Sep 27, 2015

Transcript of television interview – SKY News Australian Agenda


Subjects: Liberal spill; Malcolm Turnbull; Labor policy; Tony Abbott; cities policy; Labor leadership; polls; climate change; border policy; emissions trading; taxation; Labor frontbench; Joe Hockey.

PETER VEN ONSELSEN: Our main guest today is Anthony Albanese, Senior Shadow Minister, thanks so much for your company.

 ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 VAN ONSELEN: There’s a lot to talk about, around the Labor leadership, around your portfolio in particular with some of the changes.  We’ll get to all of that.  Can I just start, you’ve been in this position before on the Labor side.  You’ve been through what the Liberals are going through now.  You were on the defeated side of the argument initially when Julia Gillard came in, but you played the team game under her, continuing in your role as Leader of the House.  I wonder what you think about how this is going to transpire for the Liberal Party, because Labor tried it and won the 2010 election, but it was a tough, tough time. What do you see happening on the Liberal side?

 ALBANESE: It will be an interesting dynamic.  It’s a big call to replace an elected Prime Minister just not even quite two years into his first term.  What we know is in spite of the calm on the surface beneath the sharks will be circling, and there’s a lot of disquiet, I think Malcolm Turnbull made a big mistake in promoting each and every one of his plotters – essentially all got a guernsey. You’ve had the grand thing, as only Malcolm could, change the term of parliamentary secretaries to assistant ministers and we’ll wait and see because that needs parliamentary approval of course.

 VAN ONSELEN: You don’t like that? Labor plans to oppose that maybe?

 ALBANESE I think that is a sense of grandeur that Malcolm Turnbull is characterised by.  These people are parliamentary secretaries, they’re not ministers, and they should be characterised as such, is my view.

 VAN ONSELEN: Let me ask a follow up, though, you mentioned about him promoting all of his supporters and he certainly promoted a lot of them – – –

 ALBANESE: Every one of them, every one of the people in that back room in Peter Hendy’s home on the Sunday night finds himself with a new title.  I think that is …

 VAN ONSELEN: He also promoted the younger generation, as Paul mentioned, from the Abbott side, people that voted for Tony Abbott – Christian Porter, Josh Frydenberg to name two straight into Cabinet.

 ALBANESE: It’s interesting to see how hard they campaigned for Tony Abbott actually when the leadership ballot came.  What’s pretty obvious is there will be significant disquiet.  You can’t have a traumatic event like replacing a first term elected Prime Minister without having ongoing repercussions. We saw yesterday in Tony Abbott’s interviews that were published in The Australian and in the News Limited tabloids, Tony Abbott essentially putting his stamp down, saying there are no policy changes here.  That is not what Malcolm Turnbull wants out there.  He wants to say this is different in substance, not just in style.  Tony Abbott has called him out.  Labor agrees with Tony Abbott.  This has been about style not substance.

 PAUL KELLY: You have observed Malcolm Turnbull for a long time in parliament. In particular, the earlier period, when he was Liberal leader.  In your view what do you think is the major weakness for Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister?

 ALBANESE: His ego, that’s what brought him down last time. That is his great weakness is his sense of – you said before, Paul, in your introduction that he looked relaxed and comfortable in the role of Prime Minister.  That’s because he had that sense of destiny that he would get there.  That brought him undone with the Godwin Grech incident last time around where he had this massive overreach.

 VAN ONSELEN: You’ve got to be careful, don’t you, though, as an opposition that you don’t fight the old Malcolm Turnbull rather than the new one.  He had six years out from the leadership, the same as John Howard when he was defeated in 89, you could have said the same things about John Howard around immigration

in 89.  Labor made the mistake of thinking they were fighting the old John Howard.  As a result you were nearly 12 years in opposition.

 ALBANESE: Of course we shouldn’t be complacent and we’re certainly not.  I think this week you have seen in – I gave a major speech last Saturday in Bathurst, the Light on the Hill address, you had Bill Shorten release major policy on higher education this week, Chris Bowen give his major economic speech on Friday in the McKell Institute.  We haven’t been sitting back and chilling out. We have been taking the ball up, continuing to advance Labor’s position against the now Malcolm Turnbull-led government.  But I think there are a couple of weaknesses with Malcolm, one is his views he’s held for so long on climate change on marriage equality, the contradiction between what he had to do to get to the Lodge and what we know are his personal views.  And secondly that disruption that will occur within his ranks.   There is a lot of disquiet, not just the people like Kevin Andrews and people who have missed out, people like Bruce Billson. I don’t think anyone suggests that Bruce Billson was not a good minister.  He got offered the cities portfolio, wouldn’t accept it, so it’s now sitting on the backbench.  I think when Parliament resumes and Tony Abbott is sitting up there on the backbench he will be a real symbol of discontent, I think, for those people who feel disquiet about the change.  Malcolm Turnbull leads the same party that Tony Abbott led just two weeks ago.

KELLY: What do you think will happen on the policy front?  Do you think as Prime Minister Turnbull will go for significant and substantial policy change or do you think that this is more impressionistic, this is more about image and changing the atmospherics?

 ALBANESE:I think it’s in the interests of the country there is substantial change.  The country was going down the wrong direction in so many ways.  But we have seen in Scott Morrison’s, I think, a pretty poor start frankly, as the new treasurer, saying that we don’t have a revenue problem just an expenditure problem.  Essentially trying to paper-over the challenges that Australia has as an economy, going forward.  I think, that’s of concern.  I think some issues clearly, the naming of a cities minister we have welcomed, the naming of a tourism minister, I now have some people to shadow, that’s a good thing, because the absence of the government from that spaces was a real problem.  But at the moment it is about style rather than substance. I think Malcolm Turnbull does need to change the substance of the Government going forward.  The question is will his party and the Coalition, including the National Party, allow him to do so.

 KELLY: Let’s just talk about Labor, clearly you guys are under a lot of pressure and what we see over the course of the last week is Labor trying to change its image, and looking exciting and committed to innovation and modern ideas.  To what extent does Labor really have to redefine itself now it faces Malcolm Turnbull?

 ALBANESE: That’s not new, of course, Paul.  We have been out there talking about innovation. If you look at Bill Shorten’s budget reply this year, it was all about innovation. It was about science, technology, engineering and maths in schools. It was about entrepreneurship. If you look at the work we have done on cities, I gave my National Press Club speech on September 24 last year, which outlined a 10-point plan for cities.  Now, when I looked at Malcolm Turnbull’s response on the Sunday of last I thought to myself, where have I heard that before?  He clearly had read the speech.  That’s a good thing.

 VAN ONSELEN: If he made those changes, though, surely it’s more than style over substance. He’s adopting your substance.  You can’t say it’s only style.

 ALBANESE: It’s a good thing, but the problem is he hasn’t been able to do it properly.  Take that for example, I think that’s a good one.  Malcolm Turnbull has appointed Jamie Briggs as the Minister for Cities.  But he’s off as a junior minister to Greg Hunt in the Department of Environment.  Now, if you’re going deal with the challenges of our cities you’ve got to deal with infrastructure and transport are at the core of it, are at the core of how the Federal Government can influence the way that cities are shaped, and make sure that they are centres of innovation and opportunity.

 VAN ONSELEN: But surely because Warren Truss is the senior minister in Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and the Infrastructure Minister, surely what happens in the cities, given it doesn’t really have a remit for the Nationals as a party of the bush, it would just be case of Jamie Briggs will operate down a different line of sight?

 ALBANESE: To quote Tom Cruise in that movie “follow the money” you can’t have a junior minister who’s not in the Cabinet, responsible for cities, when all the money for infrastructure and transport is still controlled by the National Party in the Cabinet in the form of Warren Truss. They have said they’ve had a three-person committee, Paul Fletcher, Greg Hunt and Jamie Briggs, but essentially without Warren Truss, without infrastructure and transport being engaged, you really are dealing at the fringes. It’s like the Eagles and the Hawks next week, prior to the Grand Final worrying about who the runners are going to be, whose dealings with the oranges at half-time and not worrying about the players, the main game of what’s going on on the field of our cities is infrastructure and transport.

 VAN ONSELEN: We can get back to that, but I just want to go back to Paul’s question about the Labor Party.  There’s a lot more pressure on the Labor Party now, Bill Shorten in particular, you’d have to admit.  I mean for the first time you have fallen behind on Newspoll in literally 18 months, the turn-around is pretty staggering.

 ALBANESE: Tony Abbott’s performance was staggeringly bad.  That’s what is astonishing- – –

 VAN ONSELEN: Yet he was neck and neck with Bill Shorten on leadership.

 ALBANESE: We actually led, as you’d be aware in one poll, before we actually had the leadership decider.  While Chris Bowen was the acting leader so bad was Tony Abbott, and I think what that reflects is clearly we let Australians down and we let our supporters down by our own behaviour of worrying too much about ourselves last time around when we were in government and not enough about the Australian people.  Now, they sent that message by putting us into opposition, since we have been in opposition we have been determined to put forward new ideas to make sure we’re a very united team and we are, and we’re engaged in those policy debates and we’re setting the agenda.  What’s amazing is that from opposition so much of what Malcolm Turnbull is now talking about, not necessarily acting on, but talking about, that’s a good first step, is a Labor agenda, things that Labor have advanced.

 PAUL KELLY: OK, now, your opponent, the Government, have changed leader.  Are you aware of talk in the party, talk in the Labor rank and file, that there be may be a need for Labor to do the same thing before the election?

 ALBANESE: No, look, we made that decision, Paul.  We had a process that was robust, but that I think brought great credit to the party.  One of the reasons why Labor has been able to get on the front foot is that you saw in the leadership process between myself and Bill Shorten, two people putting forward ideas in a mature way, talking about the future of the country, and that has meant that we were able to, from day one, get on the front foot, unite as a team.  I’m a team player Paul, as you know.  I was a team player when we were in government.  I continue to be a team player now.

 PAUL KELLY: Given that, do you rule out any possibility of you challenging Bill Shorten before the election?

 ALBANESE: Well, that’s not going to happen.  What we’re focused on is the future of the country, rather than being focused on ourselves.  I’ve been committed to putting forward a series of policies. I think we have been pretty effective frankly.  Who talks now in the eulogies to Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership about him being an infrastructure Prime Minister?  You know, there wasn’t a hole dug barely during his Prime Ministership.  There was a complete failure when it came to infrastructure.  The fact of him refusing to fund any public transport project meant that you couldn’t have integrated transport plans for our cities, and our towns and our regions, and it has been an absolute failure.  I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been effective at holding him to account.

 VAN ONSELEN: Just getting back, though, to Paul’s question about whether you would challenge Bill Shorten.  I don’t doubt you’re a team player, I don’t doubt that you won’t challenge Bill Shorten, but given where his polling numbers are at, if they get worse, is he a team player?  Would he do the right thing rather than have to be challenged?

 ALBANESE: Look, we have been focused outwards rather than inwards.

 VAN ONSELEN: You’re at a point now where you kind of almost have to reverse that.  If the polling stays where it is, I know this could be a honeymoon, surely Labor has to watch this in the coming weeks and months?

 ALBANESE: Let’s have a look at where the polling is, Peter.  The best poll for the incoming Prime Minister has Malcolm Turnbull on 51% of the two-party preferred vote. That is the smallest bounce for any new leader that I’ve seen in my time in politics, whether it was …

 VAN ONSELEN: Technically that’s not right, though, because he started on 46% and pushed it up five points to 51%.  The reason it looks small is because of how low he was to start.

 ALBANESE: Look at where Gillard was or where Rudd was or where Latham was for that matter.  When a new leader has come in they’ve received an immediate bounce …

 PAUL KELLY: So you’re saying he hasn’t got a sufficient bounce at the start?  Is that what you are saying?

 ALBANESE:I think it’s been pretty poor, frankly, and if you look at the Canning results where we had a 6% swing on a two-party preferred basis, to Labor in what has been a traditional conservative seat, you know if Malcolm Turnbull, if this is the best it gets for Malcolm Turnbull then the transition hasn’t been a great success.

 VAN ONSELEN: All right, stay with us, we’re going to take a break, we’re talking to Anthony Albanese



 VAN ONSELEN: Just a quick one on a story in the News Corp papers today. There’s a suggestion that Susanne Ley, the Health Minister, is commissioning a look at medical services which are subsidised under the Medicare benefits schedule.  It sounds like it’s part of their budget tightening they are looking at maybe removing some of those subsidies.  Labor has to support at least a look at it, doesn’t it, given the budget position?

 ALBANESE: I’m not going to comment on the specifics, but what we know is that the conservatives don’t support Medicare and every opportunity they have to undermine public health care they do it.  And I’m not surprised that they’re looking at another means to achieve the same objectives.  We’re very well served indeed by our Medicare system and I’d be concerned about any undermining of it.

 PAUL KELLY: Now let’s talk policy, climate change, Labor attacks the Government all the time on climate change.  The climate change targets are 26 to 28% emission reduction targets as outlined by the former Abbott Government.  Where does Labor stand on that?  I mean, is Labor going to be more ambitious and have a higher target or not?

 ALBANESE: Well, that’s not up to me to announce on this program, Paul, of course.   But what I would say is that we take climate change seriously.  We accept the science, and we believe that the best way of dealing with climate change and lowering emissions is through a market-based mechanism.  What’s extraordinary here is Malcolm Turnbull, who fashions himself as a moderniser, who says he believes in climate change has now ruled out a market-based mechanism. So it’s an alliance of the climate sceptics with the market sceptics.  How does Malcolm Turnbull defend the proposition that using a market-based system is worse than this command-style economy method of lowering emissions?  It is absurd for him to say, well, he can say it and he has.  It doesn’t matter how you get there.  It actually does. What matters is that you get there in the cheapest possible way and we know the best way for that to happen is under a market-based system in which businesses make decisions determined by economics.

 PAUL KELLY: I want to ask you about boats.  We saw Malcolm Turnbull have to correct himself this week on the question of boats.  And of course at the last Labor National Conference we saw a new policy on boats, that’s the commitment to the turning back of boats under a Labor Government.  You’ll be a senior member in any Labor Cabinet.  In terms of your own views on this, are you committed to this pretty tough and brutal policy?  Will you, as a Labor Cabinet minister, sign up to that?

 ALBANESE: As you’re aware Paul, as a Labor Cabinet minister you sign up to all of Labor’s policies.   The good thing about the policy that we announced at the national conference is the increase in support for the UNHCR processes …

 PAUL KELLY: I’m aware of that, I’m aware of all that.  I’m asking you about one specific aspect of the policy, that is boat turn-backs.  Will you sign up to that in Cabinet?

 ALBANESE: Well, I have answered that, Paul.  Which is that I’m bound by the platform of the Labor Party, and that’s a process that I support.  It’s a process I fought for very strongly, as you’re aware Paul, at national conferences since 1986, I’ve been going along and putting my case there.

 VAN ONSELEN: It must be awkward.  It must be awkward knowing that you have a different view, but you’re bound by a front bench solidarity.  It’s such a sort of crucial issue, a real totemic one between the major parties as well.

 ALBANESE: Peter, the point of the Labor Party, unlike our opponents, our opponents have a process whereby they essentially have a fundraiser and call it a conference.  The Greens, who knows what they have, because they are closed doors?   What we have is a process whereby people have the opportunity to put their

view, to have votes determined across the whole range of policies, and as a result what comes out is in my view much better than what goes in, before that democratic process.

 VAN ONSELEN: It almost makes it more awkward, though, that’s my point, I mean, you are a senior figure in the factional left.  Your electorate, presumably, is in tune with your thinking on this as opposed to the Cabinet solidarity that you have to take as a position.  And of course 60% of the members wanted you as leader but the parliamentary caucus voted the other way.  This is a totemic issue and one that you and Bill Shorten are at odds on.

 ALBANESE: What we have also is I think a policy framework and I’ve said this before, that will ensure that the incentive that people have to get on boats is taken away, by doubling the numbers of people who we accept, by engaging in proper regional processing, by properly funding the UNHCR, by making sure there is proper accountability for what is going on in Australia’s names in off shore detention centres, that there’s transparency there.  All of that put together will ensure, I think, a much better outcome than what is occurring at the moment.  It therefore is a policy I think that we can take to the election, as a credible policy, that will make a real difference to not just ensuring that our borders are secure, but making sure also that people are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

 PAUL KELLY: On the question of transport and cities, is it Labor’s intention to try and make public transport, new investment in public transport, particularly rail, actually an issue at the next federal election?  Is that what you’re aiming to do?  Will it be an issue?

ALBANESE: It’s an issue now, Paul.  What has occurred is that $4.5 billion has been stripped out of the Budget that had already been allocated for public transport projects like the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, the Melbourne Metro, Perth public transport, Tonsley Park line in South Australia.  You can’t deal with urban congestion unless you deal with public transport as part of an integrated transport strategy.

 VAN ONSELEN: Malcolm Turnbull is going to do that.  He has a very different view on public transport, doesn’t he, to what Tony Abbott does?

 ALBANESE: He certainly does on a personal level.  There’s no question about that.  But at the same time you’ve had – his environment spokesperson who seems to be in charge of this, Greg Hunt – on AM this week, still defending the East-West Link in Melbourne.  That’s a project that has a cost benefit of 45 cents outcome for every dollar that’s invested.   It was a dud project.  But you still have the Government quarantining funding for that project. So we’ll have a plan. If you are serious about cities, you’ve got to re-establish some Major Cities Unit, you’ve got to make sure that the cities portfolio is integrated with infrastructure and transport.  You have to fund public transport, you’ve got to engage in urban design and planning.  The templates are all there from what we did in government and from the ten-point plan that we put forward at the National Press Club.

 PAUL KELLY: Let me ask you then about tax.  Isn’t the reality here that Labor will go into the next election campaign looking as though it is the party which wants an increase in taxation overall, given that you want to carbon price again, that you’re eliminating superannuation …

 ALBANESE: You’re not suggesting that an ETS is a tax, are you Paul?

 PAUL KELLY: Well, I think- – –

 ALBANESE: You haven’t succumbed to that economic illiteracy, surely?

 PAUL KELLY:I think – I think the Government might make that case- – –

 ALBANESE: Yes, but you accept, surely, that that’s not the case?

 PAUL KELLY: Let’s just focus on the question I asked which is a question about taxation overall in terms of Labor, that is to what extent is Labor vulnerable on this question?  A lot of its initiatives involve taxation increases.  Is this where Labor is looking at higher taxes to fund government services?  And if it isn’t, isn’t there a risk here in terms of the way it is perceived?

 ALBANESE: Not true, Paul.   It is as untrue as the characterisation of an Emissions Trading Scheme.  The fact is if you look at what we actually did in government, taxes have risen as a proportion of GDP under this mob, and they’ve identified that, so it falls down at base analysis.  But secondly also you look at the propositions that Labor is putting forward.   What are they?  That multinationals should be paying their fair share of tax.  I think the Australian people think that profits made here should attract taxation here and revenue here for the Australian government.

 VAN ONSELEN: Can I ask a quick follow up on that specifically?  Don’t you have to be very careful with that?  It’s one thing for us to talk about, well, iPads that have been made overseas and purchased here, those multinationals should pay tax on that, we have got to be very careful, don’t we, that China doesn’t suddenly take the same view about what they import from us and therefore really damaging our resource sector from a taxation perspective?

 ALBANESE: What Labor he’s been talking about when it comes to multinational tax profits that made here, there should be not an ability to essentially off-shore the profits and therefore minimise tax.  Similarly in terms of individuals are the same.  See, the problem is when you have tax evasion it is ordinary PAYE taxpayers, mums and dads who are working hard to put food on the table, clothes for their kids, pay their school fees, who are paying a higher share of the burden as a result of that.

 VAN ONSELEN: It all comes back to generation reform, doesn’t it?  You need to get the balance between the state and federal taxes.  For example, payroll tax is something that you can’t afford because it is based obviously on employees in the country, which is regarded as a stifling tax for business, but by the same token it’s something that can’t be a avoided.

 ALBANESE: But we know there are sources of revenue that the Government has consciously chosen to forego.  In the area of superannuation is the classic example whereby you have superannuation being used for tax minimisation at the very high end, at the very high end, and we know that, because of that the tax

burden on working mums and dads is higher.  That’s unacceptable.  Labor, as the party of fairness, is quite happy to argue our case on superannuation, on multinational tax, for example, and we’re happy to also put our record out there in terms of as a party of fairness, versus the opposition, the Government, which when in opposition made these promises.   So the first thing they did was doubled the deficit when they got into government.  So they told us there was this budget crisis, they doubled the deficit.  One of the ways they did that was through some of the very conscious decisions they made, including an superannuation.

 PAUL KELLY: Labor keeps saying there is a revenue problem.  By logic that means there’s got to be more revenue raised.  That means more taxation increases.   Do you accept that proposition?

 ALBANESE: No, it doesn’t.  It can mean closing loopholes like the ones I’ve just identified, so that people pay the tax that people expect them to be paying, right now.  And Labor has put forward measures on the table.  Now, Malcolm Turnbull could, if he was half sensible, and pragmatic and he can be pragmatic from time to time, what I would do to give him a bit of gratuitous advice, is to adopt Labor’s superannuation and multinational tax measures.  He can do it in the fortnight when parliament goes back.  It will sail through, the budget bottom line will be immediately better.  He will, I think, get applause from the Australian public for doing so.  Does he have the courage to do so?  It’s a common sense thing for him to do, in my view.

 VAN ONSELEN: Let me ask you about the higher education policy that was announced during the course of the week.  It strikes me that this is everything that some voters worry about Labor, a good policy in and of itself, a $2.5 billion price tag, it was announced without how it was going to be paid for at the same time?

 ALBANESE: One of the things, of course, Peter all of our policies will be costed and will be out there well in advance of the election.  Of course this is an investment, not just a cost, investing in social capital in people.  We need to compete in our region, and we can do one of two ways.  We can have the current government’s approach in shipping reform, for example, in my portfolio, which is we’ll compete by taking the Australian flag off ships, putting a foreign flag on, have foreign wages paid and that way the costs will be cheaper.  That’s method one.   The second is by being smarter, by competing on the basis of our ingenuity and creativity of our people.  And one of the ways we can do that is through this investment in higher education.  It’s an investment in people that will produce a higher return through economic growth in the future.  There are two great ways you can boost economic growth.  Both of them relate to productivity.  One is investing in capital through infrastructure, the second is investing in people.  Labor intends to do both.

 PAUL KELLY: Do you think Malcolm Turnbull will run full term or do you think he’ll be tempted go to the polls earlier?

 ALBANESE: I think the temptation might be there any time from March, I would have thought.  We’ll be ready to go if he calls an election next week.  Labor is ready to go.  It is a prerogative of the Prime Minister.  The difficulty for him is, though, if he goes before July there is all sorts of issues with regards to the Senate, a double dissolution will mean a worse result for whoever is in government, in terms of it will tend to lead to more minor parties being represented and I think Australians do expect their governments to serve three-year terms.  Then again, I think Australians probably expect the Prime Minister they elect to actually last for that three-year term as well.

 VAN ONSELEN: I think it is unlikely he will go to an early election, if he goes full term or near enough to a full term, doesn’t Labor need to do a reshuffle of its own?  One of the real criticisms of Tony Abbott was that he hadn’t rejuvenated his line-up.   When you look at Labor rank there’s been some rejuvenation since the defeat of the last Labor Government, but it is not dissimilar in terms of the ranks looking largely the same as they did when you were in government.  There’s a lot of talent you could promote.

 ALBANESE: We, of course, have quite a large frontbench as it is.  And they’ll be joined by Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher will be appointed as two new shadow ministers.

 VAN ONSELEN: It’s starting to look like a John Hewson shadow ministry where every kid gets a prize from a leader that is trying to ensure that he can keep everyone happy.

 ALBANESE: In Katy and Jim they are outstanding, I think, Katy Gallagher was a very good Chief Minister of the ACT.  We were very fortunate to get her to take Kate Lundy’s spot in the Senate.  She, I think, has transitioned into the Federal Senate extremely well, and I think she will be a great addition to our frontbench team.  Jim Chalmers, from Queensland, of course, not withstanding his support for the wrong football teams, is an outstanding person with an economic background, and he – both of them, I think – are articulate and will be future Cabinet ministers in a Labor Government at least.

 VAN ONSELEN: Just quickly before we let you go, there has been various announcements on the change on the Government’s side obviously with their reshuffle.  Joe Hockey, there’s a lot of speculation that he may well be heading over as the ambassador to Washington.  Would Labor support that?

 ALBANESE: Well, I have a personal view that we shouldn’t rule out people once they leave parliament, being able to play a continued role in the Australian public’s interests.  Joe Hockey, I have major policy differences with, but as a human being he’s someone I have respect for.  He has interpersonal skills, and he’s an experienced person.  He’s a former treasurer, a former senior minister in the government.  I think there’s been a bit too much from time to time of denigration of people because they’re from the opposite side of politics …

 VAN ONSELEN: I was about to say your side, there have been musings of criticism by the idea that Joe Hockey might be appointed to Washington.  It sounds like you are more open minded about that?

 ALBANESE: Look, I was part of a government that supported appointing Brendan Nelson, for example, as a minister.  He did an outstanding job in that job.  I appointed people from differing backgrounds to positions where I thought they were the best person for the job.  I appointed Bruce Baird as the head of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.  Bruce has done an outstanding job in that position, and, you know, I think that we shouldn’t rule out people from playing a role outside of Parliament.  I don’t know whether Joe is going to be appointed to that position or not.  But if he is then I would have nothing but to wish him well.

 VAN ONSELEN: Shadow Infrastructure spokesperson Anthony Albanese we appreciate you joining us on Australian Agenda, thanks for your company.

 ALBANESE: Good to be with you.