Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (11:50): I also rise today to contribute to the Supply Bill. May I say that I found the month or so away from this place a fantastic opportunity to really wear out some shoe leather and embed myself in the electorate and, most importantly, listen to the electorate and hear the concerns of the constituents in my area—what they are seeking and what their needs and concerns are. It was a wonderful opportunity, and it also allowed me to see and hear firsthand how discontented people are with the current government in South Australia. The state can certainly do much better—and it needs to do much better. Those needs are certainly not being met by this government at the moment.
It is only when the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked; I think it was Warren Buffett who said that. As the member for Schubert alluded to, when the opportunity was here for this state to do something about mining and blossom, as the state of Western Australia has done, what did this state government do? This state government wasted that opportunity. Of course, we know that a strong economy can provide prosperity for the rest of the state, and without a strong economy you certainly cannot do that.
I want to draw the house's attention to two reports: the CommSec State of the States report and the Deloitte Access Economics report, where there are stark and extreme concerns with the state of our economy at the moment. When you look at dwelling commencements, for example, compared with the last decade average we are down 1.3 per cent. This is a massive issue because so much of the housing market flows through to other parts of the economy.
In terms of unemployment, compared with the decade average we are up 21.8 per cent. It was shocking when I was out doorknocking parts of the electorate, especially amongst the youth, to see people who want to find jobs—they really do—but who do not have the opportunities here that they should. It is terrible. Of course, when they are not at work, their morale is lower and they are costing the taxpayer more. It does so much for the state if these people can have jobs.
Economic growth has been up only 8.6 per cent compared with the last decade and it has fallen behind many of the other states, especially those on the east coast. Equipment investment has been up by only 6.6 per cent. Housing finance, though, is the big one: compared with a decade average, it is down by 13.7 per cent. These housing finance numbers are of massive concern. As I said, when people build new homes, it obviously flow through to so many components of the economy. When these numbers are down by so much the concerns are great.
Obviously, some big negatives cloud the current outlook, and we all know about the demise and departure of car manufacturing under this government's watch and the uncertainty that exists in other parts of the state. The timing is unfortunate. I would not play the Leonard Cohen album just yet, but we have some real concerns in this state. There has not been any job growth over the past year, and this is on the back of then premier Rann's announcement to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016.
There has been no job growth over the past year and unemployment in South Australia, as we have heard, is the highest in the nation, and obviously that is restraining the potential for growth in consumer spending. I believe that in many cases a consumer spending occurrence will have to be a massive factor in getting this state out of the rut. Car sales are not even showing much of a rise in this past year. There is also population growth, basic supply and demand. Population growth is another source of weakness. We need more people coming here to South Australia; without it we just cannot recover from the rut we are in at the moment.
The gloomy mood is also being seen in below-average levels of small business confidence, as the member for Schubert alluded. More people are shutting down businesses than are starting them, and this is a massive issue. During the parliamentary break I took the time, as did some other members here, to have a look at what the start-up community is doing at the moment and one of the better things I have seen done overseas are economic zones and tax-free havens. I have spoken about them before, but I have no doubt that this state government should look at something like that. There are young people, entrepreneurial people, wanting to put it all on the line and willing to take a risk; they just need a helping hand from this government, and I encourage the government to look at something like that.
So we certainly have modest growth predictions here in South Australia, and we need to be doing more to facilitate that growth. This morning we have seen an annual report from the Small Business Commissioner, including some issues concerning transparency, trust and integrity. How can the people of South Australia have any trust in this government, in the integrity of its accounts and that sort of thing, when we see these sorts of errors? Thank God for the new Small Business Commissioner, who has identified these errors and done something about them. However, what else is wrong? How can we have trust and faith in any of the upcoming budget documents, for example, when you see errors like this that were only discovered by an independent umpire? It is absolutely outrageous. It is amateur stuff, and I am ashamed that these errors were found in significant government documents.
By far the biggest issue in my electorate and I would say across the state, in terms of an immediate economic point of view, are pensioner concessions. It is about time this state government stopped playing politics with some of the most vulnerable South Australians, namely our pensioners and those who receive concessions. We know that South Australia is the only state government of all the states in Australia that has threatened to cut pensioner concessions. It is absolutely outrageous. These are people who have paid taxes their whole life, who have been the back bone of this state and this nation, and yet here is the state government using them as a political pawn to negotiate with the federal government. It is absolutely outrageous.
We want to make sure that 160,000 pensioners out there remain entitled to up to $190 per annum in concessions, which is worth a total of $32 million a year. We have heard a particular Labor MP claim that the $190 of pensioner concessions will remain, despite the Labor government saying it may be abolished. Please, stop playing political games with this. It is not doing the government any good and it is creating angst in the community. In my electorate alone I have obtained 2,000 signatures; so please, stop playing politics with this. Fund the concessions. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our community and they need this $190. I also believe that the shadow minister for local government will table a relevant petition today.
When you look at South Australia's job advertisements you can see that they continue to decline under Labor's watch. Obviously, this is a significant factor in the economy. You could say that job ads are forward-looking; they are like the stock market in that you can anticipate growth and you can anticipate activity based on who is looking to hire in the future. Just this week figures were released by the ANZ regarding the number of newspaper job advertisements in South Australia, and they showed that job opportunities are scarce in this state. South Australia recorded the largest fall in newspaper job advertisements of all the states and territories in Australia. They all have their own particular challenges, they all have the same federal government, but we see that South Australia recorded the largest fall in the last 12 months, with a 58.7 per cent decline.
It is definitely concerning that the jobs market in South Australia continues to shrink when there is so much opportunity, when we do have advantages here in South Australia. Not only that, we are also seeing an economic recovery in other parts of Australia. Why is South Australia doing so poorly? Why is it that even Tasmania has generated more newspaper job ads each and every month? With less than one-third of South Australia's population, even Tasmania averaged nearly 20 per cent more job opportunities, at around 190 job ads each week in April. It is absolutely outrageous.
I also have people who work at the current Royal Adelaide Hospital coming to me in droves. They are really concerned about what is going to happen with the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. The new Royal Adelaide Hospital, of course, is going to have fewer beds than the current Royal Adelaide Hospital, and, when you look at some of the challenges that the Royal Adelaide Hospital is going to have—
Mr Picton: That's not true.
Ms Digance: It's rubbish!
Mr TARZIA: What's rubbish about that?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
Mr TARZIA: What's rubbish about that? Maybe you can ask the former chief of staff to the health minister—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! It is unparliamentary to interject and it is unparliamentary to respond to interjections. I ask all members to listen to the contribution in silence—all members.
Mr TARZIA: I ask your forgiveness, Deputy Speaker.
The Hon. P. Caica: Stop misleading.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: All members in silence!
The Hon. P. Caica: Sorry, ma'am.
Mr TARZIA: Deputy Speaker, there is no doubt that alarm bells are certainly ringing after announcements that the Weatherill government's e-health records system, EPAS, is not expected to be operational at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital until July 2017. If EPAS fails at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, I have no doubt (we need to be screaming about this now) that the impact on patient care in South Australia will be devastating, and this is a matter of public interest. It will be dangerous and, not only that, but project costs will blow out substantially, and it is really important—
Ms Redmond: They already have.
Mr TARZIA: Exactly; they have already blown out substantially. EPAS has been a basket case for Labor. They have totally mismanaged it; it is a rolling disaster. One critical deadline after another has been missed; it has been mismanaged. Project costs have more than doubled, and they will continue to rise on the taxpayer dollar. The people of South Australia have to pay for this mess that Labor have created. We have seen independent reports that have reinforced the scathing assessment of the operation of EPAS, not only at this hospital, but also across others as well.
I spoke earlier about trust and integrity, and the report on the errors of the findings that we found out about today in one of the Small Business Commissioner's reports. How long did it take? I understand it took about two years for a member from our side of the chamber to understand who the government are actually employing. It was almost a two-year battle under the FOI laws, and the government was forced to release copies of confidential ministerial directories, which list all staff in their offices as at December 2014 and March 2015.
If they had nothing to hide, why would they not just release the information that should be public to us? I think the public has a right to know who their taxes are actually paying for and what their taxes are actually being used to do. The government needs to come clean. The government needs to understand how certain ministers justify having 20 or 21 staff in their offices alone. Why have they tried to conceal this?
Ms Redmond: Are they not competent to do things themselves?
Mr TARZIA: Exactly right; they cannot do them themselves. They need to expand their own bureaucracy to cover for the mess and the unproductive nature of what they do. They need to come clean. They need to explain why they have tried to conceal the true number of staff in the budget papers. This is outrageous; why do it? Taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for this. It is about time that the government came clean, and that they are transparent and accountable, rather than playing political games.
I understand that they want to trivialise some matters by bringing Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street into the fray, but Gilles Street is not Sesame Street. They are here to do a job, and they are here to do a job for the people of South Australia. It is about time that they were upfront and transparent about the most basic information, and that they released that when we asked for it.
I have not even got to my own electorate of Hartley. Let me just point out three of the broken promises that this government has made on Premier Weatherill's watch. There was a Today Tonight story, Deputy Speaker—you may have seen it—during the parliamentary break which basically alluded to one of the broken promises at Glynde. The government, on the eve of the election, made a written promise, which they sent out via direct mail to the people of Glynde, to provide alternative land to move a substation from a residential site.
What have they done about it? Absolutely nothing, absolutely zilch! That is how arrogant is this government. They do not care about making promises and breaking them to save their own skin. It is absolutely disgusting. I call on the government to reiterate the promise that it made before the election, and provide alternative land so that a substation can be built somewhere other than in a residential area in Glynde.
The old McNally site up in Woodforde runs adjacent to my seat of Hartley. Magill is the area where my constituents are most affected. You basically have to threaten the government to get any answers from them. For so many months they have known that this development was likely to occur. They are selling off the farm because they cannot pay for their debt; they cannot pay for their deficit. So, what are they doing? Here we see another large blue chip property sold off the public books into private hands. That is all well and good—they will bank their cheques. I can see the former minister laughing as she goes back to her seat. They don't care. What about the people it affects? What about the people it affects in Magill who will have 300 extra dwellings?
Mr TARZIA: Careful! Karma, karma!
The Hon. J.M. Rankine: I beg your pardon?
Mr TARZIA: I said 'karma' because she was heckling, Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just continue the debate.
Mr TARZIA: I will continue the debate, Deputy Speaker. What about the residents of Magill who will have 300 dwellings adjacent to their own site? Each one of these places will have probably two cars each. Where will these cars go? Yet, the government has not called for a traffic management plan, as we did before the election. I call on the government to consider these people in my electorate, because when 300 extra dwellings go up and more cars are on the roads, they will stream down my electorate. These are real people, they have real lives, they have jobs and kids to take to school in the morning, and it will affect them.
The Paradise Interchange is another broken promise by this current state Labor government. Before the last election both sides of politics took the steam out of the issue and committed to building a car park in the vicinity of the Paradise Interchange. What has happened since then? They have pulled their promise. They say that you need a car park tax to build more car parking facilities, which is absolutely outrageous. It is outrageous because then they have the audacity to want to spend $160 million on a new O-Bahn facility, when they cannot find $2 million to $4 million to build a car park that is needed in Paradise. It is absolutely outrageous!
The Hon. T.R. Kenyon: You could have done that—you could have helped with that.
Mr TARZIA: We will do it, member for Newland. When we are in government, we have already committed to do it. What member for Hartley in the past—walk out, okay, can't cope. What other member for Hartley has made that commitment three years out from opposition? The arrogance with which this government is treating the people of South Australia is shameful.
Look at the schools in my area, namely, East Marden Primary School. I know the former minister for education has a keen interest in East Marden Primary School. Have a look at that school; there is so much asbestos ridden throughout the building. The facilities there are terrible compared with some other state schools in this area. I will continue to lobby for schools like East Marden Primary School to make sure they get the best facilities they can to provide for the best education possible for our children.
A number of churches in my area would also love to have assistance from the state government purse to help fund their various projects and buildings. The Campbelltown SES in my own electorate cannot even afford to have alarm monitoring in its building at the moment because of the rising costs of living, the rising costs that such organisations have to endure. This government is not helping. We have also seen a water catchment plan in Felixstow. I would love to see the government chip in some dollars. Water is one of the best things we can invest in. For the sustainability of our future we need to be doing more.
I call on the state government to assist in the Felixstow water reserve project at Langman Grove. Earlier it was referred to that there is almost a $1 billion backlog in road maintenance. You can see this sort of thing in my own electorate as well, and that is why we need to be doing more. I have applied for Black Spot funding in the past, but the state government also has a role to play, especially on state roads, to make sure that more roads have the funding that they should. Roads like Payneham Road, roads like Montacute Road, roads like Hectorville Road.
Mr Duluk interjecting:
Mr TARZIA: Main Road, Blackwood—not in my electorate but also that road as well. Glynde Corner, for example, what a basket case that has been in recent times and that is why we all need to be doing more for projects. It all comes back to a strong economy. When you have a strong economy, when you can pay off your debt, when you can pay off your deficit, when the engine room of the South Australian economy has confidence—namely the small business sector—we have more money to do more things to make our area the best that it can be. So, it is with those closing remarks that I say that the state needs to be doing much better and I hope that I have drawn the house's attention, humbly, to some of the things that the government needs to be doing better.