Subjects: Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce, opinion polls, White Bay, Home Affairs, border security.
KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s go live to the Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
GILBERT: I wonder, what’s your view on the broader issue of instability that we have seen across our political discourse over the last decade? How much is that really in people’s minds, or is it all going to be down simply to the hip pocket when we go to the polls in May?
ALBANESE: Well I think Malcolm Turnbull is right with his comments on the BBC. It was madness in my view for him to be replaced with a fourth choice Leader in Scott Morrison, who only got elected Prime Minister because people disliked either Malcolm Turnbull or Peter Dutton more. Since then of course we know the Scott Morrison hasn’t been able to explain why he is the Prime Minister rather than Malcolm Turnbull, who was elected by the Australian people at the last election. And when you look at the facts, the Coalition was on 49 per cent for a couple of polls in a row. They were increasing their primary and their two-party preferred vote and Malcolm Turnbull had won 58 Newspolls in a row as preferred prime minister.
So it was a very strange event indeed and I think when Australians go to the polls, whether it is May 11 or May 18, they will have front of mind that the Coalition will continue to be unstable. They are now talking about knocking off Michael McCormack after the election is the word, but perhaps beforehand, as the National Party Leader and the Deputy Prime Minister and replacing him with of all people Barnaby Joyce. You know the idea that Peter Dutton could be a preferred choice as Prime Minister or Barnaby Joyce, in all of the circumstances which are there about him, that people of regional Australia are saying “bring him back” is just bizarre frankly and shows how out of touch they are.
LAURA JAYES: It’s interesting that you want to keep talking about Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull …
ALBANESE: The Coalition wants to talk about it.
JAYES: With these two in in the headlines, this is just a gift to Labor going into the election isn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well of course it is but the truth is that their activity over a long period of time has undermined their own credibility. They have stopped governing and what you have with Labor is us leading from Opposition. Today I will be with Michael Daley, the New South Wales Labor Leader, announcing our support for ship-to-shore power down at White Bay, the cruise ship terminal; making sure that there is appropriate infrastructure there that supports the tourism industry but at the same time provides protection for the local community from fumes just leaking out all over the local public schools in particular and the local Catholic school – a practical initiative. We have Bill Shorten in Adelaide today announcing our support for upgrades on the South Road – a process that we began when we were last in government with projects like the South Road Superway and Torrens to Torrens. We have shadow ministers right around the country announcing policies at the same time the Government is just talking about themselves.
GILBERT: What do you say to people who might be thinking why should of all the people that benefit from a yearning for stability that people would vote for your Leader, who stabbed a couple of prime ministers in the back? What do you say to people in the electorate who might be thinking that?
ALBANESE: What I would say is that Labor has been very stable in recent years. I’m very much on the record at the time and I think it was proven correct that what Labor did in 2010 was a mistake and not just in terms of short-term politics, but we have seen the impact that it has had over a number of years now with four prime ministers replaced. And when you look back at the previous history, that didn’t occur. What I would say to them is that we go to an election where we have had the same Leader, the same Deputy Leader, the same Shadow Treasurer, the same Shadow Infrastructure Minister, the same Shadow Health Minister over the entire period. And we are ready to hit the ground running. We are focused on lifting up the economy, which is slowing. We are focused on lifting wages. We are focusing on building infrastructure.
JAYES: But who is going to be the Home Affairs Minister if you win Anthony Albanese?
ALBANESE: Well that will be a decision for Bill Shorten to make and he will announce that at the appropriate time. But what we have is an outstanding team. And what’s more, we have got an outstanding team in the wings, the sort of people elected in the last couple of terms who could be cabinet ministers.
JAYES: You just outlined an outstanding team but Shayne Neumann is in the role at the moment and everyone is being talked about but him. What does it say about the person that you have and their strength in this portfolio at the moment?
ALBANESE: Shayne Neumann I think has been doing a very good job.
JAYES: Why isn’t he good enough to be in that role in Government then?
ALBANESE: Well he is the Shadow Immigration Minister and he has been doing an excellent job in holding Peter Dutton to account for his failure for example to settle the people who have been there for more than five years on Manus and Nauru. It’s far too long.
GILBERT: On that front, what do you say about this report on the front of The Australian suggesting it’s a $6 billion bill to increase the humanitarian intake to 32,000 refugees a year?
ALBANESE: Seriously, these so-called reports with so-called costings of Labor policies; what I would say is that it shows yet again that the Government isn’t focused on governing. It is focused on putting out these nonsense reports, usually that get found out that Treasury and Finance and no-one has had anything to do with them and they were done on the back of a Wheaties packet. Seriously, this Government cannot give an interview about policy and what it is doing governing the nation without talking about Labor, and that says it all about the fact that they don’t have a positive agenda.
GILBERT: It won’t cost anywhere near this number? Is that right? Is that your view?
ALBANESE: Well I haven’t even seen the report Kieran. Frankly one of the things I have done is not worry too much about so-called reports put in there by the Government about what the Opposition is doing. I think one of the problems that the Government has in getting a message through is these daily dropouts, you know “exclusive report”, that Labor’s policy would have this impact with some big figures. I don’t know why they talk about billions. Why don’t they talk about trillions given they make stuff up all the time?
GILBERT: Anthony Albanese, Labor frontbencher, we will talk to you soon. Thanks for your time.
ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on the program.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.