Subjects: $4 million funding commitment for the Vickers Vimy; school zoning; GlobeLink.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks so much for coming today. I’m thrilled to be here with Jake Hall-Evans the Liberal candidate for Hindmarsh at next weekend’s Federal Election, with my longstanding friend John Gardner, the South Australian Minister for Education. We’re also joined today by Senator David Fawcett too who has a long history in of course aviation in South Australia. As well as David Byrne the President and Jim Whalley the Patron of the South Australian Aviation Museum and they’ll both be available to speak afterwards as well as Brenton from the Adelaide Airport. Today is an exciting day, we’re announcing that we have landed the funding to enable the Vickers Vimy to take off to a spectacular new location in the Adelaide Airport, all puns intended. This is exciting because 2019 is celebrating the centenary of what is an amazing feat in Australian and world aviation history. The flight by Sir Keith and Sir Ross Smith and their crew, bringing this plane behind us from England to Australia. It was an incredible feat, an amazing accomplishment and today we’re announcing that a re-elected Morrison Government will provide $2 million dollars in funding alongside funding from the South Australian Government and Adelaide Airport to bring this historic plane into the new Adelaide Airport terminal, to ensure that it is preserved and maintained in a manner that will enable future generations to see it, to hear, and understand the story and to learn about this incredible feat. This is a celebration of Australia’s history, our entrepreneurialism, our sense of adventure and a wonderful future. tourism icon for South Australia.
As we can see right now the Vickers Vimy is kind of lost in the car park of the old Adelaide Airport. In the future, it’s going to be front and centre of the new Adelaide airport terminal where everybody is going to be able to see it, appreciate the story and we know that aviation buffs from right around the world see this iconic plane as something to come and see, a story to learn about, and in its new location it’s going to be a great tourism attraction as well as something that will help to ensure that future generations of South Australians learn about how our nation grew, the amazing spirit of our early settlers, the sense of adventure, the risks they took and in doing so the accomplishments that have helped make Australia the country it is today. Without such air access, without such routes opened up, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish many of the things we did. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Sir Keith and Sir Ross Smith for what they did, and of course they opened up a journey that we are so proud to celebrate today. We’re thrilled to provide this funding which we know will ensure that this piece of South Australia’s history lives on long and strong into the future. John.
John Gardner: The South Australian Government is absolutely thrilled to be able to partner with the Morrison Liberal Government, a returned Morrison Liberal Government, we will work with them and the Adelaide Airport to ensure that this amazing piece of aviation history is given the pride of place that it deserves. Young people in South Australia growing up, whenever they’re at the airport they will have the opportunity that previous generations used to when this was more central to the old airport location, to see this piece of equipment and to have an idea of the extraordinary things that were done 100 years ago by our predecessors. I’ve heard it said that this airplane and the feats of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith and their crew are the equivalent to what 50 years later was undertaken by the astronauts who first stepped onto the moon.
It’s an extraordinary thing that I think more South Australians should be proud of and I think has Senator Birmingham said, it’ll be an amazing opportunity in the years ahead for South Australia to be able to showcase this piece our history to the world and to ensure that our young people and all South Australians are given that insight into the entrepreneurial spirit that drove Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith and their crew 100 years ago. The State Government is also supporting a range of other activities through the History Trust and the committee involved with people like Lainie Anderson. We’re very pleased that this would be the icing on top of the cake as we celebrate the centenary of the Vickers Vimy flight.
Journalist: Minister will you pursue a different government if it’s elected for a similar partnership with the Morrison government isn’t re-elected?
John Gardner: Look today I’m not anticipating there will be any other alternative than a Morrison Government being re-elected because I think Scott Morrison has run a great campaign. The Liberal and National Coalition federally have an extraordinarily positive record to stand on, and this is a sign that we’ve been working with them for some time and I’m very pleased that the Morrison government has put the $2 million on the table. I’m certainly not aware of anyone else having done so at the Federal Election, and I anticipate a returned Morrison Government next weekend.
Journalist: In terms of tourism dollars, how much money do expect it…
John Gardner: Sorry, what was the question?
Journalist: In terms of tourism how much money do you expect to make in the future by drawing more aviation tourists here, if you’re able to get his plane back into a new airport?
John Gardner: Look I’m confident that there will be people who would come for tourism reasons but it’s so much more than that. It’s also about inspiring that entrepreneurial spirit in our young South Australians, it’s about preserving this piece of history which if it was in the United States has been said it would definitely be in the Smithsonian in Washington. It’s that important to world aviation heritage and we in Australia I think have a debt, a duty, to honour it in an appropriate place. So it’s important for a whole range of reasons, tourism is just one of the many benefits that would no doubt be able to be drawn from tha, but I think the key things are about preserving our heritage and our history, celebrating it and inspiring all Australians particularly our young Australians to what they could achieve.
Journalist: So why has it taken so long to be able to get the funding to put it back in prime prominence.
John Gardner: Well look I think for today we can celebrate the fact that the Federal Liberal Government and the State Liberal Government have put funding on the table. The opportunity has arisen obviously with the Adelaide Airport investing some of their own money in their work, that means that the timing is good. Of course when this was a central part of the old Adelaide airport locations car park, it wasn’t such a bad facility and of course the community fundraising and the philanthropy that built this facility was amazing for the late 1950s. Sixty years on it’s time for us to take the next step and I’m very pleased that the Morrison Liberal Government has committed the funds to do so.
Simon Birmingham: I might just add to that question and really pay tribute and thank Adelaide Airport for developing the plans that now have given a concrete proposal that has allowed us to come to the party and commit to this funding. It really is a case that the future of this plane and where it be located has being talked about for many years, but what Adelaide Airport Limited has done is develop a fully detailed proposal in terms of how the new terminal will be adapted and adjusted to create a new space between the terminal and the new hotel, which will be visible both from inside the terminal and externally and to really give something that we could support, the South Australian Government can support and that everybody can have confidence. We’ll kick off with work starting hopefully maybe even later this year as we continue to celebrate the centenary. Can I also just acknowledge as John did the work of many people as part of the Centenary Committee, of course some of those who are here today who have been advocating and working hard to ensure awareness of its importance is raised.
Journalist: So do you have a picture of what it is going to look like in this terminal, is it going to be hanging, is it going to be on the floor or ground? How can people interact with it?
Simon Birmingham: Well I’ll let Brenton or others from Adelaide Airport perhaps go into the specifics but from what I understand is that people coming through the airport terminal will be able to view it from different viewing platforms, as well as those who might be in the forecourt area of the airport being able to aswell view. Of course better interpretive facilities as well, which are critical to tell the story, to achieve those educational benefits John talked about, to generate the inspiration in next generations around that sense of adventure and entrepreneurialism, as well as to ensure a positive tourism experience.
Journalist: Senator another piece of South Australian history that’s crying out for funding is the Clipper Ship Adelaide. Is that something that’s on your radar hurdle.
Simon Birmingham: Well we did provide funding very early in term our term of government to secure the purchase of the Clipper Ship Adelaide. That was done so on the basis that there were plans in terms of its future, of course we’ll have a look at any other proposals that come forward in due course.
Journalist: And talking aviation on a more practical level, what is your view of the GlobeLink proposal, is that something that a re-elected Morrison government would put funding into?
Simon Birmingham: Well we await with great interest, the business case that the South Australian Marshall Liberal Government has commissioned. We know that business case is working through a number of different stages and is due to come back of course with a full and proper analysis, and from there we will consider funding proposals that might come forward. This is the type of work that the previous state Labor government failed to do in terms of advancing long-term thinking proposals in road and rail infrastructure, and in those proposals doing the hard yards of developing a business case that could actually win federal funding in the future. The Marshall Government’s doing that with GlobeLink and we look forward to seeing the outcomes and considering them.
Journalist: So we’ve got Jane Stinson in Boothby today sort of trying to ramp up again the campaign about the school zoning, is ther anything further you might have to add to that?
John Gardner: Well look the data and the analysis of what the likely numbers of students going to those, to the Adelaide High School, Adelaide Botanic High School under the older version of the school zone, it has been public now for some time. The Marshall Government was faced with a choice, do we want to have our schools racked, packed and stacked beyond the capacity of the schools to take students? Or do we want to instead ensure that our focus is on supporting all of our schools to be world class, and to ensure that all of our students in all of our schools wherever those schools are, are supported to fulfil their potential. So I understand that there are some parents who still have anxieties about the change in the school zones. What’s disappointing in the Labor party continuing to fan the discontent of those parents is that they’re not offering any alternatives. They’re not saying whether they would cancel the special entry programs which is really the only alternative to the decision that the Government’s had to take. And so I think that the parents in those communities deserve better. I don’t think that it’s right that the Labor Party should continue to just be on the complaint, without actually offering any solutions.
Journalist: One of their concerns though are about whether there’s enough funding available for these schools and I guess the extra students coming to those local schools. Is there funding available for those schools in Boothby?
John Gardner: Well absolutely there is funding available, we fund our schools on the numbers of students that go to the schools to start with. And the reason that the schools in question have been, the reason that those suburbs in question have been rezoned as opposed to some of the others that came into the zone this year like Bowden or Brompton or Hindmarsh is because those are the schools that had the capacity to take the students. Mark Oliphant college, Woodville High School, those are also schools that have had their zones reduced as a result of the 2019 zone. But those schools are at capacity and indeed are scheduled to be even more at capacity. Mark Oliphant College, sorry Roma Mitchell High School is the other one, Roma Mitchell High School to business. So from the initial high school is the other one is going to be grown by 500 students in the in the coming three years. Woodville High School is at 1700, Plympton International College, the Underdale High School in Springbank, these are schools that have the capacity and if their student populations grow then they’ll receive further support as per student numbers. But we’re also giving them significant capital investments, all three of those schools are going to be supported with further capital infrastructure investments. We’ve got $10 million associated with Springbank, indeed $20 million at Underdale in particular. And Plympton, we’ve got some capital investment, we also have this extraordinary Chinese bilingual program that is seen and become a school of choice for a number of families in the western suburbs. For a number of families who wish their child in the lower year levels where their bilingual programs starting, to be able to be supported, to have that special educational opportunity. So look I think it’s very unfortunate that Labor continues to undermine those three schools in particular. I think that we have confidence in the teaching and the learning that’s going on at those schools and I hope that those Labor members will get on board, support those schools and help those families to understand the opportunities that some of them create. Of course we have for those families whose kids were going to be in year eight next year entering high school, I’ve asked the Department of Education to ensure they’ve got case management support, to ensure that their kids can get the enrollment that suits their child. But we’ve had to make a difficult decision with Adelaide High School, it wouldn’t have had to be made were the former government organised and had they done the demographic modelling about the sorts of enrolments those schools were going to see. Nevertheles,s that was the decision that we had to take.
Journalist: So just confirming there will be no backing down about the zoning?
John Gardner: Well there’s no opportunity to back down on the zoning because the simple fact is Adelaide High is slowly over capacity this year, next year if the zones were kept as they were it would be headed to well over 70 over capacity, well over 100 the year after that. The modelling that we’ve been given and the analysis by the Department of Education makes it very clear that failing to change the zone would be a recipe for racking, packing and stacking that school in the way that those students don’t deserve. We want to give them a world class education, all of those students, and part of the way that you have to do that is to ensure that they can fit in the schools to which they are zoned.
Journalist: Is Stinson fighting a losing battle?
John Gardner: Look the Labor members of parliament have to answer for themselves why they continue to undermine the other schools in their electorates. We believe that all of the schools that are in our public education system, we need them to be offering a world class education and our priority is to support every student in every class, in every one of those schools, every school in South Australia to fulfil their potential and that’s what we’re going to be in putting our energy into doing.
Journalist: We touched on the pressures of particularly in Plympton and Underdale there, they are sort of I guess expect it to be over capacity in the next two to four years, are there any worries about that?
John Gardner: Well none of the modelling that has been presented to me by the Education Department suggests that that’s likely.
Journalist: Just in regards as well for that reconsideration at all of that decision, is there more consultation that’s sort of needed to be done with parents that have these concerns?
John Gardner: Look we would have preferred if the modelling had been done by the previous government, then we would have been able to have a discussion about this over some period of time about how to resolve this situation. The situation we were confronted with, was we were presented with information that we had done independent analysis of the demographics, which came to us late last year. I immediately asked the department to work up what was capable of being built in terms of expanded capacity at Adelaide High and we were able to present in cabinet, was able to consider early this year what that would look like. And that resolved, that resulted in the decision we took to invest further $18 million in infrastructure at Adelaide High which has enabled us to expand the capacity there by 350, which will enable us to deal with the Year 7’s coming in but without building higher in a vertical sense which becomes extraordinarily expensive in the tens and tens of millions of dollars extra. Or indeed encroaching on the parklands further, we were provided with the information at that stage that we weren’t going to be able to build the capacity for the 600 or so extra places that would be needed to incorporate those in the rezoned places as well. So having made that decision we were very quick in getting that information out to the community. But obviously if we’d had the demographic analysis a year earlier, because if the previous government had actually done their job and done some analysis on the sorts of numbers that were coming in, then that would have been very helpful.
Journalist: Is that potential then to delay this decision at all in terms of them being able to go into those families that are being affected?
John Gardner: So we have looked at what it would mean to include even that one year delay on the Year 8’s coming in so delaying the rezoning for twelve months, and we are simply left with a situation where it would lead to the school being so far over capacity, that it would start to potentially impact on student achievement and educational outcomes, and we weren’t prepared to take that step.
Journalist: Minister in terms of the Vickers Vimy, would you like to see that as Education Minister, more integrated into some component of schooling?
John Gardner: Well as Education Minister I’ve been very pleased that the Marshall Liberal Government has moved responsibility for the History Trust of South Australia into my role as Minister for Education. And the connections that have been built up over the last nine to 12 months since that shift has taken place between the History Trust and our education system have been really encouraging and really positive and the opportunities for schools to know more about the history assets of our state, not just in terms of the Vickers Vimy and the engagement of the centenary of that flight, but also our other assets in the History Trust, the Maritime Museum, the Migration Museum and indeed our Motor Museum. They are prime stakeholders, all three of them are indeed school students and the opportunities to partner between education and our History Trust in ensuring our students have access to the best understanding of what it means to be a South Australian, our place in history, our place in the world has been really encouraging. So of course if the Vickers Vimy, if this project is realised as I absolutely expect it will be with a returned Morrison Liberal Government, that’s just one further opportunity for our education system to benefit. And I think that the story of that flight through the work that the History Trust and the book and the documentary that are coming out later, those will be extraordinary educational assets for our schools, as well as having access to the plane itself.
Journalist: So in terms of just going back to your original question, if there is a change of government would you rule out working with them or will you keep that option open?
John Gardner: Well as I said before I made the point, the Morrison Liberal Government has actually put forward the funds in their election commitments. We’ve got the the Adelaide Airport working with us and we have this commitment that if we have this going forward, then the State Government is matching the commitment that the Federal Morrison Liberal government has made, and they’re the only people that have stepped up to the plate and I absolutely commend them for that.
Journalist: If it is the case of Labor’s elected, would you work with them of thats what…
John Gardner: We are happy to talk to Federal Labor Party, it’s just really important to note that nobody from the Labor Party to my knowledge has approached the State Liberal Government at all, they’ve certainly not approached me about this. Whereas the Federal Liberal Government, the Morrison Liberal Government, Simon Birmingham and the state, the South Australian Liberal candidates have been very engaged in this process. I think they’ve been talking to South Australians, people like Jim Whalley who’s been an absolute advocate for this cause for some time. People like Lainie Anderson, they’ve been talking with people across South Australia and seeing the excitement that this proposal has. That’s something I can commend the Morrison Liberal Government for, unfortunately nobody from Labor to my knowledge has said boo about this project up to this point.
Journalist: And in terms of the centenary will there be some program of sort of public activities to help celebrate it?
John Gardner: Yes, there is a program of public activities for the centenary and I think that you’ll be able to see a lot more publicity about that in the coming weeks. I think we’ve probably announced some of those events but I’m going to get into big trouble with Greg Mackie and Lainie Anderson if I steal their thunder on anything so I’m going to have to let you either check that online if they’ve announced it yet, I think that we might be a couple of weeks away though.