Sky News with Kieran Gilbert

03 July 2024


KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Let's return now to the introduction of the Future Made in Australia Bill to Parliament, a big focus for the Government today. One of the Ministers driving this is the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing and Trade, Tim Ayres. Thanks for your time, as always. Let's talk about the detail in this, the National Interest Framework. Can you explain to our viewers what that means? Because obviously you're investing upwards of 20 billion, people want to know where the money's going.


SENATOR TIM AYRES, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TRADE AND MANUFACTURING: Well, the National Interest Framework is the ‘why?’ - why are we doing this? And it comes in three parts. Firstly, of course, is projects that are critical for the net zero transformation. This is the biggest industrial transformation since the Industrial Revolution, 97% of our trading partners, including in our region, are going to be demanding high quality, low emissions goods, and that allows us to participate in their supply chains. Secondly, it's about making sure that we capture where Australia has current or future comparative advantage, particularly in the critical minerals area. This means we get into minerals processing value add onshore instead of exporting ores. And thirdly, it's about the national security, economic security, economic resilience piece. We are in a much more contested, less certain world, in a region of the world where Australia can't take its position economically or in a security sense, for granted. And we are going to need to make sure, as a country, that we have got the economic security piece right. That's what Future Made in Australia is about, dealing with future risks in the long term, but also the big opportunities. This is a train, Kieran, that only leaves the station once, and we are determined, the Albanese Government, to capture that opportunity.


GILBERT: Will you be able to see the train depart? Because at the moment it looks like you might struggle to get it through the Parliament.


AYERS: Well, this is an important piece of legislation. We'll work across the Parliament like we always do. It's been introduced in the House in this session. It's a bit of a contrast, really. At the beginning of the week, we were focused on the cost-of-living issues, the here and now issues. Cost of living relief in terms of energy bill relief, tax cuts for every Australian, wage increases, particularly for low and middle-income earners. Right now, introducing this bill is about the long-term economic security of Australia. We'll work in the Parliament, but we'll be up hill and down dale. I can tell you over the course of the rest of this year, talking to country communities and regional communities and out-of-suburban communities about what this means for them, their communities, good jobs, but also for the economic security of Australia.


GILBERT: The Coalition don't like the tax credits for production, whether it be in hydrogen or critical minerals. They've described it as, you know, as tax cuts for billionaires. Well, how do you counter that? And how do you - because on the other side you've got the Greens saying they won't back it unless there's explicit guarantees that no fossil fuel projects will be supported. So, either way, do you have to make a compromise?


AYERS: Can I make a perhaps naive political point here for a second, Kieran? This is in the national interest, providing head-turning investment certainty in terms of what the investment community and big manufacturers think about the prospects of manufacturing in Australia. The whole Parliament should vote for it. This should not be a partisan issue about trying to work out how to make a sort of negative assault on what is a centrepiece of what is required for our future. Now, our trading partners are doing very similar things - the American’s production tax credits are a core part of the Inflation Reduction Act. It's a smart no-regrets approach. Now, on the second point, the so-called assault from Angus Taylor. I mean, we get the negativity about these questions, but we are competing for projects that are tens of billions of dollars’ worth of private investment in Australian manufacturing capability. But the truth is, if we're talking about billions of dollars in investment, you have to talk to the investment community, you have to talk to big global manufacturers. You know, we are working with business, with the investment community at the top table on these issues. If the Coalition wants to run a sort of weird class envy downward spiral of talking Australia down, they can be our guests. But we're for Australia, we're for our investment, we're for manufacturing and we think the country can do better.


GILBERT: With this Muslim voice political movement in South-West Sydney. On another matter, obviously, are you worried that we're facing a religious divide again in terms of our politics? Are you concerned by that?


AYERS: Well, I'm not worried about it in political terms. You know, people are - it's a free country. People are entitled to run for Parliament. That is fine. I do say that we are at our best in Australia when we've got social cohesion. We're bringing people of many faiths, of many views right across the system into our Parliament. We're doing it in a cohesive way. We don't have a great history in this country when it comes to that kind of sectarian politics.


GILBERT: Well, you’ve got to say it's a Muslim Party. Who's to stop a hard Christian Fundamentalist Party or whatever else?


AYERS: Well, I've never been a big fan of this kind of identity politics. The truth is we've all got common issues as Australians in our suburbs. Future Made in Australia is a good example, right? That is in our national interest. It's in the economic interests of young school leavers to have good jobs to go into. It's in our national security interest. And it's the interest of making sure we capture the renewable energy superpower jobs of the future.


GILBERT: Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing Tim Ayres, appreciate it.


AYERS: Thanks, Kieran.