Subjects: Aviation safety, metadata retention laws, NSW election
KIERAN GILBERT: Now, the Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to discuss the issues of the day and the week. Mr Albanese, first of all as the transport spokesperson for the Labor Party and I know that you had carriage of these responsibilities in government as well, I’m just wondering what rules are there for Qantas and Virgin – Australian carriers – when it comes to this issue of two people in the cockpit, ruled mandates that two people must be in the cockpit of a plane at any given time?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Qantas and Virgin certainly do that at the moment. They have their own safety management systems that are then overseen by CASA our Civil Aviation Safety Authority. What will occur as a result of this incident and indeed, just terrible tragedy Kieran, is that when you have any significant incident in the aviation sector, the accident investigation report is then used by the airlines to monitor their own systems, what improvements can be made. Now as a result of this incident, there’s no doubt that all of the airlines that operate in Australia will have to examine their own systems. They’ll consult with CASA and therefore if any improvements are required that will occur. Here in Australia we have the best safety record of any nation in the globe. It’s something of which we can be proud but we can’t be complacent about it.
GILBERT: Just to clarify, is that currently the approach of Qantas and Virgin, the two big local airlines, to have that rule that if a pilot leaves another crew member must replace them in the cockpit? Is that your understanding?
ALBANESE: That is my understanding – that Qantas and Virgin both operate that way. But nonetheless every single airline when an incident like this happens, any incident related to safety, what occurs is that all Australian airlines examine the investigation report, they all have their person in charge of safety then consider if any adjustments need to be made, then CASA as the safety bureau oversees any of those changes which might be necessary.
GILBERT: Thanks for clearing that up for us. On the metadata legislation that’s passed the Parliament, are you entirely comfortable with this, and the fact that our communications will be held for two years? Coming from the left of the Labor Party, your concern for civil liberties are you entirely comfortable with what’s transpired here?
ALBANESE: There’s no doubt here Kieran that what you’ve got to balance up is the need for our agencies, our law enforcement bodies, anti-terrorism bodies to be able to undertake their task in keeping the community and the nation safe. And that’s got to be balanced with appropriate civil liberties and protections for the rights of individuals. As a result of the work that Jason Clare and Mark Dreyfus did on the committee, there’s substantial improvements to this legislation, including of course protection for journalists. There was no protection at all in the original legislation. So they’re important improvements. Obviously with legislation like this it will have to be monitored and if any improvements are required that should occur. But of course we know that technology moves very quickly. I noticed Tony Abbott, his comment of when he was a working journalist; he wasn’t worried about his metadata. That of course was because the internet didn’t exist! So whilst it was a silly comment from the Prime Minister to make, but it did remind people of how fast technology moves. And no doubt the legislation will have to be constantly monitored to ensure it achieves its objectives of keeping people and the nation safe whilst making sure there aren’t any abuses.
GILBERT: Now on to the NSW election tomorrow. You are going to be campaigning this morning I believe at a train station pretty soon.
ALBANESE: I’ll be at Ashfield station with Jo Haylen who is the candidate for Summer Hill. People could drop by.
GILBERT: You’ve got the work ahead of you though – 55-45 according to the Galaxy poll to the popular Mike Baird. Yesterday you said something as you left Parliament – a bit tongue in cheek of course – you said that if you vote for Foley you could get Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister next week. I suppose the flip side of that is that if the Liberals do very well tomorrow should Mr Abbott get some of the credit for that as well?
ALBANESE: Well I think Tony Abbott has been kept from this campaign. It is an Abbott free zone here in NSW – his home state – because Mike Baird knows that Tony Abbott is incredibly unpopular and there’s no doubt that if Luke Foley is elected as Premier tomorrow then the Abbott Prime Ministership will end I think as early as Monday. So if people do want Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister they should vote Labor tomorrow. If they want Julie Bishop as Prime Minister next week they should also vote Labor tomorrow.
GILBERT: One of your Labor colleagues is quoted in the paper this morning saying that Baird is the most popular premier since Neville Wran. He looks like he’s going to hold on doesn’t he?
ALBANESE: It’s not a matter of just the Premier. It’s a rotten government. He’s got a rotten plan. He’s got a nice smile, but a bad plan. He has failed to answer what the intervention by his office was to change the report from UBS into privatisation of electricity assets that the people of NSW own that said it would be bad for the budget.
GILBERT: Are you comfortable with the union campaign though? It’s xenophobic isn’t it? That’s what the Race Discrimination Commissioner believes, that the union campaign that Labor supports is employing dog whistle politics.
ALBANESE: Absolute nonsense. These are assets that are owned by the people of New South Wales, owned by the government of New South Wales. It appears the Liberals are happy with another government owning these assets.
ALBANESE: It’s important that there be scrutiny of this policy. It does not make sense to flog off assets that produce $1.7 billion return to the people of New South Wales to fund ongoing nurses, teachers and police whilst getting a sugar hit. This is selling you house to go on a holiday and when you come back you don’t know how you are going to live. That’s the problem. This is bad for the finances of New South Wales and it’s the issues that count tomorrow and I think when people go into those polling booths the issue of do they want those power assets sold will be front and centre.
GILBERT: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time. Chat to you soon.
ALBANESE: Good to talk to you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.