Subjects: Liberal Party leadership crisis.
BEN FORDHAM: Live on the line, Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Anthony Albanese, Albo, good afternoon.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day Ben.
FORDHAM: Do you notice that I now say Anthony Alba-na-se instead of Alba-ne-se, like I used to always say.
ALBANESE: Oh mate, you’re on fire when it comes to the correct pronunciations.
FORDHAM: That’s right. I’m a try-hard Italian mate. Now listen, I don’t know if you just heard Scott Morrison’s news conference. We’ve got a new Prime Minister. What’s your take on the events of the day?
ALBANESE: Well look, it’s going to be a very difficult job to put this rabble back together.
FORDHAM: I’m glad to see you so positive about the state of the nation, Albo.
ALBANESE: Well it is very hard, let me tell you, to be positive about where the nation is going after this week in Canberra. Today, I’ve been in Sydney and Brisbane. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, as you do when you go through airports and you’re travelling around and no-one was positive. That’s not a partisan comment by the way. No-one was positive about the state of politics in Australia and the truth is that it’s going to be very difficult. You’ve got Ministers who pledged their loyalty to Malcolm Turnbull in the Parliament, which is pretty serious, quite clearly misled Parliament, on Tuesday, before they pulled out the day after. You’ve got a problem whereby you’ve had Mathias Cormann and the other two, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash, say that the only reason they were moving away from Malcolm Turnbull was because Peter Dutton had a majority, when quite clearly he didn’t without them. Without them, there wouldn’t have even been a spill.
FORDHAM: It’s difficult ground for you guys to really stand on and lob rocks because everyone remembers and it’s not ancient history here, it was very recent history when the Labor Party did exactly the same thing. I’m not sure you’re going to be able to score too many points on this.
ALBANESE: I’m not trying to score points Ben. I’m worried about the state of the Government. You would well recall that I both publicly and privately said that deposing Kevin Rudd …
FORDHAM: I remember.
ALBANESE: … in 2010 would be a mistake and that we would damage two Labor Prime Ministers and that was proven to be correct. What we’ve seen this week is a no-holds-barred cage match and the problem here is that the divisions are very ideological and go to the fundamental values of the Liberal Party. Malcolm Turnbull has been rejected. Malcolm Turnbull had won every single preferred Prime Minister poll that was held, 58 Newspolls in a row.
FORDHAM: Yeah, but you guys were going to beat him at the next election weren’t you.
ALBANESE: Well, I think we were in a strong position on 51-49 …
FORDHAM: It might not be so easy anymore.
ALBANESE: That’s not a certain position.
FORDHAM: It might not be so easy any more because I get the sense on the open line this afternoon, and maybe I’m a little glass-half-full compared to others, but I’ve got a feeling there’s a bit of unity out there now.
ALBANESE: I think Ben that would be incredibly optimistic to think that there’s a bit of unity. You’ve got some of the Peter Dutton forces making comments already through background to various journalists that have been quoted out there.
FORDHAM: Oh really, rumours and innuendo Albo? You can’t engage in that.
ALBANESE: Well I’m not. They are.
FORDHAM: Well in fact this has just come across my desk. I’d better read this to declare this. The ABC has bumped into Peter Dutton in Canberra somewhere. He has described himself as a better person and a person of greater strength and integrity than Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party. He said: “I don’t regret it at all, I think it’s a turning point. I think there’s a healing point now for the Liberal Party’’. He says he has no regrets about bringing on this week of drama. He says he wants to rise above criticism but he does describe himself as a better person and a person of greater strength and integrity than Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party. Well that doesn’t matter because Malcolm Turnbull is out of the way. Let me ask you this Albo, you’ve been around for a long time, and I know that even though you fight for the Labor Party tooth and nail, you’re also reasonable enough to look at people on the other side of politics and get along with them and acknowledge when they do have some positive about them. I’m sure there will be plenty of negatives that you’ll highlight over coming weeks and months about Scott Morrison. Are there any positives that you would like to share with us about ScoMo this afternoon considering he’s just been handed the highest honour in the land?
ALBANESE: I wish him well on a personal basis. He obviously cares about, I’ve seen him with his family, and he obviously is a loving family guy. Secondly, it is good that someone who genuinely supports rugby league – I think that Malcolm Turnbull was always hoping that the Wallabies would win the NRL Grand Final. Scott is a genuine rugby league fan and a genuine fan of the Cronulla Sharks. I think that’s a good thing, because the truth is that when you’re at the footy and people are talking to you, I always catch the train out to watch Souths, and people talk to you and it’s a good way to get contact with people who aren’t engaged in politics.
FORDHAM: Should the Liberal Party follow the Labor Party’s path in putting some rules in place to stop this leadership madness from going on because Australia’s just had enough of this?
ALBANESE: Yes they should but you can have all the rules in the world; the truth is that it’s about culture and it’s about people behaving in a responsible and constructive way. If people want to tear things apart, what we’ve seen this week is that there was a minority, always, who were behind this and they weren’t rewarded. But it was quite extraordinary that you have now, a Government that has been paralysed over issues like energy policy I felt a lot of sympathy for Josh Frydenberg, in trying to put together a policy. I didn’t agree with the policy he was putting forward, but any policy is better than no policy. And that’s what we’re left with at the moment because the Government hasn’t been able to actually move forward.
FORDHAM: Well Peter Dutton says that Scott Morrison’s got his full support just like Bill Shorten’s got your full support. So they’re very lucky leaders indeed and we’ll talk soon.
ALBANESE: Good to talk to you Ben.
FRIDAY, 24 AUGUST, 2018
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.