Topics: Coalition, AFP Podcast, Queensland State Government quarantine.
NEIL BREEN: Every Wednesday, I speak to Home Affairs Minister, cabinet minister and MP for McPherson on the Gold Coast, Karen Andrews. The Minister joins me on the line. Good morning, Minister.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good morning, Neil. How are you?
NEIL BREEN: I’m very well, thanks. Well, they say a week’s a long time in politics, I reckon 20 minutes is a long time in politics. Since the last time we spoke, there’s a new deputy prime minister. It just went bang.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes, yes. So that was a very speedy outcome. So when we arrived in Canberra on Sunday night, certainly there was speculation, but by- well and truly, by midday on Monday, the issue was being resolved and the Nationals had a new leader.
NEIL BREEN: Do you expect there to be tensions between the Liberals and the Nationals in the Coalition now? Obviously, zero emissions by 2050- look, I know the Prime Minister’s has only said he hasn’t made an actual policy. It could be a thing to talk about. It looks as though the Nationals are getting a little bit sort of uppity about a few of those issues that affect their electorates.
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, there’s been many years of cooperation between the Liberals and the Nationals, and of course, in Queensland as the LNP, we are all one. So for Queenslanders, it is really only going when we go to Canberra that we split into our respective parties, whether that be Liberal or Nationals. So in Queensland, we’ve certainly got a history of working together with the Liberals and the Nationals, and across Australia we also have that long standing commitment as well.
Look, there will of course, be policy issues that will be debated, but we do have a history of being able to resolve those and to resolve those in the best interests of governing the country. So yes, I expect debates, they’re good. They’re something that we should be having because we’ve got to test a whole range of things. But I believe that what you will be seeing now from the Coalition is a very united front as we go forward to the next election.
NEIL BREEN: I think the public’s eyes glaze over somewhat when they hear about zero emissions by 2050. I think it’s a bit like, ‘what?’ But I think one issue will be in Queensland. Matt Canavan and the Nationals, and they brought about the spill, they’re quite keen on a new coal fired power station in Queensland. Is that ever a chance of getting off the ground under the Coalition?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, there’s been speculation for some time about what will happen, whether there will be further coal fired power stations. Look, I have a very open view on power supplies for the future. I have been on the record very much of saying we have ageing coal fired power stations in Queensland. I used to work at a couple of them, so I do know how old they are. And I do know the work that it takes to keep them operating efficiently. What State Governments, as well as the national Federal Government has to do, is look at power generation for the future.
Now, without a doubt, you’ve got more renewables coming online, but coal does have a role in Queensland. I mean, we’re not going to shut down Tarong; we’re not going to shut down the likes of Gladstone Power Station overnight. So it is just a statement of fact that they are going to continue to operate for some time. The issue of whether or not there will be further coal fired power stations, whether that will be the Healy ones or what the energy mix will be, is something that we really should have a frank and open discussion about.
NEIL BREEN: So you’re making an announcement at Parliament House today. And I’ve heard it’s something with a podcast and the work that the AFP does. Talk me through it.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes. So it’s in relation to child sex abuse. And we all know that that is a significant issue. So this is a series of 10 episodes in a podcast that is going to be released today. So it’s going to have some pretty significant insights from people who work directly dealing with that horrendous crime of child sex abuse. So you’ll be hearing from the AFP. Because it is a borderless crime, we’ll be hearing from the likes of Interpol. But we’ll also hear from our eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman-Grant. She will be taking us through some of the things that parents could and should be looking at. Because we know, the evidence is there, that only about half of all parents actually talk to their kids about how to be safe online. And about 50 per cent, again, don’t know what they can do to support their kids to be safe online. So there’s going to be some pretty practical advice in there. And of course, there’s a lot available on the website, whether it’s the eSafety Commissioner’s website or whether it is the ACCCE website, which is the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. There is information there. We want to raise awareness. We want parents to be able to access the resources that they need to keep themselves and particularly, their kids safe online.
NEIL BREEN: So the podcast- just, just the podcast.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yeah.
NEIL BREEN: So, I suppose it’s one thing for the Federal Government to do this initiative, but you’ve got to get people to listen to it. Like, you know, how’s that going to happen? Who narrates it? Like, what’s the hook for it?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, the hook is that we do actually have it being led by Rodger Corser, who many people would know.
NEIL BREEN: Oh, yeah. From Doctor Doctor. Rodger Corser from Doctor Doctor.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes. Yes. So, he’s actually going to be at Parliament House today for the launch. So he plays a key role in it. But we want the conversation to happen. And I mean, we’re having this conversation ourselves, Neil. And of course, all of your listeners will be hearing about it. We do want people to go and listen to it. Some of it will be confronting, but we need people to understand, really, how serious this is, but also what they can do about it.
NEIL BREEN: Yeah, good. Okay. We’ll watch out for that today. Hey, there’s been this issue. Look, it’s been bubbling away for 10 days, but it’s really blown up yesterday when the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, she was talking about Mark Kilian and his wife being granted. They’ve come to Australia. They were trying to see Frans, their dying father. He’s in Robina Hospital. Everyone knows the story, right? So the Premier yesterday, was fudging around talking about facilitating some meeting between the Federal Government and the two states to see, you know, because it’s a terrible situation. But the Federal Government’s given them permission to enter Australia. That’s been ticked off. The New South Wales Government’s given them permission to leave quarantine there to fly to Queensland. This is a Queensland Government issue. And the Prime Minister’s written to them and already said, we’re sorry, but Queensland won’t let you in.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes. Look, we’ve played our part. So we have granted an exemption for them to come into the country. There are specific grounds, compassionate and compelling grounds, and they were granted an exemption to enter the country. Look, when you described Annastacia Palaszczuk’s actions as fudging, I think that is a really appropriate way to describe it. She knows that she has the authority to deal with this. She is just, once again, abrogating her responsibilities. Look, she’s unfortunately, a Premier who likes to speak tough. And when the going gets tough, she finds, or does her best to find someone to hide behind. This is not a Federal Government issue. So, she has the authority to be able to deal with this and she should not try and pass the blame.
NEIL BREEN: It’s just- it’s just really sad. And the couple have both been vaccinated and people will say, ‘why am I going to bother getting vaccinated if a vaccination won’t even let me see my dad who’s on death’s door’. Like there’s multi layers to this issue, Karen Andrews.
KAREN ANDREWS: Oh, look, absolutely there are. And we know that vaccine hesitancy is an issue to us. And we do need incentives for people to be able to get out there and get vaccinated. And those incentives are opening up our economy, looking at how we’re going to open up our borders and going back to a lifestyle that we want to continue to have here in this country. Now, I know that Annastacia Palaszczuk delayed as long as she possibly could get her vaccination. So she hasn’t showed a great deal of leadership there. But many other people have gone out and been vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. So, what I would say to Annastacia Palaszczuk is, you know, if you want to be a leader, you need to demonstrate that you’ve got the capacity to do that.
NEIL BREEN: Good stuff. Karen Andrews, Home Affairs Minister, MP for McPherson on the Gold Coast. Good luck with the launch of that podcast today. Rodger Corser, Channel 9 star of Doctor Doctor. He’ll be there and hopefully you get good publicity and people listen. Good stuff.
KAREN ANDREWS: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Neil.