I rise to make a brief contribution on the Appropriation Bill. I commend the Hon. Rob Lucas on (a) his speech and (b) the fine work that his Budget and Finance Committee does in keeping this government, at best, remotely honest.
I just want to highlight a couple of disturbing things before I touch on a couple of areas in my various portfolios. Access Economics has reported statistical information that I think most South Australians would find extremely disturbing. Whilst I do not want to be the bearer of doom and gloom, I think that, over the next few years under this government, we are going to face an incredibly rocky road.
The government has thrown out some numbers at us and also some statements, which include: South Australia’s economic growth will be below national growth in each of the next five years; South Australia’s share of the national economy will continue to decline from 6.8 per cent in 2001-02 (it is 6.1 per cent now) to only 5.8 per cent in 2014-15—it is a marvellous legacy that the Rann government leaves us—South Australia’s export growth will be below the national growth in each of the next five years; South Australia’s population growth will be about half the national growth in each of the next five years; South Australia’s employment growth will be below the national growth in each of the next five years; and South Australia’s unemployment rate will also remain above the national rate in each of the next five years.
It is a record that you could hardly be proud of, and it is certainly nothing to look forward to. I will just touch on the budget and sport. The Rann government’s budget made savage cuts to sporting programs at the South Australian Sports Institute. Some of the sports that have been cut include the men and women’s soccer programs, basketball, baseball, aerial gymnastics, sailing and tennis. By cutting these seven programs, the Rann government has cut short the future of South Australian sport in each and every one of those sports.
Labor has neglected grassroots sport. We have seen the passing of the bill today (and I, sir, I believe you have the message in front of you) in which the government agreed to the 40 or so amendments passed in this place about the Adelaide Oval. There is nothing in the Adelaide Oval for grassroots sport, other than in the amendment we moved to make sure that there was up to $1 million for grassroots sport—and of that one feature, I am incredibly proud.
One of the things that worries me about the cutting of the funding to SASI and to our elite athletes is that it is becoming more and more expensive for young people to participate in sport. It has been explained to me by coaches and parents who have young people involved in these elite sporting programs that now, if you do not come from the right side of the tracks, if you are not from a family that is reasonably well heeled, your ability to participate and perhaps grow to become a star for South Australia, or indeed a national champion, is extremely limited. That is not the South Australia I grew up in, and am extremely proud of. The fact that we are getting to a point where unless—yes, I am very disturbed—that a basic thing like sport, something that should not depend on the size of your parents’ wallet or where you live, a basic necessity is fast disappearing from the reach of many South Australian families. It is not just the sporting component we are losing; there will be a cost to society if those young people, out of frustration, turn to other things—and they could well be things that involve crime and certainly rob those young people of discipline and opportunity. The cost to us in law and order I think will grow exponentially.
The government has left its commitment swinging in regard to the Campbelltown sports hub, which is one of those promises I think it will never deliver because its federal colleagues have shown no interest in the project. Whilst that part of Adelaide and South Australia is desperate for this type of sporting hub, it is obviously going nowhere fast. We are still waiting to see the Port Augusta project, which we still hold great hope for. The member for Stuart (Dan van Holst Pellekaan) has done an outstanding job trying to make sure that project stays on the table.
I have touched on Adelaide Oval and what it will do for grassroots sport, and I must say that over the last few weeks I have had a number of quite productive meetings with SACA officials and those who provide services to them. They have been very good in regard to how much information they have been prepared to share, and I am very grateful to them.
I will move onto tourism, and I am extremely concerned about this real income earner for this state. What we have seen is the flow-on effect from last year’s horror budget, when $12.5 million was taken out of the tourism budget. Typically, what we have seen is the regional areas suffering. The first thing this government did, because it had to save money, was cut jobs out of the regions. Sir, being from the country, you know that in a small community any job is prized by that community because it could well mean that a family is attached to that job and it could mean people playing sport in that community. Every job is cherished.
The first thing this government has done is cut 23 positions out of regional South Australia. So, 23 positions that it funded to the tune of about $40,000 per position, and the best it has come back with is, ‘Well, we’re actually going to provide 11 positions’, and they are going to fund those positions to the tune of $10,000 each. I ask: how serious is the government about regional tourism in this state? I have argued long and hard about the fact that regional people will sell their own area better than anyone else; they will cross-sell, they will make sure that tourists have the best possible experience in a region—and, to be fair, spend the money they are prepared to spend in that particular region.
You do not usually find out about the little restaurant, tucked away around the corner, which gives a great experience, from a website when you are looking at something else. Those are the sorts of on-sales that only a person in a regional area will do, and they really do maximise the experience. Of course, then you get into word-of-mouth; a tourist will go back to where they come from and talk about the great experience they have had. So I think that particular act deprives tourists of the full experience.
The minister knows that I was very unhappy about the way this government has privatised the visitor information centre. It has broken another core Labor promise of no privatisation, so we now have the trifecta of the forests, the lotteries and now the visitor information centre. The fact that the minister did not even bother to look at the premises that the new privatised visitor information centre was going to just smacks of absolute neglect. The fact is that South Australia’s visitor information centre will be housed in a basement, with no disabled facilities. How could you sign off on something like that?
Much has been said about that, and I know that the chairman has fallen on his sword. I am not suggesting impropriety but I will say that the communications on that whole thing, and the minister’s oversight of it, were really quite appalling. That should put a warning across the minister’s bow with regard to how much hands-on attention he needs to pay to this incredibly valuable industry.
We have heard the Premier over the last couple of days—and hello, hello; it is fantastic. He has actually worked out that Kangaroo Island is a very important tourist destination. He has been the Premier for 9½ years and he has worked out that Kangaroo Island is a very important tourist destination. My goodness! It beggars belief to think that the community of South Australia will actually applaud him for waking up to what the rest of us have known for many years. We have had a promise of a spend on Kangaroo Island; I welcome that promise and look forward to it being delivered because, as you know Mr President, it is certainly way overdue.
The honourable member interjects, but I cannot comment because I would not know; I never comment on what members do in their own private time. Moving on from tourism, I will briefly touch on correctional services. As you would be aware, sir, we have a select committee looking into correctional services, and we are incredibly concerned about many areas: luxury TVs, escapes, shipping containers, drugs in prisons and bullying of officers. That will continue to unfold, and I look forward hopefully to being part of the solution and bringing that department back into some sort of reasonable shape.
Aboriginal affairs can be challenging, and I know that the work will be ongoing. One of the things that worries me with Aboriginal affairs is that we seem to have so many different silos of government supposedly taking responsibility for their own private area. I think that trying to coordinate that is almost unworkable, and I would like to see the minister have control of everything to do with Aboriginal affairs in that particular area. Certainly on the lands, when we have problems with power or with food pricing, it never ever seems to be the minister’s fault; it is always a different scenario. It is very hard to pin them down on it.
Until we put up our hand and take some responsibility in that particular portfolio, I do not see the life of Aboriginal people improving. Hopefully, the Substance Misuse Centre in Amata is finally going to be put to good use. We have millions of dollars worth of infrastructure, which seems to have been wasted for a number of years. We are suggesting a haemodialysis facility; the Amata centre is totally underused, and this is something that would be fantastic for Aboriginal people on the lands. If you can have dialysis facilities on small communities in the Northern Territory, I do not see any reason whatsoever why we cannot provide those sorts of facilities on the APY lands.
I will now touch on gambling. We are still in a state of limbo with regard to the federal government and what it may or may not do. I have taken some comfort from the gambling minister’s statements, which have been reasonably consistent with regard to believing in voluntary pre-commitment, and I applaud the minister for those comments. I know that, in relation to industry in this state, in particular, the hotel industry and, to a degree, the club industry, many important investment decisions are being put on hold at the moment because of the uncertainty in gaming.
I do not want to see anybody hurt with gaming. I will keep hammering the point that I believe the money from the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund that goes to minister Rankine’s Families and Communities would be better spent being farmed out to the NGOs to have people on the ground providing education, counselling and support. Until we do that and show that we are genuine about the fact that we as a parliament and we as a state believe in choice but we believe that those who are harming themselves should have the opportunity to be looked after—I will not rest until that is a reality.
I know that, in these economic times, the state is drifting. I know that people would be prepared to invest money in facilities and equipment, thereby employing people and providing a safe and attractive environment for South Australians to enjoy themselves. I know that that investment is on hold at the moment, and it is hurting many people. So, if you, sir, as President, or any of the ministers, can use any influence on your federal counterparts to try to get some certainty into that industry, it would be appreciated. The sooner they do it the better and the sooner they do it the right way, the better off we will all be.
I would like to thank you that for hot tip, sir, for the nag yesterday. It is still running, I believe. But that will not be the last time we share a wager and a bit of fun, I hope, because I do believe in choice. I believe in responsible gambling, and I believe that those who cannot look after themselves in that scenario should be provided with support.
This Premier has run his race. For a number of years, he has skated through, making statements without follow-up and got away with it. His time is well and truly passed. The economic indicators show that this state is going nowhere fast. The sooner the Premier puts on his pyjamas, heads out to the steps of Parliament House, feigns illness like a previous premier and gets out of the way, the sooner, hopefully, we can get on with running this state and resurrect it. With those few words, I support the bill.