APPROPRIATION BILL 2023 - Second Reading

Wednesday 28 June, 2023

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley) (20:47): This government had an opportunity to address the cost-of-living crisis, to address the inflation crisis, to address the cost-of-living increases that people are seeing each and every week. Some people out there in the community are struggling even just to pay their power bills. There was a golden opportunity from this government to do something about these issues that affect South Australians, but instead what they have done is squandered that opportunity in this state budget.

What we are seeing is an increase in debt towards the highest on record here in South Australia. We know that future generations here in South Australia are going to be burdened by this debt and we are all going to be paying for this debt for many, many decades to come. Again, we are seeing deficits into the hundreds of millions. They will continue for some time and that is very disappointing because, at the end of the day, this has to be repaid at some point.

We have seen the warped priorities of this government, despite coming in on an election promise to do things like fix ramping. What have we seen? We have seen ramping double. We have seen that this government has priorities in things like putting in water slides in North Adelaide, for example. You are seeing this exposed far and wide.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA: And they can cackle and carry on as much as possible—

Members interjecting:

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Savvas): Order!

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA: —but the truth hurts.
Members interjecting:

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Savvas): Member for Elder!

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA: I will not respond to interjections because that would be disorderly, Acting Speaker.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Savvas): That is correct.

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA: You are doing an excellent job and I thank you for your protection at this late hour. Labor's budget delivers next to nothing for hardworking South Australians. This is a golden opportunity for this Labor government to actually do something to help the people of South Australia, people who are struggling with the cost of living, people who are struggling with the cost of power going up and with groceries going up—everything is going up at the moment, but this government has squandered the opportunity to do something about it.

We know that energy prices are the highest in the nation, inflation is running rampant and ramping remains at record levels. Cost blowouts are adding to that inflation and, of course, there is interest rate pain as well. We know that typical families are some $20,000 worse off since the election in 2022. We know that people in our state are facing this cost-of-living crisis, but unfortunately this budget does not do anything to help South Australians struggling with soaring rents, mortgages, groceries and also fuel, and we know that it is more expensive to keep your lights on at the moment.

Despite promising to deliver a budget surplus, and the need to get inflation under control, what have they delivered? I do not know why people are laughing; I do not think it is funny. Labor has blown their own budget by a shocking $1.1 billion. We have seen that most of the agencies have blown their own budgets, and I know from having been a minister that you have to hold these agencies to account and you have to have these hard discussions with them.

Instead, what do we see? We see zero fiscal discipline from this Labor government. This Labor government has reverted to form—more debt, more deficit, no way to control inflation, no way to get power prices down, and you are going to continue to see future generations paying for the fiscal mismanagement of this Labor government. South Australians already, of course, have the highest inflation in the country and Labor's massive budget blowouts will continue to fuel inflation.

If I can just talk on a local level and about my part of the world, Hartley, it is a great electorate and I would say the best electorate by far. There was a real opportunity for this government to do something about the increase in density that their friend, John Rau, put on the people, especially in Campbelltown, many years ago. We are seeing increased density in our electorate because it is a great place to be. People want to live there. It is close to the city. It has fantastic coffee and an array of wonderful amenities, and who could argue with that? But, of course, there is more density and more density means more traffic.

What we have not seen from this government is a direction or a policy format to actually address rising traffic in our area. There are intersections like St Bernards Road and Reid Avenue, and Moules Road/St Bernards Road/Arthur Street. These intersections actually require an upgraded road traffic management plan, yet we have seen nothing from this government in terms of addressing this increase in density and that is very disappointing. I will continue to lobby on behalf of my residents for an updated road traffic management plan and also traffic treatments that address these key intersections.

It is great to see that the Morialta Secondary College has been put online, and we look forward to seeing that continue to roll out to other year levels as well. However, it is disappointing that there really has not been much at all by way of cost-of-living relief, relief for growing the economy, delivering more jobs and doing more to attract local talent here to South Australia especially in what is a very tight job market.

There was the key election promise, the one that we are all too familiar with. What did Labor promise? They promised to fix the ramping crisis. Instead, alas, what have they done? We have seen the ramping crisis nearly double. Funny that, isn't it? Unfortunately it is not funny. Let's face it, people shifted their vote on the basis that they thought that this Labor government had this magic potion, this silver bullet, to fix the ramping crisis, but of course they did not, and they have taken the people of South Australia for a ride. But people will not forget. I have been around for long enough to know that people will not forget the broken promise from this government and they will punish this government when the time comes.

To talk a little bit about portfolio-related matters, there is road safety. We have seen, unfortunately, the worst road toll. We are heading for the worst road toll in 20 years here in South Australia. We also have a road maintenance backlog of around $3 billion, so of course we would welcome every iota, every cent of investment into this area to address this issue. We have seen $40 million for a Mount Barker roundabout upgrade. That is fantastic but what about the rest of the state? That was the disappointing thing to see. We have not seen enough invested around the rest of South Australia to address this issue.

There is $31 million for new speed cameras. Of course, speed cameras are there to deter bad driver behaviour, not to raise revenue, and we look forward to seeing them rolled out. If it saves lives, it will be worth it.

There is $10 million for regional road safety measures, including tactile lines and barriers. We know that empirical evidence tells us that these give a positive result, so we need to see them rolled out quick smart. For road safety campaigns, there is $6 million to improve Kangaroo Island roads, but what about the other roads? The Advertiser recently covered the $3 billion road maintenance backlog. When we came into government, obviously we chipped away and were getting that down, but, alas, what do we see? We have seen it skyrocket under this government.

The north-south corridor is the single largest infrastructure project of our generation. Unfortunately, what do we see? There is more delay from this government. There is more indecision, more delay, more acquisitions and changes in design. When you stop something and you start something and you change something, do you know what happens? It takes you longer to do. Not only that, but the price goes up as well. Of course, when we finished our time in government, we had it priced at $9.9 billion. It has gone up to $15.4 billion and guess what? That price will continue to rise.

Where is the tender? Where is the expression of interest? We know that Labor is kicking the can down the road, and it is not only with the north-south corridor that they are doing that. They are also doing it on projects like the Truro bypass. They want to talk about the Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass, but do you know what a key part of that bypass is? The Truro section of that road and under the federal Labor government's 90-day review if that project gets scrapped or gets kicked down the road, do you know what that means? It means that the Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass could be dead or it could be buried or it could be kicked down the road for many years to come.

We know we have to get trucks off our suburban roads if they do not have to be there on roads like Portrush Road, Glen Osmond Road and Cross Road, but instead what we see is crickets from this government.

What can I say about the Aquatic Centre? We support a redeveloped aquatic centre; however, the plan that the opposition—the government at the time—had was to engage with other levels of government and prudently seek a contribution from those levels of government because you do you know why? Because, as the minister has pointed out, this is not a FINA-qualified swimming pool that we are getting here.

What we are getting here, by his own admission, is a recreational facility, so why should only South Australian taxpayers pay for this? This is a community swimming pool, effectively, therefore the community, the council and other private sector people should also be paying and contributing to this centre just as they have with other recreational facilities.

Instead, what have we got from this socialist, utopian government over here? They are all about statewide control and controlling what we do in our daily lives and that is why they are paying for the whole lot. On the whole, South Australians are having to pay for something that probably only residents of Adelaide, let's face it, are actually going to use. That is truly disappointing.

There is $1.2 billion over four years to start the Women's and Children's Hospital. Again, it is another project, as my friend the member for Schubert has continually pointed out, that continues to spiral and blow out. Will we ever see it built under this government? Unbelievable.

Mrs Hurn: Toddlers will be teenagers.

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA: Toddlers will be teenagers by the time that that thing is built. There is $30 million for upgrading Port Augusta Prison. We know we have an obligation to look after and do what we can to rehabilitate our most vulnerable and those who end up in jail. We know the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are far too high in this state, so we welcome investment in our correctional services area.

There is $20 million to upgrade regional jetties—again, it only scratches the surface. We know we have been prosecuting this argument for some time that we need more investment in our regions and in our regional jetties as well.

Regarding regional bus services, we would like to see the outcome of the review that the government has undertaken; we still have not seen it. The taxi industry is another industry where we would like to see the outcome of that review. There is much uncertainty, especially when it comes to access taxis. People who use these are some of the most vulnerable in our community, yet we have not seen a great deal or heard a great deal from this government.

We welcome investment in education and skills. We know that we have a very tight job market at the moment, and so we welcome investment in these areas to ensure that we can get the best and brightest minds into our state.

When it comes to money invested for a new licensing scheme to be implemented for ultra high-powered vehicles, we would certainly support that. We have seen that in response to a direct tragedy and we know that we have to do better in that area. The AUKUS investment and the implementation of the Office for AUKUS is of course a very important generational initiative and we will certainly deliver our bipartisanship support every possible step of the way.

In terms of first-home owners, we welcome the support that has been given to first-home owners, but it does not go far enough. When you look at the threshold, when you look at that level, whilst there are some suburbs where you can purchase a brand-new build under that threshold, there are still many that you cannot. I think that does not go far enough and I think there should be more support to giving people that confidence, that peace of mind, that equity, that ownership in their own home.

What was really worrying to see, however, was the failure to deliver in terms of fiscal discipline at a time when there are economic challenges. There are significant economic challenges—we would be in denial if we did not accept that—and not just here in South Australia but in Australia and across the world. There are many forecasts for recession in certain states and in certain countries right across the world. This was an opportunity for not only fiscal discipline but also an opportunity to grow the economy. Instead, what we see is a lazy budget. We see a lazy budget from this state government, heading towards record debt, deficit and no real plan to grow our economy in South Australia.

Hydrogen, what can we say about hydrogen? The Hydrogen Jobs Plan is a project that will certainly not deliver lower energy bills for South Australians. Do you know what the residents in my electorate want? They want their power prices to come down. They want to be able to afford to pay their power bills. They are not interested in some experimental, maybe it is a silver bullet, aspirational item down the track that might do something. They are not interested in that. What they want to see is real relief. They want to see their energy prices come down, and this hydrogen plan from this government will not achieve that at all. That is very disappointing. That is extremely disappointing.

I move on to the cost of living. A rebate of $500 on power bills for some eligible households— obviously there have been a whole range of issues in terms of getting that out the door, and what about everyone else? What about actually reducing power overall for all South Australians? It was a real golden opportunity to do that but instead what we are getting is this experimental hydrogen plan that will not actually achieve that for some time.

The rebate for small businesses—$650 for power bills, I mean really. Every small business that I talk to at the moment tells me that their power bill has increased dramatically, in the thousands and thousands of dollars every single quarter. I do not think that goes far enough. Money for food charities such as Foodbank, we welcome that relief. We know, and I know as a former police minister, that unfortunately there is a link between homelessness and the economy, there is a link between homelessness and the economic situation. With that also comes crime rates.

Believe it or not, during COVID, when people were inside more often and there were quite generous stimulus and government handouts, I think what you saw was that crime rates actually went down. I certainly cannot claim credit as the police minister. There were generous economic handouts at the time and that certainly, I think, assisted in reducing the level of crime. What we are seeing at the moment is that some people, unfortunately, just cannot afford to pay their bills. They cannot afford their groceries. They cannot afford their transport or their kids' school fees. What we are seeing is that crime is up. It is one of a varying range of issues, but it is certainly economically linked.

We welcome investment in child protection. We have to do more to provide additional resources for kids in care. We have seen in recent days and weeks and months that unfortunately in South Australia some of our most vulnerable continue to slip through the cracks and that is not good enough.

In terms of housing, abolishing stamp duty for eligible first-home buyers buying or building their first home, whilst that relief is welcome I think it does not go far enough. At the moment, we know that it applies to properties valued up to $650,000, phasing out at $700,000, and to land valued at $400,000 to build a new home, phasing out at $450,000. There is also a cap on the $15,000 First Home Owners Grant lifted to $650 from $575 and 1,140 new homes for public housing.

Again, the government wants to try to claim credit for opening up new blocks released for housing in Adelaide's north and south. I have got news for you, Acting Speaker: this did not just happen overnight but it is happening. The former government actually did a fair bit. It does not just happen overnight. We well and truly set the foundation. We got the maps out and we met with the industry. This government wants to claim that it has the answers. You know what? This government helped to create the crisis in the first place.

Do not forget, this government has now been in power for 17 out of the last 21 years and unfortunately 1,140 new homes for public housing just does not go far enough. We have all seen them in our electorates. They come to our doors, to our offices, and they are on these waiting lists and we know that some of them wait for years and years. I have met and personally lobbied the minister and she always gives me the time of day. I want to claim some credit for this change. We have to do more to help people get into their homes, to give them that equity, to give them that ownership, to give them that head start so they can then build their own little castle.

There have been 25,000 new blocks released north and south of Adelaide, but there is a long way to go. We know that migration is going to increase in the coming months and years. Where are these people going to go? This is a golden opportunity for our state to embrace these new migrants and provide housing for them. But again, this government is not moving fast enough on this front. With those few remarks, I commend the Appropriation Bill to the house.