Subject: Housing affordability, citizenship changes, Record Store Day
FRAN KELLY: Music lovers are in for a treat tomorrow with the 10th International Record Store Day. It’s the annual celebration of local record shops. Here in Australia, more than 180 independent stores will mark the occasion with a range of events, new releases, performances, all aimed at keeping alive the power and the passion of music. This year, the official ambassador for Record Store Day is none other than DJ Albo, aka Labor MP Anthony Albanese. He joins us in the breakfast studio. Anthony, happy Record Store Day!
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Fran. Looking forward to tomorrow.
KELLY: Before we get to the tale of Record Store Day, can I talk to you about some Labor policies that Labor’s unveiled? Some might have heard Chris Bowen earlier on AM. New measures designed to improve housing affordability, it’s a bit of a holy grail in capital cities in Sydney and Melbourne at the moment. Now, Labor’s plans seem to be mostly about imposing new taxes on foreign investors, on owners who leave their properties vacant. They’re two of the key changes that Labor’s spruiking. New taxes are dangerous ground for an opposition, aren’t they?
ALBANESE: These are sensible measures, put together with the changes we announced more than a year ago on capital gains tax and negative gearing for investors for new properties. The fact is that we put forward those policies and it was a risky thing to do. It was a brave thing to do, but it was the right thing to do. The government itself said there were excesses in negative gearing and in the market before they ruled it out, which was as soon as we announced our policy. What we have today is measures that have been recommended by the government’s own review in terms of the super changes for self-managed super funds using investment into property and they’re sensible changes, it’s indeed the only one of the recommendations that the government hasn’t implemented from that review.
KELLY: Given your experience last time with negative gearing and capital gains tax, Labor put out your policy and then the government backed away from it because they didn’t want to endorse Labor policy. If you really want to get these changes up, shouldn’t you have waited to see what the government’s putting up in the May Budget? We know it’s going to have a housing affordability policy as the centrepiece of the Budget, rather than put all these measures out in the knowledge that it will force the Government to back away from them?
ALBANESE: Someone’s got to lead in this country.
KELLY: It’s only a couple of weeks to the Budget.
ALBANESE: We’re leading from Opposition. They’re a government that acts like an opposition and that’s why we’ve put forward these practical suggestions. We’re concerned about policy. Meanwhile, we’re watching once again Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull in a downward spiral bringing the government with them, distracted by their internals. We’re putting out good policy, we’re prepared to argue the case for it. It’s well before the next election and we’re only six months since the last election, a bit more than that, but we’re putting out serious policy and that’s a good thing. That’s what oppositions should be. That’s what oppositions should do.
KELLY: Another policy question on the notion of citizenship. We’ve been speaking with Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, she led the review into citizenship laws 18 months ago, got feedback which the government has put out, and we now know some of the elements the government is going to change in the test. You work in an electorate that has a high migrant population, it’s really been brought up on migration, and people taking citizenship vows. From your experience and those you speak to, do you believe the citizenship laws need to be changed? Are there gaps?
ALBANESE: If there are sensible suggestions – obviously new citizens would benefit from better English, in terms of being able to participate in society – that’s something that we can look at. At the same time we need to value our multiculturalism as an asset for Australia. There’s no better time to be a Federal MP than on Australia Day, being there at the citizenship ceremonies which take place. People who’ve come for economic reasons or in some cases, because they didn’t have a choice to leave their homeland, making Australia their home. It’s what’s built this country and I think that anything that strengthens that is a good thing. These debates shouldn’t be partisan. We’ll have a look at any practical suggestions which are made but we do need a balance, and I know Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is a supporter of multiculturalism, and that’s an important thing.
KELLY: Let’s go to Record Store Day. Ten years ago they started promoting the of cultural and economic importance of these indie record shops. In the era or file-swapping and mass music downloads, why is the local record store needed and why is it so special to you?
ALBANESE: I think when International Record Store Day was founded people had this idea that maybe people would just get music sitting at home, downloading an individual track and that would be the experience of people’s engagement with music.
KELLY: It is the experience for many.
ALBANESE: It is, but it doesn’t replace going into a record store, whether it’s a CD or an album, getting a hold of it, listening to the tracks from go-to-woah, beginning to end. There is a revival of albums being played – Patti Smith last week playing the whole Horses album on this tour. Spiderbait playing Ivy and the Big Apples from go-to-woah at the Enmore Theatre and around Australia. People understand that albums fit together as a whole and that they also get to read the liner notes, they get to see who wrote and produced the albums.
KELLY: Sure, but who’s doing that now? It’s one thing for your generation, my generation to remember the hours spent loitering in the record shop, checking out new releases, checking out the cover artwork, all of that. Doesn’t mean young music lovers who aren’t getting their music that way aren’t loving the music any less or missing out, does it?
ALBANESE: They are doing it now. Young people are rediscovering record stores.
KELLY: Are they? Is that who’s hanging out in the record stores that I’m in?
ALBANESE: They’re doing probably similar things to what you and I did in places. They might be different record stores.
KELLY: Sitting in the booths, remember?
ALBANESE: I was hanging out at Phantom Records in Pitt Street in Sydney. Red Eye, it’s been going for a very long time here in Sydney and right around Australia, not just in the capital cities but in the regional towns as well. It’s a meeting place, similar to the revival or the resurgence of coffee shops. People want that social interaction. When you go into a record store, you talk to the man or woman behind the desk, they’ll tell you about the latest sounds. You have, of course, a revival of vinyl, something I didn’t see coming.
KELLY: They reckon they’re going to sell 40 million units this year of vinyl.
ALBANESE: It’s phenomenal. New bands – Polish Club, an inner west band sent me a copy of their new vinyl album this week. It’s terrific.
KELLY: So you’re a bit of a hunter and collector of vinyl?
ALBANESE: I am indeed and thank goodness I kept all my old vinyl. I’ll be at The Record Store in Darlinghurst tomorrow. One of the things that they do is repair old record players and provide new needles and fix it all up, so people are taking their old turntables in but people are also purchasing turntables. It’s a big growth industry and the thing about a local record store, something you don’t get online is that you get info about local bands’ new music. They’re small businesses, they employ locals. Most people who run these indie record stores of course, don’t make a fortune, they just love music. That’s why they do it.
KELLY: You moonlight as a DJ at fundraisers – some for your colleagues, some for charity. You obviously love music, especially Australian music, I understand from the 80’s and the 90’s. You’ve chosen a track for us today that you think sums up the spirit of Record Store Day. What is it?
ALBANESE: It’s Spiderbait, Buy Me a Pony which is from the album that they’ve been out there playing. This is a band that comes from Finley in regional New South Wales and their gig at the Enmore Theatre is probably the biggest concert I’ve been to with Spiderbait. 20 years ago they were playing The Annandale and little pubs. Now they’re in bigger venues and they’re back and it’s a good thing.
KELLY: Alright, let’s hear Spiderbait. Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us and congratulations on being the official ambassador for Record Store Day tomorrow.
ALBANESE: It’s a good bit of fun. Get out there and get to your local record store tomorrow.
KELLY: Okay, let’s check out Buy Me a Pony.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.