By Matt Keogh MP

05 August 2020


SUBJECTS: Electorate of Burt; Cyber Security; Defence Industry; WA Resources; Trade; China relationship; electoral redistribution; WA AFL Grand Final.

JENNA CLARKE, HOST: Joining me in the studio for the very first time is Burt MP, Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, Matt Keogh. Thanks for joining me in the studio!

MATT KEOGH MP: Jenna it is great to finally be here with you!

CLARKE: I think the one benefit of you guys not going to Canberra is you guys get to do things in your own state.

KEOGH: I can say as much as I would like to be in Parliament and holding Government to account, and doing that work, which is very important. I’m very happy to be here with you, spending time in my local community and frankly being home with my family too.

CLARKE: Absolutely – so tell us a bit about yourself because you’re a newbie. Who is Matt Keogh?

KEOGH: Who is Matt Keogh, that’s a tricky question for a member of Parliament isn’t it? So this is now my second term in Parliament, I’m the Shadow Minister for Defence Industry and WA Resources and I’m also Shadow Minister Assisting for Small and Family business. I was previously a lawyer and started out in a family law firm a few hundred meters down the road from where my office is now actually, in Kelmscott, which is where I grew up. Through that work I was quite involved with our local shelter, our domestic violence women’s refuge and got quite involved in the policy work to do with that. I was on a state policy committee and became involved in the law society of Western Australia. A lot of law reform work, trying to get laws changed. I thought well I’m a lawyer, I’m doing a lot of work trying to change the law, maybe I could get in there and change the laws by being in Parliament. And here I am today with what I see as one of the best jobs you could possibly have, representing your local community. A community I grew up in, I was a youth group leader in, I was an ambulance cadet would you believe?


KEOGH: We did a lot of community group activities. And now I get to represent that community. And I have to say it is a needy community. We suffer some real strong issues, frequently appearing in the crime stoppers pages unfortunately, I once had a stolen shopping trolley delivered to the foyer of my office of all things. But for me that means there’s a lot of work to do and that’s what I’m passionate about – improving the lot of our community. There’s a lot of great things going on in our community and I’ve been really happy to help secure funding for projects like duplicating Armadale Road and the Armadale road bridge. Critically the Denny Avenue level crossing which is one of the most dangerous pieces of road in Western Australia. That work is starting now which is really fantastic. But also working with groups like the Champion Centre which is in Armadale, it’s an aboriginal community centre run by the City of Armadale it’s actually unique in Australia as a local government sponsored community centre for aboriginal people but is managed by the aboriginal community. They do really great work and bring together a whole lot of different services, from the Federal and State Governments, the charity sector and local government and that’s a really unique model and I’m really happy to support them. Pat Dodson, our Labor Senator, Father of Reconciliation came along to the reopening of that centre a little while ago.  So all of those issues are really important to me and that’s why I’m in Federal Politics doing portfolio work that’s important to us as a nation but also making sure we’re looking after our communities is really important.

CLARKE: And I think we have to point out how great it is to have, you’re only one of two Western Australian’s on the front bench of the Labor opposition, you and Madeleine King do great work. Were you buoyed by the fact you were kind of the chosen one by Albo? And they’re really interesting portfolios – Defence Industry is really important here in WA as you’ve written about many times in the West and in other publications. And also WA Resources. Is that a new portfolio?

KEOGH: In Labor for a while we’ve had junior responsibilities around the idea of WA Resources but Albo recognised the importance of WA Resources and elevated it into the Shadow Ministry itself which is the portfolio I hold and part of that is making sure the rest of the country actually understands our differences. We’re not a coal exporting state, that’s different to the east coast. We make up more than 50% of the entire resources industry of the country right here in Western Australia. The Port of Port Headland, 2-3 per cent of the national GDP goes through that one port and when you think about the impact of the Western Australian Resources sector has, on it’s own has obviously on the Western Australian Economy, but on the National Economy as well. It’s really, really important and it’s different to what happens over east. We have an oil and gas industry. We have a domestic gas reservation. We don’t have the same issues of the east coast with energy security. Obviously dominated by iron ore, not coal. A very different balance of materials. We also have nearly every critical mineral and rare earth for making batteries for your iPhone. Really, really important minerals for iPhone and androids and laptops but because of their importance as well in defence industry. The interesting part for me, well at least I find it interesting is there is actually a lot of cross over between the resources portfolio and the defence industry portfolio. Looking at what are the things we need to be doing strategically in our national interest, in our defence interest, that actually mean supporting our defence and resources industry. Within that you’ve also got a lot of small and family businesses supporting the defence industry and supporting the defence. There’s a very small little outfit who hand sew wetsuits for the SAS up in the Perth Hills.


KEOGH: A little family business but a very important, very bespoke business. And you’ve got these small businesses all over the country. They’re doing niche, highly technical work for the defence force, as well as doing things for the resources industry as well. It’s not all the large scale, international companies. We’ve got to make sure that those smaller businesses  get the benefit of being involved in those sectors as well.

CLARKE: Given things like Cyber Security is falling more and more into your remit, given the relationship with China and other foreign bodies. Are you finding that you’re getting involved in that and is Western Australia ready for a cyber-attack? Do we have the brains trust here or is our bread and butter building ships?

KEOGH: So interestingly again, recognising the importance of cyber, we have a shadow assistant minister just for cyber – Tim Watts, who has a background, before coming into Parliament, in technology and communications. A really smart guy, also I used to share an apartment with him in Canberra.

CLARKE: Hahaha

KEOGH: But he is really smart, and he released a discussion paper on this a little while ago. In Western Australia we’re very blessed. At ECU out of Joondalup there’s a cyber security centre there, I’ve visited to talk to them about these issues. One of the critical things for our nation, and our community is the need to increase our level of cyber awareness across the board. If you think about what we see now, students are walking into primary schools with iPads. Children are being given iPhones and iPads at a younger and younger age. What we’re probably not doing enough is teaching them about privacy online, about good, if you like, cyber hygiene, and we’ve got to be starting those conversations as parents and as teachers earlier and earlier in peoples lives so by the time we’re adults it’s second nature to us. And there lots of things in our lives where we’ve done that, and it’s become so ubiquitous in our lives we need to do more of that. Are we vulnerable to cyber attack here in Western Australia? Yeah, the whole country is. Morrison went out a few weeks ago to talk about persistent cyber attacks that are being attempted on our country. And not just on our Governments but on our universities, our resources sector, critical infrastructure. One of the things we are concerned about as an opposition is the national audit office did an audit of Federal Government departments to look at their level of compliance with the guidelines issued by the key cyber security officials in Government. The level of compliance was woefully low.


KEOGH: That’s something that Government can be working on, we can talk about what’s going on in the Government and sort that out that would be a good start. I think that’s a good analogy actually for what we’re seeing across the defence industry. There are things that government should just be doing, and getting right. We all rely on them getting it right. Whether it’s making sure that all Government agencies have good cyber security, making sure that we’re managing the contract for the biggest thing we’ve ever bought in the history of being a nation – the Future Submarines. Making sure that we have in all our contracts for buying all the kit and equipment for the Defence Force, and the Government announced that over the next decade they’re going to spend $270 billion. Let’s make sure more of that is being spent here in Australia. Let’s make sure the contracts have measurable and enforceable requirements on these Prime Contractors, many of which are overseas. That they use subcontractors here in Australia. Not just for any old jobs, rather we’re building capability here in Australia, skilled work, highly trained, highly paid, that we build that capacity going into the future. Right now, we’ve seen with Future Submarines – the government have said oh 90 per cent of the spend will be in Australia, ohhh actually that spend is now going to be 60 per cent. Now do you know what they include in that 60 per cent?

CLARKE: The wetsuits?

KEOGH: No. They include security guards, travel agents, French language lessons. That’s not building a submarine!

CLARKE: (laughs)

KEOGH: We need to be seeing actual work going to defence industry businesses in Australia. I’m sure because it’s a French company people are going to need French language lessons, but that’s not building Australian capability, Sovereign defence capability. So we want to make sure that the government is really targeted on the right spend and that it happens here in Australia to develop our sovereign capability. I might point out in the time we’ve gone from it’ll be 90 per cent of the spend, it’s now 60 per cent of the spend – oh by the way that’s not actually in the contract, it’s just what we thought would be good to aim for. And at the same time the cost has gone from $50 billion, to $90 billion. So we’re getting 30 per cent less out of 40 per cent more.


KEOGH: That’s nuts.


KEOGH: So as I said before, this should just be Government getting on with the job. When you line all of that up it looks pretty negligent in the way they’ve managed the whole defence industry portfolio really. And if there’s one area the Federal Government needs to get right, it’s defence, and making sure our defence force has all the capabilities it needs to do its job right.

CLARKE: One thing I guess, which would be both of your portfolios, is the relationship with China and the deteriorating relationship with the Feds. Probably not helpful. Lots of Western Australian Leaders have said the way they have conducted themselves isn’t great. What’s your take on that? Do you think we need to cool the rhetoric when it comes to speaking about our largest trading partner?

KEOGH: My colloquial way of thinking about this.

CLARKE: Ohhh we love that here.

KEOGH: Is that we need to be a strong koala, but we don’t need to poke the panda.

CLARKE: Ohhh good one.

KEOGH: So absolutely, when our national interest is being threatened, whether it’s by cyber attacks, whether it’s through undue influence in politics, we need to stand strong, we need to have the right laws in place and we need to make sure our agencies are doing the right thing to defend Australia. We need to make sure we have clear access through international waters to be able to sell our products. We’re an island nation, we sell stuff overseas. We sell a lot of it China, but also to Japan and South Korea. That all has to go through the waters to our north. We need to be very clear about protecting that opportunity. We also need to not go around antagonising people, and there is a balance between those two things. What we have acknowledged on the Labor side is there is a lack of consistent “all in” policy around China.


KEOGH: What is our policy on China? We see a lot of freelancing from Government backbenchers of we have this view, and that view and the other view. We don’t hear much from the Government on what it’s actual view is, on China. I think that’s what the nation actually wants. They want to see a strong response when our national interest is affected. People also appreciate our national interest is about our security, both physically, politically and economically.


KEOGH: So you can’t just talk about one or the other, you can’t be bipolar about this. You have to have a unified view about what our relationship with China is. It’s a bit like when you’re married – you might have a wife and you’ll always have a wife. You might end up with an ex in front of that name but you’ve always got one, you’ve always got that relationship. With China we’re always going to have a relationship. They’re the largest  population in Asia, they have one of the largest economies in the world, they’re our largest trading partner, there is no way we don’t have a relationship, the question is what is our relationship and other countries respect countries that stand up for their own interests. It’s not going to come as some shock and surprise to anyone that Australia says hey, you can’t hack our computer networks, and hey you can’t interfere in our political systems. Absolutely we should stand up for that, and that should absolutely not become an issue about trade.


KEOGH: We should not ruin our trading relationship. The Premier talks about this as well, it’s a really state of affairs when there’s effectively no relationship between our federal Government and their counterparts in the Chinese Government to enable these issues to get resolved. I’m not saying it’s an easy thing but we do need to see the government deliver on what is the Australian policy about our relationship with China? Because it’s terribly important to our national interest, both from an economic point of view, and all the areas as well.

CLARKE: For sure. Just before I let you go, there’s been a lot of talk about electoral reform and there could be a redistribution. Could we lose you? Where are we at with that?

KEOGH: It’s a lengthy process, the electoral commission has determined Western Australia will have one less seat at the next federal election. It doesn’t do that by just picking a seat and taking it out.


KEOGH: It basically redraws all the boundaries and sort of works its way through. So that is a process that involves submissions and consultation if you like, then they will produce some draft boundaries probably around February. That’ll be the states first sense of what are the new seats going to look like? Some seats may look very much like existing seats, some might look quite different. Then we’ll know where we go from there. Obviously I don’t want the seat of Burt to be abolished and I really enjoy representing my community. When that seat was created, the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens Party, the City of Armadale, the South West Group of Local Governments all said this area needs it’s own seat. It’s got a very distinct community of interest and they’ve all benefited over the last four years of having a specific representative of that community. I’ve really been honoured and enjoyed being that representative and I look forward to doing that well into the future.

CLARKE: Absolutely. Well Matt Keogh, Shadow Minister for Defence Industry and MP for Burt. Thank you so much for coming and joining us, it was nice to see you.

KEOGH: Jenna it has been an absolute pleasure and I endorse absolutely everything Geoff Gallop said about the West Coast Eagles, I would love to see a West Coast Eagles home grand final. As much as the Queenslanders, that Rugby league loving state wants to steal our grand final away from us. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate ignominy if there was a West Coast and Victorian team grand final, being hosted in Brisbane?

CLARKE: I can’t even. Look considering your beat around Defence Industry let’s catch up for a review of Top Gun the sequel when that comes out.

KEOGH: I’m really looking forward to that.


KEOGH: I feel like I’m a bit of a nerd saying that but I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

CLARKE: You’re only human.

KEOGH: Precisely.

CLARKE: Matt Keogh thanks for joining us.

KEOGH: It’s been a pleasure Jenna.