Sep 21, 2007

Transcript of radio interview – Parliamentary standards, Liberal Government

Transcript of radio interview – Virginia Trioli, ABC 702

Friday, 21 September 2007


Subject: Parliamentary standards; Liberal Government dirt unit

TRIOLI: Anthony Albanese was right in the middle of it and has been for some time. Federal Labor Member for Grayndler and Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, and he joins me now. Anthony Albanese, good morning.

ALBANESE: Good morning Virginia.

TRIOLI: The Opposition was unable to substantiate that question that Jenny Macklin asked, so, did you blow it?

ALBANESE: No, we certainly didn’t. Parliament is the appropriate forum to ask questions. It was a question –

TRIOLI: What, any question that comes into your head?

ALBANESE: Well, it’s not a matter of any question that comes into our head, it’s a matter of the form that’s there from the Government.

You speak about non-substantiation. Well, Tony Abbott, on ABC radio, was asked on August 20, a direct question, and it was, “Are you saying you don’t have a dirt unit and it doesn’t have people trying to scour up the backgrounds of Labor candidates?”

His response was, “Of course. Obviously you want to look at the files and all that kind of stuff.”

We know, and your listeners know, that every week or so there’s something coming out about Kevin Rudd, Kevin Rudd’s wife, Kevin Rudd’s late parents who aren’t around to defend themselves, that these details are being trawled around the media.

And we know that that is occurring because this is a desperate government that doesn’t want to discuss the issues that we want to discuss.

Kevin Rudd had a Matter of Public Importance on yesterday, speaking about his plans for the future: climate change, education, hospitals. But we heard nothing of that from the Prime Minister or the government.

This was an orchestrated plan by the government. Normally, question time begins at two o’clock. Yesterday, Brendan Nelson, without giving notice to me, as Manager of Opposition Business, moved a ministerial statement at two o’clock that delayed question time – brought if forward, it was supposed to be afterwards – delayed question time. This was a planned, orchestrated blowing up of the Parliament by the government.

TRIOLI: And it seems that everyone blew up shortly thereafter. But Anthony Albanese, let’s turn the question around. Can you say, on the record, honestly and certainly, that there is no orchestrated or coordinated attempt to put together dirt files or smear files or critical files, on members of the government?

ALBANESE: Yes, absolutely.

TRIOLI: There is nothing like that at all?

ALBANESE: Correct.

TRIOLI: You’re not marshalling your evidence, even if it’s evidence on the record?

ALBANESE: No we are not, because what Australians are interested in is plans for the future, it is the policy direction that is needed – the climate change and water crisis, the crisis in terms of our educational funding, how to deal with our hospital system.

These are the issues that people are interested in, and we wanted to debate that, and even yesterday, the government voted down the potential for a debate between Kevin Rudd and John Howard about those issues.

And we heard no denial about the issues relating to – we asked two questions yesterday: one about Kevin Rudd’s health situation and any link or involvement from the government. It is reasonable that that question be asked.

The second question was about a public report that there has been forensic investigation of the purchase of Kevin Rudd and Therese Rein’s family home in Brisbane. That’s a public report, not denied by the government, that the Liberal Party has engaged forensic investigators. They didn’t deny it, and we know –

TRIOLI: But don’t you need to put up the firm evidence of so-called private investigators being hired, as Jenny Macklin said in Parliament yesterday?

ALBANESE: It is a report that has been made in the newspaper –

TRIOLI: There are all sorts of reports made, and they might not necessarily end up being accurate.

ALBANESE: It is reasonable for us to raise those questions in the Parliament. We did so as well as raising a number of policy issues.

The government had an orchestrated blow up of the Parliament because it’s desperate and doesn’t want to engage in policy debate.

TRIOLI: Ok look we’ve got to take a few calls before the news at nine o’clock but Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time.

ALBANESE: Good to talk to you Virginia.

TRIOLI: Anthony Albanese, who is the Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Reps.