SUBJECTS: Federal Election; Listening Tour
HOST: The Leader of the Labor Party is in town at the moment, he’s with us right now. Anthony Albanese, welcome to the tropical north.
ALBANESE: Thank you very much, you always get a good welcome here. Can I just begin because this is my first opportunity to express my sadness and condolences to the families of those who’ve been victims of this violent atrocity that occurred in Darwin last night and to all of the people of Darwin. It’s a city a bit like Mackay where it’s very close-knit, the whole city will be affected by this.
HOST: Yeah it does make you wonder what drives someone to those levels doesn’t it hey?
ALBANESE: It’s just so shocking. And Darwin is a very special place. I spoke to the Chief Minister, Gunner last night and to our local MPs as well, Luke Gosling and Malarndirri McCarthy and they were just shocked by this sudden turn of events that has such an impact on innocent people.
HOST: Very well said. Very much so. Look, Anthony, what we normally do here at ABC Tropical North is get a bunch of questions from Facebook and people ringing in. So that the people of the Tropical North get to have a chat with you. So I’ve got a bunch of questions and if you’re happy with that I’ll role them out. First one, it’s a Dorothy Dixer actually, but it’s a nice insight to you the bloke, the last book you read in its entirety, what was it?
ALBANESE: The last book that I read… probably Tim Winton’s biography about when he was young, autobiography. Tim Winton’s a great Australian novelist of course and one of things I like about his writing is that it really exposes you to regional Western Australia. It’s a real insight to him and that was the last book I read, I’ve got to say during the election campaign it was more like reading policy briefs as I ran around the country.
HOST: Understandable. Look, last night of course, Tiffany wanted to know you had a meeting there at the Andergrove Tavern and that was for Labor Members so you’re talking to your rusted ons. And I’m assuming the talk was what went so wrong for the Federal Election. Tiffany would like to know what have you learned after talking to your supporters up here?
ALBANESE: Well look I haven’t just spoken to supporters, I’ve spoken to a bunch of other people. A couple of real estate agents, I won’t say what the company is, David and Greg had a long chat up here from Brisbane yesterday as well and talking to people at the airport, talked to people in the town and then talked to people around the marina last night where I’m staying and we’ll be talking to more people this morning. Look, it was obviously a very disappointing result, that’s the first thing to be said. Clearly we got some of our messaging wrong, there’s no good going through an election where you get one in three Australians to vote Labor as their first preference and not acknowledging that. We need to revisit some of the policies, I think many people felt as though we were defining them as wealthy and they certainly aren’t wealthy and don’t classify themselves as wealthy so I think we got some of that messaging wrong and some of the specific policies wrong. I said we will examine all of them, there was a determination though, it was a very good turnout last night, Belinda Hassan, our candidate campaigned very strongly and I think she was a good candidate and there were issues around George Christensen during the campaign, of course, as the local member here and to the extent to which he was representing the local community but he had an outstanding result and that has to be acknowledged and he should be congratulated for his reindorsement.
HOST: Okay. Now, you mentioned that you got some your messages wrong. The feedback that we’ve got at ABC Tropical North is that the Labor Party just got it deplorably wrong on the subject of mining. So, first things first, Brett said; what is your position on the Adani mine and the subsequent opening of the Galilee Basin?
ALBANESE: My position is very clear which is that, the environmental approvals it has been through- a Commonwealth Government- not once but twice, that that’s the role of the Commonwealth. Then it is up to companies to determine whether they will invest their money, whether the financing is available. Adani in particular, has chosen to finance the projects itself because they are unable to get outside financing and that’s a decision for the company. Can I say this about coal in Queensland; I don’t think it is understood by a lot of people from the southern states, 70 per cent of the coal extracted in Queensland is metallurgical coal. Now, if you’re in a an operating theatre everything from the scalpel to the x-ray machine relies upon that to happen. So, the idea that that industry is under threat is absurd. It’s a necessary industry and it should be acknowledged as such. I think quite often this debate has come down to trying to pit community against community and one of the things that I’ve said very clearly is that Australians want to be united, what unites us is far more significant than the many divisions that are there. And, I want to end this argument about cities versus regions that is emerging because I think that’s not something that’s conducive to the sort of country that Australia is. We should have respect for everyone regardless of where they live, regardless of what work they do and regardless of what faith they have and there are other characteristics. I think that is really important and some of the messaging during the election campaign- I must say- on both sides I think missed that.
HOST: Just on that, what were your thoughts when Bob Brown, the Bob Brown convoy came up to this part of the world? You obviously read about it and kept an eye on it.
ALBANESE: Well I don’t say this in retrospect. I said it at the time and it was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald eight days out from the election campaign that I regarded that as not showing people respect- the idea that people from outside the community would go in. Now, I’m not questioning the motives of the people involved in terms of many of the people concerned about climate change and they want to express that but that it shows no respect to go into a community and essentially shout at them about something that they’re concerned about when what they’re understandably worried about is job security. It their living standards is making sure that their kids have employment into the future and I said that at the time that that dispute was happening that it was in my view an enormous gift to the LNP in particular in the election campaign. But that isn’t really what worries me. What worries me is I don’t want to see any Australians not treated with respect and I don’t think that was respectful and frankly having a demonstration at least from Tasmania heading to North Queensland. I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t know what the demonstrators were thinking either. Who occupied my office once a week stopping people getting assistance for Social Security healthcare the sort of people coming in my electorate office in Marrickville, they come because they need assistance and my office had to be closed at one stage every week because of the demonstrators and I’m not sure what the point of those demonstrations was either but that showed no respect to my constituents.
HOST: alright well just on a couple of bits and pieces. Kerry asked 136 per cent rise in electricity for farmers in the past 10 years where we are. On top of that vegetation laws which there was there’s quite a bit there about if Labor got in they might roll eyes out across Australia plus more red tape regarding runoff from those sorts of things, it’s a hard lot for farmers in this neck of the woods would you agree Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: The farmers have always got a hard life. They do a great job for the nation. So when one of the reasons why let’s be clear this government has been in office now. For It’s into its third term. They promised lower energy prices they haven’t got it. And the reason why that hasn’t been delivered is because there’s no certainty of policy and that’s why we need certainty. The business community are crying out for certainty so that they can invest so they can boost supply which will reduce prices and I’ve said to Prime Minister Morrison and to the Government they’re now into their third term. The idea they can just blame Labor going back to now by the end of this term they will have been in office for almost a decade. It’s just not sustainable, they need to be practical come up with a policy which they did with the NEG and then they walked away from their own policy because a minority of people within the Coalition including George Christensen the local member here objected to it. Now we need a solution that provides certainty.
HOST: Alright look I’ve just seen the time there too, and I know you’ve got another gig to go so. So look let me just cut to the chase – the messy question and the things that I’ve seen sitting in this studio and reading Facebook and taking the phone calls is the amount of Australians in our area here, in the tropical north, that are sick to death of the Government arguing with the Opposition about things of little or no consequences when we’ve got high prices, there’s transition into renewables is a big thing, creating new industries – all those sorts of things. Can you as the Leader of the Labor Party, can you say on the wireless this morning that it’s going to be a more positive sort of government, the way the country is gonna be run, it’s going to be more positive where if there is a good idea that the opposition will get on board? If it’s a terrible idea well obviously you’ll fight. I mean how is it going to work with you at the helm?
ALBANESE: It will work absolutely that way with me. One of the things that I’ve said is that I don’t want to be called the Opposition Leader, and you’ve just started it well there. I’m the Labor Leader. And it is a good idea that’s in the national interest, including on issues like getting certainty with energy policy on a range of other issues, Australians expect us to put them first not partisan politics first.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time this morning really appreciate it.
ALBANESE: Thank you mate I appreciate you having me on the program.
HOST: Goodo. And enjoy while you’re here. I hope you are rugged up.
ALBANESE: It is a bit – I went on an early morning walk and I have got to say, it’s a bit chilly.
HOST: Yeah you got one of our three cold days of the year. How do you feel about State of Origin tonight?
ALBANESE: I am of course a Blues supporter. Being from New South Wales but the great thing about it is just it’s always just a magnificent football game and as a South Sydney fanatic I hope that the (inaudible) from Queensland or any of the new boys making a debut tonight – Cameron Murray and Cody Walker -I just hope be nice to them Queensland, be gentle, Cooky can look after himself, he’s pretty tough. I don’t think you could hurt him with a Mack Truck.
HOST: You know (inaudible) is a Mackay boy don’t you?
ALBANESE: He’s a great fella actually. I was talking to him after the Tigers game and he’s a real gentleman and he is a great ambassador for your great city.
HOST: Good on you Anthony, thank you for your time this morning.
ALBANESE: Thanks mate.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.