SUBJECTS: Listening tour; Tax cuts; John Setka.
HOST: It’s time now for what we call One Tribe with Anthony Albanese the Leader of the Federal Opposition. Albo, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, FEDERAL LABOR LEADER: Good morning mate.
HOST: Hey Albo, before we get down to all the various policy developments principally around the issue of tax, can we kick things off by asking you more broadly; you had a bit of a mini national listening tour, very symbolically one of your first ports of call was Queensland where Labor got a spanking on election night. What have you learned?
ALBANESE: Well I think one of the things that was important about getting out there was that people do want to engage and we had extraordinary turnout, over 300 at a pub in Adelaide there. And I also went out into the Clare Valley with Don Farrell and talked to people out there who were both locals and people travelling around. I went around every capital city and regions. And people wanted to engage. They were disappointed with us, that’s the truth. And there were many people who said to me they wanted to vote for us and then they went on to say why they didn’t. And there were a range of reasons for that.
HOST: Can you summarize them though? Was there a general theme because my hunch based on what our listeners tell us they think it just went too far to the left?
ALBANESE: I don’t think if it’s a matter of left or right. I think we had too much. The agenda was too big. They didn’t understand all of it. I think last week there was something came out from the Parliamentary Budget Office that was pretty interesting. They costed fifty something policies from the Government, fifty or thereabouts policies for the Greens Party and 280 something from us. So there’s a range of people who knew that we were changing franking credits for example, they knew other changes that we were bringing in. They didn’t know that their childcare costs were going to be reduced substantially. They didn’t know many of the benefits that we were proposing. And I think people were just uncertain about us, that’s the thing. And there were a range of reasons why that was the case. But the positive I’d take out of all of that is that they were certainly prepared to vote for us.
HOST: Can we talk about what – how the tax package is going to progress if at all through Parliament? The Government have rejected this idea that they can, that they’ll split it up into tranches and you guys now on the left making a pretty technical argument about Stage Two being brought forward, but you don’t like stage three. Isn’t that precisely the sort of technical argument that that plagued Labor during the election campaign and that all that’s going to get communicated to people in the public is that Labor is opposing tax cuts?
ALBANESE: Well I’ll give you a really simple argument. We’re the only people saying that every worker should get a tax cut this term of Parliament. It’s that simple. And we need to be hammering that over the next week. The fact is the economy is soft. People do need a tax cut and the economy does need a stimulus. And we’re saying that we want to work with the Government to make sure that that’s achieved. What the Government’s talking about in 2024/25 frankly is absurd; arguing that that is going to have an impact on the economy in 2019. It is 2019 right now, we should be acting right now.
HOST: So you’ve got almost putting a bit of a stimulus argument for bringing it forward but he also – what’s your, do you still have a fundamental ideological problem with the third tranche of the tax cuts for higher income earners.? Is that something that Labor is still uncomfortable with or indeed opposed to in principle, Albo?
ALBANESE: Well we’re arguing for a tax cut for all workers regardless of what income they’re on now. That’s what the bring-forward of the change in the Stage Two threshold would do – up to $1, 350 for everyone in terms of having that that impact. So we’re not ideologically opposed to the tax cuts for all workers. In fact we’re saying it should happen. We are concerned about the flattening of the rate so that at the moment under what is already legislated, the same rate would be paid from $40,000 to $180,000. Now that will change, that will change to $45,000 to $200,000 under Stage Three, but it is basically the same argument that’s a very flat rate. The only difference is, that that reduces it from 32.5 down to 30. So there’s no, there’s no difference. The flat tax argument has already been legislated – in 2018. And I’ve got to say that a lot of people from the progressive side who are writing to us saying that that’s a bad thing. Well that’s happened, in 2018. That’s gone that argument. What we’re arguing now about is the softness that’s there in the economy and the Reserve Bank is saying the same thing. They’re talking about bringing forward infrastructure investment in the budget that was just passed. The South Australian infrastructure investment increased by just – I think it’s in the order around about $100 million over the next four years was all that was in the Budget. Now, we should be getting on with the upgrade to the North-South Road corridor and that could be done much quickly and we’re saying that that should be brought forward as well in a sensible way because it is ready to go.
HOST: Are your ducks lined internally though? Joel Fitzgibbon in the last few days said look, you know the reality is this is, you pass the full tax package or you pass no relief at all. Is he, are you and he on the same page now?
ALBNANESE: Well he is indeed. We had a Shadow Cabinet discussion on Monday and it was unanimous the position that we’re putting forward now. This is a sensible position, we’re not being difficult here. It’s the Government that are threatening to withhold tax cuts from people. We’re saying pass them, pass them quickly and pass more of them.
HOST: Just finally Albo, your old sparring partner Christopher Pyne, the former Member for Sturt he wouldn’t be listening now in his new life, he’s probably springing out of bed about 8:30.
ALBANESE: He’d be asleep.
HOST: That’s right. But he had a bit of a bit of a star turn on the Sky News doco about last year’s leadership coup, tipped a bit of a bucket on Peter Dutton. What do you make of all the Libs, some of them still in the Parliament, some of them gone, going out there and rehashing all of this stuff?
ALBANESE: Well they’re a rabble. They’re internally divided. The fact that some of them have retreated to the beach doesn’t mean that the conflict won’t continue. They really don’t like each other. And that shows the fact that the Government – I mean Scott Morrison gave a speech earlier this week where he outlined his vision for the third term and it was I’m going to attack unions and get rid of red tape, stuff that we’ve heard every day that they’ve been in government. There really isn’t an agenda for the third term. The economy is soft. They need to recognise that they are the Government and start to act like it, not play politics. Let’s put forward a constructive proposal here. They can begin frankly with – they’ll get the credit. They are the Government …
HOST: Just on attacking the unions, sorry, I did say it was the last question but you’ve inspired me to ask you one more. Just on the question of unions, has your tactic on John Setka gone from trying to drive him out to carving an awkward yet peaceful coexistence with the man?
HOST: Still want him gone?
ALBANESE: He’ll be gone.
ALBANESE: Gone, gone.
HOST: G-o-w-n. Gone. We’ll write that down in the diary. Anthony Albanese the Leader of the Federal Opposition. Thanks for joining us.
ALBANESE: See you later guys.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.