Radio interview with Steve Price - 102.3 4TOFM Townsville

Transcript
22 Jan 2018
Prime Minister
Great Barrier Reef; water policy; back to school
E&OE

STEVE PRICE:

Hello, 4TOFM, good morning. Hello?

PRIME MINISTER:

Hello!

STEVE PRICE:

Who is that?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s Malcolm Turnbull.

STEVE PRICE:

Oh Turney! I mean, Mr Prime Minister!

PRIME MINISTER:

How are you, how are you Stevie?

STEVE PRICE:

[Laughter]

PRIME MINISTER:

Hey look, before we get started on really important announcements, congratulations to Suzy Batkovic from the Townsville Fire. What a big win!

STEVE PRICE:

Oh, a great win and well deserved, where were you? We had your chair waiting courtside for the Prime Minister. Everyone was walking around looking for you. Mate, it’s great for our city.

PRIME MINISTER:

I was up in Cairns where I am today. I’ve been up here yesterday with Warren Entsch and I’m looking forward to coming down to Townsville to make this big announcement about the Reef. Nearly $60 million bucks to go into supporting the Reef; a big, renewed and enhanced attack of the Crown of Thorns Starfish.

STEVE PRICE:

They’ve been around for many, many years, even longer than the Liberal Party, the Crown of Thorns.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’re working very hard to eradicate the Crown of Thorns.

STEVE PRICE:

Mate, what’s brought this to the fore? Was it our mates at the Australian Institute of Marine Science?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’re working very closely with them, all the scientists - 

STEVE PRICE:

They’re great, hey?

PRIME MINISTER:

They are, they’re fantastic and they’ll be at the announcement today. They’ll be there with Paul Hardisty whom I’m sure you know. He runs the research and development program. He’ll be there with Russel Reichelt from GBMPA and Alan Finkel, our Chief Scientist and Peter Mayfield from the CSIRO.

STEVE PRICE:

This has come out of the blue a bit mate, it’s nothing to do with elections or anything like that is it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there will be an election in 2019, so that’s -

STEVE PRICE

Oh, righto, that’s a way off. So not next week?

PRIME MINISTER:

A federal election, no.

STEVE PRICE:

We’re not putting our hands up next week. Mate, this is fantastic. You know, you may not have heard of a man by the name of Doug Tarca. Now Doug ran an organization here with Reeflink out of Townsville, the first one on the east coast, out to John Brewer Reef. He was the man behind the floating hotel, behind the floating donut and invented the semi-submersible. That came out of Townsville.

Do you think we could get along with this? He used to have pontoons here. We could get a grant, part of that $60 million for pontoons out on John Brewer which would be used for research?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, that’s the first I’ve heard of that proposal Steve, but I’ll discuss it with the team today.

STEVE PRICE:

Yeah, it’d be -

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll be with Michaela Cash, you know.

STEVE PRICE:

It’s just we’ve got a lot of kids at the James Cook University and of course the young scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which would be great for a pontoon somewhere for the new vessels that you’re proposing, which is a great idea.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay well it’s a good idea and I’ll take that on board and talk about that with all the team today in Townsville

STEVE PRICE:

Tell me about the farmers too, you’re researching into that too.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the largest single part of the money, nearly $37 million is going to into supporting farmers stopping runoff off their properties.

STEVE PRICE:

Okay.

PRIME MINISTER:

You know, the techniques are basically to build swales and ditches and you know, plantings to slow down the run-off, so that all of the fertilizers and nutrients don’t get into the river and therefore into the reef.

So improving water quality is a critical part of it and there’s a very strong link between polluted water and outbreaks of the Crown of Thorns Starfish. 

STEVE PRICE:

You’ve gotta work hand in hand with the farmers, we’d be lost without our farmers, you know.

PRIME MINISTER:

Certainly, well, we absolutely would be.

STEVE PRICE:

Our cane farms are big for us.

PRIME MINISTER: 

We would have nothing to eat and nothing to sell overseas to generate the income that keeps the nation going and delivers the record jobs growth across Australia by the way.

STEVE PRICE:

Oh, just thought we’d throw in the record jobs! We need some of that up here too. On that point, I’m glad you brought that up, coal and coral mate, what about Adani? Your support for Adani, what’s the story, you know what’s happening to us up here, so you’re no doubt across it. What are your thoughts?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the Adani mine has now got all the federal government environmental approvals, so it’s a question of it being financed. They had expressed, there had been interest expressed by them in applying for a loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

STEVE PRICE:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

But that can’t go ahead because as you know, Annastasia Palaszczuk has vetoed that and it has to go through the state government. So, on the other hand, the company is confident they can get the funding organized and it’s a very big project. It’s going to result in a lot of jobs in Townsville and indeed right through Queensland.

STEVE PRICE:

Many years ago, about 28 years ago, we were guaranteed water, “pure and guaranteed” was what Bob Hawke said. Then a Liberal Government came along and apparently didn’t help us too much with our water. Are the Coalition involved in helping us with our wet stuff?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well absolutely. As you know, I’m passionate about water and we have got a lot of money available for water projects in Queensland. What we’re waiting for, is for the state government to step up. Again I’m not trying to pass the buck here -

STEVE PRICE:

Yeah – no, I understand, no.

PRIME MINISTER:

But the reality is that the primary responsibly for water supply – when I say ‘primary’, ‘the’ responsibility is with the state government.

Now we are very keen to put a lot more money at work in water projects, right around Australia, but particularly in North Queensland and far North Queensland where there is an enormous amount of water, but very little of it, is actually used in a productive way. Whether it is for electricity generation or for industry or for agriculture as well. 

STEVE PRICE:

Well, we needed hydro on the Burdekin Dam, do you know if your Ministers are looking into that and the Hells Gate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we are certainly committed to looking at all of these projects - 

STEVE PRICE:

We need more than commitment sir, because the thing is we’re in level 4 at the moment. Or should I say level 3 that could go into level 4 and that is heavy drought for this wonderful city. We must have it, hey?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Steve let’s just talk about the Haughton Pipeline Duplication.

STEVE PRICE:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

That is currently, that is already funded. Do you think that that will be enough to keep Townsville fully supplied into the future?

STEVE PRICE:

No, actually mate, no I don’t.

PRIME MINISTER:

So you don’t agree with the Mayor?

STEVE PRICE:

Yes, no, I agree that we’ve got to look at Hells Gate -

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

STEVE PRICE:

For an even longer – for all the cane farms as well. Let’s look at all of North Queensland. That’s where we need Hells Gate. True, the Burdekin Pipeline must happen now, it should’ve happened ages ago. How we ever got into this, I don’t know how. I don’t know how you guys let us get into this, but anyway we are.

PRIME MINISTER:

Steve let me just interrupt you on Hells Gate. We provided $2 million, $2.2million in fact, to Queensland, to the state government to a feasibility study on building a new dam at Hells Gate.

STEVE PRICE:

Right.

PRIME MINISTER:

It should be completed in April.

STEVE PRICE:

Okay, yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

Townsville Enterprise Limited conducted the feasibility and SMEC which is the Snowy Mountains Engineering Cooperation, are leading the consortium to do the work.

It’s a huge project. As you know I’m, again, personally, passionately committed to more water infrastructure in Australia. Particularly if you can also use it to generate electricity.

Look what we’re doing with Snowy Hydro 2.0. We should have big, you know, ‘Snowy Hydro 2.0’ type projects right around Australia. Wherever you’ve got the water and the typography, the elevation, then you’ve got the ability to store it and use it, and in fact if you’ve got two ponds, two reservoirs -

STEVE PRICE:

Yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

Separated by reasonable elevation, ideally 400 metres or more, you can use that as a giant battery. When the electricity is cheap, you pump it uphill and when it’s in need, you let it run downhill.

STEVE PRICE:

Look we agree and look the pipeline will help us. Wish it’d been built quite a few years ago because it’s been sitting there. If we don’t get a wet season this year we are in dire straits, because it won’t be ready til’ say next season.

But as long as Hells Gate’s being looked at and our, you know our Water Board here is doing a great job. Mr Prime Minister thank you so much.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Steve.

STEVE PRICE:
Just quickly, we’ve got kids going back to school today, were you a good kid in school?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I certainly recall my being very good but I’m not sure that my teacher would have the same recollection.

STEVE PRICE:

Of course!

[Laughter]

As a suggestion to kids heading back to school from the Prime Minister of Australia, what would you say to them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well just be good, be kind to each other and that’s the most important thing. Be kind to the other kids in the class and you’ll get along well.

STEVE PRICE:

Terrific. Just like you do at Question Time?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is not a good example Steve.

[Laughter]

[ENDS]