Jun 2, 2019

Transcript of Press Conference – Sydney – Sunday, 2 June 2019

SUBJECT: Announcement of Federal Labor’s Shadow Cabinet.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today I announce Labor’s new team. It’s a strong team. I would back, person for person, Labor’s frontbench versus the Government’s bench every day of the week. The truth is that Scott Morrison,I’m sure, struggled to find people to fill his Cabinet positions and his Outer Ministry positions.

The difficulty for Labor is how to make the most of the incredible talents and capacities of people on our frontbench team and indeed throughout the entire caucus. This team has the talent and the experience to both hold the Morrison Government to account, but also to ensure that we develop an alternative program to take to the next election, in March 2022. It’s a team where you have a number of people with vast experience who’ve served in the Cabinet before,but a refresh with new talent coming in.

There will be four new members of my Shadow Cabinet. Senator Kristina Keneally will, of course, be Deputy Leader in the Senate but will also fulfil the important positions of being Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, as well as Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. She’s joined by Senator Katy Gallagher who will be Shadow Minister for Finance and Shadow Minister for the Public Service. An important role in our economic team, as well as being the Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. Terri Butler from Queensland will be the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water. Madeline King from Western Australia joins the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Minister for Trade in a major promotion which is most deserved. What that means when you look at our Shadow Cabinet line-up, together with other critical positions, including Richard Marles who as well as being Deputy Leader will be Shadow Minister for Defence – and Penny Wong as Leader in the Senate will be Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs – is that it is a very strong team indeed.

I want to particularly look towards the economic team that will be led by Jim Chalmers as the Shadow Treasurer from Queensland as well as Katy Gallagher from the ACT. A former Chief Minister in the position of finance. As well as that, we have a very strong economic team. Indeed, Brendan O’Connor will be the Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry as well as for Science and Small and Family Business.

The economic team that sometimes is forgotten by the Government is, of course, infrastructure. Catherine King will be the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development – aided as well by Jason Clare, who will be the Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government and the critical role of Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Andrew Giles as an Outer Minister will be Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure, making up the infrastructure team along with Carol Brown who will serve as the Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure. Murray Watt will have particular responsibility as a new Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, as well as taking up responsibility for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management. And I’m very pleased that Stephen Jones will take the job of Shadow Assistant Treasurer as well as Shadow Minister for Financial Services which, with the Royal Commission, will obviously play an important role. He’ll be assisted by Matt Thistlethwaite in that role and also Andrew Leigh will continue his good work as part of the economic team as the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and also for Charities.

We have an outstanding team being put forward here. I’m very pleased that Chris Bowen, who asked to move to a social policy area, will be the Shadow Minister for Health. Chris is very excited about a new challenge for him and I’m sure that he will fulfil that task with great credit to himself and to the Party.

Joel Fitzgibbon adds Resources to his Agricultural portfolio. It’s essentially a move back to the Primary Industries portfolio that used to exist at the Federal level. And Matt Keogh will give him particular support as Minister for WAResources.

Linda Burney will be the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians working with, of course, Pat Dodson as the Shadow Minister for Reconciliation with particular responsibility for Constitutional Reform. And Warren Snowdon who will work in that area, as well as across Northern Australia. I hope that Linda Burney can work closely with Ken Wyatt to advance the cause of First Nations people. Along with the father of reconciliation, Pat Dodson. And Warren Snowdon who brings so much experience to the team.

Mark Butler will continue in his role in climate change and energy. He has brought passion and commitment and rigour to that role.

Bill Shorten will perform the role which I think, he above anyone else, is made for. He of course made such an impact on Australian politics with his work on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. He will hold the Government to account and make sure that it is the people with disabilities who are at the centre of attention for that scheme as it is rolled out. As Shadow Minister for the NDIS as well as Shadow Minister for Government Services, which is the old Human Services portfolio, in which Prime Minister Morrison has made an announcement about the creation of Services Australia.

Tanya Plibersek will continue as the Shadow Minister for Education and Training. Don Farrell will continue in his role as Shadow Minister for Special Minister of State, as well as Sport. But he adds to that – Shadow Minister for Tourism – a portfolio close to my heart, and he will also assist me as Leader of the Opposition.

Mark Dreyfus continues as Shadow Attorney-General but will add to that Shadow Minister for Constitutional Reform. There are a range of constitutional questions which we need to deal with. The issues of recognition of First Nations people, the necessary move at some stage that we will have to do, to move to a republic with an Australian head of state. The issue of four year terms. Local government constitutional recognition. There is a big agenda there that needs to be worked through, and Mark has shown a capacity to work with people and bring people with him and I am sure that he will perform with distinction in that role.

Michelle Rowland will continue as Shadow Minister for Communications. And Julie Collins will continue as Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors. Obviously the Royal Commission is important there, but adding to her functions is Shadow Minister for Women.

Jason Clare will perform as the Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territory and Local Government as well as Housing.

Amanda Rishworth will add youth to her existing responsibilities in early childhood education.

In the Outer Shadow Ministry, Shayne Neumann will perform as Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel.

Clare O’Neil will perform with distinction, she has written books, done a lot of work about the future of work and where the Australian economy is going. And making sure that innovation and technology works for people rather than the other way around.

Pat Conroy has particular responsibility for international development and the Pacific. But we have also included with him the Shadow Minister Assisting forClimate Change, because we see when we deal with the Pacific you have to engage on the issue of climate change, as well as the issue of assisting on defence. Which is also, of course, an issue in our region and also procurement issues are as well.

In terms of the new Shadow Assistant Ministers, we also have an extraordinary team with some new additions there.

Ged Kearney brings a wealth of experience to skills and also to aged care as a former nurse.

Emma McBride has worked in mental health for 15 years. She is certainly the only qualified pharmacist in the Parliament, and has a great deal of experience as she does in terms of the issue of carers.

Carol Brown will also – as well the Infrastructure portfolio – advise on Tasmanian issues.

Kimberley Kitching will be the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, and has a particular responsibility for government accountability. That is holding the Government to account when it comes to waste.

Louise Pratt has been shifted to manufacturing, and Tim Watts will have responsibility for Communications and Cyber Security as well, which is an important task.

Graham Perrett re-joins the position of Assistant Shadow Ministers as the Shadow Minister for Education and Training. I first got to know Graham visiting TAFEs in his electorate. Where he was a former teacher and he particularly will play a role in Queensland that will be very important.

Matt Thistlethwaite adds Financial Services to the responsibilities he previously had for the republic.

Can I say in general, make some comments before taking questions: our economic team is particularly strong. Jim Chalmers will lead a very effective team. Bill Shorten, I pay tribute to him and he will play an important role in the rollout of the NDIS in particular, that is so critical that it is gotten right in the coming years.

In terms of the Shadow Cabinet, with Jenny McAllister serving as the Shadow Cabinet Secretary. There will be 12 men and 12 women sitting around the Shadow Cabinet table. They are all there on merit. 12 men and 12 women reflecting the balance in Australian society. All there on merit, and I am very pleased that we have been able to achieve that balance when it comes to the leadership team of two men and two women and the Shadow Cabinet team of 12 men and 12 women. I think it is a challenge for us returning to government. But I think this team is a major step forward in that.

And can I make one final comment of thank you to the entire Labor Caucus. Because as observers, including people in this room – would know – I can’t recall an announcement of a frontbench team on either side of politics that hasn’t leaked, at least in part. This did not leak. I consulted every single person who is on this list and many who are not. I treated them with respect and they engaged respectfully with me and I thank them for that. And I think it augurs well for the collegiate and unified nature of Labor going forward. That unity we will need, that unity we achieved over the last fortnight. It is just two weeks since we suffered a loss that disappointed so many people. But this team will be determined to ensure that the next time we are making an announcement it won’t be an announcement after an election loss, it will be one after an election victory. A precondition of that is unity. We have achieved that and we will, I am sure, achieve it going forward as well. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: You said that Chris Bowen asked to be moved into health, did his request trump Bill Shorten’s request to be moved into health?

ALBANESE: You can ask as many questions as you like about the private conversations that were held. I will treat people with respect. Bill Shorten is in an entirely appropriate portfolio, he welcomes it. I had respectful discussions with Bill and with the whole team. Chris Bowen is very pleased to have his portfolio as is Bill Shorten.

JOURNALIST: But did he want the health portfolio?

ALBANESE: Look, the fact that journalists got some things wrong and had health, defence, foreign affairs, a range of things, not coming from Bill Shorten, don’t blame me if you get things third-hand and you get it wrong. This is the right job for Bill Shorten. He looks forward to it with enthusiasm. He will do the job well. He is an important part of our team.

JOURNALIST: Have you had a conversation with him whilst …

ALBANESE: I have had a conversation with everyone and I am not about to tell you what the details of those conversations are.

JOURNALIST: That wasn’t my question.

ALBANESE: I am just trying to pre-empt them.

JOURNALIST: Given you’ve had conversations with him about what role he wants to fulfil, have you had a conversation about wrecking, undermining and sniping in your new administration?

ALBANESE: I don’t need to have conversations with anyone about the need for unity. We were united under Bill Shorten’s leadership and we will be united under mine.

JOURNALIST: So you haven’t had a conversation about it?

ALBANESE: You said you were not going to ask the question that you just asked. So let me tell you, and I’ll give you the big tip here: I don’t talk about private conversations, not even with you.

JOURNALIST: Is Mark Butler staying on as Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy a sign that the Labor Party will be keeping the existing emissions reduction targets and support for the NEG?

ALBANESE: It’s a sign that Labor takes climate change seriously. And that Mark Butler knows more about the climate change and energy portfolio than anyone else in our team and I include myself in that as a former Climate Change Shadow Minister.

JOURNALIST: Now that you have a Home Affairs Shadow Minister, does that mean you will preserve the portfolio if in power?

ALBANESE: Obviously the position we have as a shadow ministry is the one that we hope to take to an election and one that we hope to then implement if we were in government.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) for you to show a hard line on border security?

ALBANESE: Sorry?

JOURNALIST: Is it important for Labor to take a hard line on border security?

ALBANESE: We will take the same position that we have been taking. The same position that I have said which is that it is important, the issue of border security, and we will continue to do that. We have said that time and time again. We’ve outlined our policies and, indeed, our platform at the last National Conference was adopted unanimously.

JOURNALIST: Kristina Keneally has said in the past that she thinks there should be a Royal Commission into offshore detention. Is that something that you would consider as Labor Leader?

ALBANESE: No. We just lost the election by the way so we won’t be calling Royal Commissions into anything. Next.

JOURNALIST: When will you arrive at your position on whether to support the Coalition’s tax cuts or not?

ALBANESE: When we see the legislation. We won’t be taking theoretical positions. We will be methodical. We will look at legislation, we’ll then have a process of our shadow ministry, that is inclusive, and then we will make an announcement in that order.

JOURNALIST: The Coalition says it has got a very strong mandate for its entire package that people voted for. Will you support their mandate?

ALBANESE: Well they would say that, wouldn’t they? I don’t think anyone can argue that anyone has a mandate beyond the election.

JOURNALIST: But they won the election on that policy.

ALBANESE: And they are entitled to argue that on July 1 the tax cuts that they said they would implement – let’s be clear about who is breaking a mandate. The Government is breaking the mandate that they have, which is tax cuts to come into place on July 1. I have said, repeatedly, bring the Parliament back. One speaker a side, through the House, through the Reps. There is a cost to it,but we could even have a pairing arrangement so everyone didn’t have to come if need be, because Labor will support the tax cuts that come into being on July1, that they promised they would do. It is the Government that is breaching its own commitment to the Australian people. As for tax cuts beyond the election that we have just had, that is into the next term. We will give consideration when we actually see what the Government has put forward and we will do that consistently and in terms of my comments, I understand the need for fresh footage but if you ask the same question you will get the same answer.

JOURNALIST: Last week you said there were vested interests that played a role in the election result. What did you mean by vested interests?

ALBANESE: I think you know what I mean.

JOURNALIST: Well I’d like for you to spell it out.

ALBANESE: Vested interests, people who don’t support the Labor Party. Next.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that the trade unions …

ALBANESE: Hang on. Just because you sit at the front doesn’t mean that you get every question. There are others.

JOURNALIST: What do you mean by vested interests?

ALBANESE: Thank you. Well if you can’t work that out. Some people campaign in terms of vested interests that they want to preserve their power and influence in society.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that trade unions have a vested interest in the election result?

ALBANESE: Everyone has a vested interest. And they campaign accordingly. But I have not shied from the outcome. We lost the election. We got the votesof one in three Australians. We need to do much better.

JOURNALIST: Just on the listening tour you plan on going on, what are you going to be asking people? What do you want them to tell you?

ALBANESE: What I don’t want to do is say: ‘here’s what I want you to tell us’. That’s not listening, that is telling, and what I have done this afternoon – I will be flying to Launceston. I have a meeting at a club there, it has been widely advertised. Tomorrow, I will be in Launceston again, I am meeting with the Mayor of Launceston and I have other meetings on as well. Then I fly to Brisbane, we will have the first Shadow Ministry meeting in Brisbane on Tuesday. I will then fly on Tuesday afternoon to Mackay where I will be talking to people there in Mackay and also on Wednesday. All of the itineraries haven’t been finalised yet. You have got to understand that my staff who are here in this room, magnificent as they are, I’ve only got three of them. And that is what I had prior and we are obviously finalising those issues. I will be making announcements about staff appointments, including my Chief of Staff, on Tuesday. Thanks very much.

ENDS