Supply Bill 2017

Thursday 13 April, 2017

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (16:35): I rise today to support the Supply Bill 2017, a bill to allow the continued payment of public servants and public services until the Appropriation Bill (the budget bill) is passed by the parliament later in 2017. The amount for appropriation for the 2017 Supply Bill is $5.9 billion. I note the significant jump in appropriation funds from $3.444 billion in 2016. I would like to take the opportunity now to reflect, however, on the current state of the economy in South Australia.

We have seen that it has been a bleak day for the jobless in South Australia. We have seen, under this government, under its failed energy policies, that it has short-circuited the South Australian economy in the process. Regardless of what the government wants to say about their new schemes, or about their new glossy brochures, or about their new trade delegations, we have seen the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rise to a completely unacceptable 7 per cent. If the exports in recent times are up, it is not because of the government: it is because of the hardworking farmers in rural South Australia.

We have seen a government that, through its job-killing policies, is absolutely driving this state economically into the ground. We cannot keep going the way that we are going. What we need in South Australia is a change of government. There has been a combination, unfortunately, of skyrocketing electricity prices, punishing water prices and huge increases in the ESL tax, which are starving and killing job creation in South Australia.

We saw today's ABS figures and how they show that the number of full-time jobs in the South Australian economy has fallen during the past 12 months, whilst the number of unemployed has risen during the same time. The numbers for youth unemployment are particularly concerning. When I am out there doorknocking, I see many of these unemployed youths. They want to get jobs, but under this government and the economic environment that this government has created, they cannot not find jobs at the moment. Youth unemployment for 15 to 24 year olds is running at 17.3 per cent in South Australia, up from 16.1 per cent during the previous month, which is way above the national average of 14.2 per cent.

South Australia's job market is driving away other growth in this state. Unfortunately, so many South Australians have so little confidence in what is an arrogant and inept Labor government that has delivered all the wrong unemployment numbers for far too long. Their punitive tax policies have certainly left South Australia with an enormous underutilisation rate, which is the highest in the nation and way above the national average of 14.7 per cent. I note that more than 150,000 South Australians are either unemployed or underemployed, and those figures are totally unacceptable.

What we need in South Australia is a government that fosters population growth, that fosters a pro business climate and fosters accountability. We have seen in recent times this government's arrogant response to measures like the recent FOI bills that we have tried to put in this place. We need better incentive schemes and we need to improve exports in a much better way.

The South Australian government is trying to support businesses that depend on it. The South Australian government is trying to pick winners; however, when the government tries to pick winners, we know, mathematically, that it is unfortunately also going to pick a lot of losers. This government has been backing too many losers for too long. Unfortunately, when you back losers and you throw good money after bad, it costs the taxpayer money.

Rather than creating an environment which fosters and harnesses businesses and allows them to thrive and to start, this government has tried to pick winners. When the government has not been able to successfully back these winners, it is costing the taxpayer money. This government has backed a lot of losers and it has cost our taxpayers for far too long.

What we need in South Australia is the right economic strategy to maximise the amount of businesses that are attempting to be successful; a strategy that makes the overall business environment attractive and provides an environment where businesses are able to thrive. We have seen how the costs they have imposed on this state relative to productivity are far too high.

Members may recall that last year's budget was labelled a 'jobs budget', as was the 2015 budget. However, the shame has been that South Australia's unemployment rate remains consistently the highest or the second highest in the nation, which shows that the government's budgets and the government as a whole have failed. They have failed the people of South Australia. They cannot be proud of the unemployment rate. It is simply unacceptable. May this government be judged on its ability to provide employment for the people of South Australia.

In last year's budget, we saw a predicted jobs growth rate in SA of just 0.75 per cent, and this was reaffirmed in the Mid-Year Budget Review. In comparison, the national jobs growth rate in the federal budget is 1.8 per cent, meaning that we are not even reaching half of that. The Mid-Year Budget Review confirms that GST revenue this year will be $512 million more than in 2015-16. In 2017-18, GST revenue is estimated to increase by another $410 million. So, GST revenue next year will actually be $922 million more than collected.

The Mid-Year Budget Review also shows that total returns from the privatisation of the MAC are now estimated to be about $2.5 billion. Of this amount, $1.16 billion assisted the net operating balance of the budget in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. The MAC dividend in 2016-17 of $298 million compares to the estimated net operating surplus of $300 million. As we see in the latest NAB Monthly Business Survey, there has been a downturn in business conditions and also in business confidence.

Confidence is extremely important, because when people in South Australia have confidence they want to take more risks and they want to go for more returns. At the moment, that is not happening enough in South Australia. In fact, SA stood alone as the only state in the country to record a fall in business conditions in March and was one of only two states to record a reduction in business confidence. One factor that I am sure is contributing to such a sting to business confidence in this state is the unreliable power supply that exists in South Australia that this government has fostered.

After more than 15 years of this government, state Labor policies and state Labor ideology—ideology for the sake of ideology, without any regard whatsoever to practicalities—have resulted in South Australia having the highest electricity prices and yet the most unreliable grid. This is embarrassing. Many of us in our electorates have felt firsthand this impact of Labor's flawed and failed approach towards reliable power. Because of this ideological pursuit of intermittent renewable energy at any cost whatsoever, reliable and affordable base load power has been pushed out of this state. This has led to higher prices and a smaller, less reliable generation mix in South Australia.

South Australia's electricity supply is reliant on the wind constantly blowing and Victorian brown coal fired generators when it is not. Renewable energy is, in theory, a good thing and we welcome more of it, but the current technology alone is not enough to provide South Australia with a constant supply of reliable, affordable energy. In my own electorate, we unfortunately have had a spate of outages in recent times under this government's management. As we know, local businesses and local people have suffered as a result.

The most recent outage in my electorate was on 21 February when we had an outage that affected 2,089 people in the local areas of Campbelltown, Glynde, Tranmere, Felixstow and Hectorville, which is completely unacceptable. In fact, my own office was forced to work in darkness during the outage. I stayed at work and worked in the darkness, and then I went out and did some doorknocking to do what I could for those people who were affected by the outage. A local business owner wrote to my office explaining how his business was without power the whole day, would you believe, on 28 December 2016.

On 27 November last year, a power surge occurred that saw homes in Hann Street and Barnes Road in the suburb of Glynde without power for several hours, with many appliances damaged or even destroyed. There was also Wednesday 28 September 2016, a day we all recall when it seemed that the whole state descended into darkness. How much did that cost South Australian businesses and the state as a whole? Talk about waste, talk about things that affect confidence in this state and people's ability to want to continue to invest in this state and take more risks and grow more jobs. These are the one percenters that, when they add up, contribute to this dire state of the economy that we have in South Australia.

Members may also recall a recent Business SA survey that was released in December that found that many businesses that were affected by the September blackout did not have business interruption insurance. What if you are a business that does not have business interruption insurance? What is the government doing for those businesses? Of those that did have insurance, more than half found that they were not covered for losses from the blackout.

In my doorknocking, when I get out there and talk to these people, they say, 'Vincent, if there was food in the freezer, more often than not it's not even worth putting in the insurance claim in some instances.' The economic loss to the state, and the economic loss to confidence in this state, is absolutely enormous. It has been said that the quantified financial damage to South Australia was at least a loss of $367 million. By occurring late in the trading day, the effect of the blackout was even lower than it would have been had it happened first thing in the morning according to a recent survey of 260 businesses.

I would also like to bring to the attention of the house some of the local projects in my electorate we continue to lobby for that are currently and have for too long been overlooked for funding by this state Labor government. There has been a lot of talk about the O-Bahn this week, and we know that the O-Bahn extension is happening. We know that it will be finished before the election and that the ribbon will be cut before the election.

However, what about commuters in my electorate and in your electorate, Deputy Speaker, who need to park at Paradise Interchange? At the moment, under this Labor government, there is not enough car parking at Paradise Interchange. We have been lobbying for many years to improve the parking at Paradise Interchange, and we know that only a future Liberal government will deliver the parking facilities the people of Paradise want, and I would like to bring the attention of the house to that project.

Firstly, in relation to parking infrastructure at Paradise Interchange, many commuters using the O-Bahn service know all too well the frustration and the stress of looking for a park at Paradise Interchange each morning. The answer to providing a new car park at Paradise is not to burden the people of South Australia with another tax. In a future Liberal government, we would do it with the taxes we have. We in South Australia know that what is happening under this government is that they are wasting money and that they are wasting money left, right and centre. They can provide the parking at Paradise with the current taxes they have; however, they are choosing to make this a political gameplay.

The people of Paradise are not silly. They know that the government can provide parking amenities at Paradise Interchange with the current taxes that exist. So, I implore the government, in the next round of funding, to provide for that parking at Paradise Interchange. I spent a morning there this week—it has been a busy week—and I noticed that the car park filled up in just a 30-minute period, after which commuters were forced to park their cars on the quite ominous main road and nearby on the surrounding side streets.

We know that prior to the last election South Australian Labor made a promise to provide parking infrastructure at the Paradise Interchange. Where are we three years later? Recently, the Minister for Transport took aim at me and my colleagues in a speech to the parliament, blaming the Liberal Party and me for his absolutely absurd comment. Instead, what the minister should do is own a failure to follow through on this election promise. I do not recall an asterisk on the pre-election promise that it was conditional, based on the passing of legislation to implement a new tax. They did not go to the election with a new tax.

The people of Paradise and the people of South Australia want this government to provide the parking amenities they were promised at the last election, and this government will be judged on its inability to provide on that promise. I call on the government to make good on its promise and fix the parking at Paradise Interchange.

East Marden Primary School in my electorate has been overlooked again by this state government for funding upgrades. East Marden is an outstanding school, with a lot of heart, but unfortunately it still struggles with the state of some of its archaic facilities that have been ignored by the state Labor government. As I have spoken on time and again in the past, the school has incredible demand from families looking to send their kids there, a product of its outstanding results and learning environment and well-known culture, that is exacerbated by the increased population density in the surrounding areas.

To date, the state Labor government has not delivered East Marden Primary School the facilities it needs to give students the best learning environment possible. Where is all the money going? We need schools like East Marden Primary School to be upgraded so that they can be fully equipped with the resources they need to prepare our youth for the future because children deserve every opportunity in education.

I commend East Marden Primary School, the principal, the staff, the governing council, with whom I am in regular contact, for the exceptional job they do with the facilities they have. I empathise with them and know that they have been let down by this current Labor government, but be sure that, if we are elected to government, we will fix the woes at the East Marden Primary School. I hope the government does not overlook such needs in future budget allocations because the government has a clear responsibility to this school to improve facilities and improve them quickly.

The Magill Training Centre development is another issue I would like to speak about. Another rising concern amongst the residents of Hartley is that of traffic problems in the area. We have seen time and again road traffic management plans announced by various members, even by the former member back in the day, Lindsay Simmons. Unfortunately, what has not been followed through by this Labor government are intersection upgrades following those roads traffic management plans. The development occurring at the old Magill Training Centre site in particular is certainly set to worsen the existing traffic issues in the area.

I have continuously called on the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Planning to address the pressing need for a full road traffic management plan and also to undertake intersection upgrades to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to keep traffic moving in the area. There are a significant number of problems in the area at the moment that need to be addressed, even without the added traffic burden of the new development. The ministers and the departments have now been provided with a summary of my hundreds of survey responses provided by local residents.

The survey highlights the need for solutions to problematic intersections in the area, intersections such as Norton Summit Road and Glen Stuart Road and Norton Summit Road and Magill Road. Other notable themes to come from the surveys were the need for cycling paths and the widening of Glen Stuart Road. They have all been brought to the attention of the ministers and all are being ignored at the moment by this current Labor government. I encourage the government to take a good hard look at itself and look at allocating funds for solutions to not only these traffic issues moving forward but also to some of the other issues I have brought to the government's attention. I commend the bill to the house.