E&OE TRANSCRIPT Interview – 891 ABC Adelaide with David Bevan, Matthew Abraham & Jay Weatherill
Tuesday 19th April
SUBJECTS: Offshore Patrol Vessel announcement; Defence Industries; ASC Osborne
MATTHEW ABRAHAM:…For industry and innovation and if you look at this deal it does have the finger prints of a Pyne manoeuvre about them. Chris Pyne welcome to the program.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Matthew, good morning David, it’s great to be with you today.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Chris Pyne up until now the signals you’ve been sending pretty clearly have been that the offshore patrol vessels will probably have to go to Perth because South Australia will be getting the future frigates, and we’ll be getting the submarines. What brought about this shift?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I mean that’s your interpretation Matthew but what I was always saying was that we couldn’t do both at Osborne at the same time and that remains the case and therefore what we’ve announced is that we’ve won the offshore patrol vessels contract which is a great win for the ASC workers and for our state until the future frigates is ready to begin and then we’ll finish whatever vessel we’re working on for the offshore patrol vessels and the next one will be built at Perth so they won’t physically be moved, there’s been a bit of, I think a bit of confusion about that over the last 24 hours with the idea that you kind of- sort of, physically move the boat. No you don’t. You finish the boat that you’re working on then you start the next one in a new place and then we’ll have the future frigates, which is great news; lots of jobs, lots of growth, lots of money for our state.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: How many- How many offshore patrol vessels then in that two years, so this starts from 2018 to 2020 so is that one or two?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well at least two, possibly more, it will just depend when the future frigates are ready to begin so we’ll build as many offshore patrol vessels as are required until the future frigates are ready to start so it’s at least two.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Can you explain what the job forecasts are? Now Ian Henschke was trying to nut this out last night with Martin Hamilton-Smith the state defence industries minister but can you explain to us what the jobs are now at Osborne, what they- because there will be some job decline between now and 2018, so what- how low will they get? And how will they start to ramp up?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I’m not the CEO of the ASC but the offshore patrol vessels contract is worth about 400 jobs and 3 billion dollars plus, the future frigates is about 2500 jobs and 35 billion dollars plus which is why unlike some people in South Australia I’ve always said it was much more important to win the future frigates than the offshore patrol vessels but happily we’ve got the best of both worlds today and we of course are still working on the air warfare destroyers at Osborne so that work will continue. I think there’s about 1300 or so workers at the ASC now, and the work- the numbers go up and down obviously, the offshore patrol vessels will certainly bridge the valley of death, or they’ll be a big component of bridging the valley of death and that’s why SA unions, the defence teaming centre, the SA government and the federal government have all obviously welcomed the announcement yesterday.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Also on the line is Premier Jay Weatherill, if you could stay with us as well Chris Pyne as we flesh out the detail of what is a very important deal for Adelaide, Premier Jay Weatherill welcome to the program.
JAY WEATHERILL: Thanks Matthew.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: What was your reaction when you learned of this, sort of a hybrid deal really?
JAY WEATHERILL: Yeah this was a great win for South Australia; this allows us to legitimately say that we’re the centre of high tech manufacturing in the nation. I mean we’ve always been a great manufacturing state, the real challenge was how we bridged that gap between old manufacturing just middle bashing and then getting in to really the high tech end and some of the things that we’re going to be producing there starting with patrol boats, going to frigates and then the future submarines which we hope is an announcement not too far off will set us up in building some of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment that’s built anywhere on the planet. And everybody knows what that means, it means not just a series of one off projects but an industry and that’s when businesses from around Australia and around the world can take a very long view about what they invest in because they know it’s going to be there for 30, 40, 50 years.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Labor senator Kim Carr tweeted yesterday, 3 shipbuilding announcements made in one day but nothing for Victoria’s Williamstown shipyard, are you concerned that Bill Shorten will take some of this work and give it to Victoria,
JAY WEATHERILL: No look we think that there’s always been a strong demarcation that can exist between the various ship yards. We will need the support of other shipyards around the nation, not every scrap of work here will be done in South Australia. The critical thing is that it’s centred here-
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: No do you think it’s necessary to get Bill Shorten the federal Labor opposition leader to lock in behind all of these commitments given by Malcolm Turnbull?
JAY WEATHERILL: Oh look I have no doubt that will happen and uh, but sure, I mean belts and braces we want to see the signed contracts or at least the signed material from both Christopher and from his counterpart in federal Labor. But yeah, absolutely.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: As a Labor premier, you’d have to say Chris Pyne, would you say Chris Pyne has served his electorate well and deserves re-election on the back of this?
JAY WEATHERILL: Oh I don’t think I’d go that far, we want to knock him off but uh I think he’s done a great job.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Why would you want to knock him off if there’s a federal Liberal Government in place and he could deliver a deal that even I think it’s fair to say that in your heart of hearts you did not expect this to be pulled off is that right?
JAY WEATHERILL: Well I’m a Labor bloke, you know we’ve got a Labor candidate running against him we want them to win, but look credit where its due he’s done a fantastic job here but look the this has been I think a fantastic community effort, I mean every South Australian should be very proud of this and there’s been a lot of people that have worked very hard to make it, remember where we were when we had a federal defence minister saying that you couldn’t trust ASC to build a canoe, today we are now saying that the ASC at the centre of a shipbuilding and submarine building industry that will take us forward to the next 30 or 40 or 50 years.
MATTHEW ABRAHAMS: You’re on 891 Breakfast. We’re talking to Chris Pyne, Liberal MP for Sturt. And the voice there obviously of Premier, Jay Weatherill, about this decision which did catch the State Government, even in their wildest dreams I think, by surprise - and that is that this approval for the offshore patrol vessels. They will start building them here, in Adelaide from 2018, and then when the future frigate construction begins in 2020 the following vessels, the patrol vessels, will be built in Perth, in a Perth shipyard. And we are expecting within days, or maybe weeks, a final decision on the submarines. Premier, is that the last bit of the rubrics cube now?
JAY WEATHERILL: Absolutely. I mean, for two years now we’ve been campaigning for this. I mean, we got down to within I think, a few hours really of an announcement being made that Subs would go to Japan and very little of the work would happen here. So you know, a couple of years we’ve been campaigning away at this and you know, the root of the announcement yesterday, the logic of the announcement yesterday points up to an Australian build for future submarines and I hope that Christopher and the team are able to get that organised before the Federal Election is announced. Because that, I think it would be, you know, politically suicidal for him not to do so but, and I’m sure they’ll get themselves organised to do that.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Chris Pyne, this is the last bit of the cube, correct? The subs – and this would be a fait accomplis now?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Matthew, firstly I’m grateful that the Premier, Jay Weatherill has given me credit for the offshore patrol vessels and I thank him for that. And it is important that South Australians, proud South Australians like he and I, work for our state and not our political parties and that’s what I have tried to do on the offshore patrol vessels and I have tried to do the same thing on the submarines. We will keep putting our best foot forward for the submarines obviously, and I hope to have an announcement before the election. As I said all along, if the election’s in September it would be much easier. If the election’s in July, it’ll be harder but -
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: We learn this morning that the Cabinet now has this before it, is that correct though? It has the information it now needs to make the Submarine decision.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I’m not going to reveal National Security Committee and the Cabinet deliberations. I’m on the National Security Committee obviously, which is great for South Australia and obviously if we deliver the submarines as a local build in Adelaide that’ll be worth – that’ll save our state in terms of defence industry for decades to come. I mean, you and I will be well and truly in the ground Matthew before that project finishes. I hate to say it to you but that’s the truth, because it will be decade of work for our state. And that’s what I’m working on every single day.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, while the politicians are all slapping each other on the back and saying what a good job it is –
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: And you’re slapping us on the back too…
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: It’s perhaps worth congratulating the workforce down at Osborne, who are so good that the Government thinks they can do all this work. Is anybody going to give Nick Xenophon some credit for his work? And while you’re talking about Nick Xenophon, he says show me the contracts. He’s ringing an alarm bell here. Christopher Pyne, it’s all very well to make promises but promises can be broken. We saw that with your very own government.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Nick Xenophon had absolutely nothing to do with the decision whatsoever because he’s a cross-bench Independent Senator. He doesn’t get to make decisions –
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: He was campaigning as strongly as Jay Weatherill so if Weatherill put the heat on you so did Xenophon.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: This decision wasn’t made because of any kind of political pressure. It was made because it was the right decision.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Jay Weatherill, do you agree with that?
JAY WEATHERILL: Look, I don’t care why the decision was made,
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Oh, yes you do, oh yes –
JAY WEATHERILL: Look no –
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Jay Weatherill come on, come on, come on. Fellas, you’ve won, you’ve won. So you can actually be straightforward and frank with our listeners. And Jay Weatherill you deserve a lot of credit for this. It was your campaign that helped put the heat on the Federal Government to go from you can’t build a canoe to you’re going to build everything. Now, can you at least be generous enough to acknowledge that Nick Xenophon played a part in that as well?
JAY WEATHERILL: Of course he did, as did a bunch of Federal Senators in the Federal Senate who put in an enormous amount of pressure on Senator Johnson. A lot of workers down there at the, Osborne who have been campaigning and the unions, the unions have run a fantastic campaign. The defence teaming centre, Christopher Burns, Martin Hamilton-Smith, who’s done a fantastic job in identifying how important the offshore patrol vessels are to the overall –
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: So did he, did he ever get a meeting with the Federal Defence Minister? Chris Pyne? Chris Pyne, did he?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Alright. Now, Chris Pyne can you be as generous as Jay Weatherill? Or will you not give Nick Xenophon anything on a day like today?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Senator Xenophon was unnecessarily negative yesterday and he was dangerously close to talking down the state. Because obviously the competitive evaluation process is a legal document and we have narrowed down the competitive evaluation process to three bidders for the OPVs in Adelaide, and that is part of the legal document. So his claim that there is nothing in writing and therefore can’t be trusted is just completely false. And again, he is just trying to make politics out of what should be a day of joy for the Adelaide workers at ASC.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Can you just explain just quickly, what is first pass approval for the Offshore Patrol Vessels? Which is the wording in yours and the Premier’s press releases?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: First pass approval means we have narrowed the process down to three bidders and we have indicated where the build should occur which is in Adelaide and the second pass of course is the choosing of the successful bidder.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Alright, so still a bit of water to do under the bridge, correct?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Only the choosing of the design. The actual decision that there will be a local build using Australian industry and product has been made.
JAY WEATHERILL: Can I just say gentlemen, you have to know when you have had a win and South Australia has had a win. We desperately need a few wins.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yes, absolutely.
JAY WEATHERILL: If this can put us at the centre of high tech manufacturing for the nation and this is exactly the type of transformation of the South Australian economy that we need. Let’s just set aside for one moment the politics and enjoy this victory and then hopefully there are many more to come and we are looking forward future subs.
DAVID BEVAN: It’s not going to transform the economy.
JAY WEATHERILL: Absolutely.
DAVID BEVAN: Hang on for one moment. I’ll put this to you, we have had high tech jobs down there for twenty odd years, they’ve been building submarines and at the times they started the Collins Class it was cutting edge technology. We have had a, it’s not transforming the economy it’s maintaining a portion.
JAY WEATHERILL: Much more than that. The stop start nature of the defence contracts up to this point have meant we haven’t had the buy in that we would get from the big international primes as they move in and around this. Remember, we’ve also got the Defence Capability Growth Centre now, we’ve got the Over the Horizon Radar, we’ve got the Defence Science Technology Organisation. We really are the centre of action for high technology defence equipment and there is a lot that spins off that. We saw this in the US it’s not just the defence industry; it’s a lot of civilian applications that spin off these high tech jobs.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Jay Weatherill, the way you are betraying this, you could have Chris Pyne’s face up on your posters.
JAY WEATHERILL : Well I’m interested in South Australia actually succeeding and I don’t care, I’m prepared to stand up with anybody that’s prepared to assist us in that regard and we have had a win today there is no doubt about that and we need many more ahead of us. Because we have to soak up a lot of jobs with all those people that are falling out of Holden’s and possibly Arrium, Alinta, there’s a lot of work to be done.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Premier, thank you for talking to us.
JAY WEATHERILL: pleasure, no worries.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Chris Pyne, thank you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s a pleasure, especially today.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Federal Liberal MP for Sturt, Minister for Industry and Innovation, Chris Pyne.