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Budget 2018: Transcript of interview with Jon Faine: ABC Melbourne: 11 May 2018: Budget; by-elections; Melbourne Airport Link

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Subjects: Budget, by-elections, Melbourne Airport Link.

JON FAINE: Mr Albanese, good morning to you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, I am on my way to Melbourne indeed.

FAINE: Thank you. It’s very wet. Bring an umbrella. The Labor Party’s tax plan, is it just straight out anti-business?

ALBANESE: No it’s not. It is a plan which recognises that working families are struggling. They are struggling to pay their mortgages. They are struggling in terms of the cost of living. Real wages haven’t kept up with inflation. Effectively what that has meant is a cut in the living standards for many working people and we are putting this forward and in a position to do it because we are not giving the big giveaway to the big end of town.

FAINE: Sure. But I don’t know how many times Bill Shorten said multinationals and big business, but of course a large part of those working taxpayers that you refer to, a lot of them work for big business, so their jobs are directly impacted by your attack on big business.

ALBANESE: Well this isn’t an attack. What it is though, is saying that we simply can’t afford to have this massive tax break for companies when there is no evidence that the trickle-down economic theory works. At the moment we've seen real wages declining at a time when company profits are actually up, where remuneration and bonuses for the big end of town - corporate executives - are up. Working people can see that and they know that the evidence around the world is now that trickle-down economics doesn’t’ work. Indeed, the way that you will stimulate an economy more is by putting dollars into the pockets of people who are low and middle income earners because they don’t save it, they spend it and that helps to create jobs.

FAINE: Why not just call it for what it is? It is old-fashioned class war. That is what the Labor Party is doing, isn’t it

ALBANESE: No not at all. The people who are engaged in class war are those bank executives that have been ripping people off - continuing to charge people after they are dead, impersonating people, ringing up to engage in changes to their superannuation accounts what we have seen in the Banking Royal Commission laid bare. What we are about, and Labor has always been about, is fairness and our proposals that we put forward last night in Bill Shorten’s Budget reply are simply fairer because we also are putting more money into education and health and we will of course have real investment in infrastructure.

FAINE: We will come to infrastructure in a moment and Scott Morrison will be joining us as well this morning and we’ve get some issues to try and clarify with him as well. On the insistence on dual citizenship that the Labor Party had nothing to worry about; it’s not just that you legal advice was flawed; it’s not just that you relied on and put the house on bad legal advice; it shows poor judgement, poor strategy on the part of Mr Shorten and you and others in his leadership team does it not?

ALBANESE: It’s regrettable clearly given the High Court decision has been so unambiguous. We had to make a decision and those members have resigned.

FAINE: But it’s about judgement, strategy and, dare I say it, even character.

ALBANESE: Well if you went back you would of course handle these issues differently and we have said that we are sorry that that didn’t occur. There is no point trying to guild the lily about it. It’s a bad outcome for those individuals who have then faced the consequent action of resigning. They will be re-contesting their seats and they will be re-contesting on the basis of what they have to offer in representing those electorates in Canberra.

FAINE: All right. There is a Parliamentary committee providing advice on dual citizenship. Does the Labor Party want a referendum?

ALBANESE: The Labor Party of course has had for some time in our national platform reform to Section 44 to clarify the whole range of issues which are there that make it clearer. But I think that it would be a very brave political party on either side of the corridor that said that we were going to essentially spend taxpayers' money having a referendum to change these circumstances now.

FAINE: Mr Albanese, does Newstart go up or not under your Budget plans?

ALBANESE: Well there were no announcements last night.

FAINE: I noticed, but yet you keep saying you will do something but you won’t say what

it is.

ALBANESE: Well there is a long way to the next election Jon and one of the things that is very clear is that no opposition has had as much detailed policy out. We are less than two years into a three-year term, so the next election could be some time away and we will continue to work on policies and we will announce them at appropriate times.

FAINE: The barest minimum mention of the environment or climate change, just a passing reference. Is your polling telling you that is no longer an issue?

ALBANESE: Not at all. We mentioned of course our target for renewables, our target to drive down emissions and we have already had substantial policy out there about those issues. Last night was focusing on the reply to the Budget. The hint is it is called the Budget Reply and of course on Tuesday night there was no mention of climate change yet again from a Liberal Party that really is ignoring the great challenge that is climate change.

FAINE: I notice that Bill Shorten got a cheer from your hand-picked gallery when he did mention the environment and climate change. I can’t help but mention that he also got a cheer when he talked about reversing the cuts to the ABC, although there was no figures attached to that. Do you reverse all the cuts to the ABC or just some of it?

ALBANESE: We will make all of those announcements at the appropriate time.

FAINE: OK. And the other thing, you are on your way to Melbourne. The Melbourne Airport Rail Link was supposedly a $5 billion announcement earlier this week and yet it is not in the Budget. There is not actually any money allocated in the forward projections in the Budget and apparently the Prime Minister thinks that the Airport Rail Link - $5 billon worth of Airport Rail Link - can be funded through some completely mysterious and previously invisible joint venture with the Victorian Government and private sector investors. Do you know anything more about this? Has anyone been able to find out more about this?

ALBANESE: Well this is just a nonsense. Malcolm Turnbull had an announcement, he didn’t have a plan. And the announcement was splashed of $5 billion. But it is a nonsense because in the Budget papers it outlines what they are looking at, and they haven’t bothered to talk to Victoria about this, is an equity investment into public transport projects such as Melbourne Airport Rail Link. Now, an equity investment implies two things, One, that the revenue - the ongoing fares that people pay - is more than the maintenance and ongoing cost. Now that is not the case for any public transport project in Australia.

And what is more, it implies that the capital investment will be able to be paid back with a commercial return. This is a complete con job. The idea that you can get infrastructure for free, such as public transport, is a nonsense. What they have done is, with their obsession with toll roads, is take that philosophy whereby you can more easily have a

user-pays system, and try to put that on to public transport. This is a Government that cut $3 billion from the Melbourne Metro project as soon as they came into office, They now are pretending there is something on the table for Airport Rail Link but in actual fact all there is a little smidgen of planning money but not a dollar for construction and Victoria is once again getting ripped off.

FAINE: We will put that to Scott Morrison, who will be joining me shortly as well this morning, Thank you indeed for your time this morning.