Subjects; Sydney Opera House, IPCC report
DAVID SPEERS: Labor’s Shadow Tourism Minister Anthony Albanese has also weighed in on this. On Friday he did so and he copped some criticism for it. He actually defended the use of the Opera House for this sort of promotion, at least the promotion that the Opera House itself had agreed to initially. I spoke to Anthony Albanese a short time ago.
Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for your time this afternoon.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on.
SPEERS: Do you think the Opera House should be used to promote The Everest horse race?
ALBANESE: Well of course we have to actually understand what this dispute is over. The fact is that there’s agreement that the colours should be used of the horses, the numbers should be used – this is a dispute over whether the trophy should be used. So the Opera House board and Louise Herron have no problem with the colours and the numbers. This is just over the trophy for the ten minutes that will take place tomorrow night.
SPEERS: That’s an interesting point to make. So the whole dispute is really about whether that logo of the trophy is to be included as part of the imagery. The Opera House had already agreed to the colours and the numbers?
ALBANESE: That’s right. Of course the fact is that the Opera House is used for projections. Every single night there’s a projection on the other side of the Opera House but on that side, of course, for events including Ashes tests, rugby tests, St Patricks Day, World Aids Day, World Diabetes Day, of course as well as the big events like New Year’s Eve…
SPEERS: There was even a Samsung promotion too apparently.
ALBANESE: And there was a Samsung promotion. What I have said as Shadow Tourism Minister is that it is reasonable that we promote major events in Sydney. Now I didn’t back in the Racing NSW plan and I actually think that Louise Herron’s position of support for a minimal projection is a reasonable one and Gladys Berejiklian should consider just supporting that and supporting Louise Herron.
SPEERS: What’s the difference then in including the trophy image? Do you have a problem with that? What’s the difference between, you know, showing the colours and the numbers and showing the trophy?
ALBANESE: Well that is what the dispute is over now. That’s what the difference is between Louise Herron and the Berejiklian Government. What there is is a need to have clearly, a whole of people clearly are understandably upset about this issue, it’s projected a lot of emotion. People need to have a review and the Berejiklian Government should have a review of the uses of the Opera House and get someone in, an expert opinion, and people can submit their views to that process. I think that would be a wise thing given how engaged people are on this issue.
SPEERS: And that’s an interesting idea.
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that many people weren’t aware of the number of times in which projections onto the Opera House, since that was made possible by new technology, have been used and what I said last Friday…
SPEERS: Is it different with horse racing? I mean there’s this list of events that have been used on the Opera House but is horse racing, which is obviously linked to gambling, is that any different here? That’s what seems to be upsetting a lot of people.
ALBANESE: Well of course there’s gambling on rugby tests, there’s gambling on cricket as we know, some of it very unfortunate circumstances is how we know that it occurs. What we need here is a bit of a step back once we get through this process. The Berejiklian Government should consider supporting Louise Herron’s position. Tomorrow night it’s just over whether the trophy is shown or not.
SPEERS: And to be clear on that, you don’t think the trophy should be shown?
ALBANESE: I don’t have a strong view frankly, but given that the Opera House board have a view and Louise Herron has a view, I think it would be reasonable that their view be respected. Let’s be clear about one of the reasons why this is a major issue – it’s because of Alan Jones’ inexcusable behaviour in his interview with Louise Herron last Friday morning.
SPEERS: I was going to come to that. What did you make of that interview?
ALBANESE: I only found out about that interview well after I’d made my comments that were actually before that interview with Louise Herron. Louise Herron did Alan Jones the courtesy of going on his program. She said on his program that she supported the Opera House being used for minimal projections. And Alan Jones was rude, was offensive and his behaviour was inexcusable. He has had a record of doing that from time to time. The great hypocrisy here is that Alan Jones was strident in his criticism of Luke Foley for supporting Cheree Toka, a young Indigenous constituent of mine, and her proposal and campaign, to fly the Aboriginal flag from the Harbour Bridge 365 days a year, was treated with disdain and was outrageous according to Alan Jones. He needs to consider the way in which he conducts these interviews and I think that is one of the reasons why there has been such a strong response.
SPEERS: Is that what you think a lot of this outrage is about? People think that Alan Jones has too much influence in these sorts of decisions in NSW?
ALBANESE: There’s no doubt that that is the case. That is a view. And one of the problems with 24 hour media reporting is people often don’t get the timelines. So a whole lot of people, for example, weren’t aware that my interview was before Alan Jones so they were saying, why didn’t you comment on Alan Jones’ interview? Well I didn’t even know about it.
SPEERS: It hadn’t happened at that point?
ALBANESE: It hadn’t happened. And the same as Racing NSW have said and there’s no reason to doubt them, quite clearly, they’ve been in negotiations with the Government and the Opera House for many, many months. Luke Foley put out a media release two weeks ago talking about projections on the Harbour Bridge not the Opera House. One of the problems is that timelines in modern media can all run into each other so that people get two and two and get 84 out of it.
SPEERS: Look at the end of the day, final one on this issue. Does it strike you, there are a lot of things we can get outraged about in this world, in this country, I mean how does this really rank when you look at the amount of attention, the amount of oxygen that’s been spent on this issue?
ALBANESE: I do think it has been an unfortunate debate. I disagree with Scott Morrison when he says the Opera House is Sydney’s largest billboard. It’s much more significant than that. It is an important cultural institution. It’s an architectural gem. It really highlights the great Sydney Harbour that makes the city that I love so important. Indeed, the interview I did on Friday in part spoke about – a little informal review – The The concert, which I went to at the Opera House last Tuesday night.
The fact is that the Opera House is a treasure. It needs to be treated as such. But the other thing is that it is an asset in terms of sending a signal when something is shown, when the Opera House is shown, then the whole of the world sees that an event is being conducted in Sydney. Of course this horse race is about not just gambling, isn’t my concern, I’ve been to Randwick Races once in my life. I don’t gamble.
What I am concerned about is promoting tourism and promoting Sydney as a destination. One of the points that I made in the interview last week is that as well Melbourne promotes its major events much better than Sydney does. That’s just a fact and that has consequences for employment and economic activity here in what is Australia’s global city.
SPEERS: And quickly, the big issue of the day, the release of the latest IPCC report on climate change. It’s suggesting that coal-fired power needs to be phased out by 2050 to avoid dangerous temperature rise. What do you think? Should coal-fired power be phased out by then?
ALBANESE: Well this is another wake-up call. One of the things that we’re seeing is that renewable energy, increasingly right now, is more viable economically than going and building a new coal-fired power station. That’s why, in spite of some of the Government’s rhetoric, and Scott Morrison bringing a lump of coal into the Parliament, there are no private sector operators wanting to go out there and build a coal-fired power station here in Australia. What we need to do is to be a part of the global solution to climate change. That requires the co-operation of the entire international community but it’s not helped when…
SPEERS: But here in Australia, whether anyone builds a new one or not, should it be phased out is the question; should coal-fired power be phased out by 2050?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that what is happening here in Australia is that increasingly as coal-fired power stations reach the end of their life, like Liddell will in coming years; they’re closing, and the energy sector is looking towards renewables, battery storage, hydro, in order to fill the gap. That is something that is happening; the market right now is doing that here in Australia.
SPEERS: So no need for the Government, no need for a future Labor Government to actually accelerate that?
ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that that is happening. A future Labor Government will have a target of reducing emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, and having 50 per cent renewables by 2030. We have support for that, and wherever I go – tomorrow I’ll be up in Far North Queensland, and on a visit earlier on this year with Bob Katter, I visited Kidston and Kennedy. These are very large wind and solar projects in Far North Queensland. Those projects alone are enough to power over a million homes. They’re going ahead right now, as we speak.
SPEERS: Well I wonder, just let me ask you this one finally: the report today also says we need a shift in diet towards less meat, a responsible-consumption, sustainable diet. I’m not sure in Far North Queensland how they’d feel about that, but what about you? Are you prepared to change your own diet?
ALBANESE: Well, I do eat meat and I do quite like eating meat, and I think in terms of diet I haven’t seen the report on that, but I think increasingly as I get older I must say, I’m more attracted to vegetables than I was as a young fellow, and I think that’s got something to do with just the ageing process rather than any ideological.
SPEERS: You’re not trying to save the planet?
ALBANESE: I’m not trying to save the planet. It’s just a fact that one of the great things in Australia that’s happened is that our cuisine has got much, much better. When I was a lad I thought there were two vegetables – there were peas and beans – and they both came out of the freezer.
SPEERS: Right. Anthony Albanese, good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us this afternoon.
ALBANESE: Thanks David.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.