Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 31, 2022


Address in Reply

Address in Reply

Adjourned debate on motion for adoption.

(Continued from 19 May 2022.)

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (16:56): I rise to give my Address in Reply to the speech made at the opening of the Fifty-Fifth South Australian Parliament by the Governor, Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC.

Before I do, I would like to congratulate the Hon. Mr Stephens on his election to the position of President and I hope that, as required by our laws, he remains truly independent without fear or favour. I would like to congratulate all those members who were returned to this chamber and I would like to congratulate those members who came to this chamber through a casual vacancy on their election to this chamber. I would also like to congratulate all new members of this chamber. I acknowledge the success of the Greens, which achieved a position in this chamber in their own right. I congratulate the One Nation party for the election of their first member to this chamber, and I look forward to working with the Hon. Ms Sarah Game over the next eight years.

The government has made special mention of the need for courage and vision in these challenging times and to be unafraid to make bold decisions. I believe this is the model on which Labor was built and it has never been more important than it is now. Showing courage and vision is the least we can do, considering the sacrifices made by South Australians over the past two years—often those who have been least able to make them—and the health workers, emergency workers and volunteers on the frontline during the pandemic.

I agree with the Governor's sentiments in commending the many and various workers, including police, healthcare, emergency and transport workers, which is all the more reason that we cannot afford to undermine their efforts with poor decisions such as those made to open the borders three weeks before Christmas.

Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the floor I congratulated the Marshall government when it acted responsibly under pressure during the pandemic. That is why I feel I can say with a bipartisan mentality that they dropped the ball a few times later in their term. Regardless, it is time for looking forward, not backwards. We all need to pull together to ensure that we not only see off the COVID era but that we also see in the many opportunities that lie before us.

The Governor is right in saying that South Australia has always been a big picture state. While the other side has certainly contributed to the state that we have become, it was the efforts of the Labor government during the Dunstan years that put us in the international spotlight. There were massive, well overdue advances in health, education and the arts, a push towards creating the multicultural society we now take for granted and even the establishment of the world-renowned South Australian Film Corporation and the landmark films it produced to put Australian cinema on the map.

We cannot rest on the record of past achievements. There are now major challenges ahead, from health, infrastructure and the economy to possibly the biggest challenge of them all: the environment. Going forward, Labor is the only one of the two major parties that take climate change seriously. While the conservatives have for years argued that environmental advances can only be done at the expense of the economy, Labor has always argued the opposite.

It is Labor's initiatives that will upgrade the electricity grid and drive down power prices by $275 a year for the average household and we have the national electric vehicle strategy to make electric vehicles cheaper. Labor is the party that federally will invest $3 billion in the green metals of steel, alumina and aluminium. They will roll out 85 solar banks across Australia and install 400 community batteries across the country.

We are the party that sees the unarguable need for apprenticeships in the new era—10,000 of them. We are just as committed at a state level and agree with the Governor that a good environment and a good economy are not mutually exclusive and they can in fact coexist. The environment is no longer a supposedly costly ideal we cannot afford, it is the opportunity we cannot afford to ignore.

South Australian Labor's Hydrogen Jobs Plan will provide massive opportunities. The 250-megawatt hydrogen electrolyser facility and the 250-megawatt hydrogen power station will be a world-leading technology. The 3,600-tonne hydrogen storage facility will accommodate Hydrogen Power SA, which will be operational by 2025. This will not just continue our world-leading practice in clean energy transmission, it will also support business and industry by delivering those sectors lower priced energy.

Through the initiatives of South Australian Labor, this state went from supplying virtually no renewable energy in 2002 to more than 50 per cent in 2020. That allowed us to go from an importer of energy to an exporter to the larger Eastern States, and the projection going forward is that those numbers will increase significantly.

The Governor talked about three of the great pillars of a strong, resilient society: health, education and the environment. As the party that acted on a need for a new hospital and created a world-class facility, as the party that always injects more money into education and the only major party to take our environmental needs seriously, we are well placed to ensure a healthy and prosperous future.

After four years of ambulance ramping that could have and should have been addressed earlier in the former government's term, Labor will ensure another 350 paramedics and ambulance officers to help make this a bad memory. Not only will there be additional ambulance crews, they will be based across the state, from the metropolitan precincts to the much-needed rural areas.

The addition of 100 more doctors and a further 300 nurses goes hand in hand with the establishment of 300 new hospital beds across the state. It is no good having one of the best hospitals in the world if we do not have enough highly skilled professional people to work in it. We are introducing legislation to overhaul the Emergency Management Act so it actually works during times of emergency.

SA Labor is committed to addressing the growing scourge of untreated, unrecognised mental health issues. Now we are in government, Labor can make good on its pledge to invest $182 million towards mental health initiatives. For so many years overlooked, ignored or even intentionally dismissed, mental health has become one of the major issues of modern society.

One in 25 people who go to the emergency department are suffering mental health illnesses. We cannot ignore it any longer and in fact we need to be proactive in addressing it. This initiative will bring up to 100 more beds for mentally ill patients. This commitment has been welcomed by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

We will act on education. We will introduce modern, 21st century subjects—not just electives—into primary and secondary school curriculums so that our young people leaving school are well placed to go into tertiary studies needed for the ever-advancing cyber industries. That will enable them to move into rewarding careers at the forefront of that changing technology. We need to put measures in place so that children in school can now work toward careers in the expanding areas of cyber technology and defence.

It was Labor that ensured the submarine industry got started in this state through a lot of hard work and negotiation in the 1980s. We need to make sure that young South Australians have every opportunity to build careers there. Of course, the submarine industry will bring people from interstate and overseas, but we need to ensure young South Australians can compete strongly for those jobs.

Whether it is education, health, the environment, infrastructure or transport, Labor has always been the South Australian government of vision. We addressed one of the worst road systems in Australia and set the many South Australian South Road upgrade projects in motion. Instead of doing things by half, quite literally, the north-south corridor, including the South Road Superway and Northern Expressway, were launched under our watch.

We brought AFL football and all the crowds that come with it to the city while many on the other side argued that it was unnecessary when we had a perfectly good oval on primary residential land at West Lakes. We made one of the decisions that helped Adelaide grow as a vibrant and international-standard city.

While many argued vehemently that we did not need a footbridge across the Torrens and that people could just walk to King William Street and create massive safety and traffic issues, or just go home after the football, we had the vision to understand the value of such a seemingly unimportant project. The football and that bridge bought people back into the city in huge numbers and to accommodate that interest and enhance the experience, Labor brought about initiatives to open the western side of the city.

We encouraged the creation of new cafe and restaurant precincts, which led to our own laneways culture. If you want to see whether football, the footbridge and the support for local restaurants have worked, take a walk on any weekend from the Casino and Festival Centre to the Leigh Street and Peel Street dining precincts.

These changes and improvements are the same ones that the Liberal politicians opposed. Strange, is it not, that when a photo opportunity has been needed, these same people happily had their photos taken alongside the Torrens, flanked by the Oval and the hospital district to show Adelaide at its best.

What else did Labor do? We moved the hospital. We took the tired, outdated and health compromised Royal Adelaide Hospital away from prime land in the East Parklands and created a world-class medical precinct on land that was going to waste on the north-western side of the city. What did we not do? We did not build a one-way Southern Expressway that was the brunt of jokes around the country.

This is a project that all taxpayers paid for, not just those living in the south, but often never got to use it because of where they lived or what time of the day they were heading north or south. Instead, we fixed it. Now every South Australian motorist gets to use it and many hours are cut off the weekly commute to and from the city. The by-product of course, which anyone with any vision would know, is that it helped the southern suburbs flourish.

While on matters that have required desperate, overdue attention, Labor will take active measures to address domestic violence. We will ensure it is never dismissed simply because there are no visible signs of duress. We have already introduced a bill to do away with the $297 fee the victim of domestic violence has been asked to pay in order to impose an interim intervention order on the perpetrator. This is a gravely serious, heinous situation and we are committed to doing a lot better.

Labor will push new ideas while remaining devoted to traditional success stories. While once we hung our hat on world-class wine produced in the Barossa Valley, we can now boast wines produced at McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills and the Coonawarra as well as other burgeoning regions. We need to support and protect these success stories so they continue for generations to come.

Labor will pump $40 million into the tourism sector to ensure that we do not miss out on opportunities while also supporting the events that are already here. We will be targeting the 2027 World Cup matches, Socceroo World Cup qualifiers, matches featuring English Premier clubs, even US Major League Baseball teams. Instead of cancelling a motor racing event that attracts people from all over Australia and overseas at the first sign of it being too tough during a pandemic, we will embrace our great events and we will support them. This means the Adelaide Festival, the Fringe, WOMADelaide, Writers' Week and the Cabaret Festival will not be put into the too-hard basket at the first sign of trouble. Labor will support all of these initiatives to ensure they remain great South Australian events.

As the Governor said, this parliament is one that will provide one of the proudest initiatives in South Australian history by making a well overdue treaty with the First Australians. Establishing the Aboriginal Voice to Parliament and the truth-telling process is something that all South Australians, First Peoples and many generations from all over the world that make up our society can rightly embrace. It will bring us together.

Labor is also committed to introducing wage theft legislation to create criminal penalties for persistent and deliberate underpayment of workers, including wages and superannuation. It does seem a bit ironic that if a worker steals from an employer they could end up in jail, but if an employer steals a far greater amount from employees there is no law to say that they have committed a criminal act. This will be overcome in the next session of parliament.

That is what this Fifty-Fifth South Australian Parliament will strive to achieve, bringing all South Australians together as we embrace the best of our history, work as one with the rich opportunities at hand and build an exciting, enduring future.

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (17:12): Today, I rise to speak to the Address in Reply motion. I thank Her Excellency, the Hon. Frances Adamson AC, for opening the Fifty-Fifth Parliament and for her address. I would like to take this opportunity to first congratulate our new President, the Hon. Terry Stephens, on his election. I would also like to offer my congratulations to the Labor Party on their successful election campaign, in particular my fellow members in this place, the Attorney-General, the Hon. Kyam Maher; minister the Hon. Clare Scriven; and assistant minister the Hon. Emily Bourke.

I also congratulate the Hon. Reggie Martin and welcome him to the Legislative Council. I am very much looking forward to working with you. I also extend my congratulations to the Hon. Sarah Game. Unlike in the other place, I am proud to say that in my experience the crossbench have proven to be wonderful and constructive colleagues, and I am looking forward to continuing to be constructive and collaborating with fellow members across the chamber. In the other place, I also congratulate all new members on their election wins and welcome them to parliament.

Whilst the election result was not what we wanted, we the Liberal Party are back stronger and more united than ever. We have a good balanced team with the right mix of real-world experience. We have on our side four years of ministerial experience. We have all developed a new set of skills that came with successfully managing South Australia through a worldwide pandemic. We have corporate experience, life experience and government experience, and one thing in common with all of us is we all want what is best for South Australia, our futures and our children's futures.

To my new Liberal teammates in the other place, Ashton Hurn MP, Penny Pratt MP and Sam Telfer MP, and to the Hon. Laura Curran sitting here with me in the Legislative Council, my friend and now colleague, I know that you will make an incredible and long-lasting contribution to our state and our party. Sadly, the election saw friends and colleagues no longer in parliament with us. To Paula Luethen, Richard Harvey, Rachel Sanderson, Corey Wingard, Dan van Holst Pellekaan and Steve Murray, I wish you all the best in the next chapters, and I know you will continue to achieve great things.

To Carolyn Power, my friend and support in this place, I will miss our chats, but I know that our friendship will continue on well past our political journeys. To those who retired at the election, I thank you personally for your service to the state and to our party. You have left a huge impact and legacy for years to come. In particular, I would like to mention Peter Treloar and John Dawkins. Rob Lucas, the Father of the House, has been not only my colleague and mentor but also a wonderful friend to me and my family.

To Stephan Knoll, one of the best, you left this place far too soon and will be dearly missed by everyone. Steph and I started in Young Liberals together nearly 20 years ago. Your support and friendship has been very much appreciated, and I know you will continue on as you enter the next chapter of your life. I know that you cannot wait to spend more time with your beautiful girls.

To Steven Marshall, the leader of our party for so many years and the Premier who guided us through the most unprecedented times—bushfires, fruit fly and a worldwide health pandemic—your leadership, vision and determination to do the best for South Australia was never in doubt. Now you can enjoy spending time with the good people of Dunstan and continue to be the best representative for them in the parliament.

I think it is also important to acknowledge those who put themselves forward as candidates for the state election. I would like to pay a special thankyou to Ursula Henderson, Ben Hood, Rowan Mumford and Alex Hyde. Your support of our party does not go unnoticed, and I would very much encourage those who were not successful to look towards 2026.

I would like to specifically acknowledge Jordan Dodd, our incredibly hardworking candidate in Badcoe. Jordan worked tirelessly during her entire campaign, and it was my pleasure to work very closely with her throughout, doorknocking or chatting with constituents at local shopping centres. She has an incredible ability to help and drive change in her community, and I look forward to seeing what the future brings for Jordan.

Now to our current party and the future of our party. Our leader, the Hon. David Speirs MP, brings with him a passion for change and a drive to be better than we were before. He achieved more in his four years as Minister for Environment and Water than many of his predecessors did. He is the most committed local member and a man who never stops striving for more for both our state and our community.

In this house, to our leader and my friend the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, congratulations. She is a wonderful leader, support and role model to all of us. She has always been so supportive of me during my political journey, and I thank her for her ongoing support and look forward to working closely with her into the future.

I am honoured and privileged to have been given the opportunity to serve as shadow minister for finance, trade and investment and the circular economy. Each of these areas are key in making South Australia a better place to live, work and raise a family. I am looking forward to working closely with Matt Cowdrey MP, our shadow treasurer, and the Hon. David Speirs MP, shadow minister for the environment and small business.

I am proud to say that our party has taken a slightly different approach to our shadow cabinet and has chosen to focus the portfolios on the areas that are important to us and the people of South Australia rather than mirroring the portfolios the government has adopted. Dedicating a team to health shows the importance of this topic, making sure that everyone's voice is heard right across the state when it comes to health management and changes to legislation.

I look forward to working closely with the shadow minister for health, Ashton Hurn MP; shadow minister for regional health and wellbeing, Penny Pratt MP; and Tim Whetstone MP, who is taking on the important portfolios of mental health and suicide prevention.

We have a team of shadow ministers responsible for the betterment of the regions: the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, responsible for regional South Australia; Penny Pratt MP in the other place, responsible for regional health services; Sam Telfer, responsible for regional population growth; and Adrian Pederick, responsible for regional roads. This goes to show the importance we place on the regional areas of our state and the role they play in keeping us moving and growing.

During our time in government, the South Australia Liberal Party had some key focuses on the economy, health and education. We wanted South Australia to be a place where people wanted to come and do business, grow their careers and bring their families with them. When we came to government in 2018, South Australia was in an ongoing 'brain drain' with young people leaving their home state for, more often than not, the Eastern States or overseas to pursue their career goals.

In 2020, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said, 'I don't want to be offensive to South Australians, but why would you want to go there?' Less than a year later, and for the first time in 30 years, we started attracting more people from other states rather than losing them. This was a milestone in our recent history and one that we hope will continue on into the future. Under a Liberal government, Adelaide was also named as the most livable city in the country and the third most livable city in the world. I am biased, being South Australian born and bred, but in my eyes it was never in question.

In 2018, prior to the election in South Australia, our taxes were far too high, our power prices were amongst the highest in the world, we were expected to put up with very unreliable power sources, and our water prices continued to rise each year irrespective of water security. During our time in government, the Marshall Liberal government eliminated payroll tax on small businesses, slashed the emergency services levy on families and businesses, and cut water bills, while providing support to families and businesses during COVID-19. I can only hope that the Labor Party chooses to focus its attentions on these areas for the benefit of all South Australians.

In the Governor's opening speech, she highlighted that the pandemic has changed all of our lives, but that it has also presented opportunities for our state to not simply recover but to prosper as never before. The Marshall Liberal government successfully managed our state through a worldwide pandemic, and we have kindly left a legacy to the Labor Party of the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years, a booming economy and record trade levels.

We will not stand by on the sidelines and watch all of this hard work crumble. We will not watch South Australians pay higher household taxes. We will not let the Labor Party allow the brain drain to return. We want young people to stay here in South Australia or, better yet, we want to entice them to move here from interstate. We need the government to keep providing us incentives to do so, creating jobs in exciting industries and making sure our state is vibrant and full of life.

We will interrogate their policies and question their spending. The Liberal Party will represent the constituents in parliament and make sure their voices are heard. We will make sure we are accessible right across the state to anyone who reaches out. We will be the representatives that South Australians need and deserve.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. K.J. Maher.

At 17:23 the council adjourned until Wednesday 1 June 2022 at 14:15.