July 30, 2018






MONDAY, 30 JULY 2018


SUBJECT/S: Super Saturday; immigration.


OLIVER PETERSON, INTERVIEWER: My guest this week is the Labor member Cowan Anne Aly. Anne, good afternoon.

ANNE ALY, MEMBER FOR COWAN: How are you going, Oly?

INTERVIEWER: I’m pretty good; I imagine there's been a few high-fives, a bit of a spring in the step since super Saturday, Anne?

ALY: Yeah pretty good result for Perth and Freo, pity the Dockers couldn’t bring it home and make it a trifecta yesterday but, yeah, all good.

INTERVIEWER: Are you surprised that you were able to win all of the four seats you were expected to win? Of course Longman and Braddon as well, but over in Mayo the Centre Alliance holding on to that. Are you surprised in the end? All of the chatter pre-super Saturday was there was a fair bit of pressure on the Labor Party. Surprised it was such an emphatic victory in the end for Labor?

ALY: There was a bit of pressure wasn’t there, Oly? I mean the polls had it completely wrong. So I guess, you know, if you looked at the polls it would come as a bit of a surprise. But I think what we take away from this that voters, particularly in Braddon and Longman - not so much here because the Liberals were too lazy or unable to run candidates here in Perth and Freo – but basically have sent a resounding message to the Turnbull Government about what they want to see and that’s certainly not a big tax cuts to the banks.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, do you think that really front and centre in a lot of the voters’ minds, is that these company tax cuts are just not flying with the public?

ALY: I think it’s that. Look I actually used to teach political marketing, so I’m not one of those people who will take a very shallow analysis of what goes on in either by-elections or general elections. I know that people will vote on a number of issues and your listeners out there know as well that they don’t vote on single issues. They vote on a number of things whether it’s the policies, whether it’s the person, what their tradition is, who they normally vote for, a whole range of things. But I think that one of the most important things is the message. What message is getting across and what do you stand for? I think these by-elections showed very clearly that Labor stands for strong public health system, strong education system and investment in schools and hospitals, as opposed to giving banks a big tax cut. Message is really important.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah and across the papers across the country today there is some chatter that, particularly in Queensland, a lot of Liberal MPs in Queensland are now putting the pressure back on to the government. Their own Members saying we need to get rid of the company tax policy or perhaps water it down and exclude the banks.

ALY: Yeah there’s a few there that are on quite marginal seats that will be nervous. It’s a pity though that they can’t just do it just because it’s the right thing to do. That they’ll only do the right thing if they see that their careers are in danger – but that’s politics.

INTERVIEWER: From a selfish point of view, for a moment Anne Aly, it would appear now that a lot of the focus nationally or federally from both your Party and the Liberal Party will now be around trying to swing votes in Queensland because that appears to be, if we look at the by-election results over the weekend, where the government in particular is on the nose. The Liberal Party’s primary vote is in freefall in Queensland. From a selfish point of view for a moment, though, will that come at the cost of Western Australia? Are you a little worried that not only your own Leader Bill Shorten, but also the Liberal Party the government, may just put Western Australia back on the back burner a little bit and focus their attentions on Queensland?

ALY: Back to being WA: Wait Awhile. Not really, because I think the Labor team here at least works very closely, all our Labor Federal Members we meet regularly with, work very closely, we have discussions about what the big issues are for our State and what we need to be doing the push forward for our State. And that’s one of the reasons that we’ve got the WA Fair Share Fund that Labor has put on the table, that’s legislated, it’s guaranteed. So we work really hard here in Western Australia for our State. We’re not the kind of people who will sit down and be quiet; we’ll keep being those squeaky wheels in Parliament for WA for each of our electorates. So I’m not really worried about that. Yes, you're right, Queensland seems to be the place which is going to decide the next election, but I think that here in Western Australia from Labor’s side at least we’ve got some really good talent, some really great people and we’ve now got Patrick Gorman joining the team as well, and we’ll keep fighting. We’ll keep fighting for our electorates; we’ll keep fighting for WA.

INTERVIEWER: And do you want to really nail down Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen to where Labor’s policy will be when it comes to the GST? You mention the Fair Fighting Fund you’ve got, but now that the government has proposed this idea of a floor in sorting out the GST system and its distribution, are you going to try to nail Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen into either supporting that or coming up with a plan that will certainly not affect Labor federally here in WA?

ALY: Well I’ve had a look at what the government is proposing and I’ve got real concerns with it. And I think I’ve -- those concerns have been raised with me with people that I’ve spoken to as well. The first concern that I’ve got is that in the short term at least, it is not any big fix to the GST. It is a top up. And it’s a top up that’s not legislated, it’s a top up that’s not guaranteed. It is, as had been described, a gentleman's agreement. So the very first thing I’d like to know is exactly where are they getting the money and exactly how they’re going to guarantee it? Over the medium and long-term there is a slight tinkering to the GST formula, and that is set to come in to play by the time the cycle has already finished and will be up to that kind of 70/75c floor anyway. Which will basically mean a guarantee that we don’t go back down in the future. So in terms of that, I think looking at what Labor has put on the table and looking at the tinkering at the edges that the government has put on the table, I think that our deal is a much stronger deal at least in the short term. We’ll continue to be having those conversations -- all the WA Labor people will continue to be having a conversation with our leadership looking at into the long-term what is a good solution and a good deal for WA in the long-term as well.

INTERVIEWER: And would you like that long-term solution as well to be made crystal clear before the Federal election?

ALY: I think so, I think what we’ve got at the moment is very crystal-clear and I think voters in Western Australia can be 100% sure that we've got a guaranteed fund that is written into legislation, compared just a ‘yes, yes, we’ll do it’ but it could be a broken promise.

INTERVIEWER: Sure, but if there’s an agreement from the other Treasurers and the Premiers at the COAG meeting next month, then surely the government can hightail it quickly in to Parliament, get the legislation through, everyone supports it, then it’s in law. It’s done. Game over.

ALY: Sure and if that turns out to be the best thing for WA, then that’s what I’ll be going for. And that’s what the Labor Members of WA will be going for. We want the best deal for WA. We are continually fighting for better things and better deals for WA and I can assure all your listeners that we’re doing that, and you know if it turns out that this is what’s on the table and that’s what’s going to be the best thing for Western Australia we’ll be right behind it.

INTERVIEWER: Alright, my guest is Anne Aly, we’re on the Monday Agenda if you’d like to join the conversation you can on 922 11 882. Has the by-election results shored up Bill Shorten’s leadership of the Labor Party?

ALY: I think his leadership was already shored up. You know a lot of this narrative that was out there about leadership and whatever didn’t really come from within the Labor Party, it really was media speculation and a narrative that was created by the media. So I think that it’s kind of put that to rest in terms of the what speculation was out there, although within the Party itself there was no speculation, it was very much -- very strong that Bill Shorten would remain the Leader of Labor and take us in to the next election.

INTERVIEWER: It is funny though, you still lead on the two-party preferred but when it comes to the preferred Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is certainly, according to Newspoll and the Australian, he is streaks ahead of Bill Shorten. But what is interesting to dial into is amongst ALP voters Bill Shorten at 49% and Albanese at 33%, but amongst the general public Anthony Albanese beats Bill Shorten so, is that still something that the Party has to grapple with? Trying to entice people who wouldn’t be voting Labor to vote Labor. That a vote for Labor is a vote for Bill Shorten. Do you have to try to work on his image to try to make him a little more popular?

ALY: I don’t think so Oly, because I come back to my point about what people vote on. And we’re not the US where people vote on the personality of the President, people vote -- yes, on the Leader that’s one aspect -- but also on the candidate and we have some fantastic candidates for the next general election, especially here in WA. They also vote on the suite of policies and when you have a look at what Labor’s been doing in opposition over the past two years, it’s actually been quite extraordinary because we haven’t acted just like an opposition. We’ve actually got policies that presents us as a real alternative. As an alternative government. We’ve got some huge reforms out there, we’ve got some serious tax policy, some really serious social policy, and we’ve got a really clear message on it. And I think that’s what people -- people don’t just vote on the Leader, they vote on a whole range of other things and if we keep on just having this kind of shallow analysis about this being only about Leadership, we’re never going to actually have a full and open and frank discussion. But it also, I think, treats voters with a little bit of disdain to say “oh that’s the only thing that you vote on”. We need to be able to have conversations with people on a whole range of issues including leadership, including the candidate, including the issues, including policy, including tax and a whole range of things. Not just on that one thing.

INTERVIEWER: Sure, talking of issues talking of policies, also on the national agenda at the moment is this idea around population policy and I think that it really divides the nation at the moment Anne Aly. Particularly as we sit here in Western Australia around a declining population if we’re talking about capping immigration into the eastern states, is it necessarily the right solution though, in Perth, in Western Australia?

ALY: Yeah, I’ve been looking at this because I do think we need to have a conversation around population growth. There really does need to be a conversation and there does need to be some kind of policy around this. There was something in the paper, I think it was either today or yesterday, looking at the cost of cuts to immigration and that they actually have a negative impact on our economy. I think the figures estimated that a drop in immigration and consequential drop in population would actually cost us $500 million and that’s in lost revenue and lost taxes. But like I said, we do need to have a discussion and an inquiry and that really should be looking at: what is the problem and how do we define the problem? To say that the problem is only immigration is the easy way out, that’s lazy. What we should be doing is identifying whether or not the issue is actually population or infrastructure and the ability of infrastructure to keep up with population, and schools and hospitals to keep up with growth. This is what we should be looking at. I know that the focus is all on population and, you’re right, it does divide people because immigration is an issue that’s very easily used to divide people.

INTERVIEWER: Anne Aly your personal opinion, do you think there should be a cap on migration?

ALY: In Western Australia? Certainly not, we need more people. I mean, look at us Oly, we’re suffering here. And you only need to walk in the street and talk to people, have a look at how many shops are closing, you’ve got multi-nationals that come here and have to close because we do not have the population growth and the population to sustain their presence here.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, did that also hurt then when the Premier, when Mark McGowan and State Labor, decided that they would cut some of the occupancies on the skilled migration list and consequently 18 months later as well we’re not seeing as many international students want to enrol in WA. Is it all part of a similar cycle?

ALY: I think skilled migration we need to look at separately. I think skilled migration, particularly where it is taking local jobs away from Western Australians and looking at our local unemployment figures, we need to be retraining if that’s necessary and helping West Australians get in to those jobs that were traditionally or have been in the past filled by skilled migrants. So skilled migration I think is a different kettle of fish. I think if we’re looking at population growth, the ability of Western Australia to attract people here, immigrants who come here to come and work and live and set up in Western Australia, to set up businesses here, to pay their taxes here in Western Australia, I think we need a strategy around that.

INTERVIEWER: Alright, Parliament resumes I think next week? Excited?

ALY: Two weeks from now! You can’t get me going there only! Oh Oly…I’m always excited…

INTERVIEWER: I know you are. Anne Aly thanks for joining us on the Monday Agenda.

ALY: Thank you, you have a great day Oly.