House of Assembly: Thursday, March 23, 2023


Grievance Debate

Ambulance Ramping

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:09): Twelve months ago, the Labor Party was elected to government. They had a series of election promises, but none were more important than their promise to fix the ramping crisis. None were more important than their first priority: to fix ramping in South Australia.

They have argued earlier today. They have received a vote of support from their members, but the people of South Australia know what they voted for. Swinging voters in South Australia who trusted the Labor Party to deliver for their interests know what they voted for. People in Morialta who chose not to support me but instead to support the Labor Party know that they were promised that Labor would fix ramping. Despite all of Labor's attempts and endeavours to convince everybody this week that they never ever said it, they have not fooled anyone outside of their own supporters in this chamber.

I need look no further than our worthy journal of daily record in South Australia, The Advertiser, which this week has summarised it in its editorial extremely well:

Labor has not fixed the ramping crisis. There is no magic wand for this complicated and difficult task.

But that does not excuse any attempt to weasel out of this simple election commitment by twisting history.

Labor won the election because of a dishonest campaign, aided and abetted by the compliant ambulance union. Having secured huge funding promises, the ambo union has gone to ground. They will not attack their Labor mates over ramping.

Then, again, as the leader said in part earlier:

…the problem for the government is that, in light of its preposterous denials this week that it ever set a ramping target when the issue was the centrepiece of its election campaign, this too looks like trickery.

Frankly, it's going to be hard to believe anything Labor says about ramping from now on.

Why only now, a year after the election, is it taking issue with what it happily led the public and the media to believe was its policy—bringing ramping back to 2018 levels? There must be many swinging voters around the state feeling like they have been hoodwinked.

Labor will be banking on the fact that it has three years until the next poll to repeat its position enough times that at least some voters will start believing it.

But who will buy whatever big promise it makes in the 2026 campaign?

That is really the key thing, isn't it? Who will buy any promise, let alone a significant promise, made by Peter Malinauskas or any of his ministers ahead of the 2026 election campaign?

The leader of the house told us only a few years ago that once credibility is lost in politics, it never comes back. I will repeat again what he said: the only thing that matters in politics is credibility. This government has ceded any credibility.

The members for Elder, Newland, King, Adelaide, Mawson and Stuart, and all of the Labor backbenchers and marginal seat holders, have ceded their credibility by voting today to support the Minister for Health in this confidence motion by effectively reinforcing the line that their Premier and their minister have been running all week that has been described by The Advertiser and by just about every other journalist in South Australia as preposterous: this idea that the government did not promise to fix ramping.

We see it right across the board in their election commitments. They promised that there would be a hydrogen power plant built for half a billion dollars in Whyalla. I do not think anyone believes the costings. I do not think anyone believes that any of that part of the commitment will be delivered. They promised that families with three-year-old children would get preschool, universal access to preschool in 2026. Free preschool is the expectation, 15 hours of a preschool service, and nobody in education thinks that is remotely likely to be delivered in the way it was promised.

They promised university commissions that have been put on hold while they try to convince the universities to agree to it amongst themselves. They promised that there would be apprenticeships delivered by training colleges. Even the paid advertising that South Australian taxpayers paid for said that there would be apprentices coming out of these new training colleges, but we know from the Minister for Education, Training and Skills that their big spend on training colleges, on technical colleges, will deliver pre-apprenticeship courses and no apprentices. They promised that they would give principals the right to hire and fire in our schools, and there is nothing to be seen of their promise.

Forty-eight per cent is the mark that the Deputy Premier gave her own government on Monday when asked how many of their election promises they were delivering. Forty-eight per cent was the report card that the Deputy Premier gave this government. My goodness, that was generous. This is a government that has failed the people of South Australia. They are not delivering on their central commitment, and they are not delivering on many of their other commitments either. They have lost all credibility, and nobody in South Australia can trust this Labor government ever again.