Subjects; WA Infrastructure funding; Fair Share for WA fund; WA tourism; new Perth-London direct flight; Newspoll; Malcolm Turnbull; Labor Party
OLIVER PETERSON: I’m pleased to say that joining me in the studio this afternoon is of course the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development as well as the Shadow Minister for Tourism and the Member for Grayndler. Hello Anthony Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day. Good to be back.
PETERSON: What would this be? Visit number four or five in 2018?
ALBANESE: This is number six in 2018.
PETERSON: Number six. So we can forget Western Sydney, you’re the Member for Western Australia.
ALBANESE: I think this is at least three times in the studio, but maybe four.
PETERSON: Maybe. I’m losing count.
ALBANESE: We’ve got a regular thing going here.
PETERSON: We do. You’re probably here more regularly than some senators of Western Australia.
ALBANESE: Well, it’s a great place and we’ve got a lot to say about WA. Today I was with Bill Shorten at Midland station and we announced an $83 million commitment to relocate the railway line closer to the hospital. Clearly it’s a bit run down, that station, and needs a bit of renovation and also we’d extend the line to Bellevue. That’s part of the METRONET plan of Mark McGowan and Rita Saffioti so we had the gang there today following up on the Ellenbrook announcement that we did a couple of months ago and the Leach Highway and Welshpool announcement as well, the grade separation there that we did with Hannah Beazley and Lauren Palmer who was with us again today, our candidate for Hasluck. So we’ve got a lot to say and I’ll be here tomorrow somewhere else with Bill Shorten making another announcement tomorrow.
PETERSON: Alright, so Labor obviously wanting to come to Western Australia particularly at this moment Anthony Albanese, when a 30th Newspoll is going to be released you feel a little more confident as you’re on the hustings here in Perth or into the suburbs that there is a growing mood for change; that there is a lot of seats that are held here by the Liberal Party. Do you believe that Labor should feel buoyant about Western Australia?
ALBANESE: I’ve always felt comfortable in Western Australia and one of the things that I think we can have to say, one-on-one with people and in groups and through the media is about infrastructure. When I come to WA, I get off a plane and I go on Gateway WA, which was federally Labor funded, and then I go on the Great Eastern Highway and that was federally funded. Today I went and saw some of the work that’s taking place on the Swan Valley Bypass. They called it something else but it doesn’t make it a new project. Perth City Link, in terms of rail investment. So there’s lots that we’ve done here in WA and then there was a bit of a gap, I guess, of federal funding for a long period of time and clearly WA hasn’t got its fair share from the Commonwealth and that’s why we established the $1.6 billion Fair Share for WA fund and it’s been terrific going out and talking to people about it.
PETERSON: And do many people talk to you and stop you and say ‘hey Albo, when you’re here in Western Australia, what are you going to do to fix our share of the GST?’. And you’ve mentioned the Fair Share pot you’ve got there, but it still doesn’t always resonate with the listeners that are saying ‘look, yeah it might have gone from 33/34 cents to 45/47 cents, but we’re still well short of your home state in NSW’ which is getting, what, just under 80?
ALBANESE: It’s true and it’s an ongoing issue and it is unfair, and that’s why we made the announcement of the $1.6 billion, something that Colin Barnett, the outgoing Premier recognised as more than any other political party in Canberra had done. Today we were up at Joondalup, the shopping centre up there, myself and Bill with our candidate and state MPs up there, and we were talking to people in the shopping centre about issues including the additional money we’ll have for the hospital out of that fund. I think it’s $200 million dollars we have there. So I think people recognise that we’re trying to get on top of this issue. One thing is certain; you can’t get on top of it from the other side of the country and Bill Shorten’s here I think for four or five days. He arrived on Saturday and he will be here for a couple of days yet. I came over last night. I’m here again for a couple of days and enjoying the opportunity of talking to voters. By and large of course, we still only hold a handful of seats and we don’t want to [inaudible].
PETERSON: No, and I guess it’s a similar question I just asked Senator Linda Reynolds; in the end there’s 12 seats in the Lower House that form the Federal Parliament out of Western Australia. So when we look at NSW, or we look at Victoria, obviously you just do the simple maths. You need to win more seats there than in Western Australia. So when yourself or Bill Shorten or Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison come to Perth and say ‘we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that’, it’s easy to say it and then retreat back to the eastern states because all of a sudden ‘oh, we probably don’t need to worry too much about what’s going on over there in Perth, in WA.’ How much importance do you put on WA as opposed to the other states and territories and wanting to actually help the rest of the country, say WA, say Perth, say the regions over here; that we want to make sure that you have a good standard of living and a good life?
ALBANESE: One of things about WA is that it’s a driver of the national economy. It contributes more than its fair share to economic growth and that’s why the Commonwealth has to pay disproportionate attention to WA. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve certainly been to WA more than any other state this year except perhaps for Victoria.
PETERSON: Because you love it!
ALBANESE: I do love it. But it is a critical area and Perth’s a great city but it’s got growing pains. The studies of Infrastructure Australia show that without the sort of vision that Mark McGowan’s brought to Perth METRONET, the cost of urban congestion here in Perth will increase eightfold over the next couple of decades. More than half of the biggest traffic problems, the most congested intersections or roads are right here in Perth into the future. That’s why projects like the Leach Highway and Welshpool, that grade separation have been identified as the worst here in Perth. There’s a massive cost-benefit. Analysis shows the return is many times more, I think it was five or six to one at least, for that investment, so it’s worthwhile investment. And the other thing is that the big cities, Sydney and Melbourne on the east coast are under under real pressure. We need to make sure that here in WA you continue to be a growth state and there’s jobs for people here.
PETERSON: We need to be an alternate. Absolutely. We hear particularly from the eastern states that there is a immigration call, that we need to cull the number of people that are living in Sydney or Melbourne and house prices are out of control. Well, it’s the reverse here. We’ve seen a lot of people leave Western Australia, so there are opportunities for people to have jobs, to buy a house at relatively lower than the cost of a house compared to Sydney or Melbourne. So we need to have a plan that grows our state in population, and obviously in investment and jobs.
ALBANESE: That’s right. Take one area that I have responsibility for, tourism. Too often I think, the people who’ve run tourism bodies see tourism as being about the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney and the Rock and they forget about the West. Now, that was reversed this month with the direct flights to and from London.
PETERSON: Which you were on.
ALBANESE: I was on, and it will transform tourism in WA. It is so exciting coming back leaving London at one in the afternoon, you land in Perth about twelve. It then goes on of course to Melbourne. So you’d arrive there early evening, if you’re going across to Sydney or Brisbane, a little bit later but still at a reasonable time. What people will choose to do, of course is to to stay in Perth either on the way, or on the way back, or both. It will also open up tourism opportunities. There was a big event in London really promoting WA. You had Mark McGowan and Paul [Paplia] handing out quokkas in Trafalgar Square. It was a major media event in London and that European market of course is so important and that direct flight of course then opens up the Margaret River, Broome and the Kimberley, it opens up the Coral Coast; all of the fantastic things that WA has to offer.
PETERSON: It is certainly very exciting. I know Bill Shorten went to go have a quokka selfie. You didn’t decide to do something, you haven’t done something similar Albo?
ALBANESE: I haven’t had a quokka selfie, mate. I’ve been busy, I got in late last night and I’ve been doing infrastructure announcements today. I have as I think we mentioned it last time, I’ve spent a Christmas Day on Rottnest Island in 1983.
PETERSON: Well there you go. You’re an honorary West Australian.
ALBANESE: I’m very familiar with with Rottnest Island. I’ve been there a few times and it’s a fantastic place. I know from some of the tourism events that took place associated with the Qantas flight that there’s this big upgrade and a large amount of investment going to happen on Rottnest Island and that’s a fantastic thing.
PETERSON: What would your advice be to the Liberal Party at the moment? Do you think Malcolm Turnbull regrets making that statement in 2015 about the 30 Newspolls? Do they stick with him or should they roll him?
ALBANESE: There’s no doubt that he regrets it. That’s really a matter for them. The problem that they’ve got isn’t personnel. The problem they’ve got is policy. They don’t really have a reason for being. The disappointment that’s felt about Malcolm Turnbull; I don’t think people hate Malcolm Turnbull – they’re disappointed with him. They thought they were getting someone who believed in action on climate change, who believed in a whole range of things, in public transport. But what they see is a guy who had to compromise in order to get the top job. So it’s almost like the dog that caught the car. He caught the car of the Prime Ministership and he doesn’t know what to do with it.
PETERSON: Well, it’s interesting. You talk about personnel because Dave before the news said ‘I would like to vote for Labor if you are the Leader’. This here as well on the text messages this afternoon: ‘the Lord have mercy on us if Bill Shorten becomes the Prime Minister. I’d rather Peter Dutton.’ So there is a growing sense, a growing momentum. In the Newspoll it’s still indicated Malcolm Turnbull is more popular than Bill Shorten. So does Labor have a problem, Anthony Albanese, with the personnel or the person who leads the party at the moment?
ALBANESE: No. We’re just getting on with the business of policy announcements, getting out there. We’re concerned about issues; about what we do about the flatlining real wages; what we’d do about giving kids a proper education; how we deal with training in this country so that we don’t have to import labour through 457s but we actually skill up our workforce.
PETERSON: Well Peter Dutton today was talking to Neil Mitchell on 3AW about the fact that he is making no secret of it – he does harbour a desire one day to be the Prime Minister. Do you?
ALBANESE: I’m happy with the job that I’ve got and one of the things –
PETERSON: But could you be happier?
ALBANESE: I could be happier if Souths had beaten St George last Friday night.
PETERSON: Well they didn’t, so we can’t rewind that either.
ALBANESE: My view of life is that you do the job that you’ve got at the time to the best of your capacity and that’s what I’m focused on doing. Last time I was here I got together with Andrew Forrest and had a look at his foundation, which is opening up opportunities particularly for Indigenous people. There’s so much happening and it’s a great privilege to have the job that I’ve got; I get to come and chat to you!
PETERSON: There you go, you forget Western Sydney and you come to Western Australia, just cross out Sydney and write ‘Western Australia’. Anthony Albanese, thank you for dropping in.
ALBANESE: Great to be with you again.
PETERSON: There you go. There he is, Anthony Albanese.
TUESDAY, 10 APRIL 2018
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.