SUBJECTS: Labor Party Leadership; coal fired power.
ALAN JONES: Good morning what do I call you? I mean, if ScoMo can be ScoMo, I suppose Albo can be Albo can’t he?
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ELECT: Absolutely Alan, that’ll do me.
JONES: How do you pronounce it? How do you pronounce that last name?
ALBANESE: Well correctly in Italian – this always looks weird in transcripts by the way – it’s Albanese. But I’m not precious about it. Albanese’s is the real Anglicisation of it. But Albanese is pretty close.
JONES: It’ll do you. It’s an interesting story is it not, which many people out there wouldn’t know. I understand you didn’t know the truth about your father until you were a teenager; that your mother told you that you are half Irish on her side and half Italian on your father’s side, and your father whom she’d met on a cruise had died in a car accident. But did she later tell you then that your father was most likely alive because your mother and father didn’t remain together after a brief relationship? Is he still alive?
ALBANESE: No he passed away in 2014. My mum did a very brave thing in 1961. She headed overseas on a on a cruise ship with her older brother who was performing on the ship. There she met my father and they had a relationship for a period of time as well. I think I was probably conceived in Southampton in the United Kingdom. She told him, he said that she was he was betrothed to someone from the small town in Puglia, where he was from in Italy. So she came back and very bravely had me by herself – a very brave thing to do in 1963 as a Catholic woman to have a child out of wedlock. But I guess it says something about the pressure that was put on young women that she told me and told the world that she had married him overseas, that he died in a car accident when I was, before I was born.
JONES: But you did track him down eventually didn’t you?
ALBANESE: I did, I did Alan. I tracked him down in 2009, December 2009. I met him for the first time and I was very much welcomed into the family. He was still married to the woman who he married just before I was born in January 1963 and I have a half-brother and half-sister over there. My birth certificate just has a dash next to Father.
I was meant to be adopted out and my mother – the nuns at the hospital there at Darlinghurst brought me into my mother because they knew that she didn’t really want to give me up. She was under some pressure and once she held me she was never going to give me up and she was a wonderful mother. She did it really tough. She lived for 65 years, every year of them in her house, it was a council house in Camperdown, and it was her anniversary actually on Saturday and so I’ve really missed her particularly last few days. It does say something great about Australia that someone with what were pretty humble origins to say the least, can be Deputy Prime Minister and now Leader of the Labor Party.
JONES: Yes and of course, get a university degree, I mean, those just extraordinary things and we tend to forget the sacrifice that people make. Politics can be an ugly game as we’ve seen of course with Theresa May in particular. But yes, you’ve spent six years in the Cabinets of Rudd and Gillard and you were Leader of the House, Deputy Prime Minister. Were you the author in any way of that absurd economic policy that Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten took to the electorate. Were you part of all of that?
ALBANESE: Well look, it’s, I’m responsible for all of the infrastructure policy that we took, and policies like the inquiry that I wanted to have been to the Inland Rail project that I spoke about on your program. But everything’s up for grabs. The truth is that we were soundly defeated at the election – we got one in three Australians to vote for us.
JONES: One in four in Queensland.
ALBANESE: That’s right and we need to do much better …
JONES: Stephen Conroy, Anthony, Stephen Conroy former Labor Senator and Minister in both the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard Government said last week: “The Australian people have clearly sent the message they are going to suffer further increases in electricity prices without a practical path forward. Labor has to stop, step back from the Greens-led that GetUp-led demonisation of coal. This can’t go on. It’s not going to win new national government.” Where do you stand in relation to coal fired power?
ALBANESE: Well look, coal fired power plays an important role in our economy. The truth is that it’s transitioning and we’re seeing an increased use of renewables. But I’ve taken on the Greens political party in my seat as you as you know Alan. I have a very different agenda – one that’s realistic, one that applies common sense solutions, and one that always ensures that people are at the centre of the economic equation.
We don’t view things in abstract. We don’t have that luxury and working people don’t have that luxury. I know what it’s like to do it tough and to worry about every last dollar. I’m not in that position now. I’ve been very fortunate thanks to the sacrifice of my mother and thanks to a bit of good fortune in my life. And thanks to the Labor Party to be frank – the party that you know I love and I’m very proud to be leading it.
JONES: Look you, just on that, you said you were going to undertake a listening tour and one of my listeners wrote to me and said “So, so couldn’t you hear the screams from retirees, property investors, families, coal miners, business and middle Australia about how destructive Labor’s policies were. I hardly think going on a magical mystery tour holding hands and singing Kumbaya is going to provide any comfort.” Did anyone in the Labor Party, seriously, and I kept on asking this but of course Mr Shorten and Co boycotted this program which you’re not doing and we’re always happy to hear from you.
ALBANESE: Something I’ve never done Alan.
JONES: No, and we’re always happy to hear from you. But surely someone in the Labor Party saw this train wreck coming.
ALABNESE: Well Alan the truth is that I made a number of contributions if you go back, to my contributions about the direction of the Labor Party in terms of the John Button lecture, the Whitlam Oration over recent times whereby I indicated that it’s very important that Labor work with business as well as with the unions, that we recognise that what unites us as a society is far greater than what divides us. And one of the things that I’m about with the listening tour, and it begins today in Queensland, is that there’s an old saying that we have two ears and one mouth. We should do twice as much listening as we do talking and we certainly heard, I think, a very loud message on Saturday May 18th. And to pretend that that didn’t happen would be to repeat the mistakes. If we go to the election with the same policies, we’ll get the same outcome.
JONES: Well it’s not today, today is not the day to prosecute all this sort of stuff. We’ll talk again, but I have to say since you just came on air, the board is filling up with people with one question which I’ve already asked you, but I’ll ask you again. Does Anthony Albanese support coal and coal-fired power?
ALBANESE: Well coal-fired power exists. That’s what puts …
JONES: But to grow, to grow the availability. There are coal-fired power stations that are going to close down. Would you build a coal-fired power station?
ALBANESE: Markets make those decisions Alan, not governments. And the truth is that no one that I’m aware of in terms of any investor in spite of the Government’s rhetoric over the last two terms, no investor has come forward saying I want to put my money into investing in a coal-fired power station.
JONES: But Anthony as you know, as you know, you talk about the market, you talk about the market, the market’s distorted because renewable energy gets $3 billion worth of subsidies every year. You’re distorting the market so it’s not viable for a coal-fired power station when the other side, renewable energy, is getting $3 billion of taxpayers money.
ALBANESE: Well Alan it’s not that simple as you know. The truth is that the market …
JONES: I think it is.
ALBANESE: Well we disagree.
JONES: Okay well look, let’s leave it there.
ALBANESE: …as we disagree on a number of issues, Alan, but I hope we can always have respectful discussions.
JONES: Absolutely. Absolutely. And look, all of these things we’ll discuss down the track. I just wanted to congratulate you on your appointment. It’s a singular honour to be the leader of any major political party in this country. You’ve been there before, you won the popular vote way back in 2013 but you lost the leadership because of the vote of your parliamentary party. You’re there now. We wish you well and we’ll talk again soon.
ALABNESE: Thank you so much Alan. Thanks for having me on the program.
JONES: Not at all.