Doorstop interview, Sydney
Topics: G’Day USA, ‘Dundee’ campaign, Hakeem Alaraibi, Brexit, Newspoll




Marise Payne:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Great to be here this morning with my friend and colleague, the Trade Minister Simon Birmingham. We have just had the great pleasure of launching G’Day USA 2019 and we’re very much looking forward to the engagement between Australia and the US for the 16th iteration of G’Day USA. It’s our annual public diplomacy campaign that enables us to promote the best of Australian ideas, of innovation, of invention and of talent to influential audiences in the US. We have just had a foretaste of some of the amazing music that will be at SXSW thanks to Catherine Britt and there’s lot more to learn about. So we encourage everyone to explore what’s available and what’s happening under G’Day USA. Thank you very much for being here this morning.


Simon Birmingham:     Thanks so much Marise and it’s such an exciting event G’Day USA because it is a driver of investment, trade, tourism and talent between the US and Australia. It helps sustain what is one of our biggest trading relationships, what is our largest investment relationship and what is a huge, huge tourism market for Australia. And we’ve seen through 2018, huge impact in the US market, especially in the tourism scene where our Dundee campaign has been seen by more than 100 million Americans watching the Super Bowl and more than 15,000 pieces of free media coverage because it’s a great example of Australian innovation, ingenuity and it’s that type of fun-loving but really focused and business-oriented approach that helps to drive such a positive relationship between Australia and the US.


Journalist:        I want to ask you about the Croc Dundee. Today is the final day that it runs in the United States. Just how much of an impact – running in the Super Bowl and then we’ve seen this huge push. Is this our most successful ad campaign since ‘put a shrimp on the barbie’?


Simon Birmingham:     Well, Dundee is proving to be a phenomenally successful campaign. That’s why we backed it up with the second stage to the campaigned, ensuring that we leverage each of the Hemsworth brothers as part of our campaign. But also ensuring that we actually maximise what has been a talking point and that’s the biggest part of the Dundee campaign. Yes, it’s had millions of eyeballs watching it at the Super Bowl, but it’s been a talking point, a barbecue stopper, if you like, in conversations across the US and that’s so important to ensure we keep driving tourists and people to think ‘I want to come to Australia’, but also then to convert that desire into action and bookings to get on a plane and come right here.


Journalist:        Today is the final day of the campaign in the United States, this is it. Would you look to do something more or do you have to reboot, do you have to come up with something new?


Simon Birmingham:     Tourism Australia keeps assessing the best way to leverage existing campaigns and get maximum potential out of them. That’s why we launched a second stage run of the Dundee campaign that was about inviting people. Stage one generating the inspiration, stage two the direct invitation to make the booking, come visit Australia. And of course, we’ll now have a look at what the next stages can be to guarantee that we get the maximum economic value for Australia through the hundreds of thousands of potential tourists that can be leveraged.


Journalist:        Would you call it a success?


Simon Birmingham:     Dundee has been a great success from the measurement we can have today. Dundee shows that with innovation and creativity, you can get people watching, talking, thinking about making bookings. Now we want to get them on the planes to Australia.


Journalist:        Minister Payne, Hakeem Alaraibi has been detained in Thailand. Are you actually trying to get him out?


Marise Payne:  Yes, we are very concerned by his ongoing detention in Thailand and have called and written to my colleague Foreign Minister Don, seeking his immediate return to Australia. Mr Alaraibi was provided with permanent residency by the Australian government in 2017, in recognition of his status as a refugee and if he is returned to Bahrain, that would be in contravention of his international human rights given his status.


Journalist:        Are the Thai Foreign Ministry being responsive?


Simon Birmingham:     Yes, they are being responsive. There are court processes potentially underway and we are watching that very closely.


Journalist:        The Brexit vote is tomorrow and it looks likely that the deal will be struck down by the UK Parliament. What- and then exactly what’ll happen, what kind of uncertainty, what does that mean for countries like Australia?


Marise Payne:  Well, first of all, I never predict parliamentary outcomes that is a diabolically difficult thing to do. But I’ve had a long conversation last week with the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and had the opportunity to discuss those matters with him. We will be watching with great interest as it goes to a vote tomorrow. For Australia, we obviously need and want certainty regarding future arrangements. Our very strong bilateral relationship is a very important underpinning of our work with the UK and they have assured us in our discussions that the withdrawal agree, will keep trade flowing, but that is largely within Minister Birmingham’s per view, so he may have a few things he wants to add.


Simon Birmingham:     The agreement that is before parliament in the UK – Brexit, will provide certainty for Australia in terms of trade flows over the next couple of years. We are already undertaking trade working group discussions with the UK which we hope we can launch into a free trade agreement from March next year for full negotiations, that can ensure that if the UK leaves the customs union in 2020, as is foreshadowed, then Australia would have fallen rich open trading arrangements with the UK. Ultimately, our government is taking a belt-and-braces approach to Brexit. We’re pursuing free trade negotiations with the European Union as well as being ready to pursue them with the United Kingdom. And also we’re ensuring there are a range of other agreements that help to facilitate the flow of goods and people between Australia and the UK, can be replicated in the event of any other eventualities around Brexit circumstances.


Journalist:        You’re ending the year 10 points behind Labor in the latest Newspoll. What do you think you need to do differently as we head into the federal election?


Simon Birmingham:     We’ve long known that the next election is a huge mountain to climb. Bill Shorten and the Labor Party think they have the next election in the bag. We’re determined to make sure that the Australian people understand what’s at risk. That we have delivered a strong economy that will keep getting stronger thanks to the policy settings of our government, that we have balanced budget, record jobs growth. And most encouragingly, the fastest rate of growth for youth jobs ever seen in recorded history in Australia. And all that will be threatened by $200 billion plus of new taxes and that’s the challenge that we have to meet is to make sure Australians understand what’s at stake when they vote next year.