Hon Patrick Gorman MP Doorstop Interview 13 June

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Assistant Minister for the Public Service

ROGER COOK, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: It’s great to be here. And I’d like to thank our friends at Volgren Australia for welcoming us and showing us around the workshop.

Of course, very important announcement today, before I start, can I just say like, also welcome the new unemployment numbers in terms of Western Australia’s unemployment rate of around 3.6 per cent against a national average of 4 per cent. It’s the lowest in the country, which is really welcomed. In addition to that, we also saw continued strong population growth with 800,000 people coming to Western Australia [inaudible], it’s another sign that people are voting with their feet and with their dollars to continue to invest in Western Australia, and bring and grow the jobs that are available in this great state.

And one of the reasons why that’s happening is because Western Australians are embracing a clean energy future, and looking to how we can continue to add value to the products that we use in our community. One of those key products is obviously our public transport system. And here at Volgren Australia, we’re very proud of the work that they do to provide a significant local component for local product in terms of the development of our PTA buses. Here, we produce significant number of buses almost one every two days, which is part of continuing to grow our bus and our public transport system.

And of course, today, we’re here to celebrate the introduction of an electric bus vehicle fleet as a normal part of our overall bus fleet, cutting emissions significantly. And it’s another side of my government playing the role that it has to play, as part of the global effort to reduce carbon emissions. This particular project is part of a $250 million joint funded project by the state and federal governments. So I want to place on the record my thanks to the Albanese Government, continuing to work with my government on great projects such as this. And under this project, we will see the first of 130 new electric buses manufactured that will be delivered through this programme, along with charging infrastructure at bus depots and throughout our public transit [inaudible].

The new electric bus will be one of 18 which will be used on our CBD CAT service. And so people will see that rolled out in the next couple of months. This is coming to the streets in the very near future. And people will see a marked change in the way we move around our city. Each bus has a range of around about 330 kilometres between charges.

So you can see that these will play a really important role, a really important part of our public transport network. Now, we could have gone out and bought these buses overseas and just simply imported them. But what we did was took the opportunity to make sure that we continue to be part of the manufacturing supply chain for these buses.

That leads to increased jobs. It leads to increased skill, particularly in electric vehicle and other energy related industries, which is going to be such an important part of what we do over the coming years, making sure we’ve got the people in our community who have the skills to provide to this clean energy industry.

So, to give you an example, in this facility alone, we have 100 jobs, which continue to be associated with the construction of these buses. But many of those jobs, particularly in terms of auto electrics, have had to be upgraded to deal with the new challenges that developing an electric bus has. And so it’s great that we’re starting to see that re-skilling process. We also see nine apprentices created as part of this process. Apprenticeships is such an important part of making sure we’ve got the workforce pathway.

But Western Australians should be really proud of the work that takes place in this factory. They should be really proud of the fact that we are now starting to invest and seeing the changes in our public transport vehicle fleets. And they should be really proud that they are made here in Western Australia. Creating the jobs of the future, the skills of the future and really making sure that we move now deliberately on our clean energy and low emissions future. Now I’ll hand you over to the Member for Perth and the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Patrick Gorman.

PATRICK GORMAN, ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER AND ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE: Thank you Premier. The Australian Government is really proud to be partnering on this project. Another example of the really strong partnership we have with the Western Australian Government.

This is all about recognising the future is electric. We’ve got a wonderful electric train network that’s been expanded through METRONET, which we are proudly partnering on. But the partnership we have here is about making sure that we can have an electric bus network.

The Commonwealth invested $125 million to work with the state government to make sure that we can have the charging infrastructure for these buses built by the wonderful staff here at Volgren. Because we recognise that this is where the world is moving. This is where the jobs are moving, this is where the opportunity is moving. And that’s why we’ve made that investment, we’re really pleased to see this first bus roll off production line, and as we get inside it – it looks absolutely fantastic.

But what we also recognise is that this is sort of part of that big picture change we’re seeing here in Australia, of a future made in Australia. The sorts of products that we’re going to make are different in our electric buses, but they’re still made by Australian workers. And that’s why we’ve been so pleased to be partnering on this project. Because we recognise that a future made in Australia means more jobs, more opportunities for Australians and Western Australians. And it means that we’ll have more investment here in Australia.

Like the Premier, I also want to welcome the really strong jobs figures that we saw today. Now, since Labor came to office, across Australia, we’ve created some 877,000 jobs. That’s 877,000 people who’ve got new opportunities, careers to support their families, and economic growth across Australia. And great to see so much of that happening right here in WA.

And finally, when it comes to renewables, and the infrastructure of renewables; renewables is all about having the things that we all rely on, just in different formats. So having these 130 buses that are going to make sure we have sustainable transport in our cities, that’s taking what our local communities want, turning it into national results. That’s taking what our local communities want, and making sure that we have the sorts of transport that people are going to expect for the future.

And those who seek to walk away from climate action. Those who say that we don’t need to have the 2030 target, are actually the people that are saying that we don’t need jobs, like the ones that are created right here.

This is about the future. It’s about jobs for the future. It’s about acting on climate change, and it’s about making sure Australia and Western Australia stays ahead of the pack, not falling behind. So I just want to say again, thanks to all the workers who made this possible. And thanks to the state government for the wonderful partnership. I’ll pass over the the Deputy Premier..

RITA SAFFIOTI, DEPUTY PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure to be here in Malaga. And of course, we’ve been making diesel buses in this site for many years. And now what we’re seeing is a conversion to make electric buses here. We did a trial in Joondalup, for the Joondalup CAT System.

And that’s where we trialled the use of our CAT buses with electric and what we looked at, in particular, air conditioning demand for places like Western Australia, and looked at charging infrastructure and how roll out electric buses across the wider network. Working with the federal government and as part of their election commitment, we’ve committed to the purchase or to the making of 130 buses, and also the conversion and creation of dedicated charging infrastructure across our stations and particular our depots.

So work is underway currently, at Elizabeth Quay to create charging infrastructure to support the rollout of the CATs, electric CATS through the city. We will also be working on the new Whiteman Park Bus Interchange. Also, the depots in Karrinyup, Claisebrook and Malaga to install charging infrastructure. The aim is to roll out the buses in conjunction with the charging infrastructure, so it’s a smooth transition. As you can see, they look spectacular. They use a lot, of course, they’re much more environmentally friendly.

And as part of what we’re doing and when you look inside, they are incredible to sit in, and actually are more spacious because there’s no room allocated of course for the big edges. So this is a great initiative. We’re really proud to be here in Malaga, over 100 workers here. And what we’re doing, as the Premier outlined, is really using this also to train people, train younger and older people who have had history in bus manufacturing, to train them into, in particular, how we create and build these electric buses.


JOURNALIST: Mr Gorman, South Australia’s political donation ban – how does federal Labor feel about that? It’s cutting off a pretty important source of income in South Australia, isn’t it?

GORMAN: We recognise that where states seek to legislate to strengthen their electoral laws, we recognise their right to do so. The state government here in Western Australia have done really important work in uplifting the standard of our both our political debate and the integrity amongst political parties. We recognise that states will do that, when it comes to the Commonwealth’s work, obviously, Special Minister of State, Don Farrell, has outlined that we do want to see instantaneous disclosure of donations over $1,000.

We want to see some form of spending caps when it comes to making sure that we don’t have huge amounts spent in these elections. I’ve expressed many times my extreme discomfort with the amount of money that we saw from people like Clive Palmer, coming into Australia’s democracy, it’s appropriate that we all, whichever jurisdiction we work in, seek to lift the standard to make sure that we have real integrity in our electoral systems. So the people who have the power in our electoral system are the voters. The voters are supposed to have the power, not people who just happened to be fortunate enough to have large amounts of financial capital at their disposal.

JOURNALIST: If it passes a High Court test, though, it sets a pretty high bar for political donation laws in the country doesn’t it? That other states and the feds will have to follow?

GORMAN: The South Australian Premier’s announced their plans – they’re working them through their Parliament at the moment. I won’t preempt where they land to the finality of those negotiations, nor where High Courts may or may not make decisions. You wouldn’t expect me to do that on any policy area, although regularly invited to do so in a range of different policy areas. But I won’t presume what the High Court may decide upon any other state.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of Peter Dutton not willing to reveal is nuclear plans until after the next election and, no less, if he wins?

GORMAN: Peter Dutton told us on the weekend that he had 100 costed policies ready to go. They’ve been through the Parliamentary Budget Office and they briefed that out to the newspapers. The problem is there hasn’t released a single one. He has been the Leader of the Opposition for more than two years. Hasn’t released, not even just not a single costed policy for Western Australia – hasn’t released a single costed policy for anywhere in Australia. And I mean, I think people are starting to get the sense that there’s a thought bubble after a thought bubble.

But when it comes to what people have very reasonable questions about, which is ‘what is your 2030 emissions reduction target? What is your plan to get to net zero? Are you really committed to it? And what is the costing and location of your nuclear reactors?’ If he wants to put one in Collie, Mr Dutton should say that he wants to put a nuclear reactor in Collie. And if he believes that he should come to Western Australia and say it. He should be open with the people and we should have that debate. I’m very comfortable having it. My federal colleagues are very comfortable having it. The only person who is not comfortable about having it is Mr. Dutton and his team.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that there’s [inaudible] in his plan?

GORMAN: He hasn’t released a plan. He hasn’t released a costing. Mr. Dutton actually has no plan. All he’s got to do is tell us which plans he opposes. And that’s what he wakes up to do every day, is just to have this absolute negativity, opposing idea after idea without putting any thought in of his own.

JOURNALIST: On 2030 targets, WA doesn’t have any. What does that say about the state’s climate ambitions?

GORMAN: When it comes to the 2030 targets and the requirements under the Paris Accord, those targets are set by nation states. In our case – the Commonwealth of Australia. That’s how the Paris Agreement works. And we’ve put through legislation and measures through the Commonwealth Parliament to meet those across Australia.

JOURNALIST: But if it’s good enough for the federal government, for the Commonwealth, shouldn’t it be good enough for the states to also be setting their own targets?

GORMAN: I’m standing with the Premier and the Deputy Premier right now, in front of a brand new renewable project. They’ve got fantastic commitments when it comes to making sure that we’ve got both the energy security and the climate action that we need. But I’ll just go back to that principle, which is under the Paris Accord, which I will note, the Liberal Party signed Australia up to, not the Labor Party, the Liberal Party signed Australia up to that agreement. Under that agreement, it’s nation states that make those binding commitments. Our binding commitment that we’ve made in that international process is a 43% reduction across Australia’s emissions by 2030. We are confident that the measures that we’ve put in place will meet that and we’re further confident that the future of Australia’s economy lies in being a huge powerhouse of the transition to net zero. Both in critical minerals and providing the sorts of energy resources that nations of the future will need, and making sure that we do really practical local manufacturing stuff like building our own electric buses, right here in WA.

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