LISA WILKINSON: And it’s a very good morning to Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, who joins us now live from Perth. Albo, good morning to you. First up, your reaction to the events of the last 24 hours.
ALBANESE: Well it’s pretty extraordinary. 24 hours is certainly a long time in politics. I got on a plane, on the East Coast, and Tony Abbott was the Prime Minister. When the plane landed, Malcolm Turnbull was the Prime Minister.
So it’s been a very eventful and turbulent 24 hours. I’m glad it was turbulent on the ground in Canberra, rather than in the sky on the way to Perth.
STEFANOVIC: You know you’re no stranger to this kind of thing. There’s lots of blood on the floor and there’s lots of people with blood on their hands.
ALBANESE: Well this will be an event that has fall out. That’s what happens and the fall out here of defeating a first term elected Prime Minister in Tony Abbott will reverberate around the Coalition party room, and indeed the rank and file of the Liberal Party as well, I think, for some time to come.
Having said that, I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull on his appointment to the Prime Ministership. It’s an extraordinary honour and the best thing about Malcolm, of course, I think is Lucy and I certainly congratulate his wife, who is a friend of mine, as well.
WILKINSON: You’d be feeling a bit nervous, wouldn’t you Albo. I mean it’s long been said that there are plenty of Labor voters for whom if Malcolm Turnbull did become Leader of the LNP they would vote for him.
ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see how it plays out of course, Lisa. There’s no doubt that this will lead to a change in the political dynamic, but Malcolm Turnbull’s been Leader before and I think had a range of failings shown then, which caused him to lose the Liberal leadership from a position of strength, really. So we’ll wait and see whether he’s learnt the lessons there.
Certainly, it’s up to Malcolm Turnbull to deal with the contradictions that are there between his personal position on issues like climate change, on issues like marriage equality, on issues like public transport.
Here in Perth, he has an opportunity – the Canning by-election is just days away. Will Malcolm Turnbull immediately commit to put the $500 million that was cut from public transport here in Perth back into the Budget?
Now Tony Abbott had this fixation against any public transport, Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t have that same fixation to his credit, but he’s actually got to do something about it. He’s got to not just ride on trains and buses; he’s got to fund trains and buses.
STEFANOVIC: He might end up being a better Labor leader than you lot.
ALBANESE: Well Karl, he is the leader of a team that has not changed. And the problem here as I said, I think last Friday morning chatting to Lisa on the show is that it’s not just the leader, it’s the whole team that’s a problem.
Malcolm Turnbull’s performance as the Broadband Minister replacing fibre with copper doesn’t give him any credit, nor does the $15 billion blow-out in that program based upon their own costings.
Right across the board it’s hard to see an area where this Government has been successful and the fact that they’ve changed leaders, we’ve had the second libspill in the space of a year is quite extraordinary.
The problem here is the whole team, and the Government doesn’t have a sense of purpose, hasn’t had that from day one, didn’t do any hard work from Opposition, to get the policies in place so that they would actually be a good government. And I think they’ve suffered in the polls and they’ve suffered in their own internal dynamics because of that failure.
WILKINSON: Well the numbers have obviously been very good for Labor in recent months in particular. The truth is you would prefer to be going to this election with Tony Abbott as the leader. Bill Shorten’s really got to step up to the mark, being up against Malcolm Turnbull now.
ALBANESE: Well we don’t get to select the leader of the other team, they’ve done that. But we’ve been successful against Malcolm Turnbull in the past of course, and I believe we can be again. We have I think, an added element now which is the internal turmoil that inevitably will come from this.
I think a range of Tony Abbott’s supporters really didn’t see this coming, as in, didn’t think it would happen. They thought that he’d got through that first challenge against the empty chair earlier in the year and they thought that they’d consolidated and quite clearly given the confidence that Tony Abbott had in the numbers there are a range of people who’ve promised their vote more than once.
There were 100 in the party room but it appears that there were 150 votes when it got tallied up between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott.
STEFANOVIC: Albo, let’s level with each other, you’ve always been very frank with us on your favoured breakfast program. At the end of the day, you would have much preferred, you would have much preferred, Tony Abbott taking the Liberal Party to the next election. Malcolm Turnbull leading it- it must have led to all kinds of swear words behind the scenes last night, surely?
ALBANESE: I don’t know, I was on a plane to Perth Karl, so I missed the action. There weren’t any swear words at Perth Airport. I’ve got to say though the big winners last night were the telephone companies because no doubt, what occurred when the plane landed in Perth and they say “you can now turn off flight mode”, there was a ringing beep around the plane as the news went through.
STEFANOVIC: On a serious note though, and just finally, the Australian public, the electorate, felt let down when you did it twice. They feel, I think, aggrieved now that it’s happened again. When are politicians in Canberra going to have respect for the electorate?
ALBANESE: Well I think this is an issue. I think that unseating a first term elected Prime Minister is a very big call. A very big call indeed, which is why there’s no doubt, when you say to be frank with you, as I was asked to be, there’s no doubt that Tony Abbott, I think, was very unpopular in the electorate and was really struggling to connect.
There were a range of issues where I used to have a line, I’ll have to think of new ones now with Malcolm Turnbull but Tony Abbott was stuck in the past and he did want Australia to be held back there, and I think that caused real frustration in the electorate that he wasn’t someone for 2015, he was someone more pre the 1960s era in terms of his social policy and his attitude toward social change.
There’s no doubt Malcolm Turnbull is a much more modern person, but that advantage I think, we’ll need to see how that plays out, because there’s also a big disadvantage, because there’s no doubt that the Australian public will feel, particularly some of the Liberal Party faithful will feel that the wrong thing was done last night. That they worked for an Abbott Government and now, they’ve got something very different from that.
WILKINSON: Alright, Anthony Albanese coming to us live from Perth. You dropping into Canning today, Albo?
ALBANESE: I’ve got a breakfast on this morning at the Swan Valley, a Tourism Breakfast hosted by the City of Swan. And then I will be catching up, funnily enough with Matt Keogh, our candidate for Canning, talking about public transport and the need to fund it, and also infrastructure in Canning.
Can I say this about Tony Abbott. If I can just say one thing to his credit. Something I admire about Tony Abbott is his loyalty. I think it cost him, the fact that he was loyal to Bronwyn Bishop, beyond when it was sensible, in terms of her Speakership and others.
But I have respect for him as person even though I have very strong ideological differences with him and political differences with him. But today, he’ll be doing it tough and I think as a human being I think he deserves a bit of space because it’ll be difficult for him and Margie and the family to deal with what’s occurred last night. I certainly wish upon him on a personal level all the best.
WILKINSON: That’s very well said Albo, and I think a lot of people will join you in those sentiments. Thanks very much for your time and we’ll see you soon, we’ll certainly see you on Friday.
ALBANESE: See you Friday morning with bells on. We can chat and see what role Christopher will play.
STEFANOVIC: Loyalty is a horrible attribute as a politician. It’s going to kill you. See you soon Albo, thank you buddy.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.