Doorstop with Ken O'Dowd, Member for Flynn

  • Transcript, E&OE

KEN O'DOWD: Good morning everybody. I think I saw most of you yesterday where we had that important announcement at Rookwood Weir. Today, I've got Julie Bishop here, all the way from Western Australia, or all the way from around the world actually – she's our Foreign Affairs Minister. She's been in that position since 2013. Before that, Julie had many other portfolios in the ministry. She's been in since 1998. She's been Minister for Education and Innovation which we're here today at Purcell. It is great to come to a small business like this. A small business getting to be a medium sized business – it was a very small business at one stage, out the back of the ute, and you can see what it is today. It is really heartfelt, really good to see industries in Gladstone and with the innovation, and the skilled workforce that Mitchell has in Gladstone, to promote his products, not only for our central Queensland businesses but globally. With that, I would like to introduce my good friend Julie Bishop.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning everyone. I am delighted to be here in the electorate of Flynn with the local member Ken O'Dowd, and taking this opportunity to visit Purcell Engineering in Gladstone. Thank you Mitchell Purcell for hosting us here today. It is an extraordinary story and one that we want to see replicated across Australia – a family business that started off as a very small business that has now expanded into a much larger enterprise employing a number of people here but with ambitions to go beyond our shores. I was very interested to hear how the precision engineering here and the quality of the service provided here is attracting international attention. This is a great story. Australia is an open export oriented market economy and our standard of living, our economic growth depends upon our ability to sell our goods and services around the world, so not only is Purcell Engineering providing a service here in Central Queensland, across Australia but internationally. That's what we want to see. That's why the Turnbull Government has an economic plan to drive economic growth through our small and medium businesses. That is why we want tax cuts for businesses so that they can have more money in their pockets to invest in new equipment, to invest in employing more people, to invest in their business so it can grow for the benefit of all of Australians. That is why I am here today in Gladstone, visiting a number of businesses and getting feedback from these businesses as to what it is they need to ensure that they can continue to grow and make a significant contribution to our economy.

JOURNALIST: How critical is central Queensland to your Government in next year's election?

JULIE BISHOP: Central Queensland is critical to Australia. Central Queensland is a driver of economic growth. We have a number of significant businesses here. Central Queensland is part of our export success story – whether it is beef, whether it is coal – we are the number one exporters of coal and beef around the world so of course central Queensland is vital. Every seat across Australia is important to the Coalition and we want to ensure that we win as many seats as we can. I certainly want to see Ken O'Dowd returned as the member for Flynn.

JOURNALIST: It's obviously a very marginal seat. Do you feel that if the Coalition loses this seat that you won't win the next election?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't intend to even think about losing this seat because Ken is a very hardworking advocate for the people of Flynn. Yesterday, through his advocacy and that of Michelle Landry, they were able to gain federal funding, a commitment to the Rookwood Weir which will make a huge-

KEN O'DOWD: Yes, $176 million.

JULIE BISHOP: $176 million – which will make a huge difference to economic growth in this part of the world. Ken has done that through his own advocacy, through lobbying in Canberra, and making sure his voice is heard. That is what the local people want - somebody who cares about their interests and puts their interests first.

JOURNALIST: What will Monday's Newspoll mean to you and the Turnbull Government?

JULIE BISHOP: We are delivering for Australia and so the test is, who do you trust to manage the economy? That is the test at the next election. Opinions are one thing but decisions are another. When it comes to the next election people can determine whether they want Bill Shorten's job destroying policies. He is anti-business. He is anti-jobs. He says one thing in Queensland to the coal workers, tells them that he supports the Carmichael Mine, and says the complete opposite when he is in Melbourne. He can't be trusted. He is duplicitous and his job strategy is no strategy at all. The comparison between the Coalition where we have now entered our 17th consecutive month of jobs growth in a growing economy, where we have seen 129,000 jobs created in Queensland in just the last 12 months alone - that is what people will be judging when it comes to the next election.

JOURNALIST: So do you believe Tony Abbott's backing of coal is the way forward then?

JULIE BISHOP: We have a National Energy Guarantee policy and under that policy there are incentives provided to electricity generators who can deliver affordable and reliable power. So however that is delivered, however that is delivered, we want to see affordable and reliable power. But of course coal in Queensland is extremely important, so many jobs depend on the coal industry in Queensland and we want to see that continue to flourish.

JOURNALIST: Speaking about Mr Shorten, he's been to Gladstone quite a few times since the last federal election. Do you know if the Prime Minister is planning a visit to Gladstone? He's been to Rockhampton-

JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister met with Ken yesterday on the Rookwood Weir, which is a huge project for this electorate. Ken can give you more details but I know a $176 million commitment from the Federal Government means that the Rookwood Weir can go ahead. What does it mean for the locals?

KEN O'DOWD: It certainly does. Gladstone will also benefit greatly from the Rookwood Weir. 40 per cent of the water will be sent south to Gladstone and in hard times when Rocky might actually run out of water, we'll be able to transfer water back. It is a good system. Also Gladstone will be able to transfer water from here, more water from here to Callide Dam, over the top of the ranges and the Callide Valley will benefit. So really, what we've done yesterday was sort of drought-proof central Queensland, which is a great thing.

JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister delivers. The Prime Minister comes to central Queensland and delivers.

KEN O'DOWD: I asked the Prime Minister about coming to Gladstone and he said he will definitely be here before the election, but as soon as possible he will be here.

JOURNALIST: There's been a lot of talk recently about steel tariffs potentially being imposed by the US and trade wars, things like that. Even if Australia is exempt from the steel tariffs there is the possibility of dumping from other countries who can't sell their steel to the US. We've got a really big steel industry here in Gladstone, what's the Government doing to make sure that for Gladstone and Australia as a whole is in fact exempt if the US does get into a trade war?

JULIE BISHOP: The first thing we did was work very hard to ensure that we got an exemption from any tariff decision of the United States, both in steel and aluminium products. Both those products are very important here in central Queensland. Through the Prime Minister's advocacy and that of other Ministers we were able to gain an exemption. That's a huge win for Australia. It is in no one's interest, it is in no country's interest for there to be trade war of any description. We are urging both China and the United States to settle their differences in accordance with the international rules based order, in accordance with the World Trade Organisation rules. That is what we are urging and hope that they will settle their differences constructively. It is in everybody's interest for them to do so.

JOURNALIST: Do you expect the Trump Administration to stick to its promises that Australia will be exempt?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely.

JOURNALIST: And, like I was saying before, if Australia is exempt, we may still see other countries selling their steel cheaply in Australia. Is the Government doing anything about that?

JULIE BISHOP: Of course. We use anti-dumping provisions. We access the World Trade Organisation. We don't want to see any unfair trade practices. Australia, as I said earlier, is an open export oriented market economy. We depend on our ability to sell our goods and services around the world. We want to see free trade, fair trade, liberalised trade. That is in the interest of Australia. That is why companies like Purcell Engineering can export overseas, because our products are high quality, manufactured in Australia. That means high quality and are sought after around the world. We want to continue to see open trade because it is definitely in our interests for that to be the case.

JOURNALIST: So workers at Purcell and (inaudible), two of our biggest employers, shouldn't be too worried when they hear the talk of trade wars going around?

JULIE BISHOP: Any talk of trade wars is concerning. That's why Australia is urging the United States and China to settle their trade differences constructively. It's in the interests of us all. The United States and China are both very important economic partners for Australia, they are our number one and number two trading partners in terms of merchandised goods. It is in our interest for them to settle their differences constructively.

JOURNALIST: Are you talking to the Chinese Government directly on the tariff issue?

JULIE BISHOP: We are always talking to the Chinese Government about issues that affect us. We have an ongoing discussion about trade, about economics, we have ministerial discussions, we have official-level discussions - so of course it's a topic of conversation around the world.

JOURNALIST: Quick question, sorry, before we finish. We've got an NRL match happening here on Sunday – it is the Titans versus the Sea Eagles. Who do you follow in the Rugby League and who would you pick over the Titans and Sea Eagles?

JULIE BISHOP: Do I really have to admit that I am not a big NRL fan? I'm born and bred AFL and my team is the West Coast Eagles so if you want to translate that into the Manly Sea Eagles, does that work?


JOURNALIST: How do you think the Eagles will go this weekend?


JOURNALIST: Our Eagles - I'm from Perth too.

JULIE BISHOP: Okay! Our Eagles! I'm hoping they will do well. We've got a good team, a lot of young people with much excitement. I was there for the first game at the new stadium against Sydney Swans which we didn't win but then we won last week, so the momentum is all our way.

KEN O'DOWD: And if the Titans beat the Broncos last weekend, they will surely beat Manly this weekend.

JOURNALIST: And just one last thing, is Malcolm Turnbull doing enough for moderates in the party?

JULIE BISHOP: Malcolm Turnbull is leading a very committed Government. We are delivering what we promised - economic growth and more jobs. We are in our 17th consecutive month of jobs growth. Over 400,000 jobs have been created in Australia. That doesn't happen by accident. That's because through Malcolm Turnbull we have created an environment that is giving business the confidence to invest, we have got plans to reduce tax even further so that they have got more money in their pocket to invest, to employ people. All members, whether they are moderates or any other member within the Liberal National Coalition, ARE supporting economic growth and that's what Malcolm Turnbull is delivering

JOURNALIST: The PM said Australia's raised concerns with South Africa regarding white farmer violence. What did we say?

JULIE BISHOP: I've spoken to the Minister for Home Affairs, I have spoken to the Prime Minister, and we have all said the same thing that Australia has a humanitarian visa program that is non-discriminatory. If anyone, anywhere around the world fears persecution or believes that they meet the criteria for our refugee and humanitarian program then they can apply. That is the same message we have given to the South African Government.

JOURNALIST: And how did they react?

JULIE BISHOP: There hasn't been a reaction. I wrote a letter to my counterpart, the new Foreign Minister of South Africa, congratulating her on her appointment and in response to a question that came to us I reaffirmed that we have a humanitarian program that is non-discriminatory and that every application is assessed on its merits. That's what the Minister for Home Affairs has said, that is what the Prime Minister has said.

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