Interview with Tom Connell, Afternoon Agenda, Sky News

Tom Connell
Voice Referendum, PRRT changes, carbon capture and storage

TOM CONNELL: Let's go live to Perth now and bring in the Resources Minister Madeleine King. Thanks for your time. WA is looking dire for the yes case in terms of polling. Why do you think that's the case?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well I don't think that's the case at all, Tom, not at all. WA - I had a Voice forum in my electorate of Rockingham in the southern suburbs of the Perth metropolitan area just last night, with the Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Senator Louise Pratt and myself and local Kwinana councillor Barry Winmar, and the feedback was all together positive.

I don't know really where this is coming from, some of this negativity about Western Australia. As we know -   

TOM CONNELL: Well these are opinion polls. Are they wrong or -    

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, yeah, but I don't think they're right and -   

TOM CONNELL:    can you point to one that has the yes case leading?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well I guess I can speak for my - the community that I've been talking to and that my team have been talking to, and by and large it's a resounding yes. But more importantly I think now that we know the referendum date is 14 October, it's up to those of us like me who support constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through a Voice to Parliament to have earnest and honest and open conversations with the rest of our community to seek their support for the Voice as well.

TOM CONNELL: Have people in your State been raising the Aboriginal cultural heritage laws that were passed in that State and then scrapped by the State Government?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Not in the context of the Voice. Obviously that had a lot of attention recently but, you know, I acknowledge the work of the State Government under the new leadership of Roger Cook, who has said that mistakes were made in the development of the cultural heritage laws, and the Government has done what mature governments do and admitted that something needed to change and they are changing that. I think that's an entirely sensible thing to do and we should respect what the State Government has done in that regard.

TOM CONNELL: It's about closing the gap which has been a desire of both sides. What can you point to in terms of what Labor's done since coming to office, because there's no point in just sitting and waiting until the Voice passes. What's the Government doing right now about this?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well about closing the gap where we're making more open and transparent accounting for all the closing the gap measures. We are talking to communities to make sure we work with them to close all those targets. And it is a big challenge and it's an intractable challenge.

Many of the areas of the closing the gap statement where in fact we're not closing the gap or even worse are going backwards, and that is why the Voice is important, because it's a movement from the ground up which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across the country in urban areas and regional and remote areas have asked for, and it is their view, and I share that view, that giving these people, our First Nations people a Voice to Parliament will help in closing the gap because we'll be listening to them and their views and what they think works from the ground up. And if we listen to people and we learn from them we will get better results.

I'm not saying that the Voice will change the closing the gap situation overnight, because nothing has yet, but what I do know is that something's got to change, and the Voice will be a positive part of that change.

TOM CONNELL: All right. A couple of areas in your portfolio. The PRRT changes to raise more tax from gas exploration and exports I should say. David Pocock indicated to Sky News he won't support the change as is. The Greens seem the same way inclined. Is this a case of either coalition support or bust?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: The PRRT changes that the Treasurer has put forward and which I support will bring $2.4 billion into the taxation system over the next four years and that's an entirely positive thing and, you know, I urge Senator Pocock and the Greens to support that because it brings $2.4 billion into our revenue stream.

But what I do know is that I've been engaging with Senator Susan McDonald from Queensland who's the shadow resources spokesperson and we're making sure that the opposition do have briefings. I know they will look at the changes and that's certainly their right as opposition, so I do hope that they deal themselves into this debate and support the PRRT changes.

TOM CONNELL: They wanted to see the detail. It's out there now. What's their inclination, are they concerned? Which way do they seem to be breaking on this?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well that's a matter for them but I do hope that they engage with us if they've got any questions, we're here to answer them, myself and the Treasurer's office.

TOM CONNELL: Okay. Does it feel positive [indistinct]?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: But I am hoping they will support the changes. Yes, it does feel positive. Susan, Senator McDonald, has been very constructive in her discussions with us around changes to the PRRT.

TOM CONNELL: All right. If you have to go the other way and have you to try to reason with David Pocock, Greens and others, would you countenance perhaps raising a bit more money than is currently on the table?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: We've put our proposal forward. It is there for people to examine. I appreciate that Senator Pocock and others have other views and that is their right. We will persevere with the changes we've put forward and we will seek the support of the Parliament for those changes.

TOM CONNELL: You've announced more carbon capture and storage sites across the country. Do you have confidence they'll be more successful than the biggest one, Gorgon, which is still only running at one-third of its purported capacity?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: The Gorgon CCS project has stored 8 million tonnes of CO2. In anyone's language that is a significant amount of CO2 that is not in the atmosphere and that is helping us tackle climate change.

TOM CONNELL: So it's a third of what it was aiming for?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: So whilst it has not performed - whilst it has not performed to the targets it set, which were ambitious, what it has done is shown that it does work and it works at scale. 8 million tonnes of carbon has been sequestered into a reservoir that used to store gas and can now store another type of gas. So it is an important development. It's not the only carbon capture and storage facility in this country but it is the biggest and it's in fact the biggest in the world.

This is a growing technology, absolutely. Chevron know there have to be improvements; I want there to be improvements. There's research being conducted in Curtin University and CSIRO around different means of making sure CCS is captured and stored to take carbon out of the atmosphere.

The International Energy Agency has said that without carbon capture and storage we won't reach net zero. So I for one encourage the take-up of that technology.

TOM CONNELL: I'm sure it said we won’t, but it said it should be part of the pathway and there could be different technologies. When you alluded there to say it has to get better, is that fair to say if it's going to be economically viable it needs to be more successful than it was in particular at Gorgon, or has been?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: I think you'll see from the take-up of the CCS acreage releases which we’ve announced last year and then this year, and last year was the first one in about seven years, that because of the reforms our government has made with the safeguards mechanism, with the Climate Change Act, companies that do -    

TOM CONNELL: All right, got to jump in there. Sorry for that, Minister, we do appreciate your time. We're going live to Peter Dutton who's speaking on the day the referendum date has been announced.