Premier Mike Rann was re-elected by an increased majority as South Australia's Premier (Governor in American) in 2006 and has now served as Premier of South Australia for more than 7 years. In 2008 he was the National President of the Australian Labor Party and is now the Vice President. Premier Rann's portfolios include Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister for the Arts and a brand new portfolio for Australia, Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change.
Premier Rann has popped by The Global Townhall for a three part interview series which, besides this interview, includes an interview on his views on the environment/energy issues and a focus on his personal life, his future dreams and a good dose of Premier Rann motivation.
Gabrielle Reilly: Firstly, I have a question from the parents of a South Australian who you should be very proud of, Jenni Hogan, now a TV anchor in Seattle. This girl has been doing such a great job promoting Australia by just being her Aussie self, she should be our future tourism ambassador:
"Water (or lack of it) is a major issue for South Australians with low levels in the River Murray system, particularly with the lower lakes and the Coorong drying up and the loss of food production in the Riverland due to reduced water allocations. How will this affect South Australians, and what can be done to alleviate this situation?"
Premier Mike Rann: Jenni sounds great and I enjoyed your interview with her on The Global Townhall. We have a similar taste in beer, pies and chocolate. She'd be a great ambassador for South Australia. And I'll invite her to be a special guest at next January's Tour Down Under - the only Pro-Tour cycling event outside Europe, which last year starred Lance Armstrong's return to racing. It runs through some of out iconic beachside, hills and vineyard areas, as well as through the streets of Adelaide. We also have one of the world's biggest Festival of Arts next March.
On the issue of the water, we're experiencing what the scientists say is a one in a thousand year record low inflows into the River Murray. For 100 years, the Murray system had been run as four separate rivers rather than one. I led the charge for the States to handover their powers over the Murray to an independent national commission, so scientists, not politicians can run a river without borders. We are building a $1.8 billion dollar desalination plant, which will guarantee Adelaide's water security for many decades ahead, reduce our reliance on the River Murray, and provide for 50% of Adelaide's annual water needs. It will be powered by renewable energy and start delivering water at the end of next year.
Gabrielle Reilly: Australian wine, particularly South Australian wine, is my first choice when buying wine in America. How do you anticipate the SA wine industry will hold up between the drought, the economic downturn and the change in the American/Australian exchange rate?
Premier Mike Rann: South Australia is the centre of the highly successful Australian wine industry, and we sell more wine to the UK than France does. The exchange rate will help exports in a tough and competitive environment. But it's great that wines from areas like the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hill, Coonawarra and the Riverland are doing so well in the United State, Europe and Asia. Our reds even beat the best that France can produce in blind tastings. Great products will always find a market.
Gabrielle Reilly: How do you foresee the global economic downturn impacting South Australia?
Premier Mike Rann: South Australia has been experiencing record ever employment levels but there's no doubt that the Global economic crisis will hit everyone, although we're probably in a better position to bounce out of it, we're currently investing record amounts on infrastructure - roads, suburban rail, trams, new hospital developments. Rather than having a panic attack and slamming on the brakes, we are generating jobs now by investing in the future. We've also worked hard to diversify our economy to engineer a mining boom, and have won many billions of dollars of defence and renewable energy projects.
Premier Mike Rann Energy Interview.