SUBJECTS: Bushfire recovery for the south coast of NSW.
SOPHIE LONGDEN, HOST: I am delighted to say that on the line is Anthony Albanese, of course, the Opposition Leader. And he is here in Batemans Bay as part of a bushfire recovery chat with locals. And Anthony Albanese is having a chat with us this morning. Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Sophie. I am actually just leaving Mogo. We came and had breakfast here and visited a range of the shopkeepers. The Indonesian shop is interesting here, a fascinating decision by Trent after he got a redundancy to come back home and set up a shop. And he imports things directly from Indonesia and they are sold here in Mogo. Now we are headed back to Batemans Bay for our Shadow Cabinet meeting this morning.
LONGDEN: And I am pleased to say that you have brought a little bit of rain with you.
ALBANESE: I would like to take credit for the rain but that would be the ultimate stretch for a politician, I think. But it is great to see the rain amidst the tragedy as I drive up the highway now, or someone else is driving, Fiona Phillips is actually driving, the local Member for Gilmore, as we head up through the devastation that you can see either side of the highway here.
LONGDEN: And Anthony Albanese, obviously you are seeing that firsthand. We have been living that reality here in south east New South Wales for weeks if not months now. I guess the best question I can ask you this morning is, Opposition Leader, what would you like to see happen now in terms of helping to drive a Federal recovery for our region? Because, while the state government is working very hard, locals are working very hard, this is really beyond anything that Australian communities have had to deal with before.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Which is why it always required a national response and national leadership, working in partnership with the state and local governments and indeed with the community. I want to make sure that all of the Federal money which has been offered to small business, to individuals who’ve been impacted by this, flows immediately. I want to make sure that those areas that haven’t been yet declared disaster areas, that should have been, do get declared so people can get that support. And I also want to send the message which hopefully our visit here today is a part of which is that the south coast is open for business. People should come and should spend money and help the economy and help assist people. We just ran into a busload of elderly Australians, retired people who came down here Campbelltown from a retirement village. And they had made the conscious decision from Mogo they were heading to Bermagui. And that’s a fantastic thing. And we need more people from Sydney and Melbourne and other areas that hadn’t been directly affected to come and support these communities. Because your community here has done it real tough.
LONGDEN: And talking of which, of course, you also met with a group from our region yesterday at Parliament House. They were hoping to speak to a number of Federal politicians yesterday. Unfortunately, some were not available including the Prime Minister. Can you reassure us, Anthony Albanese, that you will also be going back to Parliament House in a bipartisan way and really trying to get our message from this region across that we are struggling, and we need all the help from all sides of politics for as long as it takes?
ALBANESE: I certainly will. We, yesterday, I was very pleased to meet a range of the businesses that were here from the region, tourist businesses, proprietors and suppliers of the amazing produce that you have from this region. And it was a great privilege to talk to people directly. I, of course, made a number of visits to the region during the bushfire season with Fiona and with Mike Kelly as well. And we need to make sure that we continue to recognise that the repercussions of this devastating period will be felt not for weeks, but not even for months, unfortunately, but for years. And that’s why we need to make sure that we do all we can to raise the issues. I will be certainly doing it in a constructive way.
LONGDEN: Anthony, we have to go to news time, but we thank you very much for your time today.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Sophie.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.