That was a heartwarming speech from the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars because, as we all know, socialist governments are terrific until they run out of other people’s money to spend. The Hon. Gerry Kandelaars has just highlighted how wonderful they are while the borrowing is happening, but at some stage the tap is going to be turned off and do you know what is going to happen then? The Liberal government is going to have to clean up the filthy mess again.
The message that I take from this Labor government’s budget is plain and simple: you just cannot trust Labor. We are witnessing this at both a state and federal level—Labor cannot be trusted with our money and we cannot trust this Labor government with anything that they tell us. Time and time again we are told that a surplus will be delivered—it is almost comedy hour—but time and time again we, as a state, are left with a deficit and a debt to pay. Six deficits in seven years, a figure that is completely unacceptable.
Why is this happening? It is because this government, over the course of 11 long and damaging years, has lost touch with reality and lost touch with the community. Because of its ill-considered decisions families, small businesses and those already struggling in this time of economic hardship are forced to pay for this government’s failures.
It has been said before, and it will continue to be heard for as long as Labor is in government, that Labor has a spending problem. If anyone else in the community were to spend beyond their means, like this government does, they simply would not get away with it. The banks would foreclose on them
That’s why you will never have any, you clown. After what can only be described as a heap of disconnected, poorly considered and generally disastrous decisions, this Labor government has to be turfed out. It needs to be evicted from the Treasury benches, having had 11 years—and it has been 11 years too long. Imagine the position our state could have been in with a competent government during that period, one that took the time to analyse the needs of the community and the financial situation of the state, and that did not just spend, spend, spend to have their names on building plaques.
The government claims that this deficit is beyond its control, that it is a result of a revenue downturn. This is an absolute falsehood, and we all know it. The figures show that over the last four years revenue has actually grown by 3 per cent per year. The real issue is that this Labor government continues to partake in unbudgeted spending—this year’s splurge of $626 million takes its total figure up to $3.8 billion worth of expenditure that was not planned for—only later to shrug its shoulders and say, ‘It’s not our fault.’
What is the government going to do about this enormous debt? It has made promises that it is good for it and that the state will return to surplus by the 2015-16 budget but, if history is anything to base predictions on, the safe money is that it will not; it simply cannot deliver. To give Labor the benefit of the doubt would surely only lead to more poor decisions and our state going further and further into the red.
Why should we be concerned by this? The government is not running up its debt, this is not a debt that the Labor Party will pay; it is running up the state’s debt, the community’s debt. After all, it is not this government that will be paying back the current debt of $13.75 billion at an interest cost of $952 million per year; it is the community that will bear the brunt, the mums and dads, small businesses, ordinary members of the community. Not only are they already struggling under the pressure of their own financial affairs and poor economic conditions that this government seems to only exacerbate, they are also being burdened by the weight of the debt of an incompetent government, one that uses the public as security rather than taking responsibility for its own actions.
We are already seeing this take place with the ridiculous cash grabs. It started with the car park tax, and where will it end? Throughout the course of this government South Australia has gone from being one of the lowest taxed states to the highest taxed state in mainland Australia. We have the highest electricity prices in the nation, the highest water prices of any capital city, and the highest WorkCover rate, as we operate under the worst performing scheme. Our bus fares, licence fees and car registrations are all nearly double CPI.
South Australia continues to hold the title of worst state when it comes to land tax, which is levied at 36 per cent above the average; stamp duty, which is levied at 27 per cent above the average; and insurance tax, levied at 42 per cent above the average. By the Premier’s own admission, we are a high cost jurisdiction. How is anything meant to thrive in this environment?
Tax revenue has increased by 92 per cent under this Labor government, yet the government is still set to deliver the state’s largest debt at a disgraceful $13.75 billion. Why should the public have to bear the repercussions of Labor’s bad decisions? If Labor were allowed another term in government, this burden would only continue to grow. Labor wants us to believe that the state will return to surplus in a few years time, to give it a chance, but this sounds all too similar to the promises we have heard before.
They told us in the 2011-12 year that we would see a $420 million surplus, and they gave us a $258 million deficit. This year, 2012-13, we were promised a $304 million surplus. What did Labor deliver? A $1.3 billion deficit. For this coming year, 2013-14, we were promised a $480 million surplus: the prediction that we are looking at is a $911 million deficit. I do not think I need to point out how disgraceful this is, but I will ask: why is this happening? Is it because Labor cannot manage its money, or is it because they are not telling us the truth?
If this government decides that, one day, they wish to open up to the community and tell us what went wrong with their budgeting, they should have no trouble delivering their message. Statistics show that Labor is so engrossed in spin, it is spending a mind-blowing $70 million on advertising each year. Just disgraceful! Budgets for health, education and policing are being slashed left, right and centre, yet this government wastes millions upon millions trying to convince us that everything is fine. The Premier alone employs three separate speechwriters, at a cost of $194,000 per year. Why the need for so much spin? Clearly, something is going terribly wrong.
While on the subject of waste and expenditure, let us not forget the yearly figures of $25 million the government spends on travel and the $200 million that goes to the coffers of consultants and contractors. Then there are blowouts and broken promises to consider. We have the new RAH, promised at $1.7 billion, now likely to come in at over $2.8 billion. We were promised to have a redeveloped Adelaide Oval for ‘not a penny over $450 million’. How does $600 million look to you? The Southern Expressway duplication was set for $370 million: we are now told that it will be $407 million. The $304 million water interconnector is set to come in at $403 million. It is no wonder we are in the red when government projects continue to go far beyond what was budgeted for.
I want to touch on not only the overspending of this government but also their lack of understanding of business and their constant interference by way of legislation and regulation. It is hurting business—and let me use an example. Let me use the example of family hotels. This government has consistently, over 11 years, broken promises, tried to change regulations, tried to change legislation, which has led to so much uncertainty in the hotel industry that the value of hotels has plummeted.
Banks do not value the asset in the way they used to do. Why? Because of the uncertainty in the industry. When government interferes with the basic running of a business, it leads only to disaster. When we look back at the result of Labor’s 11-year reign, it is clear that they have left a solid path of destruction in their wake. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Sir, just to conclude my remarks: when we look back at the results of Labor’s 11-year reign, it is clear that they have left a solid path of destruction in their wake. This Labor government has delivered the loss of our AAA credit rating, the state experienced its worst consumer confidence in 16 years, reaching a 41 per cent full-time youth unemployment rate in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and having us being labelled Australia’s second Tasmania. It goes without saying that the state economy is a disaster.
The only chance South Australia has to return to prosperity is to elect a Liberal government come March. Our state needs stability to be seen once again as strong and reliable. It needs certainty. It needs promises that are delivered upon, not promises made to be broken. We need to return the state to a place that is attractive for families and businesses but, first and foremost, we need to fix this utter mess that Labor has left us with. The only good thing to come out of this government’s latest budget is the fact that it will hopefully be their last.