SUBJECTS: Federal Election; Queensland; Labor Party Leadership Franking Credits; Electric Vehicles; Queensland jobs; climate change; Adani; Electorate of Lilley.
STEVE AUSTIN: Paul you may be interested to hear from Anthony Albanese who spent his first full day as Opposition Leader here in Queensland. The Labor Party won only six out of a possible 30 seats in the Lower House. In other words Labor’s going backwards here in Queensland. Anthony Albanese appreciate you coming on the program this afternoon, I know you’re a busy guy.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ELECT: G’day Steve, thanks for having me on the program and that feedback from Paul is exactly why I’m here and I was just talking to a fellow up at the Narangba Valley Tavern. I was just talking to a fellow who also didn’t vote for us on Saturday. He’s a small business guy, owns a business around here, employs 25 people, makes outdoor street furniture and I had a really good chat with him. He felt that Labor wasn’t standing up for his interests and he felt as though we were not giving him due credit for the business that he’s built. He was a terrific bloke; voted against us; told us why. That’s a good thing. I want to hear exactly what went wrong here in Queensland and indeed around the country. We only got the vote of one in three but here in Queensland of course we got just a little bit over one in four so we need to do much better if we hope to form government after the next election.
AUSTIN: Apparently you met Susan Lamb the former Member for Longman now, Corinne Mulholland who stood for you guys for Petrie and Ali France who stood in Dickson. I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not but if you did, what did you learn from them what did they tell you, what feedback did they give? What did they tell you?
ALBANESE: Well I’ve been with Susan today and in a very little while, in 20 minutes I’m having discussion including Corinne and Ali about what their views are and we’ve invited people I’ve got here early for the last hour or so I’ve been chatting with people here just at random and people have been very open to coming and having a discussion. I’m a pretty open bloke and I want to hear from them.
AUSTIN: You lost the outer ring suburbs, the mortgage belt, tends to be more religious electorates here in the southeast, mortgage often small business aspiration. Why was that?
ALBANESE: Well what they’re saying, well this particular small business guy, he said to me he had very little education he’s built his business up himself. He told us some of the specifics of his business in terms of outdoor street furniture, the supplies right around the country. He felt as though we weren’t talking to him and that we were saying that he was rich. He’s got some assets, but he certainly doesn’t regard himself as rich. He doesn’t say that. He says he hasn’t got a lot of money at the bank. Yes he’s got some assets but he’s put it back in his business and that business is employing locals. And that’s a great thing because they’re able to put food on the table for their families and able to contribute to the local economy here.
I’ve talked with someone else who was getting $1,200, this was earlier on in Caboolture, $1,200 in franking credits but they were relying upon that for their Christmas basically, to pay for the presents and all the extra financial outlies that happened at Christmas and they felt as though the changes that we were advancing in the election weren’t fair to them. They’d bought a few shares when various companies had floated particularly Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank, I think. And they felt as though the change that we were proposing wasn’t fair on them and we’ve got to listen to these people.
It can be a bit difficult but you’ve got to be prepared to acknowledge after a loss that you have lost that’s the first thing; no good looking for excuses and there’s a range of issues happen. There’s no doubt there was a lot of misinformation out there about things that we allegedly were doing and we weren’t. You had Clive Palmer spending tens of millions of dollars on a campaign but we need to do listen to people and talk to people one on one and I’ve certainly found that very worthwhile in my first day as the Labor Leader.
AUSTIN: All right. Anthony Albanese, why do you think a leader like Kevin Rudd did well here when other leaders like Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten did not. In my mind, Kevin Rudd and Scott Morrison actually have some similarities if you strip away the political brand.
ALBANESE: While Kevin Rudd is of course a friend of mine as you know he was.
AUSTIN: You were a supporter of his.
ALBANESE: I am and I think he was a good Labor leader and the third person since the Second World War to take us into government from opposition. That’s a mountain to climb and I want to be the fourth.
AUSTIN: And Bill Shorten did him over on the basis of what now looks like potentially very dodgy polling scenarios.
ALBANESE: Well I disagreed with what happened on the 23rd of June 2010. I said it at the time that it would lead to damage to not to one Labor prime minister but to two
ALBANESE: And I think that prediction was right. I’ve always been upfront about that. One of the things I say is what you see is what you get. I will do my best in this job to consult, to talk with colleagues, to talk with people who are with us and campaign for us who’ve been let down by the result on May 18th and I will also talk to people who didn’t vote for us and I hope to secure their support next time around.
AUSTIN: My guest is the leader of the Australian Labor Party, Anthony Albanese. He’s here in Queensland, Northside, up Caboolture way. This is ABC Radio Brisbane, it’s a quarter past five, Steve Austin is my name. I want to throw you a couple of questions or statements from listeners that I’ve asked. Mike from Fitzgibbon wants to know if Labor will continue your electric cars policy and if so how you would go about taxing them considering that electric cars wouldn’t generate any money and fuel excise from the Federal Government which is quite important to the Treasury coffers.
ALBANESE: All policies are on the table. Because what happens when you go to an election if you lose they’re null and void obviously. The policies in 2022 will be very different from the policies today. But with regard to electric vehicles, the truth is that electric vehicles will be at parity all of the manufacturers tell us, before the middle of the next decade and because they’re cheaper to run, people will be making decisions to buy electric vehicles. That’s what’s happening internationally. It will happen here as well. And there was never a policy to force people to buy electric vehicles. That was one of the misnomers of the election. But the motor vehicle market is in transition, that will continue to happen. And just like if you look at smartphones and their use today, if he could have predicted that 20 years ago you would have been Nostradamus.
ALBANESE: The truth is that motor vehicles are in transition today. The issue of the fuel excise was something that the Government tried to address in its last term. Paul Fletcher came out there and said they’d establish a process. It’s now up to the Government for whether they proceed with that or not.
AUSTIN: All right. Let me get some other statements in from other listeners. Louise from Wellington Point believes that Labor has moved too far to the left is now too close to the Greens. She wants to know how you’ll address that perception at least.
ALBANESE: Well I think anyone who knows anything about my political campaigning locally knows that I represent the Labor Party certainly not the Greens.
AUSTIN: But you are on the left of the Labor Party.
ALBANESE: Well I am now the Leader of the entire Labor Party and very much removed from factional activity. My view is that the Greens don’t offer realistic alternatives. They don’t offer common sense politics. They don’t have to make anything add up and I’m very critical of their agenda. That’s why I’m in a party of government. The Labor Party and the two options at the next election will be, if the Liberal Party can actually hold onto a leader for a couple of years, that’ll be Scott Morrison versus myself. And so –
AUSTIN: ScoMo versus Albo.
ALBANESE: Indeed, in shorthand. Exactly.
AUSTIN: Julie from Boyne Island told us that she’s angry with Labor because of what she sees as the party’s dishonesty and lack of spine on Adani. She says that the Labor Party sat on the fence and that’s why they lost many votes. And she says she supports the environment and jobs but she says politicians lack innovation but are corrupted by donations. Can you speak to that for Julie from Boyne Island?
ALBANESE: Well we do need to support the environment and jobs. It’s not one or the other and I’ve been absolutely consistent about that. Good policy on the environment can create jobs. You look at the number of renewable energy jobs that are being created right now here in Queensland and they are many tens of thousands. If you look at projects in North West Queensland where I visited with Bob Katter, the Kidston project, the Big Kennedy and Little Kennedy around Hughenden – they are creating jobs whilst helping the environment. If you look at electric vehicles, the big charging stations for electric vehicles that have been developed here in southeast Queensland –
AUSTIN: Trinium, yes.
ALBANESE: Are now being exported to Europe.
AUSTIN: That’s right, yes.
ALBANESE: What we need to do is to identify opportunities, make sure we value add and make sure that we get the benefit from –
AUSTIN: Trinium did it though as I understand it without government assistance or interference. In other words all I needed was clarity of policy direction. It didn’t need anything other than clarity and I think that’s what Julie from Boyne Island is frustrated about that Labor tried to have a bob each way.
ALBANESE: Well if you look at the roll out of the charging stations, the Federal Government last year announced the roll out of the charging stations for electric vehicles and then pretended that they had nothing to do with it. So they made that announcement. There is some support there for the roll out of charging stations on major highways and that’s a good thing that the Government did that. They pretended it has never, never heard of an electric vehicle after people like Josh Frydenberg and others were out there promoting their transition just months earlier.
AUSTIN: It seems that at some point maybe 15/20 years down the track that we will have to sort of get out of coal, because, mainly because the coal operations will probably be automated for a range of reasons. But I want to go back to the 80s of the Labor Party where the Labor Party developed a very good transition industry assistance or transition program to get out of the textile and footwear industry. They had a plan in place because they knew that it was all over. That same thing didn’t happen with the car industry in Australia and the same thing as far as I can see is not happening with the transition out of the coal industry. People in North Queensland didn’t vote for Adani. They voted for jobs. And if someone rolled out and showed that there was a reliable realistic skin-in-the-game transition program in place to a genuine employing industry they would have they would have gone with that. Do you see where I’m heading here that Labor, that it was actually the Labor Government of Bob Hawke that actually worked up a transition plan for textile and footwear but it didn’t happen with the car industry which we’ve lost, and it hasn’t happened or is not happening with the coal industry, at least as far as I can see?
ALBANESE: The role of Government is to support jobs and support as well where there are changes in the economy to support transitions in a way that benefit working people. And one of the things about Queensland though in terms of the coal industry, is overwhelmingly it’s metallurgical – it’s used to make steel.
ALBANESE: And that’s going to continue. That’s going to continue. That’s not about to disappear. There’s the demand for that, as well as of course in terms of thermal coal continues to play a role in the energy mix. So what we need to do is to examine issues in a coherent sensible way and make sure that the days of the scare campaign – the problems for the government is that it’s still is acting like it’s the Opposition and wanting to talk about us.
ALBANESE: They don’t know whether they support energy policy in particular, any climate change policy, any targets, they talk about new coal-fired power plants. But no one actually wants to invest in them and you can’t ensure a new coal-fired power plant if you wanted to construct one at the moment because of the risks that are there. So that the Government needs to, actually post-election, there there’s an opportunity for it to say: Righto, we’re going to actually end some of the politics around this and actually work out a plan like it said it would do with the NEG, promoted by Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg. But, they walked away from that as part of the coup against Malcolm Turnbull when they changed leaders for the third time in just a few years.
AUSTIN: The Labor Party – this is my final question, I’ve got to let you go – but Lilley, was held by Wayne Swan. That’s been Labor heartland for as long as I can remember. You nearly lost it. Why do you think it was so close? Why do you think that Labor people sort of went the other way and didn’t vote for Labor in the electorate of Lilley, that Wayne Swan had held for so long.
ALBANESE: Well of course Wayne Swan did lose the seat for a term and in 1996 to 1998. So it’s not like he there has always been a Labor seat – he was a sitting member who was defeated and then he came back in 1998. The thing is when you have a long standing local member of Wayne Swan’s profile, I mean this is someone who was Treasurer of Australia, was the Deputy Prime Minister, was indeed awarded the Finance Minister of the year internationally, he had a big profile. When you lose him, there’s no doubt that you will lose some weight in terms of your political standing. But I’m very confident that Anika Wells, who is an outstanding candidate – I campaigned with her on a number of occasions during the election campaign – I’m confident that she will be a very long term member and will make a real difference as a local member but also as a senior figure in the future and one to watch in Canberra.
AUSTIN: Appreciate you coming on this afternoon , speak to you again.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much Steve.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.