Transcript - TV interview - WIN News, Rockhampton, Qld

JOURNALIST: One of the big things, I was up very late studying all of this last night, is the significant investment to power the transformation to renewable energy. I know when I was listening to the Treasurer’s speech last night, he mentioned Gladstone specifically, which is great. Can you tell us a little bit about this energy and hydrogen and what it will mean for Central Queensland?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: We know there’s been plenty of talk about hydrogen and its potential in Central Queensland. I recently visited the hydrogen hub at Central Queensland University in Gladstone. I know that industry are looking at developments there, and this $2 billion that we’ve established for hydrogen will go to really powering those industries, creating those jobs, creating those factories and giving people a brighter future so that someone finishing grade 12 in Central Queensland can have confidence that they can go to University or go to TAFE, get the skills and there will be an industry that will be waiting to employ them – good high‑skilled jobs in an industry that’s going to be around for a long time.

JOURNALIST: I guess there’s been a lot of talk, some negatively from other parties and things, about this push to net zero and the transformation and saying that it’s going to take people out of jobs and things like this, but this is really proof that that’s not necessarily the case.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Absolutely. The Labor Government, believe that all jobs are important. We support jobs in coal mining. We support jobs in resources. But we also know what the future looks like and this hydrogen investment is real money that will make a real difference and create real jobs. That’s exciting. That’s what this Federal Government wants to deliver on.

JOURNALIST: And there is a lot of money, by the looks of it, put into some of our natural resources as well. Money for upgrades to different parts of national parks and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, obviously, for protecting the reef. I’m guessing that we do have such strong natural assets here in Queensland so protecting them is something you’re quite happy about the funding for, I’d say.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Absolutely. We think it’s a great opportunity. Obviously, it’s important that we have a Federal Government that is focused on protecting our natural assets. Our predecessors failed in that regard. So, we have had to have a significant investment, but it’s an important part of Queensland because, one, it drives tourism jobs, which is important for local economies, but also it’s important to ensure that we protect those areas for future generations as well.

JOURNALIST: One of the things that I really quite liked when I was reading through the budget is the mentioning of the Olympic funding for Brisbane, but it was specifically mentioned that there’s going to be funding towards regional areas with the Toowoomba Sports Ground and Barlow Park in Cairns specifically mentioned there. How important is it, because obviously that’s going to bring millions of people potentially, but how important is it to have that funding and those upgrades going into the regions?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah, I think the Olympics is an exciting opportunity for Queensland and it’s a great opportunity to showcase all parts of Queensland. So, I think having events in Cairns, having events in Toowoomba, using those opportunities to ensure that when people do come to visit for the Olympics, they see different parts, they’re more likely to get out and about and travel and they’re going to see such wonderful areas because every part of Queensland is different, but they’re also great local experiences when you’re a tourist in those areas.

JOURNALIST: A lot of money going into infrastructure spending as well, and not all of it itemised. I know certain Central Queensland politicians have been saying that the Rocky Ring Road has – you know, there’s no funding or it’s been scrapped. I did chat with Catherine King’s office last night so I know that’s definitely not the case. Can I get you to just tell me – there’s so much but just a little bit in what we’re looking at for those sorts of upgrades in Central Queensland.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah, we brought money forward in the budget to ensure that we can start work on the Rocky Ring Road and we’ve been working with the State Government and the Mayor on that, which is a great outcome for the local community. In terms of the broader infrastructure pipeline, what we announced a couple of weeks ago was a review into the infrastructure investment pipeline and what we’re doing with this is we want to ensure that we’re getting good value for money. As many people would know, the projects costs have really exploded over time. The previous government did not account for these costs properly. So, we want to make sure that we’re doing it properly and that the Queensland people can have confidence in what we say we will deliver on we will be able to do it in a cost‑effective way. I think that’s what taxpayers would expect of us, but what we know is that there’s important projects in Queensland that need government funding and the Rocky Ring Road is one of those.

JOURNALIST: A couple of those things that kind of popped out to me, that are kind of important to Queensland as well, we’ve got an increase in the Disaster Ready Fund to help with flood warnings and forecasting systems. I know Senator Watt would be very, very thrilled and happy about this, but obviously Queensland can go through bushfires, floods, everything cyclones throw at us. I am guessing these ones are really, really important, especially for people out in the West where there’s just not as much access to things as we do here in more regional centres.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah, it’s an important investment, as you said, and I think it’s something Senator Watt will be really proud of as a Queenslander who has spent time in many areas of regional areas. So, he was able to work constructively with the State Government on this important issue and the funding was announced in the Budget and, unfortunately, we expect more of these natural disasters over time because of the changes in the climate, so we need to be able to make sure we’re responding and keeping communities safe. That’s what this is going towards.

JOURNALIST: There’s a lot going into income support, there’s money for agriculture, arts, family and domestic violence leave, silicosis; there’s a lot of funding for important issues and things that will affect a lot of people. I’m guessing this is something you’d say – I’ve heard the words it’s a well‑rounded Budget for every Australian.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah, I think so. Obviously, there’s difficult economic challenges that people are facing. We know cost‑of‑living pressures are significant so we wanted to do what we could in a responsible way to ease those cost‑of‑living concerns. So, we’ve done that around our price increases, trying to keep those as low as possible. But I think we’ve also got that balance right between setting up for the future so we’ve got those investments in hydrogen, investments in skills, investment in aged‑care workforce. So, things that I think are really important for the future of Central Queensland, the Federal Government are doing what we can and starting to set us up for future success.

JOURNALIST: Is there anything that you think that’s important to make sure that I touch on that I may not have asked about at all?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: The only other thing I was going to mention was with housing, such an important issue in Central Queensland, we’ve expanded access to the Regional Home Buyer Scheme. So, that’s been successful since it has come in, but we’ve expanded access now so people can band together, whether it be friends or whether it be siblings, and get access to that scheme. So, we’re hoping that will lead to more regional Queenslanders getting access to their first house, which will obviously be a great outcome as well.

JOURNALIST: I am very glad you touched on that. Thank you so much for your time, Senator. I will leave you to what is probably a very hectic day in Canberra.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Thanks. Good to talk.