May 11, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Grayndler; Greens political party; Daily Telegraph; education funding.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST:  The front page reports that the MP and Today Show favourite Anthony Albanese is in the fight of his life to prevent far-left union boss Jim Casey from stealing his inner Sydney seat. Albo, good morning to you.


STEFANOVIC: Are you in trouble?

ALBANESE: Well it’s a tight campaign. The redistribution has made it much more difficult. I had the option of running for the seat where I now live, Barton, where a lot of the safe Labor booths are. I’ve chosen to do the right thing by the party and I think by the country by running for Grayndler. On the state figures, Labor doesn’t win the seat. There’s two Greens Party state MPs. But I am confident I will get there as long as people know that they have actually – if they want me to stay as their member they’ve got to vote for me number 1. They can’t afford to say: Oh, it’s ok we will give him a number 2.

LISA WILKINSON, HOST: Well, this front page of the Daily Telegraph, this is just about unprecedented. The Daily Telegraph, being a conservative paper, wanting to save a Labor man. It’s an indication of how much you are loved, but the problem is the more attention this guy gets, the more the possibility there is that an upset will happen.

ALBANESE: I think people need to know that their vote counts, that they can’t afford to vote 1 Green Party and 2 me if they want me to stay in the Parliament. It’s as simple as that. And I think that the Telegraph have indicated in their editorial that my support for issues like the Badgerys Creek Airport … I mean the people in my electorate do suffer from aircraft noise, but they also understand that the Airport brings jobs. The Greens position is to close Kingsford Smith Airport and to oppose Badgerys Creek Airport. Now, I know how you can get into Sydney under that scenario –  in a parachute, jumping out of a plane. But I’m not sure how you get out.


ALBANESE: And when you look at the actual policies that they are putting forward, whether it be for my electorate or for the country, I think that’s what I will be doing for the next seven weeks and pointing that out., that you can’t be serious if you want a representative in Canberra who says I don’t want any Airport for Sydney, I think is a good example. And these aren’t the Bob Brown Greens. These are people who don’t put principle first. They put playing politics first. They are running on a range of issues that are essentially state government issues as well and trying to say that I am responsible for them.

STEFANOVIC: The PM and the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have vowed to never let a Greens-Labor alliance happen again. Can you guarantee that?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. Look we are running to form a majority government, to win every seat that we can and I think what happened between 2010 and 2013 is that I believe we were a very good government. We did get things done. But we suffered from a view out there that next week could be our last week. So that undermined, I think, confidence in the system. People do want a majority to govern, whether it be Labor or the Coalition and we have said that we won’t enter into any agreement to form government.

WILKINSON: You know, your problem is that, you know, while they might be guaranteeing, we all heard Julia Gillard say “there will be no carbon tax under a government that I lead”. So pollies’ promises don’t really mean a lot to the electorate these days.

ALBANESE: Well, I think we’ve been very clear about our commitment. It’s not us either, who are negotiating with the Greens over preferences. And that’s one of the issues in my seat, of course, is potentially the Liberals giving preferences to the Greens’ candidate in return for the Greens issuing open tickets in other seats, other marginal seats where the Liberals hope to win. Now that will increase the chance of a Turnbull Government – of Peter Dutton staying as the Immigration Minister, of Simon Birmingham staying as the Education Minister – of all the policies that they represent that are the opposite of what the Greens say they represent. So they shouldn’t be trying to assist the election of a Turnbull Government.

STEFANOVIC: You are promising a better economic dividend, is the terminology, from your $40 billion spend on schools. When will the full gain of that splurge be realised?

ALBANESE:  Well there’s two factors there. There’s the gain for every individual. Every kid is getting the benefit of our increased education funding right now, particularly children in disadvantaged schools who are being lifted up by the fact that it is needs-based funding.

STEFANOVIC: But the economic dividend means that on a more macro level – in The Australian today it is saying today 2095 before those gains are realised.

ALBANESE: Well, that is nonsense of course. The fact is that I am a product of the Whitlam Government education reforms. I am the first kid in my family to finish high school, let alone get to university. Education makes a difference. It makes a difference to every individual who benefits from it, but also to the national economy. If we are going to compete in this century, we have to compete on the basis of how smart we are. We can’t dumb down. And that is why not just school education, but TAFE as well is critical in this election campaign. We need to give people the skills that they need for the workforce of tomorrow.

WILKINSON: So if you do get into government and you do get that money into education, how long until the parents who are watching this see school results that make a difference?

ALBANESE: It’s making a difference now. It’s making a difference now and it will continue to make a difference each and every year and that will end the age-old debate. Remember Malcolm Turnbull just a few weeks ago made a suggestion to end all funding of public schools and just fund private schools, going back into that debate. The beauty of the Gonski reforms, of having needs-based funding, was that it ended that old public verses private debate. It’s tired old debate. Let’s just fund all schools on the basis of need. That’s what the reforms do.

STEFANOVIC: OK. Look the Today Show is not in the habit of endorsing people who are running for any kind office. [Holds up the front page of The Daily Telegraph]

WILKINSON:  No. No, just quietly. We need a transfer to put on our t- shirts.

STEFANOVIC:  It’s all we are saying.

STEFANOVIC AND WILKINSON (singing): All we are saying is give Albo a chance.

ALBANESE: That’s going to look good on social media.

STEFANOVIC: Seriously, on your feed.

ALBANESE: It’s just a pity that Christopher Pyne isn’t sitting on the end while you were doing it.

WILKINSON: He does love a show tune so I am sure he will join you down the track.