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Doorstop, Illawarra

17 September 2020

Subject: Investment in new energy technologies


SENATOR THE HON. CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Well, thank you, everybody, for joining us. And can I particularly warmly welcome the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to the Illawarra. He doesn't really need an introduction to the Illawarra because it's so close to his own seat of Cook, and also Minister Angus Taylor. It was good to visit BlueScope again today. BlueScope is an international company. It's a company that's always been at the cutting edge of technology. It's a company that reflects Australia's manufacturing history, not just in this town, but internationally. But it's also a company which reflects our migration history. As the daughter of migrants to this area, my father himself worked at BlueScope and like many migrants, helped to create the company that we have today, of which we're very, very proud of in the Illawarra. I'm sure, Prime Minister, that you saw this morning the wonderful things that we're doing here and the capacity of this company to be at the cutting edge of energy and issues. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much, Connie. It is great to be back here in the Steel city. And it's great to have Dr Foley also with us here today, the chief scientist of the CSIRO and, of course, the Energy Minister and Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor. We've been spending a bit of time together this week, Angus, because we've been outlining what is a very big plan for Australia's energy future, which means jobs right across Australia. It means jobs here in the Illawarra. It means jobs in the Hunter, it means jobs in North Queensland, Western Australia. The oldest heavy industry regions in the country because these regions have a future on the basis of the things that we've been announcing this week.

Today, we're announcing $1.9 billion of investment into ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Fund, which will develop and establish the next generation of energy technologies. Those technologies will not only assist us to meet and beat our 2030 emissions reduction targets, but importantly, it will assist that process of setting up the technologies that we will rely on for the 20 and 30 years beyond 2030. But even more important than that, the investments we're announcing today, 35,000 direct jobs and an additional 35,000 jobs above and beyond that through the flow on of these investments.

It's important that we understand the opportunities that are there for Australia, because those opportunities mean that we don't have to choose between jobs. We can have jobs in heavy industries such as this if we get the energy answers right and we can have jobs in new renewable technologies when it comes to energy. But wherever those opportunities present, they do equal jobs. And that's why this investment in ARENA is part of our JobMaker plan to ensure that we can keep Australia's employment ticker going up, particularly as we come out of this COVID-19 recession. As we come out of this recession, and it's pleasing to know here at BlueScope that they haven't skipped a beat. They've kept their production lines up. They've put COVIDSafe practises in place and they're well established to move forward. But as you go across the production line here, you can see that there are so many moving parts and every little bit counts, every bit you can gain on every process that will improve the profitability of this company and that means jobs. And so what we're investing in through this fund is the new technologies that will enable them to trial them to work together, whether it's here or in any other place, and those deals and those investments are yet to be determined. But we're here today because it demonstrates what we're trying to achieve, and that is to co-invest with industry to trial new technologies to reduce emissions, to lower costs and to support jobs.

Now, the King Review that was put in place by the Minister proposed that we do just this, that we broaden the remit of how we invest in low emissions technologies. We don't want a closed shop on how you invest in emissions reducing technologies that lower costs and create jobs. We can't have these funds constrained by what was put in place 10 years ago. We need a fund that is going to invest in the technologies of the future today and tomorrow. And so we can't have these artificial constrictions, a closed shop, an ideological, frankly, closed shop on how ARENA works. What matters is lowering emissions. What matters is lowering costs. What matters is creating jobs. And the changes we're seeking to make as a result of what we're announcing today achieve all those three goals. Whether it's in hydrogen, whether it's in carbon capture and storage, whether it's in soil carbon, whether it's in how you build homes, how you run hotels, all of these things, how you run your truck fleet. All of this can be done with lower emissions technologies today and we'll be able to do it even better in the future. But as Dr Foley, I'm sure, will tell us, if you don't invest and co-invest now, you won't see these things happen 10 years from now. And that's exactly what we plan to do with this fund.

So it is an exciting day. This is one of the oldest industrial regions in the country. And the people who work here have done an amazing job to ensure they have remained here, that they're continuing and they're finding better and new ways to do their business every single day. And it's our job to help them do that and to invest in the technological changes and the programmes that together, whether it's here or anywhere else, that will see them remain here into the future. Jobs now, jobs tomorrow and jobs into the future.


THE HON. ANGUS TAYLOR MP, MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Well, thanks, PM. It's absolutely fantastic to be back here at Port Kembla with the Prime Minister, Connie, Dr Foley and thank you to BlueScope for having us here. It's particularly great from my point of view to be back here. This is the first place I worked after leaving university. And to see it today versus back then in the early 90s is quite remarkable because what BlueScope has done, BHP as it was back then, is deploy technology to drive advantage, create jobs opportunities for Australians, not just here, but all around the world. They've been a pioneer in the deployment of new technologies, whether it's Colorbond, Zincalume, mini-mills. They have been there and that's what Australian manufacturing and industry is all about. So thank you again for having us here today.

Now, this announcement today is a $1.9 billion package is the next stage in our strategy of bringing down emissions while we create jobs and a strong economy through technology, not taxes. Through technology, not taxes. We are seeing remarkable reductions in emissions in our electricity grid, over four per cent reduction last year. Record levels of investment in solar and wind, $9 billion in 2019 and a similar number we expect for this year. And with that, emissions in the grid are coming down. One in four Australians with household solar, the highest rate in the world. But the electricity grid is only about a third of our emissions and falling. The other two thirds are in industry, in agriculture, in transport, in manufacturing. And we need to deploy the very best technologies and improve those technologies across all of those sectors to bring down emissions. But importantly, at the same time, to drive jobs, competitiveness and investment. And this package today, the $1.9 billion package, is all about achieving that. Of the $1.9 billion, $1.6 billion will be deployed by ARENA, $1.4 billion of base funding, as well as a range of other initiatives. And within that there is some really key initiatives that I want to highlight. $70 million for Australia's first hydrogen hub. We've already committed $500 million to hydrogen in this country, a technology with enormous potential, enormous potential. We do it now. It's not a new industry. We already use it for producing fertiliser, but we can do it better and with lower emissions in the future. And that's what our hydrogen initiatives are all about, $70 million dollars for a hydrogen hub. Future fuels are a focus on supporting new transport types into the market with electric vehicles or hydrogen and making sure the infrastructure is there for people to make their own choices about the sort of transport they want. Soil carbon, an opportunity with great potential for our farmers that combines their ability to produce more, more productively, more competitively and bring down emissions at the same time. We need to reduce the cost of measuring soil carbon and we can do it and that's included in this package today. Micro grids, we've already committed around $50 million to micro grids, but there's more potential there, great potential to pioneer new technologies on the edge of our grids in rural and regional areas, in agricultural regions to take those technologies that are emerging now, make them work in a particular area and then we can roll them out, roll them out elsewhere. Energy efficiency initiatives in industry. And of course, we've seen that today. I know this plant, BlueScope here uses far less energy per unit of steel per product than it did many years ago. And we can achieve more of that right across Australia in industry and in the way we build our housing, which is another of the initiatives today.

So it's a total package of $1.9 billion, which will deliver beyond 2030, 170 million tonnes of emissions reductions beyond 2030 and leading up to 2030, 32 million tonnes of emissions reduction on top of what we have already forecast. We will meet and beat our 2030 targets in a canter. This is another part of that canter, and it will position us to meet and beat any target beyond there, drive down emissions long term as we reduce our emissions across all industry and create jobs at the same time.

DR CATHERINE FOLEY, CSIRO CHIEF SCIENTIST: Hi, everyone. I'm CSIRO's Chief Scientist. My name is Cathy Foley. It's actually great to be here because a long time ago in the 1980s, I actually did some work for BlueScope, and it was a different company then, looking at the first continuous casting of steel and seeing whether or not you could actually do that. And then, you know, 30-plus years later, we've got this amazing industry here. And what you're seeing is a consequence of a whole lot of science experiments that eventually lead to the development of technologies and engineering that creates the industries and therefore the jobs and productivity for the nation like Australia, as well as being able to export and have the economic benefits that we all know and love and get a lot of personal enjoyment from.

The thing that's really important today is the realisation that there's not one silver bullet, not one science experiment, not one technology that's going to make the difference to allow us to have the emissions that we need in order to have the world and the globe that we want in the future. And so that means that the investment in a whole range of different technologies and science that is going to allow us to solve these, I think, stretch problems to be able to make the most of our human potential to sort through what is it that is possible to be able to create technologies that are allowing us to have new industries such as hydrogen. A few years ago, we would never even have thought of that as a potential export industry for Australia. But it's absolutely perfect. There are a few technical issues that need to be picked up to make it as cheap as possible, to make it as competitive, and also to make sure that we can use it as an export, using it by turning it into ammonia and then being able to ship it off. The thing that's really interesting, though, the investment in science now is going to be turning into the technologies of the future. It takes time and investment and I want to thank the government for the foresight in this because it's what we need right now. We're seeing the whole science sector across Australia really recognising the need to form together in a form of missions, looking at, for example, hydrogen as one as well as a way to have low emission technologies as well, and working to how they can work together to be able to make sure their work is lined up to jointly come to the outcomes that we're looking for.

So, Prime Minister, thank you for that. I think the science sector across Australia is really excited by this. I know in CSIRO we are really keen to work with you because we know science and technology is the way forward. And there's a lot of great opportunity here because we have some of the best researchers in the world and we're here to help. Thanks.

PRIME MINISTER: We certainly do have some of the best researchers and scientists in the world, and not just at the CSIRO, as you know, although we've got plenty of them. There's no doubt about that. Happy to take questions and stay focused on this topic first, but happy to deal with other topics.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, would this move be necessary if there was a market mechanism to provide certainty to businesses?

PRIME MINISTER: What you mean is, would this be necessary if we took the decision to increase taxes? Because that's what that is. We believe in meeting our emissions reduction targets through technology, not taxes. We don't want consumers to have to pay more for this technology. We're going to make the investments to ensure that they don't have to do that directly through high taxes. What we want to do is invest in these technologies now. And it's not just directly in the research projects. A big part of what we're announcing today, this is co-investment. So it isn't just government money going in. This is government money going together with industry money. People who also believe in what those technologies can do to be game changers on their production lines, on their farms, in their transport businesses, in their construction businesses. This is about jobs in our established industries and our future industries. It meets both of them. So, no, we don't agree with the proposition that you should increase taxes on energy to do this. We believe you should invest in science and technology to do this and that's what we're doing.

JOURNALIST: Prior to the election, Labor committed $15 billion to a similar kind of target. Realistically, how much funding and development is needed for companies like BlueScope to make meaningful switch over to these technologies?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the investment alone through ARENA - and Angus will correct me if this isn't entirely the result - but this will facilitate around six billion, we understand, Angus, in investment, together with the private sector to drive a lot of this work. We're very clear about our commitments and targets. We've just beaten the 2020 target by some 430 million tonnes to reduce emissions. Our government has done that. That started, we came to the 2013 election with a plan for 2020. So seven years before the 2020 target, we had a plan when we're elected to meet that target. It was scoffed at. It was laughed at. They said it was never going to happen. Could never work. We beat it by 430 million tonnes. Now, we have a plan to meet our 2030 target as well and we will meet it in a canter. And these types of investments will ensure that we're able to do that, along with the emissions reduction fund, as it was once known, as the Clean Energy Fund now. All of that is designed to meet those outcomes. Now, I can't say the same for our opponents because they can't even tell us if they have a target for 2030. There's no excuse to go to the next election without a target for 2030. We did it in 2013 for 2020, and we had a plan to achieve it. And so if the Labor Party thinks that target should be different, they should say what it is and they should have a plan to achieve it and how much they're going to cost people on their jobs and their incomes if that's what they want to do. But people know where we stand. We're doing what we said we'd do at the last election. We're doing exactly that. We're investing in the technology. We're committed to the reduction targets that we've set out and we will meet them.

JOURNALIST: Does this announcement or these changes mean that ARENA and the CECS will no longer invest in wind and solar?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, wind and solar stands on its own two feet now. I mean, one of the great, I think achievements of the last decade is they've graduated. Now, there'll be, I assume, some more advanced technologies that may sit around this and around battery technologies, Angus, and you might want to comment on this as well. What we're doing here is we're removing the constraints to broaden the field of inquiry of science and research and technology and not allowing it to be narrow-tracked for political reasons. It's about lower emissions. There are no good and bad emissions reductions. There are only emissions reductions. Emissions reductions by different means have no greater or lesser moral qualities. Emissions reductions are emissions reductions. And you need to invest right across the field and you shouldn't constrain it. I mean, when the fund was initially set up, much of the technology we're talking about now was infant, if that. And so the constraints that were put on in that time did not have enough foresight. What we're doing today is taking the blinkers off those funds so they can actually invest in the technologies which will get emissions down because that's what people want. I agree with that. We want to get emissions down. We want to get costs down, and we want to protect and save jobs. And if you're too narrow a field, if you only let a few horses run on the race, well, you basically let Australia down and we're not going to do that. And anyone who wants to constrain how this fund can be applied because of ideology or politics, well, that's up to them. We just want to get on with finding technologies that reduce emissions.


THE HON. ANGUS TAYLOR MP, MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Yeah, the challenge for wind and solar now isn't more subsidies. It's integration. It's how we integrate the wind and solar into our transmission networks and how we'd make sure there's the backup and storage so that when the wind doesn't shine and the... wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine, the energy is there. And that is what is needed. So that's got to be the focus. But the point I made earlier I will re-emphasise now. Over two thirds of our emissions are outside the electricity grid. Dairying industry, manufacturing, transport, agriculture. And we need to have a technology focus in those areas. That's what today's package is about, as well as integrating that solar and wind into our system.

PRIME MINISTER: The 2018 [inaudible] also recommended that we go down this path, that we open this thing up and the King Review reinforce that. OK.

JOURNALIST: But to be clear though, we won’t see them investing more in wind and solar?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I mean, if there are good projects and there are new advanced technologies, I mean, we're not going to throw money at things that have already been established. That's just rent seeking. If there's new technologies, we're interested. We're not going to be constrained by the shackles that were put there before. I think that just harms our longer term interests. I can't see the point of that. We've got a much more open minded view about how we can get emissions reduction in place and at the end of the day, that's the goal along with more keeping our jobs and growing our jobs and getting costs down for businesses like this, who operate in a very competitive environment. Last time I was here, we were announcing when I was Treasurer with the then Prime Minister how we were able to ensure that we kept the competitive position for exports of our steel and aluminium into the United States. Now, since becoming Prime Minister, we've been able to keep that arrangement in place, which has been good for jobs here. And so it's great to come back here to still see them doing well, to be powering through the COVID crisis, not skipping a beat. I met Emma out there on the shop floor. Emma came from hospitality before COVID hit, and she's now working on the line here. And that took the timing of that for her was obviously pretty good. But it just goes to show there are jobs here for young people and into the future and a future for them.

JOURNALIST: Earlier this week you announced the possibility the government would look to develop an old power plant. I guess an old technology plant for gas fired power plant. This one is championing new technology. How are those two meshing together?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what we're talking about with these funds and these technologies are things that will scale and become part of the mainstream a decade from now. And, you know, at least five years from now for some of these, but a decade from now as well. So it's the next thing we're transitioning to. I wouldn't describe a new gas fired power plant as old technology. I would say it is very current technology and it has the flexibility to deal with firming renewable energy. The point that Angus has just made, what renewable, intermittent or variable renewables, solar and wind, which don't have that baseload capacity, what they need is the firming capability of things like gas fired or pumped hydro, also things that we're investing in. What that does is makes renewables work. Otherwise, you get variability in transmission and all of those issues, which I'm sure Dr Foley and Angus can go into at length better than I can. But the point is, you've got to have gas there, as I think, a very stable transition fuel that helps you move to another set of technologies down the road. But, you know, we're investing in carbon capture storage as part of this programme. There is $50 million that are going to that process, which provides futures for our existing and traditional industries, not just in the mining and resources sector, but also in power generation. Again, if it's being done with lower emissions then that's a good thing.

JOURNALIST: Do we need another gas-fired power station though if projects that are already in the pipeline like Tomago and here at Illawarra. If those expansions go ahead, why do we need…?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, I've heard the energy companies sort of put this view that we don't need another power station, gas-fired station. They said the same thing when Hazelwood closed down and they said, oh, there's plenty of projects and plenty of supply coming on and the prices won't go up and we will all be fine. Well, that's not what happened. And the customers know that, too. They're not mugs. They know that it's important to ensure there's enough supply in the market. And our proposition that the Minister and I made the other days is very clear. If they're going to go ahead and get the supply of this reliable power, we're not, we're not talking about variable power, we're talking about reliable power, which can be delivered through a gas-fired power station, which can actually get through the approvals process. It can actually happen. It's a real thing. Then that will, I think, deliver on the gap that will be created by the exit of Liddell when it comes out of the market. Now, this is something the government has been wrestling with for a long time. We've looked at many options. We had the Liddell Task Force, which the Minister put together. We worked with the state government. We worked with some of the big users up there. We were at Tomago just the other day. And what you need is reliable power into that market, particularly to support the almost 2,000 jobs that are up there at Tomago. And you can't have those aluminium smelters go cold. You just can't do it. They shut down. That's actually happening at the moment and it's happening over in New Zealand. And, you know, when you shut down your industry, that's what happens. You can't start them up again. So you can't take punts on this sort of thing. You've got to have certainties. And that's why we're saying we will build it if they won't. We'd much prefer them to do it. If they're saying it's not necessary, well, that's telling me that they think they are not going to build it. That's up to them. Tell you what we'll do. We'll build it.

JOURNALIST: I brought this just in case.


JOURNALIST: It is not needed. I am local and regional media. Funding for regional media and broadcasters has been welcomed but it is, of course, a short term solution. There are many regional newsrooms that are going to exit when it comes around to the next election campaign if this continues. When will your government get serious about a long-term solution for ensuring that regional broadcasters have a future?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is a tough market for regional broadcasters. That's not new. The Deputy Prime Minister ran a regional newspaper, and it's been a long time since the paper he used to run has actually employed a new journalist. And that is sadly the consequence of a lot of the changes we've seen in digital media and global media and technology over the past many decades. But that has accelerated. And these forces are real. We can't pretend they're not there. And it's been vital in the work that I've been doing with the Treasurer and the Communications Minister through the mandatory code that we're working on with Google and Facebook, in particular, to ensure that these technologies do not overwhelm the ability for there to be commercial news broadcasters and services here in Australia. Now, that's not just at a regional level. That's even at a national level, such is the threat. And we're very conscious of that. And we need to put in place rules and regulations that are fit for today's media environment. The rules that were put in place for regional media many years ago, I think people would rightly argue have seen their day. Now, the Communications Minister will have more to say about this at an appropriate time. But what I want to assure you is we get it. We know the world has changed. We know that is impacting regional news services. It's why we actually, one of the areas we actually did increase funding to the ABC, it was actually in that area. But it's fine to have the ABC. But you also, that doesn't mean you don't want commercial regional players as well. And we understand that, the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, has a keen focus on this and is also working as part of that plan. So we'll have more to say about it. But there's a lot more policy work to be done to get the settings right.

JOURNALIST: And on that, Prime Minister, the Communications Minister had said he would actually come and meet Australia’s largest regional broadcasting network here, the WIN Network, you will see it near BlueScope as you walk out the gates. He still hasn't been up here, is that a slap in the face?

PRIME MINISTER: I'm sure he'll get to that. He's been working on what he can actually come and engage with the regional broadcasters about. I mean, you know, you’ve got to work together on a plan and he's been working on that plan. And we were just having, he and I were only meeting about that in the past week or so.

JOURNALIST: Steven Miles has accused you of being desperate to tear down the Queensland Premier. Do you think it’s time they start taking responsibility for the human toll over their border closures?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, look, there's an election in Queensland. And so political players are going to, you know, throw these insults around and mischaracterise what's going on. I'm not playing a role in the Queensland election. That's for them to explain that sort of, you know, rhetoric. I don't really want to buy into that. They've got a job to do. They should do it. I've never said the Queensland border should be taken down. What I've said is it should be managed sensibly. What I've said is it should be managed compassionately. What I've said is that they should explain to people what the rules for it are and the medical basis of it are. And you know, the case that I was seeking to deal with privately last week was a case where a young woman had come from the ACT, where there hadn't been any cases for more than 60 days and there were restrictions placed on her movement in Queensland. The Chief Health Officer there had said 28 days of no transmission was apparently the clinical standard. Well, there'd been more than 60 in the ACT. So I think those issues raised questions. Issues of double standards, which I won't go into again regarding how others have been dealt with favourably in this process. That's for them to explain and to the Queensland people. And it's for them to do that. It's not for me to give them those answers. I can't give most of those answers because they're not my policies. But as far as the borders are concerned, I understand why Queenslanders want it there. But I would say this - borders can't be relied on in isolation to make sure that we're safe from COVID. You've got to have strong testing and tracing. And to be fair, I think the Queensland tracing system has been very good and their testing system has been very good. I don't make criticisms about. The quarantine system has been very good. That's why we've increased the caps so people can come home. We're going to get an extra 2,000 people coming home now every week and there will be an extra 500 coming through Queensland. That'll mean Queenslanders coming home to Queensland. 500 extra in Western Australia. Western Australians coming home to Western Australia. And there'll be a thousand coming in a week and in both of those ports. Now, in both of those places, they were managing more than that before the Premiers asked me to put caps on. So we've lifted the caps up. Not all the way back to where they were before, but I hope to get to that position in the not too distant future because we've got to enable more Australians to come back. We've got past that initial crisis with the cases surging in Victoria and the cases surging, well, they didn't ultimately surge in New South Wales. The New South Wales government was able to stay on top of it. Well done. New South Wales will take 3,000 a week. The rest of the states will take the other 3,000. So New South Wales is its doing's job. We've got over 100 ADF people in Western Australia specifically working on quarantine. We've got over 300 ADF personnel in Brisbane working specifically on quarantine. So, you know, everyone will just do their job.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] states to take extra, what if they don’t want to do that?

PRIME MINISTER: The caps. Well, the planes will land with people on them and they'll be arriving. It's a decision. It's not a proposal. The Commonwealth government has made a decision that those caps have been moved to those levels and planes will be able to fly to those ports carrying that many passengers a week. And two weeks ago, we discussed this at National Cabinet. All premiers agreed that we had to do better than we were doing, that we sort of got past, you know, those initial shocks. It'll be great when Victoria can come back on line, the Premier said that yesterday and that'll be tremendous. They're not at that stage yet, to be fair. And we, the Victorian numbers look better each day. And the plan to reopen Victoria is, I think, accelerating. I welcome that. I think that's great. The sooner we can get them open safely again, the sooner we can get Australia open again when it's safe to do so well, that'll be great. I look forward to that day. And as you said, I want that done by Christmas.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Liddell issue, what are you going to do to power companies like AGL to hold them to account over their promises they’re making to Australians?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's pretty straightforward. They need to be at final investment decision by the end of April or we'll make our final investment decision. It's, that's how we'll do it. We'll just build it, if they don’t get to that point by then. That's fair enough. That's their call. They'll make their assessment. We can't force AGL to do anything under the law. That's their business. But this is our business, looking after customers, making sure power prices are low, making sure that people go to work at the Tomago aluminium smelter, that they can go to work here at BlueScope, that they can go to work in heavy industries all around the country. And also that householders can keep more of what they earn. And we've had electricity prices coming down. We've turned the corner on electricity prices, wholesale prices have fallen for 12 consecutive months. That's good. But we want to lock that in. To lock that in, we’ve got to get the supply right.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister just back to COVID quickly, are you concerned you won’t see the full effects on unemployment until after JobKeeper comes to an end?

PRIME MINISTER: JobKeeper will transition. There's been broad agreement about that. JobKeeper was never a permanent programme. And soon we'll see a number of companies, a lot of companies graduate from JobKeeper. I was at one the other day, the Australian Reptile Park up near Gosford, Somersby. And they had JobKeeper, they shut down for three months. They kept 40 of their employees on board. They also got, I think, about $170 odd thousand to make sure they fed these zoo animals to keep the zoo operational from the animal's welfare point of view. They're opening up again now. They'll be off JobKeeper. They'll be going forward again. And I think that's also a credit to the New South Wales government in the way that they've been handling the virus, too, because it means people can move around again. They'll go in visiting that zoo. Businesses will be opening up again. The way you make that transition is you got to have these two things playing together. And that's why I've set the timetable which premiers have agreed to, except for Western Australia, to try and have all this open by Christmas and look forward to working with them to achieve that aspiration.

JOURNALIST: You say graduate though but for some businesses they will never open up again, they simply can’t afford to. Do you think there will be a truer representation of unemployment once the government support is withdrawn?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I've always said that the unemployment figure we should be watching is not the measured rate of unemployment. The measured rate of unemployment is one thing, but we know it's much higher than that, we know the effective rate of unemployment is well over 10 per cent and can peak a lot higher than that. It had come down, I think, to just around 11 from about 14. Treasury advises it's going to stay up around that 14 mark. And we know that, and we want to see that come down. And it was falling before the Victorian wave hit us. And with Victoria opening up again, we would expect that to see that fall again. But you can't keep the Australian economy on JobKeeper forever. That is not a way to do things. Currently, it's costing about 11 billion dollars a month. There are a lot of other things we also need to invest in for Australia's growth. And our JobMaker plan, whether it's on investing in energy, in transmission, in gas, in new technologies. You know, the investment we're putting into skills training now, we've put a billion extra into skills, a billion extra into skills just this year, 340,000 places. And we need to start thinking of things we need to invest in to build and grow, to build back the economy and to build it for the future. And keeping the Australian economy on life support through those types of payments is not a long term plan. It's a short term plan. It's been an essential lifeline. It's there till the end of March. And in the budget in a few weeks’ time, we'll be announcing a lot of new plans. A lot of new initiatives that will see us grow out of this COVID recession. I mean, Australia was down, regrettably, 7 per cent in the June quarter. That put us in the top of the pack of the world's economies in terms of the impact of COVID on our economy. We learnt today, I think New Zealand is down 12 per cent in the June quarter. New Zealand shut their industry down. We did not. We had a 7 per cent fall. New Zealand had a 12 per cent fall. So I think we've made difficult but balanced decisions, which means on health and on jobs and the economy, we're doing better than almost every other developed economy in the world today, bar Korea and a couple of others, South Korea. So we'll continue to do that. That's what today's about. Today's about jobs. It's about future technologies. It's about lower emissions. It's about lower costs. And I want to thank BlueScope for having us here today again and having the opportunity to meet people around the plant. Dr Foley, thank you again for joining us. Appreciate that and Angus, great job on pulling all this all together. And Connie, it's always great to be here in Steel city. Thanks, everyone.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120