Subjects: Preference deal between Liberals and Greens political party; Budget.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Parliamentary library research has shown that any decision by the Liberals to direct preferences to the Greens could deliver at least two key Labor seats to the Greens. One of them is Grayndler, the inner Sydney seat of the shadow Infrastructure and Cities minister Anthony Albanese. Anthony Albanese joins me in our Sydney studio. Mr Albanese, welcome to the program.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Michael.
BRISSENDEN: Now the Greens say they’re talking to everyone, they’re talking to all parties. You’d expect them to do that. But they say no deal has been done with the Liberals. Have you heard otherwise?
ALBANESE: Absolutely, there is a deal in place between the Greens and the Liberal Party. It involves the Liberals giving the Greens preferences above Labor in Grayndler, Sydney, Melbourne, Batman and Wills. And it involves a largely Victorian deal, given the involvement of Michael Kroger, of the Greens producing split-ticket votes, or how-to-votes that don’t recommend a preference – they have double sides – in Corangamite, Bruce, Chisholm, McEwan, Deakin and La Trobe in Victoria, and Richmond in New South Wales.
BRISSENDEN: Okay, well the Greens say they won’t be doing split tickets, but they have run open tickets in past elections, which effectively allows people to make their own decisions. What’s wrong with that?
ALBANESE: Well that’s the same thing. This is a fix…
BRISSENDEN: Well it’s not really, is it?
ALBANESE: Well, absolutely. This is a fix to promote the chances of the Liberal Party maintaining government. When you look at today’s polls of 50-50, the difference between the Greens allocating preferences to a party that they say is closest to them in terms of the Labor Party ahead of the Greens, can be the difference between a Government member or candidate for the Liberal Party being elected and not. And it’s the duplicity of this, Michael. In Grayndler, the Greens will go along and say, oh, we’re not doing a deal with the Liberals and give preferences no doubt to me ahead of the Liberals. That’s because the deal is somewhere else. The deal is in these marginal seats. This is aimed for both the Liberal Party and the Greens. This is cynical politics at its worst whereby it’s attempting to deceive the voters. And in that statement that somehow open tickets don’t matter, we live in a compulsory preferential system in the House of Representatives. That means people have to allocate preferences. And if the Greens don’t think that there’s a difference between Labor and the Coalition on climate change, on marriage equality, on workplace relations – all of these issues have implications if the Coalition is re-elected. And their supporters would be horrified at the idea that they are consciously going to assist in the re-election of the Turnbull Government if they proceed with this deal.
BRISSENDEN: Clearly your concern about this is motivated by self-interest, at least in part. This could potentially have a big impact on your own seat. Isn’t there a lesson here for Labor, that you’re not really presenting the sort of policies that are attracting enough primary votes in those seats?
ALBANESE: This is just a cynical manipulation, Michael. And a progressive political party shouldn’t back a government that is opposed to progressive change across the board. And I think that the voters, who are inclined and thinking about whether they’ll vote Green or Labor in my electorate and other electorates, will think very hard and fast. Part of what the Greens try to do is say that they’re above politics as usual. Well, this is politics at its worst. And when the Liberal Party, if the Liberal Party give preferences in Grayndler to a candidate who has spent a fair portion of his activism in politics as a member of a far-left, left Marxist party, then I think that the Liberal Party supporters themselves will be very concerned about that as well.
BRISSENDEN: Isn’t it the case in the last election, though, that Labor was the beneficiary of Liberal preferences? I mean David Feeney, for instance, in Batman wouldn’t have got elected without them. And you may have to rely on them as well in your seat if you don’t get enough primary vote.
ALBANESE: Well the Liberal Party of course have had a policy previously of putting the Greens below Labor in all seats. That wasn’t a part of a deal. There was no quid pro quo there. The problem here is that this is all done in secret. I’m calling it out today, and it should be called for the cynical politics that it is that will result in the reverse of what both Greens supporters and Liberal supporters want. I don’t believe that most Greens supporters actually want to assist the re-election of a Liberal government. They’re progressive, they want to see action on climate change and on marriage equality, they don’t support the waste that is a plebiscite, they support fairness in workplace relations, and re-electing a Liberal government will not assist that. And of course the Liberal Party say they’re opposed to everything the Greens stand for and yet they are trying to assist them to become a larger party in the House of Representatives at the expense of ALP members.
BRISSENDEN: But look at Liberal interests. Isn’t it in their interests, for instance, to preference Greens regardless of any deal simply to have you and the Greens spend resources fighting each other? I mean, they did use to do that.
ALBANESE: Well the Greens of course concentrate all of their resources in electorates in Sydney. They concentrate all of their resources on Grayndler and Sydney. They don’t go anywhere near campaigning against Liberal and National Party members. Their concentration is to defeat progressives, and I think that says a lot about their priorities. People in Grayndler will ask themselves, will Parliament have more progressive advance if I’m there, or if someone sitting next to Adam Bandt being able to chat but not being able to change anything.
BRISSENDEN: Just quickly, suggestions that the Budget could be moved forward from May 10, what would you say to that?
ALBANESE: Oh I think that would be a manipulation as well. I know that it is very difficult, as someone who’s been Leader of the House, to change the Budget date because Treasury and Finance have their systems put in place based upon the second Tuesday in May well in advance. So this would be quite extraordinary, and what it would mean is that it’s not really a Budget; it’s an economic statement in order to get them through an election. And then the cuts would be back straight afterwards: cuts to education, health, pensions, and the conservative attack that is the Turnbull-Abbott Government, with Malcolm Turnbull as the spokesperson, but Tony Abbott’s policies would be there for all to see.
BRISSENDEN: All right, Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining us.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
BRISSENDEN: That’s the shadow transport spokesman Anthony Albanese there.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.