Transcript - Sky News with Annelise Nielsen - September 2019

03 October 2019


SUBJECTS: Infrastructure investment, Drought support for regional communities, space agency funding, Ben Roberts-Smith.

ANNELISE NIELSEN, HOST: Lets go live now to Matt Keogh, Labor MP from Western Australia, Matt firstly on that point that Alan Tudge was making, do you think it is the States that are dragging their feet on infrastructure thats seeing the economy not going as fast as it could?

MATT KEOGH MP: I think theFederal Government's lack of action on bringing forward infrastructure is hurting the economy, it could be doing better, weve seen acknowledgement of that by numerous people and infrastructure spend is something that has been mentioned time and time again by the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor as something that the Government needs to be doing and its something that the States would clearly like the Government to get involved in helping them to bring forward infrastructure. I think nearly every State around Australia could point to at least one project, major project that they would like to see be able to be implemented sooner, and quite frankly, I think the commuters of Australia and the people in every State would be able to identify something that they would like to see the Federal Government get its act into gear on, to make their journeys faster, to make their journeys safer and to see some of that money flowing into our local economies to really strengthen our overall economic position.

NIELSEN: Isnt that East West link in Melbourne though a perfect case example, where the Federal Government has put that money aside, billions of dollars and its the State Government refusing to take it up?

KEOGH: Well theres numerous issues around that particular project and not being from Victoria Im not across each and every one of them. But here in Western Australia, theres another project that the Federal Government has its heart set on even though its not actually a project that the people or the State Government want to proceed with. Its sort of this funny game that the Federal Governments playing, where theyre saying weve got money for a project, theyre just not projects that the people actually want, meanwhile, State Governments are saying we would like you to help us with projects X,Y and Z across the country and the Federal Government is saying oh were not going to help you with those projects. Its really, its trying to make it look like its going to do something when really its got no intention of helping what-so-ever.

NIELSEN: Now as part of this visit to the United States the Australian Government has pledged $150 million for space agency development. Do you agree with Joel Fitzgibbon that the money would be better spent on drought stricken farmers?

KEOGH: Well I think the observation that Joel made, was a very good one which was that you can walk and chew gum at the same time and that, whilst we all have a romanticism for space and its good to see now that the Government has finally set up a space agency that theyre engaging with NASA. What they also need to be doing at the same time, is getting on with helping our farmers who are suffering from huge problems coming from drought. The Government tries to talk a big game here but when you look at what they are actually delivering on the ground, its not much. Theyve got a supplement program thats not actually delivering, in support of farming households around Australia. They set up a fund to help farmers that are facing drought and that wont be paying out any money for at least another year and so we hear from the Government often, but theyre not actually delivering for the farmers that are suffering on the ground and of course its not just the farmers its the whole communities out there, that suffer through drought, because when farmers arent in a good position, those communities overall arent in a good position and I think Joel very rightly made the observation that, for all of the publicity and the great things that will come from investing in a space agency and working closely with NASA, why is the Government not also doing what is desperately needed here at home?

NIELSEN: The Industry Minister Karen Andrews was on just a short time ago saying there is going to be 20,000 jobs created from this $150 million investment but she couldnt guarantee how many of those would be Australian jobs, she just said that would be a priority to have Australians and not be seeking people from overseas. Do you think thats good enough?

KEOGH: I think its quite concerning and is a great example that this Government will chase a headline without being concerned about the detail. One of the things that is always concerning for us is to make sure that the opportunity for Australian jobs and developing Australian know-how is part of these projects. Its the same sorts of things that we see and the concerns we see out of the Navy Shipbuilding Program and whats happening in Defence, we want to make sure that these large investments actually deliver on creating Australian jobs, developing Australian know-how, giving people good training opportunities, obviously the Government hasnt worked out any of the detail at all. Its good to see that they are working with NASA, we want to see the detail so that we can see the opportunities, not only for creating Australian jobs, jobs here at home, but also what are the opportunities for our great businesses that are doing great innovation in spaces like resources, where here in Western Australia weve got great remote operations centres and technology. Whats the opportunity for those companies to get involved in the supply chains for space and NASA and having those technologies move from beyond just the resources industry, and into the space industry.

NIELSEN: And just finally, there were some alarming reports coming out of 60 Minutes on Channel 9 about allegations about Ben Roberts-Smith, do you think enough has been done to investigate these allegations?

KEOGH: Well clearly theres now, it would appear that theres two investigations that are ongoing. Its appropriate that those investigations be left to run their course. No one likes investigations to drag out but of course, where those investigations involve having to potentially interview or understand what has occurred in a foreign country, it can mean that these investigations will take longer than people would otherwise like because no matter who we are, you want to have an investigation like this wrapped up, as soon as possible, but the important thing is to let those investigations run their course.

NIELSEN: And do adding in that Ben Roberts-Smith has vehemently denied the allegations made against him. Matt Keogh Labor MP from Western Australia, thank you for your time.

KEOGH: Great to be with you.