Ms SANDERSON (Adelaide) (12:22):
I rise to make my contribution regarding the 2014-15 budget. As a state, we are currently looking at a
deficit in the 2013-14 year of $1.2 billion, the largest in the state's history. In the 2014-15 year, the
deficit is predicted to be $479 million. That will make six deficits in seven years, after originally
budgeting for seven surpluses.
The Labor government promised $2.6 billion in surpluses and instead has delivered $3 billion in
deficits. How can we trust any figures this government comes up with? Even prior to the federal
budget, this government had budgeted for the largest debt and deficit in the state's history. Labor had
already budgeted for debt increases of $4 million a day for eight years and had already budgeted a $1
million a year interest bill, which is larger than the police budget. This is wasted money on interest due
to the incompetence of this Labor government and its inability to live within its means.
They already had the highest taxes in the nation and were already implementing a new car parking
tax. Prior to the federal budget, South Australia already had the worst credit rating in the nation and
was already borrowing to pay wages. This would be known as trading insolvent if the state was a
business, and the liquidators would be on the way. Debt is rising to $14.3 billion in 2016. To quote
from this week's CityMag, issue 5:
The 1991 financial implosion of the State Bank left the city $3.15 billion in debt, and had devastating
effects not only on Adelaide, but also on the very psychology of Adelaideans. In order to repay the debt,
successive state governments were forced into practicing extreme budgetary austerity.
We are now facing debt levels at four times this amount. With a $311 million expenditure blowout
expected in 2013-14, this takes the total budget blowouts to close to $4 billion since Labor came to
government. This is not for infrastructure or income producing assets; this is purely having more
expenses than revenue, a cardinal sin of accounting, totally unsustainable, yet something Labor
governments around the country have perfected to a fine art, building up debt and living beyond their
means, relying on Liberal governments to come in and clean up their mess. To take from the leader of
the Liberal Party's speech earlier this week, the only thing Labor is building, building, building is debt.
Premier Weatherill and Labor deliberately set out to lose the AAA credit rating, apparently choosing
jobs over the credit rating. To quote Premier Weatherill from 14 September 2012, 'We've made those
choices deliberately...that's led to the loss of the AAA credit rating.' Where are the 100,000 jobs that
Labor promised in 2010 to be achieved by 2016? South Australia has actually lost 800 jobs since this
promise was made at the 2010 election. Labor would have to create 4,800 jobs per month to meet its
100,000 new jobs promise.
We are in the midst of a jobs crisis, recording the highest unemployment rate on the mainland; 6,000
manufacturing jobs were lost in the three months to May and 16,000 were lost in 12 years of Labor,
4,000 South Australian construction jobs were lost in the three months to May, and northern Adelaide
ranked the second highest in youth unemployment out of 79 regions that were measured. That is 45
per cent of youth unemployed. There is no plan to create jobs or grow the economy. Losing the AAA
credit rating to save jobs clearly did nothing but cost the state an estimated extra $20 million in higher
interest payments. Imagine what we could do for the community with an extra $20 million per year.
I was almost starting to believe the rhetoric of this government about how hard it has been with the
global financial crisis, the high Australian dollar, how they were affected by the federal budget, whine,
whine, whine. Then I read the budget speeches of the Liberal treasurers around Australia, who were
also affected by the same global financial crisis, the same high Australian dollar, the same federal
budget. These treasurers did not open their speeches whingeing about how hard things are, making
excuses for their incompetency, like our Treasurer did. They spoke about their achievements, their
plans for the future. They are all kicking goals while we languish, falling behind in nearly every
economic indicator there is.
Reading the other states' budget speeches made me angry, even furious, about the incompetency of
this illegitimate government that has bought its way to power with deals from the members for Frome
and Waite, estimated to cost the state $16 million over the forward estimates. I call on the members
for Frome and Waite to read the budget speeches around Australia and ask themselves 'Have I done
the right thing?' I believe their decisions are pushing our state further and further behind, destroying
businesses, destroying lives—all on their heads. The right thing to do is to call elections in their seats
and give South Australians the chance to choose their government.
Let me give you some idea. From New South Wales on 17 June:
New South Wales is back in the game. Our budget is powerfully positioned. Net debt is down, expenses are
under control, the triple-A credit rating is maintained…housing approvals are at the highest levels in over a
decade…114,000 [jobs have been] created since 2011…In three years of hard work, the New South Wales
government has done the repair job...When we came to office…We were lagging on jobs growth,
productivity, housing approvals and business confidence. We were facing years of deficits and high net debt
courtesy of the legacy left by those opposite—
being Labor, of course.
From the Queensland budget speech, in 2012 Queensland launched an economic blueprint. In two
years a Liberal government has achieved a budget surplus for 2014-15, expenses growth no longer
exceeds growth in revenue, major projects are now all subject to the cost benefit analysis. Think of
how much money we would have saved if Labor had done a cost benefit analysis before doubling the
Water prices have more than tripled under Labor to 236 per cent, while CPI for the same period
increased only 40 per cent. Adelaide has the highest capital city water charges in the nation, with the
average household paying $600 per year more than when Labor came to power. Doubling the
desalination plant cost $2.2 billion; this is now planned for mothballing, which will only reduce the cost
by $6 per household. Labor's decision to use renewable energy for the desalination plant also added
$37 million over three years, along with Labor's carbon tax adding a further $14.6 million over three
years. What was Labor thinking? How could this ever be considered a good deal for our state? The
list of broken promises is extensive under this Labor government. It includes:
the $1.7 billion new RAH has already blown out to $2.8 billion, let alone any further delays or
costs that might be incurred;
the $450 million Adelaide Oval—not a penny more—as we know, blew out to almost $600
the $61 million O-Bahn extension was scrapped and then re-promised and is now up around
$160 million, just to save four minutes;
the $304 million water interconnector, which was required due to the desalination plant, has
already blown out to $403 million;
the promise of no increase in taxes, charges and no new taxes was also scrapped—another
broken promise—with a new car park tax being introduced, a new River Murray levy,
gambling taxes up, mining royalties are up, the emergency services levy has a huge increase,
and now we have a fun tax on public transport for major events;
the no increase in water rates has also been a broken promise, with water bills more than
trebling under Labor;
payroll tax exemptions for trainees and apprentices was also scrapped;
the promise of 100,000 new jobs in six years has led to 800 fewer jobs in four years;
the no privatisations promise has also been broken with the sale of the forests, the Lotteries
Commission, and now the Motor Accident Commission being privatised; and
the electrification of the Gawler line was promised three times and scrapped twice, and is
In 2012-13, there were 5.5 million less boardings on public transport compared to the 2009-10
financial year. Increasing the cost of tickets, as this budget suggests, will not encourage more
boarding’s. It is far more likely to have the opposite effect. Labor's attempt to save money by choosing
the cheapest bus service provider led to a huge drop in the number of bus users and the highest ever
recorded number of complaints for months on end. To try to compensate, the government reprinted
the bus timetables, allowing more time for the runs that past bus companies managed to keep for
years. They threw money into new bus lanes throughout the city which have caused congestion and
frustration to many drivers and businesses.
To get workers back using public transport we need a system that is reliable, affordable, safe, clean
and efficient—not a car parking tax. A car parking tax will not encourage people to use public
transport. What it is more likely to do is to push shoppers and users of services such as dentists,
lawyers, banks, etc., into the suburbs where they can park for free. The very people the city relies on
for vibrancy are those who have the choice to go elsewhere. The high cost of parking is already the
number one issue cited by many people as to why they will not shop in Rundle Mall. I feel this car
park tax would be absolutely devastating for the City of Adelaide.
It is illogical for a government to be claiming that it is trying to revitalise the CBD and at the same time
making it more expensive to participate in the life of the city. Mr Weatherill's toxic car park tax will hurt
businesses and jobs, discourage people from entering the city and damage CBD vibrancy. The car
park tax has been criticised by numerous industry experts, including the Property Council of South
Australia, the Adelaide City Council, Business SA and the Rundle Mall Management Authority. The
Property Council has said that it will add up to $6 per day to the average cost of a car park.
Most importantly, this tax will hurt residents who have been encouraged into the city on the back of
the government's vibrancy agenda. Mr Weatherill's toxic car park tax is nothing more than a desperate
cash grab by a broke Labor government after 12 years of financial mismanagement. Now the
government plans to tax companies for hosting major events: any commercial event hosting over
5,000 people will now have to pay a levy or tax imposed—the amount is yet to be determined. How
can you calculate ticket pricing or the event viability when the government can come along at any time
and make up a new tax and cannot even tell you exactly how much it is?
In the budget, there is $46.5 million for the Festival Centre car park and the plaza. Whilst I welcome
the upgrade to the car park (which we all know has concrete cancer), I do not welcome the idea of an
office building on the plaza site. This site should be enjoyed by all South Australians and an office
building would not improve city vibrancy. I call on the Labor government to release what the plan is for
this area as soon as possible.
The emergency services levy is going up by an extraordinary amount, with the average household
with a home of $400,000 paying an extra $150 per year for the emergency services levy and, as has
been mentioned by my colleagues, you would not mind so much if the whole levy actually was going
to the emergency services, but a lot of this is going to prop up the government's failed ability to
balance its budget. So, how is this not a punitive tax on households and families? For a home of
$750,000, they will now be paying $408 a year, a $280 increase, which is extraordinary.
According to the ABS figures for March 2014, the state budgets, we have had a CPI increase of 40
per cent during the 12 years of Labor, house rents have gone up by 54 per cent, property charges by
87 per cent, state taxes have risen by 92 per cent, gas bills by 136 per cent, electricity bills by 160 per
cent and water bills by a massive 227 per cent. This all hurts the everyday Australian, and now
volunteers will also be hit with screening and background checks, with application charges soaring by
33 per cent from $41.25 to $55 for most volunteers. The tax hike on volunteers will raise $3.2 million
in the next year.
While many employers, including schools, aged-care and disability services, as well as nongovernment organisations, sporting services and service groups, require screening and background
checks to comply with government regulations, every volunteer, virtually every sporting and service
organisation and many businesses are adversely affected by this tax. The Weatherill Labor
government's tax grab from volunteers runs the risks of discouraging people from providing their time
and expertise in schools, sporting clubs, Meals on Wheels and many other organisations.
I encourage the Weatherill Labor government to look at a simpler, more streamlined system that
reduces bureaucratic red tape and the associated costs to applicants. WorkCover is another cost to
business and is an absolute shambles, as stated by our Deputy Premier. I welcome reforms to
WorkCover and hope it will actually lead to a reduction in levies and lessen the cost to business. The
South Australian WorkCover scheme has the highest levy in the country, has unfunded liability of
$1.23 billion, has the worst return-to-work rate in the country, has the highest number of disputes in
the country, takes the longest to resolve disputes and spends three times the proportional cost on
rehabilitation than any other scheme in the country.
Ms Redmond: To no avail.
Ms SANDERSON: To no avail. As far as businesses go, taxes on businesses in South Australia are
completely out of control. The increase in payroll tax, after deducting CPI, since Labor came into
government is 39 per cent. Conveyancing duties have risen by 55 per cent over CPI, land tax by 195
per cent, property taxes by 79 per cent, taxes on gambling surprisingly have reduced by 8 per cent
compared to CPI, taxes on insurance are up 41 per cent and motor vehicle taxes are up 31 per cent.
So, no wonder businesses are struggling under such a high tax regime in this state.
This Labor budget will deliver more pain and increase cost of living pressures for families. After 12
long years South Australians are paying the high price for Jay Weatherill's budget of broken promises.
This is a disastrous budget for all South Australians who are already struggling with soaring electricity,
gas and water prices. The worst part about this budget is what it does not do. There is no plan to
create jobs or grow the economy. At a time when South Australians are struggling to pay their bills, to
find work and to keep their businesses open, the Weatherill government has delivered a state budget
of broken promises and no plan to help with jobs or the economy.
Do not be fooled by the Treasurer blaming the federal budget for his cuts and broken promises. This
budget is a culmination of 12 long years of Labor's economic chaos and mismanagement. South
Australians deserve better. Premier Weatherill has embarked on a deceitful strategy of making
ordinary South Australians pay for his government's years of financial mismanagement and