Subjects: Security cameras from overseas, Queensland mine, national reconstruction fund, manufacturing industry
PETE STEFANOVIC: Shadow Minister Karen Andrews. Karen, good to see you, thanks for your time. While you’re here, we just had James Paterson on the program talking about these alleged spy cameras that are out in government buildings at the moment. It’s being hinted, but it sounds like this is true, that it is a national security problem.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes, absolutely. Look, I think Senator Paterson’s done a fantastic job with going through the audit process that he started and is currently conducting now. We need the departments and the agencies to be very clear about what security cameras that they have in place and anything else that may pose a security risk, and action does need to be taken. So I think it’s good work by James, but it needs to be followed up. And if it is proven that there is a national security risk, then we have to immediately take action.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Okay. Well, on taking action, Tanya Plibersek, I wanna ask you as a Queenslander, Tanya Plibersek nixed Clive Palmer’s coal mine, his proposal in Central Queensland, she believes is too close to the Great Barrier Reef because of runoff about 10kms. Is the location there from the coast, from the Reef, again as a Queenslander, what’s your response to that?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, it’s potentially going to have a huge impact on Central Queensland, they rely very heavily on the mining sector. There’s jobs that people are either not going to have, they’re going to lose because of these decisions and I think it’s hugely concerning at a time when people were struggling seriously with cost of living and yet an opportunity for them to have strong ongoing form of employment since to have been nixed. Now the question really is, is this the decision that Tanya Plibersek made on her own, or in conjunction with the Cabinet? There’s a lot of Queenslanders sitting on that, so I would hope that they were strongly defending jobs, and employment opportunities in Queensland.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Right. But would you be concerned though about runoff and pollution into the Great Barrier Reef?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, from an environmental point of view, yes, we should always be concerned and take into account a number of considerations in relation to that. Now I don’t have access to all of the information Tanya Plibersek had to be able to make her decision. Yes, it should be taken into consideration, but we’re also looking at livelihoods of many, many people in Central Queensland who are gonna be affected by this decision and with all things there has to be a proper balance. And maybe what we need to start looking at is what action we can take to adapt to mitigate to some of these coal mining issues, but mining issues more in general.
PETE STEFANOVIC: On the national reconstruction fund, are you having to team up with the Greens to make sure it doesn’t get across the line and why?
KAREN ANDREWS: I have my very strong opinions on my own and they’re in line with Coalition’s position – there’s once again an absolute lack of detail, the government is trying to ram through pretty significant legislation that doesn’t have enough detail around it. They’re making claims about how good this is going to be for industry, but there are some serious questions. The legislation that’s proposed, my understanding, allows for money to be going to states and territories, but importantly it’s in partnership with superannuation funds. Now superannuation funds have an obligation to support their members and to make sure that gains are passed on to the members. So how is it going to be determined whether or not a project is viable and what’s going to happen in the event that that project fails? Is the business going to have to return the money? How does that money go back into the superannuation funds and how does that affect the members? So there are a whole range of questions. This is not something that needs to be rammed through. Now the Coalition in government put up some very good policies, was implementing those policies. We designated what the priority areas were, it’s an important issue. Industry needs to be widely consulted. We would be happy to work with the government on a good manufacturing policy, but this is just wrong for so many reasons-
PETE STEFANOVIC: So you’re teaming up with the Greens for that one?
KAREN ANDREWS: We are actually going to be leading the charge on this. It’s always good to have support, but we will manage the issues ourselves, and I’m sure that other parties will do the same.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Given the state of the economy though and the state of manufacturing in this country, which the Labor Party claims has subsided quite dramatically in recent years, why not get behind it? What doesn’t, there need to be some urgency in getting something like that through?
KAREN ANDREWS: But not just throwing taxpayer’s money away. And that’s the important part of it. And that’s why you need to take the time to get it right because yes, the manufacturer is incredibly important to Australia and a lot of work has been done over the last couple of years to support manufacturing in Australia. But that doesn’t mean that the answer is to come up with a multi-billion dollar fund and just throw that money away because that is taxpayer’s money. That’s your money, my money, all the viewers out there. It’s their money. And the government needs to be accountable for what they’re doing. It is not okay to sit there and say, we’ll sort out the detail later. The reason they’re saying that is cause we’re not across the detail now.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Karen Andrews, appreciate your time.