Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Journalist: Minister, have South Australians been left high and dry in the Federal Budget?
Simon Birmingham: South Australia has got a very high share of infrastructure spending above our population share at 720,000 South Australians are going to receive the payments to help with cost of living. South Australia's got record levels of defence investment flowing into SA and regional SA is benefiting from everything from our manufacturing strategy investing in plant based protein manufacturing right through to road upgrades on the Horrocks Highway or the South East Freeway.
Journalist: The new Treasurer Stephen Mullighan, says $4 billion of defence funding for WA none for South Australia, none for South Australia supposedly home to the subs program rings alarm bells. Why not?
Simon Birmingham: South Australia is already yielding the benefits of hundreds, indeed thousands of extra jobs being employed on the future frigates in upgrades that have already occurred to our shipyards. And there will be further upgrades to the shipyards to enable the submarines to be built in our. So what we're seeing in SA is a jobs boom in defence that is being utilised already with more investment that will be necessary to have the subs along with the frigates, along with the Collins class upgrades all delivered in SA.
Journalist: Why did South Australia missed out on a single dollar in the $7.1 billion regional project package when land needs to be acquired at Osborne?
Simon Birmingham: Well, we are acquiring land at Osborne and it's, it's why we're entering into lease arrangements to secure the extra land. And once the future submarine task force concludes its work, we'll be able to have the land and then the infrastructure spend to build what will be one of the biggest, most technologically sophisticated modern submarine construction yards in the world.
Journalist: Stephen Mullighan also says there's no money to develop business cases for future projects, so why?
Simon Birmingham: South Australia is getting a very large share above its population and infrastructure spending more than four and a half billion dollars in delivering and completing the North South Expressway, providing freight links right across the state. The upgrades to the Horrocks Highway, the South East Freeway, helping in terms of regional connectivity for the state. This is a budget that has delivered by far and away for SA and as a state government they are receiving more than half a billion dollars extra in GST payments that will flow through and I trust that they will look at what they can do to help with the cost of living too.
Journalist: The new South Australian Labor Government has been very quick to come out and criticise it, but you've also been very quick to come out and defend it. So are you worried about South Australia's position ahead of the Federal election?
Simon Birmingham: I don't think South Australians voted for a new government for them to so quickly re-engage in fake fights with Canberra. I want to work with Peter Malinauskas and his team. That's our approach and I hope that they will avoid these sorts of fake fights, that they'll play a role in governing the state constructively, not trying to pick Anthony Albanese's fights for him.
Journalist: And just lastly on another matter. Connie Fierravanti-Wells, her comments in the Senate last night that Scott Morrison is not fit to be prime minister. She's a senator. You're the Senate leader. Do you think those comments were appropriate?
Simon Birmingham: No, they weren't. I can understand the immense disappointment that Connie was not preselected last weekend by New South Wales Liberal Party members to be a candidate at the next election. And that means her 17 years of service in the Parliament will come to an end. But I would hope that she can show gratitude for those 17 years of support the Liberal Party has provided to her.
Journalist: As a Senate leader will you have a word tomorrow about those comments?
Simon Birmingham: Connie's said what she said. I think it's sad that she's done so. It doesn't reflect well upon her that she's done so. She's had 17 years of opportunity to serve in the Australian Parliament. The fact that she hasn't been chosen to run as a Liberal candidate at the next election is a matter of the New South Wales Liberal Party members. They've made that decision. I can understand her disappointment, but there's no reason to lash out.
Journalist: It doesn't reflect well on her or doesn't reflect well on the Prime Minister?
Simon Birmingham: There's no justification for lashing out just because you've lost a pre-selection ballot.