SUBJECTS: Chaos within the Coalition; bushfire recovery; Will and Kate’s visit to bushfire-affected communities.
DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: Anthony Albanese joins us every second Wednesday for One Tribe. Albo, how are you going there?
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Very well. Greetings from Canberra.
PENBERTHY: Canberra. Beautiful Canberra. Setting aside your well-documented republicanism, are you excited about the possible visit by Prince William and Kate to our fire-ravaged communities?
ALBANESE: You know I am a very staunch Republican. But the fact is that I think that they will bring a bit of positive energy. And good on them for doing so. I’m sure that they’ll be welcomed.
PENBERTHY: Now obviously all the attention has been on the other side of politics over a difficult couple of weeks for the Prime Minister. I want to take you back to when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister and Tony Abbott was the Opposition Leader, Albo. The Libs looked like they were doing anything they could to destabilise the Government. Is Labor starting to look at running similar tactics now, given the problems the Coalition is having?
ALBANESE: Well, I’ve been determined to be known as the Labor Leader rather than just the Opposition Leader and we have been putting forward constructive suggestions. For example, during the bushfire crisis I visited the Adelaide Hills there and we put forward the need for it to be a national approach. It was a national crisis. Very early on as early as the beginning of November, we argued for an increase in aerial firefighting, for increased support for economic compensation for our firefighters. I met one fellow, Mike, at Cudlee Creek, Country Fire Service there, and he had been fighting fires not just in his local community, but for a long time beforehand in New South Wales. And that was typical of the stories that I heard right around the country. And we argued very strongly that there needs to be some support there. We have continued to put forward constructive questions to the Government. I met with the head of the recovery agency yesterday, Andrew Colvin, and argued there that what small businesses were saying to us was that they needed some immediate help. And I spoke about the grape growers and wine growers there in the Adelaide Hills needing industry support. So, we’re trying to be constructive.
PENBERTHY: That’s all noble and important stuff, obviously, in the external world of politics. But in the internal world of politics, the manoeuvring by Labor to side with the rogue National Llew O’Brien, for the deputy speakership, looks like you guys have sort of set up shop for the rebel Nats to destabilise the Morrison Government?
ALBANESE: Well, the fact is this is the Muppet Show, the sequel, is what we’re seeing here. After Scott Morrison himself, when he became Prime Minister, described their operation as the Muppet Show. And it just continues on and on. The Liberals are fighting each other. The Nationals are fighting each other. And the Liberals are fighting the Nationals. It is chaos, the Coalition, here at the moment. And it’s not up to us to unify them. That’s the job of Scott Morrison. It seems he’s incapable of doing so.
PENBERTHY: You did have a front row seat for all the chaos that happened during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era. Does it feel a bit like deja vu?
ALBANESE: Well, I did see that movie and I know how it ends. It’s not good. The difference is, I think, you know, we were responsible for a lot of our own demise. That’s the truth. But the Gillard Government continued to govern. We were getting things done. We were introducing the NDIS, paid parental leave, we were doing a range of measures in in education. We were advancing the NBN. We were governing the country. One of the last things that we did that was so important was the Royal Commission into the abuse of children by institution. And that was a difficult decision at the time, but it’s made a difference to people’s lives.
PENBERTHY: Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Federal Labor Party, thanks for joining us. We’ll catch up again in a couple of weeks’ time.
ALBANESE: Thanks mate. Good to talk to you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.