Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – ABC Capricornia Breakfast

Prime Minister

Prime Minister, thanks for your time this morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good to be with you and I’m very much looking forward to be back in Central Queensland this morning.

JONES: And Prime Minister, can you run us through what is being announced today and what does it mean for Central Queensland?

PRIME MINISTER: The Government will be providing $400 million in new loans to an Australian company, Alpha HPA. And what that’s going to do is to deliver Australia’s first high purity aluminium processing facility in Queensland. Now, what this product, high purity aluminium, is used for is a critical mineral that’s used for LED lighting, for semiconductors, lithium-ion batteries and some other high tech applications. So this is really value adding on our resources here. And that’s why it’s received this from, this funding through our Critical Minerals Facility that we’ve established as part of A Future Made in Australia. Now what that means is 490 jobs during construction, but over 200 jobs are ongoing. We need to make sure that we value add wherever possible here, that we make more things here, that we take advantage of our position as a supplier of critical minerals and value add wherever we can. Rather than the alternative, which is just to export these minerals offshore, wait for someone else to add the jobs and the value and then import them back. So this is an example of the Government working with the private sector to really benefit jobs and our economy, but as well boost the things that are important as we shift to clean, reliable energy. Obviously, things like LED lighting and lithium-ion batteries will be really important in that shift that we’re seeing.

JONES: Gladstone has been central to your plan. It was the first city that you mentioned when you gave the Made in Australia speech. Gladstone is a boom and bust town. If hundreds of people move here for the construction phase, I guess, they use up services, taking up housing. Is there potential that this leads to a bust?

PRIME MINISTER: No, because what we’re seeing is investment across the board. We’re seeing today, I’ll be also there celebrating the APLNG’s 1000th cargo celebration leaving from the Port there. So it will remain an export hub – that’s really important. Rio Tinto have just signed agreements for the largest supply of renewable energy that’s been signed anywhere in Australia. We have new businesses, new activity like this one, that will produce 200 ongoing jobs. And I see that one of the beneficiaries of the shift in our economy will be very much concentrated on regional Queensland. And there’s nowhere better positioned as an industrial powerhouse to benefit from that than the city of Gladstone.

JONES: So, it sounds like, Prime Minister, you are confident that as jobs come in with construction here, more jobs will remain in the area. With the Government supporting these projects, is there a risk that these permanent jobs will rely on government support into the future?

PRIME MINISTER: No, so for example with today’s announcement, it’s a $400 million loan. It will be paid back. This is an investment by government in the confidence that we have about Australia to grow. This will be financed, $200 million through the Export Finance Australia and $200 million through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. Now, this is a fund through the Critical Minerals Facility, we’ve committed funding for projects across the country, including WA, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. There is a tendency towards northern Australia where most of this activity will occur. It’s expected to go into operation in 2025. It will place Australia as one of the main HPA suppliers that have been, overwhelmingly have come from China. It will be a really exciting process. It will get the lower purity alumina at the refinery there –

JONES: Prime Minister, certainly exciting for the region and Gladstone. And you mentioned Gladstone, sort of central to the plan of Made in Australia. You’re in Gladstone at the moment. We do hear issues with the services in Gladstone as well. Access to health, we’re hearing waiting time lists are blowing out in CQ. GPs can be hard to come by. Are you confident that Gladstone is going to be able to service a boom like you mentioned that is coming?

PRIME MINISTER: We are, and I’ll be there with the Queensland Premier today. Of course the Queensland Government provides services in health and education, but what we need to do as well as to make sure we get that regional economic development. I know that’s something Steven Miles and his government are very committed to as well. But Gladstone’s a great regional city. The Mayor, of course, will be there with us again today I’m sure at the announcement. It has the support of the Council. One of the times I was in Gladstone, that I was very impressed by, was getting together with the Mayor and local businesses. There’s a real interaction between the different levels of government and the private sector making sure that that planning work occurs. There will be a need for growth in Central Queensland and that is a good thing. That’s a positive thing because what we’re talking about here is good, secure, high wage jobs as well, which benefits the local economy.

JONES: You’re hearing from the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese on ABC Capricornia this morning. And Prime Minister, we are here in the Gemfields this morning, you’re joined by a full cafe of locals as well. Have you been to the Gemfields?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve been, I’ve certainly been to the region. I can’t say I’ve gone out there and looked for gems myself, but one of the road visits I’ve done as Labor Leader was to drive from Barcaldine right through the region to Rocky and then down. We stayed at Emerald overnight. I’ve visited Emerald a few times now as the Labor Leader, and it is certainly a region full of promise and it’s great that you’re broadcasting from there today.

JONES: Absolutely. What do you love about Central Queensland?

PRIME MINISTER: Just the people. I find it incredibly, I’ve got to say, one of the times I was in Emerald, I had the biggest schnitty I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was bigger than the plate at one of the pubs there, and that’s the sort of experience that you have and people are ready to engage. I’ll be back in the region in a few weeks, I think, for Beef Week and I’ll be travelling up there again. So I’ve been a regular visitor to the region. We’ve got the Rocky Ring Road under construction now. I did the planning work a long time ago. Not much happened for a while, but it’s off and running now with construction full steam ahead and that’s a good thing as well. It’s an exciting region and it has so much to offer – a critical resources sector, an important agricultural sector, and just a really great culture there, I think, in Central Queensland, of people looking after each other.

JONES: Well, Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining us on the show this morning.

PRIME MINISTER: Great to talk with you.

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