Anthony. I welcome this upgrade of Leichhardt Oval. As Anthony says, this is going to benefit many people directly in this community, but also beyond the boundaries here of Anthony’s electorate of Grayndler – the fact that 50% of the registrations here come from the Bennelong area.

You’ve got terrific clubs like North Ryde Hawkes and Holy Cross, they play here, so we’re going to see some wonderful cross-border competition, Anthony!

I welcome this today, particularly I think it’s important to note that this feeds the great game of rugby league, but an upgrade of this kind, the work on the grounds, on the public amenities, will mean that the wider community can use the facilities here, whether it’s school groups or say the local police associations.

I think it’s a sensible use of an investment from the Commonwealth, and it’s part of a partnership, as we know, there are other funding sources that are going to make this the great oval all that it can be for these multiple uses.

ALBANESE: Thanks Maxine, now Royce Simmons on behalf of Wests Tigers..

SIMMONS: Thank you. My first memory of this ground was 1980 when I came here to play in the Amco Cup, that was a long time ago obviously, but back then it was –

ALBANESE: Todd Payton says he was aged one .

SIMMONS: Back then, it was the number one ground. We used to love to come here of a Wednesday night and play, had the great lighting, had all the good facilities, the surface was tremendous, and I had many great clashes here. When you came here, the atmosphere was always probably the best in the League, and still when you come here today, the atmosphere is tremendous.

Unfortunately the surface of the ground is not up to scratch, and the facilities. We need to get them all fixed up again, and the Wests Tigers players I know love playing here and would love to see it fixed up and in order, for us to play here for many years to come. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Thanks Royce. Anyone have any questions?

JOURNALIST: With regards to Mr Turnbull yesterday and the Kyoto Protocol and how it was revealed that he was going to sign it before hand, do you have any comment?

ALBANESE: What Malcolm Turnbull has done is bell the cat on the Government’s failure on climate change.

We know that way back in 1997, the Government actually signed the Kyoto Protocol, but is one of only three countries that signed the Protocol but didn’t ratify it, the other two being the United States and Kazakhstan. Australia, along with the US and Kazakhstan, has been isolated from global action on climate change as a result.

We know that the Government talked itself up, about how the APEC Conference was going to lead to an international agreement on climate change, and we know that it basically didn’t produce anything except for words.

What we know is that in Bali later this year, the Kyoto Protocol will be having its third meeting as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Because climate change is a global challenge, it requires a global solution, and that global solution will be undertaken through the Kyoto Protocol.


That meeting will be discussing the second commitment period of Kyoto, which will be after 2012, but because of Australia’s isolation, we won’t have an impact on the framework and structure of Kyoto after 2012, because we’ll be excluded from some of the meetings that take place at the Bali conference.

Now, Malcolm Turnbull has recognised that, after less than a year as the Climate Change Minister. It’s a pity that the Government remains dominated by climate change sceptics.

Labor has a plan to be part of the global effort. If Labor is elected on November 24, Labor will ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and take our seat at the table at the Bali Conference in December and be able to have real influence over the post-2012 structure of Kyoto. In the meantime, we will also be announcing practical plans to address climate change and the water crisis.

Kevin Rudd and Labor have real plans. The Howard Government, dominated by climate sceptics, has done nothing over 11 and a half years of climate change denial.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday this information was leaked about Mr Turnbull saying that he was considering ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, and it’s come out today saying that possibly he leaked that to the media to make him look better in his electorate ahead of the upcoming polls, obviously that’s not something that’s really responsible?

ALBANESE: This is a Government that’s desperate and it’s divided. Malcolm Turnbull represents himself first and everyone else second. He’s dominated by self-interest.

This follows the leaking of the plan to remove John Howard as Prime Minister. [interruption – aircraft noise]

It’s clear that the Government is divided on this issue. The leaking of this cabinet discussion follows the leaking of the fact that a majority of John Howard’s Cabinet wanted him to resign two months ago, and I think the Australian public will be saying to themselves, if John Howard’s own Cabinet don’t think he should lead the nation, then why should we vote for him to lead the nation for a short period of time before he retires and then hands over, perhaps to Peter Costello, or perhaps to someone else.

We know that if the Howard Government is re-elected on November 24, the internal division and fighting will start again on day one: the fight over who will replace John Howard, the fight over who will be the Deputy Leader, the fight over who will be the Treasurer in that Government.

It’s quite clear that as much as Malcolm Turnbull tries to distance himself from the Howard Government’s atrocious record on climate change and addressing the water crisis, he is very much a part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The solution is electing a Rudd Labor Government.

JOURNALIST: Maxine can I ask you how you think the election campaign is going so far?

MCKEW: Nationally or in Bennelong? I’m pretty focused on Bennelong, as you can imagine.

Look, there’s no doubt there is a mood for change. I was out doorknocking yesterday, and it was really interesting, across a range of groups, whether they were senior Australians, young families, people who have perhaps moved into the electorate, they’re expressing the same kind of concerns around housing stress, cost of living rises, particularly child care, that’s a big issue in Bennelong. I was with the playgroup this morning, they’re having a big open day, lots of young families there, and I was just talking to Verity about this, there’s no doubt there’s a great baby boom underway, but what do young families want? They want affordable child care, which is what Labor promises.

Kevin came out with a terrific announcement only last week, which is to raise the child care rebate from 30% to 50%, and importantly, for families to be able to claim that in quarterly instalments. That is really something that will help working families with their day to day living expenses.

So I have to say, those kinds of things are being expressed to us, day in, day out, whether it’s John in Lowe, I’m getting that in Bennelong, Anthony’s getting it here in Grayndler, there is a common thread to all of this, and more and more people are saying that we really feel this is a Government that has fundamentally lost touch, and it is time for a change.

People are responding to Kevin’s leadership, they want a new leadership and they want the fresh ideas that Kevin is presenting in very tangible policies. They can see that he’s offering practical solutions on all these things – child care costs, solutions around housing stress, and importantly, what Anthony’s just been talking about – a comprehensive approach to tackling the great challenge of our age, climate change.

JOURNALIST: If the polls are correct and you swing in, is there a position in a Rudd Government that you are particularly interested in?

MCKEW: I can’t even imagine that day! I tell you what I’m imagining – I’m imagining getting up tomorrow morning and going out and arguing for a few more votes.

C’mon, I’m in the tightest race of all. It’s a winnable seat for Labor, but I’m up against the Prime Minister, so I’m not thinking about big swings, or romping in or anything like that. I’m thinking of what I have to do to tomorrow to go out and argue the case, and get a few more votes, and we’ll see what happens on the 24th.

ALBANESE: I’d like to acknowledge the Member for Balmain, Verity Firth, my parliamentary colleague John Murphy, of course Maxine, and the Leichhardt Councillors that are here, Alice Murphy and Damian Cobley-Finch. I’d also like to acknowledge Wests Tigers Assistant Coach, Royce “good for two tries in a Grand Final” Simmons and Todd Payton and the officials of Wests Tigers who have worked hard on producing a comprehensive plan for Leichhardt Oval.

But particularly to the kids from North Ryde Hawks, from Holy Cross Ryde and from Carlingford Cougars who are here today.