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Transcript of doorstop interview: Darwin: 29 August 2018: Ports Australia conference; Labor's City Partnerships policy; population; Liberal leadership spill; Tony Abbott

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Subjects: Ports Australia conference, Labor's City Partnerships policy,

population, Liberal leadership spill, Tony Abbott.

LUKE GOSLING: G'day everyone, thanks for coming down here to the Darwin

Convention Centre. It's been great to have Anthony in town once again. Albo's

a great friend of Darwin and just gave a cracking speech to the Ports Australia

conference, talking about those big infrastructure issues for our country and

more specifically I know he has a passion for infrastructure for Darwin, the

northern capital of Australia. Obviously to our north not only have we got

billions of people, we've got the fastest growing economies in the world and

Darwin is perfectly placed with the right attention from the Federal Government

to reach the potential that our city has and that the Northern Territory has. So

it's great to have Albo in town. Last time I think Albo was here we were in a

crocodile cage, he was doing his bit in another part of his portfolio in tourism

and we certainly really appreciate Albo's frequent visits to the north and for

sharing some time with us today. Thanks mate.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Great, thanks very much Luke and it's been good to

be able to address the Ports Australia conference today. We know that

Australia has the fifth largest freight task in the world and that almost all of our

exports and imports go through our ports. They are important pieces of

infrastructure and we need a national approach which makes sure that we

preserve corridors, both rail and road to our ports, that we make sure maximise

the economic value of our ports. And here of course in Darwin, the city which is

closest to, as Luke said, the growing populations and the dynamism that is the

Asia Pacific-Indian Ocean region, we have enormous opportunity and Darwin

as a city can benefit substantially, which is why we will do a City Partnership

with Darwin. We know that it's now 498 days since the Government announced

its City Deal for Darwin but not a single dollar has flowed as a result of that


What we've seen is ministers come and go, but no action. What we need is real

action to give support to a relationship between the local government here in

Darwin and Palmerston, between the Territory Government and with our

national Government. At the same time as we've seen nothing happen with the

City Deal what we know is that the recent Budget on infrastructure would be

devastating for the Northern Territory. This year there's some $222 million

allocated for infrastructure grants to the Northern Territory. That falls over the

Forward Estimates down to some $61 million by 2021-22. What that means is

less jobs in the short term, but importantly it means that that delay in

infrastructure where the Government simply isn't putting the dollars into either

Darwin or into regional Northern Territory will have real consequences for

economic growth in the long-term.

JOURNALIST: There's been a lot of discussion about population recently and

Alan Tudge, the new Minister, has said the other day that we need to get more

people to move to the regions. What's Labor's plan to get people to move to

places like Darwin?

ALBANESE: Well we certainly support regional economic development and

one of the ways that you do that is by making sure that there are jobs and

growth in the regions. The INPEX proposal of course was driven by the

Northern Territory Labor Government and what we did when we were in office

as well was to provide support through infrastructure investment. That's the

way in which you expand job opportunities. If the opportunities are here in the

Territory people will come. I met with Eva Lawler, the new Transport Minister,

just yesterday to talk about ways in which we can co-operate as an incoming

Labor Government if we're elected, either in a month or in a few months’ time,

to make sure that we're in a position of preparedness for that. And certainly

Labor understands that we need to take pressure off Sydney and Melbourne.

We've been saying that for some time - that there are some parts of Australia

that are suffering from urban congestion while other parts of Australia are

crying out for increases in the population and we would work with the Territory

Government to make sure that that happened.

JOURNALIST: How much money would a Labor Government commit to a City

Deal for Darwin?

ALBANESE: Well what we would do - we're going to wait and see what it is

that comes out of this process, if anything, from the current Federal

Government when it comes to its City Deal. What we've said is that we'll honour

anything that is put on the table, but we'll sit down and we'll enhance it. We

don't want to just throw money at anything with a blank cheque. What we'll do

though is sit down and talk with the councils and with the Territory Government

about what is missing from any City Deal that's done and work with them and

work in an independent way as well - we'll have guidelines. There are no

guidelines at the moment for the City Deal. What we've got at the moment is a

headline of a City Deal coming and then nothing to back it up and Luke Gosling

has done an amazing job of raising in the national Parliament on a weekly basis

the fact that the City Deal hasn't led to anything.

JOURNALIST: The Territory Government's asked for $100 million. They've put

on the table. Would you honour that?

ALBANESE: Look we will honour any deal that's done. But we'll also sit down

at appropriate times and make announcements on the basis of when we see

what's actually in the City Deal that the Government has said they're proposing.

It's the case that we can't get ahead of that because we're not the Government.

So we'll wait and see what's on the table there. But we'll work with as well - one

of the things that I know the Territory is looking at is a revitalisation of the CBD,

that's important. We know that a vibrant CBD is important for a city and they're

looking at all sorts of things, including the way that the roads are configured,

the greening up of the city, they've of course begun construction on moving

some of the car parking underground. They're all good measures but we'll sit

down and talk with them and develop a true partnership between the three

levels of government. I think that is good policy and that's something that

people want to see.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Indigenous envoy role for Tony


ALBANESE: Well this would appear to be a make work program for Tony

Abbott to keep him out of trouble, to send him away from party room meetings.

We have a ministry, we have a cabinet, then we have an outer ministry, then

we have parliamentary secretaries who've been renamed assistant ministers. It

would appear that Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have been appointed to

these roles to give them travel rights, so that they're travelling away from

Canberra and their own party members. Now I understand why members of the

Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government Cabinet would want these people away

from them, but I think that Indigenous affairs is a serious issue. There are real

issues out there and one of the things that I think people will be concerned

about is Tony Abbott's comments about people who live in communities taking

lifestyle choices that shouldn't be given appropriate funding.

And his attitude towards that was patronising towards those communities and I

think they will react with some concern that this uncertain role for Tony Abbott

has been created at a cost to the taxpayer. I'd rather that the money that will be

spent as a result of creating this sort of fourth tier now - not quite a

parliamentary secretary - for someone who was a former Prime Minister adds

nothing. I think it's very unfortunate.

JOURNALIST: If this is a job to keep aspiring leaders away from the main

game does that mean you'll be taking it on if Labor wins the election?

ALBANESE: Well I don't think that's a question that is deserving of an answer.

JOURNALIST: Do you still have aspirations for the leadership of the Labor


ALBANESE: The fact is if you've been paying any attention at all in the last

fortnight you'll see two sides of politics. One side that's a rabble; that's engaged

in chaos and in-fighting and another side that's united; that has people that are

doing their job. This Ports Australia conference was titled, my speech, 'A view

from the other side'. That assumed that there would be a Government minister

here to present the Government view.

There is no government minister here. There's no government presentation

here. This is a conference that takes place every two years about Australia's

ports and the Government is so in chaos that they can't send anyone to

address the conference. What I have done, and will continue to do, is do the

best of my capacity and the job that I've been given. And that job of Shadow

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and

Shadow Minister for Tourism. There's only one thing I want in terms of a title

and that's to get rid of that nasty 'shadow' word at the beginning of my title.

That's something that I do constructively each and every day and I think the

internal functioning of the Labor Party contrasts substantially with the chaos

that is in the Coalition Government.

JOURNALIST: You said in your speech though that the events of the past

week have done damage to all politicians, both sides. How much damage do

you think it's done to your side of politics? Not just the events of the past week,

but the events of the past eight years.

ALBANESE: I've said a number of times that the events of 2010 were

regrettable. I said at the time that we would do damage to two Labor Prime

Ministers on that night. I stand by that statement. I think that statement has

been proven to be correct. The judgement that I put on that night has proven to

be correct. The fact is though, that the past week, what a whole lot of people

have looked on at is they're angry with the Government. But I think it would be

a triumph of hope over reality for any politician to think that the standing of the

political profession has been uplifted in the last week.

The fact is that we've all been marked down because what Australians have

seen is a Government that's given up on governing. That's why I think there's a

need for a Federal Election to be called because Scott Morrison does not have

a mandate as Prime Minister. You now have the frankly quite strange

circumstances of former Prime Ministers and former Deputy Prime Ministers

being declared 'envoys' in order to keep them busy. You had the Parliament

shut down last week for the first time in history, as far as I'm aware since

Federation, just shut down. That was the Government putting its hand up and

saying this governing business is too hard for us. Well it is too hard for them;

that's why they should call an election.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask on the envoys again, what does it say about the

Federal Government's approach to indigenous affairs if they see it as

something to keep Tony Abbott out of the office?

ALBANESE: I think it's very unfortunate that the Federal Government thinks

that this is something that is just a way to distract Tony Abbott and I wonder

what Nigel Scullion, the Minister, thinks of this. What's the relationship between

the two? Does Tony Abbott have any authority as an envoy? We don't have

envoys in this country. We can't just make up titles. Government has structure -

there's a Prime Minister, there's a Cabinet. There's an Expenditure Review

Committee process. There's an outer ministry. There are assistant Ministers

now. This is a very strange decision by the Government but every action of this

Government is driven by its internal processes, its internal chaos. It's not driven

by the needs of the Australian people. It's not driven by the national interest

and that's why the Government should go to an election because they quite

clearly are incapable of governing in the national interest.

Now it's all just about how do we keep a lid on these internal divisions, the

anger that we've seen. You had Four Corners on Monday night, the next

working day, literally from when we had a change of Prime Minister and a

change of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, on the record putting it all out

there that division. And people like Concetta Fierravanti-Wells putting on the

record her view that the needs of the Australian people aren't what should drive

the Government; they're the needs of the so-called base. And when they're

talking about the base, what they're really talking about is the hard right

members of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party who have a view of Australia,

and indeed the world, on social policy, on economic policy and on climate

policy that is so far removed from modern Australia that it just puts them totally

out of touch. And that's the view that could lead people to have an insurrection

against a Prime Minister who was preferred Prime Minister in every poll in

which he led the Liberal Party with a guy in Peter Dutton who can't reach

double figures as preferred Prime Minister. These people are completely out of


JOURNALIST: In this climate though, where the general public is so fed up

with Prime Ministers being rolled by eternal warring parties, does it hurt your

side of politics that the man who is in charge - Bill Shorten - was instrumental in

the removal of Kevin Rudd and then of Julia Gillard?

ALBANESE: I think people are focused on what happened in the last fortnight.

In the last fortnight, what they've seen is that the Liberal Party has engaged in

the tearing down of a Prime Minister and of a Government. What the Labor

Party did in 2013 is change our rules, when I was the Deputy Leader of the

Labor Party very proudly, to give all our members a say, to establish a process

and, more importantly, a culture. The culture of the Labor Party has been that

we've worked each and every day as a team. I'm very proud to be part of that

team and we've been working in the national interest. Bill Shorten deserves

credit as the Leader for that as does, though, all of the Labor team whether it

be Luke Gosling here in Darwin, working for the interests of the people of

Darwin, working for his electorate. That's what we're focussed on. That's what

we'll continue to focus on. Thanks very much.