Transcript of Television Interview – 2CC Canberra Live with Richard Perno – Monday, 03 September, 2018
Subjects: Morrison Government’s leaked infrastructure plan; Peter Dutton; ACT election; Leadership spill; Federal election; Wentworth by-election; Australia-India Business Council.
RICHARD PERNO: Anthony Albanese I’ll bet you’re glad you’re not a Liberal.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I sure am. They’re having a very rough time at the moment but it’s deserved.
PERNO: You reckon it’s a good kick in the pants, a wakeup call, water in the face, run over, whatever?
ALBANESE: Well they certainly are a mess at the moment. We had in my portfolio this morning quite an extraordinary leak on their infrastructure plans – ten different projects worth $7.6 billion. Decisions that were made in the Budget in May but not yet announced and just put all out there. A very significant budget leak from documents that would have gone through the Cabinet and the Expenditure Review Committee and it just shows what a state of chaos the Government is in.
PERNO: Hey, hang on, they’re giving us money. What’s chaotic about that?
ALBANESE: What’s chaotic is announcements not being made by the Government but being made by a leak to a journalist in Canberra.
PERNO: But you know Anthony Albanese, you’ve been around a while, there’s no such thing as a leak.
ALBANESE: There absolutely is a flood going on at the moment. So you’re right that it’s not so much a leak, more a torrent of information. Quite clearly what’s …
PERNO: A tsunami, Anthony.
ALBANESE: That’s right. Well clearly what’s happened here is that people who were part of the old regime in the Abbott-Turnbull Government. Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government now, have decided: ‘Well we’re not going to allow Scott Morrison to get credit for these projects, so we’ll just chuck it out and let everyone know that these decisions were made in the lead up to the Budget in May’.
PERNO: Okay, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has threatened to turn the tables on you if you keep pursuing him over the au pair scandal. You haven’t got – have you got an au pair? I didn’t know that, Anthony.
ALBANESE: I wish him the best of luck because he’s going to need it. This is a fellow who it’s unclear whether he’s entitled to be in the Parliament. I mean, that issue hasn’t been resolved yet. That can only be resolved by a reference to the High Court. And then you’ve got multiple interventions, not through the normal process of representations by Members of Parliament, but by people who apparently had the Minister on speed dial and all of a sudden we hear words that haven’t passed Peter Dutton’s lips too often of compassion and justice and people have a look at what he’s said in the past about other cases where he’s been completely resolute in not showing any compassion and compare the circumstances. And that’s why people are scratching their heads.
PERNO: Okay, you haven’t got an au pair in the cupboard somewhere have you Anthony?
ALBANESE: I certainly have not, let alone one from the south of France.
PERNO: Yeah it’s an interesting case isn’t it? I got something to tell you from Canberra too, the Member for Grayndler, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Regional – do you really like all those titles? – Shadow Minister for Tourism, Anthony Albanese. Two years until the ACT’s next election, minor parties are already making battle plans to overcome the tough odds they face to win a seat in the Legislative Assembly in Canberra. Members from the – I don’t know whether you know these – Australian Progressives, Reason Party – they were the funny other party weren’t they? The Reason Party ACT – the Sex Party, Sustainable Australia, Liberal Democrats ACT, will host a question and answer at King O’Malley’s Pub this Thursday. You’re welcome and they’ve invited you Anthony Albanese and it starts at six. What question would you ask them?
PERNO: Well they don’t like any of the major parties …
ALBANESE: Just why.
PERNO: They don’t like you. They don’t like any of the others. They just want to get together.
ALBANESE: The problem is of course, is that when people get elected from these minor parties what the Senate has shown us – it keeps reminding us unfortunately. Is that they change which party they’re in. You have One Nation people who become Katter people and Family First people become Liberals and independents and Jacqui Lambie Party people become National Party in Tasmania, that didn’t even exist prior to that. So I think I’m a bit old fashioned which is that if you want to get things done, vote for a party of government.
ALBANESE: I hope that’s Labor but if it’s not the alternative. I’m not sure what they call themselves in Canberra, the conservative parties, I guess it’s just the Liberal Party rather than the Liberal-National Party but I do think that there is a lot to be said for having parties of government hold office.
PERNO: I guess in a way though, really Anthony Albanese, what you’re saying is the chaotic measure of politicians and one party after the other party after the other party all the time …
PERNO: I mean it is chaotic at the moment, right across the political spectrum. Is it any wonder that we go, ‘up you we don’t want anything’?
ALBANESE: Look I’m not surprised that there is a great deal of disillusionment out there. I think that people are entitled to think that when they vote for a Prime Minister the Prime Minister will be allowed to serve. I was flabbergasted by the actions of the Liberal Party in knifing Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm Turnbull was in a reasonable position, he was a bit behind us, but he was ahead in terms of preferred Prime Minister and had been from the time he took over the leadership.
And he, to be cut down not by someone who was more popular, but someone who was less popular, the idea that whoever thought that Peter Dutton would be a good choice as Prime Minister was quite bizarre. As it is they’ve got Scott Morrison and immediately our primary vote has lifted by six points. And of course the popular choice apart from Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party was Julie Bishop, so of course they put her last.
PERNO: Well she got knocked out in the first round as you know Albo. The problem is that you have now got, if you like, prime box haven’t you in the race? You’re solid; you’ve been solid for a while now. Bill Shorten will no doubt take you to the next election and should you be victorious in the next election, Anthony Albanese, will you keep him there or do you think there might be a bit of a spill in your party?
ALBANESE: No, we will be as united as we have been for the entire couple of terms. The fact is that people in the Labor Party are looking forward to having the opportunity, if we are successful, to serve as Ministers. People have been in the same portfolios for some time. One of the interesting things about today’s leak, which is about infrastructure projects that were funded but not announced in the Budget, is that so many of them are projects that we had already announced our support for from Opposition. So I think there’s a range of areas in which Labor has been leading from Opposition. We’ve been doing the hard policy work and we’ve been acting like a team.
PERNO: Yes, okay. The accusations, the criticism with your party though Anthony is the perception that if you get in you’ll spend like drunken sailors. That’s what we always hear, you blow the budget.
ALBANESE: Well if you actually have a look at what Labor Governments have done, if you look at the proportion of spending compared with GDP what you’ll find is that Labor has been more economically responsible than the Coalition, even though we had to deal with the Global Financial Crisis. And of course what we’ve seen is the debt more than double under this Government’s watch and that was with no excuse, with no need to deal with the potential of a global recession. They haven’t had the natural disaster crisis that we had on top of that, in terms of bushfires in Victoria and the floods in Queensland, and they have shown themselves to not be responsible when it comes to the Budget and indeed one of the things that we’ve done is to announce savings that we would make. We’ve been prepared to make tough decisions and of course we wouldn’t have even proposed giving a huge tax cut to the banks.
PERNO: And you were flabbergasted when the Liberal Party stabbed one of its own – like Caesar in the back. But didn’t you knife Julia and Kevin?
ALBANESE: Well and at the time – I certainly said back in 2010 that was a mistake. I said at the time, that we would destroy two Labor Prime Ministers through that action and I think that’s been proven to be historically correct. And one of the extraordinary things though, is that we had Tony Abbott after that – come into office and be replaced. We have then had Malcolm Turnbull be replaced.
PERNO: We’re sick of it.
ALBANESE: We’re now on our third Liberal Prime Minister within two terms.
PERNO: All right let’s cut to the chase of Wentworth. They’re not going now on either the sixth or the thirteenth, Albo. The Wentworth by-election isn’t going to go – I reckon Turnbull should have stuck around and done the honourable thing like Julie Bishop did. She went to the backbench and she said she’ll contest her Western Australian seat. Do you agree with me, Albo, that he should have stuck around, not spat the dummy and taken his bat and ball and gone home and cost a Wentworth by-election? Although they can afford it, they’re pretty rich. A by-election, he should have stuck around?
ALBANESE: Well its taxpayers’ money, of course.
PERNO: That’s right.
ALBANESE: Everyone – you’re paying, the people of Canberra are paying as well.
PERNO: I don’t want to pay! I mean, he should have stuck around. So if it’s not going to be held on October 6 or 13, when is it going to be held?
ALBANESE: It should be held, in my view, it should be held as soon as possible. Wentworth – the people are entitled to be represented.
PERNO: The people are revolting.
ALBANESE: They can’t get their act together. They have a preselection, Labor’s had ours.
PERNO: Fifty year-old Tim Murray, he’s going to do this in Wentworth for you. Who is Tim Murray?
ALBANESE: Look he’s a local who’s been very active in the local branches. He’s been active in the business community and he’s putting himself forward to have a crack – of course we don’t expect it to be overwhelmingly successful in Wentworth of course.
PERNO: Why not?
ALBANESE: Well it’s a seat that we’ve never held.
PERNO: So what? A man never went to the moon until 1969 Anthony, come on!
ALBANESE: When you doorknock around Point Piper you don’t necessarily – it doesn’t necessarily strike you that these are natural Labor voters.
PERNO: Obviously you have not been to Point Piper, you don’t doorknock in Point Piper, you ring the buzzer at the front gate. There is no door knock.
ALBANESE: You probably have to walk a fair way (inaudible).
PERNO: That’s right and they’ve got they’ve got these walloping great Mastiffs and you’ve got to go past the chauffeur before you can get to the door. A couple of quickies – you’re on Q&A tonight, yes?
ALBANESE: I am indeed. Maybe some of your listeners can ask some questions tonight.
PERNO: And then on September 11, that’s a holy number, you’re going to be at the Australian-Indian Address at the Hyatt. Nice place to have an address.
ALBANESE: I am indeed. The Australia-India Business Council is a really important organisation. India is of course a growing economy; it will be the third largest in the world in a short period of time. And everyone talks about China but our relationship with India is very important. It’s a democratic nation. It’s one one in which we have close ties, including a large Indian diaspora here in Australia. And of course many Indians come and study here as well and go back. And it’s important for our economy that we keep those relations, but you can’t beat, I don’t think, people to people relations. So I’ll be very pleased to be supporting the Australian business community doing more activity in India as well.
PERNO: Now you know you don’t have knives and forks when you’re eating Indian food, you mop it up with the rice and the bread. You’re aware of that aren’t you Anthony? So you’ll be handed a very large napkin to place over that tie of yours so you don’t make a mess of yourself. All right?
ALBANESE: Well I do like Indian food I have had the pleasure – I’ve been to India a couple of times. (Inaudible) once many years ago, my first trip to India was back in 1991 with a backpack, where myself and my now wife took buses and trains and really got amongst the people. It was quite a rewarding experience. It’s a difficult place to travel, but the people are wonderful and it was a great pleasure to be able to go back there just last year.
PERNO: All right. Well behave yourself. We’ll see you on Q&A tonight.
MONDAY, 03 SEPTEMBER, 2018
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.