Joint press conference, Gladstone

Joint media conference with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
A Future Made in Australia, critical minerals, energy transition.

Joint media conference with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Queensland Premier Steven Miles and Member for Gladstone and Queensland Minister for Manufacturing and Regional Development Glenn Butcher.

RIMAS KIRIOZIS, MANAGING DIRECTOR ALPHA HPA: My name is Rimas Kiriozis. I'm the Managing Director of Alpha HPA. On behalf of our HPA, our directors, our shareholders, our staff and our community. I'd like to sincerely thank the Prime Minister, Mr Albanese and Minister Madeleine King for this announcement today, the major financial support from the Australian Government for the Alpha HPA business. We believe that the Alpha HPA business is a completely unique downstream processing opportunity. And we are completely absolutely delighted to have this opportunity endorsed by the Australian Government today. Our process technology is a world's first and it allows us to invest heavily in value addition that comes with the downstream process, and to manufacture ultra-high purity aluminium materials that are so critical to the energy transition. And that we can do that in a way that is not only sustainable but, critically, cost-effective and commercial. The materials that Alpha will manufacture on this site will enable safer lithium-ion batteries, it will power more powerful semi-conductors. And it will enable the next generation of LED displays and LED lighting - all such critical technologies for a lower carbon economy. Alpha is a proudly Australian and proudly Queensland business. We are committed to developing Australian-owned and Australian-developed IP here in Australia. We don't believe in doing things the same, we're committed to doing things better and smarter, and receiving this level of support from the Australian Government is such a fantastic endorsement. And while I'm talking Queensland, I’m absolutely delighted to also have Steven Miles, Premier Miles, and Mr. Glenn Butcher here today, and that we can thank them again for their continuing and ongoing and enthusiastic support for Alpha’s business. Our advantage is also substantially based on the ability to leverage off existing infrastructure. And that includes the renewable energy network that's here in Queensland that is continued to be rolled out. But in particular, the neighboring facility here managed by Orica. And I'd also like to thank our key chemical and corporate partners, Orica, for their continued support for the business, and they present to you today. We have a philosophy of trying to make a difference. By investing in IP in Australian skills. And in supplying critical minerals. We believe this funding sends an incredibly strong message not just to our end user counterparties, but the sectors in which we operate, to our shareholders, with the Australian critical mineral sector and Alpha HPA open for business. So thank you very much I'd like to throw to the Prime Minister.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much. And it's fantastic to be back in Queensland, in particular to be back here in Gladstone. We're building a future made here in Australia, powered by Queenslanders, starting right here in Gladstone. But right throughout Queensland, this state has an enormous opportunity to particularly benefit from our agenda of a future made in Australia. What that's about simply is the fact that the world is changing. We're in a competition for new jobs and new industries and new opportunity. And we've got to be in it, to win it. And that's why I launched this campaign there at the Queensland Media Club just a week ago. And you can expect regular visits here in Queensland, and regular announcements about jobs here in Queensland, partnering with the private sector. Alpha, this company here, an Australian based company, producing Australian IP, producing once again the best products in the world. That's what we can do. Now you can have two approaches to that. One is we produce the ideas and the innovation, you transport it offshore, and then we import it back, once the value has been added and the jobs have been created. Or you can say no, there's a better way. The better way is for us to value add right here. To create jobs here and to create value here. And that's what this is about. The men and women who are working here at this site will expand substantially as a result of what we're doing here. 490 jobs during construction, and more than 200 ongoing jobs right here on this site. Good quality secure jobs because of what is being created here. This global race for new jobs and new opportunities is on. And I'm pleased that we're partnering today with the Queensland Government, and to be joined by Steven Miles and Glenn Butcher, the local member as well as the Minister, as well as my Minister, Madeleine King. This announcement today positions Gladstone at the forefront of Australia's critical mineral industry. These projects will help secure good and secure jobs in manufacturing and clean, reliable energy. Now, the Government will provide $400 million in new loans to Alpha HPA to deliver Australia's first high purity alumina processing facility right here in Queensland. What they will do as well is to diversify global supply chains. One of the lessons of the pandemic is we need to be more resilient, but it will also help lower emissions. The company will use this IP and technology, to process this high purity alumina. This is a critical mineral for LED lighting, for semiconductors, for lithium-ion batteries, that will make an enormous difference. The loans will be provided by Export Finance Australia, through the Government’s $4 billion critical minerals facility, as well as through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. So this will make an enormous difference. It's a practical example of what we mean when we say that Australia can compete. These loans will be paid back, paid back to the Government. But more importantly, this investment will result in a massive return to our nation, a return in jobs, a return in revenue, a return in reliability and resilience. So important as we move forward. I do want to say as well that today the Government has also conditionally approved $185 million to Renascor Resources to fast track the development of stage one of its Siviour Graphite Project in South Australia. This project will also deliver significant economic benefits to South Australia. That will mean that stage one of the project can be brought forward sooner. When you look at all the activity that is happening around Australia, this is a very exciting opportunity that we have going forward. And it's fantastic to be able to work with the Queensland Premier, Steven Miles and I'll ask him to make some comments now.

STEVEN MILES, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Thanks so much Prime Minister and it's fantastic to have you in town again for another great announcement for Queensland. Our Governments, the Queensland and Australian Governments, share a vision of a future where we've made more things here in Australia and in Queensland. Just last week, we were here in Gladstone to open the new electrolyser factory, the biggest electrolyser factory in the world. The very next day, we turned the sod on a new solar farm near here at Aldoga, one of the biggest in the world, and one way out, all of the power has already been sold to produce hydrogen to deliver to our trading partners in Japan and Singapore. And today we're here at Alpha HPA announcing the massive upscaling of their enterprise here. The Queensland Government has been really proud to partner with Alpha HPA. This site is on our State Development Area land, we’ve contributed grant funding to the existing facility as you can see, but this $400 million in loans from the Australian Government allows for a massive upscaling of production of high purity alumina, that will go into things like our phone screens, our watch glass, the batteries that we're going to need for our cars, all products that the world will need, all products that we will produce using the renewable energy that we generate here, and all products that that will allow us to create good, secure, well paid jobs for Queenslanders. So Prime Minister we look forward to many more of these kinds of announcements.

GLENN BUTCHER, MEMBER FOR GLADSTONE & MINISTER FOR MANUFACTURING: What another great day to be the local Member for Gladstone and also the Minister for Manufacturing here in Queensland. We know the benefits of these fantastic opportunities coming forward for the people of Gladstone. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Gladstone community is sick to death of the boom and bust cycle, and what these projects are going to do for this community is make sure that we have steady growth into the future. This project is 490 local jobs constructing the new facility that they're looking to build, and then 200 ongoing jobs for this local community to put a roof over their head to put food on the table, and support being a Gladstonite. I'm so proud that we not only now are making one of the world's largest hydrogen electrolyser facilities, and make manufacturing facility, but also the solar farms and the wind farms that are coming on the back of that. When you see local companies like Rio Tinto, here in Gladstone, looking to decarbonise and they build big solar farms, wind farms as well. I think we know we're on the right track, when these companies are starting to decarbonise, and these are things that we're doing, and Queensland is certainly doing now.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much Glenn. We're happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST: How significant is this loan, and what will it help Alpha HPA actually do?

PRIME MINISTER: This is a very significant investment. And what it will do is enable the facility to massively expand. They are doing some amazing work here, but it's not at scale. So by doing it at scale, this will be the biggest facility of its type in the world – bar none. Producing the best quality alumina in the world. This is what Australia can do. If we have confidence, if we have optimism and move forward, we can make things here. And here in Queensland, there's nowhere better for that to happen.

JOURNALIST: And how important is alumina as a critical mineral?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, it is one of the 31 critical minerals that we're providing support for, because we understand, I might ask Madeleine to have a go here, as well. We understand that when it comes to critical minerals, one of the dynamics that’s happening in the world is that for those products, which are finite - many of which are in massive demand, Australia is really well positioned. If you look at all the all the products that will power the 21st century, Australia is the lucky country. Australia has massive quantities of copper, vanadium, cobalt, rare earths, of a range of products that will be so important as we go forward. Just as fossil fuels have been very important for Australia, and will continue, of course, to play a role. But if we get this right, we can position ourselves so that our economy not only is able to supply domestically, but we are able to export, particularly the growing economies to our north. My Government has a Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040. That's about Australia taking our place, and benefiting from the fact that we live in the region with the fastest growing economic growth in human history. That represents an opportunity for a long time. If this was last century, the Prime Minister would have been standing here speaking about the tyranny of distance. Now we speak about the proximity of opportunity. Because we are so close to the fastest growing region in the world. We have resources under the ground that are of enormous value that we can value add to, we have green hydrogen that will be so important in driving clean manufacturing through in the future. And in addition to that, we have the best solar resources of any continent that's inhabited on the planet. Now when you combine all those things, what you see is opportunity. And that's what I see. That's what my Government sees. That's what our Budget will be about in a few weeks’ time, seizing that opportunity. I might give to Madeleine King.

MADELEINE KING, MINISTER FOR RESOURCES: Thank you, Prime Minister just in regard to a high purity alumina. High purity alumina, it's made from the aluminum that itself was made not far from here, at the Rio Tinto facility, and that's part of the industry facility which Minister Glenn Butcher was part of, for 20 years. So it's a really a very important industry here for Gladstone, to be able to turn that alumina into this high purity alumina is a really significant step for Australia and, of course, for Alfa HPA. Our traditional resources in this country, right here in Gladstone, moves coal and LNG, and in my home state of Western Australia, iron ore and LNG continue to underpin the economy, the economic prosperity of our country. But it is that economic prosperity that allows us the Albanese Labor Government to be able to support these emerging industries such as the high purity alumina industry, and then for Renascor in South Australia, the new spherical graphite. All of which does need help, because international forces are difficult to overcome in these emerging industries. And they will be, those parts of our industry that we will need to get to net zero. And I'm super proud of the work Alpha HPA of doing, that Renascor are doing, that so many are doing because as I've said many times before, the road to net zero run through Australia's resource sector.

JOURNALIST: I just had a question for Minister King, while you're there. Data shows that less than half of the Bruce Highway is failing basic safety standards. Why did the Federal Government slash funding?

MINISTER KING: Now, I think you may have been confused with the Minister of Infrastructure Catherine King.

PRIME MINISTER: I'll take an infrastructure question. We have committed $10 billion to the Bruce Highway. I was in Rockhampton with the Premier a little while ago doing the Rocky Ring Road construction beginning. Just near here, Calliope Crossroads - promised, funded, commenced, built, while I was the Infrastructure Minister. You go further, further south here – Cooroy to Curra - talked about by the former local LNP MP, Warren Truss. He happened to be the Transport Minister. Used to stand up in Parliament and say, this is the worst section of the road in Queensland. This is the most dangerous road in Australia. If only there was someone who could do something about it. The bloke was a Transport Minister. It took us coming to Government to get that done. Cooroy to Curra – now drive along that section of the highway, it's enormous. Mackay Ring Road - I'll be there again soon. Commenced under us, construction. Townsville Ring Road stages 1, 2, 3, 4. All of the work that was done up and down the Bruce Highway. The Howard Government - little fun fact for you - $1.3 billion over twelve years. The Rudd and Gillard Government - $7.6 billion over six years. We got it going. The Yeppen Floodplain into Rocky. It used to be no one could get into Rocky every time there was a major flooding event, we fixed it. Now we had ten years, for example, Rocky Ring Road is a good example. I funded in the 2012 Budget the study for the Rockhampton Ring Road. It only commenced this year. What happened in between time? The LNP, that's what happened. We're in government. So we're committed to working between myself, and Steven, and Catherine King - the other King sister - will be there working away on the Bruce Highway. I understand how important it is. And I was talking earlier today, during the pandemic I had the opportunity, as Labor Leader, I drove with some of the team who are here now from Barcaldine to Brisbane. I drove from Cairns to Brisbane, and we drove another time from Townsville to Brisbane, inland again via Emerald and Bilo. And around here as well. I'm very familiar with the Bruce Highway. I'm big in Bororen, which is just south of here, the pub. We ended up there for dinner a few times. Highly recommended. So, I'm a Prime Minister who's not a Queenslander. I tell you what, I know about the Bruce Highway and so does Catherine King, and so does the Premier of Queensland, and we're getting on with it. But the truth is that the former government, Federal Government, talked and talked and talked. What they didn't do was provide funds and get on with it.

JOURNALIST: So, will the Bruce Highway ever be finished?

PRIME MINISTER: I think I just answered the Bruce Highway pretty comprehensively.

JOURNALIST: So, the LNP says Queensland can't be reliant on solar fields and wind towers. Rather we need baseline energy and that's what the State and Federal Government needs to focus on. What's your response to that?

PRIME MINISTER:  Well, the Queensland LNP. Is that right?

JOURNALIST: The Federal LNP, yeah.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, and their friends in the State Parliament, if ever they have any real influence, we know that they will listen to their masters in Peter Dutton in particular. This facility here is 100 per cent renewable energy powered. This one here. The expanded facility will be 100 per cent renewable energy powered. Rio Tinto have just signed the biggest deal that has ever been signed by any entity in Australia to receive renewable energy. We know that in order to advance, Queensland is in a good position with hydro, with wind, with solar. I've been, whether it's here in this part, whether you look at the work that's been done with CopperString in the north to connect Mount Isa to Townsville with the Kidston Projects and Big Kennedy and Little Kennedy Wind Power Projects, this is what is going to power Queensland. This is where the investment will be. You might recall in the previous government there was a lot of talk about coal-fired power stations. Not one of them opened in the ten years that they were in office, not one. And they funded the proponents of Collinsville, gave money to the people who were the proponents, for something that had no chance - a snowflake's chance in hell of going forward. But taxpayers’ money used, a con on the people of that community saying that it would be viable. The truth is it doesn't stack up. It doesn't stack up, which is why it didn't occur. But we know that their agenda is to put off the work that's needed on solar and wind and renewables for this nuclear reactor plan. These people are nuclear reactionaries, they have taken control of the Queensland LNP. And what they want is a nuclear reactor in places like here, Gladstone, where are you going to put it? On Curtis Island, where are you going to put it? Up and down the coast. Wherever there's water is, where a nuclear reactor has to be, you need water, needs to be near populations as well. They have said that. So, we will say as well, that the Queensland LNP have to say who's funding this. Who's funding this? Because it won't be loans to the private sector, it will have to be funded by government, because it simply doesn't stack up. Which is why no private sector enterprise is putting their hand up for this. They used to say they'd have small modular reactors, until someone pointed out they don't actually exist anywhere in the western world, then they now talk about large nuclear reactors. But I will be arguing between now and the next election and beyond against their plan. We have a real plan that stacks up, that serious people in energy - like we've just been here in Gladstone with Origin and with other companies as well that we work with in the energy sector. But I'm sure Steven will want to add something as well.

PREMIER MILES: Sounds a bit similar, though. The future for Queensland is leveraging our incredible renewable energy resources with our transmission infrastructure and our highly skilled workforce to be creating the products that the world needs going into the future. The answer is not to embrace nuclear power. We need stored renewables, reliable stored renewables, to deliver certainty of renewable energy 24/7 to households and to industry. When we have investors come to see us, they want to leverage off those renewable energy resources, so that the products that they then sell to the world can have a lower carbon footprint. None of them are coming here demanding that we build nuclear reactors to deliver them nuclear power. That isn't what these investors are looking for. It isn't what will attract and create jobs here. And what we know is that nuclear power would be at least five to six times more expensive. So, think about your household power bill. Think about the power bills of big energy intensive industries in places like here in Gladstone. You know, the smelters, the LNG processing. Think about what them having to pay more than five times as much for their energy would be like. So, there is a really stark and clear choice here between Labor governments at a Queensland and Australian Government level, who are embracing the opportunities of stored renewables to create jobs, and the ideology of the LNP at a State and Federal level, demanding we ignore those opportunities and instead spend tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars more to build nuclear reactors all over the State.

JOURNALIST: What about the announcement today was so important for you, and the Minister for Water, to leave the Parliament on a Sitting Day?

PREMIER MILES: Well, this is an incredibly important announcement for our State. And my number one job as the Premier is to make sure that we are attracting the industries of the future so that we can secure our existing jobs and create new ones. And this announcement is a fantastic example of exactly how we're doing that. How we're taking our renewable energy and our critical minerals and we are not just exporting them, but processing them here, to add value and to create more jobs. And I will proudly, proudly work to do that each and every single day. And I would be very surprised at the LNP if the LNP were criticising me for doing that. Of course, the Parliament is important. I was there this morning for Ministerial statements and Question Time. I'll be there before the House rises today, before the House adjourns today, for a welcome function for all of the new Mayors from across the State. But Gladstone is a really important part of our State. Creating jobs is a really important goal of mine. And I will always prioritise those things.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Sydney church attack, we understand authorities believe the boy might have been radicalised here in Australia. Are you concerned this isn’t an isolated attack, and do you think it all States should consider tougher laws in light of the Bondi stabbing?

PRIME MINISTER: We'll continue to receive briefings, as I did again this morning I received a briefing from the head of the Australian Federal Police as well as the Director-General of ASIO. I will travel back to Canberra this afternoon for a face to face National Security Committee meeting that we've convened. We had a meeting, of course, yesterday. We'll continue to have briefings and we will release information at a time based upon assisting the investigation. That's our priority. My job as Prime Minister is to provide support to our police and our security agencies, and that's what I'm determined to do. We will, after an incident like Saturday with the tragic atrocity and loss of life that occurred, there will be an assessment. I'm sure that not just the NSW Government and Federal Government, but all governments will look at the findings of that, once that investigation has been concluded. And all governments, I don't think this is a partisan comment at all, I'm sure that all governments, regardless of what their persuasion are, have a responsibility to keep their citizens safe and will take that advice and implement whatever is recommended as a result of this. The events, I will say this as for what has occurred in Sydney on Monday night - violent extremism has no place in this country. Violence has no place in this country. Our police need to be respected at all times and people should allow them to go about their job. These are men and women who put themselves at risk in order to keep us safe and we should respect them. And I'm very concerned about the lack of respect that we saw on Monday night in Sydney. We will continue to monitor and receive their reports. I have every confidence in our security agencies. Our security agencies, as they have said, as the Director-General, said in the press conference I had with him yesterday, of ASIO, there have been a number of interventions over the years to stop and thwart dangerous circumstances which have occurred. I have every faith in them and the work that they do. They came out with, whether it was Saturday or whether it be Monday, if you look at the timely nature of the findings that they came up with, the transparent way in which they gave confidence to the public in going forward, I think that that was very important. I think at a time like this, my job as Prime Minister also is to try to do my best to bring the nation together, to make sure that we concentrate on what unites us, not what divides us. Every person should be able to go about their shopping or express their faith without any risk being involved with that. And certainly, I think us concentrating on what unites us is very important at a time like this. The other thing that we have, though, to conclude on a very positive note, is just the remarkable bravery that we've seen from the police inspector, of course, on Saturday at Westfield, at Bondi Junction. From the person now known as ‘bollard man’ whose visa was extended yesterday, a visitor from France. The others, the police who attended in southwestern Sydney, who were subject to completely inappropriate behaviour. At the worst of times, we often see the very best of the Australian character. We see that at a times when I've been with Steven at natural disasters here in Queensland over January and December, and we've seen that again this week. Thanks very much.