Topics: Gold Coast industries, emissions reduction, Labor divisions, COVID-19 vaccine, border restrictions
Angie Bell: Well it’s a very important day here on the Gold Coast at the Reimagine Jobs, Skills and Industry Forum and we’re very pleased to be here at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre to bring together industry leaders across 11 key economic pillars to figure out the way forward for the jobs of the future for Gold Coast industry and business, and for those Gold Coasters who are unemployed now to work out what the future’s going to look like for jobs.
I’m very pleased to be here today with my Gold Coast ministerial colleagues, Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry; and, Stu Robert, the Minister for Government Services, because I know that they too are very passionate about the future of Gold Coast jobs.
So it’s a great day here together to bring together industry leaders, and I will introduce now Minister Karen Andrews.
Karen Andrews: Well thank you very much, Angie, and it’s a pleasure to be here today with you and also to our colleague, Stuart Robert.
Today is a very important day for us here on the Gold Coast because today we have many business leaders working together to look at what the opportunities are to reimagine the Gold Coast. We are clearly a tourist destination and we have been very hard hit by the COVID pandemic, but today there is a sense of optimism here in the Gold Coast that if we can reimagine in the future, if we can reimagine industry, if we can imagine what the Gold Coast will be in the future we can grasp the opportunity.
Now this morning I’ve spoken about the third largest industry sector here on the Gold Coast, which is manufacturing. So yes, we do great work with tourism, we do great work with hospitality, but we also do great work with manufacturing. About 14,000 people are employed here directly in manufacturing jobs on the Gold Coast, with many tens of thousands more indirectly employed. So I’m encouraging businesses to look at opportunities for manufacturing here in Australia, and I am encouraging Gold Coasters in particular to look at manufacturing opportunities here.
So this is a time for Team Gold Coast, this is the time for us to be proud about what we have achieved but also what those opportunities are for the future. Thank you.
Stuart Robert: Well said Karen. Today is what team Gold Coast does really, really well – it gets together when times are tough. When the Titans are down and the Gold Coast Suns aren’t looking too good as well, that’s when Gold Coasters step up. And today, in terms of reimagine GC great to be here with Karen Andrews, and Angie Bell. And Angie’s done such a great job pulling it together.
It’s about getting industry leaders together on how, as a team on the Gold Coast, we can chart our way forward. COVID-19 has been a kick in the guts for the Gold Coast – we all understand that, we all live that – but we need an industry-led recovery and today it’s about the grassroots, the germ of bringing together that team Gold Coast approach. Out of today will come some great ideas, some great initiatives that we’ll take back to Canberra, back to the Federal Government on how we can help, not just the Gold Coast but the country, get back on its feet.
So, so thrilled to be here with, with Karen and Angie. Angie, great initiative to get the Gold Coast leaders together, thinking about what a reimagined post-COVID Gold Coast is going to look like.
Angie Bell: Thanks Stu. And just to finish up, as the City Heart Taskforce Chair and Convenor of the City Heart Taskforce, I want to reassure Gold Coasters that your industry is working for you for the jobs of the future across 11 key pillars of the Gold Coast, to map up a pathway forward so that we can deliver jobs for the Gold Coast, and as the Minister said, take our issues right into Cabinet in Canberra to make sure that we can deliver. Thank you.
Stuart Robert: Tremendous. Questions.
Question: Can you just about some of the people who you have speaking in today.
Angie Bell: Certainly, speaking or on the City Heart Taskforce? So, the City Heart Taskforce executive members are the peak bodies across the Gold Coast – Study Gold Coast of course, in education; Destination Gold Coast in tourism, these are our traditional key pillars. We have the Central Chamber of Commerce President, Southport Chamber of Commerce President for the Moncrieff area which is very important for small business, which is also a key pillar for our city. We have Regional Development Australia – Gold Coast which is one of the City Heart Taskforce executive members, and there are many others across eleven key pillars of the city here today. And they’ll be collaborating, they’re in their breakout sessions as we speak, and they will be coming up with the key outcomes.
Question: From this morning’s talks and sessions, did you learn about anything in particular? Or any strategy that you’re particularly excited about?
Angie Bell: Well this morning at the Reignite Breakfast was about reigniting thinking, and we had some stellar speakers – we had Soheil Abedian from Sunland who talked about his vision and positivity for the Gold Coast; and then, we also had James Tuma from Future State who talked about the areas where the Gold Coast could improve, and talked about how we could move forward into those other key economic pillars, those emerging key pillars such as health knowledge, such as bioscience, such as arts and culture, and sport. And indeed, what we could do to improve our urban landscape of the Gold Coast.
Question: He had mentioned that a strategy moving forward would be investing in growth industries, in industries that we see not just as short term bursts of employment, but that will carry us into the future. Do you have an idea of what those industries might be?
Angie Bell: Well certainly we have, as Minister Andrews outlined, we have manufacturing as a very large industry with great potential on the Gold Coast. We also have a large marine industry with export potential here on the Gold Coast, with Riviera. We have a super yacht marinas being built as we speak, so they are all potential industries. We also even have a space centre here, Gilmour Space, on the Gold Coast that is in Mr Roberts – Minister Roberts’ electorate. So, we have very many areas on the Gold Coast that we can grow. While our traditional key pillars have been damaged, we have these other opportunities and today, we bring together industry heads in order to map the way forward for those emerging industries so that we can once again lead the country forward for jobs for Gold Coasters moving into the future.
Question: How important is it for all levels of government to work together on this? And do you think that’s happening at the moment? There seems to be a bit of argy bargy between the Federal Government, the state governments. Is that happening right now, do you think?
Angie Bell: Well, this forum today is about Gold Coasters working together, it’s about us, for us, and by us. We can’t afford to sit back and wait for outside influences to move the city forward; we need to do this from the inside out.
Question: Minister Andrews, we’d like to ask you a few questions now as well, please? The National Farmers Federation is calling for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Do you support that goal and why?
Karen Andrews: Well, I’m always keen to talk and listen to many of the peak industry’s views. Minister Angus Taylor has responsibility for that particular area, but look, I would be very keen to talk to the National Farmers Federation. And of course we’ve had the CSIRO doing a lot of work through FutureFeed to look at what they can do to reduce methane emissions – we will continue to do that. Agriculture is a very important sector for us here in Australia, many jobs associated with that sector. We want to be a strong and sustainable sector, and of course we will continue to work with them and listen to their views.
Question: Why won’t the Federal Government support this target though, given it has been adopted by all states and territories, and now one of the largest bodies representing the agricultural industry?
Karen Andrews: Well, there’s a lot of work that is already being done and that’s being led by Minister Angus Taylor, so he’s doing some great work in terms of looking at emissions reductions. What we are going to do is make sure that we have in place the right plan so that we can achieve what we need to do across Australia, rather than set targets.
Question: What do you make of Joel Fitzgibbon saying the Labor Party could be split in the future if it can’t balance the interests of regional and city seats?
Karen Andrews: Labor’s split anyway.
Question: Just on the COVID vaccine then, has CSL assessed whether it’s capable of manufacturing the type of vaccine being developed by Oxford University?
Karen Andrews: We’re working very closely with CSL, and I’m working particularly closely with the CSIRO, and I’ve spoken to them particularly about looking at what our manufacturing capability and capacity here is in Australia to manufacture a vaccine – whether that’s produced with the Oxford University, or whether it’s produced with the University of Queensland vaccine, or an alternate. But we do have the opportunity now, whilst vaccines are going through the Phase 3 testing, to make sure that we are best placed to be able to manufacture that vaccine in Australia.
Question: What assistance is the Commonwealth offering to help CSL scale up and make this vaccine if it is proven successful?
Karen Andrews: Well, we’ll be working with CSL, and potentially with other manufacturers across Australia, to look at how we are going to scale up to manufacture the vaccine here. We’ve already started that work, we already have a very good understanding of where potential manufacturers are – they are small scale at the moment, but we put out a request for information about a week or so ago. We’ll go through and reassess the expressions of interest that have come through – they are expressions of interest, it’s not a tender at this stage – but we will continue to work, and CSIRO is leading that work for me.
Question: When would you expect a formal agreement to be struck?
Karen Andrews: That’s a matter for Minister Hunt. What I am doing is focusing very much on Australia’s capacity and capability to manufacture the vaccine, as and when it becomes available.
Question: There’s plenty of people who want the border bubble expanded to more suburbs to make life a little easier for teachers, health workers, tradies who live in the border area. What do you think about expanding the bubble?
Karen Andrews: I’m very focused on what we can do to keep businesses open and operating. Given that COVID-19 is going to be with us for many months, we need to look at how we are going to live and work in the COVID environment. Because shutting borders and shutting businesses cannot be the answer.
Question: So, do you think it should be expanded further south, just to make that process a little bit easier for workers like that, or?
Karen Andrews: My focus is making sure that we have the appropriate supply chains in place across Australia and that we don’t have the artificial demarcations of borders, stopping the transport of freight, in particular. The Minister for Health has already spoken extensively about the impacts on people and their health and I would call for common sense, to prevail at this point of time.
Question: When we talk about manufacturing being a very important industry in the Gold Coast moving forward; what specifically should businesses on the Gold Coast be manufacturing? Because, obviously, not everything’s that important to be manufactured moving forward, there will be specific areas.
Karen Andrews: We have a wide range of manufacturers here on the Gold Coast. We have clothing manufacturers; we actually have food manufacturers here as well. I think as we look at reimagining the Gold Coast, we need to put it in the context that many people will now find the Gold Coast a particularly attractive place to live and to work. So, we should be open to any opportunity to boost the Gold Coast economy. Manufacturing provides us with that opportunity. So, we need to make sure that the message is spread right across Australia and internationally, that the Gold Coast is open for manufacturing business.
Question: When we talk about boosting the economy, then should restrictions be wound up for businesses in Queensland, considering our low case numbers, in your opinion?
Karen Andrews: Look, that’s a matter really for the Premier to deal with. I am very conscious that many businesses, particularly those right on the border, have been very negatively impacted by COVID clearly and by the border closures. So, we know there’s not the walk through business that we’ve had in the past. Many businesses, particularly in the retail sector, have taken action to mitigate their losses by establishing an online presence. Many of our restaurants have looked at how they’re going to provide greater access to takeaway services as well. But, again, we must focus on how we’re going to keep businesses operating and the first port of call should not be to close down.