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Interview – ABC Gold Coast Breakfast with Julie Clift

19 July 2019

Julie Clift

Subject: Building Ministers’ Forum, moon landing anniversary, Gold Coast role in the Australian space industry


Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews was interviewed on ABC Gold Coast Breakfast with Julie Clift

Julie Clift: Well tomorrow marks fifty years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.


Neil Armstrong: That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

[End of excerpt]

Julie Clift: Humans have travelled so much further in space than we could ever have imagined 50 years ago. And whilst our understanding of space continues to grow it's not just in places like NASA in the US, or the Russian space agencies, it's happening right here on the Gold Coast. Karen Andrews is the Minister for Industry Science and Technology and she joins me in the studio this morning. Good morning.

Karen Andrews: Good morning.

Julie Clift: Thank you for being here. Before we get to the moon landing, and, to exploration here on the Gold Coast, yesterday you took part in the Building Ministers’ Forum in Sydney with state and territory ministers. How would you describe the outcome of yesterday's meeting?

Karen Andrews: Look, it was very positive outcome. So we now have a commitment that all of the states and territories will work together to implement the recommendations of a very significant report on problems with the building sector that was probably written now about 18 months to two years ago but has been on the table since early last year. That is a huge step forward because industry has been calling out for there to be consistency across the states with building. So this is a good first step.

What we need to do is make sure that we do have the states and territories working together because they've got the responsibility for building regulations, so they're committed to doing that.

But we also need to instil confidence. So the building sector has come under criticism for years, and years, and years and its undermined people's confidence in the sector. It's also undermined the insurers’ confidence.

So the risk profile has changed. It's meant that, in specific building issues such as insurance for building certifiers, it's harder for them to get. Some of the insurers have walked away – it's difficult for some buildings now to get building insurance. We need to change that risk profile and to do that we need to build confidence in the sector.

Julie Clift: Is there a need for a tailored solution for the Gold Coast which has so many apartment buildings and so much high rise development still to come?

Karen Andrews: I'm very conscious of the specific needs of the Gold Coast given that I'm an MP here on the Gold Coast. There are significant high rise and there's a lot of residential high rise.

Each state has been responsible for conducting its own audits, so I know that there have been audits conducted throughout Queensland. I believe they're still underway which will look at where there is the combustible cladding in place where it should never have been in the first instance. And let me make it very clear there are some instances where cladding, if it's properly installed, is fine to be used; it fits within the National Construction Code. But effectively on buildings that are over about three stories, if it's installed, potentially it will have been installed outside the National Construction Code and the state building regulations. So it should never have been there in the first place.

So the states and territories are looking at now what they're going to do with that cladding, whether it's going to be a full removal, what their processes are.

Julie Clift: You just said there that you're aware, given that you are a member for the Gold Coast, but do you think there will be something specific set out for the Gold Coast going forward – a solution?

Karen Andrews: Well that's going to be sitting with Mick de Brenni as the state building minister. When I was speaking to him yesterday we were really talking about the whole of Australia outcomes in that there will be differences between states and territories. But I'm certainly keen to make sure that all the states and territories are working together and dealing with this issue.

Julie Clift: Apartment owners are concerned about the amount of debt they may be facing. What's the likelihood of assistance for them from the federal government?

Karen Andrews: Well, we've made our position very clear that building regulation is a state and territory issue so it will be up to the state governments to deal with that. There are differences in the states and to what their approach is going to be. We know that there are issues with potentially people going to insurers, going to the builders in the first instance to try and get a resolution. So there are a range of options there already but it's clearly not a federal responsibility.

Julie Clift: Let's move on to the moon landing and to the role that the Gold Coast plays in space exploration. It’s sixteen past seven on ABC Gold Coast, and I'm speaking with Karen Andrews, she's the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

Let’s talk first about your memories of the moon landing. I cleared it up with you first that you were around, Minister Andrews…

Karen Andrews: Yes.

Julie Clift: …and you do remember it?

Karen Andrews: Yes I do indeed because it was my first day at a new school. So first day we turned up and got sent home and I'm going wow, this is a good school I’m pleased we moved. And of course my mother was - I’m not sure if she was surprised or unimpressed that we'd arrived home unexpectedly.

But it was just fascinating to sit there and watch on the old black and white TVs. And it was a bit of a grainy picture and to just see Neil Armstrong come down that ladder and to take that- it's actually giving me goose bumps now as I'm just remembering it. It was just fabulous. And I thought maybe one day that could be me.

Julie Clift: Yes. We heard Linda Woods before saying she thinks every young person who saw it thought one day I might get out there and be an astronaut as well, so that was the same for you Minister Andrews. How important is the Gold Coast role in space exploration?

Karen Andrews: Look it's very important and there are some real opportunities for us. So across Australia the space industry is worth about $3.9 billion and employs 10,000 people. We're going to be growing that to $12 billion by 2030 with an additional 20,000 people. Now space is not just about launch, even though that's a very exciting part of it. And here on the Gold Coast we've got Gilmour Technologies that are doing some great work with their - effectively - their test rockets. So they're fantastic, they've actually grown their business here on the Gold Coast and they will continue to do that, to do more testing work. Not from the Gold Coast because they'll launch potentially in western Queensland but they're doing a fantastic job here on the coast. But there's also opportunities for us to be involved potentially through, what I believe, is a very fast growing innovation sector here on the Gold Coast. And we'll be looking at not just launch but also things such as the GPS. So people use things from space every single day and I want to involve as many people as possible. 

Julie Clift: Speaking of people, I was going to ask you about that in terms of what it means for the Gold Coast and the people living here, their role then in being able to get involved with space exploration.

Karen Andrews: Yeah. Well certainly through Gilmour Technologies they will be working with some local providers but will also be working quite closely with our small businesses for example, and see what the opportunities are for them to be involved in various satellite programs. Whether that's a build, whether that's a design and looking at new technologies that require information to come down from space. All the data that is being collected now, we are ideally placed to establish a key role in data analytics here and we have to grow our economy. We do rely on building and construction, and tourism, so space would be an ideal third.

Julie Clift: You are heading to Parkes Observatory tomorrow for the anniversary, because Parkes had a major role in the moon landing and the beaming of that information to millions of people around the world. What will you be doing?

Karen Andrews: Well I think there's a few things planned for me. So the date that is referred to is the 20th of July but Australian time was the 21st. So at 12.56 on Sunday, that will be exactly 50 years from when Neil Armstrong first took steps onto the moon.

So I believe that I'm going to be what's referred to as hay riding on the dish, which is I'll be up on the dish which will just be fabulous – I may well take a cricket bat, who knows – and they will be moving the dish around. So I'm so excited about being there, being able to be up there on the dish is going to be one part of it. But just reliving all of those memories and having the opportunity to talk to people there who have wonderful memories of space, and to look towards the future.

Because NASA is well underway with its Artemis program, they're looking at putting people back on the moon in 2024. So you know, here we go again.

Julie Clift: Here we go again. Enjoy that dish riding.

Karen Andrews: I will, I will.

Julie Clift: Get us some photos of that Minister Andrews,

Karen Andrews: Yeah. I’ll do my best.

Julie Clift: Fantastic. Thank you for joining me this morning. That is Karen Andrews. She's the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology speaking about, well first her memories of the moon landing and then the exciting role that the Gold Coast plays in space exploration.