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Transcript 40955

Radio interview with Selina Green, ABC South East Radio

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40955

Subject(s): Mental health services, NBN, Gas exploration

SELINA GREEN:

Welcome to Mt Gambier and thank you very much for making time to come in.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s great to be here.

SELINA GREEN:

Now this might seem like an obvious question, but what brings you to Mt Gambier at this time?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m here with Tony and we’ve been meeting people, his constituents here in Mt Gambier. We’ve been to the Headspace, and had a very good discussion there about mental health services here, we’ll have a Politics in the Pub later. Now we’re here with you, so this is all about engaging with the local community and with Tony’s constituents.

We’ve met with school captains from about half a dozen local high schools.

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

All the Mt Gambier high schools and Penola High and Millicent High as well. So it’s great to connect with those future leaders.

SELINA GREEN:

As you mentioned, you did tour the Headspace facility here which has been doing some fantastic work in our local community. I know it is greatly appreciated. The future of Headspace hasn’t always been completely certain, is funding for this program safe?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s absolutely certain now I can assure you. We’re expanding it nationally. The funding for this service is committed, as indeed there are two other Headspaces in Barker, one at Murray Bridge and one at Berri. That’s right. We’ve committed to ten more Headspaces as part of our big mental health programme.

So mental health is a key priority of my government and I like echoing Ian Hickie, Professor Ian Hickie you probably know or have heard, likes to talk about the ‘mental wealth of nations’ and the mental wealth of Australia. We all have a vested interest in every other Australian’s mental health. That’s why it’s very important to have these very community-oriented services like Headspace, which can collaborate with volunteers. We met with –

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

Nel Jans at the Junction. Just such a hero in our community.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, what a fantastic love and leadership she’s showing. So you can see the way that’s reaching out and building up the strength, the mental wealth if you like, of Mt Gambier.

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

The important thing Selina in that space is we toured the new facility. So Headspace has been operating from an interim facility for some time in Mt Gambier and I’m so proud they’re moving into their own, standalone facility on Commercial Street East.

It’ll be a home for people under the age of 24 who are in need of a bit of a hand. They’ll know where to go. This will become, if you like, a home for mental wellness for young people in our community.

SELINA GREEN:

We know Headspace locally here is expanding into the area of tele-health and utilizing that. I understand you’re quite impressed by the work they’re doing in terms of tele-health. 

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep.

SELINA GREEN:

Of course the thing with tele-health is that it can only work provided there is good access to fast internet, to reliable internet. What are we doing about ensuring we have that coverage for people in regional areas like ours?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I was very impressed, as was Tony, that they said bandwidth had not been a problem. They said the services had been so far, it had been very high quality. But the position as you know with the NBN rollout, is that you have about 67,000 premises ready for service out of 86,000 in Barker. So the rollout is nearly 80 per cent complete. It will be nationally, it will be about 50 per cent complete by June 30, is the company’s estimation.

So we inherited a failed project from the Labor Party, I regret to say, in 2013. But it is now rolling out well and rapidly across the country, as you can see. I encourage any of your listeners who are interested to go the NBN Co website and you can see the weekly rollout figures, every week.

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

And Selina I was telling the Prime Minister, we celebrated the switch on of Mt Gambier last week, a portion of the town. The balance of the town will be switched on to the FTTN, so fiber to the node network, by the end of June.

SELINA GREEN:

Whenever we do talk about the NBN, we do get listeners who contact us to say, you know, they have struggles getting on to the system, that they are having issues with it. Do you take on board that there are some criticisms of the NBN? That there is some improvement that still needs to happen?

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course, absolutely. The company is very alert to that and they’re doing everything they can to improve the user experience. Of course the reason somebody has poor connectivity could be, there are a lot of reasons behind that. The NBN, as I’m sure you know, is a last-mile network, so it goes from the exchange, the point of interconnection to the customer’s premises. So what happens behind that, which is the responsibility of the telco -Telstra, Optus, you know, iiNet, TPG, whoever - that’s their responsibility. Of course obviously people also often have problems in their own homes with wiring or poor wifi and so forth.

So it can be a bit complex getting your connectivity up to scratch, but generally we’re seeing very high levels of satisfaction from the NBN. It’s an enormous project you know and as I said, it had failed. In fact, it had completely stopped dead in its tracks in South Australia at the time we came into government in 2013.

SELINA GREEN:

Is there more that we can be doing to grab those telcos, those service providers by the collar and make sure that people are getting that connectivity better?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s a competitive market. I’d just encourage people to look around and do that. The ACCC is also paying attention to what the telcos are saying in terms of speed, what promises they’re making and whether they’re doing so accurately. They are actually testing, checking on that to make sure that those promises are consistent with the customer’s actual experience.

SELINA GREEN:

When we’re talking about connectivity, of course blackspot mobile phone towers. In previous rounds we haven’t had a significant number of those here, for the south east parts of South Australia. No new money in the budget for future blackspot funding beyond round three, which we know has not been announced. What commitment is your government making to getting better coverage for people in regional areas like ours.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we’re yet to roll out round three, but we will continue funding blackspots as you’ve seen. We’ve demonstrated our commitment. Again, the Labor Party for six years in government from 2007 to 13, did not spend one cent on mobile blackspots. The Howard government did. Then when we came in, when Tony Abbott came in and then continued by me as PM we have continued to fund mobile phone blackspots.

Now South Australia has not had as many as other states and that is because the state government has not put any money in. So there has not been the co-funding. So the formula that we’ve used obviously leveraged funding from state governments where it was available and in Western Australia and Victoria in fact, Coalition Governments there put quite a lot of money to work to support the rollout of more blackspots. That’s why they ended up getting more because it’s a combination of government subsidy, some local governments in some cases - not many – and of course the telcos themselves, you know, paying to roll it out. 

SELINA GREEN:

I want to touch on the issue of gas exploration, and we have a state Labor Government obviously here in South Australia, very keen to further push gas exploration. Got the South Australian Liberal Party that has come out very strongly with a policy to ban fracking in our region, should they win the next election. Where do you stand on fracking as a solution to the energy crisis?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t want to get too specific about your region, Tony’s got a much better understanding of the hydrogeology, the environment here than I do. But I’d say that we do need more gas, there’s no question about that. We’ve seen a lot of issues with both the affordability and reliability of gas supply. You’ve seen I’ve had to take some very strong measures to limit the export of gas from the east coast of Australia to ensure the domestic market keeps supplied.

But we do need to get, see more gas in eastern Australia and so I generally, we encourage further development of onshore gas.  But it’s obviously got to be done in circumstances where it’s geologically safe and of course, where it has the social license that comes from the support of the local community and landowners.

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

And that’s the issue in this region Selina, the social license hasn’t been attained. Of course there are real questions around hydraulic fracture stimulation and in particular the interface with our aquifers that we rely on so critically for our irrigation effort.

SELINA GREEN:

Are you in that instance, are you pushing the states that have fracking moratoriums in place to lift those?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we particularly urged Victoria to do more. I mean Victoria not only has a ban on fracking, they have a ban on conventional gas exploration and development which is as far as I am aware unique in Australia and has no, no possible justification. We understand the issues about fracking but they have a massive onshore gas resources or reserves in Victoria and they have basically put a ban on the development of any of them, by any means. Given that Victoria is such a big, has such strong demand for gas, particularly for industry, it’s hard to understand why that Labor Government would do that at the same time of course as big coal fired power station like Hazelwood, is being closed down.

SELINA GREEN:

In a situation where you have a state Liberal Party here in South Australia that seems to have a policy at odds with your own, I mean what do you do in that instance? Do you speak to Steven Marshall about reconsidering his policy?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s very much a matter for the State Governments. I mean we encourage - our concern, my concern as Prime Minister is that Australians have access to affordable and reliable supplies of gas. Now the management of the environmental considerations is obviously one for state governments. It’s necessary to ensure that - in terms of groundwater issues, which is what you’re talking about here on the limestone coast - that that’s done properly so you’ve got to get the science right and you’ve obviously got to make sure the landowners are comfortable with it, and the community is comfortable with it. That’s the social license that Tony was just talking about.

But as a general rule, as a general proposition we need more gas. If we don’t produce more gas then you know, naturally gas will become more expensive. So you know, it’s a supply and demand issue here. We’ve put some limitations on exports, but equally we’re an exporting nation, so we’re also looking at linking the big gas resources of Western Australia and the Northern Territory to the east coast so we’re looking at the feasibility of building a pipeline to connect the Northern Territory to Moomba, there’s already work being done on the plan to build one from the Northern Territory to Mount Isa. But there is no question we do need more gas, it’s a very important part of our energy mix.

SELINA GREEN:

Well Prime Minister there are so many topics that we would like to touch on with you today, but we know that you are as we say, a very fly in fly out, quick visit to Mt Gambier today.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we’re looking forward to talking about the budget tonight, you know that’s a very important time in the year when the government sets out its economic agenda, sets out the all of the accounts and we’ve done that in a very fair way, ensuring that the funding is assured for essential services for schools, you know Medicare, health, National Disability Insurance Scheme and at the same time doing all of that and bringing the budget back into balance in a few years’ time.

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

And Selina if I can just say it’s fantastic to have the Prime Minister in the region, I extended an invitation to him and he’s taken it up, it’s a real coup to have him here in the week after the budget.

I did say when I preselected in 2012 I would seek to raise Barker’s voice on the national stage and I think we’re seeing that personified by the Prime Minister’s visit.

SELINA GREEN:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Member for Barker Tony Pasin, thank you very much both for coming in and making time.

PRIME MINISTER:
Thank you

MR TONY PASIN MP, MEMBER FOR BARKER:

Thank you

[ENDS]

Transcript 40955