17 June 2021

SUBJECTS: Labor’s support for the gas industry; carbon capture and storage; Extinction Rebellion protest.


SUBJECTS: Labor’s support for the gas industry; carbon capture and storage; Extinction Rebellion protest.

GARETH PARKER, HOST: Julian Douglas has just told us about the Extinction Rebellion crew down at the Convention Centre at the petroleum conference. One of the speakers today is the Labor Party's Shadow Resources Minister, she's also the member for Brand here in Western Australia south of Perth. Madeleine King, good morning. 


PARKER: I’m well thank you. Now what are you trying to tell the delegates today? Is this a message to say that the Labour Party is pro-resources?

KING: Absolutely. And, look, we always have been, and no one should be left in any doubt that Labor is a supporter of the resources industry. The conference today is principally around the gas industry and my message to them, to the people who run these companies, but more so the people who work for them and work mostly in our north-west, is that Labor is supportive of their jobs and this industry. And also, I must add, the efforts of the industry to make sure they reach net zero emissions by 2050 and some of them even earlier. I know certainly Kevin Gallagher from Santos has grand ambitions and he’s enthusiastic and putting a lot of money into the science of trying to bring their emissions down by 2040. I think it's really important that we acknowledge the work the gas industry is doing in Western Australia and across Australia to look for a carbon-free future.

PARKER: But people wonder about that, don't they? They say look, ultimately you are a gas company, you are burning hydrocarbons, that's what you do. How does that become zero emissions? 

KING: Well, it comes through carbon capture and storage, is really what they're looking at intensively. I admit, and I say in my speech later today, 
that carbon capture has had a couple of false starts and that’s important to acknowledge. But it is working at the moment up at the Gorgon project on Barrow Island and it is a means to store these carbon emissions. The thing we've got to think about with our gas industry is that, fortunately for Western Australia, it was set up well so that we have a domestic gas reservation which WA manufacturers and ordinary people in their homes can access the gas. But it's also mostly a trade industry, it exports to Japan and Korea and China. And these are countries that have all set net zero emissions by 2050 goals, and for China it’s 2060. So the gas industry itself has to make sure it brings emissions down, makes storage work, so that those countries continue to buy the gas and keep this industry going. 

PARKER: It's not just about convincing the delegates today though is it? I mean it seems as though it's increasingly about trying to convince some of the people on the Left of your own party.

KING: Well, people are entitled to their own views and some have more of a background in the resources industry, or are exposed to it, more than others. And I've set about talking to my colleagues about the gas industry, and iron ore for that matter, and having briefings here in Parliament about how that industry is going to play a part in seeking and getting to net zero emissions by 2050. I don't know everything and I'm happy to go to seminars where I learn more about what other people's interests are. But for me I'm trying to educate everyone that the gas industry can do this.

PARKER: It’s reported in The Australian newspaper this morning that this debate has been going on within the Labor Caucus and you've been telling MPs, ‘well hang on fracking, for example, that's been going on in Western Australia since the 1950s’. And if Labor is a party that's serious about working people, working people need jobs that this industry creates.

KING: Yeah, well that is true. There are many debates in the community about hydraulic fracturing, I want to acknowledge that. People do have concerns, and they are justified. What we saw in the Northern Territory was they did a really extensive scientific review and my point is that we have to pay attention to that science that came out of that review and other reviews on this and make sure the environmental and proper standards are in place to make sure it doesn't damage the environment. That's really very important. 

PARKER: What are you going to tell the Extinction Rebellion people who might block you from entering the Convention Centre? 

KING: Well, it'd be very difficult, because I'm actually in Canberra and I pre-recorded …

PARKER: Well that’s’ going to be tough. Let’s assume you were in person to deliver it.

KING: I'm happy to meet with anyone on these things and if they want to tee up a respectful meeting I'm more than happy to. 

PARKER: I guess the bigger point is that these protests that sort of disrupt people, I just wonder whether they don't turn people against the cause that they're actually advocating. 

KING: Yeah that's a good point. I really respect people's right to protest. I have been a marcher in protest against Howard’s WorkChoices and many other things, so I respect what they are seeking to do. But with any kind of disruption, it seeks to make a point, an important point, but equally, people can get pretty annoyed if they’re late for dropping their kids off at school or getting to work. All these things can just bug people and does run the risk of turning them against that message. The environmental message is really important. We do want to have a future in a beautiful environment in Western Australia and everywhere. So I think it's important they do protest, but if they can do it respectfully and try not to interrupt people's lives too much.

PARKER: Madeleine, thank you very much for your time. 

KING: Appreciate it, Thanks. See you soon.