Budget Reply Speech 2017

I rise to give my contribution regarding the Appropriation Bill. In 2008, I made a decision to join the Liberal Party and to aspire to become a member of parliament. The reason I did that was that too many of our young were leaving our state. I had a business that I had had for 15 years at the time, which I loved, yet I was so saddened by seeing so many of our best and brightest finish their degrees and move interstate to search for work.

I was also disappointed at watching so many businesses fail under this Labor government and watching thousands and thousands of jobs leave our state and billions of dollars of turnover and profits leave our state. I saw Harris Scarfe go under twice. I saw John Martin's close. I saw Faulding leave South Australia to be listed. I saw so many companies leave. Young & Rubicam advertising agency left the state, printing companies lost work, and modelling agencies lost work, as did photographers and distributors of catalogues. Thousands and thousands jobs left and nothing was done, because if you are not in a unionised industry really the Labor Party does not care about you.

I saw so many politically motivated decisions that were being made not for the best interests of the people in South Australia but for the best interests of the Labor government staying in power at any cost. Sadly, some nine years on, nothing has changed; it is exactly the same. We still have our young leaving the state. In fact, they are leaving in droves. In a Facebook discussion, I had so many people write in. I asked them whether they knew of anyone who has left, any family or friends who have left. Here are just a few of the things that they are saying:

I am leaving in 10 days for a job in Sydney, have only succeeded in random, sporadic contract work here for 18 months on a single parent income. Financial situation is dire so I had to go interstate . Got a job I happen to be stoked about but can ' t do it here. Even with five recruitment agencies, I was struggling. My son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren went to the E astern S tates. I miss them but they had to provide for the family.

Another new Australian wrote:

I am very concerned about young graduates leaving Adelaide for work.

Another person wrote:

I tried very hard to get a job in South Australia after finishing my degree last year. I now have a permanent full-time job in regional Victoria. I still keep an eye on SA. I love Adelaide and hopefully will be there one day when a career opportunity exists.

Another comment:

If it weren't for my cloud-based services business having clients across Australia and overseas, I would have left SA. The South Australian economy has been on life support for several years now. It's appalling how much energy and vibrancy has been sapped out of the corporate economy in the last 15 years. My fellow business leaders have had enough of it. Fundamental quantum change is absolutely required, otherwise more of our youth are going to be leaving. Enough already.

On the flipside, Adelaide and South Australia is an amazing place to live and raise a family — best place in Australia, I think. Things are at the lowest ever I have seen them in my adult life. The one positive I have is that it 's only upside from near zero from here.

In other words, the only way is up—

My eldest son James applied for his first position in Melbourne at the completion of his architecture degree. He has been living there for 18 months now. Our son left 12 years ago and has never looked back. Both my children have left the state to further their careers. South Australia in general is very flat. There are many more opportunities on the eastern seaboard.

As much as I want my son and his friends to excel and find wonderful careers, it makes me so sad to think that he 'll start his adult life in another state because there 's not enough opportunities here.

Far too many are leaving, Rachel, and unless something is done about this poor excuse for a government, we are doomed. With two teenage boys soon to head to university, they are already thinking east coast for uni and jobs . With this latest bank tax debacle, we need to get the Labor government out and fast.

My only child's son couldn ' t find a job here but got o ffers from Sydney and Melbourne. Melbourne is close to here. Working for Metro Trains as a mechatronic engineer. Not happy. I prefer he stayed in Adelaide, but I'd rather have him there rather than here as a jobless young man.

Not only had my daughter left the state to find work in Victoria but my husband was made redundant. The rest of the family also left South Australia to find work in the Northern Territory with no prospects of coming back anytime soon. Come on Libs, we desperately need you in power.

My daughter wants to be a paramedic. Uni told her very few graduates get work here in South Australia and a better option would be interstate or overseas when she graduates.

And yet we use interstate companies to fulfil our major contracts, bringing interstaters and internationals here because we don't have the skills.

We were sorry to leave South Australia but we had no choice. Left to find work interstate.

My husband and I moved to Melbourne for work after not finding anything after we graduated uni in Adelaide. He is a mechanical engineer and I'm an associate nutritionist. Most of our friends have also left South Australia to find work interstate and overseas.

My eldest son had to leave Adelaide for work. A university graduate, has not lived in SA for yonks now. His four children work, buy houses, spend their money, all interstate. This Labor government has run the state into poverty. They have just about sold everything.

My sister and her family have been living in Hong Kong.

My nephew and niece both went interstate for work because there were more opportunities. My nephew is in Brisbane. He has a doctorate in engineering. My niece is in Townsville doing administrative work after serving in the Army in various locations, including Canberra.

I spent 18 months applying for jobs five years ago when I was made redundant from Telstra. The corporate landscape is shrinking in Adelaide due to centralisation and I failed to secure a job with 170+ applications. I was depressed and had no idea what to do and had to start my own business.

Another one says:

I am one of the few Gen Ys who stayed in Adelaide but it has been hard, so hard in fact it was difficult to find a job. I had to create one for myself and start a business. I am currently in my hotel room in Perth for two days of work. The work still comes from interstate but I decided to commute because I preferred to live in Adelaide. I would do anything to support other young people to live, work and innovate in our state. Would love to support you in that cause.

It goes on. There were many, many people who wrote in very sad stories of their children, their family, their partners, their friends, all leaving a beautiful state because there are no jobs here after 15 years of Labor. Where are the hundred thousand jobs you promised? You promised us a jobs budget last year; where are the jobs? You call this a jobs budget, yet you tax the banks, who then straightaway say they are not now going to expand—150 jobs I think it was for the State Bank, and Westpac also had plans to expand. They have both been put on hold because of this government's budget, which apparently is a jobs budget but which really is not.

Labor governments do not actually know how to create jobs; employing more people in the Public Service is not actually creating wealth for your state. We need enterprise and we need business—small business, medium business, large business. We need people employing other people so that they pay taxes, which helps our country and our state run.

Speaking of this budget, apparently we have a surplus. However, you cannot really call it a surplus when this government continues to sell off our assets and include them in the revenue path. When you sell an asset, that would generally be in your balance sheet; it would be going from a building or a motor accident commission or a lotteries commission or a forest rotation or whatever it might be and it might then go to cash at bank, it will go to a liquid asset. But, no, this government actually puts it in as revenue to pretend that they actually have a profitable business.

If you have to sell off your silverware at your home, you would not really call that an increase in your wages and a surplus because eventually you run out of assets to sell. However, this government seems to find them, and now it is the Lands Titles Office that is up for sale. I believe we also have the State Admin building up for sale. I remember Kevin Foley trying to sell a building we did not even own in the city. This government will stop at nothing to try to buy off the voters so they will vote for them another time. Clearly they have no moral compass as to what is the right thing to do.

The O-Bahn is a prime example of a politically motivated decision. I was at the deposition that Rod Hook, the previous CE, gave regarding this project. He said that you work for the head of department your minister tells you what you are doing. He said for years his department had been working on the Gawler electrification. They had done all the planning, the costings, all the work—the poles and wires were already up, as we know—and he was told before the 2014 election, 'We don't have the money. Project's off.' He said, 'You know, disappointed, but you're staff. You do whatever the government says.'

He was very surprised when suddenly, only weeks later—very soon after—the government found $160 million for the O-Bahn because the north-eastern suburbs were under threat. They must have done some polling, and now they needed to secure the north-eastern suburbs seats—the marginal seats. And it worked: people fell for it. The thing that was stated was that there was no planning done. There were no costings done. There were no engineering studies done. It was basically the back of an envelope, totally politically motivated, and it worked. But is it the right thing? Is this how we want our state run—with politically motivated decisions that are not in the best interests of the people?

In order to save 2½ minutes in the morning and 3½ minutes at night, the government found $160 million to secure their political future. The people of Adelaide were certainly very, very unhappy about this because it has not only destroyed Rymill Park but it has removed 200 trees and led to the loss of public amenity in arguably one of the most beautiful parklands in Adelaide. Apparently, it was originally going to be a tunnel, but it has ended up a 60-metre long, six-metre tall steel canopy to be built in the middle of Hackney Road, and then a second 20-metre long canopy constructed in Rymill Park.

It is really a trench through the Parklands with a roof. It is not even a proper tunnel. I have seen it. It has not been opened yet, but I am sure it will in time for the ribbon opening. I think you might want to open it at least three times before the election, like you did for the sky way, or whatever that road is called.

Cancelling the Gawler electrification at the time meant that the state government lost the commonwealth funding of $76 million because it was dependent on the state government going ahead with the project. We lost $76 million in commonwealth funding, there was an estimated cost penalty of $70 million if you wanted to restart the project later and the Auditor-General wrote down the asset—the poles and wires—by $40 million as unutilised infrastructure. This is $186 million that was lost by not electrifying the Gawler train line, yet they found $160 million for a completely different project. It is unbelievable that they have the gall to make these kinds of decisions.

Transforming Health—or destroying health, however you might want to call it—has been the biggest debacle ever. Nearly every day in the paper there has been some other issue, some other health scandal, something being closed, people unhappy, doctors unhappy, ramping, no ambulances available, and now, suddenly, right before an election, they have realised it is pretty unpopular. 'We better build a few more emergency wards or add some more beds. We better forget about Transforming Health. We better focus on trying to win the next election and throw a whole heap of money. Instead of having a Women's and Children's Hospital—because now we have worked out we probably can't fit it on the site, even though we promised it—we will just have a women's hospital; we will separate it. We will put a bit more money into the children's and leave it where it is, and then we will do something later.'

In 2010, when I first visited the Women's and Children's Hospital as a member of parliament, I noticed that the car park was full by 9.30 in the morning, and I said to them, 'Why don't you expand the car park?' The Women's and Children's Hospital Foundation had just finished paying off the extra levels of the car park and it was very, very profitable. It was a great financial win that they were then using to fund things in the hospital that the government did not then have to fund. The reason they were not interested in expanding the car park was because of the uncertainty.

The government was at one point looking at selling the car park; at another point, they were moving the hospital; they were not moving the hospital. For seven years, we have had nurses parking miles away. We have had issues with lack of parking in the area for residents, for sick patients. We have seen photos in the paper of children on oxygen tanks walking from The Lion on Melbourne Street in order to get a park.

When one of my residents was having twins, she was supposed to go in to have her blood pressure checked. The doctor said, 'You are walking from so far away, your blood pressure is up. Don't even bother coming in because we are not getting a proper reading because there is no parking available in the area.' Seven years on, we still have a parking issue because the government makes promises they do not keep. They tell people this is going to happen, then it does not and then they change it.

I am beyond believing any words that come out of this government's mouth, but hopefully the people of Adelaide will start to pick up on what is going on here. They will just say whatever it takes to get your vote—it may or may not happen but probably will not happen. If they win the election, we will have the Gawler electrification, which I believe has been announced for the third time. Now it is going to cost $462.5 million and is subject to federal money, so that gives them an out. They are going to tell you it is going to happen, but they have given themselves a get-out-of-gaol-free clause because they will blame it on the federal government, yet they could have actually done this many years ago had they wanted to, but maybe they did not worry so much about the member for Light in Gawler.

As far as jobs go, we have 150,000 South Australians looking for work, and Labor's budget will only produce 8,000 jobs and a 1 per cent rate of job creation, which is the lowest in the nation and half that of Victoria. You could hardly call it a jobs budget. It is just the wrong name, that is for sure. There are a few initiatives in this budget. I would just like to mention Fund My Neighbourhood at $40 million. I went to a briefing on this recently by a stakeholder who actually put in for one of these funds and apparently it took weeks.

The application process is incredibly difficult, and this was an NGO, not just a community group, but a big, professional NGO. For every person who went on to vote for them, they had to spend about two hours allocating the whole $40 million. You do not just get to go on and vote one for the project that you believe in. You have to read through every single project and vote for all of them. It is about a two-hour process. It really is very cumbersome. It is good that there is money available, but you have made it as difficult as possible to access the money and to get people to vote on it, which I think you need to look at if you really want to give away the money. If you just want to say there is money and nobody can ever get it, then you have set it up in a very good way.

As I have already mentioned, Transforming Health has been an epic failure, and the government is changing their mind on it. The energy plan for the state has also been an epic failure. We could have had Alinta stay online in South Australia for $8 million per annum, or a net of about $3.5 million if you count back all the payroll taxes and everything they pay back to the government, to keep us stable with a stable and affordable supply of power while we transition to more renewables. But instead, no, we need to get rid of that because this government is wedded to their renewables target at any cost. It does not matter how many companies close, or how many people lose their jobs, they have a point they want to make.

We have seen how good the government is with our elderly at Oakden and we have also seen how well they have dealt with our child protection over many failed years. To give you some feedback from other stakeholders—SACOSS, for example—we are extremely disappointed that South Australia's expenditure continues to increase in the area of commercial and residential care. Investments in prevention and in the provision of intensive family supports are desperately needed to curb this trend.

Even the PSA, their own union, was not happy. There is a boost of $86.5 million in child protection; however, the majority of this funding will be provided to the non-government organisations. There is no additional funding to cover the royal commission recommendations to cease using commercial carers and to abandon having workers working alone overnight in residential care. There are so many things wrong with this budget.

Finally, the bank tax is one of the worst things, and that is why the Liberal Party will be standing up to vote against a new banking tax. Again, I have brought this forward to people in my electorate, and I have hundreds of people who have written to me with their reasons, and the majority of them were all against the banking tax.