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Sky News Sunday Agenda

30 April 2017

Interviewer: 
Peter Van Onselen, Paul Kelly

Subject: Khaled Sharrouf, domestic gas security, gas exports, Westpac’s decision not to invest in the Galilee Basin, jobs and investment in North Queensland, housing affordability, Budget

E&OE

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Paul Kelly as always, thanks for that analysis and we’re going to get a chance to talk a lot about that now, because the Resources Minister is our next guest. I’m talking about Senator Matt Canavan, he joins us live from Brisbane. We appreciate your company Senator, thanks very much for being there.

First up, we’ve got a lot to talk about in your policy area, but I just want to get your reaction to this front page story in the Sunday Telegraph and I imagine it’s in other News Limited papers around the country as well. This Sharrouf individual who has his son set up with a sort of a how to guide on becoming a suicide bomber. It is just unbelievable and comes off the back obviously, of footage we saw previously revealed by News Corp in The Australian, where he has used his son in unbelievably barbaric ways as part of his campaign over there in the Middle East. What’s the Government’s reaction to this? Is it a legitimate image – do we know and story? And finally, to go with that, would we be open to the son coming back in terms of citizenship, irrespective of the crimes of the dad?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well first of all Peter, it’s a matter that the national security agencies are obviously looking at. But it does confirm to us and to the Government and to all Australians the evil we are confronting here. I don’t think you could think of a greater form of child abuse to be subjecting a kid to that kind of propaganda, to almost turn them into a murderer, so to speak. It is reprehensible. It has to be condemned and I trust that the proper authorities will look into this matter. Now in terms of whether or not this child can come back to Australia, well that’s a matter for Australian laws, it’s not appropriate for the Government to be commenting on individual cases where we have a proper framework and process established to evaluate these issues.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

But in terms of your personal opinion – I mean because he is a juvenile, despite the unbelievable environment he’s been in – I mean would you like to see him, yourself, be given that opportunity, if you like, to rehabilitate, if a way can be found to do so?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well first of all, I don’t know enough, Peter, about the individual circumstance of this case to definitively make a judgement. It would be inappropriate for me to do so, but I do have sympathy for the young child in this situation. It’s not his fault that his father is an evil megalomaniac, seeking to abuse his own children. But I don’t know enough about the individual circumstance. Obviously the safety and security of Australians has to be paramount in looking at these circumstances and I’m sure the Government and the relevant authorities will apply that test when they look at the circumstances of this case.

PAUL KELLY:  

Minister, just looking at the Prime Minister’s intervention this week in terms of the gas industry. How confident are you that this will work, first of all on the supply front, given that the idea of course is to divert more into the needs of the domestic industry? So how confident are you that it will achieve that objective?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well we are confident as a Government, Paul, that this policy will achieve its objectives. It is a matter of supply and demand. At the moment we have a situation where a lot of Australia’s supply of gas is heading offshore, even though the price of that gas overseas is cheaper at the moment than it is in Australia. Now, as you outlined earlier, that’s not a sustainable situation, it’s not a sustainable situation for Australians and it’s not- and for Australian industry, and it’s not sustainable for the development of our gas resources here in Australia. We can’t have that circumstance arise.

Now, what we need to do is have more supply brought onto the domestic market. We’ve tried to have discussions with the gas industry to do that and while some progress was made, we have made the judgement that we need a backstop here, we need a guarantee that we have the power to act where there is not enough supply. And if we put more supply into the market, obviously that will bring downward pressure on prices.

PAUL KELLY:  

Just how unhappy was the Government with the response from the gas companies? I mean there were two meetings with the gas companies and right from the start before the first meeting, the Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that if the Government wasn’t satisfied with the response from the companies there would be intervention. So what’s your judgement about the attitude of the companies and response from them?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well, as I said, some progress was made, but if I could characterise it in one word – underwhelmed, perhaps is the best way to put it. I do think more could have been offered or done. Now, in saying that we are where we are, so I’m not wanting to rake over old coals here. We’ve just got to move forward. Some progress was made. The discussions have been productive. In fairness to the gas industry as a whole, I think they understand that we have to develop our resources in our country for our interests. Australian resources have to be put to Australian’s interest first. This resource is owned by the Australian people, and while we are happy as a nation to export our resources across a range of commodities – and of course make money and create jobs for our country in doing so – we can’t have a situation where we’re short an essential resource like gas while we’re supplying- oversupplying in some circumstances- other countries with the same resource. That at a conceptual level is understood. The issue now is the detail of how much the shortfall is, how much we need to get back into the domestic market and we’ll work with the gas industry in a collaborative way to achieve that, but we also of course, after we establish this mechanism, have the power to ensure it in the interest of Australians.

PAUL KELLY:  

Ok, well what do you think you can achieve on the price front? There was a lot of confusion over the last couple of days about what exactly the Prime Minister was saying about price reductions. So in terms of easing the price pressures for the domestic market, what are the Government’s hopes here?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well if I can clear that up as clear as I can make it. What the Prime Minister was saying is that there have been offers, we’ve reports of offers of up to $20 a gigajoule for gas. Now I know that’s not a price most of your viewers would be familiar with, but the price in Asia at the moment is around $8-to-$9 a gigajoule and the traded price here in Australia – prices that are actually evident in the marketplace – is around $10 a gigajoule. So that’s why the Prime Minister’s saying some of those offers are double what we’re seeing overseas and here. Now of course many of those offers at that sort of a price at $20 are not being taken up. It’s just too expensive for manufacturing companies to pay that amount and keep their doors open. So we won’t see the price of gas fall by that amount in the traded market, but we do see, at the moment, a price that’s about 10 or 20 per cent higher in Australia than what it should be based on what’s known as a netback price – the price in Asia, minus the cost of getting it there and shipping and refrigerating the gas, so to speak.

So that’s where we are in the ballpark. This policy is not one for the long term, Paul. It’s not going to get Australia back to having cheap gas that we had when the Bass Strait was firing on all cylinders. To do that we have to develop our own resources. What we hope this policy will achieve is ensure that our prices in Australia reflect fairly what is paid on the international market, so that our domestic industry is at least not in a disadvantaged state. But if we really want to get manufacturing firing, if we want to have a strong and growing sector over time, we’ve got to develop our own resource.

PAUL KELLY:  

But I just want to take you up on one point you made. You said this policy’s not for the long term. I understand that this particular policy might not be for the long term, but isn’t the reality that the Government is going to have to put in place some form of long term intervention or national interest test when it comes to the gas industry, which is the sort of arrangement that most other countries have got in place?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well the first point I’d make, Paul, is that the long term policy, best policy that we should have in place is that we do responsibly, environmentally sustainably, develop our own resources. We can’t have a situation where Victoria bans the development of conventional gas, which has been safely practiced for more than 100 years. That is an absurd outcome and the Federal Government can’t on a permanent basis bail out the silly decisions of State Governments.

Now to your question over the long term, that is an interesting question. What we’ve had is a situation where we had large scale LNG export investments made. There was no assessment at state or federal level of the impact of those from a domestic energy security perspective. That’s just simply the framework we have in this country. I do think long term it’s an open question about whether or not we need a better assessment process in place, but what we’re dealing with now is a short term issue. That will be an issue for future potential investments in the LNG space. We’re not facing that situation right now, we’re facing a situation where we have shortages. We’re acting in a pragmatic and practical way to sustain jobs in Australia today and in a longer term we’ll have to consider what is put in place for Australia. But that has to be partnered with the development of our resources at the same time.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Minister, has the Government thought about possible constitutional limitations on all of this? Almost the similar provisions I guess from that iconic movie The Castle, have been talked about just in terms of what it can or can’t do vis-à-vis, some of these businesses.

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well of course we’ve taken appropriate legal advice, Peter. I’m not going to comment on the details of that, but the constitution’s pretty clear that the management of land and resources like gas, I’m sure, is a matter for the states. So there’s only limited options for the Commonwealth Government here in this space. We have been trying to work with State and Territories Governments through COAG, through a Gas Supply Strategy. We’ve offered the services of the CSIRO and they’ve been very successful in Queensland, may I say. We’ve partnered very strongly with the Queensland Government here to develop a coal seam gas industry. The CSIRO has played an active role in that. We’ve offered that to other states. We’re currently establishing that relationship with New South Wales. But Northern Territory have a moratorium now, Victoria have banned all gas development onshore. It’s not a rosy picture for our country, but we’re willing to continue to work with the States and Territories to do what we can.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Are you bipartisan in your criticism of State Governments? Because there are state Liberal Governments and Liberal oppositions in some of the states in question that are echoing the words of the Labor Party on this gas issue.

MATT CANAVAN:     

I’ve this week criticised both the New South Wales and Victorian Governments. May I say the Victorian Government has got a ban, Peter, they’ve banned- including conventional gas – which is absurd, which is a Labor Government of course. In New South Wales there is no ban or moratorium as such, but there have been delays in getting appropriate regulatory approvals, there’s no doubt about that. And that has contributed to the circumstances we are in. And I’ve spoken to the New South Wales Government and tried as best we can to encourage and develop their resources. They’re working on that now. There is a pathway forward, at least in New South Wales, and the Narrabri coal seam gas project is moving forward, which is a positive step. But I think where we’ve got to this week and where we’ve ended up demonstrates the folly of a lot of these policies and hopefully it’s a wakeup call to those States and Territories to get off their backsides and develop their own resources.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Just back on the price point issue earlier, are you able to tell our viewers that with what the Government is planning to do on gas, gas prices will come down? The Prime Minister didn’t want to be quite that specific when taking a talkback caller on 3AW with Neil Mitchell during the week.

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well I think it’s important to split out here, Peter, the difference between the wholesale gas market and what average Australians pay for their gas bills at a residential level. We have not seen large increases in residential gas bills in the last couple of years. Indeed they’ve only gone up 4 per cent in nominal terms and only 0.6 per cent in real terms in the last two years.  It takes a while obviously, for the wholesale price increase that we’ve seen over the last two years to flow through to residential bills, and then they only flow through at a minority amount. Only about 15-20 per cent of the bill is made up by the wholesale gas price.

So what we are doing today is acting to ensure hopefully, we don’t see household gas bills surge if we don’t have enough gas here in this country on a continuing basis. As I said earlier, more supply in the domestic market will bring gas prices- will put downward pressure on gas prices here in Australia. And that will ensure we won’t have those large increases in residential bills over time.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

We’re talking to the Resources Minister, Matt Canavan. A reminder, we will be speaking to the leader of the Australian Conservatives, Cory Bernardi, a little bit later in the program. When we come back though, the Minister took aim at Westpac during the week, and boy, he didn’t miss. We’ll talk about it shortly.

(BREAK)

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

At the moment we’re continuing our discussion with the Resources Minister, Senator Matt Canavan, joining us live from Brisbane. Thanks very much for your ongoing company. I want to ask you about Westpac, Minister. You didn’t miss – I mentioned before the ad break – teed off on them pretty hard. I understand your unhappiness about them pulling out of the ability to fund something such as Adani, but they’ve just joined the other three big four banks in doing what they’ve done, haven’t they?

MATT CANAVAN:     

No they haven’t, Peter, and as I like to call them now, the Bank of New South Wales, not Westpac, that was their original name, because they’ve ruled out financing coal mines in North Queensland. They’ve gone further than any of the others, they’ve said they won’t finance mines in the Galilee Basin. There are six potential mines that have approval from the Queensland Government at the moment. There’s a misapprehension out there that I or the Government, it’s all about Adani. It’s not. It’s about developing a new basin for Australia. The first coal basin we’d open up for more than 40 years in the Galilee. There are 16,000 jobs - direct jobs, that could be created in that basin from the development of those six mines. Some of them are wholly Australian-owned interests and Westpac have just decided that none of them, none of them, will receive finance from their own company, which is remarkable…

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

What’s your understanding Minister- sorry to jump in, what’s your understanding as to why this is the case for Westpac? Is this purely climate change driven, or is it driven by the investors?

MATT CANAVAN:     

It’s pretty hard to understand, Peter, because I’ve read through their 20 page glossy document in all its glory. There is no analysis of why they’ve chosen to pinpoint any new basins like the Galilee for these kinds of bans. They’ve set an energy content standard of 6,300 kilocalories per kilogram for coal, which is very high. But look, be that as it may, fair enough, they’ve set a standard. But then they’ve gone and said, if a mine is in the Galilee Basin, doesn’t matter if you meet that standard or not, you’re gone. You’re not going to get finance.

Now there are three of the six mines, actually would produce coal above their energy standard and they’re saying no them. Well I can only conclude that that’s a completely anti-Queensland policy. It’s an anti-Northern Australian policy. And as the Minister for Northern Australia, I’m going to call them out, because we’re trying to develop the North, we’re trying to develop our country, we’re trying to get behind new projects like opening up the Galilee Basin and 16,000 jobs. And here you have a bank, which should be a proud Australian – I had no problem with the Bank of New South Wales until this past week – that should be a proud Australian bank, saying they are not going to finance stuff which is going to develop our country, even if it does meet a particular energy content specification that they think is needed to save the planet. Well I am very upset at the short-sightedness, illogicality and hypocrisy of the Bank of New South Wales about this, particularly when they are one of the big polluters in this country, given the data centres they use for their own products.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Can I ask you about the activism – if I could put that way – in some of your comments, as well as on Twitter? It sounds like you’re very much sort of in an activist way suggesting that consumers should talk with their feet. Sort of almost a boycott-style campaign, Minister?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well yeah look I’m not, I think the average Queenslander who wants to see jobs and development in Queensland, will make their own decisions about who they should partner with in terms of doing business. I’ve been contacted by a lot of Queensland businesses in the past couple of days, fulsomely supporting my stance. They are disgusted by the stance of the Bank of New South Wales. And look they’ll have to be held accountable for that. And in terms of Twitter, I find Twitter very useful, because whatever Twitter’s saying, you do the opposite and you’re on the right track. It’s the George Costanza test.

PAUL KELLY:  

Minister, is there a problem here with the bank regulator? Not so long ago one of the senior figures from APRA issued a warning to the finance sector, to the banks, about investing in coal and warning that directors could well be liable. So I’d like to ask, is there an issue here with the regulator and does the Government need to talk to the regulator about this situation?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well I stand to be corrected, Paul, but I don’t think APRA said anything about coal in particular. Although it did say about climate change, I accept that. And I’ve got nothing wrong with banks or other institutions looking at their policies from a climate change perspective, I just ask that they make logical decisions. As I say, this document, Paul, was a 20 page glossy brochure. There’s very little analysis in it all about why they’ve made these decisions. There’s certainly no analysis that they’re making them on some commercial basis, which is what APRA was saying that you’d be careful about investing in things that may not be commercial over the long term. There’s no analysis in that regard here Paul.

This is obviously a soft piece of propaganda that the Bank of New South Wales is engaged in to try and kowtow to activists that only a couple of weeks ago gatecrashed their own dinner party. Well if someone broke into my house and broke into my dinner party, I certainly wouldn’t be listening to them in any great degree. I’d be sending them on their way and tell them to bugger off. But there’s this culture of cowardice among our big businesses, I find Paul. And State Governments might I say. It’s the same culture that has led State Governments to kowtow to ill-informed activist campaigns about gas. We’re now seeing it infect business leaders as well. It’s a great threat, in my view, to the development of our country. Unless we can get some courage back into how we make decisions and make them based on the facts and the science and the evidence, and not these absurd public pressure campaigns that people seem to think they must listen to.

PAUL KELLY:  

To what extent is there a problem now with the financing of the other projects in the Galilee Basin? I mean your comments today are very powerful comments and clearly there’s a bigger issue here and the bigger issue is the financing of these other projects in the Galilee Basin. How worried are you about this and what can the Government do?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Look, to deal with Adani upfront – and I met with Mr Adani yesterday in Brisbane. There is no implication for their project. They haven’t asked Westpac for finance. They’re going through due diligence with their other financiers. They’re in a comfortable position. But, Paul, I am worried about what signal it sends for other projects right across Australia, but including in the Galilee Basin. Westpac trumpets in their own statement, that they only have 1 per cent of their loan book in mining, which is a little underwhelming from my perspective, given mining is at about 8 per cent of our GDP. But, be that as it may, it is unfortunate I think that some of our major banks seem more focused on investing in real-estate than they do investing in the growth of our country. And often have to go overseas to other pension funds and banks to look for interest in developing our nation.

I’m trying to build a dam near Rockhampton at the moment and there’s significant interest from pension funds overseas, but nothing from Australian financiers or banks. So I think that’s short-sighted. I think it’s unfortunate, but there’s not a lot we can do as a Government to direct our banks to do that, Paul, and I wouldn’t support that. We’ve just got to partner with those people who want to grow our country. And there’s plenty of interest in Asia, Paul, to develop Northern Australia, to be partners with it. I wish it came from Australian financiers, but there’s lots and lots of appetite for it in Asia. And I get really frustrated when people name all these banks like JP Morgan and others in Europe and the US, saying they’re not going to invest in the Galilee and they never talk about the financiers in our region, in Asia. We’re meant to be part of Asia and there are plenty of financial institutions in Asia in our region, who believe in the story of developing the North. Who understand why we need to develop the coal resources. They want to use a lot of that resource and are willing to back us.

PAUL KELLY:  

Now just going to the Budget, I wanted to ask you, given your portfolio responsibilities, to what extent do you think we’re seeing a pretty fundamental change now in the Government’s approach towards Government intervention in large-scale nation-building, as a sort of general proposition. And secondly, given your background in Queensland, you represent Queensland. How important to Queensland is the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail link?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well on the general proposition, Paul, we’ve always been a Government focused on building infrastructure in Australia. We came to Government with a $50 billion infrastructure spend, which is the largest spend from the Federal Government in history. We did obviously make a lot of decisions, controversial decisions, to cut spending, cut welfare, to try and bring our budget back into balance, but we did not try to save from the infrastructure spend, because that would just be simply borrowing from the future and it would make us poorer in the future. So we’ve committed to infrastructure spending over time. I think what the Treasurer said in the past week is a good step forward of trying to better account for that in the Budget and better clarify when Governments are just putting stuff on the credit card for your shopping bill, different from investing in something that will pay off for future generations. So that’s our focus.

We’ll continue to invest in infrastructure. We’ll continue to support projects like the Inland Rail, which we’ve backed already. It is a very important project for the whole country. It’s- only a small part of the track will be in Queensland, but the benefit for our State is connecting the Port of Brisbane up with the rest of the country and giving farmers and miners and other exporters an alternative port to send to than just Newcastle or Melbourne. That competition for infrastructure’s really important for our nation, because our infrastructure costs have surged in the last 10 years and it’s not right that it’s about $30 a tonne to send grain from western Queensland to port at the moment, when you get $10 in Canada. And it’s cheaper to ship it to Egypt from port by sea than that $30 cost.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Should it all be, should all infrastructure funding I mean, be considered good debt in the good versus bad debt phenomenon? Because obviously there are gradations of difference between how good some debt is depending on how economically valuable certain infrastructure projects are.

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well that’s absolutely correct. Although that dilemma or issue crops up with spending all the time – whether or not you classify it as good debt or bad debt. It’s always the case that a proper assessment should be done of whether it meets a cost-benefit hurdle. But, that principle of making sure we assess that our investments will pay off for the future is still there of course. That’s why these projects like the Inland Rail and Western Sydney Airport have gone through years of analysis and assessment. We have a body like Infrastructure Australia who looks at these things as well. Can I say that the investment in a potential rail link to the Galilee Basin is another investment that’s been looked at for years. The Queensland Government’s identified it as a corridor for their future growth. So all these projects have to go through proper assessment. But as I say, that issue crops up regardless of whether you classify it as good and bad debt.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

The story in the Herald Sun, on page one, it’s also in other News Limited papers, talks about housing affordability and the fact that the Budget might look at a salary sacrifice type concept for getting a home deposit. Not super, but the equivalent of the salary sacrificing where it can have a pre-tax element to it. Is this something that as an idea, you think is a good idea? All will be revealed on Budget Day, whether it’s an idea that ultimately gets picked up I suppose.

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well I’ll leave that commentary to my colleagues, Peter. I’m not going to speculate on speculation. We are of course focusing on…

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

I’m not asking you to speculate on speculation. What do you think of the idea, Minister, of being able to access a pre-tax salary sacrifice equivalent to be able to access a deposit savings for a home?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well given that these are matters that the Government’s deliberating before Cabinet and others I’m not going to comment in public on it. It’ll be a matter for my colleagues to reveal.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

So you can confirm it is being considered though?

MATT CANAVAN:     

No I’m not, I don’t, I’m not confirming or denying any of those things, because of course I don’t comment on matters before Cabinet, Peter. It would completely compromise the whole reason for Cabinet, because we may as well just live stream it if I start doing that.

So look obviously we’re focused on making sure Australians can afford a home. It’s a fundamental principle of a Liberal-National Government. People should be able to own their own home or start their own business, map out their own future in their lives. And we’re focused on doing that. It is very challenging. I know that myself. My wife and I have had five kids, but the hardest thing we had to do was save up for our first home. It was very, very difficult in the current circumstances, but we will, I’m sure, do what we can, the Federal Government, to ease that burden on Australians and make sure they can reach their promise and potential.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Well so on that, so we can expect something? Because there’s been a little bit of debate about whether this idea of a housing affordability package would be in the Budget in some form. I’m not asking you to speculate on that form, versus it might get watered down and not be there.

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well yeah look, all I’ll say is what the Treasurer has been out there commenting on, Peter, and saying the last six months that we are alive to this issue. The Treasurer’s gone to the UK and been speaking to experts in the area to try and see what we can do. We don’t think we’re getting full value for the multibillion dollar investment we make in the housing affordability agreement we have with States and Territories through CAOG. I think it’s about $6 or $7 billion dollars that’s spent on that and we’re not really seeing real practical outcomes there. So there’s obviously a case for some reform and change. But look, as I say, I’ll leave it to the Treasurer and others to reveal the conclusions of his thinking and the timing of those as well.

PAUL KELLY:  

Minister, if it eventuates, what would be the justification for Government support for the Adani rail link?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well, as I said earlier, Paul, this is not about Adani. This is about opening up a massive coal basin for Australia. It’ll be the first coal basin in more than 40 years. It will create 16,000 direct jobs. And we employ, right now, we employ 44,000 Australians in the coal industry and that is our second biggest export. So this is a massive boost for our second biggest export of our nation, if we can open up the resource. We’re now,-obviously without a rail line, you’re coal’s stranded in the ground. Every other coal basin in this country has been developed through Government investment in rails and ports. Normally they have been built by Governments and owned by Governments. And in the case of the Hunter Valley Coal Rail Network, it’s still owned by the Australian Government. And we regularly invest in that network to keep it up and expand it. So 12 years ago we invested $150 million in the Hunter Valley Rail Network, which helped us expand to meet the need of China.

So now we’ve got India wanting our coal. We’ve got this enormous opportunity as a country to partner with the fastest growing major economy in the world. It’s got enormous potential, India. It’s got a ravenous appetite for resources. It’s going to have to increase its thermal coal demand by 300 million tonnes in the next 10 years. And we only produce around 200 million tonnes of thermal coal a year. So we only have to capture a small amount of that Indian market and that Indian growth and it’s going to be a huge opportunity for Australia.

PAUL KELLY:  

How important, in your view, is the different attitude towards coal development from the Coalition on one hand and Labor on the other hand? What’s the way you see that gap, that difference? And do you consider this to be a frontline issue at the next election?

MATT CANAVAN:     

Well, Paul, what I’d prefer is that we join together as Australians to develop industries as we have in the past. We did when we opened up the Bowen Basin, that was a joint venture between different levels of Governments in central Queensland. I read a speech by Gough Whitlam 40 years ago where he said he wanted the Federal Government to subsidise coal-fired power stations, not just give them loans for it, which is what we did then, but subsidise them. So things have changed a little, unfortunately. You’d think the Labor Party being the party of labourers, would support more jobs in the coal-mining sector. You’d think the CFMEU would support the mining sector. You’d think the Australian Workers Union would support workers. But it is unfortunate that at times I think the support for these kinds of projects from Labor is lukewarm.

Can I say the Queensland Government’s gotten behind it in the last six months. It took them a while, but they have got behind it and I applaud them for that, for doing that. They’ve got behind the development in the Galilee and we are joint partners with them in trying to achieve that. But Bill Shorten in the last few weeks has been dog whistling about Indian billionaires and what have you. It’s unfortunate for our country. It’s short term thinking to be criticising and denigrating the country that we should be partnering with. I mean Adani have built the biggest port in India, biggest port in India, bigger than any of the Government ports in the last 20 years. They’re a successful company. And for our opposition leader, who purports to be Prime Minister, to be denigrating a successful Indian company – a country we should have a major relationship with for the forthcoming decades – I think is extremely unfortunate, short-sighted and Bill Shorten should reflect on that stance if he’s serious about Australia reaching our potential in our region.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:          

Resources Minister, Senator Matt Canavan, we appreciate you joining us on Sunday Agenda. Thanks very much for your company.

MATT CANAVAN:

Thanks. Thanks guys.

(ENDS)