May 22, 2019

Transcript of Television Interview – The Project – Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Subject: Leadership of the Australian Labor Party.

GORGI COGHLAN: Well closer to home and Chris Bowen has withdrawn his bid for the Labor Leadership, clearing the way for Anthony Albanese to take the Party reins. Bowen says he realised he wouldn’t have enough rank-and-file support to win the ballot.

CHRIS BOWEN: It wouldn’t be fair to put the Party through the cost of the process and the delay for the start of a new Leader. I also wanted to make this decision early because nominations have not yet closed.

COGHLAN: Jim Chalmers will reveal tomorrow whether he’ll throw his hat in the ring, even though there’s talk he could end up as Albanese’s Deputy. So for now Albo is the only candidate with a powerful supporter in Penny Wong.

PENNY WONG: Albo is the outstanding Parliamentarian of our generation. I think he’s the best person to lead us and he is the best person to take up the fight to Scott Morrison and the Coalition.

WALEED ALY: Well, the man hoping to be the next Leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, joins us now. Actually Albo, first things first, let’s clear something up. Take a take a look at this.

Clips play of different pronunciations of ‘Anthony Albanese’

ALY: Can we settle this once and for all, how the hell are we meant to say your last name?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Christopher Pyne actually got it right, in terms of the Italian pronunciation. It’s ‘Albanese’, but you don’t say ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’, do you? So, you know, I’m not terribly precious about it, which is why Albo is a lot easier. You can’t get that wrong.

ALY: Don’t bring up Spaghetti Bolognese. Pete still calls it ‘Spag Bog’. We had a long argument about it. I don’t want to know. It got very ugly.

ALBANESE: It’s ‘Bolognese’ I’m telling you. It’s from Bologna.

ALY: Yeah, indeed.

ALBANESE: It’s not hard.

ALY: Let’s get down to the serious politics of it. How does an Albo led Labor Party differ from a Shorten led one?

ALBANESE: For a start I’m hoping we are successful at the next election. We were all really disappointed, that collective responsibility we have. But we let down all those millions of people who rely upon us. I think we have different styles. We also will have different emphasis. I think that one of things we need to explain more clearly, is how we will not only share wealth but how we will create wealth. I have a long history of involvement particularly in the infrastructure side. I see investment in infrastructure as being critical. There are projects all around the country including our Regional Rail Link there in Victoria, that I was involved with, that I could point to as concrete achievements. I’m very inclusive. We have different backgrounds. I’m a product of my own background and who I am, I think Australians understand who I am, I would hope, and those who don’t I hope that they get to know me, if I’m successful.

TOMMY LITTLE: Albo, we’ve got a problem though. We’ve already heard that Bill Shorten is campaigning against you behind closed doors. Is he your Tony Abbott?

ALBANESE: No I think Bill will be constructive in the way that he conducts himself. He had a tough night on Saturday night which we all did. I had a chat with him today. We have a good relationship and I hope that continues into the future.

PETER HELLIAR: Albo, Christopher Pyne, which is actually the correct way you pronounce his surname, he said this on Sunday.

PYNE: Anthony Albanese, look he’s a mate of mine. I like him very much but he’s just too left-wing to be the Prime Minister of Australia.

HELLIAR: You are very popular, but given the election result does Mr Pyne have a point here? Does Labor need another inner city MP from a very left-wing seat?

ALBANESE: I’m from a very working class background, I bring my practical engagement in politics to the fore. I’m a common sense guy. I often take stances that sometimes upset people in my own electorate. But I hope that they respect me, they know that I’m prepared to stand up for what I think are common sense propositions and Labor does have to stand for jobs, economic growth, good distribution when it comes to social policy and we do need to stand up for the environment and climate change. I don’t think there’s a contradiction between the two things so I think good …

ALY: Actually can you explain that for me Albo? How do you stand up for jobs and the environment, if those jobs that we’re talking about happen to be in the coal industry?

ALBANESE: Let me tell you that good policy in terms of sustainability creates jobs. Let’s have a look at the renewable energy target, that when I was Environment Shadow, it was two per cent. We introduced the 20 per cent by 2020. That has created many thousands of jobs right around Australia.

ALY: But not for people who are working in those coal areas who deserted you in huge numbers and incidentally, who a lot of people think they went to the Coalition. They didn’t, they went to One Nation overwhelmingly.

ALBANESE: Look, we have a challenge to explain our position. Quite clearly we didn’t do good enough on Saturday and we need to engage with people who are our base, as well as people who didn’t vote for us. The first step is we need to acknowledge what actually happened on Saturday. Which is we got one in three Australians to vote for us. That’s not good enough.

ALY: And that’s an established pattern now. But do you think that you have something that you can say to people who would prefer One Nation to you at the moment, like what’s your message to hold people like that?

ALBANESE: One Nation don’t have any solutions to anything. What they have is an airing of grievance. What governments are required to do is to come up with solutions to problems which are there and it’s understandable that people feel insecure with the changing nature of work, with work patterns, with issues with regard to international trade and what’s going on with the US and China. We have relatively low economic growth. It’s been bumbling along at around about two per cent, and people do feel insecure. We need to have a plan and explain the role of government working with the private sector to improve people’s security and living standards. That is part of the Labor project.

HELLIAR: Albo, Jim Chalmers is a Queenslander. Queensland is going to continue to play a big role in these elections, would he make a good Leader of the Labor Party or have you made a deal with him to be your Deputy, perhaps?

ALBANESE: No, I haven’t made any arrangements. I’ve put myself forward on my merits and said very clearly that I won’t do that. He’s considering running as leader of the Labor Party. If he does he would be good if he was successful, as would Chris Bowen have been. I’m not going to be critical of anyone who puts themselves forward.

LITTLE: Can’t you talk smack about someone, Albo? It’s a battle for leadership here.

ALBANESE: I attack Christopher Pyne. As for that Morrison bloke, I mean he had to make up a nickname. Whoever called him ScoMo before he became the Leader?

LITTLE: It’s not much better than Albo.

ALBANESE: Yeah, but mine’s been there since I was a kid.

LITTLE: Just because it’s been bad for a long time doesn’t make it better, Albo.

COGHLAN: Hey Albo, Chris Bowen today said that people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them. Does Labor have a big problem with religious Australians do you think?

ALBANESE: I think we have to very much explain that and show that we respect people of faith and respect their faith. So for example on the issue of marriage equality there’s no one in the Parliament who is more supportive of that reform than myself. I spoke about equality on the basis of sexuality in my first speech more than 20 years ago. But I also supported a conscience vote because I didn’t want anyone to feel that they had to choose between their faith, to their religion and their loyalty to the Labor Party. That there was a place in the Labor party for people who disagree with my view in support of marriage equality and I think it’s very important that Labor’s prepared to do that. I’ve put that in to practice and that often hasn’t made me popular with some people who are very good friends of mine. But it’s a position that I’ve held publicly and that I’ve been prepared to argue for.

ALY: We appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having me on the program.