Aug 24, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – ABC Radio National – Friday, 24 August, 2018

Subjects: Leadership spill.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Well listening in to my discussion just there with Craig Laundy is Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Tourism and Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development. Welcome to RN Drive.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Patricia.

KARVELAS: Well it’s a big day for the Liberal Party obviously, you’re on the opposite side but what do you make of us losing our 29th Prime Minister?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a big day for the nation. And today what we’ve seen is the fourth consecutive time that a prime minister has failed to serve out a term after they’ve been elected and I think that is a problem for our political system. You have, I think, quite extraordinary circumstances this week. It reminded me of 2010. In 2010 Kevin Rudd was ahead in every single poll two-party preferred – 52-48 the day that he was deposed. And here we have Malcolm Turnbull has been ahead in terms of preferred Prime Minister for 58 Newspolls in a row. They were competitive and they have been destroyed from within. I think it is indeed a tragedy that most Australians who don’t engage in politics on a day to day basis – most Australians aren’t in political parties – they’re watching this and saying: ‘Hang on, don’t I get to decide who the prime minister is?’.

KARVELAS: It’s interesting you make that point. You say he was competitive? Really?

ALBANESE: Well he was competitive that’s the truth – 49 two-party preferred. And he had lost a substantial number of Newspolls in a row. I think he’s brought some of this on himself by failing to be true to himself. He compromised his principles so much on issues like climate change, on the republic, on things that he’d stood for for a long period of time – on marriage equality where the nation went through a very difficult and unnecessary process.

KARVELAS: Well it’s interesting you say that because he said today when he listed his achievements that actually he got it done and he was the first prime minister – and remember couple of Labor prime ministers when this was a debate too – he was the first prime minister who was in favour of changing the laws and he got it done.

ALBANESE: Well that’s just not right because Kevin Rudd was in favour of changing the laws.

KARVELAS: That was right at the end – right at the end of the Rudd tenure but yes.

ALBANESE: That’s true, but the truth is that the Australian people changed their mind over a period of time. And one of the things that happens in society is – I’m a progressive, I believe that society moves forward and the problem for the Liberal Party is that they’ve got a group of people, such as Tony Abbott and others, who want society not just to stay as it is but to go backwards and who don’t have respect for institutions in the way that conservatives should. These people are reactionaries, not conservatives. They’re not about respecting institutions and history, they’re about wrecking it. And they’re wrecked their own political party this week.

KARVELAS: You spent the last week slamming Peter Dutton. It seems pretty safe to assume that Scott Morrison was not the leader the Labor Party wanted to face at the upcoming election. Is that right?

ALBANESE: That’s not right. I went pretty hard against Peter Dutton because I regard him as someone who is one of the most divisive characters in the Parliament and I also regarded his behaviour as just being – call me old fashioned, I’m very loyal to the Labor Party, but I didn’t like what he was doing to the institution of Parliament. They had a leadership ballot on Tuesday, they lost and after that he determined to just throw all the toys out of the cot, to break all of the rules and conventions which are there to the point whereby you had the mass resignation of ministers and the Parliament actually give up functioning this week. I’m a great believer in parliamentary processes. I had the great privilege of serving as the Leader of the Government in the House of Representatives and I found the events of this week very difficult from a parliamentary perspective, as well as obviously in terms of the Liberal Party – I think that they gave up governing this week, which is why I am of the view that Scott Morrison needs to go to an election because he doesn’t have a mandate from the Australian public.

KARVELAS: Why does he need to? I mean he has to just prove that he’s got the numbers in the House of Representatives. That’s our political system. I mean we don’t have a directly elected leader, you know that, our system is you’re elected from your party room, you’ve got to show that you can command the votes in the House of Representatives. If he can do that isn’t that the only test?

ALBANESE: Well the Government stopped functioning. That’s the test. They gave up on Parliament. We don’t have an energy policy in this nation. We have been through five years of the Emissions Intensity Scheme, the clean energy target, then various versions of the NEG and now we’ve got nothing. And what the investors say is that they need certainty. Now there was a lot of talk about the savings, so called, from the NEG. It was $550. Four hundred dollars of that was due to the renewable energy target that will deliver the renewable energy not just to 20 per cent by 2020 but up to 24 – so the $150, the additional, was due to the reduction that would come from a reduction in the risk because of a certain outcome. So it was almost like any policy is what industry are crying out for. We don’t have that. We still don’t have a funding system in place in the long term for education. We have a whole range of problems. Let’s have an election.

KARVELAS: Okay, I know you could list all of the reasons you don’t like the Liberal Party and its agenda. But the Labor Party as you say has got new rules in place to make a leadership change harder. Does that mean that if Bill Shorten is elected at the next general election, and you’re saying you want it to be straight away, that under no circumstances should he be cut down?

ALBANESE: Well I think that’s precisely what would happen, because under our system what you would have to have is an overwhelming majority to change that. It’s much more difficult to change in terms of…

KARVELAS: Okay but even if you got that overwhelming majority, would it still be wrong?

ALBANESE: Well certainly unless there is a very real reason of why it should occur, it shouldn’t.

KARVELAS: What would a real reason for why it should occur be?

ALBANESE: Well if a prime minister is corrupt or something …

KARVELAS: Okay, that’s different though.

ALBANESE: … then obviously the political party might want to do something about that.

KARVELAS: But a prime minister just not being very popular?

ALBANESE: No, that is not a reasonable circumstance.

KARVELAS: Polling badly not good enough?

ALBANESE: Look what we have had in the Labor Party is a change in our culture and it was only a small group who were involved last time round. And you had a similar thing this week whereby you had today the circumstance whereby the three people, Mathias Cormann and the other two Ministers who stood with him, Cash and Fifield, and said ‘we have only shifted reluctantly because it’s clear to us the majority of people in the caucus want Peter Dutton rather than Malcolm Turnbull’ – that just wasn’t true. It just wasn’t true, because if they had of voted against the spill today it wouldn’t have happened and Malcolm Turnbull would still be Prime Minister. You also had five Ministers go to the despatch box on Tuesday and say that they were loyal to Malcolm Turnbull. Now it is a very serious offence Patricia, as you know, to mislead Parliament. It’s very clear that all of those ministers just misled Parliament this week. I can’t see how it’s possible that they can serve. I think there’s a whole range of issues that have arisen out of this week, which is why we should go to an election. We should give the Australian people a say because they’re demanding it frankly because they’ve looked on at what’s happened this week with horror.

KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese always good to talk to you and what a political contest it now is. Thank you so much for your time.

ALBANESE: Thanks Patricia.