SUBJECTS: Bushfire crisis.
BRETT MCLEOD, HOST: Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese joins us now at Kurrajong Heights which is north-west of Sydney. Good morning.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
MCLEOD: I imagine your thoughts are with the families of the firefighters who tragically lost their lives.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. The family and friends and fellow crew members. Also, an incident and tragedy like this, of course, effects all of the families of all the firefighters. They are all giving up their time and they are showing courage and bravery and resilience. Many have been fighting fires for extensive periods of the day every day for months. The fire that is affecting here, at Kurrajong Heights, began in October. It has gone through the National Park, it has threatened communities like this. Overnight it just reminds us of the incredible risk that people are making and, in this case, tragedy the ultimate sacrifice. Two lost lives.
MCLEOD: It is very sad, indeed. You will be cooking breakfast with the firies this morning. Have they talked to you much about what they have gone through in the past few days?
ALBANESE: They have. What I am hearing is there are issues with filling rosters, there is issues whereby some of them are just exhausted. There is a story I have heard about someone finishing their shift, getting home and being told they have got to go out again straightaway because, unless they did, then the truck couldn’t go out. Those sorts of stories are incredible. The effort that people are putting in. This is a tragedy, but we are also seeing the best of Australia. A positive story you won’t hear this that often in recent times about the banks, I have heard stories about mortgages being frozen by the banks for people who are in fire-affected properties. That is a fantastic thing as well.
MCLEOD: That is some good news to hear.
ALBANESE: A big shout out to all of the businesses that are providing support for volunteer firefighters. I do think, one of the things that I have heard, for many of them they shouldn’t be put in a position whereby they are forced to choose between continuing to provide that support and just putting food on the table for their families and just getting by from week to week. There is a need for the Government to respond.
MCLEOD: Let’s talk about the Government response. We can’t get away from politics at the moment. In fact, it seems to me there could be a political point that you are making. You are in the fire zone; the Prime Minister is not. Should Scott Morrison break his holiday? And we saw a photo in Hawaii with some other tourists. Why do you think there has been such secrecy that the Prime Minister is on holidays and should there be such secrecy?
ALBANESE: There should not have been then it wouldn’t have been as big an issue. I really don’t want to talk about Scott Morrison’s family holiday. I want to talk about the firefighters and these communities. That is what matters here. It has been a distraction and it is unfortunate. It is a matter for him and his judgment when he goes on holidays. I don’t quite understand why it has been such a secret. Because I think it has been a distraction. I just say that they should just say where he is, when he will come back, and then enough of it. I am more concerned about the firefighters here, their families, these communities.
MCLEOD: Indeed. Thank you for your time today. Give our very best to the volunteers that you will be speaking today. Thank you for joining us on the Today Show this year. Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: Thanks for all those who have kicked in money and providing support for the firies here on the frontline
MCLEOD: Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese there at Kurrajong in NSW.