SUBJECTS: Federal Election; Infrastructure; Listening Tour; Tax cuts; Energy policy; Adani.
CHRIS KENNY: About this idea of engagement, it must have frustrated you, you’re one of the people that doesn’t mind talking to people you disagree with, you like to talk to audiences, diverse audiences around the country but seemingly under Bill Shorten in the lead up to the last election Sky News programs were blacklisted, various radio stations were blacklisted and it meant that Labor wasn’t talking to a lot of people it needed to convince.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well as you know Chris during the election campaign I was on Sky News. I was on Alan Jones’ program. I’ve got a regular slot on 2GB, a regular slot on 6PR people here in Perth. A regular slot on 2CC in Canberra and of course the Today Show. So I make a number of appearances I think, it’s important to talk to the audiences who are listening as well as of course the presenter and since the election result of May 18 that was very disappointing for Labor, I’ve been determined to get out there and talk to people in as many different forums as I can. And I’m now on day two of the visit here in WA
KENNY: Yeah I mean I think it’s an important point because it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of any particular presenter, for instance if Bill Shorten didn’t like Alan Jones he’s got a vast audience and you want to speak to those audience and they don’t all agree with everything say Alan Jones or Ray Hadley or whoever it is has got to say so. And that applies to the other side. This is why Coalition MPs have to go onto some of the ABC shows and whatever. You’ve got to communicate with diverse audiences and do you think that this is one of the lessons for Labor out of that election loss that you perhaps weren’t communicating as broadly as you should have?
ALBANESE: Well I’ve always engaged Chris, as you know, I was I was the only minister in the former Labor Government who regularly went on the Bolt Report when it was on a Sunday morning because even though I have very different views from Andrew Bolt and I have different views from you on a range of issues as well. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have respectful dialogue and if you’re confident of your position you shouldn’t be frightened of arguing the case and I’ve always been prepared to argue the case. I think for progressives as well if you’re about making change in society by definition you have to talk to people who disagree with you because you have to try to change their mind. And the other thing is through dialogue, sometimes we don’t get it right too. So we can change our mind through dialogue. And the last couple of days here, yesterday I did a media conference with our WA Labor team at the Perth City Link project that we funded when I was the Infrastructure Minister that has put the railway line underground and really transformed the Perth CBD. We then got on a train with Madeleine King and Josh Wilson and headed south on the Mandurah line and just went up and down the train talking to people at this stage just after an election, people are still logged in if you like to politics. They’ll switch off pretty soon for most of the time, most people aren’t concerned about politics on a day to day basis but they’re prepared to engage and tell you why they voted for us or why they didn’t. And then I did an event at a craft brewery down in Madeleine’s electorate and then I did an event in Fremantle that was packed out where people came and this morning I went to Fortescue Metals head office. Over a thousand workers work in that building and I talked to the executives, but I also talked to the workers who were there about what they see the challenges as being. This afternoon I go to a food bank with Anne Aly up in the electorate of Cowan and then I go to a meeting with Wesfarmers and then I’ll conduct talkback on radio on 6PR here with Ollie Peterson who I have a regular segment with.
KENNY: You’ve got to love talkback. John Howard discussed this previously, he says apart from communicating with various audiences on talkback he used to love the feedback you get from people especially if you’re doing some ABC talkback, some commercial talkback, you’re getting a good range of views in. But given that you took, Labor took, so many detailed policies to the election and you lost, are all of your policies up for review now are you saying that virtually everything can be reviewed between now and the next election?
ALBANESE: Of course, of course they are Chris and I’ve said that I have said that that our values don’t change. We still stand for good work with decent wages and conditions. We still stand for protecting the environment, we stand for social justice. Those values that are eternal for Labor. But with regard to the specific policies, we quite clearly need to re-examine them because if we do the same thing in life you get the same outcome. We want a different outcome after the next election and I’ve been very heartened I must say by the engagement that has happened be it on the train yesterday or last week I went to the – for Queenslanders went to the Caxton Street pubs prior to State of Origin. If you want to meet a lot of Queenslanders from all over Queensland who come for State of Origin either to attend the game or to watch it there in Brisbane with literally tens of thousands of people who packed Caxton Street. There’s nowhere better to spend a couple of hours meeting Queenslanders than right there.
KENNY: I was there too and I’ll tell you it could be dangerous. They put strange stuff in their Coca-Cola there.
ALBANESE: I was glad to be there before rather than after given the outcome. But the day before that morning as well I was up in Mackay. I’m trying to get around as much as possible. On Saturday I’ll be in your old hometown of Adelaide and I’m doing some things in the regions there and then I’ll be up in Darwin straight from Adelaide. So and of course Saturday I was in Western Sydney in the Reid electorate again talking and engaging with people.
KENNY: Well talking about engagement, Parliament will be back early next month and you’ve got some decisions to be made. Now you know the Government took their full tax plan to the election that they have a mandate for their tax plan, but you haven’t agreed yet to to pass all of it. Pauline Hanson’s come out today and saying that she doesn’t, she’s not in favour of the long term aspects of that tax plan. Her vote doesn’t matter at all if you decide to wave it through, are Labor actually, are you actually thinking about the possibility of allowing this full tax plan through? Given that the people have voted for it at the election and given that there will be another election anyway before it all comes into play? So if you want to meddle with it you could have a different policy at the next election.
ALBANESE: Well you’ve just answered your own question Chris because you pointed out that there’s another election before the second and third tranches of these tax cuts that are proposed take place. So how can you have a mandate for beyond the next election, how is that possible? You can’t go to an election and say that we’re going to know exactly what the economic circumstances will be in 2024-25 but we’ll consider what is before us. We’ve said quite clearly that the Government if it was fair dinkum would have not set June 28 as the day for the return of the writs they would have done what they committed to which is bring the Parliament back in June and have the tax cuts come into effect on July 1. The first tranche, because let me tell you the economy needs that
KENNY: Well we’re all disappointed about that. The faster that money gets out the better.
ALBANESE: They’ve broken their own commitment Chris. You’ve got to acknowledge that. I want to hear you acknowledge the Government has broken the commitment.
KENNY: I think it’s overstating it, someone called it a broken promise. I think it’s overstating it –
ALBANESE: Well it is!
KENNY: With those dates, they knew they couldn’t do it this financial year. There’s no doubt, unless –
ALBANESE: They didn’t say that before the election, Chris. You’ve got to hold them to account.
KENNY: I saw the reports.
ALBANESE: We need to nail them.
KENNY: Absolutely we need that money as soon as possible. .
ALBANESE: The economy is flatlining.
KENNY: This is the point right. You can give them their tax cuts, you can wave them through and you can take something different to the next election if you like or you can block and watch the crossbenchers get into their horse trading and attract all the attention and extract something out of the Government and make heroes of themselves. Are you tempted at all just to allow this through?
ALBANESE: Look what we’ve said very clearly is that the first tranche, get it done get it done quickly. They can do that. They can’t do it by when they said they would. So they’ve already broken that commitment. But how about in the first week back on July 2nd. I think we come back, in that week where it is largely is ceremonial they won’t be much business done that week. We of course will have the condolence motion and acknowledgement as is appropriate for the great Bob Hawke. We’ll take up one of those days and I’ve had those discussions with Prime Minister Morrison. But what we could do is get those tax cuts through both Houses in that week, the first tranche because they’re the ones that came into effect. Don’t forget, we’ve got till 2024-25 to deal with the third section, Chris.
KENNY: The Government doesn’t want to do that. They want a plan. You can understand that you want everybody to know that there’s a plan that all this tax relief is washing through the system, it’ll be good for business, good for individuals.
ALBANESE: I’ll say this to you Chris, they might have more credibility if they had a plan to do what they said they were going to do in July.
KENNY: No one can get the tax rebate until they get their tax return in right? You can’t get your tax rebate till after June 20th anyway.
ALBANESE: But who will the Prime Minister be? We don’t know. I mean they change every time so we don’t know what the circumstances will be. We have an economy that is flat. The Reserve Bank of Australia last week in decreasing interest rates said they didn’t have confidence in the Government to manage the economy. The Government talked it up they said they were going to have higher growth, they were going to have higher jobs growth, they were going to have better living standards.
KENNY: That’s why they have a tax cut plan. That’s why the tax cut plan is there and it’s why you should just accept the mandate and wave it though.
ALBANESE: No, the Reserve Bank took that first tranche into effect but they also said very pointedly the Governor, that monetary policy couldn’t do all the heavy lifting. So one of the things they could do and I’ve called for them to do that here in WA. We took $460 million of additional infrastructure investment to the election over the four years. So immediately. So what the Government could do right now is bring forward some of their investment in Metronet, bring forward some of their investment that is planned that was many of the projects were promised by both sides.
KENNY: Yeah we will hear more about that, both sides talking about infrastructure. Sorry to rush you along Anthony Albanese, another area that is massive, a massive drain on the economy is the massive inhibitor on the economy is high energy prices. Given what’s happened at this election and previous elections for that matter when it comes to climate action, isn’t it time for Labor to come back and re-embrace the Paris targets. You can just have a bipartisan target of the Paris targets our internationally agreed target and always reserve the right of course to do more beyond 2030 should the economy and other factors be going in the right direction.
ALBANESE: Chris what it’s time for is for the Government – bear in mind we didn’t win on May 18, big newsflash.
KENNY: Yeah well we are trying to talk about some of the reasons and how and why you might want to change.
ALBANESE: Well the Government doesn’t have an energy policy so it’s pretty hard to embrace the Government’s policy when they don’t have one. They’ve had 14 different drafts. And what we’ve seen yet again is that emissions have risen in the last year. That is three years in a row.
KENNY: You had a massive target. You had massive targets that you refused to give costs for, is this one of the crucial areas where you need to wind back?
ALBANESE: The Government’s policies are not working. We’ll set our policy, we’ve got a lot of time. Chris I’ll give you the tip; the next election isn’t next month, it’s not even next year, it’s 2022. We’ve got a lot of time to work on the detail of our policy. What it is time for though is for the Government to actually engage seriously in having an energy and climate change policy.
KENNY: They were just re-elected. Anthony Albanese they were just re-elected …
ALBANESE: But what was their policy?
KENNY: … the public you’re happy with what they’re doing as compared to what you don’t know.
ALBANESE: Let me know, let me know what it is and I might event support it.
KENNY: We all know the Paris Targets, 26 to 28 per cent by 2030. Both sides of politics have embraced that
ALBANESE: And they’re not reaching them, they’re not reaching them. The important task is, what is the pathway for the Government to achieve its own targets. Because every indication is it’s going the wrong way. Emissions are going up, not down, so forget about reaching a target for reduction. At the moment they’re going up three years in a row. Angus Taylor has no idea. Josh Frydenberg to his credit developed the NEG, it went through their party room.
KENNY: We can’t go back over the NEG argument again, they did that last term.
ALBANESE: Well what’s their policy, Chris?
KENNY: The target, everything flows to that’s target policy.
ALBANESE: That’s not a policy. That’s a target, they don’t have a policy that’s the problem.
KENNY: On a related issue are you looking forward to embracing the approval of the Adani coal mine later in the week?
ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see. We won’t pre-empt it Chris.
KENNY: But you’re hoping for jobs and development in Queensland?
ALBANESE: I always like jobs Chris but what I’m hoping for is that there’s a proper rigorous process, independent of politics as is required under the EPBC Act federally, these things are done based upon the science and the Queensland provisions of their law is exactly the same. That is the right way to determine and then business can have certainty rather than political interference in political decision making. It’s not Labor that’s proposing for example for the Government to build a coal fired power station. That’s – some people in the Coalition who are regulars on Sky like Craig Kelly. But the fact is that’s not going to happen. The Government has said that and the private sector aren’t going to do it either what the private sector will do is invest in projects that they see will produce a return. And that’s why we have a market economy.
KENNY: We sure do, Anthony Albanese we are out of time. Thanks so much for joining me. Hopefully you’ll be a regular on this program as well.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you Chris.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.