Australian Prime Minister Doorstop Interview – Muswellbrook

Prime Minister

Welcome everyone to the mighty Hunter Valley. Can I start by acknowledging the traditional owners on the land on which we meet today, the Wonnarua people, and pay respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. The Hunter Valley has been a powerhouse for New South Wales for the last century in energy and export market. We will continue to be that for centuries to come, there’s no doubt about that. We’re here today to talk about jobs, jobs and jobs. I campaigned hard, talking about jobs all throughout the election and now we’re in it, and now we’re showcasing what we’re doing. We are talking today about many, many jobs here for the future for the Hunter Valley. I made a commitment to the people of the Hunter to make sure that we had safe, secure, high paying jobs in the Hunter. And that is what he’s going to come from today’s announcement. And that is a fantastic announcement for our region. The future the Hunter is looking very bright right now, I can tell you. From our traditional industries of mining, of the wine industry, of the equine industry as well. And now, going towards these new industries. And I really look forward to being part of that and showcasing what that can be, and Liddell Power Station here will be a major part of that and looking forward to seeing what that does. I’d like to now pass over to Damien to say a few words and to really see what this is all about. Thank you all.

DAMIEN NICKS, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR AGL: Thank you, Dan. And good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that we’re on, the Wonnarua people, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present. It’s an absolute honour to work with the members of the Wonnarua community and we’ll continue to work with that community and traditional owners as we work out more jobs for this community and more jobs on the lands. And if I think about some of the work that we’ve been doing, the recent development of the Manuka honey farm just here on this site is a great step forward for this community. Today, I am very pleased to be joined with many employees, including some of our apprentices behind me, and we are on what we consider the Hunter Hub. The Hunter Hub is the Bayswater site, it is the former Liddell power station. And it is also the site to my right of the new 500 megawatt battery for Liddell. So, really exciting time here for us at AGL. I would like to also warmly welcome the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, Ministers Bowen and Husic from the Federal Government, and also Ministers Sharpe and Houssos from the NSW Government. And also our passionate local member, Dan Repacholi, who you’ve just heard from. We are delighted to welcome you all at AGL today. We also welcome the announcement that the Federal Government has made today, and we are committed at AGL to doing our part as part of this transition. AGL is developing low carbon industrial energy hubs to capture the emerging opportunities of the green economy. Using existing infrastructure across all of our thermal sites, using the sites, the rail, the infrastructure, the water. It is a fantastic location as we look to develop those Hunter Energy Hubs. The huge potential is amazing and we are very excited by the prospect of having innovative companies such as Sundrive join us today. We are committed, as Dan said, to this region and we are pleased to announce we’ve entered into a memorandum of understanding with Sundrive to explore the development of a commercial scale solar PV manufacturing facility here at the Hunter, and here, right here in Muswellbrook. The world is changing and so are we. We are looking for partnerships for opportunities that transform our business, that decarbonise our portfolio and repurpose our sites into clean industrial hubs. This agreement with Sundrive is one of many partnerships that will transform this site into a low carbon energy hub and follows the closure of the Liddell Power Station almost a year ago now. But it also follows the announcement we made to build the 500 megawatt battery here at the Liddell site. The feasibility study with Sundrive will identify key infrastructure, as well as approvals and licences required for the development of solar PV manufacturing right here at this facility. When established, the advanced manufacturing facility is expected to be its first of its kind here in Australia. And as part of the MoU, AGL will work with Sundrive to purchase Sundrive’s innovative and unique solar panels for our customers. Today, we’re a leading supplier of solar PV to both commercial and industrial. We have 600,000 customers, both residential and business, that use our solar services. We believe that this partnership has a significant opportunity to develop real benefits for the energy transition and if successful will create jobs in this community and for the broader communities around us. I want to thank Vince Allen and his team from Sundrive for their support as we co-create a new energy future right here in the Hunter. I also want to thank the Federal Government and the NSW Government for their support. Australia’s energy transition is a once in a generation transition and we are playing our part in making sure there are skilled jobs for the future. I’d now like to hand over to the Prime Minister. Thank you very much.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: We might just hear from Vince.

VINCE ALLEN, FOUNDER AND CEO OF SUNDRIVE SOLAR: Obviously not the Prime Minister here.

NICKS: Sorry, Vince.

ALLEN: Thank you, Damien.

PRIME MINISTER: We used to change every term, we’ve stopped that.

ALLEN: We look very similar. So thank you, Damien. Australia has led the world in solar innovation and today’s $1 billion Sunshot announcement means that Australia can not only be a renewable energy innovation powerhouse, but also a renewable energy manufacturing powerhouse. We also welcome the NSW Government’s commitment to establishing the $275 million net zero manufacturing fund, as well as their commitment to support local manufacturing through government offtake agreements. We totally see a world where the world’s best solar panels can be made in NSW for NSW rooftops. Australia developed today’s modern solar technology at the University of NSW. Last year, around $50 billion worth of solar panels were made using technology invented in Australia. However, very little of this value has been captured on our shores. By establishing a local manufacturing industry, we can better capture this value whilst creating thousands of highly skilled jobs, whilst also retaining Australia’s world leading solar talent. Sundrive was born out of my PhD, also at the University of NSW, with the goal to accelerate the R&D and what the next generation of solar technology can be. What first started as a PhD project with my flatmate and co-founder, Dave, has now grown to an incredible team, from engineers to scientists, from software to hardware manufacturing specialists. And it is this team that has gone on to develop the world’s most efficient commercial size solar cell using our breakthrough copper plating technology. Today, we are taking a big step forward in commercialising and bringing our technology together by announcing that we’ve signed an MoU with Damien and his team at AGL in establishing a commercial scale advanced manufacturing facility here at AGL’s precinct. Our plan is to produce in our first phase, hundreds of thousands of panels on this site, with the eventual goal of scaling that to millions of panels per year. I would also, in addition, very pleased to announce that we are also in negotiations with AGL in exploring offtake agreements. AGL is one of the country’s largest solar retailers, distributors and installers, so we’re very pleased with that announcement. Lastly to the people of the Hunter, this is obviously quite a historic day, not just for the region, but also the country. For us at Sundrive, we do see that the Hunter has the talent and the skills needed to drive the energy transition. And obviously, solar is going to be a very core component of that. With Australia’s talent, innovation capability, minerals in the ground and access to cheap, clean electricity, Australia can establish a local solar manufacturing industry that not only helps NSW and Australia get to net zero, but also the world. Lastly, I’d like to thank the Prime Minister, the Energy Minister, the NSW Government, for their support for Australian solar manufacturing, and also to Damien and his team for their commitment to renewable energy manufacturing. And my team and I very much look forward to working with you. Thanks, I’ll pass it over to the real Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Well thanks very much, Vince. And yes, I’m glad there hasn’t been a change in that perspective. Look, can I also acknowledge all of my parliamentary colleagues who are here, Federal and State. And also, we’re joined by the Mayor, very important, good to have you here, mate. And acknowledge the businesses who are here, including AGL and Sundrive. But perhaps most importantly, I want to acknowledge the workers who are here, the apprentices, because what this is about is them. This is about us seizing the opportunities which are there to have a future made in Australia. As one of the big themes that I had in the lead up to the last election, we can be either scared of the future, tread water like we did under the previous decade, or we can seize the opportunities that are there from the transition to net zero. This is a transformation that is happening globally. I sat in the Parliament for day after day, month after month, year after year, where Josh Frydenberg spoke about Liddell and keeping it open when the decision was made to shut Liddell on their watch. When there was no new coal fired power stations created. And around the country, of course, closure occurred. Without planning for a transition, without planning for what happens next. What we know is that if we seize the opportunities, Australia is positioned better than any country in the world. We have the best solar resources in the world up above us, and they’re free. We have some of the best wind resources. We have also the best human resources. Australia has been world leading at innovation. PV solar created at places like the University of NSW, the Australian National University, has seen the breakthroughs that have led the world. But we have not been good at commercialising those opportunities. We’ve created the innovation and then seen all the value being added offshore. And today we have around about 90 per cent of the world’s solar panels produced in just one country, in just one country, China, and then exported to around the world. We missed the opportunities. We are not going to miss the opportunities of this generation. And that is what our support is about. That’s the role of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and other institutions that were created by the former Government, former Labor Government, that the former Government that I replaced, sought to abolish year after year. Because we have that in place, because we have a Minister with vision in Chris Bowen, and a Minister who’s absolutely committed to manufacturing here in Australia, in Ed Husic. And we have local members like Dan Repacholi who understand what is needed in these local communities and we’re working with state governments. It must be said we worked with the former State Government here in NSW as well. It’s only Peter Dutton and the Liberals who have a view that somehow this should be a site for a nuclear reactor under their policy. Where you can have a nuclear reactor in decades’ time, if you can find anyone who will finance it, which you can’t. Which means that nothing happens, as nothing happened for the last decade, or you can seize the opportunities which are there. We have the highest per capita use of solar panels on roofs of any country in the world. But of all of those, about one per cent of them are made in Australia. I know how hard it is. I sought out, as did Minister Bowen, to make sure that the panels on my roof in Marrickville are Australian made. It’s difficult. We want to make it easier. And these panels, this technology that Sundrive has developed, is the most efficient in the world. Why wouldn’t you take that opportunity and pair it with AGL’s vision that they have, with my Government’s commitment, with the NSW Government’s commitment to manufacture more things here. Whether it’s solar panels or train carriages or ferries or other goods that are used here in NSW and have a future made right here in Australia. And that’s what the billion dollar Sunshot Program is about. Following on from our $2 billion Hydrogen Head Start Program. A vision for Australia that sees renewable energy powering advanced manufacturing here to produce more in Australia. Powered by clean energy, positioning ourselves to be a renewable energy superpower for the world. That’s my Government’s vision. Clean, cheap energy, making more things here, skilling up young Australians and retraining Australians as well for the jobs of the future. And that’s why yesterday as well we introduced into the Parliament our Net Zero Authority Legislation. Our Net Zero Authority that will work with unions and business and local communities on the transition to make sure that we don’t leave people behind. But far from it, that we seize the opportunity for even more jobs, which are secure, which are high paid, as part of our commitment to see workers paid more and also to keep more of what they earn through our tax cuts going to every single Australian taxpayer. That’s very much my Government’s vision for our economy going forward. It’s a positive vision. It’s one which shapes the future in Australia’s national interests, not leaves us vulnerable to shocks from international circumstances beyond our control. That’s why I applaud the work that Minister Bowen has done in putting together this program in working with the private sector, in working with agencies to make sure that today’s announcement that we’ll see more jobs on this site than were here under the former power stations operations. More jobs, more security, better pay, stronger local economies, stronger regional economic development. That’s what my Government’s about. And this announcement today is, I think, one of the most significant that will be made during our term. And I’m very proud to be a part of it today.

CHRIS BOWEN, MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Well thank you, Prime Minister. And this is a great day for the Hunter and a great day for our country. We’ve heard the Prime Minister say many times he wants a future made in Australia. And today we are making a big step to make that a reality. Not the first step, not the last step, but a very big step. Today we’re announcing Solar Sunshot, our new program to support the manufacturing of solar panels, solar cells, solar modules and associated infrastructure here in Australia. We used to have an Australia made solar panel industry in Sydney. It closed many years ago. It’s time to get it back. We put many millions of solar panels on our roofs over the last few years. We have to put another 60 million on in the next six years. And as the Prime Minister said, only one per cent of those have been made in Australia – that ends today. So, in detail, the Solar Sunshot Program is a billion dollars of support, very similar to our Hydrogen Head Start Program we announced last year. $1 billion of support run through ARENA, our Australian Renewable Energy Agency, providing production credits for people who will make solar manufacturing, solar panels in Australia and associated infrastructure. We’ll be progressing that very quickly and we are very keen to see that support flow this year. Now, I want to give a shout out, of course, to Damien from AGL and Vince from Sundrive for today’s announcement. As the Prime Minister said, taking steps today to see more people employed in this just one announcement, there’s many more announcements to come for this site, but in just this announcement, more people employed than were employed at the Liddell Power Station. You hear a lot of doom and gloom saying this transition is terrible. Well it’s hard, but there are massive opportunities in it as well. Massive opportunities for the types of people we see standing behind us. I just want to give a shout out to other companies that are here today. To Richard Petterson from Tindo. The Prime Minister mentioned that both he and I have Tindo solar panels, Australian made solar panels in our houses. It was hard to do. Tindo held the flame alive during the last decade or so of Australian manufacturing and they’ll also, I know, be very keen to participate in Solar Sunshot. David Griffin from 5B, that rolls out solar panels very quickly on mining sites. They’ll also be able to participate in the Solar Sunshot Program. Both Australian companies that have been manufacturing in Australia and we want to see them make more things in Australia for longer, as we welcome Sundrive making the most efficient solar panel in the world here on this site. And as Vince said, that’s possible because of the announcement that we’re making and the announcement that the Minns Labor Government is making today as well. So also, a shout out to my friend and partner, Ed Husic. In 2024 good energy policy is good industry policy – the same thing. And this sort of announcement is impossible without whole of government efforts. And the Industry Minister and the Energy Minister working hand in glove under the leadership of the Prime Minister, and of course, the leadership of the NSW Government with the announcement that Courtney is making today of NSW Government’s support for NSW solar panel manufacturing, which has enabled Vince and Damien to make the announcement they are making today. So, I think Damien and Vince and Courtney and I have been propping up Telstra’s profits for the last couple of months with all the phone calls between us bringing today’s announcement together. And it’s an effort well worth it, because the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. And under the Albanese Government, it’s an opportunity we are seizing, we are grabbing, grabbing that opportunity. Opportunities come along and they can pass you by. But under this Prime Minister, we grabbed that opportunity to be a renewable energy superpower, and not just make renewable energy in Australia, but to make the things that make renewable energy in Australia. So, it’s a proud day, particularly – Vince, an idea which started in your back garage, two uni students working together under the leadership of Professor Martin Green, who is a hero for Australian manufacturing – the modern solar panel was invented in Australia at the University of NSW and the Australian National University. They are in roofs around the world, but they’re not made here. That ends today. We start taking that Australian ingenuity and we make it in Australia, and we make it here on the Liddell site. I want to hand over to my friend Courtney Houssos, who will talk about the NSW Government’s participation in today’s announcement and I’m sure we’ll take questions.

COURTNEY HOUSSOS, NSW MINISTER FOR DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING & GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT: Well, good morning, everyone. My name is Courtney Houssos and I’m the NSW Minister for Domestic Manufacturing and Government Procurement. I am delighted to be here today with the Prime Minister, with Ministers Bowen and Husic, with my parliamentary colleague, Minister Penny Sharpe, and also local representatives Dan Repacholi and Emily Suvaal, and of course the mayor, who we’ve been talking about some of the challenges that we’re facing in terms of local jobs. For quite some time today, I can announce that the NSW Government will develop off-take agreements for solar panel manufacturing. This is a new and innovative way of leveraging our government procurement spend. What we will do is gather together the spending capacity of the NSW Government and use it to foster local manufacturing opportunities. We’re going to do this as part of the next round of the net zero manufacturing fund. Now, governments run important grants programs to foster and to support new and emerging businesses. We see this as the next step in ensuring that those businesses continue to grow and prosper and have local jobs right here in NSW. We know that every job in manufacturing, every job in manufacturing then creates 3.5 further jobs along the supply chain, and we want more of those jobs here in NSW. I was at a recent roundtable with some advanced manufacturers and they told me that NSW is the least hospitable place for manufacturing in the country. We are absolutely committed to changing that, and by working with our Federal Government colleagues, with the Prime Minister, with Ministers Bowen and Husic – yes, we’ve had a lot of conversations lately about this particular announcement – but this shows when we work together, what we can achieve. Countries around the globe are rebuilding their sovereign manufacturing capability and we want to be able to do that right here in NSW. I want to congratulate Sundrive and AGL for this historic announcement. Right here in NSW, we know we have great critical mineral opportunities, but we also have fantastic manufacturing opportunities, and to do it here on this site and to bring all of that together is really exciting to be part of. This is the kind of economic diversification we want to see as we build towards a clean energy future, fostering those local manufacturing opportunities right here in the Hunter. Thanks so much. We’re happy to take your questions.

JOURNALIST: Will Australia make solar cheaper than the ones made in China? And if not, how can you be sure that Australians will buy them?

PRIME MINISTER: These are the most efficient solar panels in the world. These are good products. They will last for longer, they will be commercially, commercially available, and we are very confident that Australians will have Australian panels on their roofs. This technology that’s been developed – and I might ask if you want to add to this, Vince – this technology is the best in the world. We’ve missed out in the past, and that’s a tragedy. When we think about Australia, we should be so proud that of so many – everything from the black box to Wi-Fi to solar panels – we have been innovative. From time to time we’ve been effective at value adding, but too many times we’ve just let those opportunities go past. When you have the best product, most efficient in the world, for something that will grow in demand, then we are very, very confident – as well as using the procurement policies of government, using the power of government purchasing as well, and we have a made in Australia policy as well in our national Government – that you can use government to, if you like, provide comfort of that base going forward and then go out, not just to Australia, but I see opportunities from this Sunshot program to export to the world as well – of the range of products that we have, and energy that we can produce here in Australia, as well. As with new technology, one of the things that is happening and why I’m confident about the broader issue of a future made in Australia – without getting too philosophical about it – with new technology and advanced manufacturing techniques, the proportion of labour in the costs of production has been reducing over a long period of time. So, in the 1970s and 1980s, when we saw Australian manufacturing depart Australia, it was about labour costs. Because transport is a higher proportion of the costs of production, particularly for domestic use, and labour costs are far less, then the competitive nature changes between Australia developing countries. And that’s why this announcement today of a Future Made in Australia, and one of the reasons why Ed is here, as well as the person who’s looking after the National Reconstruction Fund, we see this certainly, as Chris said, not the beginning but not the end either. We see a future made in Australia as being a centrepiece of our Budget in May. This is, if you like, a bit of a sneak peek into what will be rolling out over the next year and in the years to come. This is a big difference between us and our political opponents, who don’t think that Australia is up to it, effectively – who’ve abandoned manufacturing. We had a debate this week about cars. They told the car industry to leave. That had consequences for Australian jobs in Australia’s economy. We think we can do it and this bloke is one of the people who’s doing it.

ALLEN: Thank you, Prime Minister. Just to add a few comments onto the Prime Minister’s response. So, the world is changing, but so is manufacturing costs. Over a decade ago, solar manufacturing costs were dominated by labour, by land and by equipment CapEx. Whereas today, due to the rapid advances in productivity, manufacturing costs today are more dominated by fundamental costs – so, things like material input, electricity input, and as the Prime Minister mentioned, transportation. And Australia has a very unique advantage in each one of those three aspects. So, from a material point of view, Australia is in the top three global reserves of every major mineral that is needed to make a solar panel – that no other country can say. From an electricity point of view, there is a clear trend towards decarbonising supply chains. So, what that means is solar panels also need to be made using green electricity. And so, if you look at the world through a net zero lens, a lot of the heavy industries in manufacturing, including the manufacturing of solar panels, need to shift away from countries where fossil fuel electricity is cheap, such as in Asia, to countries where clean electricity is cheap. And in that world, Australia wins hands down. And then the third aspect – transportation. If you’re in Australia and you buy a solar panel, about 15 per cent of the cost is just to get it to Australia. And if we have onshoring of all the components that are needed to go into a solar panel, then obviously you save on the transportation costs. So, yeah, I thought I’d just add a few comments there.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, today’s announcement is all about making more solar panels. How will the Government address the growing demand to recycle them at the end of their life?

PRIME MINISTER: That is something that Tanya Plibersek is leading work on the circular economy. We see there again, huge opportunities for Australia in advancing through the circular economy. As Vince just said, one of the things that the world is going to be looking at, and one of the reasons why net zero isn’t negotiable it’s necessary, is that global markets will look at the nature of production. They’ll also look at those issues as well, which is why we’ll have more to say on the circular economy in the coming period, both in the lead up to the Budget and beyond.

JOURNALIST: Are there any risks in relying on China supply of solar panels that the Government’s trying to protect? Will Australia can follow the US in imposing tariffs on Chinese solar?

PRIME MINISTER: No. Well, that’s not our objective here, but our objective is to be more resilient. We know that in today’s world, one of the things that is happening is that nation states are looking at their sovereign capacity, their ability to be resilient and to not be vulnerable to shocks. Now, there could be three shocks can occur, at least in the future. One we went through recently – the pandemic. The science tells us that there might be something else that disrupted our trade, it disrupted our way of life. The second is cyber issues, which can be disruptive as well. And the third is either trade impediments, conflict – either economic or defence conflict as well. So, we want to make sure that we have a more resilient economy. That’s one of the lessons of the pandemic, is that we need to be able to stand on our own two feet. And that’s why when we talk about manufacturing, it won’t just be this. We have been speaking about manufacturing pharmaceuticals, we’ve been speaking about manufacturing in so many different ways. You’ll see some more work that we’re doing on batteries and other areas as well. We need to make our economy more resilient.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, is there a timeline of goals sort of set to improve on that one per cent Australian made figure?

MINISTER BOWEN: Yes. Quickly. I mean, the plans here. I know Vince has got plans for 2026. We want to see Solar Sunshot up and running well and truly this calendar year, and we intend to do that now. Of course, it takes a bit of time to build a factory and get the workers in and get all the infrastructure going, but we are going at lightning speed.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister. Well, I think everyone here locally agrees this is a great announcement for the Upper Hunter – 500 workers, at the moment you can’t find the property to rent or if it’s to buy, it goes off the market within twenty four hours, here, not only in Muswellbrook, but the whole region. What can you do? What are you doing to ensure that doesn’t become an issue for Vince and his team, which is already an issue for other e-technologies that are establishing here in this region?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have 17 different housing measures worth more than $25 billion. Just this week, to give an example, our Housing Australia Future Fund, which asked for submissions, is massively oversubscribed. That was something that was held up, voted against by the Coalition and held up by the Greens Party, over a year. We want to get on with it. We have programs of our Social Housing Accelerator, we have programs like Build to Rent. Our tax incentive that we put in the Budget last year as one of the centrepieces for investment, essentially in private rentals, was something that I spoke with Doctor Kennedy, the Head of Treasury, just yesterday – was indicating his view that that had been very successful already at driving that investment. So, we had a decade of neglect when it came to housing issues, but we’re getting on with support for housing. We have our Help to Buy Scheme in the Parliament at the moment – that’s a shared equity scheme to support buying, people to buy their own home. So, we’re working, including with the NSW Government, on these issues. Part of it is planning laws. I think the NSW Government showing the way to the nation in Chris Minns showing leadership about the need to develop planning laws and to make sure that we cut through. I know that local government is very keen on that happening as well. So, we want more people to be able to buy their own home. We want more people, more private rentals to be built, and we want more social and affordable housing built as well. We have programs for each of those in order to increase supply. There’s no shortcut here. You’ve got to increase supply of housing and we’re determined to do so.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, obviously we’re in a region that provides quite a chunk of money to State and Federal Governments from our coal mines. Do you see down the track that programs like Sunshot and other programs that you have in the works for renewables could fill that big gap of money that will be left when we have no coal mines, perhaps?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the coal mines and other resource indices have been very important for this region and very important for our national economy, and they continue to play a role. But we need to acknowledge that in today’s changing world, as the world transitions to net zero, the nature of our economies will change as well. What I see is programs like this announcement today as making sure that communities don’t get left behind. And the Net Zero Authority will be tasked with working with the private sector, working with unions, to make sure that that occurs, to make sure that the transition happens in the interests of regions, that communities are brought with us on the journey of change that occurs. You can’t stop change. What you can do is shape it. My Government’s determined to do that and we’ve worked very effectively with the union movement, including unions here in the Hunter – and I noticed there’s a few unions represented here, and that’s a great thing. And we’ve worked as well with business and with the local community, including the local Mayor. When I was in Muswellbrook, just about a few months ago, at the hub that’s here in the Donald Horne building, what you see there is innovation here in Muswellbrook. I was somewhat stunned I’m the first Prime Minister to visit Muswellbrook, they told me, which is pretty extraordinary. I’m back – because I care about the regions. The regions are best positioned – let me just say this very clearly. From the transition in our economy, the big winners will be regions and outer suburbs, because that’s where manufacturing can be based. That’s where you can have the sort of facility that you have here, where you’ll have solar panels manufactured, manufactured with the assistance of other solar panels and renewable energy as well. You have that green production, so whether it’s that or green steel in Whyalla, green aluminium in central Queensland, we face a really bright future if we seize it.

JOURNALIST: In relation to the Net Zero Authority, do you know how many people it will employ? And when are you going to announce a replacement for Greg Combet, who’s going to step down?

PRIME MINISTER: Greg Combet will be stepping down at the end of this financial year. We go through our processes of proper scrutiny in appointing a replacement. And when those processes are completed in a diligent way, the announcement will take place. The Net Zero Authority will be pretty streamlined in terms of staff. But one of the things it will do, it’s aimed at doing is leveraging the capacity of existing people who are, whether they’re working at the local council, whether they be local unions, where they be local businesses as well – part of what we’re seeking to do here is to have, if you like, a one stop shop to coordinate that activity, to make sure that people aren’t left behind.

JOURNALIST: How transferable do you think the skills are to keep these communities thriving into the new industries, some that we may not have thought of yet?

PRIME MINISTER: I think they’re very transferable. I think someone, Chris, might want to add to this. But today we’ve got behind us, you know, fitters and turners and we have electricians, apprentices. We’re going to need – Chris will have the figure how many electricians we will need over the next over the next decade – they are transferable skills. They are good, secure jobs. We have specific programs, like a new energy apprenticeships program, to encourage people to go down into these industries. But they’ll be secure, well paid jobs. The people standing behind us will never be out of work. Because what they’re doing is training for the jobs of today and the future.

MINISTER BOWEN: Thanks, PM. The jobs opportunities is massive. We need 32,000 new sparkies between now and 2030 – just one example. And then you can add in many other types of jobs as well. We need more people for this massive transformation. If you look at even just today’s announcement, Sundrive will be employing PHDs, down the school leavers who will get these skills on the job in manufacturing and be trained up. And I think this is a massive opportunity. People who are good at making energy traditionally, are also good at making energy in a renewable economy, and we want to see future generations get those skills and fill those gaps. So it’s a good problem to have, to need so many new employees for this massive transformation – as the PM said the regions are and will be at the centre of it.

JOURNALIST: Minister Sharpe, seeing as you’re here, very close by – we’re all talking about transition, moving to a new economy. When’s the heritage, what’s happened with the heritage listing of Ravensworth homestead?

MINISTER SHARPE: Look the heritage obviously the Heritage Council has made a recommendation to me. I’m currently looking at that and I would hope that I’ll be making decision in due course

JOURNALIST: When? Because you’ve had it for two or three months now?

MINISTER SHARPE: The decision will be made in due course.

JOURNALIST: Minister, there’s an analysis out today that suggests that keeping Eraring Power Station going past next year could cost between $120 and $150 million. Can you give us an update about where your discussions with Origin are at?

MINISTER SHARPE: Well I think people will be unsurprised to know that I’m not going to be talking about the details of those discussions. Those discussions are underway, they’re the subject of some pretty strict confidential confidentiality requirements, and we’ll be we’ll be dealing with those. The discussions are productive, and as soon as we’re able to provide more information we will.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there’s been calls for you to return to Alice Springs (inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: What I do is I make announcements when I’m going, when I’m going. I have visited the Northern Territory nine times, nine times.

JOURNALIST: Are you planning another trip?

PRIME MINISTER: I have visited the Northern Territory nine times. And I visit around Australia very regularly.

JOURNALIST: How many of those times were Alice Springs?

PRIME MINISTER: I have been to Alice Springs, I’ve been to Katherine, I’ve been to remote communities – where I was last week. I’ve been I’ve been to Yulara, I’ve been to Darwin. I’ve been to a range of communities in the Northern Territory. We are continuing to monitor what is happening there. We have a $250 million program in Alice Springs. Just last week, I was in the Northern Territory at remote communities – the first Prime Minister to visit the council at Katherine. I met with the entire Northern Land Council in Katherine last week as well, we continue to engage. My Minister, Linda Burney, was in Alice Springs at the beginning of last week. She has visited on multiple occasions, as has, of course, the local member, Marion Scrymgour. All Australians will be concerned by the scenes that we have seen, there has been a temporary curfew put there in Alice Springs, that is a sensible move, and one that the Federal Government supports.

JOURNALIST: Should the ADF be brought in like the Coalition has suggested?

PRIME MINISTER: When I’ve met with people in Alice Springs, including the police, they haven’t called for that. What they know is that people who are on the ground locally are in the best position to determine what is necessary.

JOURNALIST: Tarrifs was mentioned earlier in China, how close are we to the tariffs on our industry from being removed, and that market being opened up again?

PRIME MINISTER: Now, I don’t want to I don’t want to spoil the next the next visit, which is to a winery with the member of Hunter, Dan Repacholi, so if you come along there, that I’m sure you will get an invite to it in just in a short while I’ll be speaking about the wine industry there at Brokenwood here in the Hunter. The Hunter Valley has great opportunities. What we know is that the wine industry, in terms of its exports to China, were worth over a billion dollars annually, annually. The impediments to our trade with China was worth more than $20 billion annually. What that is – that’s about Australian jobs. And my Government has been patient, deliberate and calibrated about our engagement with China. I’ve said we will cooperate where we can, we’ll disagree where we must, but we’ll engage in our national interest. And I very much welcomed the visit of Wang Yi to Australia a couple of weeks ago, as I will welcome the visit of Premier Li to Australia for our annual leaders talks that will take place later this year. The interim decision on wine has been handed down. The decision is imminent, about the next step in that and I’ll have more to say about that in a short period of time.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on immigration legislation, was it a mistake trying to get that through Parliament without giving others enough time to scrutinise it?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, everyone had time to scrutinise it. There was a full briefing given to the Coalition. The Coalition voted for the policy in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, and they voted about the politics of the issue with the Greens Party on Wednesday after they received not just a full briefing, but received what they requested, which was an estimates hearing on Tuesday evening. This is filling, closing, a loophole which is a in the legislation, one that was there under the former government. To be very clear, this isn’t about refugees, this is about people who have not been shown to have any right to be in Australia, be it refugees or be it family reunion status or anything or any other measures. And I found it astonishing that the Coalition had three policies – They were for it on Tuesday, they were against it on Wednesday morning and deferred it and then said ‘maybe Parliament should come back’ to vote for something that they had just voted against voting for. So I think it’s up to them to explain why they had three positions over the last two days. Yesterday was the last sitting day before the Budget. My Government is orderly. My Government rolls out policies in an orderly way consistent with what our program was that we were elected to implement in 2022. Today’s policy is the latest example of that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what’s your biggest fear – Dan Repacholi lining you up for one of his burger challenges or South Sydney continuing to not win any games?

PRIME MINISTER: I thank Pat Conroy for lining up that question. So look, Good Friday, tomorrow – Easter is a time when bunnies should do well. And so, I am very hopeful of a good outcome, notwithstanding the fact that Canterbury is actually in my electorate of Grayndler. So, I’ll be cautious about being too harsh against the Doggies, who I do have a soft spot for. But Dan Repacholi, I think has made such a big impact as a local Member here. He is someone who is just a champion for this area. And there is no way that I would compete with Dan in two areas. One; shooting where he has Commonwealth Games medals and where he’s hoping to represent Australia at the Olympics coming up, and the second is eating. I just reckon you’ve got to know and not try and punch above your weight. And his weight is considerably more than mine. Thanks very much.

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