Interview on ABC 891, Breakfast with Ali Clarke and David Bevan
Topics: World Aviation Routes Conference; Women in the Liberal Party




David Bevan:  The world’s largest aviation forum is heading to Adelaide next year. Simon Birmingham is the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, he joins us now to explain why and how. Good morning Senator Birmingham.


Simon Birmingham:     Good morning David.


David Bevan:  Simon Birmingham, can you explain to us how significant is this thing?


Simon Birmingham:     Well this is very significant, it’s the first time this conference has been held in Australia and it’s going to be held in Adelaide and it brings together 3000 of the biggest heavy hitters in global aviation from 300 airlines, 700 airports, 130 tourism authorities and importantly it’s really about where they analyse and assess where new aviation routes can go, where landing spots may be, how they can increase work for their businesses and clearly we want as many flights, as many international seats as possible coming into Adelaide to bring as many tourists as possible to boost the state’s economy.


David Bevan:  There’s been discussion about extra routes coming to South Australia as a result of this attention. Can you explain are we more likely as a result of this sort of interest to get extra flights out of Adelaide?


Simon Birmingham:     The opportunity just for Adelaide to showcase its self to these people is an outstanding opportunity in terms of the chance of filling our hotel rooms, our restaurants, our wineries and the like. SA has already got good signs recently in terms of Malaysia, Cathay Pacific, China Southern all putting on additional Adelaide services. Singapore upgrading its Adelaide service and you would really hope out of having these 3000 aviation professionals coming into Adelaide that it’s going to be a big opportunity for the state to highlight to them what further potential there is for even further increases in those number of inbound passengers.


Ali Clarke: When those routes are opened up, whatever they are and whenever they are. Who determines that contract and how much government influence does it have over it. I mean we have had direct flights leave from Adelaide and they’ve been highly publicised and touted but then they’ve also shut down in a short-period of time, so what sort of longevity could you expect out of any of these maybe resulting contracts?


Simon Birmingham:     These airlines all operate as commercial businesses, that’s why we have to demonstrate to them that there is a commercial opportunity in Adelaide that between the huge increase in businesses activity that the defence industry is going to drive as well as the potential of South Australian tourism that they ought to take the punt. We know that increased aviation capacity does help to drive increases in tourism numbers and so there is a link there. There is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario of course that the tourist demand causes airlines to put on extra seats, that airlines having flights going into a city like Adelaide causes them to work harder to promote the market, to sell those seats to create opportunities. So that’s why this is such a fantastic chance for SA to highlight its wares and potential to this global audience of airlines and to encourage them to think about further lifting their capacity. Now SA’s already got some 638 000 inbound seats coming into Adelaide each year, that’s up just 7 per cent this year relative to last year and we want to see continued growth.


David Bevan:  If the Prime Minister can’t convince Ann Sudmalis to stay on his team. Why should our listeners support Scott Morrison?


Simon Birmingham:     Well every MP is entitled to decide to retire at some stage and to leave the Parliament


David Bevan:  But he was trying to get her to stay on and she said no I’m out of here. I’m sick of this.


Simon Birmingham:     Leaders would always rather have an existing MP who’s got an existing name ID and everything in the electorate to stay. But MPs are entitled to call it a day at some point as well. But why should people support Scott Morrison? Because they should support a government that’s delivered record jobs growth, that’s brought the budget back to balance, that is going to continue…


David Bevan:  I imagine Scott Morrison said that to Ann Sudmalis and she said yeah thanks but I’m out.


Simon Birmingham:     And David one day you’ll decide to retire as well and I’m sure the ABC and your listeners will say please David stay, stay, please stay, but you’ll decide to hang up the microphone.


David Bevan:  I dunno about that…


Ali Clarke: But not every federal Liberal MP goes out swinging as she did. Accusing one of her NSW colleagues of bullying and intimidating under parliamentary privilege. I mean do you have an issue in your federal Liberal Party of bullying and intimidation of female MPs?


Simon Birmingham:     Well there’s a disconnect between the two claims you’ve made there Ali, and what Ann Sudmalis was claiming, was that there were some issues in their local branch. Scott Morrison yesterday wrote to all of our states and territory divisions, making it clear he expects them all to put in place robust, independent and confidential processes for such complaints to be made and properly handled as any professional organisation ought to have.


David Bevan:  And do we have that in South Australia?


Simon Birmingham:     I know the State Director in South Australia received that letter yesterday and I expect our state executive to look at it and ensure that those processes are up to scratch and if they’re not, to put them in place.


David Bevan:  Do we also have in South Australia concrete plans to bolster the number of women in Federal Parliament, so not just how to handle bullying but the Prime Minister is reported in the Australian today saying he wants concrete plans, for Liberal Party state divisions to adopt concrete plans to bolster the number of women in Federal Parliament?


Simon Birmingham:     Well I think we need to look at the grassroots up. How do we get more capable, engaged women in our branches, in our party activities and that is about ensuring we’ve got a flow of more highly capable, engaged women in pre-selections to start with, to get them pre-selected and get them elected into Parliament. And it does start with and require a comprehensive plan and that’s exactly what we must all be absolutely committed to.


Ali Clarke: So why do you think more women aren’t joining the Liberal Party and there aren’t more women to choose from into Parliament?


Simon Birmingham:     Well I think there the questions we’ve got to answer Ali in terms of…


Ali Clarke: Yeah but can you answer it now. You are the one that is there in amongst it.  You tell us because we’re sitting outside and hearing all the reports and hearing from people, so why do you think?


Simon Birmingham:     And Ali, probably we need to do more in terms of highlighting the successes. The weekend before last across three different sates we preselected in five winnable seats, four women. So we need to make sure that around all of this negative commentary that exists, more women actually hear the positive stories that lead to the fact that the Liberal Party has put in place Australia’s first and second women in the foreign affairs portfolio, we had Australia’s first woman as a Defence Minister. We have now the highest level in terms of a Liberal National Government number of women sitting around the Federal Cabinet table. Actually ensuring that the positives are heard as well. There is a whole barrage of negativity in commentary and media analysis at present, I think to make sure women see the opportunities that are there they need to hear some of the positive stories.


David Bevan:  Simon Birmingham, thanks for your time.


Simon Birmingham:     Cheers.