Topics: G’day USA, International Visitor and National Visitor Survey results (Sept 2018 quarter), direct flights to the US

Steve Marshall: Well good morning and welcome to Penfolds Magill cellars. It’s great to be here with brand ambassador Zoe Warrington who is hosting us here this morning and I am also of course joined by Senator Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Trade and Tourism and investment, is that what you call yourself?

Simon Birmingham: That’s right.

Steve Marshall: Trade tourism and investment?

Simon Birmingham: Yes absolutely.

Steve Marshall: We’ve got exactly the same here in South Australia. It’s great to be here and we’ve got good news today and that is that South Australia is back at the table for G’day LA We haven’t been sponsoring this event in 2015, we’re very pleased to be back with this very important event which is going to be held in LA during Australia Day celebrations. This is a very important market for South Australia, in fact the US is the second largest market for South Australian exports. And the new government is very focused on growing the size of our exports from South Australia to the US. That’s why we’ve committed this funding for G’day LA. We’ve committed to opening a new office in the US, and in particular we’re focused on growing jobs that support exports to the US and other parts of the world. Can I just say that we have already more than 400 South Australian firms exporting products and services to the US and we want to see that grow massively. Now the focus of our trip to G’day LA will be around defence and space, of course premium wine and food, as well as other areas like film and also renewables. So we’ll be focused on these areas and many more on our trip to the US in a week’s time.

Journalist: You talk about opening up a trade office… sorry Minister Birmingham.

Simon Birmingham: Thanks Premier it’s fantastic to be here and to welcome the South Australian government’s, the Marshall government’s support, for G’day USA. G’day USA is the Australian government’s premier flagship event in the United States. It helps drive our diplomatic links, our security links, our cultural links, but importantly our economic ties, our trade ties, our tourism ties. It’s a wonderful opportunity for leaders in government and business to be able to drive greater investment, greater tourism, greater trade, between the US and Australia. And this opportunity with the South Australian Government, stepping up to the plate as one of the key supporters of this event will be a critical chance for South Australia to get more tourists from the US, more trade and exports into the US and more investment from the US. That’s what we want to support South Australia to do, as we do each and every other state and territory in their ventures around the nation. The United States is Australia’s largest investment partner, it’s one of our largest trade partners and G’day USA coming up in just a couple of weeks’ time is going to be another wonderful showcase that will help sell Australia, South Australia, Adelaide and fine wines like Penfolds to the US and to their markets.

Journalist: Minister, before you step away from the microphone, how are other states contributing to this program? Is South Australia going it alone here when it comes to a financial contribution to G’day USA or are Victorians on board, New South Wales etc?

Simon Birmingham: Only a couple of states are actually sponsors of G’day USA, so South Australia is showing leadership in that sense and of course South Australia used to and the previous Labor government stepped away from that. We know that South Australian exports have lagged compared to the rest of the nation over recent years, but the Marshall government’s commitment in terms of new trade offices, support for trade events like G’day USA, will be critical in turning around South Australia’s export performance and getting more exports into those markets, seizing opportunities in our traditional strengths such as wine and food, as well as the increasing opportunities in defence and space as the Premier mentioned.

Journalist: Is there a reason the other states who aren’t participating have given for not contributing financially to this program?

Simon Birmingham: States do come in and out from time to time. Ultimately states have, states like the Liberal Government here, who want to put a priority and a premium on growing exports are doing the right thing when they choose to support events like this. We want to encourage a more cooperative approach between all of the states as we enter international markets and yes there’s some competition for investment and access from time to time between the states. But as a federal government, our encouragement to each and every state is to partner, to join, because together we can achieve more.

Journalist: And what is the federal contribution to the G’day USA program?

Simon Birmingham: Well the Australian Government is the prime sponsor and funder of G’day USA. we of course run the LA program but we also run significant programs on the East Coast as well as the West Coast supporting not just those economic and cultural showcases, but also supporting defence ties and government to government ties. And indeed this year there will be a particular focus in defence and space as part of the yearlong G’day program.

Journalist: Which other states are contributing?

Simon Birmingham: My recollection is that New South Wales is a contributor.

Journalist: And what do you think South Australia can showcase and offer that’s different to the other states?

Simon Birmingham: South Australia has such a fantastic story in terms of food and wine but also the technology that is going to be booming in this state out of defence and space industries that will provide much spinoff. And what we want to see is that as submarines and naval vessels built here in SA, businesses aren’t just supplying and building those submarines and naval vessels, but they’re getting into global supply chains, they’re selling parts, technology, skills into the US, into other markets, and that’s going to be a key part of South Australia’s future opportunity.

Journalist: Premier, where are you at when it comes to establishing the trade office in the United States? It was obviously a key election promise of yours, when can we expect the doors will open?

Steve Marshall: We went to the election promising to open a number of overseas trade offices. Obviously we’ve already opened the office in Shanghai in the last quarter of last year, the first quarter of this year we’ll be opening our new trade office in Tokyo, Japan. Then we’ve got other offices to be opened in the US, Malaysia, and the Middle-East in the coming months.

Journalist: So by the end of this financial year, by the end of this calendar year?

Steve Marshall: I think by the end of this calendar year we’ll have a much clearer picture of exactly where we should be going in the US. This is a vast market. It’s, if you like, many different markets because the economy of the US is so diversified and so significant, we want to make sure that we make the right decision on behalf of the taxpayers of South Australia. Our sponsorship of G’day LA is going to give us access to talk to companies in the defence and the space sector, renewable sector, food, wine, and in particular on this visit we’re looking at the area of film. We’ve got great capability and capacity here in South Australia and we want to make sure that all of our studios are completely filled, all their capacity is utilised because we know that that brings more money back into our state.

Journalist: What was it that caused you to make this decision to sponsor this particular event?

Steve Marshall: The new government is completely and utterly unsatisfied with the amount of exports that are being generated out of South Australia at the moment. The previous government sat on their hands, they didn’t continue to grow the size by exports with the growth in the overall Australian market for exports. We’ve got to turn all of that around, so our ambition for South Australia is to significantly increase our exports of goods and services right around the world. And you can’t not address the US market, it is a huge market, it’s the second largest market for South Australian exports. The previous government turned their back on the US. Well we won’t, we’ll be embracing the US. We’ll be looking for opportunities to grow our exports because we know that that will create jobs, sustainable, high paid, meaningful jobs, right here in our state.

Journalist: In the past, in opposition the Liberal party has been critical of the State Government for taking these sort of trips. I think Isabelle Redmond actually criticised Labor for sponsoring G’day USA. So what’s changed since then?

Steve Marshall: Well we are absolutely delighted to be sponsoring G’day USA. The program that the federal government has put together for this month’s event is absolutely spectacular. It aligns perfectly with the areas that we’re focused on in South Australia, defence, space, renewables, film, tourism, and of course food and wine.

Journalist: What’s the financial contribution of the state government?

Steve Marshall: Its one hundred thousand dollars, so one hundred thousand US is going into South Australia’s contribution to sponsor G’day USA this month.

Journalist: Will you be going yourself Premier?

Steve Marshall: Yes.

Journalist: What’s the benefit of your attendance?

Steve Marshall: We’ve got a huge program meeting with governments and major corporates in the US. A lot of people are flying in to LA from different parts of the states to meet with me and my contingent, the chief entrepreneur will be attending, the Minister for Industry and skills will also be travelling with me.

Journalist: We obviously talked about trade offices, what’s your understanding of where the government’s talks are at with airlines around potentially securing a direct flight between Adelaide and the United States?

Steve Marshall: We are extraordinarily interested in direct flights from the US into Adelaide. We have got the World Routes conference coming to Adelaide in September this year, which brings together the entire aviation, travel, airline industry from around the world right here in September more than 3000 delegates. It would be wonderful to have something to announce at the World Routes conference. We’ve got to be mindful of course that we have got an increasing number of direct international flights into Adelaide, we don’t want to undermine the viability of the existing flights. There’s no point in getting new flights on and then losing other flights and that’s why we’re reinvesting in growing tourism in our state and it was very pleasing to see the figures which came out earlier this week to show a very significant increase in tourism over the last 12 months in South Australia. That’s both domestic and international increases in visitation.

Journalist: But considering the size of the US market and its importance to the state’s exports would it not be a high priority for the government to get a direct flight to the US sooner rather than later?

Steve Marshall: Look it’s a major focus of our government to try to negotiate direct flights into South Australia, especially from the US. We know that if we get direct flights in that is going to increase and not only tourism visitation but also exports of our fresh produce out to the US. So look it’s an area that we’re focused on, we don’t have anything to announce at the moment but part of this trip is about looking at the opportunities for direct flights into Adelaide.

Journalist: Did you have any discussions with John Olsen around the state sponsorship at this program?

Steve Marshall: Well John Olsen of course set this up probably 20 years ago and so I think that’s a great initiative. I think it might have originally started in New York. I’m not 100 per cent sure but when he was the Consul General in New York, but I think the LA event is probably more aligned to what we have at this moment to offer which is around defence, space, renewables, food and wine. I think it’s a logical place, and the film focus this year I think marries up perfectly with the real push that we have as a state at the moment into this incredibly exciting area.

Journalist: Did he advocate for the State Government get back involved?

Steve Marshall: Not directly, our contacts have been through the federal government.

Journalist: Premier, just on another matter doctors are renewing their calls for the government to reverse cuts to Shine SA, is that something that you will consider?

Steve Marshall: The cut to Shine SA is actually a very small cut and we believe that the money that is going into this area is in line with what the expenditure for other jurisdictions around Australia is.

Journalist: The doctors are saying it’s not a good thing, are you ignoring doctors calls?

Steve Marshall: Look we’re very respectful of people that would like these services to continue. We point out though that we have a small efficiency dividend for Shine, they’ve made a decision to close half of their sites, I think the doctors should be turning their focus onto the people that are controlling Shine and asking why are so many sites being closed with such a small reduction in the funding for the organisation.

Journalist: And when it comes to, Nine news did a couple stories this week on issues with outpatient waiting times, are you satisfied that your health minister is moving fast enough to address the issues with outpatient waiting times in South Australia?

Steve Marshall: There’s a long way to go, I’m very satisfied that Stephen Wade is working every single day to improve the situation that we inherited from the previous government. But are we satisfied with progress to date? No. We would like to be moving even faster to address the problems we inherited from Labor.

Journalist: Just on another topic, the heatwave that is coming up, are you confident that the power system can withstand what’s coming?

Steve Marshall: Well obviously we’re very concerned about the high temperatures which are heading South Australia’s way in the coming days. We’ve made all the necessary precautionary investigations regarding our energy supply. We believe that we will be fine in that area, if we’ve got anything further to announce we’ll come back to you. We are also concerned of course about the competitors in the TDU, it’s going to be hot conditions but they tell us that they’ve had hot conditions in South Australia before. The race director, the race committee, take all of the necessary precautions to keep the competitors safe and if they’ve got to reduce the length of the race, that’s precisely what they’ll do.

Journalist: But in terms of the power system, are we going to be able to get through this without any blackouts?

Steve Marshall: Well certainly that’s the advice that we’re receiving from the department. I’ve got no reason to doubt it. Obviously you’re always anxious when there are very high levels or high temperatures in South Australia but we believe that we’ve got all the contingencies in place.

Journalist: Are there extra measures your government is considering?

Steve Marshall: Well look I think the best way to deal with that is to deal directly with the Minister for Mining and Energy, but certainly there’s been nothing that’s come across my desk to suggest that we’re not prepared, as prepared as we possibly can, for the heat wave which is coming South Australia’s way.

Journalist: Just briefly, one more for Minister Birmingham. Talking about direct flights, from a federal perspective, how big an issue is it from the federal government to try and see direct flights in and out of Adelaide to particularly the West Coast of the US?

Simon Birmingham: Flights can make a significant difference in terms of growing tourism, make it easier for exporters, it’s important to always remember that every plane also needs to fill the belly underneath the passengers and so getting more exports on those flights and it opens up opportunities to get into markets particularly for fresh produce. So we would of course love to see direct flights between South Australia and the US but ultimately these are commercial decisions for airlines, all we can do, and the South Australian Government can do is put the best pitch forward as to why it is, that the strength of the tourism market, the export potentials are such that they ought to back the possibility of the flight.