Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 16:57 :00 ): I also rise today to speak in support of the Supply Bill 2016. I have been very interested to hear from members today about their thoughts on this issue, and I am hearing some recurring themes. Obviously, the state is being let down by the state government in an array of areas. That is the first thing I want to point out. The second thing, though, is it is not all doom and gloom. We on this side of the chamber certainly have a plan. We have a plan to make South Australia better. We have a plan to put South Australia first. With us in government, South Australia will certainly be winning again.
I speak in favour of the Supply Bill 2016 for the appropriation money from the consolidated account for 2016-17, and obviously the Supply Bill is necessary for the first three months of 2016-17 until the 2016-17 budget bill has passed through parliament and receives assent. I understand that the amount being sought under the Supply Bill is $3.444 billion. I speak in favour of the bill, and I wanted to take this opportunity to do two main things: firstly, to highlight some issues of concern from a state level, and then also at an electorate level for my electorate of Hartley.
On the topic of exports, we held the minister to account today. We heard him give an explanation about the most recent trade mission to China; however, we heard only as late as last week that China exports were actually in a $500 million decline as that trade mission began. As the Premier and the Minister for Trade embarked on the trade mission to China, there were some damning statistics released by the ABS that actually show that the value of South Australian merchandisable exports to China had decreased by more than $500 million in the 12 months to February 2016.
South Australia's merchandisable export values to China for the month of February 2016 were actually the lowest since 2010. Naturally, we are raising this as a point of concern. Whilst there are some individual wins, we have always said that you cannot just try and pick winners, because when you get it wrong, it is at the cost of the taxpayer.
Here in South Australia we need to provide an environment that promotes competition and investment, and provides for an overall environment in which businesses can win. As it stands, the current government is obviously spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these trade missions and, despite the implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the state's export values to China are still significantly in the red.
One must question the government strategy here. Obviously, it is not producing the fruit that it should be, so therefore, because it is not, they need to be doing things differently. We know that as a state we cannot get wealthy by selling to ourselves. We understand the value of exports and that we should be doing everything we can to promote facilitation of rising exports for the benefit of mums and dads, companies and workers in our state. However, what the state government is doing at the moment is not working. Those facts show it and they need to be improving rapidly.
With regard to ESL hikes, on this side of the chamber we have called on Labor to reverse the savage ESL hikes. The state Liberals are calling on the Labor government to reverse its cruel, unfair hikes, to put $90 million back into the pockets of South Australians. How can this government expect to grow our economy when it is taking money out of the pockets of mums and dads and ordinary South Australians? We know that the way that you grow the economy is to put money into people's pockets and then they can put it back into the economy through expenditure, through going to the shops, and it flows back into the economy.
Taxing is certainly not a way to grow the economy. If you want to promote economic activity, you need to tax less, not tax more. This government does not seem to understand that and they continue to ignore us. There is no excuse for the Premier and his government to keep slugging ordinary South Australians with these massive, enormous ESL bills.
These savage government ESL increases have been, and will continue to be a massive hit to South Australian ordinary businesses and ordinary households. Quite frankly, a failure to reverse these cruel hikes will do nothing but hinder the South Australian economy because, as my colleague pointed out a little earlier, we continue to have the highest unemployment rate in all of Australia. That is right; we are even lagging behind states where we should not be.
We have enormous potential here in South Australia, but we are being let down by this government. Therefore, why would the government not be doing everything it can to be reducing that rate of unemployment? We have seen some very dire, worrying unemployment trends in recent times, as recently as March, that have emerged across South Australia according to some recent ABS data, whereby in February 2016, for the Adelaide central and hills area, unemployment was 6.8 per cent; Adelaide's north, 10.2 per cent; Adelaide's south, 8.4 per cent; and the South-East, 7.1 per cent.
This is before you even talk about mining jobs, which have declined from 8,600 in November 2015 to 5,400 in February 2016. We now have almost 70,000 unemployed South Australians looking for work as well. We know that South Australia's unemployment rate skyrocketed from just under 7 per cent in January to 7.7 per cent in February, being, as I said, the highest in the nation.
However, we have outlined a plan to address this through growing the economy, through reducing the tax burden on businesses and households, through cutting red tape and unnecessary regulation, through supporting export businesses and encouraging their growth, and through fostering entrepreneurialism. How long did the government take to come to a position on UberX? The state government does not have an innovative bone in its body, when it took as long as it did to make a decision about UberX. It is farcical. We will also invest in productive infrastructure but, not only that, we will support growth opportunities for our regional businesses and industries.
Quite frankly, the Weatherill Labor government has failed to do any of this over the last 14 years. As a start, we would be calling on the state government to extend the small business payroll tax rebate which is due to be abolished in July this year, because payroll tax is a regressive tax; it is a ridiculous tax burden; and it punishes employers hiring more people. When we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, it is taxes like payroll tax that should be at the front of the government's mind to either reduce or abolish, because it is absolutely ridiculous.
Businesses need to have confidence in the future, because we know that it is businesses that create jobs, not government. This government might think it is the government's job to create jobs, but it is not. It is actually the role of business to create jobs. What we need to be doing is giving business a shot in the arm; giving businesses an opportunity to grow the economy, invest and put on more people here in South Australia.
As we have seen, our economic credentials are trending in the wrong direction at the moment. I have no doubt that, if we reduce the tax burden on South Australian businesses, owners will certainly have much more beneficial, stronger incentives to invest but not only to invest but also to make more opportunities in search of a job, and provide more hours for those who already have a job but would like to work even more as well.
My colleague before me has also spoken a little about the O-Bahn and the $160 million expenditure on that process. We are not in government: we are in opposition; I do understand that. The money is being spent, and the project will go ahead. However, I say to the minister: when you spend $160 million on a project and claim that it is going to save you three or four minutes, if more people are using that service in the north-eastern suburbs in an area like mine and they do not have ample car-parking space to park their car to catch the O-Bahn, the time that they are spending on the O‑Bahn is eradicated by the time they actually have to walk extra to get to the O-Bahn services.
We know that the government is playing political games in my electorate. They promised a car park before the election, and they have withdrawn funding for the car park since the election. Again, I utilise this speech today to call on the state government to stop playing games at Paradise Interchange and build the car park that they promised, and I will keep holding this government to account on that promise. We have already made the announcement, and we continue to hold firm on the position that, if elected to government, the state Liberals will build that car park at Paradise Interchange. The state government needs to stop playing games in that area and build the car park.
In relation to East Marden Primary School, I have made speeches time and time again about that school. It is a great school, a fantastic school, with an excellent culture and exceptional facilities. It is in dire need of upgrades in some of the areas there, and I know that the minister has visited East Marden primary in recent times. My understanding is that it is at capacity, and I call on the government to make funds available to upgrade the facilities at that school.
There is also another broken promise in my electorate which made the local paper two weeks ago—funny about that—and that pertains to the Glynde substation. That is another example where the state government—a desperate state government—made a promise to the people of Glynde before the last state election. The promise was that they would make alternative land available for a substation to be built out of residential Glynde.
Here we are, about 703 days away from the next election—closer to the next election than we are to the past election—and the state government still has not delivered on that promise. The people in my area of Glynde have not forgotten this promise, so I again call on the state government to come through on that promise and deliver to the people of my area a parcel of land out of the residential area where SA Power Networks can build that substation, because the state government has broken its promise, and it has lacked credibility from the start.
Lochiel Park is another example where many residents bought into the area because it was sold as this sustainability hub, if you like. They were promised recycling water facilities. They have purple pipes in their dwellings; however, these purple pipes do not work.
They have not been able to access recycled water at Lochiel Park for over eight years, I am led to believe. Water minister after water minister and planning minister after planning minister still cannot get water flowing through the pipes in Lochiel Park. I say to the state government: 'Come through on your promises from a long time ago. Please deliver to my residents in Lochiel Park and Campbelltown the recycled water facilities that they were promised and that they deserve.'
Burst water mains has been another topical issue in recent times. It has not been handled well, to say the least, and we know that there is an array of factors that comes into consideration in regard to water mains. However, I will not tolerate and I simply cannot stand to see residents in my area: (a) flooded out of their own homes, or (b) have maintenance that is so bad that their water and sanitary needs are not being met after some two weeks in some instances.
It is absolutely appalling in this day and age, given that we are paying so much for water. Given the amount of increases that we have seen for water in recent times, it is simply not good enough for people in my electorate to put up with what they have had to. I ask SA Water and the state government to have a good hard look at themselves to see what they can improve in that area, because it cannot go on the way that it is.
I also had a quick glance at a speech that I made last year in regard to this issue. The unfortunate news is that the broken promises that I speak of here by this state government were broken promises a year ago. Some of the claims that the state government made a year ago have proven to be false. What this shows is that this government will do what it wants and it does not care who stands in the way. If we look at the Repat, we had over 100,000 signatures on paper pleading for the Repat to stay open, but did the government listen? No. I have also pointed to some examples in my own electorate where the government just do not listen because they are so arrogant.
We have nine key priorities to reclaim South Australia's greatness, and I have no doubt that, if we are elected to government, we will do that by growing our economy, by ensuring that we do have the best education system in Australia, by ensuring that we do have a healthy state and by ensuring that we strengthen the ever growing vibrant communities that we have.
We will continue to build our state, and we will ensure safety and justice. While we are speaking of the justice system and the court system, again, we have seen examples of where the court system is in such disarray with not only backlogs but also the physical buildings are in dire need of upgrade, yet the government continues to ignore that need. We will continue to protect our environment, we will embrace our unique culture and we will run a stable and efficient government, that is for sure.
It is with those comments that I bring the house's attention to areas that I would like to be considered by the government both across the state and in my electorate of Hartley. We need to be doing much better in this regard. I commend this bill to the house.