MATTHEW ABRAHAM: In a moment we’re going to talk about whether the money will be there for the City of Adelaide to get it to Adelaide. This is this clipper which is really… it’s afloat but to float the boat they need nearly a million dollars that was pledged by the Rudd Government but not… they didn’t sign on the dotted line before the election, before caretaker period. We’ll talk to Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for [the] Environment Liberal Senator for South Australia Simon Birmingham in a moment.
DAVID BEVAN: What’s going to happen with the dear old City of Adelaide? In a couple of days, that’s on Friday UK time, the Duke of Edinburgh is actually going to be present for a renaming ceremony, so this is serious stuff. This dear old clipper ship that’s been rotting for some time now… and the plan is to bring it to Adelaide and to restore it to its former glory and make it a real feature of the city. It’s gathered an awful lot of attention – all the way up to Buckingham Palace – but it hit a hitch because, as Matt said, the former Labor Government promised to give them close to a million dollars to bring it here; the incoming Government said ‘well, hang on, we’re just not going to sign cheques willy-nilly’. Simon Birmingham is the Parliamentary Secretary for [to] the Minister for [the] Environment. He promised to keep us up-to-date on this one and he joins us now. Good morning, Senator Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, David. Good morning, Matthew and listeners.
DAVID BEVAN: Now, are we any closer to getting the money?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I think we are very, very close, David. There’s just a few little bits of paperwork that need to be tied off. There’ve been really two factors for the Government to work through here. The first is that, in relation to this specific grant of $850,000 for the City of Adelaide, we’ve wanted to make sure that there’s no further liabilities or exposure to the taxpayer in terms of the deal that was signed onto and have confidence that this will be the end of the funding for the federal taxpayer in that regard and the second fact is that across government there’s actually a whole-of-government freeze on discretionary grants going out. Now, in the end, there’s obviously some political ramifications with the involvement of the Duke of Edinburgh and another government and also some legal ramifications that we think that the proponents have probably already got a legal contract in place, so we just needed to settle those two factors down…
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Oh, okay, so you’re going to have to honour this but you wanted to make sure it’s the last, that it’s not going to be ‘oh, you need another 800,000 or another 500,000 or another 200,000. It’s a one-off 850 grand?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’m quite certain that if it’s all ticked off in the end it will definitely be a one-off arrangement, Matt.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Should the State Government, which has adopted a strangely hands-off approach to this project, it’s fair to say… should they be kicking in dollar-for-dollar or would you expect them to pick up some slack here?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, the State Government has provided some land. Now, there’s some debate about whether it’s the best place for it but that was one of the conditions the previous Federal Labor Government put on the grant, that there had to at least be a place for this ship to go when it gets here. Look, I think ultimately if the State Government, having provided that land, think it’s valuable then they need to make sure that they give it the requisite support so that it is a proper cultural heritage and tourism attraction but that really is a matter for the project proponents, the State Government, the local council. We’re looking at whether the Federal Government does its bit by helping to ship the thing here and that’s where we’re at and Greg Hunt had some discussions with the Scottish Culture secretary [Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs] last night just to make sure that we’re all on the same wavelength
DAVID BEVAN: You say ‘the thing’. You mean the grand old lady of the sea?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well the hulk, I think…
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Yes, the rotting hulk as it’s been referred… no, actually, it looks pretty… I have to say it looks pretty impressive now that it’s up out of the riverbed and sitting up on a barge. It’s quite impressive.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, it is obviously a big part of South Australia’s history. It’s a very large and impressive old ship. She’s not in the world’s greatest condition but obviously that doesn’t take away from the significant heritage aspects that there are many, many thousands of South Australians who can draw their heritage right back to family members who came out on it.
DAVID BEVAN: Well, that’s good news for the many people who’ve worked very hard to bring it out here and it looks like it’s just a formality – it will go ahead, they will get their money and nobody is going to be embarrassed in front of the Duke.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Fingers crossed on all those fronts, guys.
DAVID BEVAN: Senator Birmingham, thank you very much.