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Interview - Credlin, Sky News Live with Janine Perrett

31 May 2019

Janine Perrett

Subject: NASA to launch in Northern Territory, Climate Science, Manufacturing, Australian-Made logo & Innovation


The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews was interviewed on Sky News by Janine Perrett.

Janine Perrett: It’s now my pleasure to introduce the freshly sworn in Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, all the way from the Gold Coast, Karen Andrews. Welcome to the show, Minister, and we already had you booked. We have a lot to talk about on a number of issues tonight. And as luck would have it, I see this announcement, a big announcement, about NASA which is particularly important not just because it’s portfolio but I know you’re a bit of a space buff. Apparently, you want to go to Mars. But please tell us the significance of this NASA announcement that they’re going to launch a rocket from the Northern Territory.

Karen Andrews: Well, won’t that be just absolutely fabulous and as you just said, I am probably a bit of a space junkie and always have been. So, look, it’s fabulous news. Ever since the Coalition Government established the Australian Space Agency, we have clearly been out there kicking space goals and the engagement that we’ve had with NASA has just been fabulous. So, the more launch that we can do from Australia, the happier I’ll be.

Janine Perrett: Okay. So just explain to me the significance. Is this a first outside the US or is it a first- and where is the Space Agency? I thought it was in Adelaide. Or has it been announced or is it going to be based in Northern Territory? Put it in perspective for us.

Karen Andrews: So the Australian Space Agency will be headquartered in Adelaide. So there’s an innovation hub; it’s going to be defence and space. It’s Lot 14. It’s where the old hospital was, pretty much in the centre of Adelaide. So that’s where the Space Agency will be. We will, of course, be working with every state and territory. So we’re very interested in launch. South Australia is very interested in launch, particularly from the Woomera site. We do launch. We have launched before here in Australia so we do launch satellites, nano-satellites, testing rockets have been launched from Australia. But the more that we can do of that, the better, for two reasons: one, it continues to establish our credibility in the space sector. But secondly, it excites so many people and the more people that we can excite about space, the better it will be.

Janine Perrett: Well, I’m with you because I’m on the inspiration side. I’ve actually covered the space launch at Canaveral. But again, just finally me on this. Explain - and Darwin will be going mad, I can’t wait to see the Northern Territory news headlines tomorrow. We know about Woomera and nano-satellites but the significance of NASA picking the Northern Territory – just explain that.

Karen Andrews: Well, it’s very significant for NASA to pick Australia and Northern Territory would be absolutely delighted that they have been selected. So they have their interest in launch. They want to go ahead with probably doing most of the launches in Australia. So, for them to secure a launch from NASA is absolutely fantastic.
Janine Perrett: And what kind of rockets are we talking about though? Is it a big Elon Musk type? I know he uses NASA facilities. Is it NASA’s probe to Mars or is it just small commercial? What kind of things are we going to see? How many?

Karen Andrews: Well, I don’t have the detail of exactly what’s going to be happening at that launch. I’m certainly in the process of getting some more detail about that and I will be reaching out to NASA to make sure that this isn’t a one-off, that there’s going to be further launches into the future.

Janine Perrett: Excellent. And very good for the US relationship too, which I think is excellent. It just shows their trust in us.

Karen Andrews: Yes, it is. It’s very good. And one of the announcements that I made during the election campaign is that the federal government was committing money to looking at launch activities here in Australia and to look at our regulatory system to make sure that there are no barriers to us progressing with launch. So, this is really good news for Australia

Janine Perrett: Yes, a happy story. Now, let’s go to some other news that’s around today. You were quoted in the Nine newspapers this morning. You gave an interview and you talked about embracing science in the climate change and it looks like you’re going to be an advocate. I mean, obviously, that’s your portfolio. It has science written in it. We’re still allowed to. No innovation anymore but science and technology is there. You say, for example, you’re going to give a briefing to your colleagues Sussan Ley and Warren Entsch about the Great Barrier Reef and what’s being done there. You even talk about developing batteries for electric vehicles. Now, without putting too fine a point on it, there’s a lot of people within your party that haven’t embraced science as you are. How much of an uphill battle and what reaction do you expect?

Karen Andrews: Well, I’ve absolutely embraced science my entire life and certainly, during my time in parliament Richard Marles and I established the Parliamentary Friends of Science about eight years ago and we do have a commitment from a number of our senators and members of the House of Representatives to come along to various briefings. Now, with regards to climate science, I am well and truly on the record of saying: yes, I accept. I understand that the climate is changing. The Prime Minister is well and truly on the record of saying that. The fact that he has appointed Warren Entsch as the Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef gives me an opportunity to work directly with Warren on the Great Barrier Reef, to work with our new Environment Minister Sussan Ley. I have responsibility for a number of our science agencies but the Australian Institute of Marine Science is doing some great work with the Great Barrier Reef, looking at a whole range of strategies. So it’s not necessarily just the climate science, it’s to do with the crown of thorns starfish and the devastation that that has caused for many, many years on the Great Barrier Reef. But what I will be doing is working even more closely with AIMS to look at what we can do with mitigation and adaptation strategies on the reef because we know that there are coral bleaching events; we know that they’re getting closer together; and what that means is that the Reef doesn’t have the opportunity to regenerate to the level that it needs to. So AIMS is already looking at what the strategies are going to be to buy us a bit more time between bleaching events.

Janine Perrett: Well, going to this very issue of other people who might not be embracing the science or the issues of the Barrier Reef as you are, let’s just look at a quote from your colleague Matt Canavan from the Nationals, who is the Minister for Resources obviously. And yesterday at a conference, he had this to say to business, to industry: we’ve now had four elections in a row where the Australian people have rejected such a policy and perhaps it’s time we all listen to the democratic will and seek to tackle the issue of climate change through other means. He also goes on then to say further: I’d encourage the financial sector to review some of these policies and to ensure lending decisions are based on commercial and business consideration and not be influenced of some loud, undemocratic voices within the community.

Now, this has not been greeted well in some sections of industry because they feel that he’s - they’ve had these policies; they are listening to the science; and this is the kind of backward looking attitude that has caused problems. I mean, what do you say about that? When you’re trying for people to embrace the science and he’s virtually saying: the will of the people - let’s not get carried away with all this climate change silliness if the people want something.

Karen Andrews: Well, I understand and I accept climate science and I’m the Science Minister. I tend to proceed exactly down the pathway that I have committed to. So, I will continue to advocate for adaption and mitigation strategies. I will try and move the conversation more broadly to the environment because I think we need to get past having a debate about whether climate science is real or not. It’s very, very clearly real. I’m on the record of saying that.

Janine Perrett: Okay.

Karen Andrews: The Prime Minister is on the record as saying that.

Janine Perrett: I understand that.

Karen Andrews: And that’s where I’m headed.

Janine Perrett: But seeing Matt Canavan’s comments that are interpreted as warning industry not to get too carried away and that the will of the people is there, he’s talking about Adani. Where do you stand on Adani then? Because protecting the Great Barrier Reef, that’s one of the issues the anti-Adani people have.

Karen Andrews: So, Adani means jobs to Central and North Queenslanders, and when they voted in the election almost two weeks ago now, they very clearly voted for jobs. So, I know, I have worked with the mining sector on and off for a number of years now. They are very strong, very proud people. And they're very keen to make sure that they have jobs now, that their kids have jobs, and that their grandkids have jobs. And they see the mining sector as very important. The resources sector does not have to exclude consciousness about the environment in which we live. Now the Adani mine has gone through a whole range of environmental approvals. The last one was signed off by Environment Minister Melissa Price just prior to the election being called. The Queensland State Government has made some decisions today in relation to the finch and the popular strategies to deal with that. So it is effectively full steam ahead now for Adani. I’m very comfortable that the science has been properly investigated, where the likes of for example Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO have been asked to comment on, for example.

And let me make it very clear. I spoke to the CEO at the CSIRO and I made it very clear, as the responsible minister that I wanted to be in a position to support the science so that the report that was given needed to be very clearly supporting the science. So I'm very confident that CSIRO has done their investigations and have advised accordingly.

Janine Perrett: Does that mean you be checking it beforehand and if you do have any concerns on the science that's being used? Because there's obviously - and from Matt Canavan’s tone, there is a push to say: the voters have spoken, let's just get it through. Are you saying you'll be going: hold on a minute, I want to be certain the science is right?

Karen Andrews: I gave my instruction to the CEO, Larry Marshall, prior to the report being made. So I'm very confident that Larry Marshall made sure that he had oversight of whatever was necessary within the CSIRO. Let's be very clear that there has been a lot of work done on, for example, the groundwater plans. And there was a little bit of toing and froing and some modifications were made to the plans; that has now been approved. So the last ministerial approval for the Adani mine, I believe, has now been granted. Further work was done by the Queensland State Government today. So it is at a point where the Adani coal mine, the Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin, is ready to proceed to the next stage. There may well be some further approvals that need to be made by the Queensland State Government, but people did vote in Queensland, in Central Queensland and in North Queensland for jobs. And that's what mining and resources delivers in Central and North Queensland.

Janine Perrett: Okay, we'll just move on to other things. Because in your portfolio, you've also made a couple of announcements this morning; there were more. I think these were also flagged in the election and it's to do with manufacturing, you've got a $160 million plan for worth of business investment, $20 million in grants for small scale investments, $30 million in grants for transformative investments. One I think people will understand, $5 million to promote the advance, the Australian Made logo. Again, is this just pushing in- you've talked; you've got a 100-day plan you've come out with this week. Is this part of it? Get moving, do things that are promised.

Karen Andrews: Oh look, absolutely. The manufacturing sector is very important to Australians and to the Australian economy. So, about 7 per cent of our workforce is employed in manufacturing jobs. We want to grow that. There was in the last year about $50 billion worth of manufactured goods exported. And of course, Australia has a relatively small population of about $25 million - 25 million people, sorry. So we need we need to look at what our markets are going to be if we are going to develop our industries here. So the Australian Made logo which you mentioned is very important. Australian manufactured goods, particularly our food industry, is very well regarded internationally. It's considered to be very high quality. So we want to make sure that the Australian Made logo is used as widely as it possibly can so that Australian manufactured goods overseas pick up the benefit of people being able to identify that it's from Australia. So that's a very important part.

Janine Perrett: I just want to pick up on the Australian Made logo issue though, because that's all very well overseas. But there has been Senate inquiries, there's been some recommendations about it used domestically that a lot of- and we've seen some abuse of it, the people have been able to claim, put the Australian Made logo on, sell goods in a supermarket that honestly have just come from overseas or have just been packaged here. Are you going to be looking at those recommendations that the advance Australia logo isn't devalued at home as well?

Karen Andrews: The Australian Made logo is so important. Of course, as a government and my department will have the responsibility for making sure that it is used in the appropriate circumstances. There was concern that was raised in a number of areas with regards to pharmaceutical, so natural therapy pharmaceuticals that were manufactured in Australia as to whether or not they would be eligible for the Australian Made logo. We've proposed some changes to that to make sure that those goods, where they’re manufactured in Australia in accordance with the TGA approvals, then yes, they will be able to use an Australian Made logo. So that's very important. So you know, your vitamins that are manufactured here in Australia can be sold overseas. That was very important for those manufacturers that did export. But more broadly with manufacturing, what we announced with the manufacturing modernisation fund is going to unlock about $160 million to grow our manufacturing sector, particularly looking at technologies and how technology can be used to improve efficiency, to improve productivity and make our manufacturers more competitive. Now you did mention before something about innovation?
Janine Perrett: Yes, I was going to see if the ‘I word’ would come up; just quickly we're running out of time. But if you were to talk the, I word, I'd be very happy to let you do it.

Karen Andrews: I'm very happy to talk the, I word, because my department is the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. So, innovation still remains in the title of the Department. My title for my ministerial role is technology, which includes innovation as a key part of that. But what we need to – I can hear you chuckling – but what I want to do and I'm very, very committed to this is making sure that innovation is seen as broad as it possibly can. So, for our traditional manufacturers, for our emerging manufacturers, and of course for our start-ups. The start-ups are a very key part of our economy. But innovation can't be just combined and confined to start-ups. Because there’s things that we use.

Janine Perrett: I have to pick you up really quickly on that before we leave, because we're running out of time. You talk about start-ups. A lot of the industry, the tech industry is the start-ups are furious about the budget, the cut back to R and D that your government did. Are you going to be looking at doing more in that area?

Karen Andrews: Well the R and D tax incentive is a demand driven program. So one of the key things that has to be looked at is why business investment in research and development has dropped. It's dropped globally but it's dropped here in Australia. So research and development is clearly not just for government. We do have a role and we're committed to that but I'm going to be working to make sure the businesses understand how important research and development is, particularly for small and medium enterprises. And I've started the discussions with the likes of CSIRO. And yesterday at a conference with our co-operative research centres, talking to them about how they can engage our research organisations and small and medium enterprises so that those businesses can innovate.

Janine Perrett: Okay. Unfortunately, we’ve got to leave it there. So much to talk about in the portfolio, not the least be you might actually get to Mars from Australia. How fantastic is that?

Karen Andrews: How good is Mars? 
Janine Perrett: Thanks very much Karen Andrews.

Karen Andrews: Pleasure.