Transcript - Interview with Kelly Gudgeon on ABC Pilbara

KELLY GUDGEON: I caught up with Federal Resources Minister and Minister for Northern Australia, Madeleine King, to find out what it means for us.

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, the Future Made in Australia policy is bringing together all the work the Government's been doing since becoming elected to power in 2022. To drive a strategy for Australia to seize the opportunity of a decarbonised world. Like we need to drive investment in emerging industries, but also new industries that create secure and future-facing jobs for working Australians. And part of that is making sure we encourage not only more manufacturing here, but also, and critically for right across the Pilbara, more processing and refining of critical minerals and rare earths. So, I see the Pilbara being the engine room of the Future Made in Australia policy to make sure we're doing more of what we can right here in this country, so we have renewable energy independence as well as energy security for ourselves as well.

KELLY GUDGEON: You're talking there about the importance of the Pilbara, particularly in this policy. It's all very broad, though. What does it mean for the person on the street? How does it impact them in their day to day lives?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, for everyday Australians, it means it impacts their lives and what they have the opportunities for. For new jobs as well. But also their children and younger members of their family can see a pathway to good, long lasting jobs in new industries. So, this is a long-term project. There's no doubt about it. This is a multigenerational approach to future-proof our economy. We have a traditional resources industry that, again, that workers of the Pilbara know very well. It will remain the mainstay of our economy for some time to come. But we want to make sure that we build new industries as well, so that their children or nieces and nephews also have good jobs well into the future. And it also means access to these products as well. So, whilst you can buy solar panels from manufacturers and other places, it's important that we make sure we have independence and capacity to be able to make them here as well. So, that opens up those possibilities for everyday Australians, but really is a future-facing, Future Made in Australia for today's workers, but also for the workers of tomorrow.

KELLY GUDGEON: You talk there about making products here in Australia. Obviously, we know here in the Pilbara, iron ore is one of the biggest industries that we have, not just for our region, but the impacts across the whole country. And China is clearly one of the biggest buyers for that product. You know, how does this policy fit in with, you know, that and, you know, you're talking about future-proofing and new industries and things. But how, you know, how does that all work in?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: What's really important is that these traditional, I call them traditional resources sector, will continue for many years to come. And also the trade with China is so vitally important. The workers in that industry, they might not always want to work in the iron ore industry. There will be new industries as well. Really importantly, we have a prospect in Australia of making green steel as well with the emergence of a hydrogen industry that May bring back steel production to this country, which, I mean, there is some steel production because of where the Pilbara is and its extraordinary capacity to generate renewable energy. Green steel is a very real prospect. And obviously, we'll need the iron ore of the Pilbara to go into that. And that's getting international investment from Posco in Korea and others looking into how you can build a whole new manufacturing industry right there in the north. So, I think it's really exciting times and it's. It's a long view, but there has to be national leadership for the long view and into the future. And that's why the Future Made in Australia Act. And what we want to achieve is really exciting for the powerhouse of the nation, which the Pilbara is.

KELLY GUDGEON: Projects like POSCO, projects like renewable energy, you know, things that are happening already in the Pilbara. How is this different to what is already happening, though?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, the thing is that we want to get more projects up and some things are difficult because of the thin markets in the products themselves. And I'm talking here about critical minerals and rare earths. We know there are a number of project proposals right across the north, but also in the south of the country that want to get started. But they're having a lot of difficulty attracting investment, international investment, because there's been market manipulation and flooding of the market, which plunges prices down. So, you can't get that international finance into a project or even domestic finance. So, this is where a government can step in, provide the incentives and provide low-risk loans which are all repayable back to the government and back to the taxpayer. But it lets those projects get off the ground and flourish so that we make sure we can not only extract those minerals here, but also refine and process them and then put them into the products we increasingly want to be able to make here.

KELLY GUDGEON: Minister Madeleine King. We are out of time, but thank you so much for coming on the program.