Transcripts → 2022

TRANSCRIPT

FIVEaa - Mornings with Graeme Goodings

Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia

Transcription:
PROOF COPY E & OE

Date: Friday, 8 April 2022

Graeme Goodings: The Federal Government is moving to disaster proof South Australia from floods and bushfires and they're spending considerable money to do that. Joining me now is Finance Minister Senator Simon Birmingham. Senator, good morning to you.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Graham. It's great to be with you again.

Graeme Goodings: You've got $30 million. What are you going to do with it?

Simon Birmingham: So, we're investing it in a number of projects that had been put forward by South Australian local councils and other entities. The most notable couple being support for the next stages of work on the Brownhill and Keswick Creeks stormwater protection projects. That's going to ensure that as the works that we're seeing happening in and around Victoria Park at present come to a completion, the next stage of works that that widen and increase the capacity of some of the downstream aspects of Brownhill Creek are undertaken. That that $10 million investment will help to protect many homes, both in those downstream areas, but also in terms of increasing that capacity through upstream communities right along the Brownhill Keswick Creek Stormwater Network, but also similarly a $10 million project that's working on the Trinity Valley Stormwater Management Upgrade, which is the city of Norwood Farnham and St Peter's project. So you can see in these we're really targeting, supporting local councils in terms of the type of projects that will increase the resilience of those local communities that have been identified to face flood risk in particular in in these big projects in SA.

Graeme Goodings: Is it any coincidence that many are in and around the Boothby electorate?

Simon Birmingham: No. None of the actual work's taking place in in the Boothby electorate. So, so indeed some of the upstream benefits in Brownhill Keswick will flow through back up into communities in Adelaide and Boothby as well as the works themselves taking place in Hindmarsh. So it's a benefit across three seats, two of which are actually Labor held electorates.

Graeme Goodings: The Federal Government is moving to disaster proof South Australia from floods and bushfires and they're spending considerable money to do that. Joining me now is Finance Minister Senator Simon Birmingham. Senator, good morning to you.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Graham. It's great to be with you again.

Graeme Goodings: You've got $30 million. What are you going to do with it?

Simon Birmingham: So, we're investing it in a number of projects that had been put forward by South Australian local councils and other entities. The most notable couple being support for the next stages of work on the Brownhill and Keswick Creeks stormwater protection projects. That's going to ensure that as the works that we're seeing happening in and around Victoria Park at present come to a completion, the next stage of works that that widen and increase the capacity of some of the downstream aspects of Brownhill Creek are undertaken. That that $10 million investment will help to protect many homes, both in those downstream areas, but also in terms of increasing that capacity through upstream communities right along the Brownhill Keswick Creek Stormwater Network, but also similarly a $10 million project that's working on the Trinity Valley Stormwater Management Upgrade, which is the city of Norwood Farnham and St Peter's project. So you can see in these we're really targeting, supporting local councils in terms of the type of projects that will increase the resilience of those local communities that have been identified to face flood risk in particular in in these big projects in SA.

Graeme Goodings: Is it any coincidence that many are in and around the Boothby electorate?

Simon Birmingham: No. None of the actual work's taking place in in the Boothby electorate. So, so indeed some of the upstream benefits in Brownhill Keswick will flow through back up into communities in Adelaide and Boothby as well as the works themselves taking place in Hindmarsh. So it's a benefit across three seats, two of which are actually Labor held electorates.

Graeme Goodings: Do you think enough is done? I mean this is good and you're doing it in established suburbs and so forth. But there are many fears that new suburbs are being established in areas that are potentially flood plains. Do you think there is enough done in that area?

Simon Birmingham: That really goes to matters of careful planning at the outset. It is it is important that when we've got greenfields developments taking place, developments in new suburbs that state and local planning laws are effective in ensuring that that communities are built in designed in ways that have resilience to these threats in the first place. It's understandable, as you rightly highlight, that in these long established parts of Adelaide where knowledge around stormwater management and planning issues is not as well developed, when these suburbs were built that we have to go in and retrofit some of these things and put extra resources into resilience. And that's why we're doing this. Across the country, it's 158 different local projects being supported through the tender process, and that's just in this round of what is an ongoing program we've established. But it really does fall back to those local and state planning laws to make sure that new suburbs are built with the resilience from the get go.

Graeme Goodings: We just heard from the Shadow Water Minister speaking about Anthony Albanese's plan, a five point plan, promising to give South Australia a better share of the output of the Murray-Darling Basin. The Government has been rather lax in this area. How would you react to what the Opposition intends doing?

Simon Birmingham: Graham, largely their five point plan appears to be about establishing yet another new bureaucracy, but it doesn't actually give any firm commitments as to how they would secure any of the additional water flows into South Australia. We've managed to secure more than 2100 billion litres equivalent of environmental water flows into SA and across the Murray-Darling Basin. Importantly, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, which was established under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, is delivering billions of litres each and every year to key environmental assets from the Coorong right up the Murray-Darling system, a range of different wetlands and other activities. But yes, there's more work to continue to do to see the plan fully implemented. I think Labor's announcement today is a rather hollow one in that it is just about bureaucrats and public servants and doesn't actually achieve anything in terms of the hard yards of achieving that water. What we've been seeking to do with each of the different states and territories as we've now gotten through the stages of achieving the vast majority of water required under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is to really scratch through the most challenging of infrastructure projects left across the basin that can manage to help us to bridge those, those final gaps towards achieving that additional 450 gigalitres, which comes on top of the couple of thousand that has already been achieved.

Graeme Goodings: A former South Australian Water Minister, Mark Brindle, who is very close to this issue, says the whole problem with the Murray-Darling Basin won't be resolved until the Federal Government has more power. He was virtually saying it's powerless to make major change.

Simon Birmingham: There are constitutional limitations. And it's one of the disappointing things about the politicking we see in today's announcement, doesn't in any way overcome the fact that that the Constitution puts the states and territories in a powerful position when it comes to the management of water. What we've managed to achieve in implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to date is actually quite a significant accomplishment for Australia. It's an accomplishment that's run across Labor and Liberal governments federally and at different state and territory levels. It has secured, as I said, thousands of billions of litres of extra flows for the river that are now a reality and are now allocated by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder towards the best environmental outcomes to help with fish and bird breeding cycles around the river, to help with key wetlands and to help with end of system flows into South Australia.

And, and the strength of the accomplishments shouldn't be underestimated, but the difficulty in achieving full outcomes and maintaining that cooperation from the states and territories also shouldn't be underestimated. Nobody would think it would be an easy thing for the Federal Government to simply seize that power from the states and territories. We have a very hard time from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in achieving the outcomes that have been secured to date. And we won't be able to continue to build on that unless we work with them on the type of infrastructure projects that can achieve even more efficient use of water. And through that efficient use of water, we can then return more back into the system. But simply political rhetoric, new bureaucracies or picking fights with the upstream states, doesn't achieve an outcome. It's about working on the things that can practically be done, which is what we've successfully achieved to date.

Graeme Goodings: Senator, the Prime Minister rang into this program yesterday, obviously in damage control over comments he made about the submarines and he's reinforced the fact they will be built here. You have anything to add to that?

Simon Birmingham: Well Graham, I'm pleased that the PM sought to provide that quick reassurance to South Australians after some mischievous reporting into state. All the PM had said was, was simply that of course the building of the submarines isn't just about job creation in Australia, it's about securing the best military capability for our defence forces and I think everybody would appreciate that. But what we are seeking to do and committed to doing is achieving both a military capability for our defence forces in terms of new submarines as well as the ships that are already under construction in South Australia, as well as building defence industrial capability in Australia. And importantly, the UK and the US are very committed partners to us in this. Unlike previous contracts, this isn't a commercial contract with other companies at present. It's an agreement between three nations who all want to see in Australia the ability to build submarines, to increase our shared capacity across all three nations, to have the best defence systems forces and industry possible for, for our countries. And that's why you've seen a steady flow of delegations from the UK and the US into Adelaide visiting the Osborne shipyards, giving the advice that has seen us enter into negotiations to secure extra land down there at Osborne, a potential tripling of the submarine construction yards down there because the submarines that will be built are much, much bigger and much, much more complicated than anything that that we've built there before.

Graeme Goodings: Anthony Albanese's in town on the campaign trail, and the government has stepped up its campaigning. When can we expect an announcement of when the election will be?

Simon Birmingham: Very soon, Graham, very soon. I can't say precisely when that will b,e but look the election will be on either May 14 or May the 21st. The Prime Minister has long said that we would run full cycle, that the election was due in the middle of May and that's when it would be held and that's when it will be held.

Graeme Goodings: Senator Simon Birmingham, thanks for your time today. Good to talk to you.

Simon Birmingham: My pleasure. Thanks, Graham.

[ENDS]