SUBJECT: Reclink Community Cup; Sydney knife attack; Hong Kong protests.
HOST: It is that time on a Wednesday morning that we catch up with the Federal Leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese. Albo, good morning to you today.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good to be with you.
HOST: Now Albo, we might keep the AFL theme going. We just had another football legend, Eddie Betts, in the studio and I can’t help but mention mate, I saw you last weekend pulling on the jumper and the sprigs running around in the Reclink Cup.
ALBANESE: I did, it was a good bit of fun for charity at Henson Park. As a footballer, I make a great politician.
HOST: What position do you play? On the left wing, I would imagine?
ALBANESE: They put me in the forward pocket where I could be hidden. But the good thing about the community cup is that there are 40 on a team, 20 on the field and 20 off. So, I am not the only old bloke or old woman for that matter. It’s a mixed comp and it’s a good bit of fun for a good cause, to raise money for disadvantaged young people, to work with them.
HOST: Did you get on the scoreboard?
ALBANESE: I did not get on the scoreboard. But, I did get a couple of kicks and I broke my KPI though. I had a very simple KPI, don’t get injured. I managed to dislocate my little left pinky finger. I had to pull it out and put it back in and I have got some tendon damage. I’ve got it strapped up.
HOST: So you just did it yourself and didn’t wait for the doctor?
ALBANESE: No, I just did it on the field. It was a moment of madness really, but the doctor said that is exactly the right thing to do because if it gets bit cold, even for an hour, it can cause some damage. It was at a right angle. I won a couple of votes on the field, I reckon. The people who looked at my finger and made various expletives and saw me pull it back in, they’re going to vote for me. If he can do that, anything can happen. They want me representing them.
HOST: It’s going to be a long election campaign if you have to keep popping out the finger to impress everyone.
ALBANESE: I’ve only got ten fingers. I need another 1.2 million.
HOST: Albo that was the fun part. The furthest thing from it was what happened in Sydney yesterday. What was your reaction?
ALBANESE: Look, it was just an extraordinary event. The police are indicating, at this point, that this person clearly has a history of mental health issues. Just having a look at the video was, you know, just pretty scary if you were around there. What I think came out of it for me, the thing I’ll remember, is the fellow with the chair. Incredible bravery. And then pinning him down with the milk crate. Those people deserve, I’m not sure what the higher bravery award is that can be given to someone in civil society, whatever it is, they deserve it. They ran towards danger and that was just remarkable and I just take my hat off to them, their remarkable bravery. And it appears that it is linked, the woman who was murdered just down the road and of course another woman suffering from a stabbing. You know, we live in a society that is dangerous these days and it is good that this person appears to not have any links to any terrorist organisation or a broader thing. It clearly wasn’t very well thought through.
HOST: No. Albo, from memory, I think you were elected at the Howard victory in 1996 when Paul Keating lost. So, one of the first pieces of legislation that you would have focused your mind on were the post Port Arthur gun laws that were introduced by John Howard. A lot of our listeners have been saying this morning that as horrible as yesterday’s incident was, and just tragic that woman lost her life and that the other woman was attacked, but you think about if Australia was a society where you could still get your hands on really serious weaponry, how different things might have panned out yesterday.
ALBANESE: Absolutely and you know that legislation is, I think, John Howard’s greatest legacy to be able to achieve that. The Parliament was united and it was difficult for him, to give credit, because a lot of people who were traditional, particularly National Party supporters, were very angry about that legislation. But this just shows how necessary it is. I saw figures the other day that there have been over 250 mass killings in the United States this year, more than one victim. And just about all of them related with guns. And if this bloke had’ve had a gun, rather than a knife, no one would have been running towards him with a chair, because it would have been, in a crowded city you can cause absolute carnage with an automatic weapon and that is what is happening in schools, and in shopping centers, and in synagogues and in mosques far too often in the United States.
HOST: Albo, what should Canberra’s message to Beijing be regarding the situation in Hong Kong?
ALBANESE: It should be to have a measured response and to respect the fact that people have a right to demonstrate peacefully. The whole world is watching and China should be measured in this. The protesters should also bear in mind their responsibility to protest in a peaceful manner. But it is of real concern what is going on in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is such a fantastic city. It is a vibrant city. And this has all been brought about by an attempted overreach to apply laws of mainland China to people who live in Hong Kong. The settlement that was reached with the hand back of Hong Kong as part of the People’s Republic of China was very much one China, but two systems. It’s important that two systems component be respected.
HOST: Absolutely. Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Federal Opposition, thanks so much for joining us this morning.
ALBANESE: Great to be with you.