Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of interview with Patricia Karvelas: Sky Television: 5 February 2017: Newspoll; Government's lack of an agenda; child care; marriage equality; Donald Trump; Labor Party

Download PDFDownload PDF










Subjects: Newspoll, Government's lack of an agenda, child care, marriage

equality, Donald Trump, and Labor Party.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: My second guest tonight is senior Labor frontbencher Anthony

Albanese. Anthony Albanese, welcome to the program.

ANTHOLNY ALBANESE: Good evening Patricia.

KARVELAS: Newspoll is out again this week. Now given the issues the Government has

had over the summer period, obviously Sussan Ley having to resign and we saw a pretty

difficult week for the Government last week, should Labor expect a boost in your primary


ALBANESE: Well we will wait and see Patricia, but without being too clichéd, polling at this

stage of the cycle doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is the fact that we return to

Parliament this week with a Government that is out of steam, that’s out of an agenda so

early in its term. I mean Mitch Fifield was asked on my count about seven or eight times

about the marriage equality issue and couldn’t answer it. He couldn’t answer indeed any

question on any subject without bagging the Labor Party. Now what a Government new in a

term should be doing is outlining an agenda for the nation, an agenda for this year and for

the term - an agenda on education and health and climate change and the environment and

jobs. What we don’t have is that. What we have is a Government that is paralysed, without a

sense of purpose and that becomes clear from the Prime Minister but also from senior

representatives and we just saw it again repeated with Senator Fifield.

KARVELAS: Well the Government does have an agenda. It has told us about its business

tax cuts and it has also said that this week it wants to prioritise its efforts on trying to push

through that child care bill which is linked to the Family Tax Benefits reductions. Should

Labor be revisiting its view on that piece of legislation given really child care reform has been

at a standstill and people are looking to the Labor Party to work together in a bipartisan

fashion with the Government to deliver relief and help for families that are trying to work.

ALBANESE: Well when Labor was in government of course we did just that by the

significant increases in the child care rebate, by the support that we had for early childhood

intervention and support and we regard child care as something we are very proud of our

record on in government. What we don’t support is the sort of view that this Government

has, which is in order to get any funding for one area, you’ve got to punish another section

and of course when it comes to the Social Services portfolio, we have seen a debacle over

the break since Parliament got up. We’ve seen the Centrelink fiasco whereby thousands of

people have received debt notices and indeed there’s been an attempted intimidation of

them to pay back money that they were actually entitled to receive and the Government itself

has admitted that 20 per cent of those letters went out in error. So when it comes to social

services and providing support for people in the community this is a government whose

record, which was already poor, has been tarnished further over the summer parliamentary


KARVELAS: Coalition frontbencher Josh Frydenberg has responded on this same sex

marriage issue, saying Labor needs to get behind the plebiscite and that he expects you to

succumb to pressure on the plebiscite. Will Labor blink?

ALBANESE: There’s no pressure Patricia. There’s not a single person in my electorate, and

I have a very large gay and lesbian community, is saying to me we want you to vote for the

plebiscite. There’s no pressure in that regard. What there is pressure on is to get this reform

done and when it’s done, people will wonder that the fuss was about because those people

who currently have rights such as myself - I am married and was able to do so in front of

family and friends to make that lifelong commitment to my partner - people in same-sex

relationships want the ability to do the same thing. That will strengthen the institution of

marriage and what should happen is what a whole lot of Coalition backbenchers know

should happen and indeed Malcolm Turnbull and Christopher Pyne and others argued

should happen as well in their own party room, which is let’s have a vote, get it done and, as

I said, people will wonder what the fuss was about. And Tony Abbott said in 2015 that that -

the last Parliament - was the last Parliament in which there would be a binding vote on

members of the Coalition on marriage equality. He said after that it would be a free vote and

I note Minister Fifield’s statement about the party room and how every vote is a conscience

vote in the Coalition. Well that stands in stark contrast to the message that they are sending

out there. If indeed every vote is a conscience vote, let’s just have one. Let’s have it this


KARVELAS: Tony Abbott says it would be a break of an election promise ...

ALBANESE: Well, he said the opposite.

KARVELAS: Do you think it would be a break in a Coalition election promise?

ALBANESE: He said the opposite when he was the Prime Minister.

KARVELAS: I’m talking about what he said in the last 24 hours.

ALBANESE: Well of course what we see here has nothing to do with marriage equality.

What we see is Tony Abbott out hunting down Malcolm Turnbull and saying whatever is

convenient in order to promote division within the Coalition and that's why they're so

paralysed. It is indeed the case that Tony Abbott is telling anyone who wants to hear that he

is on the way back and those sort of statements and pronouncements on the front page of

newspapers like we saw today stand in very stark contrast indeed to what he was saying

when he was in a position, when he was the Prime Minister, not a backbencher on the hunt

to become Prime Minister again.

KARVELAS: On Donald Trump and what we've seen over the last week, Labor appears

very much to have backtracked Friday and all of a sudden said supportive things about

Malcolm Turnbull and his negotiations with the new President. Did Labor go too hard against

the Prime Minister originally against what was obviously a very difficult conversation with the

President? Do you regret that you went just too hard, because the tone was really different

at the end of the week?

ALBANESE: I don't agree with your characterisation at all, Patricia. I think we've been very

consistent, which is we regard the US alliance as important, but we also regard the fact that

within that alliance Australia should stand up for Australian interests. Now when it becomes

the case that the Prime Minister of Australia is referred to as the President, is referred to as

Prime Minister Trumble on repeated occasions; when Australia is accused of using the

United States and getting a bad deal out of the United States; given our record of being a

very strong alliance partner since the Second World War, since that was forged, under Labor

I might add. The fact is that given all of those circumstances, when you have anyone call out

and criticise, essentially, the office of the Prime Minister of Australia, not just the individual,

those comments that were made, then you can expect Labor to very much stand up for the

office of the Prime Minister.

KARVELAS: What Labor will we see this week, Anthony Albanese? Will we see the Labor

that did the deal on the Omnibus Bill in a spirit of bipartisanship, or will we see Labor playing

politics on every single point, including potentially the gay marriage issue if it is raised in the

party room to exploit tensions in the Government? Which side of Labor are we likely to see

in the first sitting week of the Parliament?

ALBANESE: Well I might remind you, Patricia, that it was on this very program that I spoke

about the weakness in the Government's Omnibus Bill that they put forward that would have

hurt some of the most vulnerable people in the community, including single parents. And I

was very critical of that. I don't shy from that criticism, and guess what? The Government's

folded on all of those issues and Labor achieved reform and change that was fair. That's the

Labor way, to stand up for fairness. And you can expect Labor to stand up in a principled

way for fairness and for a progressive agenda in the Parliament, to be as cooperative as we

possibly can on issues, to treat them on their merit. To not be like the Government was

under Tony Abbott of saying we're going to wreck the Parliament and we're going to

deliberately try to stop the Parliament functioning. That's not what we've done, that's not

what Labor has ever done. We're the constructive party in this country. We'll continue to be

so, and you can expect all of our actions this week and beyond to reflect that. And thank

goodness we were critical, frankly, of some of the elements of the Omnibus Bill because

what we got was actually more savings for the Budget, for the fiscal position, but in a way

that was fairer and that's thanks to the hard work of people like Chris Bowen and Jenny

Macklin that that outcome was able to be achieved. Now we've got further savings on the

table as well. If I was the Government, I'd be taking them up, and I'd be taking them up this


KARVELAS: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time tonight.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.