Subjects: Television, Banking Royal Commission, Labor, tax reform, craft beer.
RICHARD PERNO: Anthony Albanese, Member for Grayndler, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Tourism. It’s not over yet is it, Anthony? And I don’t know, do you think you’ve got a walk in the park? Or isn’t it a fait accompli yet?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well elections aren’t over until the polling booths close at 6 PM on election night and we’ll be working hard each and every day, each and every hour, between now and when the election is, which is likely to be either May 11 or May 18.
PERNO: OK, maybe if you’d been a part of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here it might have tipped it further in your favour.
ALBANESE: I don’t think anyone wants to see that.
PERNO: Would you go in if you were asked?
ALBANESE: Absolutely not. I think the idea of – I’m not a fan of most reality TV shows.
PERNO: Yes you are. You’re a part of reality TV every time you go into Parliament House, Anthony.
ALBANESE: I think that the idea that you’ll be paid money to eat insects and things is not on my radar, I’ve got to say.
ALBANESE: But good luck to people who do it. It’s a bit of fun I guess for them and they seem to enjoy it – most of them anyway.
PERNO: Jacqui Lambie I think was tipped out.
ALBANESE: I don’t watch it and that is news to me.
PERNO: Very good, very good.
ALBANESE: Jacqui Lambie’s actually a pretty good person.
PERNO: Yeah I think so. Can we get to something serious, Anthony Albanese? What do you want out of this Banking Royal Commission? They’re locked down now in Melbourne.
ALBANESE: Well what we want is recommendations that will change the behaviour of our financial institutions and our banks so that they continue to play an important role in lending for businesses, for home lending and for other activity in the economy, but they do so in a way which has integrity and they do so in a way which puts consumers first, not their profits first. And I think the abuses that we’ve seen with this Royal Commission that have come out, it’s one of the reasons why Labor argued for years for a Royal Commission to take place. It’s extraordinary that Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and the rest of the Liberals and Nationals voted against it on 26 separate occasions. But what’s clear is that it has been successful in exposing information that we wouldn’t have known about had the Royal Commission not been held.
PERNO: Scott Morrison says that our economy faces, and I quote Anthony, “significant consequences if the Banking Royal Commission triggers a credit crunch”. He goes on to say: “Well hang on a minute I’m going to look through these recommendations”. There are a lot of hurdles to jump over aren’t there before anything can actually happen? And a lot of the banking top echelon, and as you know Anthony Albanese, fish go rotten from the head, a lot of the heads of these institutions have seen the light, grabbed their gold watch and their pay out and gone. So they’re not going to – nothing’s going to happen to them.
ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see what the recommendations are. But certainly if there have been any breaches of the law found then there’s a requirement, and indeed an obligation, for the law to be applied, not just for working class people but for people at the top end of town as well. And that’s why we look forward to seeing what the recommendations are – to reading the report. We’ve said in principle we will support all of the recommendations unless there is some extraordinary reason not to do so. So that’s our starting point. And I think that the Government needs to get it through its head how out of touch that they are when it comes to the attitude towards the behaviour of the banks and many of the financial services.
PERNO: And, as you know Anthony, some of the horror stories that were given as evidence were just amazing – dead people being charged fees, you know fees being taken, and as you mentioned Anthony it was all about power and money over people, over customers. Why did it get to this stage where we had to have a Royal Commission? What happened to ethics and morality or does that go out when you and I were kids?
ALBANESE: Well it is a concern. I worked for the Commonwealth Bank, I’ve got to say, when I when I left school.
PERNO: What did you do?
ALBANESE: I had to talk to customers and try to convince them that there was this new fandangled thing called key cards that people use to get money out of holes in the wall. And I just went through – that largely is what I did over a period of many months – and just worked basically in the back section of the bank. I never made it to be a teller, but it was a good experience.
PERNO: I can imagine you as a teller. Can you imagine? “Hurry up lady (inaudible). Come on what do you want?”
ALBANESE: I’m always polite, Richard.
PERNO: “Come on, hurry up. We’ve got queue here. Come on, hurry up”. You didn’t coerce anybody did you to join up, did you?
ALBANESE: Not at all. It was existing customers coming through, but we were encouraging them to move on from the old passbook, of course, that you and I would remember; that if you said that to some of the young listeners they wouldn’t. They don’t know what we’re talking about.
PERNO: Not a thing, not a thing. And the old days when you’d all get dolled up in your Sunday best to go down and talk to the manager to try and borrow. You know, your mum and dad would take you down there with a tie up around your neck and your long socks and you’re long – you remember all those days don’t you?
ALBANESE: I never had long socks. I was never a shorts and long socks kind of guy.
PERNO: Weren’t you? I can see Anthony Albanese with long grey shorts, long socks, a little beret and a cute little smile.
ALBANESE: No, no, no.
PERNO: I just want to touch on a couple of things because we will be talking, Anthony Albanese, about the upcoming election. Your team appears to have got it all together? Would you agree with that?
ALBANESE: Look our team what we’re doing – the first thing is we’re a team, not a series of individuals fighting each other, which is what our opponents are. And we’ve been putting out consistent policy across the board – almost a policy a day for the last couple of years – and that’s a good thing. Tomorrow I’m travelling to Perth. I’ll have some more announcements while I’m in Perth and right around the country and right across portfolios I think we have a comprehensive plan to drive the economy through investment in infrastructure and investment in training and skills. We have a plan for education for early childhood education right through to tertiary education at TAFE and universities. We have a plan for health that has Medicare as its centrepiece. Today we announced another location of an MRI. We have a plan for science. We have a plan right across the board whether it be housing and the environment, with a plan to tackle the issue of climate change. I think I think we’re ready for government.
PERNO: You know one of the hurdles I think, and you know Anthony Albanese, you’re aware that we’re concerned about these franking dividends, that you want to dip into the pensioners pocket and not let them have.
ALBANESE: Well that’s not right of course, you’d be fully aware of that, all we’re saying there is pretty simply that you shouldn’t be able to get a tax refund if you haven’t paid any tax and that it is simply unsustainable for the level, which will rise to about $8 billion over the next few years if this issue isn’t addressed – far more than we pay for example for public schools throughout the entire country. That is simply unsustainable.
PERNO: But you are going to have a battle on your hands with that. You’ve got to agree with that?
ALBANESE: Well we’ve been very…
PERNO: Have you explained it? Have you explained what this is all about?
ALBANESE: Well we have been honest and transparent about it. We are not going to an election without saying how we are going to pay for our commitments. When this began the cost to the Budget was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Now it is in the many billions of dollars each and every year and simply you can’t have a tax system whereby there’s a whole section able to get a tax refund when they haven’t paid any tax.
PERNO: Hmm. Yes.
ALBANESE: Now common sense tells you that that is the case and that is why, when it was introduced by the Keating Government, you could not get the tax refunds if you hadn’t paid any tax. This is a reform that is necessary and it is necessary if we are going to have the Budget in a good position in future years.
PERNO: OK. Well I think that is going to be a battle that you are going have to really have get through and make sure you explain what it is all about Anthony Albanese. A shirtless Bob Hawke, beer in hand, featured in a new giant mural on a Sydney Pub, the Carlisle Castle in Newtown, and you were there.
ALBANESE: I was. I had the privilege of opening the mural.
PERNO: Did you open a can?
ALBANESE: Oh, we did that too.
PERNO: What does the beer taste like? I’m not a beer drinker. What does it taste like?
ALBANESE: Well Hawke’s Lager is a very good drop and importantly a portion of the profits, certainly anything that would be attributable to Bob Hawke and the endorsement, goes to Landcare. So at the same time you can have a beer and help the environment.
PERNO: Yes. Ok, that’s a long bow. Have a beer and help the environment?
ALBANESE: It’s just a fact.
PERNO: So long as you recycle the can I suppose.
ALBANESE: That as well. It’s a Scottie Marsh mural and he is a local in the Inner West in my electorate.
PERNO: Ah, there goes the rub. He is in your electorate. There we go.
ALBANESE: Of course he is.
PERNO: There’s we go.
ALBANESE: It’s a fun electorate. We have 16 craft brewers now in the electorate and I, with Joel Fitzgibbon …
PERNO: Sixteen craft brewers in the electorate of Grayndler where Anthony Albanese holds a party every Saturday night?
ALBANESE: Employing people in small business. It’s a great thing.
PERNO: So it tastes all right? I am not, as I say, a beer drinker.
ALBANESE: It’s a good drop.
PERNO: It’s a good drop. All right. Thank-you. Enjoy the rest of you day and we will talk in a week or two. Thank you Anthony.
ALBANESE: Thanks mate. Great to be on the program again.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.