SUBJECTS: Swan’s musical muse; Olympic Dam; SA Liberal leadership
David Bevan: Good morning Mark Butler.
Hon Mark Butler MP: Good morning.
Bevan: Did you have a Bruce Springsteen tucked away in your inspirational corner?
Butler: I didn’t. I’m a little bit younger than Swanny and frankly the 1980s was a bit slim pickings for social message. There’s not much social message in Duran Duran or Adam Ant or the sort of popular music of the 1980s.
Bevan: You’re an Adam Ant fan?
Matthew Abraham: Adam Ant, I think he was one of the great bards.
Butler: I think the closest thing in Australia we had for my generation to the Boss is Cold Chisel. That for me was my inspiration at the time.
Bevan: What about your cabinet colleague Mr Garrett?
Butler: That was very political. That was my first concert, was Midnight Oil, so there certainly was a strong, pretty unsubtle message in Midnight Oil, but Bow River by Cold Chisel is still the song I go back to.
Abraham: Nice. Christopher Pyne?
Hon Christopher Pyne MP: Good morning Matthew and David and Mark.
Abraham: Your inspiration, your musical muse in political speak?
Pyne: I think it’s kind of hackneyed to have a political muse to be honest, because I love all kinds of music. The only thing I probably don’t like is thrash, but I also was at university at the same time as Mark Butler generally, but if there was a rocker that I had to pick from then I’d probably choose ACDC. I think that’s the iconic Australian rock band.
Bevan: I wouldn’t have picked you as an ACDC man.
Pyne: And if I left Australia’s shores I’d probably go to the Rolling Stones. I think they’re a great rock band. I don’t feel the necessity to have a particular muse. My muse is the people of Sturt.
Abraham: So, you’re more ACDC than Born to Run?
Pyne: Yeah. I think ACDC – Jailbreak is a great song, no doubt about that and of course, you know, they’ve got a lot of hits, ACDC.
Abraham: But definitely not Adam Ant, which is a pity.
Pyne: I quite like Adam Ant to be honest, you see I love all kinds of music. Mark’s right, the 80s was full of happy, poppy songs rather than heavy political metal.
Abraham: Thank heavens neither of you have sighted Howard Keel as your muse.
Bevan: Or Doris Day.
Pyne: There we go, Jailbreak.
Bevan: If we could move onto matters of policy. The Fin Review reports today that South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has flagged a reprieve on the deadline for BHP Billiton’s $20 billion Olympic Dam expansion saying he would “entertain any application to approve a delay”. Christopher Pyne?
Pyne: Look, this is a very heavy blow to South Australia and to our economy. A great deal is riding on the success of Olympic Dam and the problem with the Olympic Damn expansion is that the Federal Government policies are not giving BHP Billiton the confidence to go ahead whether it’s workplace relations or whether it’s uncertainty over accelerated depreciation, or the excise on fuel, on the diesel fuel rebate, of course the mining tax, the Carbon tax. I am hearing from a lot of business people around Australia that many, many projects are being delayed or put on hold or abandoned altogether simply because they don’t have confidence in Federal Government consistency.
Abraham: It appears to be bigger than that. It appears to be a global issue not a local issue and there are just big investors who are just concerned that BHP has too many eggs in the Australian basket and the Olympic dam expansion would be one of the casualties of that.
Pyne: Well Olympic dam has been going along very well in terms of BHP Billiton has invested hundreds of millions if not more in preparation for Olympic dam and it is tremendously important that it happens for the state. But the miners are very concerned about constantly changing government policy and high labour costs. I understand that a lot of the State Government negotiations with BHP Billiton have revolved around the high labour costs that are being expected by the unions here in South Australia. But federally, the Gillard Government bears some responsibility for this because it simply hasn’t got the certainty of government policy that big projects need.
Bevan: Well let’s go back to federal Labor MP Mark Butler. Mark Butler, South Australia has been on the cusp of a boom for very long and if there is a two speed economy in this country for too long we have been in the slow lane. And Olympic dam was seen as our opportunity to get onboard. Is there an understanding in the federal government of the importance of this project and massaging it to make sure that it does happen for South Australia and we get a slice of it?
Butler: Well that’s right, it’s not that it was seen, it is seen as an incredibly important project for South Australia’s economic future and it’s important that we don’t talk it down. I mean Christopher really is focussed on some cheap political points about this. As you have said, this is part of an enormous strategy that BHP Billiton is in the process of considering, and there is no one who works harder from the Federal sphere with Jay Weatherill than Martin Ferguson on this. This is seen by the Federal Government as an extraordinarily important project. We in this country and we particularly as South Australians are level headed and do not try to score cheap political points over such a long term important project for us.
Abraham: Both Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis, Jay Weatherill in Parliament in May and Tom Koutsantonis on this programme a few weeks ago, absolutely ruled out an extension to BHP, absolutely, have they shifted ground on this, the Premier has called in, Premier good morning to you? Good morning Premier. Might have to come back to Premier Jay Weatherill… Premier good morning to you.
Jay Weatherill: Good Morning
Bevan: Premier what do you want to say? Are you happy with the report in the Fin Review?
Weatherill: No it leaves out a pretty important point that I was making and that is we don’t believe there is a basis for an extension of the indenture arrangements. That was said to have been reported by the Financial Review and for some reason it wasn’t reported…
Abraham: But are you giving yourself some wriggle room however, which wasn’t there. Tom Koutsantonis said there will be no extension.
Weatherill: No there are two points I have made in my application… in May… (inaudible) we’re making precisely the same point, but I think what needs to be said about the remarks made by Christopher Pyne is that at no time has BHP raised with us any concerns about…(inaudible) the carbon tax or any of the other taxation arrangements having a material bearing on their decision making in relation to Olympic Dam, Indeed if there is any industrial relations… (inaudible)
Bevan: Ok we have a bad phone line there but I think you have got your message across there Premier. Jay Weatherill thank you, we appreciate your calling in Premier, pity about the line. Christopher Pyne if I could come back to you before we run out of time. Yesterday Isobel Redmond confirmed that a Liberal MP, a Federal Liberal MP had suggested to her that she might like to take up a position in the Senate, was it you?
Pyne: I didn’t see Isobel confirm that a Federal Liberal MP made such a suggestion; I thought she said it wasn’t a member of the state parliamentary party, which means it could have been anybody at all.
Abraham: So was it you though?
Pyne: Look fellas there’s no benefit to going into this ground of speculation about people’s conversations and who said what to whom. The truth is we have had a Senate pre-selection, we’ve chosen Anne Ruston, she’s very good, she’s going to be a very good Senator. I think you had her on your programme on Monday.
Bevan: Was it you?
Pyne: Look, there’s no benefit to ruling in or ruling out conversations.
Bevan: Well no, if it wasn’t you just say ‘it wasn’t me’.
Pyne: But you know that I can’t answer that question, because if you start ruling these things in and out then you just start a, you know, kind of crucible style ‘well, if it wasn’t him, what if it was this person, what if it was that person’ …
Bevan: Well okay … that’s the next MPs problem, we’re asking you. Was it you?
Pyne: Well, I’m not going to go into this pointless kind of speculation about who said what to whom, the truth is that we’re all supporting Isobel Redmond to be the next Premier, she’s doing a great job and we have an excellent Senator in Anne Ruston and I’m very happy to have supported her and of course the point…
Abraham: Well, it’s the sort of elegant solution that you might have come up with, let’s put it that way if I can flatter you here.
Pyne: Well, you’re very kind, but I’m a mere cog in the wheel, Matthew, as I think you know. The Liberal Party’s much bigger than individual Members of it and we’ve had a pre-selection, we’ve chosen an excellent candidate. I think Anne Ruston is going to be terrific and we have a great Leader of the Opposition in Isobel Redmond and both should be allowed to get on with their jobs.
Abraham: Now you are starting to sound like an Adam Ant song. Christopher Pyne, thank you.