Subjects: Citizenship laws; the economy; infrastructure financing; debt; Canning by-election, China Free Trade Agreement
KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, hasn’t it been a big week in appearing politics again with Bill Shorten appearing to be isolating himself from the Labor Party and Tony Abbott fighting for his future. So it’s a good morning to Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese and the Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. Good morning lads. Nice to see you this morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day
FRYDENBERG: G’day Albo.
STEFANOVIC: Josh, to you first up, there are reports in the Tele, some of our most notorious terrorists will have their dual citizenships revoked and be sent back to where they came from. Is that happening?
FRYDENBERG: Well, look, we really hope so. Today we’re getting a report from a parliamentary committee. This is an area where both sides of the Parliament want to ensure we do everything to protect Australia and we’ve got some serious problems. ASIO tell us there are 400 high level terrorist related investigations going on here in Australia and more than 20 Australians have already been as killed over in Syria and Iraq and as you know, we’ve got our men and to women in uniform over there trying to make the world a safer place. So we hope to act soon on this dual citizenship legislation.
STEFANOVIC: You know it’s going to get stuck in the High Court perhaps?
FRYDENBERG: I hope not. Let’s hope the lawyers get out of the way here because this is too serious an issue to delay too much longer.
ALBANESE: Well, I think the changes that I hope the committee will recommend improve this legislation. We have no sympathy, nor should anyone, for people who are out there fighting against Australia on behalf of this extremist organisation. But at the same time, we want to make sure that inadvertently people aren’t caught up and I hope that the committee – my understanding is the committee report is unanimous. That’s a good that thing because we need to make sure that national security is above partisan politics.
STEFANOVIC: High Court needs to move aside do you think or what?
ALBANESE: No, no, I don’t think it is up to politicians to tell courts what to do and I think that’s an important principle as well.
FRYDENBERG: I think Albo likes to tell the Royal Commissioner to do. But let’s put that one aside for a minute, Karl.
ALBANESE: What? Like not attend have Liberal Party fundraisers. I would have thought commonsense tells the Royal Commissioner what he should do.
STEFANOVIC: We’re moving on with all that. We’re moving on. Economic news now, it’s been a bleak week. Josh, when is the GST going up?
FRYDENBERG: This has been put forward by the most impressive premier in the country, namely Mike Baird. He raises a good issue there.
STEFANOVIC: You’ve got problems with the others, but when is it going up?
FRYDENBERG: Well look, this is something the states are pushing. As you know, all the states would have to agree and right now all the states don’t agree. So let’s just see where the debate goes.
STEFANOVIC: OK. If you don’t do that, how do you get control of the spending?
FRYDENBERG: Well, we’re already cutting spending significantly. We inherited 3.5%. …
STEFANOVIC: The Budget is a bit of joke at the moment you know. It’s only getting worse.
FRYDENBERG: No, no, no that’s not right. We are paying back Labor’s debt. We know that Albo today is talking about increasing the debt.
STEFANOVIC: Your debt is getting worse.
FRYDENBERG: No, no, don’t believe that. Actually we’ve been cutting the deficit.
STEFANOVIC: Well no. It is. It’s a fact.
FRYDENBERG: No. We inherited a deficit, Karl, of $48 billion.
ALBANESE: And you’ve doubled it. And you’ve doubled it. Debt up, deficit up, unemployment up, economic growth down. You’ve had a shocker.
FRYDENBERG: No, no, no, we inherited a deficit of 48 billion. It’s now $35 billion. It will be $7 billion in three years’ did time. We’re doing what Labor never did which is pay back that debt.
ALBANESE: No. you doubled it to $48 billion as your first act of government.
STEFANOVIC: Now Anthony, just back to you, Anthony, you don’t have a problem with debt. You don’t mind have seeing more debt?
ALBANESE: No, I do have a problem with debt. What I want to see though is the government recognise the difference between capital debt – debt for infrastructure – and recurrent debt. We need to get the budget under control, but all debt isn’t the same. That’s the truth. You and I you wouldn’t have ever had a house if you didn’t borrow from the bank in order to secure long-term economic growth.
STEFANOVIC: This is a tough sell in this environment though?
ALBANESE: Yes. It is just about having a sophisticated adult debate, the sort of thing Josh just showed he wasn’t up for with that comment. It is precisely what the business community are calling for.
STEFANOVIC: The problem is you have to get the other debt in control first otherwise you are just going to spiral into more and more debt.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. We have a medium and long-term problem with the budget deficit. We need to get recurrent expenditure under control. At the same time, we need to not do what infrastructure has happened which is that infrastructure investment has collapsed. You’ve had a 12% decline in infrastructure investment. That creates long-term problems for both fiscal policy and economic policy.
FRYDENBERG: Karl, can I just say that Albo doesn’t mind increasing the debt because he never paid it back. The last time the Labor Party paid back the debt or came with a Budget surplus was 1989.
ALBANESE: And how are you going with that, Josh? You’ve doubled it, mate. You’ve doubled it.
FRYDENBERG: 1989 Bon Jovi was ruling the air waves. Mate, you were living on a prayer. That’s what happened back then.
ALBANESE: The figures are up there, Josh. You’ve doubled it. And you are the Assistant Treasurer.
FRYDENBERG: 1989, that was your last surplus.
STEFANOVIC: Either way, there has be some resolution because at the moment it seems to be getting sicker, the economy. Bill Shorten, is he playing politics with the FTA, with China?
ALBANESE: No, Not at all.
STEFANOVIC: What is he that doing?
ALBANESE: Well, Labor’s a party, one, that supports free trade. Secondly, we’re about we’re not going to be lectured Labor about the relationship with China. It’s relationship Labor that forged the modern opposition relationship with China against the opposition of the Coalition. We started the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement. We have a simple principle which is to make sure there is labour market testing. Essentially all that means is if there are jobs created, see if Australians can do them first before you allow overseas workers to do them.
STEFANOVIC: OK is that in the FTA at the moment Josh?
FRYDENBERG: The FTA makes no changes whatsoever to our workplace relations law or to our 457 visas.
STEFANOVIC: And so what’s the problem, Anthony?
FRYDENBERG: So there’s no problem with it. That’s the issue.
ALBANESE: Well, there are issues. If there are no problems, then sit down and make sure that that’s made explicit. That’s all we’re it asking for with this. A bit of common sense.
STEFANOVIC: He is saying that there are no changes at the moment.
ALBANESE: Well, there are changes in terms of the wording of the Free Trade Agreement. There are changes all in terms of skills recognition and all we’re saying is, look, there’s enough conflict in politics without trying to make conflict up and that’s what we’re concerned about here. We support free trade. We support increasing our relationship with China, but let’s make sure it’s in the Australian national interest.
STEFANOVIC: Josh, can you guarantee that there’ll be no Aussie jobs lost as a result of this FTA?
FRYDEBERG: Absolutely. Tens of thousands of new Aussie jobs will be created. It will be great news for guarantee the dairy farmers.
STEFANOVIC: You can guarantee they won’t be lost though?
FRYDENBERG: Absolutely. We can guarantee it. What this means is Australia as a country of 23 million people will be linked to an economy and a country of 1.2 billion people. It great is great news for the dairy farmers, great news for the wine producers, and great news for the health workers. Ninety-five percent of everything we export will be tariff free to China. Labor’s just playing to the tune of the CFMEU here.
STEFANOVIC: Josh, we do have to go. You have put done all right today. You going to in put your hand up if you get beaten got in Canning?
FRYDENBERG: We are going to win Canning and we’ve got a great candidate in Andrew Hastie and Tony Abbott was there just this week and will be there again.
STEFANOVIC: There have been no leaks this week. What’s wrong with you all?
ALBANESE: They haven’t had a cabinet meeting.
STEFANOVIC: On that note, we will say goodbye. Thank you, Josh, thank you, Albo.
FRIDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2015
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.