Government fails to provide answers on failed innovation partnership

Wednesday 10 February, 2016

One of South Australia’s most iconic local manufacturing businesses, Hills Ltd has ended its partnership with the Weatherill Labor Government – and the Government apparently has no idea.

In February, 2014, just weeks before the last State Election, the Labor Party announced that they had formed a $5 million partnership with Hills over three years.

The scheme was supposed to see two new tech centres built and create 85 high skill jobs. It has since emerged that the scheme has been terminated.

Yesterday, Parliamentary Secretary for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Start-ups, Vincent Tarzia, questioned Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis about this issue in Parliament:

Mr TARZIA: My question is to the Minister for State Development. In relation to the government's three-year jointly funded $5 million partnership with Hills Limited, can the minister confirm to the house that Hills has pulled out of the partnership?

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I will get a detailed response for the member.

Mr TARZIA: I have a supplementary question: how many job losses will result as a consequence of Hills pulling out of the partnership?

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: That presupposes that they have. I will go back and get a detailed briefing for the member and get a response back to the house.

“How could the Minister not even know that Hills ended its partnership with the Government last year? It was reported in The Advertiser last week,” said Mr Tarzia.

“The Treasurer could not explain how much taxpayers money was spent or how many jobs will be lost.

“These are basic questions about Government policy.

“The Treasurer’s answer just raises more questions about the Government’s interest in South Australian jobs.

“This is the clearest example yet that the Weatherill Labor Government has no interest in encouraging innovation in our economy to lift our State’s productivity.”