Australian Prime Minister Doorstop Interview – Redbank

Prime Minister

: Welcome to Redbank, it’s such a privilege to be the local Federal Member, to welcome the Prime Minister, Minister Conroy, Shayne Neumann, my parliamentary colleague, and Lance McCallum, the local State Member and a Minister in the Miles Government. Today is a historic day for our community, where we’re seeing a real investment in jobs for the future. And I’m so proud that here in Redbank we’ll see 600 jobs, a billion-dollar investment, but more importantly, the jobs of the future being built right here in Ipswich. And it’s now my privilege to introduce the Prime Minister.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much, Milton. And it is indeed great to be here to talk about what will be one of the themes of the Budget that the Treasurer will hand down next month, which is a Future Made in Australia. I want manufacturing to be brought back here in Australia. We need to be more resilient as an economy. We need simply to make more things here. Providing good jobs, secure jobs with highly skilled workforce, taking advantage of the opportunities that are here to advance manufacturing. And here at this facility at Rheinmetall, we see good, secure jobs – now, 600 of them, but a company that will double in size in the future. This contract between Australia and the German Government will mean that this company will continue to grow its presence here in Queensland. But what’s more, is it will see some 300 companies benefit due to the flow-on impact through the supply chain, here in Redbank in the western suburbs of Brisbane. This is an exciting project, this is world-class facilities, and it shows that Australia can compete with the rest of the world. We can partner with our friends, in this case in Germany, with a German company, to produce goods here that will then be exported to Germany. Producing jobs here, but also producing economic activity and income for Australia. This is a part of the vision that we have – last week we were there in the Upper Hunter, looking at advanced manufacturing there at the Liddell site. Today, we’re here with a different form of manufacturing, but we identified through the the election campaign last year – defence, agriculture, energy, advanced manufacturing, information technology – as all areas where we can make more things here in Australia, in order to make sure that we can secure our future. A secure future which sees good jobs with higher wages, with tax cuts flowing from July 1, making a difference to living standards in this local community. I’d ask Jim to make some comments and then we’re happy to take questions.

JIM CHALMERS, TREASURER: Thanks, PM. This is all about secure, well-paid manufacturing jobs. This is all about recognising that Queensland workers have a central role to play in a future made in Australia. This is all about more people working, and earning more, and keeping more of what they earn. This is Labor’s reason for being – creating secure, well-paid jobs in places like this, here in Redbank. Ours is the first government in history to create more than 1,000 jobs a day on average. This is around twice the rate of our predecessors. This means 1,000 opportunities a day for people who work hard to provide for their loved ones, and get ahead. And what we see all around us today is what a Future Made in Australia looks like. The central role of workers, and technology, and great companies like this one combining to build the Future Made in Australia, which is so central to our economic prospects into the future as well. This is all about creating more opportunities for more people in more parts of Australia, including here in the south east corner of Queensland. Queensland is absolutely front and centre when it comes to our economic plan, and you can see that in the progress that is being made here today.

We also had today the release of the Reserve Bank minutes. And what the Reserve Bank’s minutes said is for the first time since before the election, the Reserve Bank didn’t consider a rate hike. By the time the Reserve Bank next meets, it will be six months since the last time rates went up in our economy. This will allow Australian homeowners and mortgagees to catch their breath, and it’s a very welcome development. We don’t comment on decisions taken independently by the Reserve Bank in the past. We don’t speculate about the future movement of interest rates. What the Reserve Bank has indicated today is some welcome relief for Australians who are under the pump. They have indicated they didn’t consider jacking up rates at the last opportunity, by the time the Reserve Bank next meets, it will be six months without an interest rate hike. They will focus on their part of that work, and we will focus on ours. As the Prime Minister said, the Budget is six weeks away today. What we’ve seen in our economy is inflation moderating, real wages growing, we had a welcome fall in the unemployment rate a few days ago and we’ve got a second surplus in sight. But we know that people are still under pressure, and that’s why it’s such a big focus of this Government. With the tax cuts and our wages policy and our policy for a Future Made in Australia. We want people to earn more, to keep more of what they earn – creating secure, well-paid jobs in manufacturing, is a big part of that and it will be a big emphasis in the Budget as well. Happy to take your questions.

JOURNALIST: How likely is it these Boxer vehicles will be sent by Germany to Ukraine?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that, of course, will be a matter for the German Government. What we are doing today though, is putting in concrete terms, the benefit of the arrangements that were made – firstly through our Defence Ministers and then by myself and Chancellor Scholz, who signed an agreement during my visit to Berlin a year ago. This is a concrete example of Australia working with our partners – Germany is, of course, the largest economy by far, in Europe, it is a significant partner for Australia, and this result today just builds on the job creation that we’ve been determined to prioritise. For a Labor Government, job creation is at our core. And the fact that a thousand jobs have been created on average for each and every day we have been in office, is something that we are so proud of. So, proud because it far beats the former Government or any other government in Australian history. That’s our priority, because having a job means you can put food on the table for your family, and for your kids. It can provide you with the security in life to get ahead. And this decision – and meeting the workers here today, many of whom have begun work here just in the last two or three years – this decision means that this company here in Brisbane has a really secure future going ahead for the next decade and beyond, and will continue to not just survive, it will thrive, it will grow into the future.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: The timelines, the company can provide that detail, or Pat.

PAT CONROY, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY: Thank you, Prime Minister. The first Boxer to be exported to Germany will be in 2026 and the contract will be complete by 2030.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we put forward practical legislation before the Parliament to deal with the gap that has been there in the legislation for some period of time – a gap that enables someone to benefit from not having the common sense response of providing information and cooperating with the Australian Government. For someone who’s been found not to be a refugee, for someone who doesn’t have any capacity to benefit from family reunion, it is important that they cooperate. And I’m surprised, frankly, by the Coalition and their response. I note that there’s been no criticism of substance, and that the Coalition voted on the Tuesday to pass the legislation in the House of Representatives, and then on Wednesday changed their mind to play politics. That’s really a question for Peter Dutton. Are you willing to change that legislation? Not at all. The legislation has passed the House of Representatives.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. The legislation has passed the House of Representatives. It’s sitting in the Senate. They had a Senate Inquiry – that Senate Inquiry heard from officials of why this legislation is necessary and the Government’s position remains unchanged. It’s up to Peter Dutton to explain why it is that he decided to play politics and just oppose – he’s addicted to saying no. And they said yes in the House of Representatives on the Tuesday, they were told the legislation was coming on Monday night, they were briefed Tuesday morning, they asked for a Senate Inquiry, they got that on Tuesday night, and the Senate could have passed the legislation on the Wednesday – and then they came up with a third position. Having said yes, then no, they then said maybe, the Senate should be brought back. It’s up to them to explain how they had those three positions in 24 hours.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: This is legislation not about Australian citizens. This is about people who have been found, and gone through processes, who’ve been found not to be refugees and not to have a status that requires Australia to provide protection, or to provide a legitimate reason for them staying here in Australia. We will continue to ensure that our migration system is robust. That is what we need to do. And it’s up to the Coalition to explain why it is that they don’t think we should have a robust migration system.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: You’re asking about a letter from some athletes to someone else that I haven’t seen.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: What I think about the Brisbane Olympics is that it will be fantastic for Brisbane and for Queensland.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Department of Foreign Affairs has made very urgent inquiries and are continuing to ask for details about what has occurred here. Zomi Frankcom was an Australian aid worker working for the World Central Kitchen. She was doing extraordinarily valuable work, as she is someone who, I have been in recent times, been given some of what her background is – she’s someone who volunteered in Australia to help people during the bushfires. This is someone who was volunteering overseas to provide aid through this charity, for people who are suffering tremendous deprivation in Gaza. And this is just completely unacceptable. Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers – which is completely unacceptable. Aid workers and those doing humanitarian work, and indeed all innocent civilians, need to be provided with protection. Australia has had a very clear position of supporting a sustainable ceasefire, of calling for it for some period of time, of calling for humanitarian aid to go to the people of Gaza, who are suffering from this deprivation, to make sure that hostages are released as well. Australians want to see an end to this conflict. Australians want to see a peaceful, long-term political solution – that means justice for Palestinians in a Palestinian state, as well as the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. That is what we need to see. But this news today is tragic. DFAT have also requested a call in from the Israeli Ambassador to Australia as well. We want full accountability for this, because this is a tragedy that should never have occurred.

JOURNALIST: Do you plan to contact the Israeli Government directly?

PRIME MINISTER: We certainly have already contacted the Israeli Government directly. We are contacting the Israeli Ambassador to ask for accountability here. The truth is that this is beyond any reasonable circumstances – that someone going about providing aid and humanitarian assistance should lose their life. And there were four aid workers, as well as Palestinian driver in this vehicle. This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred. That is completely unacceptable. And Australia will seek full and proper accountability, as you would expect, for how this could have occurred.

JOURNALIST: Do you intend to, or have you, contacted the aid worker’s family?

PRIME MINISTER: With respect, news is just coming through of that. So, of course, the Australian Government always, always will reach out to the family and friends. And my sincere condolences to all who knew Zomi Frankcom. I didn’t have the honour of knowing her, but the sort of values that are shown by someone going into a very dangerous place in order to assist mankind, their fellow humans, people who she didn’t know, she just wanted to help out through this charity. It says everything about the character of this young woman. And so this is a tragedy. And my sincere condolences and that of the Australian Government go to Zomi’s family, to her friends, and all who knew her, to all who are working in charity, including through the World Central Kitchen. But Australians, wherever there are difficulties in the world, you will find Australians helping out. It’s something about our character that comes to the fore during the most difficult of times, that we see the best of the Australian character.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, here in Queensland, we’re here today with an announcement that’s about 600 jobs being secured, and more jobs being created. We’ll continue to always work with all State and Territory governments on infrastructure projects, on a positive way forward, on job creation, on a Future Made in Australia. Here in Queensland, we’ll continue to work on the Olympic Games. We’ll work in a cooperative way, because that’s the way that my Government operates.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: We’ll continue to – from time to time, if I got concerned every time State or Local government, or yourself perhaps also might ask during later in the interview outside, that is just what governments do. What we do, as a serious Government that’s fiscally responsible is we ask for business cases, we analyse the cases being put forward and then we make announcements, at appropriate times. But we work cooperatively with all State and Territory governments. But we also are a Government that produced the first Budget surplus in 15 years under this Treasurer and will continue to work responsibly in the lead up to the next Budget and beyond.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, inland rail – I noticed Barnaby Joyce – I mean, I give him points for boldness, I’ve got to say, but nothing else. Inland rail, they were in government for almost a decade, you go back and have a look at what Barnaby Joyce said prior to 2013 – this bloke was the Infrastructure Minister for a decade, almost on two separate occasions. The sequel no one wanted to see was Barnaby Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister, not once, but twice. Inland Rail was the one project he talked about and frankly, it still didn’t have a route to the Port, any Port at all, in Brisbane, in Gladstone, in Melbourne. It was massively over budget with over 30, with over $31 billion. This is a mess. This is a mess that the Coalition left with unfunded, unplanned, thought bubbles without having a proper plan for inland rail. There’s been an assessment made, there was no plan to get from Acacia Ridge, the 38 kilometres, to the Port of Brisbane. None whatsoever. And it’s beyond belief that Barnaby Joyce can actually be talking about inland rail. He said it would be complete well before now.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: I’m concerned about every innocent civilian losing their life during this conflict. I have been very concerned – when you look at the number of innocent lives have been lost in Gaza and in Israel, it is completely unacceptable. We have had a very clear position from the very beginning, and the resolution that was carried in the Parliament that said that the events of October 7, that terrorist attack, was something that we unequivocally opposed. We’ve said that hostages should be released. We’ve said the innocent people need to be protected and that international law needs to be observed. We have issued two statements from myself, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Prime Minister of New Zealand. We’ve issued the Melbourne Declaration, along with ASEAN leaders, about the need for a ceasefire which is sustainable. We’ve called for, and continue to call for, a political solution – which means a two-state solution to benefit in the long-term, both Israelis and Palestinians, to be able to live in security with peace and prosperity.

JOURNALIST: So, just to be clear, does the Federal Government have the Budget to provide a billion dollars to shore up the Coomera Connector and Sunshine Coast Rail, which is hinging on Federal Government money?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, we make announcements in our Budget. We make announcements in our Budget. We make announcements in our Budget, not at Rheinmetall, where we are announcing jobs and security here.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: We have a very good relationship with Germany. We signed this deal, the MoU effectively, between myself and Chancellor Scholz during the visit to Germany. We have a very good relationship between Australia and the German Government. Thanks very much.

/Public Release. View in full here.