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Doorstop with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Dr Fiona Kotvojs, and Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad, Polo Flat, NSW

30 June 2020

Interviewer: 
Doorstop interview, Polo Flat

Subject: Snowy 2.0, cyber security, minimum wages, JobKeeper.

E&OE

DR FIONA KOTVOJS, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good morning everybody. It’s really good to be. I’m Fiona Kotvojs, the Liberal Candidate for Eden-Monaro and it’s a real pleasure to welcome this morning the Prime Minister and the Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor and Senator Jim Molan to Polo Flat. This is an absolutely fantastic program. Snowy 2.0 is just doing so much for this electorate and this area, but it is great to see work really starting. This concrete segment that is being built, 150 jobs here alone that is created and that is wonderful. So for me looking at this, it is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Jobs, which is something that we need and it’s wonderful to see the start of that happening. In addition, Snowy 2.0 is so critical for firming up our renewable energy supply and that is another real positive which will bring prices for power down. So I’m really pleased to welcome the Prime Minister and invite him to speak.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Fiona. It’s great to be here with you, Fiona, and also to Angus and Jim and Paul Broad who heads up Snowy Hydro and particularly the 2.0 project. This is all about jobs. It’s very exciting to be here today. I have had an association with this project, not going back several generations like Angus Taylor, of course, but previously as Treasurer and now as Prime Minister. From the very start when the 2.0 project was coming together and the decision by the Government when I was Treasurer that we would fully own the Snowy Hydro project and all of its operations. And to now see with the approvals now in place, 500 people already on the job, another 300 to be on the job by the end of the year, some 4,000 people are going to be employed over the life of the project. To be here and to see the dozers out there and the trucks and to see Indigenous Australians involved, to see local companies like Cooma Steel, to see the young people today involved in the skills training program through the Monaro High School, the local Shire’s involvement, all of it is coming together. And this is what job making looks like. This is what we’re doing, job making, and you can see it happening here and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes forward planning, it takes forward thinking, it’s taken the forward thinking and planning of this Government to be able to get this project happening and now it’s happening. We’ve just come through the town today and you can see the activity, talk to locals here today about what it means for jobs in rural and regional Australia. It is just so tremendously exciting and I know Fiona Kotvojs as our local Liberal Candidate here for the Eden-Monaro by-election who just can’t wait to get her teeth into ensuring, if she is successful at the by-election, to working as part of my Government to ensure we keep delivering the jobs that are part of this project. We’ve conceived it, we’ve worked to make it happen, we’ve made the investments of some $1.4 billion almost in equity in this project to make sure it’s happening. Big projects like this come with leadership, and we’ve only announced this week another 15 big projects all around the country that will benefit from a fast-tracked approval process. Some 6,000 jobs around the country. Again, that’s what job making looks like. Big projects, like this barnstorming project of Snowy Hydro 2.0. This is going to be a huge job generator in this community. And that's how you rebuild communities, that's how you build back. That's how you go through tough times, as we have through COVID-19. It's by embracing and leading on projects like this. So, whether you're generating producing milk, if you're making steel, if you're pouring concrete, if you're driving a truck, if you're looking for your future as an apprentice and going into training and skills, you need these big projects to deliver for your future. So, our JobMaker plan is all about big projects like Snowy 2.0. And with Fiona Kotvojs as a Liberal member for Eden-Monaro, locals throughout the community can have confidence that those jobs which we're creating here will be delivered, with a wonderful and enthusiastic and passionate local member. Part of a Government team delivering this all-important project for Australia, but importantly for the local communities whose history with the Snowy project is such an amazing part of Australia's national story. Now, I'm going to ask Angus Taylor to speak further as the Minister responsible for the project, and Paul Broad as well, to talk about how the project's going and how it's going to benefit the local community. Thanks, Angus.

THE HON. ANGUS TAYLOR MP, MINISTER FOR ENERGY: Thanks, PM. Great to be here with Fiona, with Jim, with Paul. Look, this is incredibly exciting for this region, for me as Minister, and for me personally. I grew up a few kilometres from here and I grew up towards the end of the construction, final construction, of Snowy 1, and Polo Flat, of course, was at the heart, this area right here, of the original Snowy project. But as I grew up, we saw less and less activity around here. But seeing the kit out here today, seeing the jobs being created, 150 jobs here on this piece of work alone, $55 million of investment. This is renewal for Polo Flat, it's growth and jobs for Cooma and the Snowy region, and, of course, this is great news for Australia. Now, so many local businesses and people involved will have 4,000 jobs created over the course of the project, 2,000 at the peak of construction. 500 already now, 850 by the end of the year. This is a jobs boom for the region. A jobs boom for the region. And, of course, that doesn't even include the local businesses that are involved. We were talking to the Wolf Family, Cooma Steel, just a moment ago. Cooma Steel, an iconic business in this area, started back in the '60s by the Wolf family for Snowy 1 and now involved in Snowy 2.0 in providing services and goods into Snowy 2.0. And so many other businesses, like Cooma Steel, that are involved in this project. Absolutely fantastic for the region. Now, it's also great news for Australia, because what this project is doing is putting downward pressure on electricity prices, keeping the lights on in tough times and, importantly, Snowy is the biggest renewable project in Australian history. And it means that when your solar cells are producing during the day, we can store that electricity and use it at night when the sun goes down. This is a cracking project for our electricity system. Downward pressure on prices, keeping the lights on, and growing jobs in this wonderful region. Thank you.

PAUL BROAD, SNOWY HYDRO CEO: Isn't that noise great? Can you hear me? Wonderful. That's progress, that's jobs. Thank you, Prime Minister, for coming down, and Minister Taylor. Prime Minister, you're absolutely correct. I remember on Budget night when you led the charge to buy out the states and take this project on. For us, that’s a huge thank you. These things don’t happen unless we all work together seamlessly and today is a big moment for us. This is crucial for 2.0. They build the segments that sit inside the tunnels that deliver the water. The amount of segments will stretch from here to Melbourne. It’s enormous, it’s enormous. And on global standards, what we’re building here in the Mountains, it stacks up against them all. The engineering challenges for the original scheme were complex, these are as complex. It’s wonderful to see that kids will have a future here. Kids that normally leave to get work in the city, the opportunity here. Out in Cooma, we have a country university led by Dean Lynch and others around here through an education, tertiary education, to get them the TAFE training. These are the things we want for our kids in our region for us to grow. This is just the start. And when I get you all out of [inaudible] I’ll show you something even bigger and more complex, this is a really important part of delivering our future energy delivering economic activity not just here, but in the whole nation and providing the economic changes that we will desperately need over the next few years. Thank you all very much.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Paul. Fiona if you want to join me.  Happy to take some questions. We’ve got some local journalists here so very happy to go to them first if they would like to raise any questions. Yes, please.

JOURNALIST: Does this mean the Federal Government has given the go-ahead?

PRIME MINISTER: We’ve got some decisions which are pending right now and they’re not too far away. And what I was pleased to say earlier this week when I spoke at CEDA, the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia’s National Planning Conference this week, was that we’ve really been able to put the hard yards into speeding up approval times around these projects and there’ll be more work coming this way very, very soon.

JOURNALIST: Does that mean Snowy 3.0 is around the corner?

PRIME MINISTER: What you can take, not just from my presence here today, but on many other occasions when I have been here as Prime Minister, is we believe heart and soul in this project. We are all in on this project and we’re demonstrating we’re all in by taking out the states position in Snowy. Because we knew it needed a singular vision, a singular focus and a commitment of the Liberal Government to ensure we could see big projects like this be seen through to the end. And so that’s what you’re seeing here. We’re all in for Snowy 2.0, Fiona Kotvojs is all in for Snowy 2.0 and she is the right person to make sure local, that this project delivers local jobs for people right across the community. Any other local journos? It’s always good to have them here. The Canberra guys get to see me more often and they’ve already had two goes, both this morning and yesterday.

JOURNALIST: To be fair, Prime Minister, I was born in this electorate so I am a local technically.

PRIME MINISTER: There you go, you can get the first go, Brett.

JOURNALIST: Just wanted to clarify your comments this morning regarding cyber attacks, there has been some reporting there’s one major cyber attack that’s carried out on a bunch of institutions. Is that correct or is this more a case of a series of coordinated attacks over sort of recent months rather than one single act that has taken place right now attacking all of those institutions?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Brett, I set out all these issues earlier today and I have made my comments on those issues and set out the Government’s position very carefully so I would just refer you back to the comments I made this morning.

JOURNALIST: It still remains unclear to people, though, has something specific prompted you today or last night to speak to the Opposition Leader and the state premiers about this matter?

PRIME MINISTER: It was time to ensure that we raised greater awareness about this issue, as I said this morning.

JOURNALIST: But is it one coordinated attack, is the headline Australia is under attack right now, hospitals, schools, local government, state government, federal government?

PRIME MINISTER: The Government doesn't write the headlines, Brett, the press does that and I don’t intend to interfere in that process. I have been very clear about what I’ve said about this today, earlier this morning.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, even though you haven’t attributed it to China, that is the I guess assumption amongst many. Are you concerned about retaliation by Beijing?

PRIME MINISTER: Again, I set all those issues out this morning and made my comments on that at Parliament House earlier.

JOURNALIST: When you say that Australia is currently experiencing these attacks, what did you mean by currently?

PRIME MINISTER: I mean currently.

JOURNALIST: Are you referring to a single, specific, ongoing attack?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve already set out those issues and raised those issues in Parliament House this morning, together with the Defence Minister which was the appropriate place to do that and I refer you to those comments.

JOURNALIST: We’re only just seeking a bit of clarification because there is a lot of anxiety since this morning’s press conference and, as you say, you don’t write the headlines but we do and we’re just trying to help clarify the situation because people aren’t clear on it.

PRIME MINISTER: [Inaudible]

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on the issue of the Fair Work Commission, they have decided to raise the minimum wage by 1.75 per cent. What’s your response to that and given that businesses didn’t want that to happen, do you think it is an appropriate step?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s an independent process we’ve always respected that processes and they have brought down their findings. But as I said yesterday in the House, what we're looking at here is people in jobs. And I want to see more people in jobs, and fortunately here in Eden-Monaro, and particularly here where we are in Cooma today, where we've got these big projects going, and there's big projects going on all around the country. The inland rail, as we were hearing before, people working on this project were working on that project. But equally as we come out of the COVID-19 crisis, what is important is that employers continue to have that flexibility. That's the real issue. I mean, rates of pay and those sorts of things weren't changed under the JobKeeper arrangement. What was enabled was greater flexibility and we will need to continue to have flexibility to keep people in jobs. You know, there's been a lot of discussion about the JobKeeper program. And as I've said repeatedly, we are always, it was always our intention to review that program and get the balance right about how the Government would continue to be able to support people going through these difficult times. But it is also very important that we maintain that flexibility for businesses so they can keep people in jobs. Lesser flexibility will mean more people will find themselves out of jobs. And so that's why I'm highlighting this as the thing that's going to be even more important in keeping people in jobs as we come out of the COVID-19 period. And so the independent process has made their decision. We've always respected that. What I'm saying is businesses will need continued flexibility to keep people in work, and that's what I'd be encouraging businesses and employers to be able to arrange sensible arrangements, which means people can stay in jobs and as the economy continues to improve, those hours can increase, and we can hopefully get back to as much as normal as is possible. So, I'd just stress the need for that flexibility. Flexibility will keep jobs and it will also, I think, make jobs.

JOURNALIST: Do you think this decision will affect jobs growth?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that all depends on the flexibility that is available to employers to be able to keep people in work. And we haven't focused on the rates. We have been focused on the ability of employers to keep people in work, under sensible, flexible arrangements, which is what Australians need right now. We're in the job-making business. Fiona Kotvojs is in the job-making business. And as the local member for Eden-Monaro, if she gets that opportunity, as the Liberal member for Eden-Monaro, if she gets that opportunity, which we would earnestly recommend, then she will be in a position to ensure that she can keep job-making for Eden-Monaro and all the communities that make up this wonderful part of the country. Thanks very much.

ENDS