Transcript - radio interview - ABC Regional (WA), Drive with Peter Barr

MADELEINE KING: Good afternoon, Peter. How are you?

PETER BARR: Yeah, going well, thank you. Are you enjoying your trip around WA?

MADELEINE KING: Very much. I'm from Rockingham. So I heard your question earlier about 'what's a regional town,' and we still call Perth a big city, too. [Indistinct].

PETER BARR: From Rockingham.

MADELEINE KING: So, yeah, we've - I've been to Kalgoorlie yesterday and went up to Port Hedland with the rest of - most of the cabinet today, so we've had a tremendously good day. It was a real honour to be able to show cabinet colleagues and the premiers here with us as well, and Minister Saffioti, just show them the extraordinary value that Port Hedland provides to the whole country through the iron ore that it's been shipping out of this port for many, many years now. So it's an amazing day.

PETER BARR: Let's take a look at that big announcement with that investment to expand the port of Port Hedland, $565 million. Minister, how much of that money will go back to the town of Port Hedland itself?

MADELEINE KING: Well, it goes into developing that port and it's a multi-user facility for the new resources sector, principally, and also to help get more cargo into Port Hedland as well. So when there's projects like this, big infrastructure project, that creates more jobs in the community as well, and that will be of great value to Port Hedland. I know the town of Port Hedland, its councillors and mayor are very welcoming of this announcement, as is all of the existing industry, because it's a very busy port and a very challenging port. Over 6,200 vessel movements every single year. So this is a very welcome announcement by the local community.

PETER BARR: Broadly, though, how do you plan to keep the wealth generated in the Pilbara? By FIFO and resources that 4 per cent of GDP in the Pilbara.

MADELEINE KING: Well, by reinvesting that money, as we are doing with these kind of projects, and there are other projects right across Northern Australia that this government is funded, and I'll give credit to the former government, some of those ideas generated when we were in opposition. But we accept good ideas and I'm thinking of the upgrades to Tanami Road and as well as in other parts of Northern Australia where we're making sure the infrastructure is kept up to scratch. Of course, there's going to be a big investment in Fitzroy Crossing to help with its rebuild. So this is what governments do. This money from Western Australia's vast iron ore wealth goes back into the country's revenue and then goes back out through infrastructure projects like the one we announced today.

PETER BARR: Are these the kind of things you heard from locals in Headland today? What do they want?

MADELEINE KING: I think they're really happy to see cabinet ministers in town understanding what their town is about. That the magnitude of the contribution a town like this makes to the national economy. Town of Port Hedland's very - like all towns, but particularly proud community because of what they do contribute to the nation. And that's not just through the value of the iron ore we send out, but the jobs the iron ore deposits create. And FIFO work is an accepted part of our community - I'm in Port Hedland Airport right now and you probably hear those bells in the background. But there's a lot of people, they travel up here, they spend money while they're here, they come back and visit here. Some of them get to move here. But that's part of our resources culture. We do have FIFO, but we also need to make sure we invest in really important towns like Port Hedland and [indistinct] and many others.

PETER BARR: 24 after four. If that's your flight, I'll make it brief, Minister.


PETER BARR: I've got a couple more questions, if you don't mind, to Madeleine King, the Minister for Northern Australia and Resources at Port Hedland Airport right now. I want to say in the Pilbara last fortnight, your colleague Tanya Plibersek formally put forward Murujuga Rock art for UNESCO Heritage listing on the Burrup Peninsula. Now, Minister, the Burrup also has significant industry near the art which has attracted ongoing protest, as you know. What's the government's priority here moving forward in that area? Art or industry?

MADELEINE KING: Well, both of these things can coexist and industry is very supportive of the protection that Minister Plibersek has announced for the rock art and for the whole of the Burrup Peninsula. They are working very hard to reduce their emissions. And the industries up here are very much engaged with the Murujuga Corporation who are the traditional owners of these amazing and truly remarkable pieces of indigenous art. And they work with industry and have done for many years to make sure this work is preserved and this will make sure that that does continue to happen and it will rely on the industries, on the particular contributing to that work. And they up for that and I think that's really important.

PETER BARR: Do you know if this is the first of many other regional WA Federal cabinets to be to be held if possible or is this a one-off?

MADELEINE KING: I certainly hope so. It won't be a one-off. You know, we've been in government nine months and Anthony has been in WA nine times and and we've had a very successful cabinet meeting here in Port Hedland, the real heart of the resources industry of this country. So, you know, I'm not going to promise we're going to be here in the next three months, but I've no doubt there'll be many more ministers visiting over the year. And we are a Federal cabinet, we work in the interest of the whole nation. So I've no doubt we'll be doing another regional cabinet in one of our other great states in this great country.

PETER BARR: Thanks for your time.

MADELEINE KING: Yeah, no worries. Thanks, Peter.

PETER BARR: Madeleine King on ABC Regional Drive. Minister for Northern Australia and Resources in Portland Hedland today for the federal cabinet meeting. She's at the airport. You may see her there if you're flying in or out.