MATTHEW ABRAHAM: We’re going to look at the City of Adelaide, the clipper. Now, it is actually going to get a royal send-off. I have no doubt that former Premier Mike Rann, now serving the nation in London, is probably behind whipping up a few Royals to farewell this ship. His enthusiasm and others’ hasn’t been matched by the State Government. They haven’t really embraced it, I think it’s fair to say, and now the Federal Government, because there’s a new Government and the cheque – nearly a million dollars to get the thing over here and set the Trust up – wasn’t signed off before the election.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: It’s in limbo – the ship. It’s on a barge.
DAVID BEVAN: We’ll talk to Peter Christopher – he’s with the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust – in just a moment. We’ll also talk to Simon Birmingham. He’s a South Australian Senator but he’s also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister is the guy who’s got to sign off on the cheque, so we’ll talk to Simon Birmingham in just a few moments.
DAVID BEVAN: Simon Birmingham is South Australian Senator and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for [the] Environment, so… and the portfolio also covers Heritage, so the guy he answers to is the fellow who’s going to have to sign the cheque. Good morning, Senator Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, David, Matthew and listeners.
DAVID BEVAN: Is it a formality? Do you think that the Federal Government’s going to sign off on this fairly quickly?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, David, when you come into the new Government you get handed these great big reams of paper and they’re called Incoming Government Briefs, as I’m sure you’re well aware, and there’s lots of little things buried in them and, in this case, the grant to the clipper ship City of Adelaide was one of them and my understanding is that the former, former minister under the Labor Government back in May last year gave ‘in principle’ support to an $850,000 grant. Now, we’re just trying to understand why it is that from May last year through to September-October this year that didn’t manage to be resolved and put into a formal contract and if there are any unforeseen issues that we need to be aware of before [unclear] further process.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Okay, like, for instance, does it fit the heritage aspect of a grant?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, what do heritage experts believe, does it fit in terms of Australia’s heritage priorities, does the business case for the long-term support of the vessel stack up in terms of, of course, we might spend $850,000 of taxpayers’ money bringing it from Scotland to Adelaide and put it on some land given by the State Government but then what, because obviously it’s going from one climatic condition to a very different climatic condition, how is it going to be supported and how will we ensure that we don’t shift this heritage vessel into a circumstance where it perhaps faces greater threats to its future?
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: So it’s another boat you want to stop?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: [laughs] No, it’s not a boat that we want to stop. It’s simply a case of making sure that we’re being prudent with taxpayers’ money. That said, I understand and I’ve met previously in other guises with the Trust and with Peter and others who are passionate about this in Adelaide and we know that they are a long way down the track and we’re very mindful of that and so obviously Greg Hunt and I will be having some discussions about this in coming days to try to reach a quick resolution and make sure that we balance those interests of taxpayers with the fact that this is something that’s been left hanging by the previous Government for a very long period of time and now it puts the proponents in a rather awkward situation.
DAVID BEVAN: Yeah, you’ll move to resolve this quickly but it sounds like we can’t take it for granted that it will just be signed off?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, I don’t think you should expect a new government to just sign off on $850,000 grants without giving them some due consideration. There’s obviously reasons why it wasn’t signed off in the long period of time by the previous Government. Maybe that reason is just slackness, in which case I’m sure it can be signed off, but maybe there are valid concerns that we need to get our heads around first.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Simon Birmingham, that’s interesting – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and that portfolio also covers Heritage. Thank you, Senator.