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Transcript of radio interview: Jacquie Mackay, ABC Capricornia: 4 April 2018: jobs; water security; investment in Rookwood Weir

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Radio interview with Jacquie Mackay, ABC Capricornia

SUBJECTS: Jobs; water security; investment in Rookwood Weir



A little earlier, the Prime Minister spoke with me before he hopped on a plane to head north, to give confirmation that the Federal Government has committed half of the funding for the construction of the Weir.


We committed to it nearly two years ago actually, in May 2016 and it took a long time for the Queensland Government to come on board. But you know, no hard feelings.

The fact is they're now committed, they committed to half of it but with an increased price tag and we've reviewed the business case for that and we've agreed to increase our participation.

So we're all on board and we should get on with it and build it.

It’s going to be a real game changer. It's going to create thousands of jobs. It's going to result in a real surge in irrigated agriculture. There's going to be a lot of water available for industry in and around Gladstone. This is a very, very big deal and long overdue. I was so excited when I first saw the site with Michelle a couple of years back.

I'm just thrilled that we're going to be able to make it happen. It's great credit to her and Ken I might say for their advocacy.


Of course there’s a requirement now for large new investment in both agriculture as well as industry and access to overseas markets as well. What do you think the Federal Government will be doing to encourage this?


Well in terms of access to overseas markets, of course we've been signing up one big free trade deal or another. We obviously signed up that China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Japan Free Trade Agreement and most recently the Trans-Pacific Partnership which gives us even greater access to big markets in our region including Japan and of course Canada, Mexico, some big South American economies including Chile and Peru.

We are forging ahead, constantly opening up new free trade opportunities for our exporters.

A big contrast to the Labor Party I might say, Jacquie. When Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, you remember how Shorten mocked me for persevering with it? He said that I was “wasting my time,” I was “deluded”, on a “vanity project”. Well, we got it done and what a great opportunity it offers particularly, by the way, for beef exporters.

You know our tariffs going into Japan, for beef, are now going to be a fraction of those for American cattle producers. That gives us a very big advantage over our competitors in the Japan market.


So how affordable will the water be though? Because we're hearing some fears that farmers won't be able to afford it.


Well, if the farmers don't buy it, the project won't have any income. So I can assure you that the whole basis of the scheme is to make sure that the water is acquired and used. I mean that's the object. The goal is to generate around 76,000 megalitres of high priority water including up to about 42,000 for irrigated agriculture and about 34,000 for industrial and urban use around Gladstone.

That's the plan.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.