Release type: Transcript


Interview - Sky News Regional Breakfast


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

SUBJECTS: Taking Budget Roadshow to the Regions, upgrade to airstrip in Woorabinda, Future Made in Australia, cap on international students.

RHIANNON ELSTON [HOST]: The Federal Government is taking its Budget roadshow to the regions. Assistant Minister for Education and Regional Development, Anthony Chisholm, is in Rockhampton this morning, and he joins us now live. Anthony, good morning to you. Certainly, been a big week for Labor, and you're now on the road for another announcement. 

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: Yeah, that's right, it was a big day yesterday in Central Queensland. I was with the Treasurer in Gladstone, and then had events in Rockhampton, and travelling to Woorabinda today where we're announcing an upgrade to the air strip there, which is a real vital commodity, in regional Australia and rural Australia, and allowing the RFDS to get in and other essential services is really important for many parts of the country. 

ELSTON: Central Queensland of course is expected to play a big role in Labor's Future Made in Australia plan. Tell us more about that. 

CHISHOLM: It is. We know that this area has been an economic lifeblood and driver for the state and the country for many decades, and we're confident under the Made in Australia policy will ensure that continues. I was with the Treasurer in Gladstone yesterday, and we were talking to proponents of a magnetite mine that would then be turned into a green iron using hydrogen, and then shipped off overseas. So, it shows you that the resources sector will continue to be strong, but I think the exciting thing about the Made in Australia policy is the ability to value‑add using green hydrogen, and then have that export. So that's something that we haven't been able to do well over recent decades, but that's the focus of the Made in Australia policy, and it was really exciting to see those jobs of the future that will be around in Gladstone and this area for many decades to come. 

ELSTON: We've been hearing about those concerns about black‑outs this summer to come. Are you concerned about that? 

CHISHOLM: Well, obviously we had a lot of work to do when we came to government. We saw the previous government had 21 energy policies over the decade without actually implementing any of them. So, we had a lot of catch‑up to do. We're providing the national leadership and working constructively with the States to ensure that we get the new energy being built from around the country. That's what we'll continue to do. We know that those forecast warnings often happen, and it enables the systems the ability to manage it, and I'm confident that that will be the case this summer as well. 

ELSTON: We've also been hearing Queensland Premier, Steven Miles, is now backing Peter Dutton's calls for migration cuts. That must be a blow to Federal Labor. 

CHISHOLM: Well, I think the reality of what Peter Dutton has said is that there has been no clarity on exactly what they've done. I've heard a number of his Shadow Ministers say different things. But what we know and what the Government have been able to do is using the resources of government, is we know that the levels have been too high, and we've announced a plan to bring that down in a sustainable way. We've also done the same when it comes to international students. But I think what we saw from the Opposition Leader is he plucked a figure out of thin air without actually doing any of the work around what it would mean for the different sectors in the economy that rely on international people coming in. So, I think what you see from the government is a process that we've gone through to deliver the right outcome for the country, whereas I think with Peter Dutton, he's just playing politics and looking for a headline. 

ELSTON: What about Steven Miles? He says Queensland's high level of migration was a central reason there are not enough homes for Queenslanders. Has Labor got the balance right on cutting migration? 

CHISHOLM: I think we have, and we've gone through the process of ensuring that we get the right balance of international students, we get the right balance of skills coming through, but we've done that in a deliberative way. We know that we've got a lot of catching up to do on housing, we're working constructively with the states and territories to do that, and we know that is an important issue for the government to be leading on. 

ELSTON: What about a cap on international students? Is that a good idea? 

CHISHOLM: Well, it's got to be done in conjunction with the sector, and that's why we've introduced legislation that will enable us to consult with the sector to ensure that we get that right. We know that international students are an important economic driver for us. We want to ensure that continues. I was at CQU yesterday, and they've got a great record of bringing international students in and providing an education for them. It is important for the economy, it is important for our education institutions, but it needs to be done in a sustainable way. We need to ensure that those people that are abusing the system aren't allowed to prosper, and that's what our plan is delivering on. 

ELSTON: Has Labor got a lot of work to do in Queensland ahead of the next election, whenever that may be? 

CHISHOLM: Well, I'd like to say otherwise, Rhiannon, but clearly, we do. We obviously want to win more seats in the House of Representatives. We've only got three Senators as well; that we're hoping to increase that at the next election. So, it's been a really good few days that I've had here in Central Queensland. I'm confident that the Budget has been well‑received, that cost‑of‑living measures are hitting the mark, our Made in Australia policy is one that is going to benefit this part of the world. So, I'm confident that the budget is talking to regional Queenslanders, it's a good opportunity for me to be here and do that in person, and I know that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister and other senior ministers will be travelling through this part of the world regularly over the next couple of months as we sell that message. 

ELSTON: All right. Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Education, Anthony Chisholm, thank you. 

CHISHOLM: Thanks, Rhiannon, good to be with you.