Subjects: National Bike Paths Strategy; funding cycle path over Swan River, WA; WA infrastructure funding; energy policy; rugby league.
OLIVER PETERSON: Anthony Albanese, good afternoon.
ALBANESE: Good to be back in Perth again.
PETERSON: Well, if you vote Labor, are you a cyclist, because today you’re promising to build a new bridge over the Swan River for cyclists.
ALBANESE: This is a fantastic project. We have a $260 million National Bike Paths Strategy and the best project I’ve seen is this one, a dedicated cycle and pedestrian bridge right next to the Causeway. You widen that bridge because it’s heritage listed and at the moment, there’s something like 1,300 cyclists and 1,000 pedestrians use the bridge every day across the Causeway. So what this…
PETERSON: Very expensive though, isn’t it – 2,300 cyclists and pedestrians for $30 million bucks.
ALBANESE: Well, more will use it. That’s the point.
PETERSON: Right. Build the infrastructure, people will come.
ALBANESE: People now have to go around because it, it’s not safe. It’s not safe to share that bridge on, on a busy day, particularly during the peak hours. And what we want is for people to be able to cycle to work, cycle to school, cycle to university, to use it as a method of transport. And what it shows is that we’re serious about active transport being one of the modes as well as rail, through Perth METRONET, as well as the road funding that we’re committing to. This is a really exciting project that will also, because it’s a dedicated cycle and pedestrian bridge, it will be like an ad for cycling each and every day. So I’m, I’m really excited about the project. Hannah Beazley campaigned strongly for it, along with Patrick Gorman. So they’re at either end of the bridge but it will really benefit everyone in Perth. Your greatest asset here, along with the beaches, is the great Swan River.
PETERSON: The Swan River is brilliant. Which seats do you reckon that Labor can pick up here in Perth?
ALBANESE: Well, we’re having a crack in all of them, of course. I was last night up in Butler, campaigning in the electorate of Pearce. We have of course Hasluck as well, Swan with Hannah Beazley, but as well, other seats – Canning, we’ve got a great candidate down there, in Mellisa Teede; so where we’re having a crack right around, right around the State. Stirling of course, with the retirement of the sitting member – a vote of no confidence in his own government. Julie Bishop, of course, is gone and she was the best asset that the Liberal Party had here in WA. And she’s gone from being the Deputy Leader to not even being invited to yesterday’s campaign launch. So I think that West Australians know that the Labor Party has offered up serious policies. We’re offering an additional $460 million for infrastructure in WA over the next four years. So, not off into the Never Never. See if we’re elected, you’ll see additional funds for infrastructure coming into WA and that’s something I’m quite proud of because the current Government have relied upon opening projects that were begun by Labor, like Gateway WA or changing the name of projects, like the Swan Valley Bypass to North Link and pretending it’s a new project. What we’ll actually do is invest in infrastructure here in WA, partner with the McGowan Government to do so, whether it’s rail, whether it’s roads or whether it be active transport, cycling, or whether it be every public school and every hospital will benefit here in WA if a Shorten Labor Government is elected this Saturday.
PETERSON: You speak about the Liberal Party campaign launch yesterday. In regards to assisting first homebuyers getting into the market, Labor matched that very quickly. Is this policy on the run?
ALBANESE: No. We think that if people come up with a reasonable suggestion we’ll back it in. That’s what we need more of in politics and we don’t hide from that. I was with Bill Shorten yesterday in Melbourne. We had a campaign rally in Moonee Ponds and another public transport announcement for Victoria with Daniel Andrews. And we had a discussion when it was announced and agreed that any proposition that assists people into housing, particularly young people, is a good thing. But what they don’t have is a comprehensive plan on housing affordability. We have a plan that will boost supply by ensuring that if you want to, if you’re a new investor and you want to invest in housing, as an investment vehicle, then you’ll have to invest in new property and what that will do is boost supply, which will also assist of course in getting young people into housing.
PETERSON: This is obviously with regards your negative gearing changes as well, because I had an email from Graham last week which I’ll share with you here, Albo. He says, in regards to the current election, what I’m worried about is not class warfare but age warfare. Does he have a point here, Graham, that a lot of Labor’s policies at the moment are going to affect older people and assist younger people? Is there some sort of divide here between young and old?
ALBANESE: No. What there’s a divide between is that those who need assistance and those people, take for example, Clive Palmer and other companies who, who would want to benefit from Scott Morrison’s $80 billion cuts for, for big companies, that he wanted to pursue and spoke in favour of more than 200 times.
Take what we’re doing for example with our dental plan for pensioners. That will make an enormous difference in a really practical way to, to older people who want to fix their teeth, which is so related to health. Take what we’re doing in terms of cancer care. We’re saying very clearly that cancer does make you sick, but it shouldn’t make you poor. And that’s why we’ll make a contribution there and ensure that people, at a time in their lives when they’re dealing with the trauma that comes with being diagnosed with cancer, they’re not having to worry at the same time about paying the bills. They can just concentrate on getting well. So I think our attitude towards older Australians, with, particularly with regard to pensioners and those people who need help; we’ll be there. They’ll benefit as well. People tend to use the health system and hospitals more as you get older. The fact is that we will put back the money that was ripped out of the health system by Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison back in 2014.
PETERSON: Bill Shorten says it is dumb to talk about the cost of his climate change policies without talking about the cost of doing nothing. What is the cost, Albo, of doing nothing and what’s the cost of his policies?
ALBANESE: Well, the cost of doing nothing is catastrophic climate change. We need to, not just the Australian Government, but Australia needs to work with the world to promote action to ensure that we don’t have dangerous climate change. We know that that will have a massive impact on our economy.
PETERSON: Sure. Has there been any economic modelling done by Labor in regards to its effects?
ALBANESE: Well there’s been a whole range of economic modelling that shows that the sooner you act, the cheaper it is. There’s the concept of first mover advantage and we know, for example, looking back when we were elected in 2007, we were elected on a platform of a 20% renewable energy target by 2020. I was the Environment spokesperson who wrote that policy. When we did the target was two percent, so we called for a tenfold increase and there was quite a strong response from the Coalition under John Howard, saying the world will end, there will be catastrophic, the costs of this. Well, guess what. We went from seven to eight thousand homes in Australia having solar panels on their roofs to two million today. You know what that has resulted in? Yes, a short term cost in terms of capital of buying the solar panels, but a massive decrease in energy costs for those people who’ve made that investment.
And, and that is, I guess symptomatic, for me. If we, if we make the investment, if we make the change, then what it is in the medium and long term you’ve very much saved money. Our electric vehicles policy will, all the manufacturers say that there’ll be parity in costs between an electric vehicle and a traditional fuel vehicle, a petrol vehicle, by the middle or the, the first half of the next decade.
PETERSON: I think that our listeners as well ….
ALBANESE: Once you do that, then it is so much cheaper to operate, so you save money.
PETERSON: Sure, we understand the rhetoric but why has there been no economic modelling or any costs released by Labor in regards, because I think people just want to hear some numbers, Albo.
ALBANESE: Well, we’ve had a range of economic modelling and part of the modelling is, of course around the NEG. Take, for example, on fuel; our fuel standards, for example will save the modelling – the Government’s modelling, not ours, the Government’s modelling – say that it will save every private motor vehicle some $500 per year with the NEG, the National Energy Guarantee.
What, what you need to do is just go back and get out the old tapes of Josh Frydenberg and people speaking about a $550 saving. Remember that? Well that’s the basis of our policy. So according to the Government, it’s this nonsense about no modelling there – the Government’s own modelling and the Government was spruiking, saying, this will save $550. It went through their party room, not once but twice, and then they walked away from it because they’ve been at war with each other on climate change and energy policy. They’re going to this election with no policy on, on climate change or on energy. And it’s simply not good enough to say we’ll just pass on the costs of that to the next generation. That’s essentially what they’re saying. And we know that that will have very bad impact on our economy, as well as on our environment.
PETERSON: A couple of other questions. The latest poll, and it’s always shown this, looks like you’re set for victory this weekend. What’s obviously of a concern is that primary vote for both yourself and the Liberal Party. ALP currently sitting at 37. So if you do win the election on Saturday you’re probably going to have to form government with the Greens and others in the minor parties. Does that worry you that you won’t be able to govern in your own right?
ALBANESE: I’m looking for majority government on Saturday and I’d say to people if you want Labor to govern vote Labor number one in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The fact is that I can’t see how Scott Morrison won’t be dependent upon independents if he somehow falls across the line. If you look at seats like Warringah, if you look at Kennedy, Mayo, Farrer, the results in Cowper on the New South Wales north coast. One of the things that’s happening is that a whole lot of people who are essentially Malcolm Turnbull Liberals have been turned off. particularly women, where you have Mayo, Indi, Julia Banks, a sitting Liberal MP running as an Independent in Flinders. If you look at the response of the independent candidate here in Curtin, even, as a result of…
PETERSON: Louise Stewart, who made up a fake poll?
ALBANESE: Well, yes that’s right. But we’ll see what, what happens in Curtin. The fact is that traditional conservative seats are under threat this Saturday, right around the country. And that’s because of the internal chaos in the Liberal Party.
PETERSON: If need be, though, for Labor, if you’ve yet to talk to some of the minor parties, who would you prefer to govern with? Clive Palmer or Pauline Hanson?
ALBANESE: Just Labor. I wouldn’t have a bar of either of them. The fact is that, that is of concern. What’s the deal between Scott Morrison and Clive Palmer? We don’t know yet. What’s the deal between the LNP in Queensland, who are giving Pauline Hanson preferences in various seats and, and the LNP. So I think we have to worry about these minor players.
PETERSON: Are you also worried about Bill Shorten’s popularity? Again, 45-38 on the preferred Prime Minister question; he has never been able to, to really push through himself, has he, Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: Well I think what’s important here is that the Labor team are ahead and Bill Shorten’s the captain of that team. I’m very loyal and happy to play at centre half forward, sneaking up, kicking a few goals, defending when need be. And our whole team is working as a unit and Bill Shorten’s been a very good leader of that team and on Saturday I’m very much hoping to be able to be a Minister in the Government. I’ll be on Channel Nine. I can say that now given the ownership structure.
PETERSON: Well that’s right. We’re all friends now aren’t we – Channel Nine, 6PR, the Macquarie Media Network, we’re all good mates. Let me ask you as well, when you’re talking about sporting analogies, if you do form government, are you going to help the West Coast Pirates enter the National Rugby League?
ALBANESE: Well, I think there’s a case for a careful expansion but I think if you do that, you’ve got to move to a division structure, perhaps.
PETERSON: Now Albo, you haven’t been coming to Perth as often as you have the last two years without jumping on the bandwagon for a rugby league team in Perth.
ALBANESE: Mate, I’m pro rugby league and I’m pro rugby league in Perth, although I rather like the fact that that my beloved Rabbitohs get play here.
PETERSON: That’s right. Home away from home.
ALBANESE: And sell a whole lot of merch and, as I walk around Perth, you see the mighty cardinal and myrtle being, being regular here. Wayne Bennett, actually, I was talking to him the other day and he’s a bit of an advocate of there being a Sydney division and then a non-Sydney division and then a playoff, which is one of the things that happens in the US a fair bit. If you look at basketball, baseball etc. They have zones and perhaps that, as a way of promoting that tribalism, is the way to go into the future. I’m certainly looking forward to Perth people getting out there in big numbers and packing out the new stadium at the State of Origin game. I think that will be a major tourism event, with my Tourism Shadow Minister hat on. I think that’s a great initiative by the WA Government and by the NRL – deserve credit, for taking the game, the biggest thing that, that happens in rugby league is going to be happening right here in Perth.
PETERSON: Indeed. Anthony Albanese, thanks for stopping by.
ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on the program.