Transcript - 6PR Mornings on Shadow Ministry



SUBJECTS: Appointment to the Shadow Ministry; WA Resources; Defence Industry.

GARETH PARKER: Matt, good morning. Congratulations.

MATT KEOGH MP: Good Morning Gareth thanks very much and great to be with you on WA Day.

PARKER: Yes indeed, so you’ve got a number of portfolios – Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, WA Resources, Shadow Minister Assisting for Small and Family Business so there’s a few different elements here. Can I start with resources? Is it your job to convince the Labor Party that mining is good for the country? 

KEOGH: I don’t see that as my job because the Labor Party knows that mining is good for the country and I think one of the issues that came up in the campaign was that for whatever reason that view wasn’t readily accepted by people in our community. As a Western Australian I know how fundamental the resources sector is for our national economy and our state economy here in Western Australia and many people have benefited from that. In particular with this portfolio it’s recognising what a huge contribution the resources sector in Western Australia is to our entire resources output and we have a different focus to some of the other parts of  the nation in terms of the mix of resources and the way we go about it. I don’t accept the premise that Labor is not about mining we’ve always been a pro mining party. We’ve obviously had some hiccups with the way people have perceived that in a few recent elections so if you like though as a Western Australian coming into the Shadow Ministry it is about providing assurance to people that Labor is a pro resources party. 

PARKER: You can forgive West Australians and perhaps others around the country for thinking Labor was anti-mining when you consider your policy platforms in recent years. You had your big tax you were going to basically take a whole bunch of money from the mining industry through the resources super profits tax and the election just gone certainly Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland Labor couldn’t be accused of being pro mining?

KEOGH: Well I’m not going to talk about different State Governments but Western Australia we’ve always been a pro-resources state and I’m clearly pro-resources and that’s why I’m in this particular portfolio and federally we’ve been a pro-resources party. I accept what you say, we’ve had difficulty with people accepting that proposition if you like, so yes my elevation in this role is about providing people with that confidence. 

PARKER: Yeah I guess the question is: are people forming that view erroneously or because of your policy positions over the years? I’d argue the latter. 

KEOGH: Look I think a lot of people were concerned about the policy we took to the 2010 election, that’s nearly a decade ago now. We didn’t take any anti-mining policies to this election just gone. Obviously following the election a key part of my role and the shadow ministry is to go out and listen to the community and reflect upon where our policies could be improved. Where we need to make change and that’s where I see my first task in this new role. It’s engaging with stakeholders, engaging with the community, making sure we’re listening and learning better ways forward but we absolutely didn’t take an anti-mining agenda into this election at all. We’ve been pro-mining, pro-resources. We see the fundamental benefits to the national economy and as we look forward into the future as well making sure we get the most out of extracting resources like lithium and others that are involved in the future energy chain is really, really important to the future of our national economy. 

PARKER: There’s a big problem on the east coast at the moment with the price of natural gas. 

KEOGH: Yes I saw your article on the weekend and spot on. 

PARKER: Yep so it’s trading at $11, $9 a gigajoule for gas at the moment. Here in the West it’s $3, $4. I reckon this is something we all need to beat the drum on. Doesn’t matter if you’re Labor, Liberal, business, politics, whatever. Will that be something you’ll consider doing? 

KEOGH: Well it’s actually something I’ve spoken about in Parliament many times already Gareth. It’s something that I’ve been working on internally and publicly that we’ve been very fortunate in Western Australia that the previous State Labor Government made sure we had that gas reservation for domestic use and its’s given us better prices but also it’s guaranteed availability of gas and that’s not something we’ve had on the east coast. The Government have gone through I think three policies in this area none of which have really landed, causing concern to the manufacturing industry on the east coast. It’s something I’ve already had engagement with the east coast manufacturing sector on and the workers that are in these areas and energy companies and this is something I’m going to be looking at going forward with the Labor team. 

PARKER: The big gas producers are really worried about the EPA here in Western Australia and their policy proposal to have large projects completely offset their carbon emissions. Do you share the concerns of the gas companies? 

KEOGH: Look I’m going to be reaching out to all of them to get into the nitty gritty of their concerns. Principally though their concern is with a State Government body but I want to make sure I’m across the detail of that and that’s going to be part of the listening I’m going to be involved in over the coming weeks and months absolutely. 

PARKER: But is it sensible for emissions policies to be set state by state or is it better to have one single national policy? 

KEOGH: Oh absolutely Gareth it would be better to have a national policy, but the problem I think in the state of Western Australia and in every state of Australia is now is a lack of policy has driven environmental regulators into the space of getting into regulating emissions. Traditionally in terms of other types emissions states have been the appropriate regulator but it would be so much better if we had a proper national policy here but I think we’re up to policy number 13 here for this government.  We’ve got to go out and listen, but I did think it was a bit concerning when we had the now resources minister basically trying to dictate to business and saying basically they were wrong when they were calling for a better policy in this area so I’ll be listening to business, I’ll be listening to environmental experts, I’ll be listening to all sorts of stakeholders in this space but I think it would be better if we had a national way forward and that’s what seems to be missing at the moment. 

PARKER: So if it’s better to have a national policy is it sensible for Mark McGowan to embark on his own State policies as he suggested last week? 

KEOGH: This is the problem that Mark has, as do his counterparts around the country, because they’re not getting a national policy at the moment and they’re trying to fill a gap that’s been left by the Government and that’s what State Governments have to do if the Federal Government doesn’t do the heavy lifting that’s required. 

PARKER: Is there an argument to say Australia’s and certainly Western Australia’s gas actually helps offset carbon in that you’re burning gas instead of coal in other countries in other parts of the world and so that needs to be taken into account? 

KEOGH: We do need to make sure the National Policy gives Western Australia due consideration for the fact we have a lower emissions profile than the rest of the country principally because a higher component of our electricity is generated through gas than from coal. That is something that needs to be taken into account it’s something I have had discussions with the State Government about previously and we don’t want to be disadvantaged by any national policy and I think there’s a way forward to make sure we get that right. The fact we’re already ahead of the curve if you like needs to be taken into account. 

PARKER: It’s not just that thought. It’s the fact that exporting… I think the EPA has made a lot of the fact that carbon emissions from gas production have grown and that’s true because more gas projects are coming on stream but I think there’s a global argument to be made and it’s one the Premier has made as well that by exporting that gas you’re actually helping other countries burn cleaner gas rather than dirtier coal and that makes a net contribution to reducing emissions rather than increasing them. 

KEOGH: That’s true where the gas is being used to replace coal rather than provide additional or electrical production which is what a lot of it goes to in any event. I think thought what’s being talked about there is to what extent are there any resources being produced in Western Australia or Australia is the output from that to be taken into account when the majority of it is consumption and therefore pollutants are done in another jurisdiction and that’s something people have been talking about as the next stage of how we properly deal with global climate change policy going forward is accounting for those sorts of things. I think that is an absolutely worthy discussion but I’m not going to weigh in to the detail of that now when I’m only just starting off the portfolio. 

PARKER: Fair enough, Shadow Minister for Defence Industry. Obviously we want more of the ship building to happen at Henderson. I presume you’ll be beating the drum about that long and loud and hard? 

KEOGH: Obviously, I need to take a national approach to this Gareth but I think it goes without saying that there’s great capacity here in Western Australia and we want to see it best utilised. At the moment we see the unemployment rate in Western Australia is higher than in other parts of the country it seems to me to be absolutely the way forward that if we can see job creation opportunities in industry such as the creation of naval boat construction but also sustainment moving forward happening in Western Australia that would be a great outcome that I look forward to working with the State Government here on that of course other State Governments will have their own advocacy programs around making sure that they get a part of that pie in military construction work and we want to make sure it’s shared appropriately but I think WA has a very compelling case to be making and I’ll be happy to support it. 

PARKER: Matt good luck, no doubt we’ll talk more in your areas of portfolio going forward. Thanks for your time. 

KEOGH: Look forward to it, thanks Gareth.