Doorstop with Ken O’Dowd, Matt Canavan and Colin Boyce

KEN O’DOWD: I’d first like to recognise the original owners of the land here – the Gooreng Gooreng and Bayali peoples. It’s great to have the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce with me today, Senator Matt Canavan and, of course, Colin Boyce, who’ll all address you very soon. But it’s a wonderful place to be, Gladstone at the moment. There’s a lot of excitement in the air. I know we’re living through COVID as best we can across Australia, but here we are today in Gladstone. Looking forward to 2022, there’s lots of projects in the wind, there’s a lot of energy projects that you’ve all heard about, and especially the Gladstone to Toowoomba rail link to the south. That’s most important. I know Barnaby will talk about that later. But, anyway, with that, I’d like to say welcome again to Gladstone. We’re looking for an exciting future, looking forward to an election this year, which we will win. Now, who’s our next speaker? Barnaby, I think. Thanks, Barnaby.

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, first of all, thank you so much for turning up here today. Ken, thank you so much. To Senator Matt Canavan and Col and to all Central Queenslanders, I get a great thrill every time I stand up here and we look at the wealth of our nation, how the money is made. Those coal boats going out, each one earning us export dollars, meaning what’s in these things is worth money. That our currency has value because we’re sending product overseas. That’s a fundamental rule of how we actually keep the standard of living of all Australians. It’s made here in Gladstone, right here in Gladstone Harbour. We in the Nats, the Nationals, we’re unambiguous about our support for the coal industry. We’re fair dinkum, straight down the line and fully support this industry because we know there’s so many people out there in this great industrial city of Gladstone whose jobs rely on it, whose income it underpins, the value of their house, their car, their kids at school, whether they’ve got a boat they want to take out on to the reef. All these things are supported by the wealth of the mining industry, and also the metal fabrication, diesel fitting, all those industries that surround that. I show you how the difference is, because there’s another fella, he’s wandering around Queensland somewhere, I don’t know, up here he calls himself Anthony Albanese. Maybe he calls himself something differently, you never know. I hear in Sydney screaming out to Queensland, “Is that really you, Anthony up there? Is that really you? Is that the same Anthony that hates the coal industry in inner suburban Sydney but actually loves it up here? Is this the same person? Could that really be you up there, Anthony, or is that somebody else?” Because what he did to Gladstone is – before Christmas he came up with a new policy, a new policy. He’s got his climate policy, and he loves the seat of Flynn so much that he’s got 18 businesses here that he personally wants to tax, that he personally wants to increase the tax on. He wants to stick the slipper into Flynn. That’s how much he loves Flynn. There’s one in Sydney, apparently, and there’s 18 here, so that’s how special he thinks you are. He’s got 18 reasons to stick the slipper into Flynn. That’s how much Mr Albanese really loves the seat of Flynn. And he’ll come in and say, “Oh, yeah, but I’m actually on your side.” But he’s not actually on your side at all. Just today at another press conference, we’re trying to get the Inland Rail built. We got the money for the Inland Rail. He talked about it, we got it. For it to get to Gladstone it’s got to get to Toowoomba. So today the Labor Party have decided that they want another review on the line between the New South Wales border and Toowoomba. Another review. And, of course, I’m saying to the Labor Party that you can’t say you want a line to Gladstone if you won’t actually allow it to get built to Toowoomba first. We can’t have the Melbourne to the New South Wales border line, then no line and then another line to go down to Gladstone. We’ve actually got to join all the dots. The Labor Party has again today have shown that they really don’t care about Gladstone because they have yet another review, another line of excuses of why they don’t want the Inland Rail to go to Toowoomba. Now, we are, have been, and will be always the party that looks after Central Queensland, that believes in this area. We’re the people who say the same thing here as we do down in Sydney or in Melbourne. I’m coming to the conclusion that that’s probably why in some of those areas I’m very unpopular, in the middle of Sydney or the middle of Melbourne, because we stick up for here. We stick up for Central Queensland. We say the same thing here as we do down there. That’s why you’ll have pictures of me on lamp posts in inner suburban city seats saying how much they dislike me because I’m here with Col Boyce making sure we look after your jobs, making sure you’ve got a future. That’s what people have got to be aware of in this election. Don’t go for the sucker punch. Don’t fall for the sucker punch of voting for a bloke that’s going to wander through here, Anthony Albanese, and he’s going to be your best mate, but once he’s out of sight of you he’s forgotten all about you. But, remember, he’s the fella who’s sticking the slipper into you. There’ll be 18 businesses around here. That’s just an indication of how he doesn’t really like you. What he likes is Green preferences. Green preferences. Okay, Col.

COLIN BOYCE: Thank you. Well, good morning, everybody, and thank you for being here. Obviously to carry on with what Ken and Barnaby have just said, I’m here to bat for the jobs of the people of Central Queensland. There’s another coal boat coming into the Gladstone Harbour right behind you there now. That boat is what I support and what goes into that boat there? It’s the coal, it’s the jobs, it’s the people who’ve worked hard to generate the income for Australia, for the economy of Australia and Queensland. We want to see the Port of Gladstone expand, we want to see industry expand, we want to see jobs expand. It’s all about Central Queensland. It’s all about connecting Central Queensland, the Port of Gladstone to the Inland Rail, which will open up vast opportunities for all sorts of industries into the future for the greater Queensland and Central Queensland area. That’s what we’re here to do today – support people’s jobs. We have a very bright future in respect to some of the emerging technologies, renewable energy, hydrogen, all of these sorts of things. That’s what I’m here to do, to make sure that the people of Central Queensland have got a job.

MATT CANAVAN: I’ll be very quick. Look, thank you everybody. A new year, and there’ll be a new decision for the Australian people this year – a decision about an election which will be about jobs. It’s going to be about the future of our jobs here in Central Queensland. I would encourage everyone in Gladstone to come up here to the Auckland Point lookout before the election, just look around, look around. It doesn’t matter if you look, north, south, east or west – you will find another major employing business that the Labor Party and Anthony Albanese wants to tax under their climate change policy. Barnaby is right – before Christmas Anthony Albanese announced a policy that would target almost 20 businesses here in the seat of Flynn. You can look south down to the aluminium smelter down there to QAL – it’s going to get taxed. You can look east out to Curtis Island at the LNG plants – they’re going to be taxed. You can look north out to the aluminium refinery, Rio’s aluminium refinery there. It’s going to be taxed. If you look out west, there’s a lot of mines out there – the Ensham mine, the Blackwater mine – that are going to get taxed. All of that coal, all of those jobs, all of those resources are in the sites of the Labor Party because they know to win an election they need not our votes, they need the votes of Green voters in inner city Sydney and Melbourne. That’s why they have us in the gun, because you can come up here – you can come up here and you can’t really see a place that’s not going to get taxed under a Labor-Green government. If you go to the top of Centrepoint Tower in Sydney, there’s hardly anything that will be taxed in Sydney. On Labor’s hit list of over 200 businesses there is just one business in Sydney – a plastics manufacturing business in Botany. That’s the only place in Sydney that will get taxed under Labor’s climate change policy, yet here where we produce most of the wealth of the nation, we have fewer people who live here, we have almost 20 businesses under the gun. There is nothing that shows the metaphor of the Labor Party more than the fact – the modern Labor Party – that they are going to tax those men and women who put on bright-coloured clothes every morning to go to work but the suits in Sydney will get is off scot-free.

BARNABY JOYCE: Any questions?

JOURNALIST: I have a question for Matt.

BARNABY JOYCE: For Matt? Good stuff.

JOURNALIST: The State Government announced new isolation requirements for close contacts. For example, people in the resources sector can still go to work if they are asymptomatic. Will this help the sector?

MATT CANAVAN: I think it’s just a common-sense decision and it’s occurring right around the country. Obviously, we’re going through a significant sort of wave at the moment, but it we continue to require people to isolate if they’ve spent five minutes with somebody, it’s not just our mines that will be affected – our shopping centres, our fuel stations, all of these things [indistinct]. I went to go down the shops yesterday and there’s not much there at the moment, partly that’s because of the floods down south, but there’s also pressures on our supply system because of contact tracing. This is common sense. We should get rid of it. I would ask the question, I think the question should be asked of the Queensland Government: if is it safe now for people who are close contacts but not symptomatic to go to work? Why can’t people who haven’t had a vaccine go to work, too? What is the risk here to the broader population? I promote the vaccine. I would encourage people to get vaccinated. I think it’s the best thing for you to do for yourself individually. But if a close contact now is safe to go to work, surely someone who may not have been in contact with anybody but just happens to not be vaccinated can also go to work because we can clearly see the vaccines have not stopped the spread of coronavirus. They have – they have – stopped the escalation of people going to hospital and into ICU. We can be very thankful for that. But the vaccines did not stop transmission, so we should no longer put pressure on our hospitals, on our schools, on our other essential services by denying thousands of Australians who have decided not to get a medical treatment, deciding that they don’t have a right to work. That is wrong.

JOURNALIST: And what other support is needed for the industry to ensure it can keep operating as cases grow?

MATT CANAVAN: The mining industry?


MATT CANAVAN: Are you talking about the mining industry?


MATT CANAVAN: I think the mining industry has tackled every stage of the coronavirus very well, and I am confident, especially having recently visited the Hunter, that they will get through these challenges very well. Goernments can do what we can do. We cannot help every business every step of the way. At some point we all have to deal with this ourselves and the mining industry have done that in stellar terms throughout the coronavirus. In the Hunter they’d already been through a wave when I was there just before Christmas. They were introducing rapid testing long before it was a common thing around the country. They have managed this very well and I’m confident the mining sector here will do the same. It’s very professional. It’s world class. We’ll get through this.

JOURNALIST: Barnaby, I’ve just got a quick question. Just in regards to the aviation industry, what’s been discussed in resolving staff isolation issues within that particular sector?

BARNABY JOYCE: We’re making sure that we get the aviation sector… We’ve invested billions of dollars in the aviation sector – regional airports, regional aviation network support scheme, domestic aviation network support scheme, tourism aviation network support scheme, JobKeeper, JobSeeker. We wanted to make sure that we get the planes up and running as quickly as possible. I think you’re seeing that. The planes are moving. What we have to do is, it’s the same really for every sector. You’ve got to understand that you’ve got to get the show moving as quickly as possible. You’ve got to understand that Omicron is basically everywhere and we have to live with this. We have to live with the reality that the world goes on and we’re going to be part of it. As we do that we, personal responsibility comes into play. If you said forever more that there will be packages rolled out, no, we can’t do that. Another reason people like us or dislike us is we’re straight with you. You just can’t keep on saying we’ll just keep on putting this on the Mastercard, keep on putting this on the credit card, here’s another package. They’ve got to be paid back, they’ve got to be paid back. We have to get to a point where we are living with it, we accept it and we move on and we have put billions of dollars towards the aviation sector and now we just want the planes moving again.

JOURNALIST: And just in regards to the cruising sector, a lot of local industries are saying that they’re looking forward to it coming back in a big way – February 17 when these restrictions for cruising are due to be lifted. Are you excited for that?

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah because they bring dollars in as well. We want to make sure the tourism sector is alive and kicking. It’s incredibly important for the Queensland coast. It’s the same deal that you abide by the regulations, make sure you’ve got your vaccine requirements up to date. Hear that, Mr Djokovic? Make sure your vaccine requirements are up to date and then we’re all back in business and then the world moves on. Be straight, get vaccinated, be straight with your answers, get yourself vaccinated and this will just be the process as we go into the future.

JOURNALIST: On Novak Djokovic for a second, [indistinct] from the ABC, how do you explain [indistinct] the case that Tennis Australia, the Victorian Government and the Federal Government seemingly having different recollections of the lead-up to the incident?

BARNABY JOYCE: I’ll tell you what I can recollect absolutely clearly and you can go on to the website and have a look, too. That is the letter from the Minister for Health, which is Greg Hunt. That’s the federal Minister for Health saying quite clearly to Tennis Australia it is not good enough just to have said I’ve had Omicron, I’ve had COVID. You must also be double vaccinated. He was absolutely clear about that. What Tennis Australia decide to tell Mr Djokovic or what the Victorian Government decide is appropriate for Mr Djokovic is an answer that they have to give to you, right? The Australian Government was completely and utterly 100 per cent straight and said you will need to be double vaxxed. If there is a confusion, it’s the message not what Greg Hunt or the Prime Minister told Mr Djokovic; it’s what the Labor Government in Victoria has told Mr Djokovic, or Tennis Australia has told Mr Djokovic. I don’t know. When I get a passport, I don’t know, I think it’s got the Australian coat of arms on it, not the Victorian coat of arms or Tennis Australia’s logo on it. I reckon the person you should listen to would be the federal Health Minister, and he was completely and utterly straight with Mr Djokovic in the correspondence – you must be double vaxxed. Mr Djokovic, it seems like the court will tell us what the story is from here, but from a distance one would presume that he wasn’t double-vaxxed. There’s a return serve back to you, Mr Djokovic.

JOURNALIST: And just on that, the Commonwealth’s court submission that [indistinct] Djokovic. [Indistinct] is he being made an example of?

BARNABY JOYCE: No, no, no, no. We don’t run around the world interviewing people before they get on planes to Australia. We talk about what happens to them when they arrive in Australia. We work on the presumption that they’ve read the rules and they know what the story is. Now this thing is now before the court. We didn’t want it to end up before the court, but that’s where it is. Mr Djokovic will have his solicitors and they’ll be out there saying all the things they’ve got to say and let’s leave it to them.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Inland Rail what is the Labor Party’s problem with Toowoomba? Is this just delaying the process?

BARNABY JOYCE: I heard this here this morning. I hear that the Queensland Labor Government wants to have a further review. This thing’s been reviewed within an inch of its life. I think there’s one section they’re talking about, it’s been reviewed I think it’s about 67,000 pages in one of the reviews, it’s had 70 pre-eminent scientists with their combined experience over a thousand years. It has been reviewed after reviewed after reviewed and now rather than getting into it and getting it started, they want another review. Another review. Because they’re just stalling, they’re stalling. In their hearts they don’t really want to build it. In their hearts they don’t really want to help the people of Central Queensland. In their hearts they want to say one thing and do something else, say we’re going to build the Inland Rail but then kind of stop it. You can do that. This is sort of Albo trick, say one thing and then kind of stop it. But then he can run back down to central Sydney and say, “I’m stopping that terrible line because they’ll probably export coal”. Then he can come back up here and say, “I’m really actually all for that line, we just need another review.” It’s just chaotic. This is what you’re going to get because all Albo wants to do is stick the slipper into Central Queensland That’s all Albo wants to do, stick the slipper into Central Queensland. He wants to tax Central Queensland. There’s 18 businesses here he wants to tax and how many in Capricornia?

MATT CANAVAN: Thirty, I think. Around 30.

BARNABY JOYCE: Thirty. One in Sydney. Are you getting the picture? That’s what Albo thinks of you. One in Sydney. He’s got one business in Sydney he wants to tax but 18 in Flynn and around about 30 in Capricornia, and today we find out they’re not proactive about building the Toowoomba to the New South Wales border link. Don’t be taken for a mug. Mr Albanese is going to stick the slipper into you, and he’s going to do it because he thinks you’re silly enough that you’ll vote for him and he’ll be able to go back down to Sydney, go to Melbourne and still get his Greens preferences.

JOURNALIST: Just on [indistinct] for children, it’s been said that there are no [indistinct] issues with the children’s vaccine. But if that’s the case, why are parents across the country battling to get appointments and having bookings cancelled?

BARNABY JOYCE: There is about 2 million vaccines that we have ready to go for children. We are doing everything that we have to do to facilitate this process going forward. We are bringing in tens of millions of vaccines. We have tens of millions of rapid antigen tests that we’re now organising to come in. In fact, I think it’s about 200 million is the number of rapid antigen tests that we are now facilitating. This process continues on. Now there’s huge demand as people want to – everybody’s utilising medical services probably like they haven’t been utilised before. I think that ultimately the success of Australia can be seen in the fact that our fatality rate from COVID is nearly world-leading. We’ve done a good job. Now we continue on and we’ve got this incredibly hard task, but I genuinely think that if we are to be judged, we’ll be judged by our record of people who basically have not died because we’ve been getting on with it and how we’ve managed an incredibly difficult situation over an incredibly long period of time.

JOURNALIST: Do you expect that other states and territories follow Queensland’s lead in delaying the start of the school year?

BARNABY JOYCE: I would not suggest that any state or territory follow the lead of the Labor Party. If you follow that lead you just don’t know where that horse will end up.

JOURNALIST: Colin, I’d just like to hear from you. I guess talking to the people of Flynn, we’ve heard about some of the priorities with regards to coal and jobs and industry. I mean, what else are you, I guess, planning on making a priority for the people in this electorate?

COLIN BOYCE: A big priority here is to see the expansion of this port, the Port of Gladstone. What I want to see is an entry/exit point for container shipping. That specifically revolves around the connection to the Inland Rail. That is absolutely paramount to Central Queensland.

JOURNALIST: Can you just explain why?

COLIN BOYCE: That will open up all sorts of opportunities for all sorts of industries and the future and the prosperity of everybody in the Port of Gladstone, in the Gladstone community and in the Central Queensland community. We will see unlimited opportunities if we’ve got rail access and port access to the world.