With Senator The Hon Bridget McKenzie, The Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP, Mr Patrick Conaghan, Mr Gary Prosser; Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Maritime Safety Authority Announcement - AMSA decentralisation

Luke Hartsuyker: It's great to be here with Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, with the Minister for Decentralisation, Senator McKenzie and with our National Party candidate Pat Conaghan on what is a great day for Coffs Harbour. We're here today to announce the location of some great new jobs into the regions. Coffs Harbour is not only a great place to live, it's a great place to do business. The Government realises that and the importance that regional Australia has to play in our national economy. Greater decentralisation means greater economic output and the opportunity for people to make a lifestyle choice as well as an employment choice. It's great to have you in the electorate Deputy Prime Minister; over to you.

Michael McCormack: It’s fantastic to be here in your electorate for the second time this week. It’s amazing to be in Coffs Harbour. I love Coffs Harbour. My family and I holiday at Coffs Harbour regularly and what better place to locate the regional headquarters for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority; what better place to have 50 new jobs making sure that the AMSA obligations are met.

[protester interruption]

Protesters: Climate emergency, no more coal. [repeats]
What do we want? Stop Adani! When do we want it? Now!
What do we want? Stop Adani! When do we want it? Now!
What do we want? Stop Adani! When do we want it? Now!

When are you going to listen to your constituents and the people of Australia? Nobody wants this mine, nobody wants new coal mines. We need to stop Adani now!

No more bloody coal. No more coal! Cowper wants no more coal! Cowper wants no more coal! No more coal! Cowper wants no more coal!

Turn around and look at the younger generation that will all be affected by this.

Journalist: Just a question about the younger generation. How come you’re not at school today?

Protesters: None of your business! None of your business actually but…it’s actually report writing day. They have a pupil free day, so.

Journalist: Excellent. Thank you.

Protester: What a dickhead. That’s all he cares about.

Michael McCormack: Well there’s no need for language, I mean you’ve come down here, you’ve made your point, there’s no need to swear.

Protesters: Next week …

Michael McCormack: There’s no need to swear. None of us have sworn. We’ve let you have your say, so how about…

Protester: Who was swearing?

Michael McCormack: No, no, there was language and we don’t appreciate that. Not in front of young people, particularly in front of kids. You want a better future. Stop swearing.

Protester: Nationally, school students are going on strike. The future of our country will all be on strike.

Michael McCormack: Maybe you should tell those school students that 60% of our businesses and our schools are powered by coal. Maybe you should tell people that regional jobs rely on coal.

Protester: Yes and we want to change that! Maybe you should tell the next generation that you are giving them no hope for their future by keeping investing in non-renewables.

[protester interruption continues …]

Michael McCormack: I’m going to announce dozens of new jobs for Coffs Harbour if you’d like to let me get on with it. It’s fantastic news for Coffs Harbour. The Australia Maritime Safety Authority is going to have a regional headquarters in Coffs Harbour and this has been advocated by Luke Hartsuyker. Decentralisation is so important to our nation and Pat Conaghan the Nationals candidate for Cowper is also very, very much behind this move.

I'm delighted that I'm here with Bridget McKenzie, the Minister amongst other things for decentralisation. Bridget knows how important it is to move many of these jobs to new offices out of the capital cities, out of Canberra. It’s a fantastic decentralisation story. We need to move some of these jobs, a lot of these jobs into the regional areas, particularly AMSA, the authority for the maritime safety, particularly moving it out of Canberra where I don't see too many ships and moving it to a place on the coast. What better place to have this than Coffs Harbour? It's an important move. This move by AMSA is not just going to benefit Coffs Harbour; it's also going to benefit places such as Port Hedland, Karratha and Geraldton in Western Australia. It's also going to benefit Mackay and Gladstone in Queensland and Airlie Beach where there's going to be three new jobs created. This is fantastic news for regional Australia and I'd like to ask Bridget McKenzie to make a few comments.

Bridget McKenzie: Thanks Boss. Excellent. It’s absolutely fantastic to be here in beautiful Coffs Harbour as the first Australian Decentralisation Minister. We’re taking action for this Government, actually backing regional jobs.

Michael McCormack: [To protestor] Don’t hold it up …

Bridget McKenzie: Thanks darl. You’ve made your point. I think everybody has known that you’re against the Adani Mine. Everybody in Australia knows. I’m actually just trying to announce some local jobs.

[protester interruption]

Bridget McKenzie: So this is part of … [protester interruption]

Michael McCormack: Would you just give us a bit of courtesy, and just let us actually have our press conference and we’ll be happy to have a chat with you? Okay? Could we just have our press conference and then we’re happy to have a conversation with you. Thank you. And if you just, if you could just not put that above her face because that’s not polite. You’re right to do it darl, there’s no drama about that, just not above Bridget’s face. Thanks.

Bridget McKenzie: So this is announcing our second tranche of decentralisation as a Federal Government. Decentralisation of public service jobs out of Canberra, out of cities like Sydney and Melbourne into regions like here on the Mid North Coast and beyond is core business for the Liberal National Government. Indeed, as a member of the National Party, we've been advocating to grow regional communities like Coffs Harbour by ensuring that we have career options from retail entry jobs right through to high end public servant jobs. AMSA’s decision to actually have a goal of regionalisation within their entire workforce to see 50 per cent of AMSA's workforce out across regional Australia I think is to be commended.

As Minister for Decentralisation I would like to encourage other agencies and other entities to similarly not see living out in regional Australia as a deficit. You can have a fantastic lifestyle, a rewarding career and actually enjoy what I did this morning: a fabulous walk out to the rookery, every single morning. It's not just at holiday time. So our Government is putting our money where our mouth is and actually ensuring that we get high quality jobs out into regional Australia.

So AMSA, thank you very much Gary for doing that. We know that locally you're going to have upwards of 50 jobs full time jobs here over coming years and that will also be distributed right throughout regional Australia. We're also shifting the Australian Law Reform Commission out of Canberra and Sydney, which is fantastic news as well. As a Government we’ll be making more announcements going forward. Since we've come to power we've put more than 1000 jobs out into the regions and we're looking forward to making more announcements and growing regional economies over the coming months.

Question: How much will this move cost?

Bridget McKenzie: That’s all being determined by AMSA themselves and will be absorbed within their budget.

Question: Great in theory, but in practice, is this a failure as we’ve seen with the move of the APVMA to Armidale? Is it true only four out of 200 odd jobs have actually moved?

Bridget McKenzie: With regard to the move of the APVMA, I think in a decade's time we will be very, very thankful that we put a centre of excellence around regulatory science out in the regions. We know we've got a shortage of regulatory scientists right throughout the nation, not just at a Federal level but our State Governments are screaming out for those scientists. So having that base at a university, a centre of excellence I think will be a decision that we'll be thanking ourselves for, that we've made at that point in time.

In terms of the positive aspects of this particular announcement, I'm absolutely confident that these will be jobs that will bring people who want to live and work and enjoy Coffs Harbour and beyond. It won't just be that one person that's coming. Partners come; children come which means there's more people in your small businesses locally, that's more kids in your schools, which has an absolutely fantastic flow on effect to the broader economy here in Coffs and beyond. So I only see the upside.

When I spoke to the Mayor of Orange about the move from the New South Wales Government at the time, many decades ago, about shifting the Department of Agriculture out there, he said there would be a riot in the streets if we decided to take it back. And yet at the same point when they made that decision similar conversations were being had. Years on it's only been positive both for the people who have chosen to come and the communities that they’ve moved to.

Question: But has the uptake in Armidale met your expectation?

Bridget McKenzie: I think when you do these moves, you do actually account for a lag in employment. But these are new jobs are coming to Coffs Harbour so we're looking forward to new people joining your community and making a contribution not just economically but socially.

Question: Where in Coffs Harbour will this regional headquarters be located?

Bridget McKenzie: They’re decisions that AMSA will be taking over a period of time but Gary who is the Acting CEO might have the details.

Gary Prosser: Yes, we're already negotiating for an office in the central business district of Coffs Harbour which will house up to 50 staff.

Question: What’s the mixture is of relocated to completely new jobs?

Gary Prosser: So that will be dependent on the uptake. We have already initial indications from staff that a lot of people are very interested in coming to Coffs Harbour and you only have to look over my shoulder to see why. But there will also be opportunities for regional staff here with our shopfront and other services that we’ll be offering out of the Coffs Harbour regional office.

Question: And what is the timeframe for that?

Gary Prosser: We're negotiating the lease and I think we've signed that yesterday. We're starting building works in the New Year and by Mid-Year we hope to have people on the ground here in Coffs Harbour.

Question: And so what has been some of the feedback from the staff who are going to move?

Gary Prosser: It's early days yet and early indications, and our staff have been formally told early this morning, but some senior staff were told yesterday and they're very, very positive. We're a maritime authority. Being in Canberra is fantastic for Government and other relations but a lot of us like myself as an ex-mariner love the smell of salt in the air.


Question: Well it makes sense then.

Gary Prosser: It does. It does, yes.

Bridget McKenzie: And I think that's the important thing to recognise about the decentralisation agenda is that we're not moving agencies and departments, public servants, willy nilly. There’s a strategic and targeted approach. We have to go through first and second case business cases to ensure that it makes policy sense and economic sense to move those jobs.

Michael McCormack: Thanks so much.