McCORMACK/CANAVAN - Transcript - Interview with 2PK, Parkes

on 19 April 2017
Created: 19 April 2017

Topics: Inland rail, regional development, Northparkes Mine, small business tax cuts, Anzac Day

PRESENTER

I’m joined in the studio by Michael McCormack, the Minister for Small Business and our Federal Member for the Riverina and also Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. Hi guys, how are you?

McCORMACK

Very well thanks Elliott.

CANAVAN

Yeah, really well thanks.

PRESENTER

 

Michael and Matthew, what brings you to town?

McCORMACK

 

Today we had Darren Chester, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure here as well. So we had three Ministers in Parkes at once. It was all happening in Parkes! It always is happening in Parkes. But we had Minister Chester in town to announce the building – or more so the replacement – of two timber bridges. One at Tomingley West and the other at Narraweena. It’s all about future-proofing the rail line for the future of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail. We need these timber bridges – and there are 20 between Narromine and Parkes – replaced. So the first two as part of a $1.3 million upgrade will be replaced. And the replacement will begin in just a few short weeks from now.

So that announcement was made today. It is future-proofing the rail line. This Government is committed – the Turnbull-Joyce Government is committed – to building the inland rail. We have already committed $894 million in last year’s Budget towards that very important, nation-building project.

Matthew Canavan, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, understands just how important it is. Because obviously it is going to be moving resources, it’s also going to be moving agriculture products, very quickly from paddock to port, basically. And it is really important that I have him here today. I am taking him out to the Northparkes Mine to see the operations there.

PRESENTER

 

Being Minister for Resources, Matthew, and Northern Australia, that link is obviously a high priority on your agenda?

CANAVAN

 

Absolutely Elliott. This is a project which will build our nation. I am a Senator for Queensland as well. Queensland has been isolated from the national rail network since our Federation because we’ve got what’s called a narrow-gauge system there. So your trains down here can’t get into Brisbane and Gladstone and other freight hubs in Queensland.

So by building this route we will finally connect our three eastern states. So it’s incredibly important for Queensland. And it will create a corridor of commerce so we can move goods and freight up and down our north coast, up and down our eastern seaboard and create competition for your agriculture, your farmers, your miners, to be able to go to different ports. They will be able to go to Brisbane and Melbourne, to go to the Newcastle Port, Port Kembla or Sydney. And you here in Parkes are really the centre of it all. You’re the centre of the universe in terms of inland rail…

PRESENTER

 

We like to think that!

CANAVAN

 

Yeah in terms of inland rail you have Perth, as well, to your west. You are going to be the place that can connect up to every part of the country, basically, in a very short space of time.

PRESENTER

 

And with that connection, with being able to move resources through to Queensland on that inland rail to other ports and exporting overseas, does that become competitive pricing-wise?

CANAVAN

 

I’m the Minister for Northern Australia and obviously that’s further north than here, but why we are really pushing on the northern development agenda is we have got so many opportunities in Asia. We have got this burgeoning middle class, where Asia will have the majority of the world’s middle class by 2030. It is an enormous number of people who will have demand for our grains, our chickpeas, our resources, that can create jobs in Australia.

We’ve got lots of resources – both agricultural and mineral – here in Australia, but without rail lines, without roads, we don’t connect them up to Asia. We don’t connect them up to those countries. So that’s why projects like this inland rail are so important to do, to take those opportunities as a country.

PRESENTER

 

Not having a great understanding of that rail link as well, is that time factor important in getting those goods up to those other ports to get into Asia?

McCORMACK

 

Well for fresh food, it’s absolutely critical. And already, because Parkes is right in the centre of things – it’s where the north-south and east-west lines meet, the only place where that actually happens – already product can come from paddock to basically plate within 24 hours.

Having the inland rail there will also enable mining products – just about everything you can put on a freight train – will be getting to ports, and many, many ports I might add, far sooner. So it is important nation-building infrastructure, as Senator Canavan has just said. And it is going to mean the world of difference to a place such as Parkes – it can now connect to the world!

And given the fact we have brokered three free trade agreements – with Japan, with South Korea and with China – how critical will that be to be able to get fresh produce from the Riverina and Central West to port, and to those Asian markets in next to no time.

PRESENTER

 

Well those primary industry resources, they are important, but as we construct that inland rail, there will be jobs in the area, obviously in construction. Being Minister for Small Business, I guess that is creating growth in these areas indirectly. What does that mean for small business in the area?

McCORMACK

 

Oh absolutely. You’re right Elliott and I spoke to the Mayor, Ken Keith, this morning just about that very fact. The flow-on. The indirect and direct effects to small business will be great. This will just grow Parkes even further. We have a town here of 15,000 people – and of course it’s almost 25,000 during the Elvis Festival – but there will be growth in ways and means we just can’t imagine at the moment.

We have the NBN rolling out at the moment – so that’s improving connectivity. It’s the same with inland rail. The future is only bright for Parkes. The future is very bright for small business. And as the Minister for Small Business, I see wonderful opportunities for trade and everybody can be a player in this.

PRESENTER

 

That’s right – it’s certainly an exciting time for us out here in this area. Matthew, heading out to Northparkes Mine, have you visited that facility before or is it new to you?

CANAVAN

 

This will be my first visit to Northparkes Mine, Elliott. I caught up with Stef Loader last year in Canberra and I was very impressed with her and the story she told me about the Northparkes Mine, particularly the community involvement the mine has. We all appreciate how important mining is to our national economy – it’s great for our exports, it’s a huge employer across the nation.

All of those mines are by definition in regional areas. There aren’t any mines in Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne. And I – as the Minister for Resources – am pushing the message with the sector that they should be good participants in those communities. There’s a role for our mining sector to help grow our country. It makes a lot of money for us and creates jobs. But it is also often the platform that grows cities and towns. My hometown of Rockhampton was a gold mining town. Now it’s into beef and other things, but it started as a gold mining town. All that wealth in regional Victoria and Melbourne itself, really, was from gold. And you’ve got a gold mine here and it’s great to see – or hear – that Northparkes is investing back in your community. Not just creating jobs, but also creating opportunities for a broader community and broader growth in your town.

PRESENTER

 

I think that’s something that – in recent years, or the last decade at least – the mining industry has really embraced how important it is to get involved in the community. And they do that well. So off to Northparkes mine. Busy life for you guys. Where are you off to next?

McCORMACK

 

I am going to Coolamon tonight to a meeting and then tomorrow I am actually going back to Sydney. I am also the Minister responsible for the Mint and have a few engagements there, before a services dinner reflecting on the Australian Defence Force service tomorrow night. Saturday I am back in the Riverina and Central West – off to a tiny town called Gunbar. I am not sure whether your listeners would know where that is. It’s just a speck on the map.

I am off there on Saturday to unveil a World War I memorial for the Victoria Cross winner William Jackson. He was just 17 years old when he won a VC and lost an arm in World War I. He is the youngest-ever recipient of the Victoria Cross and, of course, this area made a great contribution – contributed mightily – to every war effort, but particularly to WWI.  And the numbers of names on cenotaphs and memorials around the area is way too high for these little towns. They lost a swathe of fine young men in wars past. And, of course, next Tuesday we will stop in silent and sombre tribute to each and every one of those individuals who lost their life and gave the greatest sacrifice to our country.

PRESENTER

Well, sometimes you guys have a tough job, but sometimes it’s a privilege as well. Obviously that’s an honour and an honourable thing for you to experience. And Matthew thank you very much for your time today. You are going out to Northparkes Mine and then back into the hard work, you’re heading off somewhere as well?

CANAVAN

 

Yes – that’s right Elliott. But can I just say Michael is known for the work he does to commemorate our fallen and those who have served. He does a remarkable job cataloguing some of the stories and history of the local volunteers in your part of the world. Particularly for WWI, as we are still in the centenary of WWI. We have to do this sort of stuff because what we say at ANZAC time is we want to remember them – and I know Michael helps achieve that through the work he’s doing.

I will be back up in Queensland and take some time in the lead up to ANZAC Day to visit communities like Proserpine and Bowen and others affected by Cyclone Debbie. We had some floods in Rocky on the back of that and I didn’t get the chance to get up there a couple of weeks ago to the communities that were affected by the cyclone directly. So I am taking the opportunity to do that over the next few days. There’s still a lot of rebuilding going on. Some of you might know the Whitsundays were hit very hard. And if anyone is planning a trip over these cold winter months to come to somewhere warmer, please think of Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays. It’s a wonderful spot. And the best thing you can do for those people is to spend some time.

PRESENTER

 

One of the best holidays I have ever had was up on Airlie Beach.

CANAVAN

 

You would be welcome back!

PRESENTER

 

Thank you. I know you are busy and it’s great to see you guys in the Central West and thanks for your time today.

McCORMACK

 

Anytime.

CANAVAN

 

Thank you.

  

ENDS