Press Conference Kwinana, WA

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The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

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18 March 2022

TIM MARTIN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN COOGEE CHEMICALS: Coogee Chemicals is very pleased to be building this critical infrastructure for WA – 120 megalitres of diesel storage – and this should help a long way to future-proof the industry here as well as provide an important model for fuel [inaudible]. We’ll be finished by mid-next year, and we're getting on with it now, we’re in the execution phase and we're very pleased to be part of it, and the government support has been fantastic, so thanks very much.
THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good afternoon. It's great to be here today with Mr. Tim Martin and Peter Hudson who is the Liberal candidate for the seat of Brand. We're here at Coogee Chemicals to announce a $25 million commitment from the federal government to increase our diesel stock holdings right here in WA. That $25 million will go towards the construction of fuel tanks right here – 120 megalitres of diesel – which will provide fuel security for Australian families and industry right here in Western Australia. As world events over the past three weeks have shown, fuel security is national security. The war in Ukraine has really underscored how important it is that Australia increases its diesel stock holdings, and the Boosting Australia's Diesel Storage Program, a Morrison Government grant of up to $250 million, is being allocated to ten businesses across the country, which will increase our diesel stock holdings by up to 40 per cent and that will create 1,000 jobs. Families, industry, farmers, our resources sector right here in WA need fuel security – and this grant program is delivering that. So, it's great to be here. Thank you very much Tim and to the team for taking me around the business today. Very exciting developments in titanium as well: world-leading innovation happening right here at Kwinana at Coogee Chemicals. 
It's been a big week for WA with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison visiting, making a whole series of announcements. We started the week with the $4.3 billion announcement at Henderson to build a Large Vessel Dry Berth – the second one in Australia, the first being in the east coast built during the Second World War. This is a massive opportunity for Western Australia, creating 500 jobs. It means a lot for our naval industry here, our shipbuilding industry, but also our commercial shipping industry as well. The Prime Minister further announced $243 million towards super-charging our critical resources sector, and he's been in Kalgoorlie today with a significant announcement, giving major project status to the Kalgoorlie Nickel project. There is a lot happening in WA, and securing this part of the economy – whether it be resources, fuel, or shipbuilding – is what we're doing as the Government. We are delivering for the Australian people. Happy to take some questions. Now, Peter, did you want to say anything?
PETER HUDSON, CANDIDATE FOR BRAND: Well, thanks very much, Minister. It's great to welcome you back to the electorate of Brand, always a pleasure to have you, to make this really significant announcement that does carry national implications for our fuel security. I’d just like to take a second to talk about the impacts that this will have in Brand. It means over 150 jobs, 150 jobs for the construction of this project and what it also means is that it can protect the consumers at the fuel bowser in the future to protect them from potential fuel spikes in the future. And look, it's just really great to be able to have you out here today to make this announcement, and as you say, WA has a lot going on. So, thanks very much for coming here.
ANDREW HASTIE: Thanks, Pete. Thanks for all of your hard work on behalf of the people of Brand. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Your suggestion that this will protect consumers at the browser, is there any suggestion this fuel will be used or released to the consumer market?
ANDREW HASTIE: What we're doing at the moment to ease fuel prices is we’re contributing 1.7 million barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which we acquired back in 2020 at historically low fuel prices, we’re putting that 1.7 million barrels of oil into the global market along with 31 other International Energy Agency members, 31 other nations, and that hopefully will push down prices and help out working families, small businesses, farmers, and everyone else affected by the spike in prices caused by the war in Ukraine. This is about, though, long-term fuel security for Australia. One thing that the war in Ukraine has really highlighted is the need for us to be strategically resilient. We need to secure our supply chains – which includes fuel, of course – that's why we're lifting our stock holdings of diesel by 40 per cent. So in the event of some significant market disruption, or indeed some sort of strategic coercion, which denies us fuel, we'll have a decent amount of stock holding.
JOURNALIST: Recent announcements by the Prime Minister and the Liberal government in WA seem to be focused on national security. Is there a strategic pivot by the Liberal government to shore up Australia's interests in that area?
ANDREW HASTIE: Absolutely. Back in 2020, in the Defence Strategic Update, the Prime Minister mentioned that authoritarian powers are challenging the rules-based global order. He mentioned China, he mentioned Russia – Russia has shown its form over the last 21 days, violating the sovereign territory of Ukraine and we’ve seen a terrible, terrible war, and the world has come together to condemn that and we're following through with very significant economic and financial sanctions against Russia. Of course, it has highlighted the need for us to secure ourselves with a stronger Australian Defence Force. We're contributing $270 billion in capability over the next 10 years for the ADF. We also need to focus on other areas as well: strategic minerals, rare earths, and, of course, fuel security. That's what this week's been about – demonstrating that the Morrison government is delivering for the Australian people. We're not just focussing on national security; we're also focusing on economic security. And those two things are the key task of any Commonwealth Government.
JOURNALIST: Just on to federal matters. Were you aware of allegations that Kimberley Kitching was being bullied or ostracised by her colleagues?
ANDREW HASTIE: Yes. As you're aware, Kimberley and I were very close. We worked together through the International Parliamentary Alliance on China. We were close colleagues in the parliament working together on things like the Magnitsky Act, and also doing whatever we could to protect Australian sovereignty. And so we talked a lot and she'd mentioned over the last six months that she'd been under significant pressure internally, because of some of her positions that she’d taken, and she was feeling quite isolated and ostracised.
JOURNALIST: In your view, do the allegations that have been made about Ms Kitching warrant investigation?
ANDREW HASTIE: I think Anthony Albanese can’t avoid that. He's tried to deflect, he's tried to move away from dealing with it, but he has to deal with it. These are very significant. And these aren’t being made by the Government, these have been made by people within the Labor Party – Kimberley's own colleagues. I'll be traveling to Melbourne on Monday to mourn with her family, her husband Andrew and family, and many friends from across politics, but also broader society and Anthony Albanese has to deal with these sorts of issues in his own party. It’s unacceptable.
JOURNALIST: Just back to local issues, WA is being described as, well it appears to be shaping up as a battleground state for the federal government, the number of seats that appear to be shifting, according to recent polling. Do you have any concerns for your own seat?
ANDREW HASTIE: Look, I’ve been working very hard, as have my WA Liberal colleagues over the last three years. I’ve focussed on delivering good health outcomes for Canning, more infrastructure, more jobs, I’ve been backing local volunteers. I stand by my record, and I'll go to the polls with everyone else in two months or so and I'm happy to stand by my record, but ultimately, governments are elected by the Australian people. We're a democracy and I respect that process.
JOURNALIST: And the Liberal Party, how concerned would you be if, say, Pearce fell?
ANDREW HASTIE: Who knows what could happen – polls are polls, people change over time, and as a former British Prime Minister said: a week's a long time in politics. So, who knows what could happen over the next two months. One thing I do know is that Scott Morrison is a brilliant campaigner, he’s been a great Prime Minister over the last three years, he's got a strong record, and we're going to fight hard to the very end.
Thank you.

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