Radio interview - SEN Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister

BRANDY, HOST: Anthony Albanese, welcome to Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. It will indeed be a very, very big night. This is a sporting team that has captured the imagination of the entire country.

BRANDY: It's incredible, isn't it, Anthony? And for those of us that love our sport, there's really not a quiet time of year. It doesn't matter what time of year it is. From January to Christmas, it is full on. But we're going to run into the finals for our big Footy codes, the rugby league and the AFL. But this is something a little bit different. And even if you aren't a rusted on sports fan, you would be loving what the girls are doing.

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. And the other night at the quarterfinal, it was as if, in the stadium, every time an Australian Matilda player had a spot kick for those ten of them, ten each side, you had this huge noise when the French women would come up to take their kick. And then you'd have this silence and you could feel everyone in the stadium, 50,000 people, stop breathing for a couple of seconds. And the roar, I'm told, how about this Brandy, the roar has been measured as being louder, louder than ever recorded at the old Lang Park we can still call it I think, more than any State of Origin game or any of those great finishes that have happened. It was louder when that goal finally went in.

VOSSY, HOST: Prime Minister, we always get you on and we talk sport, we don't talk politics, so we give you a leave pass there. You have been a sports lover all your life and because of your position, you do get to go to some events and then, as a fan all the way through your life, is it been any bigger than what you attended the other night at Suncorp Stadium?

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, there's been nothing quite as tense as that. My favourite sporting moment, you won't be surprised, is back in 2014 after 43 years of Souths not winning a comp, that was incredibly emotional. I was there with my friends who helped fight our way back into the comp, Ray Martin and Nick Pappas, Nick Hatzistergos and Andrew Denton and all of our families were all together and that was an extraordinary moment. But for the Tillies the other night, it was just exceptional. Just that feeling of tension. The game, the incredible saves by Mackenzie Arnold during the match and the moment where Mary Fowler looked like she was certain to score, and the French woman came across and did an extraordinary block. It was incredible game. And that tension at the end, I guess, you know, I can't imagine anything quite like that. I was at the old Sydney Football Stadium, as it was called, when I think it was Mark Coyne scored the try in the last play -

VOSSY: 94.

PRIME MINISTER: For Queensland and the place went nuts then, but this was a different level the other night.

VOSSY: Now your office will send out a press release just after nine o’clock and it involves the international game rugby league around the Pacific, what can you tell us?

PRIME MINISTER: It does, it's a quite exciting opportunity. We know that people in the Pacific, whether its PNG or Samoa or Tonga, it is such a big, big game in the Pacific. Your Panthers had nine of their starting 13 in last year's Grand Final have Pacific heritage. So, that says something about how important it is. And at the end of the season we're going to have a Pacific Rugby League Championship. It will be played in Australia and PNG next year. It's intended to have a game in Fiji as well, so it will bring together Pacific countries in a tournament. And it's being done, we're announcing it with the NRL today, we've been working on this, it's a way as well of building up our relationships with our Pacific family, of which we're a part, of course. So, it will bring together teams from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, PNG, Fiji and the Cook Islands. It will be a great opportunity to inspire future young stars, girls and boys, from across the region, just like the Matildas are inspiring young people in Australia during this tournament.

VOSSY: Yeah, there's a few layers to the story, but for rugby league lovers of international football, we think this is fantastic. It's great to have certainty. We know what's happening in the short term there. We've got things locked in, which is fantastic. Now on the NRL front, Prime Minister, still very much you are behind the notion, the idea of Papua New Guinea fielding a side in the NRL being the 18th team?

PRIME MINISTER: I am, absolutely. PNG is a country where there is only really one big sport, and that is rugby league. The place stops for the State of Origin games, for the Grand Final, and when you go to PNG, you can go to the smallest village and what you see is kids running around in Broncos or Rabbitohs or Cowboys, jumpers and gear. They love the sport up there and they're a country with a population, they're not quite sure what the population is of PNG, but it's pretty close to ours actually, a lot more dense, of course. And the potential that is there to grow the game in PNG, we've seen some great players, of course, Olam at the moment from Melbourne Storm, Adrian Lam, there's been some great players over the years come from PNG, but the potential for growth there is enormous. And it's something that we've been talking with Peter V'landys and Andrew Abdo, I'm sure we'll have a discussion about that today. Andrew Abdo will be at the press conference, we will hold with Kate Jones, is on the board as well as the NRL. And this tournament, in part, is aimed at just building up that momentum.

VOSSY: Albo, when do you think that will happen? When do you think the NRL would like to see an 18th team in the competition?

PRIME MINISTER: I think they want to see it sooner rather than later. There's facilities, of course, already in PNG at Port Moresby but there's also some of the games would be played in Far North Queensland as well. And so they're talking through the logistics. It, of course, is a decision for the NRL, it's not a decision for government. But it is something that could be, in terms of Australia's relationship with the region, we know we have a bit of competitive tension in the region and engagement, if you like, in soft diplomacy, showing the relationship between Australia and our neighbours, that is so important. PNG will celebrate the 50 years of independence in a short period of time, in a couple of years, and that would be, I think, a pretty important opportunity to have some symbolic and real support. Of course, one of the things about rugby league we're seeing as well with the World Cup football being held here with the Matildas, is it contributes to our national economy as well and to jobs and that economic activity. And it would be a big bonus for PNG to have people travelling there to watch their team play. Its tourism sector is really underutilised compared with where it could be. It's a beautiful country and this is a way of connecting PNG very closely with Australia.

VOSSY: Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, our special guest here on Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy on SEN. Now I'm going to ask the big question, now we talk about going the early crow here on this network. Joel and Fletch, the run home. You went the early crow on the public holiday call, Prime Minister, are you under pressure tonight? Like, we talk about juju here, good and bad juju, Brandy and I, do you feel under pressure?


VOSSY: Kiwi can't win the Melbourne Cup! There's all these lines to sport where you've gone the early crow. The public holiday, would you like to pull that back or not? Or you stand by that?

PRIME MINISTER: No, look, I got asked really early on, before even they made the round of 16, ‘What if the Matildas win the World Cup? Would you support a public holiday?’ And I said, yeah I would. But it's up to the State Premiers what happens there. Look, I think the focus tonight is on whether the Tillies can get there or not. All Australians will be cheering for them tonight. I think the whole country will stop, but it'll be a big boon for the pubs and clubs around Australia as well tonight, will be doing pretty well.

VOSSY: And what about Brandy's tennis game? Can we ask that question? Because he's gone overseas, unbeknownst to you, he actually went to a training camp in Spain where he's done a week of tennis. Prime Minister, are you aware of that? That Alexander has been planning a bit of an ambush?

PRIME MINISTER: I'm not surprised, actually. He is a competitive fellow and that would come as no shock to any of the listeners. To play competitive rugby league and to play for your country and your state, you've got to be competitive. And he takes that onto the tennis court, let me tell you, but I've going to tell you Brandy, I played for Marrickville and defeated Killara a few weeks ago.

BRANDY: So you’ve been playing tennis? You can still squeeze that in while you're Prime Minister, that's good.

PRIME MINISTER: I still play for Marrickville and I'm playing in the Sydney Badge comp. I've only made, unfortunately, four rounds. There's 14 rounds in the comp. There's eight teams. You play a home and away season. And my team are playing, this Saturday is round 14. They're coming third, but they need to have a win to stay in the four and reach the semifinals. Well, so fingers crossed, but I've had three wins out of four during my brief contribution to the team. I obviously can’t make it every week.

BRANDY: Do you mix that up on grass and hardcourt, or is it strictly grass?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, one of the things is that there's all these so called lawn tennis clubs who are in the team that don't have any lawn, including Manly, Mosman has just dug its up. But Marrickville, our home court, is lawn there. But we played Killara was synthetic, but they were great hosts and it was a really good afternoon. We're not playing for championships, it's not Wimbledon, everyone knows that, and it's a great opportunity to play in really good spirit. And they were fantastic hosts, I've got to say. Put on a good afternoon tea as well.

VOSSY: All right, the tales of the Prime Minister and tennis and with a little bit of Brandy thrown in, I reckon you’d be a bit of a sledger Brandy too, up at the net, he’d be giving some of his best lines, I'm sure.

PRIME MINISTER: He’d gets so close to the net, he's almost on your side of the court.

BRANDY: I bend the rules.

PRIME MINISTER: He's a rabbit around it. I tell you. You should be a Rabbitoh the way that you run, mate.

BRANDY: Thank you Prime Minister.

VOSSY: All right, Prime Minister, you are one of us tonight. We are all united in supporting, watching, listening to the Matildas. We appreciate you fitting us in here on Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy in your busy schedule this morning.

PRIME MINISTER: Have a great day and really, let's all hope we have a superb night, but the whole country will be cheering, one way, for the Tillies tonight.