SUBJECTS: Election campaign, the economy and jobs.
HOST: We heard late on Saturday night, as Bill Shorten conceded victory to Scott Morrison and the Liberals, that Anthony Albanese was a candidate for the leadership of the Labor Party. Tanya Plibersek expected to join him a little bit later today, but Albo joins us on the line right now. Albo, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. We could call this segment One Tribe.
HOST: Or How The Tribes Have Changed. One is no more in politics, the other – potentially leader of a major party. What would you have done differently in this election?
ALBANESE: Well, I think there will be a period whereby we’ve got to accept what went wrong for our campaign. We’ve got to acknowledge that the voters sent us a message on Saturday, and it’s no good pretending that we don’t need to change some policies, but also some of the tactics as well. The campaign needs to be looked at.
I don’t think we need to change our values. Labor values are eternal. The values of promoting fairness, of having a strong economy so that we can fund schools, and fund hospitals, and fund infrastructure. But quite clearly one of the issues I think that was very difficult for us was that the measures that we were proposing about the dividend issue impacted on people’s hip pockets, and some of those, of course, weren’t very wealthy people. They were people for whom a small cheque was what they paid their rates with or their car rego, or other essentials in life when it came in, so that clearly had an impact for us.
Quite clearly the amount of money that is going out there is the reason why we were proposing that $6 billion is unaffordable in terms of the Budget to keep growing into the future, but clearly those issues are going to have to be looked at by the Government itself in my view, down the track.
But we need to look at issues like that; we need to go into the field and listen to what people have to say in the regions, in the outer suburbs, about why it is that we weren’t successful on Saturday, in spite of there being a perception for a long period of time that Labor was in the box seat to form government.
HOST: Do you think that there’s a bit of a challenging identity crisis for the ALP Albo, when you look at what’s happened in the US where the support bases for the Democrats and the Republicans have almost switched over? Where the white working class, that was a ballast of the Democrats’ support for decades, is now Donald Trump’s rump of support? How does Labor in 2019 appeal to the university-educated inner city liberal who is worried about things like climate change, and also the 25-year-old bloke with a young family in the Iron Triangle who has historically worked in heavy manufacturing industry, high-polluting industry, has always been a Labor voter? How do you do those two things at the same time?
ALBANESE: I think it’s very possible to do it. It may be that yes, that’s what we do, and if you look at the success of the South Australian Labor Government over a long period of time of course, the Victorian Labor Government in more recent times under Daniel Andrews, or the Hawke-Keating Government, and indeed I think that the Rudd and Gillard Governments were both good governments that were defeated essentially by our own actions…
HOST: They were also considerably less left-wing governments than the Shorten Government would have been, weren’t they?
ALBANESE: Well look, what we need to do is to never forget that the economy is central and that jobs are central, and we need to talk to people about what those issues are and what our plan for jobs is. Our plan for jobs is dealing with the challenges that are there in the new economy. We have, I think, real challenges going ahead. You have the global economy being very vulnerable. You have potential trade issues between the US and China that will have an impact on Australia. You have a transitioning economy in terms of the nature of future jobs. We need to make sure that we explain our case for – not to stop change, because you can’t stop change – but to channel change in the interests of people, in the interests of job creation. And that will be critical for us, and the role of government investment is critical for that.
HOST: What about the style of rhetoric too, Albo? Is it time to retire the whole class warfare thing, where if you’re not with us you’re clearly on a yacht drinking your champagne with your twelve investment properties?
ALBANESE: Well, I’ve been saying for some time, if you go back and have a look at the statements I’ve made, in a constructive way, about what Labor’s agenda needs to be: it’s not you’re for the union movement or you’re for employers. If we don’t have employers we won’t have workers, and therefore you don’t have trade union members, so there is a common interest there and we need to ensure that that argument is put. We need to talk about the common interest that is there between people in the regions and people in our capital cities as well. We need to make sure that those people in the outer suburbs and in the regions who aren’t benefiting as much from the changes in the economy, which have tended to concentrate those high-value jobs in inner suburbs, and in particular in CBDs – they’re living in drive-in, drive-out suburbs. What we need to do is to make sure that we have a plan to create jobs where people live, that we promote infrastructure where people live. We certainly tried to do that during this election campaign, but quite clearly some of our other messages, some of our rhetoric did get it wrong, tended to swamp the actual policies that were being put forward in those areas, to create jobs outside of the CBDs.
HOST: Candidate for the Labor leadership and successful one at the grassroots level last time, Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us exclusively this morning on 5AA Breakfast.
ALBANESE: Thank for having us on the program.
MONDAY, 20 MAY 2019