Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – SEN 1170 Sydney

Prime Minister

: Brandy, has come in on his day off. He is here right now. Brandy, looking well. How you doing?

HOST: Oh gee, it’s good to be with you, two. It’s a real treat. Friday morning it was my RDO, but being the political correspondent that I am for our program, we’ve got a very special guest, so I thought I’d just drop in anyway.

HOST: Very nice. Well, this is a bit like getting the band together here. So, Russell on drums, Voss, just on the axe up the front, Brandy’s on the base there, but our lead singer is a man who’s pretty busy, but he’s been good enough to give us some time this morning. It is the Prime Minister of this great country, Mr Anthony Albanese. And the Prime Minister with some great news for those of you who love Leichhardt Oval. Prime Minister, welcome again to Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: G’day, guys. Wonderful to be on. And good on you, Brandy, for coming in on your day off. How about that?

HOST: Not just because you were coming on, Prime Minister. No way. It was sort of planned anyway, but good to talk. How’s the tennis going? You are busy?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, well I’m due to play tomorrow in the badge comp. It’s an away game for Marrickville, and I’m told, I’m in Melbourne at the moment, but I’m told it’s looking a bit, a bit troubling, the weather. So, we’ll see how that goes tomorrow afternoon.

HOST: Prime Minister, has there been a falling out, I’ve got to ask the hard questions here, has there been a falling out with Brandy? Because there doesn’t seem to have been any tennis played between you and Greg Alexander any time lately. Has there been a falling out?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s true. I’m a little bit busier than I used to be, is the problem here, I think. So nothing personal, but it will happen. There have been some incidents on the court between us in the past, but played in good spirit.

HOST: Come on, you got to tell us the incident. You can’t just leave that there.

PRIME MINISTER: He’s a rabbit. You think you’ve hit a winner, if you hit it away from him, you’ll just run like a rabbit and chase it down when you think you’ve hit a winner. So, it’s far easier to, you know, there’s a little target on Brandy sometimes the net. He stands very close to the net. You know, you gotta push him back.

HOST: That would be great. Prime Minister takes out former premiership winner Alexander with one right in the throat. I stand with the Prime Minister on that. Sorry, Brandy. I stand with the Prime Minister. All’s fair and love and war at the net, if you come up to the net, you cop what you get.

HOST: Well, absolutely, Anthony, what is the news this morning?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s a cracker of an announcement. $40 million for the upgrade of Leichhardt Oval to make sure it can continue to host sport. It’s hosting 100 different sporting fixtures this year. And importantly, of course, there’s nothing better, as you know, Brandy, to be on the hill there. Wayne Pearce Hill, on a nice afternoon at Leichhardt Oval, if you’re wearing Panthers gear or wearing Bunnies gear, you’ll be bagged and all in good fun and good spirit. It’s such a fantastic venue and it’s a part of the community. And this upgrade will make sure that rugby league can keep being played there at the highest level. But also it’s a venue for community sport, for school sport. The Sydney FC women’s team are going to be playing there. The Matildas have trained there. It makes such a difference. And the truth is that it’s not up to scratch. So, it needs women’s change rooms. It needs an upgrade of the grandstand. It’ll keep all its character, keep the hill there and keep that feel that you get when you walk in there. It’s a cauldron of its own, Leichhardt Oval. And this upgrade with $20 million from the Federal Government, 10 from State and 10 from the Inner West Council will make sure that what’s known locally is the 8th wonder of the world will be able to continue into the future.

HOST: Well, I must say this about the women’s change rooms and that that’s certainly so important and great that that’s one of the priorities here. But they are talking about a northern stand as well, Anthony. So Prime Minister, we’ll still have the hill, but will have a real touch of the new as well. So, talking about a northern standard at Leichhardt Oval, that seems to be on the table as part of this project.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, that’s right. Look, the Inner West Council have got a masterplan for it, so a lot of work’s been done for it. It will bring it up to 3000 seats that will enable more sponsorship and more revenue to be able to be got when games are played there. But it will keep that character which is so important for Leichhardt Oval. I think there’s nothing better than those small suburban grounds. I still go to Henson Park when I can on a Saturday afternoon to see the Jets. And I think those local ovals where you’re so close to the action, where you can hear every hit that’s made, every tackle and feel like you’re very much a part of it. And it’s such a great part of rugby league culture, but also other sports play there as well, particularly women’s sport. It’s become a bit of a centre for women’s sport, and that is really important for our health. You know, there’s a bit of a debate about social media at the moment, and what we need is to get our youngest Australians off their phones and off their devices and onto the netball court or the football field or whatever sporting activity it is. People learn how to win, how to lose, how to cooperate, how to be part of a team, and it’s so important that facilities that, you know, there’s not enough of them around Sydney, we need to value the ones that we have, not let them fall by the wayside.

HOST: Albo, that is great news. That is fantastic news. Now, if we’ve got the money to build a northern stand, I hope there’s enough money left for the amenities, for the toilets, for the food outlets, because when people speak about Leichhardt and, yes, the atmosphere is great, but sometimes, you know, the lineup can be 20 minutes to go to the toilet.


HOST: I guess that has to be fixed up, too, Anthony.

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely, mate. It simply isn’t up to scratch. That’s the truth. So, it needs to happen. There needs to be increased facilities there and increased amenities so that people get a really fantastic experience every time they go. And I’m sure that that will occur. We’ve been working with the NRL, working with Sydney FC, we’ll actually have as well, reps of West Tigers and Sydney FC on the planning group that will finalise this, all of this upgraded facilities. This is about people’s memories as well. You would all remember the Wednesday night – they had various names, the Amco Cup and various names over the years, the knockout comp, and it is such a fantastic venue. It’s right there on the harbour and, you know, it will keep, the character is important. It’s never going to be a big stadium. It’s not trying to compete with that. But when Leichhardt Oval is packed, it is a great experience.

HOST: Amen. Amen to that.

HOST: Absolutely, as Andrew and Brandy know, Prime Minister, the Tigers yet to announce their stadium policy, but you are taking the approach, build it and they will come. The Tigers will lock in, you hope to Leichhardt Oval, long term, down the track now, just away from Leichhardt for one short moment as you scroll through your contacts in your phone, you go past President Biden, past President Xi Jinping, and you arrive at Michael Maguire, as leader of this great country, are you tempted to go, “Madge, I think we could find a spot for Latrell and Cam Murray to come straight back into Origin for Game Two. And maybe Cody, while you’re at it.”

PRIME MINISTER: I’m going to say, Madge rang me a few weeks ago. He’s very keen on how we get the sort of spirit that we see in Queensland behind New South Wales, behind the Blues, and he certainly will need it for Games Two and Three. Well, I’m a bit torn, to be frank, because I do worry. Souths are on a roll now. We’ve had three wins in a row, if you count the bye. I’m going to the Broncos game tonight to see hopefully another win. It always worries me that they’ll get hurt, the boys, but you got to rush Cam Murray back in. He was built to play State of Origin and I think that you’ve got to think ‘who don’t Queensland want New South Wales to select?’ and Latrell would be at the top of that. He had an enormous game against the Titans. He’s a dangerous player and the idea of him and Stephen Crichton in the centres is a pretty powerful combination. Just like when he was together with , they were pretty good together and that’s what I’d be been doing. And Cody, of course, is just a class act and if he’s got Latrell there as well…

HOST: There’s a text here saying, “can you fix the West Tigers too while you’re at it?” That might be a bit too tough on you. You’ve got a lot to do. And this one, “if the tennis is called off tomorrow, can Albo join the rank and file on the hill at Leichhardt, we’ll shout you a Mister Whippy on the way out.” Well, I’m glad that you and Brandy have solved your differences and that I still think it’s a little prickly. There is something, maybe not 100 per cent, but you are well and truly on the road back. Great news for the lovers of Leichhardt Oval and there’s plenty out there. Prime Minister, we really appreciate you affording us some time on the program today.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, guys, and have a great weekend.

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