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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News AM Agenda: 27 July 2016: national innovation and science agenda; United States election; Kevin Rudd

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The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science


27 July 2016



Topics: National Innovation and Science Agenda, United States election, Kevin Rudd

KIERAN GILBERT: I'm here with the new Industry, Innovation, and Science Minister. Greg Hunt, thanks for your time.

GREG HUNT: Thanks very much Kieran. They do political pageantry with incredible style in America.

KIERAN GILBERT: We complain about long elections - they’ve been going for many, many months now, with three or four months to go till the election itself.


Well it’s an almost permanent campaign, certainly for the best part of two years out of every four it’s a political campaign.

But as a country we’ll work with whomever the American people elect.

They’re a mighty democracy and they have an incredible democratic history, it’s always competitive.

And our job is to work with the elected leaders of the great democracies of the world.

KIERAN GILBERT: And as Minister though for Industry now and in this economic space, and with that hat on, it would be preferable, would it not, for Clinton to win in the sense that we are such a free trade nation?


Look, I’m not going to give America advice on who should or shouldn’t win, whom the American people should elect.

But our policy is to be an open trading nation because that actually creates jobs in Australia. It’s about investment in Australia.

And at the end of the day, innovation is actually about not just start-ups - although that’s very important - but it’s about companies such as Dulux and BlueScope and how they create new products, how COLORBOND becomes a world-leading product.



Dulux has tripled its share value in the last six years, you know, a nearly 100 year old firm in what many would consider to be a sort of a basic industry, innovation there is actually about doing things in a better way, which is about employing 3000 Australian people.

KIERAN GILBERT: Now in terms of, well if we just focus on the US and the links to your portfolio, one of the big problems in terms of the tech industry, for example, is the brain drain to Silicon Valley - thousands, tens of thousands of Australians there - how do we get them back?


Well there’s a battle - there’s always a battle for talent.

And young Australians going there and learning and coming back is a very good thing for Australia

Young Australians going there and not coming back is a loss to the country.

So you see firms such as Aconex - an Australian firm that I know very well - they settled in Silicon Valley for a period, they came back, they listed on the Australian stock exchange.

They’ve created jobs, they’ve created wealth, they’ve created investment.

So what is our task as a Government and as a country? It’s to create an environment which is about collaboration.

What does collaboration mean? It actually means putting together the universities, the firms, and then investment.

And so to create an environment where people want to invest in Australia.

Our city spaces and our natural environment are attractions for people from around the world, so they want to come and live here.

But if you then have the supportive business environment, people will do their best and they will create jobs.

KIERAN GILBERT: So why hasn’t Australia been good at that issue of collaboration or commercialisation of what have been - we’ve had some of the best breakthroughs and scientists in the world, and yet there’s a

disconnect between the research and the commercialisation - why is that?


So there are many great Australian success stories, but there is a gap. And the gap is in the - what you might often call the mid-tier capital investment or venture capital market.

These markets have been incredibly strong in Hong Kong, the UK, and the US. We need to say to the world, we are open for business but we have an environment which is welcoming.

Lowering our tax rates for business isn’t about just profit for profit’s sake, it’s about creating jobs and creating an environment where the small and emerging businesses become highly successful businesses.

And that is very achievable, and that is my task. What’s my job? To make it easier to do business, easier to create jobs.

And that’s not just for the start-ups, that’s in particular for people - whether it’s in an animal health business, whether it’s in a food processing business, whether it's in a traditional manufacturing business.

Innovation is about doing things in a better way, which is about creating jobs.

KIERAN GILBERT: And in terms of one of those areas, science of course is also part of your portfolio.

Do you see an overlap with your previous responsibilities in terms of, well, the need to have a cleaner economy?

How much scope is there for Australia to take a more leading role in innovation in that space?


I think it’s very important, and I was fortunate obviously to work in the environment space on the cutting edge with new clean technology, and that’s about clean water, clean land, clean air, recycling, emissions reduction.

And so you have Australian firms that are world leaders in water technology, we are in many ways competing with Israel which is right at the forefront, but we are very close because of our agricultural links.

Similarly clean air, huge markets in China for Australian services and technology.

Put those together. And right at the forefront as well of land remediation.

So people look to Australia and they think this is a country that has many, many advantages.

And that’s both about bringing capital and people here, so there is a battle for talent, and we want to be welcoming and setting the framework for them.

And a National Innovation and Science Agenda, I recommit to the existing one, but we now work on the next wave of that.

KIERAN GILBERT: We’ve got some breaking news, and Hillary Clinton now formally reached that threshold.

A moment in political history, as I mentioned at the start of the program, the first woman to be nominated for the presidency by one of the major parties in the United States.

That is a very significant moment Greg Hunt.


Well it is a significant moment.

Of course the UK has just had Theresa May lifted to the Prime Ministership, we have here we have a Deputy Leader in Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister, we’ve had a female Prime Minister in Australia.

In the United States, who knows what the voters will pick, but our job is to work with whatever administration is chosen by the people of the United States, but to argue for the settings that will most help Australians.

And again, it’s not about the top end, it’s about what will help somebody in regional Queensland with a mining services job, what will help somebody with an animal health small business in Hastings.

These are things that are all about jobs and innovation as they help Australians in all walks of life secure their work and give themselves better income over a longer period.

That’s how you create wealth in Australia.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr Hunt, my final question I want to ask you relates to a decision that Cabinet will have to make tomorrow on whether or not to nominate Kevin Rudd as at least a contender for the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Julie Bishop, who you mentioned, she says that he is qualified in the sense that other candidates are either foreign ministers or former Prime Ministers.

Other Cabinet colleagues have been less supportive of the idea as Scott Morrison yesterday said that he’s not qualified. What’s your take on it?


I’ll reserve my position for Cabinet, but I will say this.

I note that Kristina Keneally believes that her dog would be better qualified, so the Labor Party has its critics.

Kim Beazley has been very critical. Bill Shorten didn’t believe that Mr Rudd could run the Labor Party, let alone the country.

So they need to - Mr Shorten needs to be very clear as to why he has a different view.

And there are many, many people within our own party and the broader base of the party who will have their concerns.

But I’ll reserve my position, but I note that the Labor Party has a very chequered history in relation to its support for Mr Rudd.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr Hunt thanks for your time. Talk to you soon.