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05 April 2022






SUBJECTS: Labor’s changes at the upcoming election; personal attacks during the election campaign; the Grand Prix returns to Melbourne


CHARLES CROUCHER, HOST: Welcome back, Anthony Albanese will be waking up with a big smile on his face this morning, just have a look at this front page from the Sydney Morning Herald. The Labor leader hitting the front in the election race even before it's called. It's the first time in that poll he's been preferred Prime Minister. Let's discuss now with Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and 9 Melbourne presenter Alicia Loxley. Good morning to you both, Bill we’ll start with you, Labor leader ahead in the polls heading into an election. It's a familiar story. What advice would you give to Anthony Albanese that you haven't given in in person already about being in this circumstance?


BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: I don't think he needs much advice at this point. Labor's competitive. You'd rather be us than the other side, but there's still six weeks to go. Not that he needs the advice, what I'd say to our colleagues is it's not over until the election is held. So just keep doing what we're doing. It seems to be working.


CROUCHER: We know polls aren't votes. Given where it all went three years ago, do you think there is a sense of nervousness amongst the Labor ranks? Is there some trepidation given they've been there before, or was that a reminder that this isn't over?


SHORTEN: Well, for me, of course, there'd be nervousness. Anything can happen in a campaign. But I think there is one fundamental difference between 2019 and 2022, people have seen three years of Scott Morrison. I can't believe that the same people who queued up to this relatively unknown person three years ago are queuing up to vote for this bloke, from not holding a hose during the bushfires, so to speak, where he didn't seem to take responsibility through to the slow vaccine rollout through to not even be able to get rapid antigen tests in January just passed. People have got the lived experience of Scott Morrison, so I don't think he can pull the wool over anyone's eyes this time.


CROUCHER: Alicia We've learnt in the last ten years to take nothing for granted in politics. Scott Morrison has worked miracles in the past. Could there be another one on the cards?


ALICIA LOXLEY, 9 NEWS MELBOURNE: Well, it's interesting. He's a very good campaigner. We know that from last time around. You know, reading David Crowe's analysis in the 9 papers this morning, Labor's support is described as wide but shallow. And I think that's a very interesting point in the sense that the local battles will play out very differently than perhaps what the national picture is telling us. And I think the knock-on Labor last time, and Bill Shorten, was that perhaps they were too ambitious, there were too many policies that were pitched to voters and perhaps the knock-on Anthony Albanese is perhaps he's gone too far the other way this time. Will that be exposed during the election campaign? As you've said, polls can be wrong, and it seems in those numbers that it is people moving away from the Government rather than giving their full tick of approval to Labor. So, whether that changes, you know, during the election campaign, we'll have to wait and see.


CROUCHER: Yeah, Alicia is right, Bill. There's a lot of undecideds in this poll and that's always worrying for an opposition, because those undecideds tend to go back to where they came from. The other thing that gives comfort for Scott Morrison in this poll is the Budget seems to have been received well and there's this long-held belief that the Coalition and they like to perpetuate this, are better economic management managers given the state of the economy. Now, is that something that Labor has to shore up before the polling day? Otherwise, that becomes an issue for you.


SHORTEN: Well, Labor's got policies focused on cost of living, so both sides of politics have said they want to suspend half the fuel excise. So that's keeping the pressure down, downward pressure on fuel prices. I think when you have a look at Labor's policies of more secure jobs, helping families with the cost of childcare, investing in our infrastructure to help have cheaper renewable energy, I think that the times suit Labor. Of course, there's six weeks to go, but I think we'll find that Labor has done its policy homework. The real question here is why would you give Scott Morrison another go? The real question is, what is it that he's going to do this time around, which he hasn't already had three years to try and do and not accomplished in the last three years? I do think it is time for a change and I think Morrison has been found out to be a fairly hollow sort of a character and I don't think he's playing well in a whole lot of families across Australia.


CROUCHER: Alicia, you can hear Labor's working their attack lines on the Prime Minister. We've also heard some of those attacks coming from Scott Morrison's own side. Is that going to be a weakness and is this mud sticking?


LOXLEY: Yeah, it's interesting. I think it's going to be a pretty nasty campaign and that's what Chris Uhlmann was saying over the weekend. And he's reporting that it's very much based on character, isn't it? And so, you have Labor and others attacking Scott Morrison for being a so-called pathological liar. And then you have those attacking Anthony Albanese for not knowing who he is. And Scott Morrison's been hammering that line, hasn't he? It hasn't even started yet, and where is he? You know, when all of the Kimberley Kitching, of course, you know, terrible tragedy was unfolding and the fallout from that, Scott Morrison went on the attack straight away. So, I think we're going to see more of that. How that plays in the electorate will be interesting because I think it's going to be the most personal campaign that we've seen for a very long time.


CROUCHER: All right. We'll move on. We've got two Melburnians on the program this morning and in Melbourne, organisers of the Grand Prix are facing an $8 million lawsuit for the last-minute cancellation of the event in 2020. Bill, this is tough. That was the really early days of the pandemic. Lots of confusion. What other choice did they have?


SHORTEN: Oh, I think the people putting on the Grand Prix should take a couple of Panadol and have a lie down. I don't think it's fair they're running this court action. I mean, Miley Cyrus had already cancelled. They want to be compensated for that. It was a member of the McLaren team who came to Melbourne who tested positive for COVID. I mean, all around the world, people had to cancel events, but somehow the F1 organisers think they're special and deserve a free bunch of flowers from Victorian taxpayers for the inconvenience. The rest of us were locked down for 300 days, so no, I think, you know, suck it up buttercup. When it comes to the F1 organisers.


CROUCHER: And Alicia, as a Victorian taxpayer, your thoughts?


LOXLEY: Look, I don't know. I think this company, they were organising the music for the Grand Prix. They probably are entitled to compensation, aren’t they? I'm not quite sure what their math skills are like, how they got to 8 million, because I think Robbie Williams was going to cost them 1.9, and then there were the hire of toilets and wristbands and all that sort of stuff. So, when I was sort of adding it all up -


SHORTEN: Expensive loos....


LOXLEY: Yeah, exactly. Expensive portaloos. But I think, look, they're running a business. For fans who were at the gates that Friday morning, I was at a function inside the track that morning, and when it got cancelled, it was absolute mayhem, as everyone remembers. Look, I think if you were running a business and you incurred costs, it'd be interesting to look at what your insurance policies were like, surely the Grand Prix had some form of insurance as well. I think that, you know, there probably should be some compensation. Maybe they're aiming high, hoping for some sort of settlement. We've seen that before, haven't we, in legal cases?


CROUCHER: To get something out of it. It's a great weekend in Melbourne. It's going to be great when it comes back to really look forward to it.


SHORTEN: Absolutely. We're just happy to have events back on in Melbourne and Melburnians will turn up to the opening of an envelope and this is much more than just the opening of an envelope and the weather gods look like they're going to be positive.


CROUCHER: Yeah, we're looking forward to it. Bill, thank you. Alicia, have a great day.