I rise to support the motion. At the outset I congratulate the Governor and Mrs Scarce on the way they conduct themselves at all times and represent the people of South Australia. I am incredibly proud of the work they do and, as I said in a previous speech, I rarely congratulate the former premier Mike Rann on a number of his appointments, but I think premier Rann got it absolutely right with Governor Kevin Scarce, and obviously Mrs Scarce plays such an important role. I sincerely wish them all the very best, as I believe their terms are coming to an end.
I would like to pay tribute to the Hon. Ann Bressington and the Hon. Carmel Zollo for the work they have done for this council. I would also like to congratulate all those MLCs who have been returned to this place.
In particular, Mr Acting President, I would like to congratulate you and the Hon. Mr McLachlan for being elected to the Legislative Council, and would like to place on the record that I thought both your maiden speeches were a credit to yourselves, your family and friends, and your parties, which decided to nominate you to be elected to this place. I have also been fortunate enough to hear and read the maiden speech of the members for Bright, Mitchell, Mount Gambier, Hartley and Schubert in the other place, and I was really impressed. I thought they were thoughtful, insightful and inspiring and I really look forward to working with those members.
A common theme in the speeches was the perilous state of our economy, and after 12 years of Labor government our economy is absolutely on its knees. The Premier says that he wants to embrace business—which is, of course, our theme, as to how we would get this economy to tick over again. There are things like payroll tax, land tax and WorkCover which are great places to start. It is not rocket science; the reality is that you really must reduce the burden on business to give business the opportunity to grow and employ people, the very people the Labor Party often says are its core constituency.
I hope it still thinks that working people are its core constituency, and not only people on welfare. I fear that this state is heading towards becoming just a welfare state. Business is finding it incredibly difficult to operate. Early this morning I headed up to my barber to be shorn, as is my wont. He could not do much with my head; this is the best he could do, but I was disturbed to hear him telling me how many people he knows who are in small business who are doing their best to get out of it. They want to sell and get some money for their business while they still can. We are not talking about anything other than the fact that this current state Labor government does not understand that the imposts and regulation that small business has to deal with is making it almost impossible for people to run sustainable businesses. That sort of feedback really disturbs me.
I will continue to work with the industries I have had particular relationships with. I said in my maiden speech that I would always support industries such as the club industry, the hotel industry, the racing industry and, in particular in recent times, the real estate industry, which has suffered with further burdens of overregulation, making it difficult for people to survive.
I made these notes last night and then, of course, I find that the health minister has decided that smoking outdoors in venues will be prohibited. Some people may say that that is entirely reasonable, but I say that unless someone has the guts to ban smoking then I think it is time we got off the throats of those who choose to smoke. It may not sound too bad, that you cannot smoke outdoors, but I have made some investigations and have found that hotels, for instance, have spent enormous amounts of money trying to comply with legislation to let people who do smoke participate in smoking.
I am not a smoker—this is not about self-interest for me, or my wife, who has fortunately given it up—but it is a legal pastime. We find that hotels and clubs have spent an enormous amount of money trying to ensure that all patrons can go and do their thing. If you do not like to smoke, you can be inside, you cannot have that burden pushed upon you, not like it was in the old days, but I have found that if somebody has a bowl of chips or some nuts, and they take them outside, then that will be deemed to be an area where people are eating so smoking will be prohibited.
So, the working class habit of having a couple of gaspers and a couple of beers after work with your mates—your comrades—well, this government has decided that they are not going to put up with that any more. Whatever happened to choice? Whatever happened to common sense? A bit of feedback that I have had, because I made some inquiries straight away about this, is that our reasoning is: because every other state in Australia does it. Well, maybe they have not got it quite right. Maybe people should have a bit of choice with these sorts of things.
I am informed that these measures will be put in by regulation. I will do my best to disallow these regulations, and I hope I get some support from the chamber. I am not a pro-smoking person, I do not particularly like it, but it is a legal pastime and, as I said, unless someone has the guts to decide that they are going to outlaw it, which I do not think is reasonable, I think people should have the choice. Why are we making people's lives miserable and why are we making it harder and harder for businesses to sustain themselves? Again, I think this is a brazen attack on working class people. If you want to have a cigarette and you want to have a beer with your mates after work, where is the harm—seriously? We are becoming a state of nimbys and I cannot understand why this government would go down this particular path.
We have had quite a bit of interference with real estate legislation over the last number of years. I was hoping that clubs and hotels would be left alone with no further extra regulation, no further deterrence for people to own businesses and work in those businesses. I would like to see people take a bit of self responsibility with regards to what they do in hotels and clubs, with no further regulation, or over-regulation, but, of course, the smoking thing has hammered that.
Certainly the real estate industry is doing it particularly tough at the moment so it would be wonderful if this government could just leave them alone, and not try and further regulate and make it more difficult for people to go about their business to buy and sell houses because, at the end of the day, people do buy and people do sell, and the government should try and get the hell out of the way.
I want to refer to the member for Enfield—and I will speak on behalf of my members in the Liberal Party and my crossbench colleagues if they would indulge me. Members of the Labor Party in this house can speak for themselves if they so wish, but for Mr Rau to—and I will read his comments as reported in the paper and I have since had a quick glance at his speech. I quote Sheradyn Holderhead:
Deputy Premier, John Rau, has used his reply to the Governor's speech to push the important issue of upper house reform and had a crack at its members. Mr Rau's remarks were made less than 24 hours after Labor colleague and upper house member John Gazzola used his reply to the Governor's speech to label President Russell Wortley 'a parasite', calling for his resignation from the plum post. Mr Rau said reform to the upper house was important and joked it was a common topic of conversation at barbecues with friends.
Well, I would like him to name the friends. I am not sure how many he has but I think he is using that a bit liberally. It continues:
When you go to a friend's barbecue they start saying, what about the upper house?
Well, I have to say that is not something I have ever been attacked with, and I do have a few friends that I go to barbecues with, believe it or not. It continues:
Because everybody is talking about it. They get quite excited, particularly when they have had a couple of beers.
Well, so should everybody. It continues:
Everyone has a view. Number one is, who are these characters?
Who are these characters? I think that this is a chamber in which we do not necessarily agree on everything but everybody brings something to this particular chamber. I know my colleagues on the opposite side have skill sets. They have worked in industries looking after the terms and conditions of working people. For the Deputy Premier to be making disparaging remarks about the types of people we are, I find incredibly offensive.
I would ask, 'Who is he?' Who is he, Mr Acting President? Was he a community advocate for the people of Enfield before taking that seat, or was he somebody who knifed a sitting member of the Labor Party and took that particular seat? Does he live in that community? These are questions that I think the Deputy Premier should ask himself before he starts questioning the character of the people who are in this particular chamber. I certainly find it incredibly offensive on behalf of my colleagues, certainly within the Liberal Party, who all have real life experience, for the Deputy Premier to be saying, 'Who are these people?'
Then he goes on to attack all upper houses, including the Senate. Can I say that I believe the Senate performs an incredibly important role in our parliamentary democracy. I for one will always support it. Why the Hon. John Rau would attack the Senate is beyond me, given that—
The Hon. T.A. Franks: Why John Rau does anything is beyond me.
The Hon. T.J. STEPHENS: I acknowledge the Hon. Tammy Franks' interjection. I really find it quite offensive. It is one thing for people to be talking about changes and reform, but when you start talking about the types of people who are in this house, I am certainly going to get angry about it, and I am happy to defend my side of politics and the Liberal Party. I am hoping the honourable members opposite in caucus give him a fair dressing down, because I just do not know why he thinks he is such a trumped up person.
With those few words, of course I am disappointed to be on this side of the chamber. A total of 93,000 more people voted for us than the government. The rules are that the government is the government, so it is our job to hold them to account. To rebut the obvious arguments about the Liberal Party having a gerrymander under Playford for many years, I have to say premier Playford did outstanding things with this state and left us in a lot better place.
If only that were going to be the case. With 16 years of Labor rule, if this was going to be a stronger state, then perhaps we could live with it, but the facts are that we are not. We are leading Australia in a negative way on most economic indicators. Our unemployment rate is the worst in mainland Australia. This government constantly talks about its term. I can tell you that in 2002 we were mid-pack in a strong economy in economic indicators in Australia.
With that, I support the motion and wish all honourable members well in this coming term. Let us do good things for the people of South Australia. I know we work in their interests. The Deputy Premier may not think so, but then I often wonder what drives the Deputy Premier with some of his deliberations.