Government Performance

Monday 17 August, 2015

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 15:12 :42 ): Thank goodness for small mercies. A government with absolutely no idea what they are doing, with the support of about one in three voters in South Australia, entering their second year—a year when the Premier said that we would have our socks knocked off by the boldness of their policy agenda.

Thank goodness they had a policy agenda to look at, and that is the policy agenda put forward by the Liberal Party at the last state election—not only in refunding Education Adelaide have we seen the government support Liberal Party policies; not only in supporting body-worn cameras for our South Australian police, which is going to be in tomorrow's budget; not only in restoring pensioner concessions on council rates—a strong Liberal policy announced by the Liberal Party a long time ago; not only in agreeing that Adelaide High School's ideal site was not on the Royal Adelaide Hospital site; not only in agreeing that CFS volunteers should have cancer compensation; and not only in keeping emergency services sectors separate, rather than a ridiculous reform process put in place by the Minister for Emergency Services.

Today, we have seen the latest in a tranche of Liberal policies gratefully grabbed by the Premier and the government in their desperate search for relevance: abolishing the River Murray levy on residential households—Liberal policies that this government should be grateful for because what else have they got going for them? But can I suggest to the government, with 24 hours until we see the budget handed down, that there are some other things that they should do if they want to rescue the South Australian public from the extraordinary consequences of 13 years of dreadful misadministration.

Can I suggest to the government: let's start with tax reform. Let's start with the tax reform that the business community in South Australia is so desperately calling for, payroll tax reform, land tax reform. The Premier went out before the election to talk about how they were supporting small businesses. The Treasurer went out after the federal budget thanking the federal government for its small business tax reform, yet when does the tax reform and the tax relief that the South Australian government has given the small business sector run out? Very, very soon. Tomorrow, we need to see more relief for the small business sector through payroll tax reform.

Can I suggest to the government that the commissioner for children, with investigative powers, is an urgent measure that must be brought into place as soon as possible. It was a recommendation of the Layton report in 2003, something that is desperately needed in our child protection sector for an extended period of time. It was something promised by the member for Wright (as the minister) before the last election. The legislation was not even introduced until last year and now it is nowhere on the Notice Paper. Can I suggest to the government that separating child protection from the education department is a critical Liberal policy that this state desperately needs.

Just while we are on the education sector, we might as well look at moving year 7 into high school, as it is in every other state in Australia, which is so important for improving our NAPLAN results. Can I suggest to the government that reducing red tape for the small business sector is critical, as is capping council rates for the cost of living. A cap on council rates to CPI level for South Australian households is desperately needed. These sorts of suggestions will actually improve the quality of life for all South Australians, and the government, in tomorrow's budget, must respond to some of them. However, one issue is critically important, and that is infrastructure.

Before the last election, there was in fact a Labor government policy which we supported. We supported it before the last election and we support it now, but it is the Labor Party that decided to abolish the upgrade of the Paradise Interchange. At the moment, we are spending $160 million on a project that will save an average of seven minutes in the average transport commuter time in a whole day. Seven minutes and it is costing $160 million. As one of the very few members of the house—if not the only member, apart from the member for Hartley—who actually uses the O-Bahn bus service on a regular basis (almost every sitting day), I spend more time walking from my car to the O-Bahn bus service at the Paradise Interchange than is going to be saved by the $160 million tunnel that the government is proposing to go ahead with.

For $7 million the government was going to build a new interchange at Paradise. In 2012, long before the car park tax that the government keeps using as its excuse as to why it cancelled the upgrade, the member for Florey, in response to my motion in the house, announced that Paradise was going to be upgraded. In response to my petition from 1,100 residents that I and the member for Hartley collected—even though the member for Hartley was not even in parliament at the time—the member for Florey said of the Paradise Interchange:

The department has also sought, through a public tender, concept design of Paradise…to:

improve passenger loading times;

improve accessibility…

improve access to and exits from the interchanges to the adjacent road network; and

improve commuter bicycle and car parking capacity.

That was what the government promised in 2012, well before the budget and well before the car park tax. Tomorrow, it is time for the government to come good on its commitment for the Paradise Interchange.