Subjects: ABC, Newstart, rugby league.
CHRIS KENNY: Thanks for joining us Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on Chris.
KENNY: I want to get to some economic matters in a moment but first up your take on the ABC. Surely it is open and shut here. This is a case of attempted political interference by the Chairman no less and he should resign.
ALBANESE: Well the ABC Charter is very clear about the independence of the ABC. The real story here of course is there is ongoing intimidation of the ABC by members of the Government. It should be allowed to operate independently of government. From time to time the ABC says things that all of us in politics don’t like.
KENNY: Heaven help. Heaven help that that should ever be the case.
ALBANESE: But that’s just the way it is. But this email, if it is proven to be true, and one would suggest that if it wasn’t Mr Milne would have stated that by now – he has been given the opportunity and has failed to do so, then it is a pretty clear breach of saying essentially that in order to appease the Government a journalist, Emma Alberici, must be dismissed.
KENNY: Yes it seems open and shut to me. I don’t think this controversy will last very long although we are going to have to see who replaces him and how they replace Michelle Guthrie and all the rest of it. I want to get on to economic matters. You would have noticed of course the Budget Outcome announced yesterday shows that the Federal Budget is getting now very, very close to being balanced, perhaps even in this financial year, certainly the one after, and this has reignited a push that has been put about by a lot of people for a long while now that we should increase the dole – that the Newstart Allowance should be increased. What is your view? What is Labor’s view on the Newstart Allowance and whether it should be increased?
ALBANESE: Well look, what we have said is we will have an inquiry into the level of Newstart if we are elected, whenever the election might be. It’s pretty clear that it hasn’t been increased for a very long period of time and people really can’t get by on the level of Newstart which is there. So that is our position. I notice today Scott Morrison in one of the interviews I heard him on certainly indicated that he was open to the idea and I think that would be a good thing. These issues shouldn’t be partisan. Everyone agrees that the priority should be to get people into employment, but whilst they are not, it shouldn’t be the case that people are living essentially in abject poverty.
KENNY: Yes. Just so we are clear on that, you are talking about surviving on $275.10 a week with some extra rent assistance of $67.90. That is the best you can do on Newstart. Try living on that sort of money in any of our major capitals. It’s an interesting balance here. Of course you always want to make sure that there is enough incentive in the welfare system so that people are trying to get work Anthony Albanese, but that just doesn’t seem like enough money for people to live.
ALBANESE: Well, you just struggle to pay your rent. That is the truth in an electorate like mine in the Inner West of Sydney where rents are exorbitant of course and I don’t know how people get by. I grew up, as you know Chris, in a family with a mum who was on an invalid pension and she managed to be the most frugal person. I don’t know how she managed, but she seemed to. But it was literally putting little bits of money aside in envelopes every fortnight …
ALBANESE: … when the pension payment came in and you know, it’s pretty tough for people. But on Newstart, it hasn’t been increased for such a long period of time so the truth is both sides of politics have been responsible for this and I’d like to see personally both sides of politics solve it.
KENNY: Yes, when there is some money around, sure. We have run a decade of deficits but when there is some money around, you would have thought it needs some attention and you are right, it might be one of those issues where we might look to try to get some bipartisan agreement. Speaking of bipartisan agreement, who do you reckon is going to win the Dally M tonight?
ALBANESE: I think Cook is a certainty. Souths have got to win something mate. I am a still hurting from Saturday night so I think Damian Cook had quite an explosive year. He began the year of course not even being certain of being a starter in first grade and to make the State of Origin side and I’m pretty sure he will be named as the Australian hooker given the great Cameron Smith has chosen to stand down from rep football. So if I was a gambling man, which I am not …
KENNY: If you are a gambling man he is second favourite coming in at $4.50 but I had a hunch you might go for the Rabbitohs.
ALBANESE: Who is the favourite?
KENNY: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He’s a short-priced favourite at $1.90.
ALBANESE: He has had a very good year and he is the stand-out in the Warriors side. Often what you’ve got to be is the best player, but in a team whereby you are clearly the best player.
KENNY: Yes, you don’t have too many sharing the votes.
ALBANESE: You are competing against your team mates as well.
KENNY: Indeed. A bit like a political leadership contest isn’t it?
ALBANESE: It can be a bit like that. That is right.
KENNY: Thanks so much for joining us Albo.
ALBANESE: Thanks for having us on Chris.