Subjects: Jim Casey; Grayndler election; Minority government; Badgery’s Creek Airport.
WEBSTER: Well I’ll tell you what. We thought we’d talk to the marginals in this campaign. We didn’t think to ourselves well: Is he marginal? He’s probably pretty close to it and that’s the member, Anthony Albanese, of course for Grayndler and is he concerned about the seat? Well I’m very happy to say he joins us on the line. G’Day.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’Day Tim.
WEBSTER: Now, we spoke to Jim Casey, interesting fellow. Everyone would have you believe he’s an absolute fruit loop for the Greens. He’s not that. But he’s certainly very left wing. How concerned are you about Grayndler, really?
ALBANESE: Well, I certainly don’t take it for granted. One of the things I’m saying to people, which comes from the experience of door knocking, is not to think that you can have a protest vote by voting one for the Greens and two for me and that the vote will be counted. If enough people do that I won’t be elected and you’ll have someone for Adam Bandt to talk to in the House of Representatives but you won’t have someone who will actually be able to achieve things and get things done. The other thing is that you’ll have someone who according to his own words would prefer an Abbott Government, a conservative government, than a Labor government. Not because he thinks it would do good, but because he thinks it would do bad and then people would rise up and we’d get better protests. I actually want better outcomes.
WEBSTER: Yeah, that’s right.
ALBANESE: Not better protests.
WEBSTER: Mate, do you think this is a bit of a danger in this election, people are now starting to say: Look, people are heading towards, voters are heading towards the independents, heading towards the Greens as some sort of a protest vote and has Grayndler changed significantly?
ALBANESE: It has, there’s been a re-distribution and I’ve lost some of the safer areas of the electorate, both Labor and in very strong numbers, including where I live. It’s been redistributed out of the seat. I had a choice of running for Barton, the branch members there would have welcomed me running and being the candidate. I chose to do the right thing by the party and I think by the nation by contesting Grayndler. I didn’t want the Greens to be able to say he’s walked away from the electorate; Labor’s walked away from representing us, because I want to see a majority government. I would prefer a majority Labor government. I think people should vote for a party of government that can actually get things done and I guess I entered politics to make decisions and you make decisions around the cabinet table and by being a part of a party of government. If you’re a minor party representative you can only really protest after decisions are made. That’s very much in my view a second best option.
WEBSTER: If it is Labor. I don’t know how much of Richard Di Natale you saw on Sky News on the weekend. But he’s basically saying and I think a lot of the voters are probably thinking well, if it is a minority Labor government and you need to do a deal with the Greens well you’ll do one.
ALBANESE: Well, we won’t. What we will do is stand on our own record. They want to use this line, but it’s a line aimed at damaging Labor. It isn’t Labor that’s doing a preference deal with the Liberals. It’s the Greens, whereby they’re hoping to get the Liberal preferences in seats like Grayndler and in return issuing open tickets in marginal seats that the Liberals are wanting to win. But of course that will assist Malcolm Turnbull in being able to form a majority Coalition government after the election. For progressives who want to see an end to the Coalition Government, you’ve got to ask yourself why is it that I’m here in Perth, campaigning with Labor candidates today in Swan, Fremantle and Perth electorates against the Coalition. Meanwhile the Greens Political Party has Adam Bandt and my opponent in my electorate campaigning against me. It appears that it’s only L abor that’s actually out there campaigning against the Coalition. Richard Di Natale might get struck off the role he’s spent so much time in my electorate. They’ll be questions over where he lives.
WEBSTER: I’d love your perspective on this because you’ve been around a long time. When it comes to all of this I wonder because we’re seeing polls suggesting that not much has changed in the marginals in western Sydney, not much has changed, in fact nothing changed in the polls over the weekend and it’s only a week in but I mean no blows have been landed really and we’ve got this very stark, probably the starkest comparison between two leaders for a long time: Bill the union leader and Malcolm, who they like to call Malcolm’s billionaires, the boy from the Eastern suburbs. So it’s very stark but nothing seems to be happening yet, does it?
ALBANESE: I think it’s such a long campaign that people will focus as they always do, in the last few weeks. There is one thing that’s changed though and that is that more and more people are voting pre-poll. This time round pre-poll will open on the Tuesday after the long weekend in June. Something like 25 per cent of people will vote that way. So the parties need to be cautious about waiting until the last minute because the polls will be open and people will be exercising their democratic right to vote for the candidate of their choice much earlier. So I think that it’s going to be an interesting campaign, but one which will test all of us. I’m here in Perth, I came over yesterday. On Saturday I was in Rockhampton in Queensland. It’s a big country and you really get a reminder of it during a campaign.
WEBSTER: Don’t you ever, yeah.
ALBANESE: And I know that some of your listeners will go, ‘There they are flying around the country’. I assure you I’m looking forward to post-campaign, having a few nights at home with the family and doing some normal things. It’s a very long campaign.
WEBSTER: And a couple of quiet beers in Grayndler. One final thing and you and I as with many others, have discussed Badgerys Creek and the airport for many years. We finally got it underway, we needed another airport. How much of a drama is that going to be for you, do you think?
ALBANESE: I think it’s a big plus for us. It’s an example frankly of what people want to see. This is Labor and the Coalition putting the national interest first. I was the Transport Minister I commissioned the (inaudible) Badgerys Creek Airport as you know and the problem that we had was that you not only needed a government to make a decision but you needed an opposition to support it, because it’s so easy to run a scare campaign about an issue like that but it will produce economic activity for Western Sydney, it will be Western Sydney’s first airport, rather than Sydney’s second airport. That’s the way that I see it. Not just the airport but the employment lands. There’s a really exciting plan by Penrith Council for a science park just in between Penrith and the airport, with the private sector. This could be a game changer for Western Sydney and that contrasts w ith my Greens opponent, who opposed Badgerys Creek airport but also wants to shut Kingsford Smith Airport.
WEBSTER: Yeah that’s a good idea.
ALBANESE: I don’t know how a global city functions without any aviation and that’s an example of a dishonesty frankly, just telling people what they want to hear. We will have no planes over anybody, anywhere, anytime and that’s just not the way that a modern economy works, it’s not the way a modern country works and people thinking of voting for the Greens at the election should think about that as well.
WEBSTER: I think if the Greens had their way we’d be landing gliders at Eastern Creek wouldn’t we?
ALBANESE: They wouldn’t support that either, people might get annoyed. We’d be parachuting out from 20,000 feet. But I’m not sure how people would get out of Sydney. They could get in but I don’t know how they’d get out.
WEBSTER: Now it’s interesting because on our little show we said what we’re going to do is have a chat to as many marginals as we can between now and July 2 and we’ve already started doing that and then I thought to myself, I wonder if Albo considers himself marginal. Do you?
ALBANESE: I certainly am. I have a big contest. That doesn’t mean I’m bunkered down in the seat because I want to see, I mean I want to be elected obviously, that’s the first thing. But the most important thing for me isn’t what happens just in Grayndler; it’s what happens for the country. I want to see Bill Shorten as the Prime Minister and a Labor Government and that’s what I’m working towards and if I’m fortunate enough to be elected in Grayndler, which I’m not complacent about but I am confident. I’ve been a part of that community my whole life and people know me, even if they disagree with me. There are people I know in the electorate who have said to me; ‘I normally vote Green or I normally vote Liberal but I’m voting for you this time because I want to see you continue to represent us in the Parliament’, and ‘I’ll vote Liberal or I 9;ll vote Green in the Senate’. I think people are taking up that option. I hope. I’m hopeful of being re-elected.
WEBSTER: This is a marathon its only May 16 and the elections on July 2.
ALBANESE: Are we there yet?
WEBSTER: Spare me.
ALBANESE: I sound like the kids in the back of the car.
WEBSTER: Great to talk to you mate, good luck.
ALBANESE: Always, thanks Tim.