Legislative Council: Thursday, June 16, 2022


Address in Reply

Address in Reply

Adjourned debate on motion for adoption.

(Continued from 2 June 2022.)

The Hon. S.G. WADE (15:39): These remarks are in continuation of remarks that I made on a previous sitting day. I would like to highlight that the Marshall government directly supported country patients by introducing more flexible arrangements through the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme for people who need to travel long distances for specialist medical treatment. The Marshall Liberal government made PATS more flexible and accessible to country South Australians:

by removing the requirement of patients to travel directly to and from their appointment, with patients now unable to combine a medical appointment with other personal matters;

by supporting continuity of care for terminally ill patients;

by changing the way travel is calculated so people are compensated for every kilometre of their journey; and

by introducing an additional subsidy for patients who need to travel more than 100 kilometres to reach a regional airport.

The Marshall government was also acutely aware that we governed in the shadow of Oakden. We worked diligently to make sure the experiences of the Oakden patients and their families are never repeated. Within 100 days of being elected, the Marshall Liberal government tabled Australian-first legislation to better protect vulnerable South Australians. The adult safeguarding bill established an Adult Safeguarding Unit to make it easier for the community to report suspected or actual cases of abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults.

We were the first state in the country to trial surveillance technology in aged-care facilities to help stop abuse and to support quality care. We have laid the foundation for a world-class older persons' mental health and dementia precinct at the Repat. We undertook an audit of all state-run aged-care facilities, developed a regional aged-care strategy, and expanded the Strength for Life program to support the health of older South Australians. We built a new 24-bed aged-care facility in Strathalbyn.

We also strengthened support for and made it easier to access advance care planning. Safety is vital, but it is not enough. The Marshall Liberal government also invested in supporting South Australians to age well, developing a five-year strategy to guide government investment and action.

In women's health, we introduced a midwifery caseload model. We decriminalised and modernised abortion laws and started planning for a new hospital for women. In Aboriginal health, we opened a new Aboriginal birthing unit at the Women's and Children's Hospital, developed a plan to develop the Aboriginal health workforce in regional South Australia and established a program to support Aboriginal leaders to participate in health governance. We improved the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme for Aboriginal patients travelling long distances for medical treatment and provided funding for the opening of a dialysis clinic on the APY lands, run by the Indigenous-owned health service, Purple House.

The Marshall Liberal government recognised the challenges that people with disability face accessing health services. We commissioned the Health Performance Council to look at ways to improve health access for people with disability. We constructed a world-class facility for people with brain and spinal injuries at the Repat, alongside a wheelchair accessible sports stadium. In our last budget, we funded construction of a step-down transitional accommodation facility for people with disability at the Repat. The South Australian Intellectual Disability Health Service was established at a new centre with a new model of care and expanded services.

A key objective of the Marshall government was to better engage with clinicians to ensure that the governance of the health system promoted the clinical voice. We devolved governance to 10 local health networks, each with a board with health professional expertise, each required to develop clinician and consumer engagement strategies. Devolution in itself means that frontline clinicians are much closer to the key decision-makers.

The Marshall government established the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health, now led by Professor Derek Chew, which strives to give clinicians easier access to the insights, data and tools they need to provide the best care. The commission also hosts the Statewide Clinical Networks, which bring together health professionals, health service organisations, consumers and carers to achieve high quality care through working collaboratively.

A key goal of the Marshall government was to stabilise and strengthen the leadership of the health system. We had to stop the revolving door of health leaders that we saw under health ministers Snelling and Malinauskas. CALHN had 10 leaders in 10 years; SALHN had five leaders in five years. The instability of leadership meant that the authority of management was undermined. However, over the last four years under the Marshall Liberal government only three out of about 20 of our most senior leaders left the service.

We also put in place a world-class leadership development program. Liberal members initiated the parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Fatigue and Bullying in South Australian Hospitals and Health Services. With the encouragement of the AMA, we legislated to underscore that LHN boards are responsible for the culture of the service in which their employees work.

The Marshall government appreciated that health and medical research underpins quality care and a whole range of emerging industries. Premier Marshall commissioned the South Australian Productivity Commission to undertake an inquiry into health and medical research in South Australia. As a result of the review, SA Health is developing a statewide health and medical research strategy. With the construction of SAHMRI 2 having commenced, I am delighted that the federal government is funding the Bragg Comprehensive Cancer Centre to further enhance the biomedical precinct.

South Australians deserve a high quality health system that is cost-effective. Every dollar of cost that is avoidable is a dollar of investment lost to fund needed health services. Most local health networks have improved significantly; however, CALHN continues to struggle with significant problems.

In term of public health, the Marshall government demonstrated a strong commitment. Even before the pandemic began, we invested in significant expansion of immunisation programs. In 2018, we introduced an Australian-first free meningococcal B immunisation program for babies and children and a world-first program for adolescents. An evaluation has found that the program has been key in a 60 per cent reduction in meningococcal B cases amongst infants and a 73 per cent drop in cases for adolescents.

In 2018, we introduced free flu vaccines for infants over the age of six months and under the age of five years. We enacted no jab no play laws which help make every early childhood service environment healthier for children and for those who have contact with them. This year, for the first time in South Australia, community pharmacists will be able to provide vaccinations under the National Immunisation Program.

The Marshall government introduced Australia's broadest legislation against e-cigarettes, including banning internet sales. We acted to reduce the misuse of prescription drugs through the introduction of real-time monitoring of prescription medicine. We took action on climate change, with significant investments in solar panels and committing to the new Women's and Children's Hospital being Australia's first all-electric hospital.

The Marshall government took public health seriously and promised from opposition that we would reverse Labor's action to make the Chief Public Health Officer a part-time role. In late 2019, in fulfilment of our promise, a new full-time position of the Chief Public Health Officer was established and Professor Nicola Spurrier was appointed to that role. Within months, Nicola Spurrier and her team were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic—no part-time role.

This brings me to the pandemic, the event which has been a defining event of our generation. A century earlier, coming out of the First World War, South Australia had to deal with another pandemic. Another Liberal government, this one led by Archibald Peake, led the response to the Spanish flu. As in 1919, a global pandemic drove a national response. Premier Marshall was a key and active member of the national cabinet and I worked with my health minister colleagues. In the second year of the pandemic, from March 2021 to the election, I was Chair of the Health Ministers Meeting and chaired more than 30 meetings.

South Australians stepped up during the pandemic. SA Health established coronavirus testing clinics across the state, first PCR testing and then RAT testing. SA Pathology opened the second drive-through COVID testing station in the world and introduced broad testing of respiratory samples. We secured personal protective equipment, ventilators and other health equipment, including supporting the local firm Detmold in establishing a production facility for surgical masks.

We upskilled and grew our health workforce, delivering everything from ICU services to remote monitoring of COVID-positive patients. We increased capacity in our ICUs and opened hundreds of beds. We operated a quality quarantine and medi-hotel system, which safely brought home more than 36,000 people. A statewide vaccination program used both a network of clinics and outreach strategies to provide over 3.8 million vaccine doses by March 2022.

SA Health and SAPOL worked with a range of public sector and private sector partners to support the pandemic response. We worked together with all South Australians, listened to the health advice and prevented our hospital system from being overwhelmed. The Marshall government kept South Australians safe and our economy strong during the COVID-19 pandemic. SA Health modelling shows that, without the measures we took, an estimated 4,400 people would have died from COVID-19 in the first wave alone and we would have had more than 30,000 to 40,000 daily cases during the Omicron outbreak.

We supported affected businesses through vouchers, cash grants, stimulus measures, tax relief and not leaving restrictions in place one day longer than was necessary. We had the fewest days in lockdown of any mainland state. Under the Marshall government, in spite of the pandemic, South Australia had the fastest growing economy in the nation. Unemployment rates were at record lows and we were named the most livable place in Australia. South Australia has been one of the safest places in the world to be during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I reflect on the privilege of having been health minister, I am acutely aware that I was only able to serve because of the support of others. I want to thank my wife, Tracey; the Premier, Steven Marshall; my personal team, including Jonathan, Greg and James; and the health leadership team, including Chris McGowan and Nicola Spurrier. In particular, I want to thank one large team: the 40,000-plus strong SA Health team, health professionals from doctors, nurses, midwives and ambulance officers to allied health, who serve with dedication, compassion and skill; and support teams throughout SA Health, who play a crucial role in the delivery of health services. Thank you all.

As we enter this, the Fifty-Fifth Parliament, I wish the new team all the best in making a meaningful difference for the people of South Australia. To the Premier; to the minister; to David Speirs, the Leader of the Opposition, an intelligent, passionate leader who I know will drive a positive vision for the people of South Australia; to the new Liberal health team, the energetic Ashton Hurn, the down-to-earth Penny Pratt and the dogged Tim Whetstone: as the Governor has challenged us, through all our collective efforts may this parliament make a meaningful difference in the health and wellbeing of South Australians.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:52): I would like to thank and congratulate Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC on her opening remarks to our Legislative Council for the commencement of the Fifty-Fifth Parliament of South Australia and on her service to South Australia.

It actually seems now like we have been here for some time, so it almost feels like a belated message to offer my congratulations to our President, the Hon. Terry Stephens MLC, but I do want to offer him my congratulations. I am sure he will be a fair and balanced President, and I hope that he enjoys the role. It is an incredible privilege to be in this place, and to be President of this place I am sure must be even more so.

I would like to congratulate and welcome the new members of the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly. I particularly congratulate all newly elected members in this place, including a special warm welcome to the Hon. Reggie Martin MLC. I have enjoyed working with Reggie in his previous role as state secretary of the SA Labor branch and I congratulate him on his role as campaign director at the March state election. I am looking forward to working with him in his new capacity as an MLC and I am sure he will make a meaningful contribution in this place.

I also congratulate the Hon. Laura Curran, newly elected to this place, and the Hon. Sarah Game. It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be a representative of this great state. I would like to congratulate the Premier on the results of the March state election. It is an honour and a privilege to be a part of his team, the Labor team.

I consider it a great honour to be part of the team in the new Labor Malinauskas government as Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development and Minister for Forest Industries. All of these portfolios are very close to my heart and I am very passionate about advancing the interests of regional areas, primary industries and forest industries.

Over the last two years, our state and particularly our regional communities have faced great adversity, from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires which affected Cudlee Creek, Kangaroo Island and Keilira, to the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a change in how we operate, to the most recent floods which occurred earlier this year and the significant damage caused to the northern regions of South Australia. The one thing these adversities have taught us is that no matter what we face as a community we can overcome it and come back stronger by working together.

As a member who has strongly advocated for our regional communities, I certainly know and appreciate that our regions are the backbone of our state. Our regional communities provide 30 per cent of South Australia's population and together contribute about $25 billion to our economy. Our regions produce more than 50 per cent of our overseas merchandise exports and, under a Malinauskas Labor government, we will implement policies that prioritise South Australian products and businesses in infrastructure projects and supplies to the government, meaning that more jobs stay in our state, including in our regions.

Labor's long history in government in South Australia is what has laid the foundation to create one of the most livable and sustainable states in the world to live. This government's policy on jobs and a stronger economy means greater opportunity for people across the state, and for all those wishing to call South Australia home.

We passionately believe in the dignity that work can provide regardless of what field of work one chooses. The very definition, of course, of the word 'labour' is work. It is business that creates opportunity and provides the chance for people to get jobs and to be in work that is well paid and affords everyone in our community a decent standard of living. We want all of those jobs to be safe as well as well paid and affording that standard of living.

Under a Malinauskas Labor government we will always make South Australian jobs a number one priority. Our plan for the future jobs in the state will deliver thousands of secure, well paid new jobs and a $20 billion pipeline of renewable energy projects through our hydrogen jobs plan. Other initiatives include a $2 million boost to registered classic and historical car clubs, the reinstatement of the Adelaide 500 and Adelaide Motor Sport Festival. We will see the return of a trained and competent workforce back into the public sector, including train and tram drivers and maintenance workers, through reversing the Marshall Liberal government's privatisation of our train and tram services.

Alongside our plan for jobs we are aware just how much of an impact COVID-19 had not only on our hospitals and healthcare systems but also of course on our families and those who are vulnerable in our society. Upon coming to government, ambulance ramping has been the worst we have ever seen and our emergency departments are some of the worst performing in the country. I believe that the health of all South Australians should be a priority and under our health policy this government plans to deliver 350 extra ambulances, 300 more nurses, 100 additional doctors, 300 additional hospital beds, new ambulance stations and major hospital upgrades.

We understand that our regional communities need more resources and that is why access to good health care in our regional communities will be one of our highest priorities. These priorities have been very well received in regional communities, who at last feel that there is a government listening to them and the needs they have.

All of these measures will combine to help fix the ramping crisis, with ambulances able to respond faster to emergency calls, and establish a health system that both current and future generations will benefit from. Labor's health plans, I am advised, have been welcomed by the Australian College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the Australian College of Paramedicine.

Our government will not take our term for granted. We understand that, while every policy and legislative decision affects our current community, they are also decisions that will affect our future generations. We believe that every child deserves to be supported towards their aspirations, and that is why the Labor Malinauskas government will turn our state's education system around and prepare our children for a bright future through initiatives such as:

reform of early childhood education and care so that children can start school ready, including introducing three-year-old preschool programs;

lifting the quality of teaching across our schools, including making the retention allowance for country teachers permanent;

establishing five technical colleges, for students who want to go into trades, and of course I was delighted to see that two of those will be in regional South Australia, one at Port Augusta and one at Mount Gambier;

supporting young people with learning challenges or struggling with mental issues, so they stay engaged in learning; and

establishing a University Merger Commission to strengthen higher education's benefit to the state.

Our state's future success will be defined by how we treat our children and young people, by the care they receive and the quality of their education.

I was raised in Mount Gambier and have the amazing opportunity to live amongst the beauty of our natural wonders every day. We know how important it is to preserve the pristine natural wonders throughout this great state, not just for our own enjoyment or for that of visitors but so that generations well into the future can enjoy all the natural wonders that our state has to offer. Those natural wonders abound in South Australia: world-class national parks and wine regions, pristine beaches, majestic wildlife, and enviable wind and solar resources. A Malinauskas Labor government will ensure that our precious environment is protected now and into the future through:

protecting and preserving Adelaide's coastlines;

the conservation of precious wetlands through the creation of the Aldinga Washpool Conservation Park;

commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and making the River Murray a priority;

supporting landholders who strive for a sustainable country;

providing assurance to environment centres to continue their important work; and

investing in the future of our national marine parks and sanctuary zones.

We are also stopping Steven Marshall's tax on electric vehicles to help reduce the environmental impact of cars on our roads, and striking the right balance between growth and protection for our streets, suburbs and Parklands to ensure Adelaide remains one of the world's most livable cities. Sustainability and protection of our beautiful natural wonders means a greater and cleaner future not just for us but for generations to come.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mark Braes and Katherine Davies. They ran for the seats of MacKillop and Mount Gambier respectively. I would like to thank all of our Labor supporters across the state, but particularly in those two areas. We all know that it is difficult to run as a member of parliament, particularly in a regional area where there are vast distances to cover. Mark did an amazing job, and I certainly think the subsequent job he did in the federal seat of Barker was also remarkable. It was great to have Katherine so involved in the campaign in the weeks leading up to the election.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my husband, Gerard, and our children. Families of politicians end up being very highly involved. They may or may not have chosen to do so if they had not been connected by marriage or birth, but what it means for families of politicians is that leading up to an election they, too, are stuffing envelopes; they, too, are putting up corflutes; they, too, are staffing pre-poll booths and giving out how-to-votes on the day. They have done a remarkable job and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I would also like to congratulate Troy Bell, who was re-elected as the member for Mount Gambier. He is a very well-known and liked local member. He has an incredible network within the South-East, and I think we will certainly look forward to continuing to engage with him on the issues that are of relevance to our local area in the South-East. I look forward to working with our newly formed government, my colleagues, stakeholders, and community members, to continue to make this great state an outstanding place to live and to do business as we all work together to create a brighter future for South Australians.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (16:03): To begin my contribution to the Address in Reply, I would like to thank Her Excellency the Governor for delivering her first speech to this place at the opening of the new parliament. In her short time in the vice-regal role, Her Excellency has widely impressed with her busy schedule, and her genuine engagement with those she is visiting. Much like her predecessor, she is getting out and visiting many community groups, charities and other organisations, which is to her great credit.

Although we are only now a few weeks into the sitting of this new parliament, I acknowledge that we are responding to Her Excellency's speech at the opening of this Fifty-Fifth Parliament of South Australia. In that spirit, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the recent election, the policies that were taken to the election and the work now being undertaken to deliver on those commitments. I would briefly like to place on record my thanks to the people of South Australia for placing their trust in, and electing, a Labor government, the Peter Malinauskas Labor government.

We went to the election with a broad and ambitious policy agenda, an agenda that focused on building a better future for South Australians, not just the next electoral cycle. I thank the people of this state for endorsing that vision. I would like to thank the Premier for the honour of being appointed as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector.

In the coming weeks and months, my colleagues and I will be working hard to implement our election commitments, including through introducing some significant legislative reforms to this parliament. I am looking forward to working with members across this chamber and across the parliament to deliver on some of those commitments.

In the area of industrial relations, the Labor Party is committed to ensuring that South Australian workers are treated with respect and dignity at work. We are committed to introducing new laws in this state, including new laws to make industrial manslaughter a crime. This reform has long been sought by workers' unions and the families of those who have tragically died in industrial accidents. It is a reform that is long overdue and one that I look forward to implementing.

This council, through the previous parliament's Select Committee on Wage Theft, which was chaired by our colleague the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos, has in recent years uncovered appalling evidence of the exploitation of some South Australian workers. If you are a worker and steal money out of the till, you face being charged with theft. There is no reason the same rule should not apply if you are an employer deliberately taking money out of your workers' pockets by refusing to pay them their proper entitlements.

Wage theft does not just harm workers, it punishes the vast majority of honest employers who do the right thing, by creating an uneven playing field where some play by the rules and others do not. This government recognises that every worker is entitled to dignity at work and to receive their proper wages and conditions. That is why we will introduce new laws for penalties for employers who deliberately underpay their workers.

One consequence of the rise in the casual and insecure workforce is that fewer and fewer South Australians can access long service leave and take a well-earned break after many years of service. Our government will consult with business, unions and workers to expand to other sectors the portable long service leave system, which already works so successfully for the construction industry.

One of the most harmful acts of the former Liberal government was the gutting of the labour hire licensing scheme introduced by Labor in 2017. Labour hire workers face job insecurity and are vulnerable to significant exploitation by their employers. The laws introduced by the former Labor government aimed to ensure that only fit and proper persons were licensed to operate labour hire agencies and to keep the dodgy operators out of the market. This government will undo the damage done by the former Liberal government by strengthening our labour hire licensing laws to ensure all labour hire firms and workers are covered by the same laws and regulations.

In the area of justice, one of the first and most important roles of a government is the safety of its citizens. That is why the new government is committed to increasing penalties and closing loopholes in the criminal law. We intend to have the toughest laws in Australia against serious child sex offenders, who will face the prospect of time in jail. We will also introduce laws to establish a public sex offender register to provide greater confidence and safety, while serious child sex offenders will face the prospect of lifetime electronic monitoring via GPS.

It is critical that South Australian victims of crime and abuse, regardless of where they live or what language they speak, feel respected, supported and safe. We are committed to legislate to protect the role of Nunga Courts. We are also committed to ensuring that Aboriginal elders have a voice in sentencing the offenders, which can help to heal victims.

The trauma of victims, which can last a lifetime and can be aggravated by court proceedings, anniversaries of events and publicity around similar crimes or the eventual release of an offender, needs to be addressed safely, compassionately and confidentially. We are proud to have committed to investing an additional $2 million to improve support for victims, including through additional funding for the Victim Support Service, reversing the course of action taken by the former government in making cuts to the Victim Support Service. This aims to help victims through some of the toughest times in their lives.

The government will introduce legislation to strengthen women's safety by criminalising coercive control, toughening penalties for breaches of domestic violence intervention orders, requiring those who are granted bail who have been charged with serious domestic violence offences to be electronically monitored, waiving fees for court-initiated domestic violence intervention orders, and including the experience of domestic violence as a ground for discrimination in the Equal Opportunity Act. Everything that can possibly be done to prevent violence against women and girls, and to address gender inequality, must be progressed.

Our government will review consent laws, restore funding cut from the Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service, and invest $1 million in a grant program for women's and men's sheds and $1 million in funding to establish a southern and northern domestic violence prevention and recovery hub to undertake work to support and empower women and raise community awareness.

In the area of Aboriginal affairs, in 2019 the then Labor opposition committed that, if elected, a state Labor government would implement a state-based version of the Uluru Statement from the Heart—Voice, Treaty, Truth. This was in stark contrast to the member for Dunstan, Steven Marshall, who as Premier described the Treaty as a 'cruel hoax' and then cancelled the Treaty process entirely in one of his first acts.

We believe in Aboriginal self-determination as a guiding principle in policies in this area. We will deliver on Voice, Treaty, Truth—the key elements of the Uluru statement—and work has already begun on these important tasks. This is a large undertaking and the work will take time. We are committed to doing this properly. We are working to deliver on a significant suite of other policies alongside the implementation of a state-based response to the Uluru statement.

We have committed to an Aboriginal statues and monuments policy to recognise and remember the great Aboriginal people of our past and educate future generations. Across this state there are statues and monuments celebrating the achievements of many great South Australians. This is particularly true in the CBD and it is often a good acknowledgement of the contribution people have made, but there is a glaring omission. It is just not right that these statues exclude the contributions of so many Aboriginal people, and we are determined to start addressing that.

To better care for our country, we will establish a First Nations advisory group to speak directly to the Minister for Environment and employ 15 extra Aboriginal rangers. We will ensure that Aboriginal voices are heard on the future of the River Murray, and we will legislate to enshrine the Nunga Court as part of the justice system. Work is already underway. With that, I seek leave to conclude my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.