Subjects: Bill Shorten, citizenship, by-elections, Chris Bowen.
HOST: Good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now we are going to start with you today if we can Albo.
ALBANESE: Yes. Alphabetical order. It’s because I am more important?
PYNE: He’s your favourite, that is the truth.
HOST: I don’t think you are going to mind Chris. It is never good news when we start with someone.
PYNE: Good point.
ALBANESE: Hang on, I will just get ready.
HOST: OK. Brace yourself. Now Albo, I wanted to start by paying you a compliment and I pay that same one to Chris too, which is that one of the things we love about having you on the show is that you bring a refreshing level of honesty to the discussion of politics. So with that in mind, can I ask you this question: Bill Shorten – he is having a total shocker at the moment isn’t he?
ALBANESE: No, he’s not. He’s ahead on the polls this week in both News …
HOST: This week.
ALBANESE: No, no, for the last 32, actually, Newspolls we have been ahead. We have been ahead substantially. If the election had of been held on Saturday, he would be the Prime Minister and I would be a Minister in the Government.
HOST: There’s been an enormous surge though to Malcolm Turnbull as preferred PM. Correspondingly, there has been a significant drop in Bill Shorten’s standing and he has misled the Australian people over the citizenship fiasco, hasn’t he?
ALBANESE: Well, it is true that Malcolm Turnbull got a bounce in the poll, but that didn’t translate through to votes. And it’s not a popularity contest. It’s about votes and the fact is that people are choosing to say that if an election was held, they would vote Labor. We obviously regret the fact that these by-elections have to occur. We’ve said that. It’s now impacted people across the political spectrum – National, Liberal, Green, the party formerly known as Nick Xenophon, I am not sure what they are called these days, and Labor.
HOST: Is his leadership riding on the result of those by-elections?
ALBANESE: No. We intend to win the by-elections.
HOST: But what if you don’t?
ALBANESE: We intend to win. The fact is that governments have found it difficult to win seats from the Opposition in the form of by-elections and the fact that the Liberal Party is not even bothering to run in Perth and Fremantle says something about them. They are not even confident that they are prepared to put themselves forward in a seat like Perth, where last time round they got 42 per cent of the primary vote.
HOST: Chris Pyne, is it a concern that despite promising billions of dollars’ worth of corporate and personal income tax cuts, the polls didn’t shift on Monday?
PYNE: I think it’s very interesting about the polls. I mean, if you listen to the commentators of the far left and the far right you would assume that the Government had been written off a long time ago. But in the real contests – the New England by-election, the Bennelong by-election, the South Australian election, Tasmanian election, the Liberal Party is winning when it actually counts and that is because Bill has got a twin ‘T’ problem – a trust and tax problem. People don’t trust Bill Shorten and he has a $220 billion tax hit on average Australians to pay for his spending spree. So he’s got significant problems.
The Government is actually travelling pretty well. We are getting on with the job. The economy is growing well. We have created 420,000 new jobs in the last 12 months. The Budget has been well received. Of course Labor should win all of these by-elections. The last time a Government took a by-election off the Opposition was in 1920 when Billy Hughes was the Prime Minister of Australia. So of course Bill Shorten should win these by-elections and he should win them well. If he doesn’t, yes his leadership will be in dire straits and our friend on the other end of the phone will be licking his chops.
HOST: Is that true Albo? Are you licking your chops?
ALBANESE: I’m not quite sure what that term means.
PYNE: A wolf-like description.
ALBANESE: Christopher, now you are getting very graphic.
PYNE: … children’s stories.
ALBANESE: It’s nine in the morning, my friend.
PYNE: It’s like the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. He’s licking his chops.
ALBANESE: I have a view that I have been given a job and I do it to the best of my capacity. I have always been loyal to the Labor Party and to the Labor Party team. I’m doing that now. I am playing a role. I think that in terms of the infrastructure agenda I have been pointing out – I had a very good op-ed in the Adelaide Advertiser last week …
PYNE: Alongside mine.
ALBANESE: … last Friday. But mine was much better.
PYNE: I wouldn’t say that this was a huge endorsement of Bill Shorten, fellows. This is sounding like an endorsement of Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: I am doing my job, and Bill is doing his job, and he is doing it very well.
PYNE: But not for long by the sound of it.
HOST: Well, one thing you have mentioned a lot in the past though Albo is how people are sick of sort of pro-forma, cookie-cutter politicians and the glib sound bites and the zingers. Is that lack of perceived realness his problem?
ALBANESE: No. I think people have got to be who they are. I think Christopher and I, for better or worse, I think we now have a running two-person show. We have spread across the country to Perth!
HOST: Oh no, you’ll be playing at the Bridgeway Hotel soon.
PYNE: We should be syndicated.
ALBANESE: I think people do want politicians who will say it like it is and one of the things about Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen today at the National Press Club is that we will be upfront about where the dollars are coming from, about where the dollars are going to, and about our priorities. No Opposition for a very long time has been prepared to take the brave stances that we have been prepared to take and…
PYNE: Well I heard that …
ALBANESE: … it’s to Bill Shorten’s credit.
PYNE: I heard Chris Bowen on another radio station this morning saying that he wouldn’t be telling us what his surplus might be until the next election – not for 12 months.
ALBANESE: I only listen to 5AA.
HOST: Yes, I was going to say that Chris. You don’t need to listen to other radio stations. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always a rollicking chat. Good on you both. We will do it again next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.