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Transcript of doorstop interview: Croydon Public School, Sydney: 6 December 2016: visit to Croydon Public School; STEM; National Innovation and Science Agenda; quantum computing; Cory Bernardi; review of climate policies; Dick Smith; Pauline Hanson; Green Army; carbon pricing

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6 December 2016

Doorstop with the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Trade, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP and Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Trade, the Hon. Craig Laundy MP Croydon Public School, Sydney



It is great to be here at Croydon Public. As you can see, I am here with the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Greg Hunt, the Assistant Minister for Innovation, Craig Laundy. Of course, such a great role model to so many of those young coders, particularly the young girl coders, Michelle Simmons, who is the director, and Professor Simmons is the director of Quantum Computing at the University of New South Wales.

What you’ve seen today is the way in which the Government is supporting coding and STEM subjects right across the school system. The Code Club, which has organised the coding class this morning, we’ve supported through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

We are also pleased to announce that we are making grants of $3.9 million in total to 24 programs as part of our Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship exercise. That’s a $13 million program overall. What we are doing there is seeking to address, frankly the failure of the market to attract more women and girls into STEM, and in particular into computing sciences.

Computer literacy, digital literacy is absolutely essential, as I was saying to the kids a moment ago, to any line of work in the future. It is as important for these young people to be digitally literate as it is important for them to read and write and be able to do their mathematics as well.

It’s vital and not enough girls are taking it through school and onto university which brings me to Michelle - what an amazing role model - Michelle, there you are, you are right at the cutting edge of the most advanced research on computing in the world.

We are backing Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship. We are backing digital literacy. We are backing these kids who are coding. Those children are an inspiration just as Michelle is a great inspiration.

I’ll ask Greg and Craig to say a few words. Craig, of course, is also the local member. Then we’ll ask Michelle to talk about the importance of what we’ve seen here with these young boys and girls.


Thanks very much, Prime Minister. This week is the first anniversary of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. Innovation and science boils down to one concept - jobs. We saw with the launch of the innovation systems report last week the evidence that over a period of years, innovation and science and new firms and emerging firms are creating up to 180,000 jobs per year. So it is about the jobs of today and of tomorrow and of the future and today is about bringing young people into a world where they can have skills, creativity and incredible job opportunities.


Thank you PM. I at a personal level, at a local level, would like to thank Principal Cathy and her amazing staff, Patrick in the class we’ve been to this morning, the amazing students that we have met. Greg, this morning, doing such vital work that will as Michelle and the PM mentioned, a role model, being here today as well, inspire them to continue.

When you spoke to most of those kids in there and you said - “Do you enjoy it?” - the smiles on their faces and the fun that’s going on and when I asked every girl in that classroom - “Are you going to continue into senior school with this?” - the answer was a unanimous ‘yes’. That’s exactly what we need to see if we are to achieve the jobs and the growth that the Prime Minister echoed through the election campaign. Through Minister Hunt and my portfolio Industry, Innovation and Science, well into the future and through inspirations like Michelle. Michelle, thank you for joining us. You give the staff and the students the shot in the arm they need to tackle this challenge moving forward.


It’s been very exciting to sit in the classroom with the children today, they clearly get it. At that young age, they understand that coding is absolutely essential. I guess one of the things I want to encourage particularly to all the young girls out there is that we need coders for the future. It’s a skill that everyone is going to need, no matter what industry you’re in, no matter what job you do. We need those young people to come through, recognise the importance of that and get behind and get into science, technology, engineering, maths. It’s critical for our future so this is a great scheme that’s been announced today. I encourage all those young girls out there with any interest, get in there because it’s great fun. Thank you.


Great thank you. Now do you have any questions?


Cory Bernardi has attacked carbon pricing being included in the climate policy review as the “dumbest thing he’s ever heard”. Are you afraid this type of debate reopens the wounds of 2009?


The review of our climate policies which will be undertaken next year has been part of the Coalition's policy for many years, long before I was Prime Minister. So this is absolutely part of our policy. It is part of the policy we took to the election in 2013 and 2016 and, indeed, we took to the election in 2010. So this is business as usual.


Prime Minister, Dick Smith is lending his support to Pauline Hanson and offering to advise One Nation as they look to target Western Sydney. Does that concern you at all?


We have a vibrant democracy and people are entitled to campaign as independents or as political parties. But we are reminded constantly that the major concern Australians have, the biggest concern Australians have, is over the security of their jobs, the strength of the economy, whether their children and grandchildren will have good jobs in the future, whether they'll be equipped to take advantage of the opportunities of the future and we are committed to ensuring that they are.

What you have just seen today is an aspect of that, but everything we are doing, everything we have achieved since the election - look at all of the legislation we have secured through the Parliament. This was the Parliament that many people said would be unworkable. Many people said we wouldn't be able to get any of our legislation through. We have got one element of our economic plan after another - we have been able to secure it through the Parliament. We are governing, we're leading, we're delivering.


What do you make of reports that Tony Abbott is displeased with the notion of scrapping the Green Army?


I know there has been some press about the Green Army. We obviously, in a very tight budgetary environment, review all programs and any decisions at this time of year will be announced in MYEFO which will be out very shortly, which is the mid-year budget update, if you like, that comes out in December.


Barnaby Joyce says he doesn't support a carbon tax, are you concerned you are at odds with the Nationals Leader?


In terms of carbon policy, I have never supported a carbon tax. There are many distinguished members of the Coalition parties who have supported a carbon tax over the past. I've never done.


I guess it is fair to say that Pauline Hanson is gaining momentum. She's got another prominent voice who is now supporting her. Is there a real risk she will take away some of the conservative support from the Liberal Party?


I'm committed to delivering strong economic growth and great jobs, more jobs and better jobs for all Australians. Australians are much more interested in that than in political commentary. They certainly don't expect their political leaders to be playing the role of political commentators. If there are no further questions - are there any further questions on the National Innovation and Science Agenda? Otherwise we shall return to the station and get the train back into town.


Your voter support is down in the latest Newspoll as well. How are you going to turn it around next year?


The polls have been pretty consistent for a while but the one in the paper today actually shows an improvement in the party vote. Is anyone interested in innovation and science or the economy? Or is it just politics? Okay, well thank you all very much. I want to thank Croydon Public. I want to thank you Michelle and my colleagues. I want to thank the teachers because they are ensuring that we have the great jobs and the strong growth of the future and they're equipping these kids for fantastic opportunities that these very exciting times in which we live offer to them.

Thanks a lot.