Release type: Transcript


Interview - ABC Capricornia


Senator the Hon Anthony Chisholm
Assistant Minister for Education
Assistant Minister for Regional Development

SUBJECTS: Woorabinda airport upgrade, Future Made in Australia in Gladstone, paid practical placements 

JEREMY JONES [HOST]: Well, the Federal Government is looking to upgrade the airstrip at Woorabinda, west of Rockhampton, which will improve the airstrip’s capacity during emergencies and access in all weather conditions. Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Anthony Chisholm is visiting the region this week, spruiking funding announcements as well. Minister, thanks for joining me this morning.


JONES: And this airstrip funding is significant, considering the area can be cut off during emergencies. What was the thinking behind the funding?

CHISHOLM: Yeah, so there’s a Remote Airstrips Upgrade Program which basically goes to remote communities that enables them to make their landing area safer. So, sometimes it can be about fencing, it can be about lights, because we know often these airstrips can be the difference between someone surviving an accident or something like that, because the RFDS need to be able to land in these places. And Woorabinda was successful with a $900,000 grant.

JONES: So, as part of your visit as well, you were in Gladstone yesterday, and there have been plenty of announcements regarding Gladstone recently and visits from the Treasurer yesterday and the Prime Minister recently with this Made in Australia policy, what do you think that will mean for Gladstone?

CHISHOLM: Well, what we know about Gladstone is it’s been an economic powerhouse of this region and the state for many decades, and we want that to continue. And I think that what we can see with the announcements we made yesterday is that there still is a bright future in the resources and manufacturing space in Gladstone. But what it will look like is a bit different to what it has in the past. So, the proponents yesterday are talking about a magnetite mine about 70 kilometres to the west of Gladstone, and then it will be turned into green iron closer to Gladstone, using hydrogen that will be available from the Stanwell project next door and that will then be shipped overseas. So, it’s actually, the strength of it is the mining of the resources, but then the value add, and that’s something that we haven’t always been good at with our resources in Australia. So, it’s really exciting and it was really great to hear the proponents talk about the direction of the Federal Government. And the incentives that we’re providing are giving these companies the confidence to press ahead with their planning, which is exactly what we want.

JONES: You spoke to some nursing students yesterday, and healthcare is such an important topic here, especially having skilled people being able to work and look after us. What did you hear from the nursing students?

CHISHOLM: Well, unfortunately, they did my blood pressure and that wasn’t a pretty sight, so I’ve got to go get that checked out. But we did have a really good chat about paid placement and HECS. The significant change in the budget was ensuring that HECS would only go up, whichever is lower, the wage price index or CPI we obviously saw, and that will be backdated to 1 July last year. So, the big jump that we saw based on CPI won’t apply. So, that ensures that that $3 billion is taken off people’s HECS debts. So, that’s a significant factor for many students who are already studying. But what we also know for nursing students, and I was speaking to some first-year students yesterday, they do their first placements next term and talking to them, they’ve come from a range of different backgrounds. There’s a couple of mature age students, one was a mum of six. I think the age range was five to 17. So, you can imagine when those people go to do placements, the significant impost of them. So, what we’ve announced from the 1 July 2025, there’ll be a paid placement available for nursing, teaching, and social work students of $319. So, it’s a start. It’ll enable them to go do those placements, ensure that they’re earning some money, whether it be they’ve got caring responsibilities, some will have a mortgage, you’ve got to pay rent. So, it’s about providing that help to ensure that they can continue to study. Because we know we need more nurses, we need more teachers, we need more social workers, and this will just give them that little boost that they need.

JONES: Minister, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

CHISHOLM: No worries. Good to be with you.

JONES: Assistant Minister, Anthony Chisholm joining us there.