SUBJECT: Bushfires across NSW and QLD; Australian Labor Party Election Review; climate change; renewables industry; future of work.
AUDIO OF ANTHONY ALBANESE’S NATIONAL PRESS CLUB ADDRESS:
“I have been a regular visitor to South Australia for a long period of time. And dare I say, at the National Press Club, I have a fantastic appearance Wednesday mornings on 5AA on ‘One Tribe’ program. So, I talk to South Australians regularly.”
HOST: That’s Federal Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, just reminding everyone in the world that ‘One Tribe’ is the segment to listen to on 5AA Wednesday mornings. Albo, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good to slip in a free ad on ABC TV there I thought.
HOST: We will tart ourselves out via any medium necessary, Albo. We thank you for your support.
ALBANESE: I am happy to assist, guys.
HOST: Utterly shameless. Hey Albo, I want to play some audio from some comments that have been made over the last two days in the midst of all that’s been going on in New South Wales and Queensland and just get your opinion on it. First, we start with the Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John.
AUDIO OF SENATOR JORDAN STEELE-JOHN:
“You are no better than a bunch of arsonists.”
HOST: It’s directed at the Government. Then Barnaby Joyce.
AUDIO OF BARNABY JOYCE:
“I acknowledge that the two people who died will most likely people who voted for the Green Party. So, I’m not going to start attacking them. That’s the last thing I want to do.”
HOST: The fires seem to have brought out the best in a lot of rural Australians, but has it brought out the worst in your colleagues in politics?
ALBANESE: Well, they are two examples of the worst. I went yesterday to Lismore, to Casino, and was briefed there at the head. That’s where the Rural Fire Service are coordinating their activities throughout the north coast. I met with not just the heads, but many of the firefighters, volunteers, people who are putting their own lives on the line, people who are doing just extraordinary work on behalf of their fellow Australians, trying to save lives, save properties. You are seeing the best of Australia. And I went to Nimbin where, you know, a couple of people were pretty upset about what’s going on there in their community, their lives. And I went to Ballina. So, I spoke to people from across the spectrum. And overwhelmingly, you’re seeing resilience, you’re seeing courage and you’re seeing compassion. But, you know, there’s no place for the comments of the Senator from the Greens Party or from Barnaby Joyce. I just find that astonishing. And I’ve been criticised, I’ve got to say, for not trying to politicise these bushfires. I have a strong view about climate change. Climate change clearly is leading to what the science told us would happen. The seasons are starting earlier and they’re more intense. But the priority right now has got to be about saving lives and about practical measures to provide assistance. And that is what people should be concentrating on. And overwhelmingly that is the case. I was at a Casino with the local National Party MP that we invited to come along with us, Kevin Hogan. You know, this is a time where we’re all Australians and no other labels matter as much as that.
HOST: Yeah, well, these things are meant to be galvanising, not polarising. Hey Albo, we had Jay Weatherill on the show on Friday in wake of the release of the Labor Party Review into this year’s election result. And he used a turn phrase in relation to the big question for Labor. How do you reconcile the interests of blue collar workers in environmentally unfriendly industries with the environmental demands of inner-city voters? And he said that’s a diabolical question and it’s the toughest question facing the Labor Party today. How do you think you’re going to be able to answer it?
ALBANESE: Well, I don’t think it is that tough. I think that good environmental policy with the right framework leads to good employment outcomes as well. We are in a changing world. We can’t, we can’t stop change. What we need to do is shape change in the interests of people. And I gave a speech just the week before last. The first vision statement was on jobs and the future of work. And it looked at industries like hydrogen and lithium and the opportunity that is there for job creation. The thing about renewables, of course, is that it’s a labour-intensive industry and therefore it’s highly likely, and indeed, it’s happening. More jobs are being created in that industry than would be created by producing the same amount of energy through fossil fuels.
HOST: But what does that mean? If you are a Hazelwood worker in Victoria, where the very lefty Andrews’ Government said, ‘we’re going to close down the Hazelwood plant because it’s burning brown coal’.
ALBANESE: Well, that is not what happened though, David. With respect, what happened there David was that the company made a decision that the coal fired power plant was at the end of its life. And they made that decision. That wasn’t the decision of the Government. And similarly, for all of Barnaby Joyce, to go back to him, why not target him given he deserves a bit of targeting at the moment, I think. You know, this is a bloke who’s run around and said, ‘we’re going to have a coal fired power station’. Guess what? This Government’s is its seventh year. That’s not going to happen. People aren’t building coal fired power stations. That’s a decision of the market, of the private sector, and it’s not governments that are stopping that happening. So, you need to have proper environmental protections in place. You need to, then once those protections are in place, allow the markets to work to produce the cheapest energy and in the most efficient way possible. If you look at the success of, you don’t have to go beyond South Australia, you look at the success of what is happening in Whyalla at the moment. Now, this is a town that the Coalition said was going to be wiped off the map. And what we’re seeing there is jobs being created through the use of renewables, batteries, of what is going on with smart innovation and blue-collar jobs being created. It’s like the factories, I gave an example a couple weeks ago, the Dulux factory that used to have people manually mixing paint, it’s not the safest thing to do, for occupational health and safety. It’s now all the same number of people but they’re doing it all basically on a computer screen and producing more efficient jobs, increases in productivity. So, we just need to be smart about it. And if we’re smart about it, I’m very confident that we can both look after the environment and look after jobs.
HOST: Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining us on ‘One Tribe’ on this Wednesday morning.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.