Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


South Australian Jobs

In reply to the Hon. L.A. HENDERSON ().22 February 2023).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Treasurer has advised:

The labour market in South Australia has never been stronger.

South Australia's unemployment rate has never been lower at 3.8 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms. This was equal with Queensland and lower than Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

There are now a record 936,000 people employed in South Australia, in seasonally adjusted terms. This is up 4,400 from the previous month and almost 28,000 from when the Malinauskas government came to office.

Of these, 936,000 jobs, 614,200 are full time. This is also a record high and almost 16,000 higher than at the time of the March 2022 state election.

This record high employment and record low unemployment rate remarkably coincided with a labour force increase in participation in the month of 2,500 people to bring the participation rate to 63.8 per cent.

Impressively, population growth in South Australia is also at near record highs. In the year to the September quarter 2022, South Australia's population increased by over 25,000 in just one year. This was the second highest annual increase in population on record.

The increase over the year means the population grew by 1.4 per cent. This was a significantly higher annual rate of growth in population than what was seen in the previous three population releases, which either mostly or wholly covered the term of the previous government.

The main drivers of this near record annual growth in population were net overseas migration and net interstate migration. 19,562 people moved to South Australia from overseas over the year, the highest on record. Net interstate migration was 1,438, the second highest on record, and the highest since the year to June 1991.

The year to the September quarter recorded a substantial fall in the natural increase in the population, which hit its lowest ever annual increase on record of 4,196. Potentially explaining this result is that September was approximately nine months on from the December/January period when restrictions were reimposed on the community following the border reopening by the previous government.

The Malinauskas government is committed to a range of policies to support the economy and job creation in South Australia, as articulated in the lead-up to the recent state election.

We are also delivering on key election commitments that will create jobs, including construction of a new hydrogen electrolyser and one of the world's largest hydrogen plants to support the transition to renewable energy and sustainable jobs in the state, and unlock jobs in the renewable energy pipeline across South Australia.

The 2022-23 budget set aside nearly $900 million over five years for new initiatives on jobs and the economy. Some of the initiatives we are undertaking include boosting tourism marketing, support for major events, contributing to the establishment of a space manufacturing hub and support for manufacturing innovation.

In addition to our election commitments to support and create jobs such as, the Premier had been actively lobbying to secure last week's announcement of Australia's nuclear submarine program finding its home in South Australia.

South Australia will be the home of Australian nuclear-powered submarine construction, delivering the single greatest upgrade for our defence capability starting this year.

South Australian industry will see a transformational step change in industrial capability and capacity uplift.

This will be one of our country's Australia's greatest industrial undertakings.

The submarine construction yard created for the build of our next generation nuclear-powered submarines will be almost three times larger than the yard forecast for the attack class program.

At its peak, up to 4,000 workers will be employed to design and build the infrastructure for the submarine construction yard.

A further 4,000 to 5,500 direct shipyard jobs are expected to be created to build nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia when the program reaches its peak. This does not include the additional jobs created in the supply chain for the construction or sustainment of submarines.

This is double the workforce forecast by the former government for the attack class program, which will have flow-on effects to the entire South Australian economy, including the building industry.

The Premier has taken singular responsibility for direct engagement with the Prime Minister and the defence minister to lock in the AUKUS investment and the opportunities it presents for our state.

Infrastructure development will be a key support to the economy and job creation over this period of government. Large projects that lead our infrastructure agenda include the north-south corridor upgrade, the new Women's and Children's Hospital, as well as numerous other road and hospital upgrades.

The government will also build five new technical colleges across the state, to ensure South Australians are equipped with the skills to take up jobs in industries currently facing shortages.

South Australia has, for a long time, seen some of its youngest and brightest leaving the state for opportunities interstate or abroad. More recently, however, we have seen changes in patterns of interstate migration with record positive net inflows while interstate and international borders have been fully open. The increasing diversity of the state's employment opportunities and our improving lifestyle choices, which include the expanding food and arts sector, have helped in this regard.

We are increasing what young people here and interstate know about the types of careers and lifestyle available through the New State of Mind campaign, which has increased South Australia's appeal—openness to move to South Australia increased by 8 per cent (from 38 per cent to 46 per cent), which is the greatest increase across all states/territories, and Adelaide's ranking as preferred place to live has jumped from 8th to 4th place.

Migrants are an essential part of our skills mix, and we are committed to ensuring culturally appropriate settlement services to migrants to our state so they can build their lives here as important contributors to our society. We are also backing it with the numerous initiatives I have outlined on jobs and the economy.

Our recently announced plan—A Better Housing Future—provides an immediate response to the significant pressures currently being experienced by many homebuyers and renters in the state. The plan, which includes the single largest release of residential land in the state's history, delivery of more affordable housing, and tax concessions to promote new housing activity, will provide substantial additional future housing capacity for those who want to live and work in South Australia.

Since coming to government, South Australian economy has improved markedly, indicating the increased confidence of South Australians in the economy.

The previous government left significant uncertainty within the South Australian economy through their mishandling of the border opening and the disastrous land tax changes.

Despite the global economy coming into an increasingly uncertain period, our economy and labour force approach this period from a position that has never been stronger.