Thursday 03 July, 2014

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (17:45): This is an appalling bill and I will certainly be opposing the Budget Measures Bill 2014. I implore the government to retract it and to stop this atrocious levy on parking spaces within the central business district of the city of Adelaide.

This bill and its quite intelligent and enlightened writers have made this bill with several flawed assumptions. One is that people who drive cars are rich and, of course, the government hates rich people; it hates people who drive cars. The second one is that it is a crazy left-wing suggestion to think that you can tax your way to prosperity. We have seen time and time again that that does not work and it is certainly not going to work in South Australia.

Thirdly, there is also an assumption that transport in South Australia works, that it is on time and that it is clean. It does not work, it is not on time and it is not clean, and you can blame the member for Lee for that. The member for Lee, instead of taking these issues seriously wants to endorse bad comments about personal members. He wants to do everything else except address the issues at hand. It is a toxic tax and it is—

Members interjecting:


Mr TARZIA: I only have 14 minutes left.

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I need to protect the member for Hartley.

Mr TARZIA: Thank you for your protection, Deputy Speaker. It would not be the first time.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: And he is just lucky I'm sitting here!

Mr TARZIA: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. This tax will hurt businesses, it will hurt jobs and it will damage city vibrancy without a doubt. The government does not have a mandate to pass this bill. I know they only had 47 per cent of the two-party preferred vote and many of those voters were in the city. The government does not have a mandate to take this levy to South Australia; it did not have a majority in its own right. I will reiterate that point here.

The Hon. P. Caica: Oh, Vincent, you know you have to win marginal seats.

Mr TARZIA: I know, and if only more people won marginal seats, the member for Colton.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I need to remind members that it is out of order to interject and it is also out of order to respond to interjections.

Mr TARZIA: My apologies, Deputy Speaker. I would like to take the parliament to the bill itself. First, I would like to address what a levy or parking space is under the bill, particularly paragraph (d) which states:

(d) a parking space that is set aside or used for the parking of a car used by a Minister or other member of Parliament on a regular basis—

here it comes—

(other than any such space within an area that constitutes part of the South Australian Parliament),

What we trying to do here? Are we trying to say that this tax is good but it is not good for the writers of the bill? That is absolute hypocrisy.

I would also like to take the attention of members to Schedule 1—Exempt parking spaces, Residential parking. The first part addresses exempt parking spaces for residences, the second relates to tenants but the third one states that a parking space is an exempt parking space if:

(c) no separate cost for the parking space is charged above payments of rent or other consideration under the lease, licence or other agreement or arrangement to occupy the residential premises.

This in itself is a farce because tell me who does not charge in the CBD, who does not get charged for a residential parking space? Therefore, based on that assumption, this is going to hit commercial landlords, and not only commercial landlords but residential landlords. Why is it going to hit residential landlords? Because the Labor Party and the South Australian government think that someone who owns a property in the city who leases it out is a rich person and, therefore, they are going to punish them. So, we see the real agenda here coming out.

This is a tax on middle class South Australia. It is not just going to affect people who work in the city every day. It is going to affect people who do their shopping on the weekend, it is going to hit the aspirational class, it is going to hit the middle class, and it is going to hit university students who cannot rely on the transport system that the member for Lee has oversight of at the moment. These people would use public transport. I get so many complaints in my EO about public transport day in and day out. I understand what the government might be trying to achieve, but if it was working, people might have some more faith in the system, and it is fair to say at the moment they do not.

I also want to talk to the house about the reality of this issue. I have in my hand an invoice from a parking firm, and it is dated 6 June 2014. They have already passed on the expected cost of this levy which is only in bill form; it has not been passed. This is the reality and it is because this government has not installed confidence in the business community. It has not installed confidence in consumers, so businesses feel that they need to prepare for four more years.

What is coming? I hope it is not economic Armageddon on behalf of the South Australian government, because if they are charging people already, if they are that worried that they are passing on their costs before the act is actually passed, then we are in trouble. We are in a lot of trouble with what will happen in reality.

The reality is that they are passing the cost on already, and I am covering the logo. What happens when you pass the cost on? The Minister for Health was a very good treasurer at one stage, a much better treasurer than the current one. He would know this.

The Hon. J.J. Snelling: I am an even better Minister for Health.

Mr TARZIA: He understands. He is here for the long game. He understands that this is a poisoned chalice at the moment. He is a smart guy and he understands, as I am sure some other members do, that you cannot tax your way to prosperity. Because it is a flawed system—

Mr Gardner: You are South Australia's only hope for the next three years.

Mr TARZIA: He is the white knight. There are going to be fewer people in the city; fewer people in the CBD. What is going to happen when there are less people in the CBD? It is an economic argument: supply and demand. When you stop the supply of people in the city, when you cut demand, who is going to hurt? I will tell you who is going to hurt—all those employers, those good people who hire people in South Australia, including employers who have SDA members on their database, I might add. It is going to hit retailers. It is bad for business. Retailers are going to cop this; unquestionably they are going to cop this.

What is going to happen when retailers underperform? When retailers underperform they will have no other choice but to pass on drastic measures, like a fee which they have not even been charged yet, and indirectly down the track there will be more job losses, unfortunately. We have heard our leaders speak of this today. We have seen how many jobs have been lost in South Australia in the past 12 months and the past 12 years. Former premier Mike Rann went to the South Australian electorate many years ago with a mandate that he promised to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016, and we know that that is just a lie. It is an absolute lie. It will take a miracle for that to happen.

In relation to the cost of living, I would have to say that this is the number one issue for real people in middle class South Australia. I doorknocked the entire area of Hartley during the campaign and I can tell the house this is what is hurting people, and I will tell you why.

The increase in costs in Adelaide from 2001-02 to 2013-14 are as follows: while CPI has been a 40 per cent increase, housing rents have gone up 54 per cent, property charges have gone up 87 per cent, state tax is up 92 per cent, gas bills 136 per cent, electricity bills 160 per cent, and, finally, water bills 227 per cent. That is before we consider the punitive measure that is the new emergency services levy and the associated changes with that. That is before the state credit rating deteriorates even further.

What happens when the state credit rating deteriorates even further? Again, it is an economic argument. Obviously, it becomes much more expensive for the state to borrow money. We are already seeing what happens when they cannot borrow money based on their own debt. What do they do? They start these creative mechanisms called public-private partnerships.

When debt becomes too hard, and when one credit card becomes maxed out, what do you do? You get another credit card. It is called public-private partnerships, and that is what this government is doing. That is why they are building this new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Have you seen that contract, Deputy Speaker? I tell you what, I would love to have some shares in that proposal; let me tell you, it would pay very high dividends. Unfortunately, though, it is at the detriment to the South Australian people.

Finally, I would like to talk about what industry is saying about this proposal. The member for Adelaide gave us a couple of case studies whereby, wholeheartedly, this type of bill has been rejected interstate. It has been rejected in Sydney, and it has been rejected in Melbourne. Why? Because they understand. These are states where economic reformist Liberal governments are building those states back up. They understand you cannot tax your way to prosperity; they understand that you need to increase the number of people going into the city for retailers to do better. They understand that small business is the engine room of this economy.

I draw on the comments of the Property Council of Australia (SA) executive director Nathan Paine in May 2013, when the government was looking to introduce this bill, where he said that the tax is designed to reduce the number of people driving into the city and instead boost public transport patronage. I seek leave to continue my remarks.