Transcript - 6PR Mornings on Shadow Ministry

06 June 2019



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 youve got a number of portfolios Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, WA Resources, Shadow Minister Assisting for Small and Family Business so theres 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 dont 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 wasnt 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 its 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 dont accept the premise that Labor is not about mining weve always been a pro mining party. Weve 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 couldnt be accused of being pro mining?

KEOGH:Well Im not going to talk about different State Governments but Western Australia weve always been a pro-resources state and Im clearly pro-resources and thats why Im in this particular portfolio and federally weve been a pro-resources party. I accept what you say, weve 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? Id argue the latter.

KEOGH:Look I think a lot of people were concerned about the policy we took to the 2010 election, thats nearly a decade ago now. We didnt 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 thats where I see my first task in this new role. Its engaging with stakeholders, engaging with the community, making sure were listening and learning better ways forward but we absolutely didnt take an anti-mining agenda into this election at all. Weve 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:Theres 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 its trading at $11, $9 a gigajoule for gas at the moment. Here in the West its $3, $4. I reckon this is something we all need to beat the drum on. Doesnt matter if youre Labor, Liberal, business, politics, whatever. Will that be something youll consider doing?

KEOGH:Well its actually something Ive spoken about in Parliament many times already Gareth. Its something that Ive been working on internally and publicly that weve been very fortunate in Western Australia that the previous State Labor Government made sure we had that gas reservation for domestic use and itss given us better prices but also its guaranteed availability of gas and thats not something weve had on the east coast. The Government have gone through I think threepolicies in this area none of which have really landed, causing concern to the manufacturing industry on the east coast. Its something Ive 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 Im 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 Im 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 Im across the detail of that and thats going to be part of the listening Im 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 were up to policy number 13 here for this government. Weve 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 Ill be listening to business, Ill be listening to environmental experts, Ill 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 thats what seems to be missing at the moment.

PARKER:So if its 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 theyre not getting a national policy at the moment and theyre trying to fill a gap thats been left by the Government and thats what State Governments have to do if the Federal Government doesnt do the heavy lifting thats required.

PARKER:Is there an argument to say Australias and certainly Western Australias gas actually helps offset carbon in that youre 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 its something I have had discussions with the State Government about previously and we dont want to be disadvantaged by any national policy and I think theres a way forward to make sure we get that right. The fact were already ahead of the curve if you like needs to be taken into account.

PARKER:Its not just that thought. Its the fact that exporting I think the EPA has made a lot of the fact that carbon emissions from gas production have grown and thats true because more gas projects are coming on stream but I think theres a global argument to be made and its one the Premier has made as well that by exporting that gas youre 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:Thats 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 whats 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 thats 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 Im not going to weigh in to the detail of that now when Im 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 youll 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 theres 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 its shared appropriately but I think WA has a very compelling case to be making and Ill be happy to support it.

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

KEOGH:Look forward to it, thanks Gareth.