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Doorstop interview

23 May 2017

Subject: Adani Carmichael Mine, Queensland Government royalties stoush

E&OE

MINISTER CANAVAN

I think today is a very disappointing day for all Queenslanders. We have a Queensland Government right now that is a walking embarrassment. They are an embarrassment because they don't even have a tax plan in place, a week out from when Adani was going to make a final decision on a major mine which could produce thousands of jobs for Queenslanders. How in hell can the Queensland Labor Government not even have the appropriate tax regime in place, two years after they've been in government? This project's been assessed now for more than seven years, and the Queensland Labor Government is so chaotic, so wracked with indecision and in-fighting, that they can't even tell Adani what taxes they will pay if they make a decision to invest in the mine. I mean this is not an amateur hour. This is Play School from the Queensland Labor Government. They are a government that is wracked with in-fighting. They can't make a decision. And if they can't do that, they don't deserve to govern.

If they can't make a decision on what the appropriate tax regime is for the Galilee Basin and make that clear, they should go to the election and give someone else a chance to create a plan for Queensland, to produce jobs in Queensland. And can I also say, that all the Labor members down here, particularly those from Queensland, but all the Labor members in Canberra that purport to stand up for jobs, should be getting on to the Labor Government, getting on to Annastacia Palaszczuk and telling her to sort this mess out. Bill Shorten should be calling Annastacia Palaszczuk and telling her that if she expects to be a government in charge, she needs to make decisions. That's the way it goes. If you've got power, you've got responsibility and you need to make sure you can tell the Queensland people what your plan is for jobs in that state. We desperately need these jobs. It is time to get on with the job and stop this in-fighting, stop this chaos and come up with a plan.

REPORTER

There’s been delays with the investment decision because of Federal issues such as Native Title, so surely it’s not only the Queensland Government’s fault in this case?

MINISTER CANAVAN

Well, to take up the issue with Native Title, that was an issue that emerged from the Federal Court case that came down in February. By March, the Federal Government had legislation out to handle that issue. It wasn't an issue that just impacted Adani, it was a much broader issue that impacted more than 120 Indigenous Land Use Agreements. But within a month, we had legislation in place. We wanted to pass that legislation by the end of March. A Senate Inquiry had reported by then. But Labor said they wanted more time. Fair enough. We gave them more time. Two weeks ago now, we wanted to pass it in the budget week. We offered to have more time for the debate to get it through. Again, the Labor Party refused. So, I completely reject that any delays or deferrals have been because of decisions of the Coalition Government here in Canberra. We have acted always to try to facilitate investment in our country, not just from Adani but to make sure we get investment in these frontier areas of our country. These are areas where there is indigenous disadvantage, economic disadvantage. We need the jobs. We are focused on delivering for those areas. But unfortunately, the Labor Government in Queensland is focused on their seats in inner-city Brisbane, particularly the Deputy Premier's seat in West End. How can the Queensland Government go to an election with the Queensland people and say they've held to ransom jobs in North Queensland to protect their own jobs in inner city Brisbane? That is their message to the Queensland people and it's one that North Queenslanders in particular are massively frustrated with, and have just had enough with this government, enough with the chaos. Make a decision, have a plan and get on with the job.

REPORTER

Minister, really, what’s the prospect of this mine going ahead?

MINISTER CANAVAN

Well, look, there's a lot of uncertainty on it. I would hope that the Queensland Government can fix this. Apparently, there were urgent crisis meetings last night between the Premier and her senior bureaucrats. I'm not sure why it took to the 11th hour for those meetings to occur, but perhaps something can be salvaged here. Adani has said that they have indefinitely deferred the decision but I know, I know that obviously, they've spent billions of dollars trying to develop this project. India has a massive need for energy resources in the next couple of decades. A huge part of that will be increased coal use and we I think we are the best country to provide that. We have the highest quality coal. We have low ash content. We have the ability to produce the most environmentally sustainable energy resources for India. But eventually there's going to come a point, after seven years, if there are continued deferrals, India will go elsewhere to look for coal. That's certainly the message I've heard from the Indian Government. They will look elsewhere if Australia can't provide that resource, and that would be a great cost to our country in terms of export revenues, in terms of royalties and taxes and of course most importantly in terms of jobs.

REPORTER

Minister, One Nation is in a state of bother with the leaked recording. How damaging do you think this would be for the party in the lead up to the Queensland election, in terms of attracting candidates and retaining popularity with voters?

MINISTER CANAVAN

Well there's a couple of points here. One, One Nation needs to get their story straight. They're all at sea at the moment. Their leader Pauline Hanson is saying this apparently, this sort of idea, this thought bubble was rejected out of hand, but apparently there's a tape, well I've seen reports of a tape where that doesn't happen at all. It was not rejected out of hand straight away. So, Senator Hanson needs to get her story straight and come clean with the Queensland people. The other point to make here is that One Nation are hypocritical at the very least, at the very best interpretation they can be accused of hypocrisy, because they often present themselves as more pure, as a different party or something beyond what they think is the day to day two party political system. But here we see a state where they are engaged in the most basic speculation to try to defraud not just their voters, but their core supporters, their candidates. That is remarkable, that you would insult people that want to volunteer for you, that give their time to you, in that sort of way. And they need to explain themselves.

REPORTER

Minister Canavan, just finally, the Catholic School dispute there. There is continuing rancor from the sector, which continues to maintain it has been singled out. Have you talked to any Catholic schools in Queensland and do you retain confidence in the new funding formula?

MINISTER CANAVAN

I've got five kids, and three are at Catholic schools, two in a Primary School that I have spoken to. And there are concerns about the future funding arrangements, but I have explained to them the situation where funding will increase by 3.7 per cent over the next four years; that is, the funding formula is consistent for all schools across Australia. And I think that's something that has widespread support among parents, including those at Catholic schools that I've spoken to, that we should have a consistent formula that treats all Australian children the same, and you don't have a situation where the funding you receive for your education is dependent on where you live or which school you go to.