Subjects: Emma Husar, Sky News, Latham, NEG.
NEIL MITCHELL: Anthony Albanese, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you. I’ve got a face here.
MITCHELL: She said the faceless men got her.
ALBANESE: Well I certainly didn’t have any role in that as far as I know. I take it that …
MITCHELL: As far as you know?
ALBANESE: No. It’s a rather strange accusation for you to begin with Neil.
MITCHELL: I am just repeating what she said.
ALBANESE: I am not faceless. I am here. You can see me. There is even a camera in the studio.
MITCHELL: You are not of her faction. Did you help get rid of her?
MITCHELL: Did she have to go?
ALBANESE: It’s a decision which she has made.
MITCHELL: Has she really? Everybody is suggesting she was told to go or else.
ALBANESE: Well, no point pontificating about it. All I know is what she has said, that it is her decision.
MITCHELL: But she has also said it ends now. But it doesn’t, does it? There are still questions about travel entitlements.
ALBANESE: Well, that will be dealt with by the appropriate authorities if need be. There is the New South Wales investigation that is under way.
MITCHELL: That is a Labor investigation.
ALBANESE: Yes, that’s right.
MITCHELL: You’d need an independent one now, surely?
ALBANESE: Well, that’s not a matter for me. The New South Wales report will come down probably in the next 24 hours or so and then it will be dealt with. She’s made a decision …
MITCHELL: Is she a loss?
ALBANESE: … to not re-contest. Well she has made that decision.
MITCHELL: But is she a loss to the Parliament?
ALBANESE: Well she is someone who was in in her first term and we won’t know what contribution she could have made. Lindsay is a marginal seat.
MITCHELL: You are damning with faint praise here. Do you want to keep her or not?
ALBANESE: Well she has made a decision to go, so it is not a matter of what my thoughts are.
MITCHELL: Well, was she a good member?
ALBANESE: The contact I had with her, she was good. She had me out to her electorate. We met with Penrith City Council with her. Badgerys Creek Airport of course is not in her seat, but it certainly impacts on it, so the related infrastructure issues I was engaged with her on and she was a strong representative. That was the contact I had with her. I had never met her before she got elected.
MITCHELL: How long had you known about the allegations?
ALBANESE: Oh, for a while. There were various rumours around the building.
MITCHELL: I see. But only rumours? You didn’t know anything about it?
ALBANESE: Well, I have never met any of her staff, so I don’t know them.
MITCHELL: People are finding it really hard to believe that Bill Shorten, who was close, closer than you were to her, didn’t know anything about it. Do you believe that?
ALBANESE: Well, what I think has been said there is a matter of when he was formally notified. I don’t know and I can’t speak for what someone else knew and when. All I can do is say what I knew, which is that there were various rumours around about issues with staff that I had heard around the building. Parliament House is a bit like that.
MITCHELL: Did you do anything about it or just say that is a rumour?
ALBANESE: No. Well if you did something about it you wouldn’t do your job; if every time you heard about something that might have happened in the building. That’s not my job.
MITCHELL: Yes, but you make all these grand statements about protecting people in the workplace and decency toward staff, decency toward women. Here we have a Labor Member of Parliament. The rumours are she is doing bad things with her staff. Oh well, we’ll ignore that.
ALBANESE: Well I didn’t know that. What I knew was that there was a high staff turnover.
MITCHELL: Oh, I see.
ALBANESE: And then I knew that there was this investigation by John Whelan. I have been upfront about that. I talked with people – raised it with me at the ALP State Conference in June. You have a two-day, two-night gathering, people talk about what is going on. It wasn’t at the centre of discussion but on the fringes it was discussed. I have said honestly, yes I knew that investigation was taking place.
MITCHELL: OK, let’s move on. Jacinta Allan, who I know that you have seen today, has banned Sky News from train station platforms here in Melbourne after that interview with Blair Cottrell. She said that was the final straw. I asked her what else was the problem.
(TAPED INTERVIEW FROM EARLIER)
JACINTA ALLAN: Well I think there’s been a number of interviews that have started to go down a slippery slope.
MITCHELL: Well, which ones?
ALLAN: Well, there’s been some of the conversations that Mark Latham has engaged in through that channel.
MITCHELL: He is one of yours, or he was.
ALLAN: He was but he’s not anymore.
MITCHELL: Ok, so you don’t approve of Mark Latham or Blair Cottrell. What else have they done?
ALLAN: Well there was also the promotion of the dreadful things that Senator David Lyonhjelm said about Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
MITCHELL: That’s Jacinta Allan earlier. Mark Latham will love that publicity won’t he?
ALBANESE: Well Mark Latham does like publicity and the problem if you are addicted to getting publicity is that your statements become more and more extreme because the next statement has to be more out there than the one before and I think Mark Latham’s trajectory, now, whereby I notice he has been defending having Blair Cottrell have a national platform on Sky, just shows how sad it is, I think. He is …
MITCHELL: He’s not a mate anymore?
ALBANESE: I was never a Mark Latham supporter Neil. I think you know that. I think my judgement was right in warning people prior to his elevation as leader. I mean we already knew a whole range of things about Mark Latham and people made the decision to make him Leader. I think that was an error. But the Australian public got it right in …
MITCHELL: By keeping you out of government?
ALBANESE: By not making him Prime Minister.
MITCHELL: Well what about this Jacinta Allan issue? Is it appropriate that a Government bans media for saying things it doesn’t like?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s not a matter of banning it. There are other things they could have. They could have 3AW being broadcast.
MITCHELL: We are not popular with the Government either.
ALBANESE: They could have 3AW broadcast out. See, this as an opportunity Neil.
MITCHELL: I have tried that. I have tried that.
ALBANESE: You should of.
MITCHELL: I did.
ALBANESE: You could have a range of things out there. There’s no reason why …
MITCHELL: So it is appropriate?
ALBANESE: Well, why wouldn’t they have ABC 24 running through?
MITCHELL: Oh yeah, let’s have the Left instead of the Right. They could be just as bad the other way.
ALBANESE: Why can’t they have the public broadcaster through the public transport network? That’s decision they have made. Look, I think that Sky News people that I have spoken to are horrified. Some of them have made public statements about having this fellow who advocates having a photo of Adolf Hilter in every class room.
MITCHELL: He’s anti-semitic. Let’s not defend him.
ALBANESE: Well why have him on there?
MITCHELL: What about David Lyonhjelm? He’s got thrown into this. Well, I’ve had him on here too, but I have argued with him. I have debated with him. It seemed it was a mistake. They have admitted it. They have apologised and to ban any form of media because you don’t like what they are doing is Nazi-like.
ALBANESE: I think the problem with Sky is that they have some fantastic interviewers. They have David Speers and Kieran Gilbert, Laura Jayes – have good journalists during the day, and it hits a certain hour of the day and it becomes …
MITCHELL: Yes but let’s ban Bolt now. People don’t like Bolt. How about we ban Bolt too?
ALBANESE: I go on Andrew Bolt’s program as you know Neil. I talk to a range of people. I am here talking to you. Not everyone talks to you Neil. But I do.
MITCHELL: Well that reminds me, how is Bill?
ALBANESE: I am always happy to talk on whatever medium. But you do have to draw a line between someone like Blair Cottrell, who I just wouldn’t give a platform to.
MITCHELL: Fair enough. But the point is banning media is a bad look. I mean David Lyonhjelm for heaven s sake?
ALBANESE: Well, are they banning media or choosing to put something else there? Why is it? Why is it up here in the beginning?
MITCHELL: They don’t like what I do a lot of the time and neither does your Leader, so he doesn’t turn up. What’s the next step? You win Government and he says we’ll ban 3AW?
ALBANESE: I think you are drawing a very long bow there.
MITCHELL: Can you get him in the studio for me?
ALBANESE: Well, I am not in charge of Bill’s media appointments, but I am happy to pass on a message for you.
MITCHELL: Thank you. Can you explain the National Energy Guarantee to me?
ALBANESE: Oh, the National Energy Guarantee. What is part of the problem Neil, is that we don’t actually know the detail of what’s in it. What we know is that they say there will be a $550 saving if it passes through. But we know of that, $400 of it is locked in by the Renewable Energy Target that is already there. So that is a given. And $150 of it, according to their own modelling, is for policy certainty, like any certainty.
MITCHELL: I don’t think most people understand it and they tend to glaze over when it comes up. But we’ve got a national regulator saying if this doesn’t go through tomorrow, we are in strife, power prices are going up. And yet it is being blocked.
ALBANESE: Well what we have had Neil since 2013, remember Tony Abbott got elected and said we will get rid of the price on carbon and it will all be fixed? And it wasn’t fixed.
MITCHELL: But can you bring prices down?
ALBANESE: Of course we can. You bring prices down by increasing supply. That’s the fundamental basis of economics.
MITCHELL: What, with renewables?
ALBANESE: Absolutely, renewables.
MITCHELL: But the wind is not blowing. The sun is not shining.
ALBANESE: With renewables, with batteries, with storage.
MITCHELL: And that is going to be cheaper?
ALBANESE: Absolutely, as one of a suite of measures, it of course will. What we know is that renewables are far cheaper to put into the system than a new coal-fired power plant.
MITCHELL: Thank you for coming in. Is caucus getting a bit willing? You’ve got a black eye and broken rib. What happened?
ALBANESE: It’s a very boring story, walking the dog on Marrickville Golf Course.
ALBANESE: Not even that interesting.
MITCHELL: You fell over?
ALBANESE: A little bit of metal up on the retainer wall sticking out of the ground tripped me and unfortunately, if you hit concrete, it hurts. So I am suffering a little bit from a broken rib at the moment.
MITCHELL: How’s the dog?
ALBANESE: Oh, the dog was fine. You can’t hurt the dog.
MITCHELL: Well, it is your only friend isn’t it? Wasn’t it Peter Costello: if you want a friend in politics, buy a dog.
ALBANESE: I’ve got other friends Neil. I thought you were my friend.
MITCHELL: Get Bill in the studio and we will see. Thank you for your time.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.