SUBJECTS: Preferences, Morrison’s preference deal with Clive Palmer, Labor’s National Preschool and Kindy Program.
FRAN KELLY: Labor’s chances of winning the election have taken a bit of a hit with Clive Palmer formally unveiling that preference deal with the Coalition. In so doing, he accused Bill Shorten of being a two-faced liar, who is unfit to be Prime Minister, insisting Labor had had extensive discussions with him about preferences.
CLIVE PALMER (GRAB): The Labor Party and Shorten were happy to deal on preferences with the United Australia Party and they wanted them, but they were bad losers. It was only after they realised that they missed out that they attacked the Liberal Party for doing the same thing as they were trying to do.
KELLY: Clive Palmer yesterday. Well, Anthony Albanese is a senior Labor frontbencher. Anthony Albanese, welcome back to Breakfast.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, CITIES AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Good morning, Fran.
KELLY: Let’s clear this up. Bill Shorten says Labor would never have accepted the votes of Clive Palmer, who Labor’s dubbed the wages thief. Clive Palmer said you wanted them. You were just a bad loser. He said there were multiple contacts and he outlined them in recent months with Labor, mainly with Queensland Senator Anthony Chisholm. Did Labor actively seek a preference deal with Clive Palmer?
ALBANESE: No we didn’t. Bill Shorten’s made it very clear. And if you know anything about the Labor Party, the idea that we would do a preference deal with someone who hasn’t paid their workers is just anathema to Labor.
KELLY: Why was Anthony Chisholm contacting him on multiple occasions, as Clive Palmer outlined chapter and verse yesterday?
ALBANESE: No. Let’s be very clear, Fran. Clive Palmer has given different stories at different times. Anthony Chisholm did have a couple of very brief conversations with Clive Palmer to find out what he was doing. I did a photoshoot with candidates in Grayndler yesterday and I asked them what they were doing. That’s not a negotiation and Labor has made it very clear that we would not have done a deal with Clive Palmer. Clive Palmer – this is a guy who’s been out there on national TV speaking about how he has 4,000 million dollars but can’t pay his workers. He says it’s going to be put into a trust fund. These are people who weren’t paid their entitlements. Labor went hard on those issues. Labor was formed by working people – we stand up for working people. And Scott Morrison had a choice of standing up for those workers or doing a dirty deal with Clive Palmer, and frankly he chose the dirty deal because he is desperate to hang on to office.
KELLY: Well, if Clive Palmer is so bad why is Labor preferencing his party second in the Tasmanian seat of Franklin and above independent Andrew Wilkie in Denison.
ALBANESE: It’s probably just a donkey vote, Fran. I’m not aware of all 151 how-to-votes but that sounds like spin from the LNP to the media.
KELLY: Well I’ll check that. I don’t know if it’s a donkey vote. I mean, that’s the suggestion is that they’ve preferenced UAP second on their how-to-vote card.
ALBANESE: That’s what I just said to you, Fran.
KELLY: Well, is that you normally do it? If One Nation had been next?
ALBANESE: I said, quite often you do, because Labor finishes first and then what happens is that Labor’s preferences won’t be counted in a seat like Franklin. So you make the how-to-vote as simple as possible. I suspect that that is what has happened. Certainly in the way that how-to-votes are done, quite often that’s done. The question is, has there been a deal with UAP or with Clive Palmer. I think, Fran, you’re very aware that there hasn’t been a deal, in fact the opposite of a deal. Clive Palmer has been on the attack against Labor and we’re comfortable with that because we’re on the attack against Clive Palmer’s deal with Scott Morrison. We’re concerned about the fact that Clive Palmer hasn’t paid his workers. We’re concerned about his behaviour towards the people of Townsville. But more importantly we’re concerned a Prime Minister is prepared to do deals, not just with Clive Palmer of course but his Coalition partners the National Party and the LNP in Queensland have done a deal with One Nation and One Nation, we’ve seen overnight have just dumped their second Senate candidate, the very prominent One Nation figure, Steve Dickson. They are a mess and a recipe, a vote for Scott Morrison is a vote for more chaos.
ALBANESE: It’s very clear…
KELLY: Well, Clive Palmer….
ALBANESE: That Scott Morrison…
KELLY: Clive Palmer is no fan of Bill Shorten’s either. He’s branded him a liar. He says he lacks the moral character to be Prime Minister. If he makes it to the Senate, if he is a balance of power player in the Senate, sounds like you can forget him passing any of your legislation, if you win the election. Does that make it harder for you to offer these major promises, big spending promises, if, you know, there’s a question mark over whether you going to be able to get your, your changes to negative gearing for instance through the Senate.
ALBANESE: We’ll have a strong mandate for our policies. The fact is that we have a plan for a better Australia. And we’ve been outlining those policies over many years. Some of them we took to the 2016 election and we’ve been campaigning for ever since. I mean that’s the difference at this election. We have a plan for a better Australia. They have a plan to be re-elected. We have a positive plan. They have a scare campaign. That’s all they’ve got.
KELLY: Okay. It’s 11 minutes to eight. Our guest is Anthony Albanese. He’s the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Let’s go to one of your policies now – the Labor promise from Bill Shorten on the weekend for a 20 per cent pay rise for childcare workers over eight years; close to 10 billion dollars, the bill. Bill Shorten says we’d pick childcare workers to go first. In other words other low paid workers may also be in line for a government-funded pay rise. Is that what he’s saying. Who would, who would Labor have in mind? Aged care workers? Disability workers?
ALBANESE: Well, I’m not going to be announcing those things on your program, Fran. What we’re saying is at this election, we are taking a policy to improve the pay for childcare workers to this election, and we’ll have a mandate for it. And why are we doing that, Fran? Because childcare workers perform a role that is absolutely critical. We hand over our three and four year olds to childcare workers for many hours a day, to look after them, to help to educate them. We know that the human brain grows so much in the first five years. We know this is a critical task and we also know that this is a profession that’s dominated by women, and there’s still a massive gender pay gap. And one of the arguments for increasing the salary of childcare workers is to close that gender pay gap and we make no apologies for the fact…
KELLY: I suppose what I’m asking you is…
ALBANESE: …that we’re prepared to stand up for them.
KELLY: What I’m asking you is not this deal in particular, but does Labor intend then to look at other female dominated workforces, like…
ALBANESE: This is the deal that we are taking to the election, Fran. This is a policy that we’re taking to the election and we’re taking it very, very clearly and explicitly, as well as the commitment that we have across the board to support childcare, as well as our commitment for early childhood education for every three or four year old, as well as our commitments on health and education and infrastructure. So we have a positive plan that we’re taking forward and we’re able to pay for it because we’re closing tax loopholes. The Government, and we saw this last night in the debate, don’t really have an agenda for the next term. It’s just don’t vote Labor, don’t vote Labor. We have not taken that approach. We’ve used our time in Opposition.
KELLY: The point I’m, the point I’m trying to clarify here, just in the minute we have left, is that employer groups are saying this is no way to be striking salary agreements. Is this a one off or does Labor think this is a model that’s likely to be rolled out to impact the wages of other female-dominated low paid workforces, like for instance in aged care?
ALBANESE: Well Fran, this is the position we’re taking to this election campaign. We think that childcare workers in particular are deserving of being targeted. We make no apologies for that, and the fact is that our positive plan for this initiative contrasts with the Government’s plan of just more cuts to education and health and infrastructure and other things. I mean the only thing that they don’t want to cut is carbon pollution.
KELLY: All right. Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us.
ALBANESE: Thanks Fran.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.