Subjects: Drought, by-elections, Emma Husar, plastic bags, AFL, Parliamentary recess.
RICHARD PERNO: Anthony Albanese, afternoon. Welcome to Canberra Live.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day. Good to be with you.
PERNO: One hundred and ninety million dollars. What do you think?
ALBANESE: I think that is a good short-term measure. Obviously, what we are seeing here is a very severe drought that is having an enormous impact. So it is not just a matter of money. We need to make sure that appropriate facilities are in place to help those who might be going through a whole lot of anguish as a result of their experience. We know that in extreme circumstances far too many people on the land have taken their own life. We need to make sure there is a comprehensive suite of support for the farmers who have been impacted by this.
But we also need to, I think, make sure that we look at the longer-term issues. When Labor was in office we had a five-year plan was adopted by the ministerial council looking at adaptation – how we deal with the potential impacts of climate change; looking at land management issues; those longer term improvements. Now that’s essentially run out this year in 2018 and the ministerial council I think needs to be re-established to make sure that it looks at those long-term issues as well.
PERNO: Anthony Albanese, shouldn’t we have something in place all the time, no matter what shade of government is in? There should be some kind of criteria – checks and balances book, like a pilot gets into a plane, goes through the whole procedure – all the time.
ALBANESE: Well that is precisely what was put in place when Joel Fitzgibbon was the Minister some time ago – a five-year strategy is really important. We need to have that longer-term land management issue so that there’s a constant re-evaluation of practices and preparedness. Now, there are many farmers are certainly doing that. I know many years ago now, more than a decade ago, I was the Shadow Minister for Water and I went and had a look in areas like the Riverina and in western New South Wales and western Queensland at practices to make sure that water was conserved and that we maximised its use. Now a lot of the measures for the National Water Initiative were about that as well – improving irrigation practices. So it needs to be a constant issue, you are right. But when you have something acute like you have at the moment I think that the support that has been offered will be welcomed.
PERNO: But Anthony I have also had emails as you can understand at 2CC on Canberra Live, from farmers and primary producers. They know how to handle this stuff. They are not sissies. They know how to get through this sort of thing. The cash is pretty good. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through. They are worried about the farms that will get so much money, but if you are a single and with no kids you probably don’t get anything. They’d like things like fees and charges, rates and taxes to come down during this. The states have come to the party, giving subsidies for freight, but they would like some kind of real relief in regard to fees and charges and taxes. Now that could be done, couldn’t it?
ALBANESE: Look, I think that all reasonable measures should be looked at which take pressure off people. So short-term assistance, yes, but also long-term good practice put in place including a recognition – if the scientists tell us; the CSIRO tells us, that we are likely to have more extreme and prolonged droughts in the future.
PERNO: All right. Ironically Anthony, we had some rain across NSW and especially in Canberra, in the nation’s capital, and it’s still a bit drizzly too. On another issue, you are not the Leader of the Labor Party after the by-elections. What happened?
ALBANESE: That was never going to happen. What happened was what has happened for 100 years – traditionally …
PERNO: Come on Anthony, I’m tired of this: “Oh, we can’t change history’’. Make history!
ALBANESE: Well the fact is I am pleased that we didn’t make history. I am pleased that the Labor Party won all these by-elections. We had good candidates. We had good policies and the Government I think showed once again its lack of political acumen at the top when Malcolm Turnbull went around and portrayed himself as someone who was going to break history by being a Government Leader who won a by-election and quite clearly that wasn’t the case.
ALBANESE: They didn’t even stand in Perth or Fremantle of course.
ALBANESE: In Mayo in South Australia that was a diabolical result for the Coalition.
PERNO: It was too. To be fair I think the media if you like, well I suppose gave Bill Shorten a little bit of a hurry-up in regard to their – we sort of wiped Bill Shorten out: ‘Oh he’s going to lose, he’s going to lose the Opposition leadership and Anthony Albanese will take his place’. That didn’t happen. Hey, why don’t you go for another by-election?
ALBANESE: I’m not quite sure what you mean there.
PERNO: Maybe Emma Husar.
ALBANESE: No, Emma Husar has been elected and she continues to serve as the Member for Lindsay. There is of course an investigation underway about aspects of her office, but I don’t believe that it’s appropriate, given the investigation is taking place, to have a running commentary on it.
PERNO: No, no.
ALBANESE: It’s not in the interests of Emma or in the interests of the people who have made complaints.
PERNO: Are you standing by her?
ALBANESE: Well the investigation is taking place …
PERNO: Are you standing by her?
ALBANESE: Well I’m not quite sure what that means. People are entitled to proper processes and they’re entitled to assumptions that they haven’t done anything wrong until it’s been proven that they have done something wrong.
PERNO: All right. I think the report gets handed down on Friday and so it will depend on that. If it goes, I suppose we’re surmising here aren’t we, Anthony Albanese, if it goes against her, you’ll have to have a by-election won’t you? You’d boot her out?
ALBANESE: Well that’s nonsense. People can’t boot someone out. Emma Husar has been elected by the people of Lindsay. I do think the somewhat absurd argument that people can be drummed out of Parliament just shows yet again the media getting ahead of themselves.
PERNO: Oh dear.
ALBANESE: I refer to our previous discussion.
PERNO: Okay Anthony, well done.
ALBANESE: I know people need a headline in the media but they should actually think about things in a measured way.
PERNO: Look certainly, certainly. So you on Canberra Live on 2CC is headline enough, Anthony. We don’t need to seek a headline. We have you Anthony Albanese. Hey, what do you think about the plastic bag ban?
ALBANESE: I think it’s a good thing. It’s certainly operated, I think, in Canberra for a while and you learn to deal with it. You make sure that you have the reusable bags in your car to do shopping.
PERNO: Have you got your plastic bags in your car?
ALBANESE: I haven’t got plastic bags. I’ve got little canvas bags.
PERNO: Canvas bags?
ALBANESE: Canvas bags in the car.
ALBANESE: And I have been using them for well before the ban came in, because I find them convenient and I think it’s doing the right thing. I have – where I live is on the Cooks River that isn’t quite, you know, it’s not quite the greatest river in Australia. But we’ve been trying to make it better. And out there on the weekend there’s a local community group called The Mudcrabs.
ALBANESE: And they’re volunteers. They collected five huge, big bags full of plastic bags from the river. You know, it all ends up in waste. We know what that does to our oceans and it’s a good thing.
PERNO: Okay so I think you’re a, you know, a bit of a greenie somewhere in there. Do you drive a hybrid car?
ALBANESE: No, I don’t.
PERNO: So what do you drive? A big dirty great V8 Dodge, do you, that guzzles petrol?
ALBANESE: No I don’t, I don’t. In Canberra I have a Ford.
ALBANESE: And in Sydney, I have a Toyota.
PERNO: Okay, all right, so they’re not hybrids at all, not hybrids. Okay, the other thing I want to ask you, on a serious side, did you see that punch that downed that 18-year-old AFL player, what did you think?
ALBANESE: I thought it was a shocker. It did remind me, I was actually at the game – it was at ANZ Stadium when Barry Hall knocked out I think Brent Staker was his name, for the Eagles a number of years ago. I remember just watching it and being quite shocked. And this was shocking. I think there certainly is a case for the AFL if someone does an action like that, to just get rid of them, send them off. And make the team be a player short for the rest of the game. This was very early in the game and I think that sort of behaviour, if it was done not on a football field, would bring some pretty serious repercussions for the person perpetrating it.
PERNO: All right, you’re coming back to Parliament. What did you do during your break? Did you go overseas, did you, you know, take a junket anywhere or what?
ALBANESE: I worked mate, I worked.
PERNO: Did you?
ALBANESE: I went to Perth, Fremantle, Braddon and Longman a couple of times each. But I also went to Wagga Wagga and spoke at an aviation conference. I went to Parkes and spoke at the Inland Rail Conference. This week I’m down in Melbourne and Geelong. Last week I was in Frankston, the other side of Victoria. I’ve been to Mackay and Townsville. So you get around. It’s not the case that when Parliament isn’t sitting you don’t have work to do. Often what happens is that your diary ends up being even more full. But you do get a chance to do some more things in the electorate. I was speaking to year six of Dulwich Hill Primary School, on Friday and I was looking forward to that. The kids always ask the real questions.
PERNO: And did you have a chance to have some shipwrecked beer? Did you have a chance of that?
ALBANESE: I did. There’s this – Malt Shovel would be familiar to some of your listeners I’m sure. James Squire beer is located in Pyrmont Bridge Road, Camperdown, which is the same street I grew up in. Chuck Hahn started what was really the first craft brewery that sort of grew in Australia. There were a couple in individual pubs down at the Rocks and various places. But he started a business to compete. They’ve discovered this beer called The Wreck which is from yeast from the wreckage of the Sydney Cove, that was wrecked off Launceston in 1797 and the yeast is still alive. So somehow, they managed to create a beer out of this. It will be a pretty limited edition and we had a little bit of a launch function in my electorate last week. That was that was not an onerous task, I must say.
PERNO: No, that was a more gentle part of it all. Well, I don’t know whether we’ll get a headline out of any of that stuff we talked about, but it was still nice. Anthony Albanese – Member for Grayndler, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and Shadow Minister for Tourism. Appreciate your time this afternoon let’s catch up again very soon. Enjoy Parliament won’t you?
ALBANESE: Great to talk with you.
MONDAY, 6 AUGUST, 2018