‘Mate, I don’t know’: Albo’s responds to policy question
ANTHONY Albanese has given a trainwreck interview on Adelaide radio about Labor's voting habits in the Senate, admitting he sometimes has no idea what's happening there.
The Labor leader was pressed by FiveAA host David Penberthy about why every single one of the party's senators yesterday voted against a motion to keep 700 submarine jobs in South Australia.
"Mate, I don't know from time to time what happens in the Senate, I have got to say," Mr Albanese said. "People move motions."
The issue is a significant one in South Australia, where hundreds of blue collar maintenance jobs are at risk of being relocated to Western Australia.
Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has mounted a furious defence of the local industry. Yesterday, he introduced a motion demanding submarine dock work remain in South Australia, but Labor and the government voted it down unanimously.
"I know it is (an important issue)," Mr Albanese said. "But also, what often happens in the Senate is that there is grandstanding for various reasons. I'm not aware of what happened in the Senate."
Senator Patrick this morning told news.com.au that his motion called for the protection of 700 jobs, which support 800 businesses and provide $400 million of economic benefit to the state each year.
"My motion was both detailed and measured and simply called on the Senate to express its support for all Full Cycle Dockings to be retained in South Australia," he said.
"Disappointingly, South Australian Labor senators, led by Penny Wong, failed to stand up for South Australia. South Australian Liberal senators, led by Minister Anne Ruston, failed to stand up for South Australia."
The issue has caused tension in Labor ranks.
South Australian Labor leader Peter Malinauskas slammed his federal counterparts for voting down the motion, describing the position of Opposition senators as "disappointing".
"The Senate should have supported Rex Patrick's motion," Mr Malinauskas told The Advertiser newspaper today.
"I am willing to fight for (submarine jobs) every set of the way, including standing up to Federal Labor on its vote in the Senate, which I think was incredibly disappointing.
"Standing up to your enemies is one thing, but standing up to your friends is just as important."
Mr Albanese's extraordinary radio exchange continued, in which Mr Albanese dodged a question about how he would've advised Labor senators to vote yesterday had he been aware of what was going on.
Penberthy: "If you were aware, what would you have said to your Senate colleagues?"
Albanese: "Well, I haven't seen the motion. But, one of the things that I've said very clearly is that there are jobs and tasks currently being undertaken in South Australia. The Government is undermining the security of those without giving any good reason for why that should occur. And you would need a very good rationale before you move jobs from any part of Australia to another part without explaining why that was in the national interest."
Penberthy: "So, no one from the Senate contacts the leader's office and says, 'Look this is going to be an issue for at least certainly the South Australian Senators is going to be an issue'. No one seeks any guidance or contacts you?"
Albanese: "The truth is that I'm in the chamber doing House of Reps business."
Penberthy: "So, did they contact you?"
Albanese: "From time to time, Senate motions, really which carry no weight in terms of motion being past or debated, particularly from crossbenchers, may well be as a federal motion, I'm just being honest with you, I'm not aware of that detail of what happened there."
Penberthy: "The South Australian Labor senators might want to review their role in how this all panned out."
Albanese: "Our South Australian Senators, led by Penny Wong, always stand up for South Australia."
Penberthy: "Well, they didn't here, on this one, I think. They sat this one out."
There is reportedly growing support within the government to shift blue collar jobs involved in the full cycle docking of submarines - referring to the process of removing them from water and refurbishing them - from Adelaide to Perth.
While other sub work would stay in South Australia - engineering roles particularly - if the plan goes ahead, it would mean the loss of several hundred jobs.