Press Conference - Central Queensland University
Topics: CQU launch event of a research centre with local MP Michelle Landry
It's absolutely fantastic, as a very proud regional Australian, to be up here at this CQU event for the launch of a research centre, that's going to make a difference not just here in the local community, but right across regional Australia. We know in our government that regional Australia is the heart and soul, and the economic powerhouse of our nation. If it wasn't for the industries here in central Queensland and beyond -agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism - we wouldn't be able to fund hospitals and schools in our capital cities. That’s actually the economic reality. Two thirds of our exports in this country come from regional communities. So they actually have expertise and research capability in a place like Rockhampton as a collaboration through CQU – it’s going to really thrive - with those real impact changes we want to see on the ground. I just love the KPI of this research centre. They want to do research that makes a difference. They want to do research that improves the quality of life for regional Australians and anyone that doesn't want to sign up to that, doesn't understand how important regional Australia is to our nation.
The mining and manufacturing sectors have really shown their strength throughout the pandemic, but you know, a lot of industries including tourism are worried about how they're going to cope post-pandemic. What's the government doing to ensure the livelihoods of regional centres?
Well you ask a very good question. The federal government right throughout the COVID pandemic has provided support to a range of industries, as lockdowns from state governments and the like take hold. We know that Australians have been taking up the challenge of getting out there, getting out of their capital city, getting out into the regions and visiting places domestically that they may never have had the opportunity if they weren't actually a function of COVID-19 and international borders being closed - which is great. But everywhere I go in the regions there's also challenges, to finding – the workforce - I was talking to tourism operators yesterday here in Rockhampton - about finding qualified staff - whether it's hospitality - whether it's cleaning apartments - so they can take advantage of that demand domestically. We've got a range of strategies in place in terms of building that workforce domestically - but also supporting industries hand in hand all the way through so that we get on the other side of the pandemic and come back even stronger.
And how will the findings from this centre influence what’s being lobbied down in Canberra?
Well I think it's going to be critical. Just looking at some of the academic papers here today and the types of issues that the researchers in this centre will be investigating, I think for me as a government cabinet minister are going to really inform the way I think. I think sometimes as Michelle was saying there's not many of us from the regions down in Canberra, or for me up in Canberra, but we have to punch harder. We have to be louder and prouder than anyone else to get our fair share and the research that will come out of a centre like this will give us the evidence base of which to make those arguments.
We all want a sustainable, prosperous and safe future for our regional communities and economies. The research coming out of this centre will give us the information we need to help regional communities do that. I think also the exciting thing is it's not just us and Australia that are going through this these challenges and opportunities for regional communities and industries are global. And being able to tap into those global research functions, I think is going to be at an exciting capability and capacity here locally. It's going to be onwards and upwards, I’m really excited about what's going to happen.
How unique is a centre like this in Australia? Has anything like this been done before?
No, and that's what I think is so exciting. When we're actually going to have experts focused on what makes our local economies tick, and that's all they're interested in. They're interested in agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing, and how do we actually make them sustainable and how do we actually grow local jobs and productivity. There's nothing like this in the country and that's what makes it so exciting that CQU has chosen to set this up. With the number of researchers - I think was 15 researchers in total collaborating across the world - it's going to be some exciting stuff and applied research that's going to come out of here. I think sometimes we talk about research and it can all be a bit hairy fairy, up in the sky, esoteric stuff, theoretical with not much real world application and I'm excited about the research that's going to come out of this university. As in all its research issues will be hands on practical, pragmatic responses to real world problems that will help us solve challenges and take advantage of the opportunities, particularly in a post COVID environment.