Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (10:32): I rise today to give my Address in Reply, and can I welcome the new members for Fisher and Davenport. Welcome to the family here in this place, and I wish them well in their parliamentary careers. I have the utmost respect for the Hon. Hieu Van Le, the Governor of South Australia. I have known him for a long time. I first got to know him through my local Rotary club, and let me say—I know the Governor as a person—I was a little bit disappointed when I heard the words that came out of his mouth this week. They were full of motherhood statements, and I would like to draw the house's attention to some of these. Beginning—
The SPEAKER: Member for Hartley, I am not sure of the standing order, and I know the member for Hartley does not intend to reflect on His Excellency, but we are all aware of the conventions regarding the Governor's speech or The Queen's speech. Perhaps the member for Hartley's formulation of his response to that speech is somewhat inelegant.
Mr TARZIA: No problem, sir. What I would like to talk about, in that case, is the government's priorities, which I think have been perhaps called upon in the speech. As I said, it is by no means a reflection on the Governor personally, but rather on the government's priorities that I would like to draw the house's attention to.
Beginning in my own electorate, in Paradise and Glynde, what we have seen in Hartley is that this is a government that is prepared to do anything and say anything to stay in power. Within the first year of this term, we have already seen an election promise broken in Paradise, where they promised a park-and-ride facility, which they have already pulled. Secondly, in Glynde, on the eve of the last election, this government promised to find alternative land to move a substation to, which they again have failed to do. It shows that this government is prepared to literally do anything and say anything to get into power and to stay in power. It is treating the people of South Australia as if they are quite silly—but they are not. We will remember these lies that are being made, these promises that are being broken.
I want to start, firstly, on the proposed tax on the family home. In a tax review paper released just this week it was suggested that a broad-based property tax would be introduced to replace conveyance duty, costing South Australian families $1,200 every year. Let me just say that the phones are ringing absolutely hot in Hartley; people cannot fathom this, they cannot understand how a government that prides itself on governing for all South Australians can be so out of touch—especially so out of touch with low income earners, with people who own one property. I had an elderly lady, a widow, call up. She has one house and is on a pension. How the hell is she supposed to come up with $1,200 a year on her home? It is an absolute debacle.
You would think the government would stop at these massive ESL hikes but no, now it also wants to introduce a new tax on every family home. We are already the highest taxed state in the nation. Under this government, since 2002 state taxes have increased by 106 per cent, property charges have increased by 120 per cent, our electricity bills have increased by 140 per cent, gas bills have increased by 157 per cent and water bills have increased by 236 per cent whilst, at this very time, inflation was only 41 per cent. It is an absolute debacle.
The height of hypocrisy is what we saw this morning. I did not see one member of the government at the front standing with us, standing with war veterans, standing with doctors, standing with nurses out the front on this very hospital.
Ms Hildyard interjecting:
Mr TARZIA: Were you there?
Ms Hildyard: I didn't know about it.
Mr TARZIA: You did not know about it? You were not invited? I will tell you who was overlooking the whole thing, and there is a photo doing the rounds. One of your members is looking down at the Repat volunteers protesting against the disgraceful closure which your government wants to do against the Repat. It is an absolute disgrace. There are doctors in my electorate who are absolutely appalled about this. There are nurses in my electorate who are absolutely appalled about this. I fear for the next closure; I fear that the next closure after the Repat will be the Modbury Hospital. I really do fear that because, as the member for Waite once said, I believe, the first part in closing a hospital is to close its emergency room.
We understand that the government plans to close the Repat hospital, which is an absolute disgrace, and cut the emergency departments at The QEH, Modbury and Noarlunga. This will be subject to intense scrutiny. This is not going away. At the last count 30,000 people had signed this. Even the nurses federation is opposed to this; they have said that there is an outrageous lack of substance to support the proposals. Nurses are even saying that; there is a complete absence of detail in that blasé document. Transforming Health is completely at odds with the minister's previous commitments in this area.
There is a question that I have for all government members: are you with us? Are you with the doctors? Are you with the nurses? Are you with the volunteers? Are you with the war veterans, who have made extreme sacrifices, some of the highest sacrifices, for their country? Are you with us or are you against us? You should stand up to your government, because this is an absolute disgrace. This is more than a hospital, this is a symbolic gesture—
Mrs Vlahos: You don't even understand the terminology. They're veterans. Some of them are peacekeepers; they are not just war veterans, they are peacekeepers as well.
Mr TARZIA: Absolutely, and all the rest. Exactly right.
Mrs Vlahos: All the rest! You don't even know the terminology, you don't even know the portfolio—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I just remind members—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I am on my feet. That means you sit down. All members are entitled to be heard in silence, so I remind members of standing order 142. I will not hesitate to draw up the book today and start warning and calling people to order. Please do not lower the decorum of the chamber.
An honourable member interjecting:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: All of you—and if I hear you giggle once more you will be down for 'audible giggling'.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes; not just laughter but giggling. It is a new ruling. Speaker Bishop will take note.
Mr TARZIA: There has also been commentary by several members in relation to the lack of attention given to the regions by this government. Let me just say that I reiterate the points. I also reiterate the points made by the member for Morphett in relation to the CFS. I cannot believe it: I am being approached by former members of the Labor Party who are resigning in droves because of the CFS changes and the unhappiness that they have with the union situation in that proposal. They are coming to us. Let it be a sign to this government that this is not going away.
In relation to jobs, I fear for many young professionals in this state, from what they are saying to me. It is a bit like that show The Young and the Restless: they are young and they are restless at the moment. They are wanting new opportunities to embark on. They are wanting to stay in South Australia. They want to grow up and live here—
Ms Hildyard interjecting:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Reynell is called to order.
Mr TARZIA: Thank you for your protection, Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: And you will be, too, if you need to comment on things from the Chair.
Mr TARZIA: We saw the latest ANZ job data released just recently. There were just 151 jobs advertised in South Australia per week in January. That is a 17 per cent decline in one month and a 60 per cent fall over the last 12 months, as the member for Unley pointed out. Can you believe it? In fact, there are now fewer South Australians in jobs than when Labor promised to create 100,000 new jobs just five years ago. This is the point, Deputy Speaker: this government will do anything and say anything to get into power and stay in power. How is that 100,000 figure going? Earlier this week we heard how the 6,000 figure at Gillman could not be justified. The 100,000 figure cannot be justified. What is the point of having priorities if you cannot stick to them?
That is even before we talk about tax. We have seen, this week, a paper released by Treasury about tax reform. A state tax review discussion paper has been released, and it says that they are open to radical reform of our taxation system. Let me tell members that I think radical reform is definitely needed because, when you put all your eggs in one basket and the bet does not pay off, you have to hedge your bets.
Nothing is out of bounds, they say, be it taxes, levies or concessions. I would like to point out an article published in The Advertiser whereby Business SA and the Lord Mayor actually backed an initiative for tax-free zones for start-ups. If you are serious about bringing investment into South Australia, let us see something like this. It will bring people into South Australia. You want certain things: you have certain objectives, I understand, in your tax review, being revenue, business, households, efficiency and stability. What better way than to create economic tax-free zones in this state? It has been done in Dubai and it has been done in New York. It is a fantastic opportunity for this government to now show some vision and get on with the job, because young people are leaving the state in droves. Businesses are not setting up in droves because they cannot afford to do business in this state.
You would think that, following the announcement of a bold agenda, we actually would have had it, but what do we have? We had a time zone distraction. Give me a break: what is going to be next—an eight day week? Seriously! As Valdman pointed out in The Advertiser, I think he referred to someone as Jetson Jay. Give me a break. Again, they have failed South Australians by refusing to tackle the biggest challenges facing our state and, instead, they throw in this curve ball called a time zone distraction.
We can make all the arguments in the world about time zones and doing business with the east coast, the west coast, the north coast or the south coast, or whatever—or Antarctica, for that matter—but a point was raised with me that really touched my heart when I was walking to parliament this week. A person from the West Coast said to me, 'Vincent, my family and I live on the West Coast and lighting and darkness as to when people go to work and finish work and the amount of time that they can spend on their families is leading to such issues as it is.' We all know that mental health is such an issue in the country. I thought that was a very interesting point of view and I had to relay that to the house. It just goes to show that this government is not interested in the regions. They obviously do not care about mental health in the country. If they do, they would have at least considered something like that before they put forward a preposterous idea like proposing changing the time zone.
Where are the priorities here? Where is the evidence that change is needed? I have not seen any of it. I invite the government to present some of these facts to the house. They talk about having conversations, they talk about listening—well, where is it?
I want to also draw the house's attention to the nuclear debate. Many years ago the then premier supported and stood side by side with that great Labor luminary—which one was it?—Mark Latham, a great Labor luminary.
Mr TARZIA: How is that going for you?—and Mike Rann.
The Hon. P. Caica interjecting:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, member for Colton. The member for Colton is called to order.
Mr TARZIA: In 2004, the Hon. Mr Rann said:
I am proud, as Premier of this state, to stand here today to put on the record for generations to come that last Wednesday 14 July 2004 the federal government abandoned its plans to establish a national radioactive waste repository in the north of South Australia. This is a great victory for the people of South Australia—
That's how he would have said it, too, 'a great victory for the state of South Australia.' Finally, the left of the Labor Party have been brought to the table kicking and screaming.
An honourable member interjecting:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
Mr TARZIA: They have squibbed our mining boom; the left has squibbed this boom. The Governor's speech spoke about the 25 years of uranium production. Yes, we do have the largest-known uranium reserves in the world. Amazing: who would have thought the Treasurer finally rummaged through that with his staff and has convinced the left, and they finally discovered that we have uranium in South Australia. I actually raised that in my maiden speech, Deputy Speaker, 10 or 11 months ago. I cannot believe it has taken the Premier and his Treasurer 13 years of government to understand the fact that we are sitting on minerals and potential exports of extraordinary wealth.
In fact, Andrew Bolt—my good friend—released an article. I think I have been quite fair, without referring to Andrew Bolt. Deputy Speaker, you might know of his politics—he also raised this exact thing. It is just a shame, in all fairness, that they have discovered that mining exists when global commodity prices have halved.
I was talking to the Treasurer about this recently. I understand that he is working hard in this area but the mining boom, that every state experiences, has passed us by. Western Australia's exports—have a look at them: they were $130 billion last financial year. How much was ours? It was $16 billion.
The government wants an informed debate about the nuclear industry and technology. Mike Rann led a government that included Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis and they were instrumental in shooting down, as I referred to, a proposal to have a nuclear dump in outback South Australia, spreading a climate of fear about nuclear energy and its potential in Australia. That is what the left does best, but I welcome the left to be brought to the table kicking and screaming after they have wasted years of opportunity, years of prosperity in this state, years of jobs in this state.
They have realised that we are in serous economic decline here in South Australia and they have abandoned their false idealism. Why? Because you have to be practical. They have been brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I welcome Labor's inquiry but it is about 20 years too late. If we had this debate 20 years ago we would be a very prosperous state today.
Ms Digance: You should have done your maiden speech 20 years ago.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order
Mr TARZIA: Twenty years ago I was eight years old. I wasn't allowed to vote. You might want to change that law; I'm not sure. What about pensioner concessions, talking about the cost of living? An absolutely disgraceful treatment by this government. Pensioner concessions still exist in every other state: why not South Australia? Because the poor economic and budgetary management of the Labor Party after 13 years has allowed them to be drawn into this situation to the point where these measures are being taken by them. The worst offenders in this whole charade are the government and the Treasurer who seek to blame everyone else for budget problems other than themselves.
I am so disappointed in David O'Loughlin who I thought was quite a reasonable chap but politically he is a failed Labor candidate. He has led, from the LGA, what has been a very disappointing campaign. I am very disappointed in David O'Loughlin. I thought he was better than that.
It is the Labor government that has scrapped the concessions. It is Labor that has spent 13 years wasting our declining revenue on projects that create little or no economic growth. After all of this it is Labor that uses your money to fund its partisan campaigns. Where was David O'Loughlin with the other partisan campaigns? Are you going to be drawn into these partisan campaigns?
To add insult to injury, Labor have also written to councils across South Australia to use ratepayers' money for their campaign. And Labor and the affiliates in the LGA are using one hand to take money from pensioners and the other they are using for public money to fund their own interests. This is absolutely appalling of the Local Government Association, and I absolutely and unequivocally condemn it.
On page 12 of the speech, freedom of expression was referred to. That is why in the Liberal Party we supported shield laws on this side of the chamber. If the government is serious they will support shield laws too. On page 13 there was a reference to corporate campaign contributions and how they can be inappropriately used to influence public policy. Yet, when queried yesterday during question time, not one of the government ministers could point out evidence of this. Where is the evidence? Where is the evidence of this influence? We have an ICAC. If there is something that is alleged to be corrupt, report it.
Why do we need more red tape in this area? The government simply wants to tighten the taps. They want to tighten the taps to try to stay in power, because that is all they are interested in. They are not interested in saving money; they are only interested in staying in government. So, if there are lobbyists threatening the integrity of our political processes, again, where is the evidence and why has it not been reported to ICAC, and why has it not come out, and why have they not been put on the record? In relation to the citizens' jury that is referred to—
Mr Knoll: Which one?
Mr TARZIA: Yes exactly, which one? Well, I will tell you the best one. The best citizens' jury are the people of South Australia, 53 per cent of whom did not vote—
Mr Knoll interjecting:
Mr TARZIA: How did they vote? Fifty three per cent—did they vote for this government? No, they did not vote for this government, did they? That is the best citizens' jury. If you want to start talking about systems, if you want to start making sure that a group of peers are deeply involved in the decision-making process, well, get the electoral system right. My colleague to the right here has been on a crusade to do that for some time.
After having such disgraceful NAPLAN results, I welcome the requirement for teachers to hold a Masters level qualification. I have had an enormously positive contribution from teachers in my electorate who have had welcome things to say about that. Again, it is just a shame that it has been left this long, that these standards have been allowed to deteriorate so much.
In relation to school amalgamations, I note that it is pointed out that it needs to be explored to further amalgamate facilities. That to me is just a big red flag. I want to know from this government, and on behalf of the parents in my electorate, on behalf of the teachers in my electorate, on behalf of the students in my electorate, where the amalgamations are going to occur. They need to come forward and tell us. Where are the amalgamations going to occur? Is a broke state government going to sell off school land, just like the McNally site has been sold off, just like other schools around the state are being sold off? Shame on this government for selling off school land.
South Australia certainly has an ageing population, and it is essential to make use of the best technology and to work closely with health professionals and the community. As someone who has over 5,000 households with people over 60 in Hartley, I could not agree more. I could not agree more that more work has to be done. That is why I cannot believe that the new Royal Adelaide Hospital is going to have fewer beds; it's going to have fewer beds than the existing one. How does that even work?
Then they talk about prisons. They want to talk about prisons and how they want to look at options behind fines and behind prisons. They say that people who are not dangerous to others can be managed. Well, if you are not dangerous why are you in prison in the first place? Not only that, why are the gaols full? Former police officers would know why the gaols are full, because this government had a policy to rack 'em, pack 'em and stack 'em. And do you know what? When you do that they get full. Now that they are broke and now that the gaols are full and they have stopped building some of them, and that sort of thing, they want to look at other ways to host prisons. Where are we going to keep them?
Mr Knoll: We can bring them in here.
Mr TARZIA: We are going to bring them in here, the member for Schubert says. It was pointed out by the government that democracy should not discriminate, and I could not agree more: democracy should not discriminate. It is a wonderful thing. It is something I am very proud to represent—democracy—and yet we do not have that with our current electoral system. I encourage the government to take that up.
South Australia's exports are also setting a very concerning trend. I briefly touched on how other states have taken advantage of the mining boom and other export issues and how we have been lagging behind. We have been lagging behind for way too long. We have seen the current debacle with Gillman and other issues. The Attorney seems to be in a hurry to reform our current legal system. I would say that that is because he is about to be appointed to the bench. I welcome the Attorney's reform agenda, but let's see some reform. Let's see some courage from the government on this issue.
For far too long now South Australia has been dwindling. South Australia is falling behind compared to the rest of Australia and it is just not good enough. We need to do something. We need bold action now. There are a number of ways to boost tax revenue, if tax revenue is the concern of the government. How about trying to grow the economy? It is going to be much better than taxing yourself out of the market, just like the government has taxed itself out of the market on other issues in other areas.
What about tourism? We know that tourism businesses have been decimated under Labor. Tourism Australia research data recently showed that all 12 of South Australia's tourism regions recorded a decrease in the number of tourism businesses operating within their respective regions. These are extremely disappointing stats, confirming the loss of one million visitor nights from regional South Australia in the last two years alone. It is partly because of this toxic business environment.
You can have small bars. Do not get me wrong, small bars are great, but you need more than that. People want more of a reason to come here. I am embarrassed. I want this state to do well. If you guys come up with a good idea, I will support it, but come up with some vision, with some energy, something that is actually going to get this state moving so that young people will want to stay here, so that people will want to stay in South Australia to raise a family and retire. At the moment that is just not happening.
Tourism Australia research statistics show that, since 2010, 855 tourism businesses have disappeared from Adelaide, 74 from the Fleurieu Peninsula, 62 from Yorke Peninsula, 51 from Eyre Peninsula, 49 from the Limestone Coast, 47 from the Flinders Ranges and Outback, 41 from the Riverland, 17 from the Murraylands and five from Kangaroo Island.
It has to be apparent by now that raising taxes to unsustainable levels is not conducive to creating a productive economy which fosters small business growth. After 13 years of Labor, we have seen payroll tax almost double and the ESL skyrocket. We have the highest water and electricity prices in the country. Some of these costs are obviously passed on. It is not rocket science.
I want to see some vision from this government in relation to tourism. We have fantastic regions, they are second to none. We have many regional members here. They share my disappointment as far as this government is concerned. One thing is for sure: we will see the frequent flyer points of the Minister for Tourism go up this year, but I want to see tourism revenue also go up. I have no problem with ministers going overseas and bringing business back, but let's see some results. I pray on behalf of the people of South Australia.
In summing up, Deputy Speaker, what can I say? I am very disappointed in this government. I came to parliament as a representative of my local area with great ideals, wanting to make a difference and wanting to see the government, which has a civil duty to perform for the people of South Australia (even though it does not have a mandate to be here, having 47 per cent) make some tough decisions. These tough decisions need to be made because, with spiralling debt, increasing deficit, reducing revenues, a cost base that is not promoting the facilitation of wealth for businesses or the facilitation of jobs in South Australia, South Australia needs change. It needs to go in a different direction.
That is why I am disappointed. This government has let South Australia down, not just my local area but across the state. I want to see some change from this government. Stand up and be counted. Do what the people have elected us to do as representatives, and that is to govern well and govern properly for all South Australians. Let's get South Australia moving again.