Tuesday 17 November, 2020

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (16:55): Until there are effective vaccinations available and there is widespread immunity, we will continue to deal with a situation that can certainly change rapidly. This fact makes responding to this pandemic particularly difficult. Although we have and will continue to implement measures to support individuals, businesses and communities to stay afloat in particular circumstances, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic makes the job of government somewhat challenging at the moment.

Whilst I believe that there is always something to be learned from looking back at our history, the combined health and economic impact of this crisis certainly has no equal. For example, there have previously been V-shaped, W-shaped and U-shaped economies and recessions; however, the current crisis certainly does not align with any of them. A paper by the IMF identified three phases of the economic aspect of the pandemic:

  1. Widespread lockdowns, where the focus of the response is devoted to the health and emergency services response to the pandemic and providing lifelines for the most affected people and businesses.

  2. A gradual reopening—the phase we are currently in—where public health certainly remains the priority; however, with restrictions easing, we are also taking steps to do what we can to kickstart our economic recovery.

  3. The post-COVID recovery, when vaccines are widely accessible and uncertainty begins to fade.

As much as we hope for the swift development of a vaccination—I am sure it is coming, and there has certainly been encouraging news in recent weeks—the reality is that we still remain in the second phase for the foreseeable future.

I have heard it suggested that the current situation is something like the shape of a square root symbol at the moment, where there was a sharp decline as the impact of the pandemic was most severely felt, followed by an initial boost as restrictions initially eased, which may then give way to a prolonged period of modest growth. It is during this period that governments certainly have to establish the foundations for economic recovery. To encourage growth, governments should be implementing targeted stimulus measures that will encourage a resumption of activity.

As the Treasurer noted in his address last week, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Phillip Lowe has urged all governments to provide massive financial stimulus through investment in publicly funded infrastructure, which is what we are doing. The IMF similarly encourages governments to invest in public infrastructure works, which is what we have done. Just as we have followed the advice of our health experts through this period, our economic recovery will be targeted and designed to create more jobs and confidence.

The budget includes the single biggest stimulus package by a state government in our history. We are more than doubling our initial stimulus spend and leveraging a further $1 billion in commonwealth, local government and business funding. Our measures are targeted to keep people in work and create new jobs for South Australians, whether it is the $10,000 grants for small businesses and not-for-profits or $233 million in payroll tax relief and $16.7 billion in infrastructure investment. The measures in the budget are designed to support jobs growth in a productive and meaningful way—take the $268 million worth of immediate road maintenance and upgrade works.

Speaking of road upgrades, one that is dear to my heart and certainly to my community is the $3.6 million upgrade of the intersection of Silkes Road and Gorge Road, ignored by the former Labor government for 16 years. We are getting on with it and we are going to get it done. My community has been calling for that for a long time.

There are also many more features of this budget I would love to speak about, particularly those around my ministerial responsibility. We know that our police men and women do a range of amazing work day in, day out, 24/7, 365 days a year. This pandemic has really emphasised how much they do for us. We know that every single day up to 600 (and sometimes even more) sworn and non-sworn police across South Australia are at the moment working on Operation COVID-19. They are helping to control this pandemic, whether it is at the border, at Airport operations and processing travel applications, or running compliance checks on individuals and businesses.

These officers are undertaking an array of duties and the diversion of personnel and resources has been significant. The state budget includes more than $21 million to increase police resources so that SAPOL can continue to respond to COVID-19. This funding boost will support SAPOL to accelerate the recruitment of 72 cadets and recruit 54 protective security officers and employ SES and CFS volunteers on a temporary basis to assist with COVID-19 operations.

We are also making sure that those who protect us are themselves protected by investing in new high-tech vests that are stab and bullet resistant. This follows on from our successful trial. We are also spending $34.9 million to transform SAPOL's remote connectivity capabilities and upgrade key operational systems. We are going to give the police the best technology possible to keepthemselves safe and agile and also keep the people of South Australia safe as well.

We are certainly supporting the adoption of new deterrents to make sure South Australians are safe and responsible on our roads. We saw the announcement about the $19.4 million allocated to install fixed mobile phone detection cameras. I am proud to say we are the first South Australian government in history to provide direct funding to Crime Stoppers SA, with more than $800,000 over the next four years for the organisation. We know they have helped to resolve over tens of thousands of crimes throughout their history.

In Corrections, we are proud that South Australia has the lowest recidivism rate of the nation, but we are not content to pat ourselves on the back; we want to do even more. We are committed to continuing to improve our correctional services system, making sure that people return to the community as productive members of society where they can and that they can become better people with better skills when they leave our prison system. To that end, we are funding a $2.8 million pilot of a high-intensity treatment program, and we hope that will deliver specialist case management and treatment to offenders who are subject to ESOs.

Those involved will receive specialist mental health support, housing assistance and also drug and alcohol rehabilitation where appropriate. We have also committed $500,000 to develop a business case for a new rehabilitation prison in South Australia. It will be an absolute game changer if one day we can build that rehabilitation prison as well. We obviously have a duty to rehabilitate prisoners wherever we can so that they can make their way back into society when it is safe for the community for them to do so and also in their best interests.

Of course, I could not discuss the budget without speaking about our amazing emergency services volunteers and staff. I touched on the massive $97.5 million investment we are making in response to our independent bushfire review. We are the first jurisdiction in Australia to undertake that review, and we are proud of our response to protect lives and property—whether it is the allocation of funds to help with automatic vehicle location so that we can see where our trucks are, $7.2 million to replace heavy firefighting appliances or helping to deliver $11.5 million for new MFS trucks. They have 12 new trucks on order and there are certainly more to come. Obviously there have been some delays due to COVID, but that is unfortunately where we are at the moment.

We are doing everything we can to ensure that we help the MFS and give them the tools they need to keep South Australians safe. We are employing additional full-time CFS staff members to help volunteers, and for the first time ever we are going to see a dedicated full-time CFS staffing presence on Kangaroo Island, which is going to be absolutely massive and also a game changer. There will also be an additional counsellor employed to ensure that staff and volunteers receive the care and support they need. We do appreciate all they have been through and we wish them well before the bushfire season. Hopefully, it does not look anything like it did last summer.

In road safety, as I mentioned earlier, the budget includes more than $268 million of funding for shovel-ready road maintenance and upgrade projects. It is no secret that well-maintained and modern roads lead to better road safety outcomes for road users. Our package includes $10 million for audio tactile line marking, which is proven to alert drivers that they are drifting out of their lane, and there is also money for road safety barrier works. Obviously, these can prevent vehicles from colliding with roadside hazards, such as trees and Stobie poles and other hazards.

I will take the opportunity in the remaining 30 seconds I have to talk about some of the projects we have delivered in my own electorate. I have already mentioned that we have been able to deliver on funding to fix the Silkes Road-Gorge Road intersection. This builds on the Newton Road-Graves Street intersection that we also completed in March this year.

The Campbelltown City Soccer Club have their new synthetic pitch, the Hectorville Sports and Community Club have money for their female change rooms, the Max Amber Sportsfield have their lighting upgrade, the Paradise park-and-ride has also been built and of course we fixed the planning residential flat size allocation in the Campbelltown Development Plan, so we are getting on and we are doing lots in our local electorate as well.