Supply Bill Speech

Tuesday 03 June, 2014

Second Reading

Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 11:28 :41 ): I rise to speak on the Supply Bill 2014, and obviously I am supporting the bill. The appropriation of $3.94 billion from the Consolidated Account is necessary to keep the basic functions of the government operating before the Treasurer hands down his budget in June this year. This is my first opportunity to speak on the supply of the government in this place, and I wish to touch on the general state of the economy and what the federal budget really means for the people of our state. I also want to raise, in the house, the projects around Hartley that are incredibly important to my constituents.

The implications of the 2014-15 state budget will be challenging for the people of South Australia, but the waste and mismanagement of the past 12 years have certainly crippled our economic prospects. It is also an opportunity for our Treasurer to showcase his actual vision about South Australia's economy over the next four years and beyond.

The government has had 12 years to fix this economy, but it has been 12 years of failure, 12 years of neglect, 12 years of spiralling public debt, 12 years of rising unemployment. It is commonly said that there is no better indicator of the health of our economy than employment. The South Australian jobless rate is currently about 6.3 per cent; 18,000 people have lost full-time jobs since 2013-14 by that budget delivered by the Premier. Our jobs growth is the worst in the nation, with an overall decline of 1.5 per cent. Youth unemployment in my electorate is one in five; one in five young people cannot find work. The only jobs that those opposite are worried about are their own, and that is the most damning statistic of them all. For 12 years this government has ducked the necessary decisions to transform this state's economy.

While the Premier and all his friends complained, in this year's budget, that South Australia's tax revenue and GST allocation was declining—and it has—what did the Premier do to redress our revenue flow problems? What did he do to try to stimulate growth in the business sector? What did he do to cut red tape for small businesses and services? The government here says that everyone else is to blame for our economic woes, after 12 years. After they have been in government for 12 years, it is everyone else's fault. The Premier blames the global financial crisis, the Premier blames the international markets, the Premier blames the federal government—everybody but himself and those opposite us.

Well, what was his vision for the state? The government has no vision, that is the answer; the government has no vision. The government has done nothing. As I spoke about and alluded to in my maiden speech, this government's overreliance on taxpayer subsidies for unprofitable industries has hindered our economic growth. Whilst I fully support our agricultural industry, which is, by the way, our single biggest export industry, its long term decline over the past 100 years slowly but surely has restricted our revenue base over time. Without a serious long-term plan from this government to create an action plan that expands neglected sectors, like our resources sector and other sectors, our future revenue base will collapse even further.

This government has buried its head in the sand if it thinks that it can keep borrowing money to pay for its unsustainable spending spree. In January, Moody's actually predicted that if this state's debt burden is not resolved the economy and our credit rating will deteriorate even further. As well as that, I refer to the Deloitte Access Economic 'Business Outlook: Eyes on China' report, where I can see there is a forecasted decline in international exports in 2014-15 by -2.5 per cent and then in 2015-16 by -2.6 per cent. We just cannot keep going on the way we are. We need to build on our strong relationship with countries, especially China. While I commend part of the South Australian government's China Engagement Strategy, it certainly does not go far enough.

This morning, I attended a business breakfast where Sean Keenihan, the president of the Australia China Business Council of South Australia branch, spoke on this exact topic: the relationship between South Australia and China. Let me say that at the moment the largest population of overseas students coming into South Australia is from China. China is South Australia's largest two-way trading partner, and the Chinese business migrant community here in this state is continually bringing more investment and jobs. Australia will be on the doorstep of overseas' largest middle class in the next 30 years.

China's growth will be the strongest in Asia and the middle class there will be bigger than anywhere in Asia. There will be sustained growth from China with its capacity to draw down on finance and investment in infrastructure currently underway to transform their economy. They also have a lot more buying power than we will ever have. Niche opportunities will certainly present themselves for South Australia and South Australian businesses to sell to China and compete globally, and to buy from China. China is our largest foreign investor. Obviously they see Australia as being a good long-term partner with low sovereign risk—even with the events of this last week–low sovereign risk.

China is exposed to the US, to Europe, to Africa and it is also our largest tourist growth area and largest foreign student base aspect. In fact, there are more exports to China than the US, the European Union and Africa combined. South Australia, speaking frankly, has what China needs and wants, and whilst the South Australian government does have a strategy to take these things into consideration, it certainly does not go far enough. However, Australia is better placed than any other nation to take advantage of China's growth.

Speaking to the federal budget, the Premier and the Treasurer like to lecture this side of the house and the South Australian people about how terrible the Abbott government's budget has been for this state, and that there is a state budget crisis, but it is simply not true. Over the next two years, the federal government has increased spending in payments to the state. Over the years 2013-14 to 2016-17, education payments from the commonwealth are increasing by $570 million, compared with $230 million in Labor cuts to education over the same period.

South Australia is also to receive $11.6 million to assist students to undertake the learning of a second language and this is particularly important to the diversity of cultures and the migrant families that I have in Hartley. Whilst it is true that $276 million of commonwealth funding has been reduced in the period 2013-17, this government is cutting a swathe through its own health budget—over a billion dollars worth of their own cuts to health over the same period of time. I refer to the federal health minister, Mr Peter Dutton, when he recently said of the Weatherill government, and I quote:

The Weatherill Labor Government is cutting a billion dollars from health over the next four years and is now attempting to shift the blame to the Australian Government. South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling should immediately, publicly, guarantee the people of his state that there will be no cuts to health in his government's budget next month. Mr Snelling, however, cannot do so because his government has already budgeted to slash a billion dollars from health spending after more than a decade of failure in government.

Also, the federal government's proposed medical research fund will mean tens of thousands of South Australian jobs. Let us not kid ourselves; let us not play politics with this one. This state will be a significant beneficiary of the Medical Research Future Fund for decades to come for jobs indirectly or directly.

When the Treasurer of this state met with Joe Hockey and the other state treasurers recently about infrastructure spending, what did this Treasurer bring home? No bacon, that is for sure. He brought to the people of South Australia just $2 billion—just $2 billion of commonwealth funds out of $50 billion. What representation is that? Two billion out of $50 billion—four per cent of the federal pie—that is it. That is how this government intends to keep 'building South Australia', to paraphrase Labor's election slogan.

Perhaps the Treasurer was not able to justify the infrastructure spending blowouts that occurred when he was minister for transport—$150 million blowout for Adelaide Oval; $37 million blowout for the Southern Expressway; $100 million blowout in the construction of the water conductor; and I could keep going on and on. This state will be a beneficiary of the federal government's efforts to scrap the toxic mining and carbon taxes.

Now that I have done that, I will focus on some of the needs of my electorate going into the future. I would like to commend the federal, state and local governments for committing to the Campbelltown Leisure Centre. This new and exciting development, a $22.5 million project in the heart of Campbelltown, will mean that young people have the opportunity to learn how to swim in hopefully what is an eight-lane, FINA-qualified swimming pool. It will also be able to be utilised by many sporting clubs and community groups in the north-eastern and eastern suburbs, and we welcome the support of the governments for this project; it has been a long time coming.

I would especially like to acknowledge and commend the work of our local federal MP in the area for his support. Strong local sporting clubs are an essential pillar of any close-knit community, and so I also implore the government to support the opposition's commitment to upgrade the Hectorville Sports and Community Club, which is a great community club that provides much support for our community—and they are in their 50th year, I might add.

I also commend the federal government for increased funding for Black Spot and Roads to Recovery funding; it is particularly important to commuters in Hartley due to the road safety concerns on many roads in the electorate; for example, Barnes Road in Glynde and the intersection of Magill Road and Glynburn Road. The Glynburn Road/Magill Road intersection is an issue that I lobbied for as a candidate. We now have another minister in that area, but I look forward to discussing it with him as well.

I actually started a petition on behalf of our local residents on this exact issue, and now as a member of parliament I am delighted to have been with our deputy leader during the campaign to raise these concerns about the safety of the intersection. Work has already begun on the intersection, and it has been ongoing since late last year. I thank the government for establishing a permanent fund through the Motor Accident Commission to improve road safety at trouble spots around the state.

While on the issue of road funding: Payneham Road leading to the intersection of Lower North-East Road, Glynburn Road and Montacute Road has also been plagued with congestion problems for many years, and it was a serious issue in the recent state election. A road traffic management plan for the McNally development must also be initiated. The area will see over 200 houses being built, and to think that this government has not put in a road management plan for the area is shameful.

On behalf of the people of Magill in Hartley, I call on the government to include a road traffic management plan for this area down the track, whether in the budget or otherwise. The McNally development is the largest housing development in Hartley at the moment, and I believe it is essential that a traffic plan be implemented to preserve the harmony of the local area.

I also call on the South Australian government to honour its election commitment to the people of Glynde in my electorate to relocate the proposed electricity substation to an alternative site on crown land. This issue is very concerning to me and the local residents. It is incumbent on this government to provide funding for this, to relocate this substation to government land or otherwise, but not in a residential area.

The people of Glynde deserve more than just small talk on this issue; they have had small talk from the previous member for Hartley and they deserve more now, and that is why I raise this. The house will note that one of my first actions in the house was to raise this via a grievance debate, and I would like to reiterate that today. They have been lied to and they have been neglected on this issue.

I urge and implore the Treasurer to show some valour, because he was there in the final days of the last state election; he heard the lies that the previous member for Hartley told to those people. He now has the opportunity—he now writes the cheques. He can put some money on the table and show the people of Hartley that he is serious and move this substation out of residential Glynde. On behalf of the residents of Paradise, I also call on the government to make a commitment for a long-term parking solution to stop the flood of cars on residential streets in Paradise.

I spoke last week on the concerns of Lochiel Park and how the gross pollutant trap there has not worked. Of course, this was one of the previous premier's (Hon. Mike Rann) great testimonies and one of his great projects; however, the gross pollutant trap has not worked in this development, and it is about time that the government took some initiative and took some steps to make it work.

After 12 long years of Labor in South Australia, it is official: the government, as we heard, is parasitic. The Labor government is parasitic; it is divided, it is dysfunctional, and it is not interested in good governance. South Australia's jobless rate has jumped, and in the 12 months to March 2014, retail sales in South Australia rose only 1.9 per cent compared to national sales, which have grown 3.8 per cent. We have the worst retail sales figures in all states—shame!

A report released by the Centre for Independent Studies has also provided a damning assessment of South Australia's debt levels after 12 years of this Labor government. The report notes that '…[South Australia] has one of the highest debt ratios, recorded the largest increase in debt in the three years to 2013, and has one of the least dynamic economies', and yet what is this government doing to diversify? It is not surprising that, with those opposite, the state lost its AAA credit rating in 2012.

In closing, while I will support the Supply Bill 2014, the government must certainly do many things. First, it must detail how Labor will deliver its promise to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016, which it promised to the people of South Australia. How will it do it? How will Labor deliver its promise to return to surplus in 2015-16? I am yet to see a strategy, a solution or an answer as to how this mob are going to get our state back on track.

This government must also detail how Labor will regain the state's AAA credit rating and how it will reduce debt. Which health services will it cut? Which education services will it cut? It must also confirm that every election promise will be fully funded. Also, for the people of South Australia, it must confirm that no government assets will be sold, as it promised before the election.

Rather than blame the federal government for its ineptitude and incompetence, and rather than blame the international markets and complain about the global economic crisis, this government must now, more than ever, show some leadership and discharge the responsibility of governing with an economic plan for the long-term prosperity of this state.