Government Whip in the Legislative Council

Liberal Member in the Parliament of South Australia




Address-In-Reply 2018

Thursday 10 May, 2018

I rise to support the motion and give thanks to His Excellency the Governor for his speech opening the Fifty-Fourth Parliament of South Australia. His Excellency has provided four outstanding years of service to the people of South Australia. I would like to express my gratitude to the Governor and Mrs Le for their dedication, generosity and hard work. They have done this state proud with their selfless service, opening their hearts to all South Australians, championing cultural diversity, education and economic opportunity, and tirelessly supporting many worthy organisations.

Sir, I offer my congratulations to you as the new President. I am sure that, as President, you will maintain the dignity and decorum of the chamber. I sincerely thank the people of South Australia for re-electing myself and my Liberal colleagues the Hon. David Ridgway, the Hon. Stephen Wade and the Hon. Jing Lee. It is, of course, an incredible honour, and I look forward to my work as the Government Whip in the Legislative Council as well as continuing my service on a number of committees.

I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate and welcome the five new members to this chamber: the Hon. Emily Bourke, the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos, the Hon. Clare Scriven, the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Frank Pangallo. The extensive experience and enthusiasm of these members will no doubt greatly contribute to the spirited debates we have in this place. I will not go through their names, but I also congratulate all the new lower house MPs on both sides and look forward to hearing their maiden speeches. I also wish to acknowledge the service of two former members of this chamber, the Hon. Robert Brokenshire and the Hon. Kelly Vincent. Both were diligent members who stood up for their beliefs with integrity, and I know that their contributions have had a lasting impact on this state.

The Governor, in his opening speech, outlined the newly elected government's agenda for positive, enduring legislative reform in this state. It is a shame that the former premier did not bother to show up to hear it, as I believe His Excellency outlined a more detailed and comprehensive plan for reform than any government we have seen in recent years. I was pleased to hear from the Governor's speech that “the number of new members reflects a desire for change and renewal expressed by the people of South Australia.”

As those in this chamber know, I stand here as a strong advocate for Liberal values. I believe that this government will fight to advance the prosperity of our state so that we can all enjoy the highest possible standard of living with efficient, quality services in health and education and a fair and transparent justice system. The Liberal government's agenda includes vitally important protections for the most vulnerable in our society and ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

The government has planned for economic growth; however, on this side of the chamber we understand that constant government interventions in the economy do not create jobs and prosperity. Government subsidies and grants for business, which we have become familiar with under the previous government, do not provide long-term sustainability. We must do everything we can to create the best environment for business to thrive in South Australia.

His Excellency the Governor referred to the strong policy commitments made by the Liberal Party prior to the election, which were endorsed by the South Australian voters. The Governor highlighted our commitment to foster economic growth and job creation, make businesses more competitive, create more training opportunities and reduce the cost of living for all South Australians.

The people of South Australia clearly want change. They placed their trust in a majority Marshall Liberal government, which will work hard to deliver on every one of the policy commitments made prior to the election. As noted by the Governor, the government has already given instructions to government departments to pay bills on time, has begun preparing legislation for the reduction of payroll tax, and has initiated the procedure to implement $90 million worth of ESL bill relief.

South Australia has enormous potential for economic growth. We can be nationally and internationally competitive in several key industries if we commit to reducing costs for business. We must ensure that our economy provides a capability for well-paid, highly skilled work. Economic growth is driven through the private sector, and the policies articulated by the Liberal Party will best support this. Our commitment to increase the tax-free threshold and reduce the top marginal rate for land tax is one example of a policy that will encourage investment.

While there was some temporary payroll relief provided by the former government, it was not nearly enough. The business sector in this state is struggling. Under the previous Labor government, we saw increased red tape, fees and restrictive regulations for business. We need to be cutting payroll tax, and I am very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition in the other place supports our commitment on this issue, recognising that payroll tax is a tax on jobs. Perhaps he learnt something while he was in this chamber.

The reality is that the burden on business must be relieved to allow them the opportunity to grow and employ South Australians. Small and medium-sized businesses are the largest employer in our state and we need to support those individuals who make the decision to start their own business.

Under Labor, we saw a hostile business environment. As a result, the rate of business creation plummeted. The Liberal Party understands that, to generate growth and jobs in the small and medium business sector, the government must fix the fundamentals and leave the rest up to the private sector. Under Labor, business found it too difficult to meet the costs of higher taxes and fees. We must restore business confidence by supporting jobs and investment.

The Marshall Liberal government will reduce red tape and keep business costs as low as possible. Through this, we can make it easier and more cost-effective for the private sector to begin new ventures, grow business and, most importantly, employ more people. Critical to creating this environment will be supporting young entrepreneurs and fuelling innovation, as well as strengthening the technical skills industry through more apprenticeships and traineeships.

It is a shame that for 16 years under the previous Labor government so much was promised, yet so little delivered. When the previous government needed to stand tall in matters such as mental health and aged care, it failed our most vulnerable citizens abysmally. Our government is listening and taking action. The Marshall Liberal government has appointed a new Chief Psychiatrist to implement a new clinical plan for state-funded mental health services across the state, as well as address the recommendations of the maladministration investigation into Oakden.

We have been handed the Labor government's legacy of a bloated bureaucracy, red tape and taxes, with failed economic, employment and educational outcomes. This government will implement an agenda to retain our bright young minds and attract talented professionals from interstate and overseas. Our state's economy simply cannot thrive when so many of our young graduates are leaving. Encouraging job creation will allow every young person in South Australia to have the same opportunity to achieve their ambitions and this comes from resetting the fundamentals to allow business the best chance to flourish.

The Governor notes that “private business should not look to taxpayers for financial support before making investment and growth decisions, because my government does not intend to be a bank or part of private sector business decisions.” History has proven to us that government and society interact most effectively when the size and impact of government is restricted and free enterprise is encouraged.

For too long, economic growth has been curbed by government mismanagement through excessive red tape and interference with private enterprise. Often when we grow the size of government bureaucracy, it is at the expense of growing our economy. A small and efficient government encourages growth. This government will seek to restrain debt by focusing on efficient, smarter spending. We saw, with the shameful experiences of Oakden, how a bigger government did not result in better outcomes.
In South Australia, industries such as food and wine, education, health, financial services, tourism and technology are growing and provide us with the opportunity to increase our exports to other states and countries. This is why the Marshall Liberal government has introduced a number of policies focused on supporting business owners to increase their exports. It will make a welcome change from the previous government, which had very little ambition to improve our export performance.

I look forward to a renewed focus on the regions under this new Marshall Liberal government. The regions are the economic powerhouse of this state. The government recognises that our regions must be supported with efficient infrastructure to grow their contribution to the South Australian economy. We will be held to account on our policy commitments to regional South Australia, including regional development and primary industries, and I know that my colleagues in both houses look forward to implementing them.

The regional roads and infrastructure fund will provide certainty to our struggling regional areas, and the regional growth fund will see more money directed to the regions over the next 10 years than under the entire 16 years of the previous government.

It is a pleasure to be part of the Marshall Liberal government—a liberal reformist government—which, with its focus on growing the economy, creating jobs and keeping young people in South Australia, will revitalise our state. Now is the time for our bold plan for reform to be implemented. There is so much opportunity in South Australia that has not been realised by the previous government over its 16 years. This government will modernise and grow our economy to realise these opportunities.
All members of this chamber brought their own mandate to the election and I am sure that, at times, those interests will bring us into conflict; however, I look forward to collaborating with members opposite to reach a consensus that effectively serves the interests of the state. We all want the best for South Australia. I am sure that we can all work together to achieve this.

As the Governor notes, the government is ultimately accountable for its actions through this parliament to the people of South Australia. I am sure that members opposite will work hard to hold this government to account. This Marshall Liberal government has a comprehensive program for reform. I look forward to those promises being brought forward to this house in the coming term.

Premier Steven Marshall and cabinet, whom I congratulate on their appointment, will provide strong leadership for this state. As always, my Liberal colleagues and I will work diligently in this house on behalf of the people of South Australia. I am confident that we will bring about beneficial change for all South Australians. I commend the motion to the chamber.

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