Subjects: Labor prospects in rural and regional Australia, Adler shotgun; Donald Trump, Malcolm Turnbull.
REPORTER: You are out in Dubbo today. Given some of the problems the Nationals have had in regional NSW, do you see this as fertile ground for the Labor Party?
ALBANESE: Well there’s a real opportunity for Labor to fill the void that is there from the lack of representation from the National Party. Dubbo is the seat where Troy Grant, the State Member, has just had to resign as the Deputy Premier of NSW. We’ve had a fiasco over the Backpacker Tax that became the Backtracker Tax during the 18 months of uncertainty that was created for people in regional Australia, particularly those on farms and in the tourist sector. People in the bush are sick of the lack of representation and Labor has an opportunity to fill that void.
REPORTER: There are reports today that the Prime Minister and the premiers are close to striking an agreement on a new D licence for the Adler shotgun. What do you think people in Dubbo and that kind of regional area would think about this? It’s an effective ban.
ALBANESE: Well I think in terms of the response to it, it’s important that we learn the lessons of the past. There has been a bipartisan support for gun control in Australia. A category D licence would enable people who require access to the Adler gun to have it, but ensure that those people who don’t need that access don’t have it. What we have here though again is more uncertainty over a period of time and I think there will be concern about that uncertainty. The government needs to get on top of these issues and make decisions.
REPORTER: Just heading overseas, how concerned should we be about Donald Trump’s call to Taiwan?
ALBANESE: Well I think that the understanding that has been there from the international community of a One China policy has been an essential component of ensuring that post the end of the Cold War in particular, that we have peaceful international engagement between China and Western powers such as the United States. That One China policy should be maintained and it’s important that for global stability that that is the basis of moving forward. We do have a range of issues that could cause instability in our region and it is in Australia’s interest for there to be co-operation from the super power of the United States and the emerging super power of China.
REPORTER: What does the Australian Government need to do in terms of managing the relationship with our biggest security partner and our biggest trading partner, given what has happened overnight?
ALBANESE: Well Australia needs to engage with the United States as our most important ally but also have engagement with our region. And in particular China has a very important role to play as a trading partner but also as a significant player in the Asia-Pacific region.
REPORTER: Do you think it is a worrying sign of what is to come under a Trump Presidency?
ALBANESE: Well I think it is the case that you do have, or you will have, a new administration that will be sworn in in January. It’s important that that administration continue the positive role that the United States has played in international affairs. And what it will need to do is to get on top of what the issues are and not create any unnecessary conflict.
REPORTER: Just back to local issues, Bill Shorten said during the week he doesn’t think he will be facing Malcolm Turnbull at the next election. What do you think about that? Do you think that might be because you will be Labor Leader by then?
ALBANESE: Well we will wait and see. The only political instability that is there at the moment is from the Coalition. You have a Coalition that is divided; that can’t get on top of issues and my concern isn’t the impact that that is having on the internal politics of the Coalition Government, it’s the impact it is having on the Australian people because they are not governing. Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott; he doesn’t have a plan to govern and when people see Malcolm Turnbull, they are still hearing Tony Abbott. People want politicians who are authentic. Malcom Turnbull has turned away from a range of policies that he has held his entire life.
REPORTER: So you are not ruling out a scenario where you would be the Labor Leader in the near future?
ALBANESE: Look the Labor leadership has been settled and the Labor team is united with Bill Shorten as our Leader. The instability that is occurring is on the other side of politics, is with Malcolm Turnbull and it is unclear what will happen. It’s very clear that Tony Abbott would like to come back. He’s putting an ad out there once a week to come back to the Cabinet. And we will wait and see what instability is caused by the impending reshuffle. Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t have a choice but to reshuffle because his team frankly have been hopeless at performing since the July election. There has been a range of uncertainty. The only legislation that they have managed to get through Parliament is legislation that they have emasculated and a totemic example of that is the Backpacker Tax that was brought in, created 18 months of uncertainty, meant that farmers couldn’t plant their crops because they weren’t sure that they would have backpackers to be able to pick them and they have now just given away the revenue which was the whole reason for the Backpacker Tax. This is a government that has failed to govern and just scraped through an election and seems to have no plan for the future. And any legislation, no matter how emasculated it is, they seem to claim that as a victory. I think Australians want to see a plan for jobs, a plan for education, a plan for health, a plan for high speed broadband and they are not getting that and people in regional Australia like here in Dubbo are feeling the impact of that in particular.
REPORTER: All right. Thanks so much Mr Albanese.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.