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Transcript of interview with Matthew [Compere] and Mark Butler: 891 ABC Adelaide: 12 February 2014: with Toyota, South Australian economy

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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP Minister for Education Leader of The House


E&OE TRANSCRIPT Interview - 891 ABC Adelaide 12 February 2014 8:45am CST

SUBJECT/S: Toyota, South Australian economy

COMPERE: Good morning to you Christopher Pyne.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Matthew, good morning David and good morning I assume Mark Butler.

COMPERE: You assume correctly Mark Butler Labor Member for Port Adelaide and now Opposition Environment and Climate change spokesman, good morning to you Mark Butler.

MARK BUTLER: Good morning, Shirley Temple and hubcaps is a pretty hard act to follow. I hope we won’t disappoint.

COMPERE: Christopher Pyne if we could start with you, we know that thousands of jobs will be lost in South Australia as a result of the demise of the car industry. What are you as a South Australian MP and a Cabinet Minister going to do about that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I’m doing exactly what the Government was elected to do which is to create the economic environment in South Australia and in the rest of the country that will mean that those Holden workers, of which there are about 1900 in Adelaide can find even better jobs than they currently have. So what I want to do for South Australia is to allow the mining industry to actually develop and grow rather than being stultified by state and federal government red and green tape. I want to give lower tax regime by immediately abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which Labor is standing in the way of. Put a tough cop on the industrial beat by bringing back the Australian Building and Construction Commission which Labor is trying to stop. A Registered Organisations Commission so that union workers aren’t ripped off by dodgy union officials. All of which will build the economy. Particularly for South Australia I’m on the Committee with Ian MacFaralane….

COMPERE: So your hoping they’ll get jobs in mining and then there’s a vague promise that they’ll pick up jobs generally somewhere in the economy because we’re going to remove some taxes. That sounds very hands off.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the way the economy works in Australia is that hundreds of thousands of jobs are created every year and hundreds of thousands of people move jobs every year which is why the workforce doesn’t remain static but the unemployment rate itself doesn’t dramatically alter and that’s exactly how economies work.

COMPERE: When we look at the Mitsubushi for example we see that 30% of people who lost their jobs, never got jobs again, 30% were underemployed and the remaining 30% maybe picked up something.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: As a South Australian I’m sitting on the committee with Ian MacFarlane that is discussing the transition within the manufacturing sector in Adelaide and Melbourne and as the Education Minister one of the important areas where we can dramatically develop our workforce and develop our research and grow jobs is in Higher Education as well as mining, agriculture, aquaculture and technological development. There’s lots of very positive things happening in South Australia and Australia and I want to be very much part of that. I’m not in the doom and gloom brigade.

COMPERE: Mark Butler from your perspective is it a bit rich for your leader, form Bill Shorten to pretend that the problems with the blue collar workforce in Australia and our industry, and particularly the motor industry, has just happened in the last few months, that’s it’s all Tony Abbott’s fault, like he crashed the car at the end.

MARK BUTLER: Well we knew through the course of last year that Toyota and Holden both had plans to continue to invest in Australia provided they could get a certain level of support from the Government.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well that’s not true.

MARK BUTLER: Come on Chris you had a long go there. We knew that through our discussions with them and if you don’t believe that just have a look at their recent submission to the Abbott Government’s own productivity commission enquiry. If they had confidence that this Government was in there for the long haul we know from their submissions to the productivity commission enquiry that Holden and Toyota would also have been in here for the long haul. What’s amazing about Christopher’s contribution this morning and also the contribution from the Prime Minister yesterday is this, extraordinarily cavalier attitude to what’s happening. With the death of the car industry that we’ve tragically seen this week, we’re going to see the most profound hit to Australia’s industrial and employment base since the 1980s.

COMPERE: Mark Butler do you see as a factor fact however, the very generous, some may say, work conditions negotiated by unions and granted by Toyota, by Holden, by Ford.

MARK BUTLER: This is the appalling thing. After turning their back on communities like the Golburn Valley for example, we talked about this last week, with SPC Ardmona, and now particularly South Australia and Victoria, the Government wants to blame workers

for being too greedy for wages that are at or below the Australian average wage we were talking about SPC last week, people there earn two thirds of the average wage.

COMPERE: But that doesn’t apply to the motor industry does it?

MARK BUTLER: The motor industry doesn’t have wages above the Australian average wage, by and large, it just simply doesn’t. If you look at the comments of Toyota, as much as the government likes to spin them, the critical factor here, acknowledging all of the pressures on Australia’s manufacturing industry, because of global competition, a high Australian dollar, that is admittedly coming down considerable. The lack of interest this Government has in investing in this sector was a critical factor.

COMPERE: So union demands, union paying conditions you say have absolutely no impact on this profitability or the operations.

MARK BUTLER: Of course they have an impact, but no one’s made the case…

COMPERE: What did you do about trying to change that?

MARK BUTLER: The car workers or cannery workers...well we have a situation in Australia that we’ve had for a quarter of century where union and companies bargain under an industrial framework that for collective bargaining purposes largely hasn’t changed since the very very early 1990s.

COMPERE: And for a quarter of a century we’ve seen our manufacturing sector go down the gurgler.

MARK BUTLER: We see this rhetoric from the Prime Minister, particularly from the Employment Minister Senator Abetz that the reason why cannery workers in Australia who earn two thirds of Australia’s average wage are not going to get support from this government. Car workers because they’re greedy and overpaid. No one’s made that case. Compare it to the Australian average wage. No one has actually made that case.

COMPERE: Christopher Pyne, do you acknowledge that South Australia, along Tasmania, they are the states that are suffering the most at the moment and that South Australia needs something specific.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well South Australia does need something specific, it needs a government that wants to grasp the destiny of our state and not be a mendicant state turning up to Canberra saying woe is me, give me more money. What we need…

COMPERE: Christopher Pyne, that’s rhetoric and it’s all very well and good…

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s not rhetoric. That works. Your solution is….

COMPERE: Christopher Pyne, I’m asking a question, what specifically are you going to do to help South Australia.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: One of the things that I’m going to do, is through this committee that I sit on with Ian MacFarlane is make recommendations that will actually grow the

South Australian economy for the medium to long term in the areas that I know we are internationally competitive and can be best at.

COMPERE: And that’s not manufacturing?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Of course, it’s highly technical manufacturing in very finished goods. Of course it is. But the answer to every solution is not give me more money from Canberra which is Jay Weatherill’s answer it’s let’s take South Australia’s destiny in our own hands. Reduce our taxes, reduce regulation, it took the approvals for Olympic Dam seven years from the State Government and in that time BHP Billiton had the luxury of pulling out because it had taken so long. The South Australian Government is culpable for Roxby Downs not expanding. There are so many things that we could do with our state. Does anybody seriously think that mining ends at the Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory borders? Yet there is more exploration and mining in the Northern Territory than there is in South Australia.

COMPERE: But they’re hardly high end smart jobs aren’t they Chris Pyne? No reflection, I mean I’d put breakfast radio presenters in the same category.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We want as many jobs in South Australia as possible. We want to take the shackles off South Australian business, whether it’s the Federal Government or the State Government. At the moment in South Australia we have a State Government that wants more government intervention, more regulation, more taxes, Jay Weatherill said so himself.

COMPERE: Christopher Pyne do you think the Olympic Dam expansion will go ahead should there be a Marshall State Government and an Abbott Canberra Government?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I have no doubt that a Marshall Liberal Government on North Terrace and a Abbott Liberal Government in Canberra will move whatever mountains are necessary to move to make Olympic Dam grow and expand for South Australia’s future. But I’m absolutely confident that with the Labor Party being aligned to the union movement as they are, they will continue to use Roxby Downs a honey pot for higher wages and higher taxes.

COMPERE: Mark Butler you just better have a word here.

MARK BUTLER: Well there’s no basis for Christopher to say that. It’s very clear that BHP made the decision they made on Olympic Dam for the same reasons they pulled a whole range of capital investments out of projects all across the world. It was about the international commodities market it was a great tragedy they did it, but it had absolutely nothing to do with North Terrace, as much as Christopher might say that Stephen Marshall as Premier it would suddenly change BHP’s investment behaviour. It’s utter rot.

COMPERE: Mark Butler thank you, Labor MP for Port Adelaide, he’s the opposition Environment and Climate Change Spokesmen. Chris Pyne is Liberal MP for Sturt, he’s Education Minister and Leader Government in the House. Catch you next Wednesday if not sooner.