Hot topics close

Anthony Albanese refuses to call for Gladys Berejiklian's resignation and defends Opposition tactics during pandemic year

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay may have called for Gladys Berejiklian to fall on her sword but federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he "felt for" the NSW Liberal Premier in a wide-ranging Q+A appearance that saw him grilled on his leadership credential

NSW Labor may have called for Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian to resign, but Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese would do no such thing during a wide-ranging appearance on Q+A.

Key points:
  • Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has criticised the way Scott Morrison has run National Cabinet
  • But he defends his decision to largely avoid attacking the PM during the global pandemic
  • Mr Albanese also says NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian should not be judged for having a relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire

Ms Berejiklian on Monday admitted she "stuffed up" due to her personal relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire, but refused to step down from leading NSW.

Mr Maguire is the subject of an ICAC investigation and is alleged to have used his political influence in business deals.

State Labor leader Jodi McKay called Ms Berejiklian an "absolute fraud" when calling for her resignation.

On Monday night, Mr Albanese was not as aggressive as his NSW colleague and seemed sympathetic to the NSW Premier, who he said he had known for "quite a while".

"It would have been a very tough day for Gladys today, and I felt for her about those personal issues coming out in the way they did," Mr Albanese told host Hamish Macdonald during a one-on-one episode.


"She certainly shouldn't be judged for the fact that she has a relationship with someone.

"That is her business, as far as I'm concerned — consenting adults — that is no-one's business except for hers."

Asked if he was calling for Ms Berejiklian to stand down, Mr Albanese deflected.

"They [state Labor] conduct New South Wales. My job is to be the federal leader," he said, before admitting Ms Berejiklian had some problems to resolve when pressed on the issue by Macdonald

"I haven't looked at all of the details … I know Gladys, I wish her well but I do think there are real issues around her Government and what she knew."

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Duration: 1 minute 17 seconds1m 17s
NSW Opposition Leader calls for Premier to resign

Mr Albanese and Macdonald were quick to point out there were no allegations against Ms Berejiklian, but Mr Albanese used the discussion around corruption to call for a national integrity commission.

"From a federal perspective, I want a national integrity commission," he said.

"I've seen enough evidence about a whole range of issues — sports rorts and other scandals that have happened at the federal level — to know that one of the things that ICAC has done is expose corruption, and we need a national integrity commission to restore faith in the political process."

Has Morrison done a bad job? Albanese: 'No'

One of the big topics discussed on the program was criticism of Mr Albanese and whether he was a good and effective leader.

The Opposition Leader has rarely been seen to criticise Prime Minister Scott Morrison since the summer bushfires.

And again on Q+A it took a lot for Mr Albanese to criticise the PM over his handling of the pandemic.

Mr Albanese defended his role of offering support to government policy during COVID-19.


"Parliament hasn't been sitting and the truth is the Opposition only get on the equal stage when Parliament is sitting," he said.

"Secondly, we've been talking about the sort of issues whereby people haven't wanted to see division and attacks against the Government.

"People have wanted the Government to succeed because we've been in a pandemic, so the political debate has been very different this year."

While Mr Albanese went on to say he was passionate about child care and other issues, Macdonald wanted to know if Mr Albanese felt it was a mistake to act the way he had this year.

The Opposition Leader defended his choice.

"It was the right thing to do," Mr Albanese said.

"Doing the right thing by the national interest is always the right thing to do."

Asked if he thought Mr Morrison had done a "bad job" this year, Mr Albanese said that was not the case, although he did say he believed he would be a better leader for Australia than Mr Morrison.

"No [I don't think he has done a bad job], but I think there are real weaknesses in his approach," he said.

"I don't think he is an inclusive leader. I think he has set up a National Cabinet process that began well, but since then he has been trying to fight with each of the state premiers who happen to be Labor, like it's OK to shut the borders of Tassie or South Australia, but not the Labor states."

'Don't have to be nasty to get your point across'

Macdonald then asked why Mr Morrison "on every count" was more popular than Mr Albanese, but the Opposition Leader said the pandemic had played a role.

"This is because every leader, you have a look at the figures around the country, all of the state leaders — people are cheering on their leaders because they want them to succeed because they don't want to get sick and they don't want to lose their job," he said.

"That's what's going on here."

Macdonald continued to question Mr Albanese's leadership credentials and inferred that the Labor leader may be too nice to earn Government.

"People seem to think you are pretty affable. Most people in politics seem to say you're a good bloke," Macdonald said.

"You don't have to be nasty to get your point across," Mr Albanese replied before citing his time in Parliament with combative former prime minister Tony Abbott as an example that he could scrap with the best of them.


"I used to take on Tony Abbott, when he was leader of the Opposition and had moved those motions every single day, it was my job to take on the debate on behalf of Julia Gillard, and I did every single day," Mr Albanese said.

While Mr Albanese largely has steered clear of criticising the Prime Minister, he did lay the blame at Mr Morrison's feet for National Cabinet breaking down after he was asked what he would do differently to the current Prime Minister.

"I would say the same thing in the room with the premiers and chief ministers as I said outside," Mr Albanese said.

"The Prime Minister had these meetings of the so-called National Cabinet, but then hands over those decisions to the states, and largely that's because Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews were very strong about school closures early on, and there was one Sunday which changed the whole agenda, I think

"From that point, Scott Morrison went from trying to have a national approach to essentially having these meetings and announcing what the premiers had all agreed with, and then being critical of them.

"The Prime Minister, had he sat down and worked through in a constructive way with the state premiers, it would have been possible to get outcomes that were more nationally consistent.

"When he decided to divide rather than unite, you could have had far more constructive dialogue."

Watch the full episode of Q+A on iview or via the Facebook page.

Similar shots