Press conference – Melbourne | Prime Minister of Australia
GED KEARNEY, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Good afternoon everybody. I’m Ged Kearney, I’m the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care and it’s really wonderful to be here with the Prime Minister to mark the opening of this amazingly beautiful building, the new global home of CSL. CSL has a long and wonderful rich history in this country. It serves our people so very well in the many areas of biomedicine that it works and it’s a great honour to have been here at the opening. And with that, I’m going to hand over to the Prime Minister.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Can I thank everyone here at CSL for the wonderful welcome and giving me the honour of opening this magnificent new facility. CSL is an iconic Australian company founded here in Melbourne in 1916. It has played such an extraordinary role for more than a century now in proving medicines, vaccines, scientific breakthroughs that have saved lives and made a difference to literally millions of lives throughout the entire world, but particularly here in Australia. One of the lessons of the pandemic was that we need to make more things here, that we need to be more resilient, that we need to value science – and this facility here does just that. I’ve just toured some of the facilities here with Brian and had a close look and a chat with some of the magnificent young scientists here, producing breakthroughs that will make a difference to people with diseases both known but in the future as well. This precinct as well here in Melbourne is amongst the best medical research precincts anywhere in the world and that will make an enormous difference. Eight hundred and fifty people employed here at this facility, more than two hundred scientists. People making a difference to the health of Australians, but making a difference as well to the Australian economy. One of the things that we know is that science and research and breakthroughs are significantly important for Australia’s future because we need to get ahead of the game. We need to be constantly looking for the next breakthrough because we are in a competitive world, and CSL has shown not only that it’s up to competing in that competitive world – it wins. And that means wins for Australia in jobs and economic activity, as well as providing health breakthroughs that make a difference to people’s lives. Happy to take a couple of questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are you concerned that Victoria’s decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games could mark the end of the event?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that’s a matter for the Commonwealth Games.
JOURNALIST: It’s been reported in the Financial Review today that you’ve facilitated a work experience position for your son at PwC, as well as a membership at the Chairman’s Lounge with Qantas. Firstly, is that true? And if so, do you think it’s appropriate given the role some of your ministers had in building and prosecuting a case against PwC in relation to leaking confidential government information?
PRIME MINISTER: My son is not a public figure. My son is not a public figure, he’s a young person trying to make his way in the world. And it’s up to you to ask whatever questions you like but I’ll refer you to David Littleproud’s comments that were entirely appropriate when he was asked about that today.
JOURNALIST: Just from Parliament ABC, two Australian warships are currently west of the Philippines near disputed waters off the South China Sea after conducting joint activities with the Japanese Navy. Are you worried about them being in the middle of a potential regional flashpoint?
PRIME MINISTER: No, this is business as usual. Australia conducts activities in our region, this is a part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2023, which is our flagship program.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, why didn’t you disclose your son’s membership of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge on the Parliamentary registry?
PRIME MINISTER: I completely comply with all of the requirements of the registry.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Conservative Political Action Conference was held in Sydney yesterday, CPAC. As part of this, a No campaign spokesperson, Gary Johns claimed that some Indigenous communities lived in a stupor and recommended if they wanted a voice they should learn English. Another comedian spoke about traditional owners as ‘rent seekers’, and described some Indigenous men as ‘violent black men’. Are you concerned about this kind of language in the context of the Voice?
PRIME MINISTER: I’m concerned about a whole range of comments that Gary Johns has made, not just on the weekend, but over a long period of time when it comes to failure to show any respect for Indigenous Australians. The fact that he’d been given a significant role in the No campaign is of concern. The Yes campaign is about recognising the great privilege we have of sharing this continent with the oldest continuous culture on earth. But it’s also about making sure that we listen to Indigenous Australians so as to get better results.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, is $380 million a complete waste of taxpayer money to not hold an event?
PRIME MINISTER: I’m not sure what you’re referring to.
JOURNALIST: In the context of the Commonwealth Games break fee.
PRIME MINISTER: When changes occur, there often is a cost to that. That was a decision for the Victorian Government.
JOURNALIST: Good afternoon, Prime Minister. Following the BCA’s report published this morning, do you accept a reformed blueprint to overhaul the industrial relations and tax system?
PRIME MINISTER: I welcome the fact that the BCA is once again making a constructive and productive contribution to debate in this country. I’ll have a look at the report, I’m speaking to the BCA annual dinner on Wednesday night. But it’s good that organisations like the BCA put forward ideas. I do note that one of the things in that report is very relevant right here, which is their endorsement of the National Reconstruction Fund. That is so important for growing new industries, for backing up scientific research. Medical researchers will benefit from $1.5 billion dollars of that $15 billion fund, and I welcome the National Reconstruction Funds support from the BCA. I also welcome the BCA’s ongoing support for Net Zero. They understand that the transition that will need to occur in the Australian economy is an important one and the BCA, I look forward to attending their event on Wednesday night. Thanks very much.