Release type: Transcript


Press Conference - CQU Rockhampton


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

Subjects: The opening of the CQU Mining School

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Anthony Chisholm, Assistant Minister for Education and Assistant Minister for Regional Development.

JOURNALIST: Tell us about why we're here.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Well, very exciting to be in Central Queensland and Rockhampton today at CQU. Obviously, this great facility will provide economic opportunity and training and education to generations of Queenslanders and from further afield to train in the industry that so many other people have in this area. We know it's a key economic driver of the resources industry across the state and this facility is going to train and educate so many more generations to continue to work in that field. It's exciting for the Federal Government to be part of it, and I congratulate Nick and the CQU team for delivering.

JOURNALIST: Obviously one of the talks that we're having a lot, especially here in Central Queensland at the moment, is about decarbonisation, safeguard mechanisms, all those sort of things. But is this kind of the government's way of saying that you are still supporting the future of mining with something like this?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Absolutely. We think that the mining and resources industry has a bright future across the country, and in particular here in Queensland. We're here to support this facility today because we know there is a skills challenge across the country that is only going to get harder when you think about the announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday. The challenge for workers and skilled workers is going to be more acute in the decades to come. So this facility is going to ensure that the resources industry in Central and regional Queensland can continue to drive economic growth and workers and families can benefit from that.

JOURNALIST: What's the Federal Government's contribution financially to this program?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: This project here was $18.5 million and a further $11.5 million to the facility in Gladstone.

JOURNALIST: Beyond that, we look at the mine up at Shoalwater Bay that hasn't gone ahead. We look at companies like Rio Tinto and BHP talking about pulling investments. Can people be confident in the mining future?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Absolutely. I engage with the industry on a regular basis. I know that they are constantly on the lookout for new workers and workforce. This facility is going to help drive that. And I think that's the exciting part is that it's a facility in the region where the workers are needed, so that people can train and be educated here and then go and work in the local community. That's exactly the type of country we want.

JOURNALIST: Next in firing line, name and title.

NICK KLOMP: Hi, I'm Professor Nick Klomp. I'm the Vice Chancellor and President of CQUniversity.

JOURNALIST: How much work went into the development of this really cool building?

NICK KLOMP: About four years of planning and construction for the School of Mining and the School of Manufacturing as a joint operation and set of facilities for Central Queensland. So a lot of work, a lot of people went into it, so we're delighted to [indistinct] it officially today.

JOURNALIST: What is this going to offer? Not just here in CQ, but across the state, across the country?

NICK KLOMP: It supports the entire country and people shouldn't underestimate. The resources sector is so important to the economy of Australia, and the resources sector can only be driven by a skilled workforce and those skills and those technologies are changing all the time. It's exciting, but it's challenging. We've got to make sure that we're producing graduates in all the trades and in all the disciplines that are at the cutting edge to make sure that Australia is competitive. This here in Central Queensland and around regional Australia is where the industries are located. We've got to make sure that we can provide the skilled workforce for those industries.

JOURNALIST: What sort of relationships are being formed, I guess with maybe schools and businesses in the region to try and get the local students?

NICK KLOMP: I was delighted even as recently as yesterday to catch up with a whole lot of school students that are doing VET in schools. They're actually- while they're in Years 11 and 12 doing Certificates I and IIs in automatic technologies and other industries that will really either inspire them to go on to further studies in the resources sector but at least make sure that they are aware of the excitement of the disciplines, but also the importance of the industries in Australia.

JOURNALIST: This school, [indistinct] tv being very visual, what have we got? Like, what's on offer?

NICK KLOMP: I know, CQUniversity is Queensland's only dual sector university. So this facility will be training people from VET in schools all the way through all our trades, all the way through to Bachelor's and Master's, doctoral programmes and postdoctoral research. So it's a really important facility. And right now we've got people working with the facilities in plant maintenance, in heavy vehicles, in automated technologies, and of course all the different disciplines associated with mining engineering.

JOURNALIST: I think it's safe to say you're most excited person in Rockhampton today.

NICK KLOMP: I am probably the most excited person in Rockhampton on most days, but particularly excited today. And I mean, the regions really need a facility like this. This allows us to make sure that we have locally growing workers that really support the industry. So it's more than just the workforce per se and it's more than just mining and all its facets. It's also about the economy of our regions and the economy of regional Australia.

JOURNALIST: And what are we talking, student-wise, this facility will be able to support? Obviously you've got a lot of different programs that are on offer; how many people are going to come through the door?

NICK KLOMP: Can I answer that by saying thousands? We have well over 30,000 students at CQUniversity in all arrangement of programmes and with a facility like this, it allows us to open new programs in automated technologies and other things. So putting a number on it is going to be hard. Immediately: hundreds and hundreds, but it's going to be thousands.

JOURNALIST: Are there any new technologies that are being offered students as they study here?

NICK KLOMP: In a moment we'll see some of the virtual reality and the simulations that we use to be able to train people at the cutting edge. It allows students to make sure that they are really aware of what are the latest technologies that are being used at the moment. Australia is a leader in many of these and has changed so much even in a few years. So we can't be teaching the curriculum that we taught a few years ago. We've got to be teaching students and making sure we produce graduates right at that cutting edge. So, yes, lots and lots of cutting edge, new technology for studies that will help our students make sure that they are [indistinct].