Media Doorstop - Parliament House - 5.2.18

LNP Qld team on Adani and Labor wrecking CQ coal jobs

  • Michelle Landry MP (Capricornia)
  • Ken O’Dowd MP (Flynn)
  • Senator Matt Canavan – Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
  • Senator Ian Macdonald  (Townsville)

 

Matt Canavan:

We’ve seen over the past week that the Labor party has decided to change its position on a multi-million project that could bring thousands of jobs to our country. The opening up of the Galilee Basin is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our country. It will deliver a jobs bonanza – potentially 15,000 between if all of the 5 mines were opened up in the basin. This is the kind of stuff we need for our country. We need these jobs, we need this opportunity and you would think the Labor party would be on the side of jobs, on the side of workers.

 

At one point the Labor party might have represented the workers, but they’ve clearly decided that their political prospects are now tied to them hitching their wagon to The Greens star because they need to defend seats of win seats in the inner city places of this country.

 

We are all calling on Bill Shorten here today to come to north Queensland and explain his party’s position. Do not hide Bill Shorten from the people of north Queensland. Don’t send missives off 2000km away from where this mine is, telling us all that we can’t have jobs, that we can’t have an economic opportunity because he needs to win a few cheap votes in Melbourne.

 

It is disgraceful behaviour and if he had any guts he’d come up to north Queensland, explain himself and talk to the people who want a job in the mining industry; talk to businesses who future relies on this industry going ahead. Talk to people like Les Bowl from Clermont hotel who wants this project to happen so that he can more business in his shop after a couple of few hard years.

 

This is a serious issue for us in north Queensland, we’ve had a really tough few years and we’re just on the cusp of having these jobs created and Labor is trying to pull the economic rug from out from us.

 

 Senator Ian Macdonald:

Unemployment in Townsville is regrettably far too high and the jobs that Adani could bring to the Townville region would be just a fantastic boost to the local area. All credit to the Townville Mayor Jenny Hill. Jenny has been very very forceful and courageous of her support for Adani because of the jobs it would create for the district. I’ve asked Jenny Hill to join with me in co-signing a letter to Bill Shorten just asking him to clarify the remarks he made at the launch of the campaign in Batman. Does she really think more of Greens preferences or Greens voters who are competing against him in Batman than he does about the unemployed of Townsville. I want to know that and I’m hoping that the Labor Mayor of Townsville Jenny Hill who has been very courageous, will join me in demanding that Mr Shorten actually clarify his remarks and confirm whether he is for or against jobs in the Townsville region.

 

Michelle Landry (Capricornia):

Look the Adani Carmichael mine is something that the people of Central Queensland have been pinning their hopes on, well it’s been 6 years now. I cannot believe that Bill Shorten and Labor would come out and attack this whole project. This is about thousands of jobs for Central Queensland, this is about billions of dollars for our economy. But this is also about hundreds of millions of Indians receiving electricity like we do here in Australia. And I think it is wrong that Labor is playing with the lives of all of these people.

 

The Labor party is supposed to be the party for the workers. Well what about the coal workers in Central Queensland. They (Labor) have just pushed them aside with this. He (Shorten) is pandering to the latte-sipping Greens down in the southern parts of this country. People in central Queensland and northern Queensland seem to get pushed aside – including the (by) the Qld premier who pulled out of the whole Adani rail project during the (state) campaign, once gain pandering to The Greens. This nation was built on the hard work of people like our coal miners and I think it’s about time that Labor stepped up and started supporting these people who voted them in and who has been their work base for years. So, Bill Shorten here do you stand on the Adani project. We want support for Central Qld and support for our coal sector.

 

Ken O’Dowd (Flynn)

As far as I’m concerned this is about our sovereign risk. We’re trying to get up a trade deal with India, like we have done with other Asian countries. I think this is an important step to ratify this agreement. It’s had all of the approvals it needs. All we want is a start and a kick start and a tick of approval from the (QLD) Labor government. Now I know they’re (Labor) against the coal industry across the board. But the Qld Labor government have said they were in support of this coal mine.

Now it means a lot to towns in my electorate like Emerald, Springsure and Capella. We lost 10,000 jobs in the Bowen Basin in the last few years with the downturn in coal. This is a chance to pick up those jobs. Pick up our ability to feed those people in India with good electricity, sustainable electricity and cheap electricity -  why don’t we just get on with it.

 

Journalist question:

Minister Canavan – is it possible in your view to get this mine off the ground without federal Labor support. Could you advance it sufficiently before the next election in the chance Labor might win or do you need their support?

Senator Canavan:

Well, we’re just lucky that the project has its approvals and is ready to go. I certainly believe the project can happen. It’s obviously had some challenging times given the shifting position of the Qld Labor government and now apparently the federal Labor party. I’m not going to speculate on the final outcome of any change in the Labor party’s position, except to say that if we do have the kind of behaviour that the Labor party are engaging in now it will make a lot harder to attract investment to our country. To be talking about unwinding properly made environmental approvals at 10 minutes to midnight is highly irresponsible. Not just for this program, but for the ramifications for other investments that people want to make in this country. People want to invest in our country, there’s a great demand for our commodities in our resources sector, but we need to have a level of bi-partisanship that we will support this investment, support these jobs because the attitude of the Labor party right now is putting a wrecking ball through those job creating opportunities just so Labor can have a better chance of winning a by-election in Melbourne, it is absurd.

 

Journalist question:

Is there any way that the federal government can offer financial assistance to this project, other than the loan that the Qld government said they will reject.

Senator Canavan:

Well, the only proposal before us was the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility loan. That has now been vetoed by the Qld (Labor) government which is their right. And as I said last year that particular path is closed. There is another proposal from Aurizon – a company that the Qld government has shares in, The Qld government is yet to come back to us on what their position is and nothing is happening on that until that occurs.

 

Journalist question:

But could you just give them some direct funding to assist them if the federal government wanted to?

Senator Canavan:

Well, that proposal is not before us. And no we can’t do that without the legislative authority of course. We had that availability through the NAIF, now due to the constitutional reasons that were apparent when that legislation went through, it (NAIF loan proposals) we’ve had to go through the states and the Qld state government has decided particular pathway. I’ve got to respect that now and just work with the environment we’re in to bring jobs to Qld.

 

Journalist question

(inaudible)…Adani’s environmental record. Are you willing to support Labor’s assertion that there needs to be some sort of inquiry into claims that Adani falsified lab reports. Is that somewhere you’d go?

 Senator Canavan:

I mean this is such a thin excuse, it’s almost laughable.  What do you think is likely to be the outcome over the weekend that Bill Shorten suddenly read a few reports about the impact of Cyclone Debbie last year, just over the weekend. This is old news, so he just got it over the weekend, now he changes his position. That’s one on Friday, right. That’s one option. The other option is that there was also a by election called last week and they decided to change their position because they decided that they want to win more votes in Batman. I’ll let you decide which is the more likely one. I’ve got my own view son that.

In terms of Cyclone Debbie, hat is being investigated by the Qld government. Adani deny all claims that they have falsified reports. That is a matter for the Qld government to be regulated on these issues. I have been to Abbott Point since Cyclone Debbie, I had a look at what happened.  On any measure it was remarkable that there wasn’t more issues or damage. We’re very lucky that we have well established protocols to keep assets like the valley wetlands safe when a Category 5 cyclone comes through.

 

 Journalist:

Are you saying the NAIF won’t consider Aurizon’s proposal to build the rial line until the Qld government makes the specific request?

Senator Canavan:

Well, we’re on hold. We’re effectively on hold until we wait for the Qld government to make its position clear. All these projects have been revealed and communicated with the Qld government well before their decision on Adani. So they know Aurizon is a project. It wasn’t as well progressed as the Adani proposal, they know it’s on the list. And at the moment  we’re just waiting for their views before we spend anymore money or do any more work, given what they announced last year.

 

Journalist:

Senator Macdonald did you say Jenny Hill has agreed to co-author a letter or you are going to ask her?

Senator Macdonald:

Last Thursday I sent her a letter which we could both co-sign. So far I haven’t heard back from her, but I am hopeful that she will do it because she has been very courageous for her support for Adani and all credit to her.

 

Journalist:

Have you heard from any other resource companies, perhaps when you were in Korea or Japan last week, raising concerns about the changing position of Labor on Adani and that sovereign risk aspect that you were talking about?

Senator Canavan:

Well I’m not going to go into specific discussions into meetings between myself and other governments or businesses, except to say two things: One there is a great demand for our commodities especially our coal right now. This idea that the coal market is soft at the moment reveals their lack of knowledge about commodity markets – which is not surprising – why would you think that a Melbourne-based politician like Tim Watts has any idea of what’s happening in international coal markets. The reality is that in the last 18 months thermal coal prices have more than doubled and coking coal prices are up as well. There is a very strong demand for our commodities. There’s a great interest in Japan and Korea, where I was, to access new supplies of coal going forward. The international energy agency predicts that by 2040 there will be an increase of 240 million tonnes of coal needed a year. And we only produce 250 million tonnes of thermal coal right now.  So there’s great demand for this commodity in the next few decades. We’re one of the few countries in the world that access to the type of high quality resources that exist in the Galilee Basin, that’s why there’s a lot of interest.

The second thing I’d say is there is concern in those markets about the rise in activism and that impact on governments and that’s why you need strong government  to be able to stand on what they believe and not get soft a few weeks before an election campaign  in such a lilly-livered way.

We’re talking about a multi-billion project with thousands of jobs, it’s really serious matter. But once again Bill Shorten is showing that he’s all about opportunity and not principal. He’s willing to sell out the principal of standing up for jobs and workers to win a few cheap votes in a by election – it’s disgraceful.

 


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