PRIME MINISTER: G’day Pricey.
PRICEY: Yes it is.
PRIME MINISTER: How are you mate?
PRICEY: Good mate, who is that?
PRIME MINISTER: It’s ScoMo.
PRICEY: Hello Mr Prime Minister. Are you going to the footy?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m not.
PRICEY: Well, what did you come up here for?
PRIME MINISTER: I’ve got head up to Cairns. But I’m here to do some things today…
PRICEY: But hang on a sec, forget about Cairns, you’ve got to stay and go to the footy.
PRIME MINISTER: I’ve got to go to COAG. I’ve got all the Premiers coming together and the Chief Ministers.
PRIME MINISTER: Oh don’t worry about them.
PRICEY: No, no. Look, it’s the footy, ScoMo. Mate, welcome to our city. Mind you, with the way the weather is in Canberra that’s extremely wise of you.
PRIME MINISTER: It is, it’s beautiful up here, it is absolutely gorgeous.
PRICEY: When did you get here, last night?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah got in late yesterday afternoon.
PRICEY: Good stuff. Now, we’ve got to think about our city, mate. A couple of things I wanted to mention to you. Five million bucks for Oasis, you promised that. We’re getting it?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
PRICEY: Righto. Now, we getting cash or are you going to do what the Premier does and give us $2.50 this year and keep going year after year?
PRIME MINISTER: No, well there is $4.2 [million] to complete the construction and that’s what we’re doing today.
PRIME MINISTER: And we’re also announcing that the $5 million today for dealing with prickly acacia.
PRICEY: Yeah, yeah. That’s amazing, that’s amazing. I thought it was going to be $10 million?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the state government… it was supposed to be $5 million each.
PRIME MINISTER: The state government just wanted to give money that they’re already giving and count it as new money.
PRICEY: Yeah. So are we going to get that off them as well?
PRIME MINISTER: That’s up to them. But we’re not going to make it contingent on us putting our $5 million. We’re going to do that and hopefully they’ll stump up later.
PRICEY: Hey, you know that amazes me. I’m sorry to interrupt, but you say it depends on them. Don’t you guys get along? I know you’re different brands but, you know, it’s all for the same thing and that’s the betterment of life up here.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, we get along OK. But at the end of the day, they make their own decisions about what they do.
PRICEY: But you’re the boss, aren’t you? Can’t you say, ‘Hey, I’m Prime Minister, you give them their five million bucks’.
PRIME MINISTER: They’re the Queensland Government, the people elected them and they should hold them accountable.
PRICEY: Oh, we do. Actually, you gave them $232 million from the State Government. Are we going to see more of that?
PRIME MINISTER: More of…?
PRICEY: The $232 [million], you know, for the flood from Brissy. We just don’t want them building bridges, that’s all.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, we put over $3 billion dollars into the flood recovery, not just on this side of the range but on the other. And we’re continuing to do that. I’m going up to visit a cane farmer today actually who’s been one of the many who’ve been accessing the various programmes we’ve had for flood recovery. So it’s not just graziers that have obviously been supported, and not just those with cattle, but cane farmers and others who have been affected have been able to access those really important programs to help them get back up on their feet. We will be talking to veterans today also. We’ve got the wellbeing centre which will be coming here into Townsville.
PRIME MINISTER: So there’s a lot going on. Of course, there’s the work that’s underway on the pipeline project now. We’re following up and delivering on our commitment there as well, and the Deputy Prime Minister was up here a little while ago and he was making that announcement. So everything we’ve committed to, Pricey, I can assure you we’re getting on and delivering.
PRICEY: It’s not written in pencil, it’s written in blood, eh Mr Prime Minister? Well maybe not blood.
PRIME MINISTER: Look at Phil Thompson, because Phil has got off to a tremendous start in the Parliament. He brings a unique perspective on the world as an ex-serviceman.
PRICEY: On that point, do you think we – and certainly our Federal Government – does enough for our diggers?
PRIME MINISTER: We can never do enough, that’s the simple answer. But we are certainly doing more, and things like the wellbeing centre for veterans here in Townsville, I think, is an important part of that.
PRICEY: Are you following through on the wellbeing throughout the country too? Will it be helped over the years to come?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
PRICEY: I know the set up is there, but will you keep an eye on it and make sure that they have all they need?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
PRICEY: Righto, OK. That sort of says it all, ScoMo. Mate, so you’re heading up to Cairns. What are you going to do in Cairns? I missed that.
PRIME MINISTER: We’ve got COAG, that’s the all the Premiers and Chief Ministers are coming together which happens each year, and sometimes more than once a year. So we’re meeting up there and one of the things we’re going to be talking about there is skills and training and apprenticeships and this is something we made some big announcements about in the Budget. And you know, we’ve had an election between now and then and it’s important to remind everybody we did have a very big Budget in May. And one of the things that it focused on was trying to reform and change and do better how we get people trained in this country. It’s a bit of a mismatch.
PRICEY: Yeah for many years we dumped tech colleges which was quite extraordinary. Just quickly with the problem in South Australia too, renewables. What’s your thought on that and are you as a government negotiating with more Indian firms to dig a bit out of the basin?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, on the first point we’ve got record renewable investment coming into Australia at the moment. So, I mean…
PRICEY: Well it didn’t work too well in South Australia.
PRIME MINISTER: It’s the firming capability which is required to support those renewable investments and that’s why there’s a range. We’ve got a whole range of reliable power underwriting projects which we’re working on at the moment and a few other things with some of the other states. That requires transmission and interconnectors, like South Australia. There’s a project going on at the moment between South Australia and New South Wales. When it comes to the mining sector and the resources sector, and very clearly in the election, you know, we’ve got opportunities here and we want to see them realised and and it just means that the regulatory processes need to be followed – as everyone believes they should – and that that’s done in a very timely way and let the jobs flow and the opportunities come.
PRICEY: Does China own too much of Australia?
PRIME MINISTER: We’ve got very tough rules on this and every single one of these now is looked at individually, as it should be, and the decision was taken. I know there’s a lot of talk, people talk about the Darwin Port.
PRIME MINISTER: That was not approved by the Federal Government.
PRIME MINISTER: That was not sold with the Federal Government’s approval, it was done at the time when the states and territories could sell these things without going to the Federal Government.
PRIME MINISTER: And when I was Treasurer I changed that.
PRICEY: So you’ve changed it now and you do a lease and not own or…?
PRIME MINISTER: You’d have to go to the Treasurer and the Treasurer can put any conditions on these things, including saying no.
PRICEY: Righto. Mate, thanks for coming to our city, Mr Prime Minister. We wish you well up in Cairns, which is of course a northern suburb of Townsville.
PRICEY: You’re welcome anytime, good o you mate. And look after the diggers.
PRIME MINISTER: I’ll make sure I tell them that. And go the Cowboys, I do hope they get up.
PRICEY: Good on you mate.