TRANSCRIPT- Interview – Rebecca Levingston, ABC Brisbane

Topics: 2019 Federal Election result, climate science.


Rebecca Levingston: Let's go to someone who, well, I don't know if she prayed for it, but it was certainly the results that she wanted. Karen Andrews is the Minister for Industry Science and Technology. Minister, Good morning. 

Karen Andrews: Good morning. 

Rebecca Levingston: Was it a miracle win?

Karen Andrews: Well if you followed the polls and the polls had us as not being in a winning position, then yes, you certainly could perceive it as a miracle. It was a fantastic opening to Scott Morrison’s speech I’d have to say.

Rebecca Levingston: What was the number one issue that drove this victory for your government?

Karen Andrews: Well, I don't know that there was a single issue that got us across the line in Queensland. The class warfare that Shorten and the Labor candidates and members tried to run actually turned people off them. People didn't buy the retiree tax, Bill Shorten was particularly unpopular and of course in Queensland, jobs are so important, particularly in central and northern Queensland. So that actually delivered the big swings. So it was jobs and the mining sector for central and north Queensland.

Rebecca Levingston: Should the state government get out of the way now and approve Adani, should work started immediately?

Karen Andrews: The state government needs to have a serious rethink about what they had on their agenda for the future. Because what happened on Saturday was quiet Australians used their voice and they spoke very loudly and very clearly about what's important to them. And in central and northern Queensland, there is support, strong support for the mining sector. So the state Labor government needs to rethink its strategy and, and make some decisions.

Rebecca Levingston: Who were the quiet Australians?

Karen Andrews: All the people that are not part of the Canberra bubble to start but people who are going about their everyday lives and thinks that things such as the economy and jobs are important. And that is most Australians. So that's who the quiet Australians are. They're the ones that when it counts, they prepared to stand up and they stood up on Saturday.

Rebecca Levingston: To be fair Minister, it’s not most Australians, we’re yet to see the final outcome of the election result but certainly there's a big group of people that you and Scott Morrison and the rest of the government will now have to govern for as well. My guest is Karen Andrews, the Minister for Industry, Science and technology, the member for McPherson on the Gold Coast. Will you seek that portfolio again Karen Andrews?

Karen Andrews: It's the responsibility and the opportunity for the Prime Minister to determine who he is going to have in cabinet and what their portfolios will be. I'm an engineer. I love industry, science and technology. It’s a space that I've worked in all of my life. I'm very comfortable blade, but if I'm Scott Morrison wants me to do something else, then obviously he's the Prime Minister. 

Rebecca Levingston: Do you think we face a global climate emergency?

Karen Andrews: In terms of the climate, I've actually taken the approach of working very closely with my science agencies. So I have responsibility for not only the CSIRO but also for the Australian Institute of Marine Science. What they talk to me about and I'm particularly interested in hearing about is mitigation and adaptation strategies. From the Institute of Marine Science, they're particularly focused on what's happening with the Great Barrier Reef. I take advice from them. I take advice from the CSIRO. I listen to the science. I always want to be in a position to be able to support our scientists. And I made that very clear, particularly to the head of the CSIRO Larry Marshall.

Rebecca Levingston: So scientists are predicting dire consequences if your government doesn’t act faster to address global heating.

Karen Andrews: Well, there's actually a lot of work that is being done in the environmental space from a science point of view. And I go back to the great work that the Australian Institute of Marine Science is actually doing with the Great Barrier Reef. Now when I talk to them, they actually do talk to me about bleaching events. And what we're trying to do with the work that the scientists are doing in north Queensland is to look at what the strategies are that we can put in place so that there is more time between bleaching events for the coral to regenerate.

Rebecca Levingston: But Minister, the science is clear. No one is saying that there's not work happening in that area. I'm talking about the dire predictions that global scientists are making when it comes to things like, and let's be specific, the Great Barrier Reef. If the world keeps warming as it is, it simply won't exist in the state that we know it.

Karen Andrews: And I will continue to talk to all the scientists around Australia and when I have the opportunity, I will be speaking to scientists around the world. But let's actually be really clear what we are saying is that we will listen to the evidence, we will listen to the scientific. Yeah.

Rebecca Levingston: Haven’t you got enough evidence?

Karen Andrews: Well, science is not always a black and white response to everything. And I'll give you an absolute example of this. Recently down in Tasmania talking to our Antarctic specialists down there, we were actually talking about changes to the climate that had happened over many, many years and they were actually talking about the core samples that they've taken as well. And I said, well, what I'm actually really interested in finding out is what the actual difference has been to the climate resulting from man-made issues as well. Now we had a discussion about that and it's actually was not clear from those scientists, from the core samples that they were working on how they would be able to define that. That's actually a very important thing for us to look at. And that's what I'll be pursuing. 

Rebecca Levingston: So you’re saying that as Australia’s current Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, you're doubting man's contribution to climate change?

Karen Andrews: No, I'm not saying any such thing. I’m actually saying that I’d like to see that quantified and that's the basis of my discussion because we know that there has been an impact and that's without doubt. And there is no doubt that the climate is changing and there are some things that we do in our daily lives that we should not do, but we should also be looking at health of our waterways, health of our oceans and that's why we committed $70 million to establish the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre because our oceans are important to us. So there's a whole range of things that we're actually talking about. But let me be absolutely clear once again, yes, the climate is changing. Yes, I support the scientists and the great work that they are doing. Yes, I am focused on mitigation strategies. Yes, I am focused on adaptation and how we can work and I will continue to ask questions as to how we can quantify that change.

Rebecca Levingston: The environment minister Melissa Price was unavailable for interviews throughout this entire campaign. If your government takes the environment and climate change seriously, is that acceptable?

Karen Andrews: Well, that's a matter for Melissa Price.

Rebecca Levingston: But I'm asking you as the Science Minister, is it good enough that throughout a five week campaign that the Federal Minister for the Environment declined interviews with every single media agency?

Karen Andrews: Well, I spoke to Melissa Price during the course of the campaign and she has actually said publicly that she made herself available for interviews in Western Australia and in her electorate.So I think that she's actually dealt with that. I was available throughout the campaign to talk about not only science but also industry, innovation, technology. So I was out there each and every day and I'm having a conversation with you right now about the environment, about climate and about science.

Rebecca Levingston: Should Queensland brace for more extreme weather events.

Karen Andrews: Well, I actually grew up North Queensland and cyclones were a part of our everyday life during the cyclone season and of course cyclones have a major impact on the Great Barrier Reef and have for the whole time that they’ve been there. We know that there are extreme weather events that we've experienced. I mean we've seen significant flooding in southeast Queensland …

Rebecca Levingston: But are you expecting them to become more frequent Minister?

Karen Andrews: Look I’ll take advice from our scientists as to what their predictions are?

Rebecca Levingston: Haven’t the scientists already said there will be more frequent extreme weather events?

Karen Andrews: I think that these a range of different views on what the extreme weather events are going to be. What's important is that we are prepared for whatever the weather actually shows us in the future. Like I said, I grew up in Townsville and grew up always having to be prepared. We know that cyclones do go through North Queensland. We do know that cyclones can come further south from time to time. I'm based on the Gold Coast. We have had significant high tides here that have done major damage to the beaches for years and years and years. This is not the time for complacency. This is the time to prepare ourselves for whatever weather events come our way.

Rebecca Levingston: Karen Andrews is my guest, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. We were hoping to have you on the program last week, but you succumb to illness right at the end of the campaign. Are you feeling better now, Minister?

Karen Andrews: Look, I certainly am well on the way to recovery. So hopefully we're all better. Can I tell you the flu is still going through my household? In fact, one of my daughters, I have three of them. One of the daughters said to me yesterday, I'm not feeling well Mum. So I hope she’s ok. 

Rebecca Levingston: You now need to govern for all Australians, even the ones who didn’t vote for you, what’s your message to those people who didn't put a number one in the LNP box?

Karen Andrews: Locally, and throughout Queensland and around Australia. Yes. We have been elected to govern for all Australians. I personally have always listened. I will continue to listen and my focus is achieving the best possible outcome for Australia.

Rebecca Levingston: The Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already shifted some of her rhetoric to say Labor needs to listen better, Labor needs to talk more about jobs. Just finally Minister, are there more jobs in fossil fuels or renewable energy?

Karen Andrews: I think there's opportunities in both.

Rebecca Levingston: But which is, which is a greater opportunity for Queenslanders?

Karen Andrews: Well, for emerging businesses and the technology sector, there are significant opportunities if we're actually looking at renewable energy, so there is a growing market there. But we do have a strong coal sector here and we do continue to have coal fired power stations. Many of those power stations in Queensland are aging. You know Gladstone, Tarong, around Stanwell, they are aging coal fired power stations. So let's actually look and I really do call on the state government to have a good hard look at how they're going to meet Queensland energy demands into the future.

Rebecca Levingston: Karen Andrews, really appreciate your time this morning. Thanks so much.

Karen Andrews: Thank you. Lovely speaking with you.


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