Legislative Council: Thursday, May 05, 2022


Regional South Australia

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the actions this government will take in supporting our regions?

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Order, the Hon. Ms Bourke! Minister, sit down.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Ms Bourke, I think the minister can answer the question.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:41): I thank the member for his question and his ongoing interest in regional areas.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Leader of the Government, you are not in opposition now. Sit in silence. Minister, please continue.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I am proud to call Port MacDonnell in the South-East home, and coming from a regional area myself it is not lost on me the importance of having a government which is willing to engage with communities in rural and regional South Australia, so that we better understand the needs and opportunities that exist in every part of our state.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The Malinauskas Labor government understands that there is far more involved in improving the lives of regional South Australians than just repeating a one-line slogan.

The Hon. J.E. Hanson: A hashtag.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Or indeed, as the Hon. Mr Hanson mentions, #RegionsMatter, which was the slogan, and of course it has been suggested—

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Hanson knows interjections are out of order.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —to me that simply inserting the word 'regional' in four or five or six different portfolios similarly is not what is required. What is required is action. Unlike the former Liberal government, which assumed they knew it all when it came to regions, our government understands that it is about turning up, it is about listening, seeing the issues that are being faced (as decision-makers) for ourselves, and then taking action. That is exactly what we will do.

I am delighted that the Malinauskas Labor government will once again hold country cabinet meetings in our regions, commencing, I am glad to say, in Mount Gambier on 8 and 9 June this year. The perspective that is gained across a range of government portfolios by having the entire cabinet attend is absolutely invaluable. Of course, it is something that the former Marshall Liberal government just didn't want to be bothered with.

My colleagues and I look forward to talking to local government, businesses, sole traders, not-for-profit groups, members of industry, a range of community leaders and many others who are the heart and soul of regional South Australia. We will of course also continue the practice of having public forums where any member of the community can ask questions of any minister, so we can be sure of hearing firsthand about local issues.

Now, I've got to say, on this side of the chamber we found it strange that the former Liberal government chose not to continue with country cabinet meetings. By thinking they knew it all, the former government cost themselves the opportunity to bring government to the people and see the issues that they face firsthand. Nothing highlighted this more than the abject lack of time that former Premier Marshall spent in Mount Gambier, the state's second biggest city, while he was in office.

It also showed in the decision of the former Liberal government, the one they took to the last election, which they lost, to spend $662 million on a basketball stadium in the Adelaide CBD.

The Hon. K.J. Maher: How much?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: $662 million—that was their promise—on an Adelaide CBD basketball stadium. This was how they were so in touch with the regions. The regions were absolutely delighted with the idea of a $662 million basketball stadium in the Adelaide CBD—absolutely not. They certainly were not. In fact, they said to me, 'How on earth'—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Would the two leaders like to go out the back and have your own discussion?

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Come on, minister.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: People asked: what on earth would a $662 million basketball stadium in the city do for them and the issues they were facing such as health care, housing and transport? Of course, it wasn't just Labor Party followers who pointed out these failings. Voters in regional seats turned against the Liberals in a remarkable way. We saw double-digit swings against many former government MPs, and of course some of them are no longer in this place or the other as a result.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Point of order, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I thought the question was: what was the minister going to do for the regions?

The PRESIDENT: I am sure the minister is about to conclude. I will be interested to look at Hansard to see how long this has gone on for. This is smacking a bit of the Hon. Ian Hunter with one of his Dorothy Dixers. Now come on, let's get on with it. You must be nearly ready to conclude, minister.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Conclude, please.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I thank you, Mr President, for the compliment that is paid to me, but also I would point out—

The PRESIDENT: It wasn't a compliment.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —that the constant interjections from the other side are what is taking this answer so much more. Interestingly, of course, one former government MP, the member for MacKillop, avoided the kind of results that I just referred to. The member for MacKillop was at times outspoken against his own government, but we were pleased to see that he supported Labor's commitment to ensure that the—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. N.J. Centofanti interjecting:

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —Keith hospital has funding certainty going into the future. Funding for the Keith hospital, as the Leader of the Opposition would have heard me refer to had she not been shouting across the chamber—

The PRESIDENT: Enough, the honourable Leader of the Opposition!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —is one of the ways we will be supporting the regions.

The PRESIDENT: And, minister, don't react to interjections. Just finish, please.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Certainly. The Malinauskas Labor government will invest in regional health, improving ambulance coverage with additional paramedics and ambulance officers. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition obviously doesn't think that regional health is important, but—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: We will upgrade hospitals in Naracoorte, Port Augusta, Kangaroo Island, Port Pirie and Mount Gambier.

The PRESIDENT: There's a point of order. Sit down, minister. What's your point of order?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I never said that I don't think regional health is important. I think the minister needs to—

The PRESIDENT: I am sure the minister would be prepared to withdraw that.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: —withdraw that statement, thank you.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: It was from the Leader of the Opposition throwing up her hands and rolling her eyes when I referred to regional health that I gave that obviously incorrect impression. I withdraw.

The PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you. Moving on. Come on, finish up.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The Malinauskas government will increase public housing and build new homes in regional centres across the state. We will increase the focus on regional public transport needs and, of course, we are reversing the shameful decision of the former Liberal government to cut funding to the Overland train service. My colleagues and I—

The Hon. K.J. Maher interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Leader of the Government!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —very much look forward to the reintroduction of country cabinet, firstly in Mount Gambier in June and then in other locations over the term of this government where we will continue to listen and respond to the needs of regional South Australians and take action.

The Hon. K.J. Maher: Come on. Supplementary, someone.

The PRESIDENT: No, I call the Hon. Ms Bonaros, and I will remind the ministers there is a limit to how long we are going to accept Dorothy—

An honourable member interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: I am going to have a look and see how long that was for when I get my Hansard.