Release type: Transcript


Interview - Sky Newsday


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

KIERAN GILBERT [HOST]: Let's go live to Toowoomba. Joining me is the Assistant Education Minister, Anthony Chisholm. Before we get onto your patch of Education, I do want to ask you about that nuclear debate. You've got Angus Taylor up in about 20 minutes at the National Press Club. No doubt he'll be asked about this report out today by the CSIRO on the cost of it. But when it comes to the social licence question, do you see a scenario where potentially nuclear becomes more popular given the demand for transmission lines and the issues around those right across this country where communities have been pushing back?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: It's not something that I can see the country embracing Kieran. One, the costs and no one wanting one in their backyard. And second, the fact that the Coalition have taken so long to actually announce any details shows you how challenging this can be. There are legitimate issues when it comes to renewable energy and ensuring that companies do the right thing by communities and ensuring that they're engaging in consultation. I see that being done well in a lot of places. I know that there are some places where it hasn't been done as well as it could, but by and large, the responsible companies are engaging in local communities, working with local councils and ensuring that those locals get the benefits from jobs and economic development that takes place with these. So, we want to ensure that that happens the right way. But this nuclear energy is just becoming a joke that the Coalition are pursuing. They hate renewables so much that they're prepared to go with this fantasy of nuclear energy. It just doesn't stack up and the Australian public will see through it.

GILBERT: You travel a lot around regional Queensland and it's an area where Federal Labor hasn't done that well recently in political terms. Done very badly, in fact, across central and north Queensland as well. What's the view you're picking up in the wake of the Budget? The Made in Australia vision, which in many respects has been seen as not just a WA, but a Queensland focused policy too.

CHISHOLM: It absolutely is, Kieran. I was with the Treasurer in Gladstone on Monday, then I went through Rockhampton Monday afternoon and Tuesday and I'm in Toowoomba today. And there's no doubt that the Future Made in Australia is a policy that I think can resonate with Queenslanders and particularly regional Queenslanders. We've often been in regional Queensland, the economic powerhouse of the state and the country. When you think of a place like Gladstone and the announcement that we made there about green iron using hydrogen is exactly the type of vision that we want for this country. There'll still be resources jobs, because this will be mining magnetite nearby, but we'll be value adding and then shipping it out through Gladstone. That's exactly what the Made in Australia policy is about. And it shows you that regional Queensland can benefit from this vision. And those generations of Australians and Queenslanders that will continue to live in that part of the world can enjoy good resource jobs, good manufacturing jobs, but backed by renewable energy.

GILBERT: When it comes to renewables, though, and that social licence element that we were talking about, is there enough acceptance in those parts of Queensland for what are going to have to be big pieces of infrastructure, really, whether it be wind turbines, the transmission lines or whatever else?

CHISHOLM: Absolutely there is. But I think it is incumbent on those companies that are the proponents of these projects to genuinely engage with local communities and local councils. They need to see the benefit that they're going to get from having these developments take place. Whether it be jobs, whether it be new infrastructure. That's what needs to take place. As I said, I see a lot of responsible companies that are doing the right thing, but there's always a couple of cowboys that don't do it. So, we've got to make sure that they are engaging genuinely with community and that we can see the benefit from these projects.

GILBERT: You've announced, alongside Jason Clare, some new Suburban University Hubs. What's the point of these? Why can't students go to campuses?

CHISHOLM: What we know from many outer suburban areas is that their rate of attainment of higher education degrees are quite low. And quite often there can be a significant barrier between travelling from these outer suburban locations to actually get to a university in the city. They're not always blessed with great public transport. So, what this is about is providing that good location they can go to in their communities. It'll provide support from those coordinators who run these centres to provide that engagement for these students who are often first in family and give them the encouragement and support they need to actually thrive at university. They can study it anywhere across the country. They'll be online, but they'll get that opportunity to get that support and mentorship that'll encourage them to get through. I've often - I've been to a lot of the regional and rural university centres that we've set up. It's been really encouraging to see the type of people that are studying at these places and the support they can get. If we can replicate that in outer suburban areas, the country will be much better off as a result with the more people studying and achieving success.

GILBERT: Anthony Chisholm, thanks for joining us live from Toowoomba today. Appreciate it.

CHISHOLM: Thanks, Kieran. Good to be with you.