I appreciate the opportunity to speak briefly about the portfolios for which I am responsible, starting with the portfolio of sport, recreation and racing.
I wish to touch on two Liberal initiatives supported in the budget, and cynics amongst us might suggest that this is to appease many in the sporting sector who are still ropeable about the funding this government is putting towards the Adelaide Oval redevelopment.
We are all very aware what a disaster this plan has turned out to be in terms of blowouts, balls-ups and broken promises, and I again say, why did this government not concede that a plan for a brand-new covered city stadium controlled by football was the way to go?
As I mentioned, there are two positive Liberal initiatives in this budget, and I say this because Port Augusta and Campbelltown should both benefit from terrific new sporting hubs which the Liberal Party championed during the state election campaign, and of course supports today. That being said, the Campbelltown Leisure Centre redevelopment concerns me greatly.
The opposition was fortunate enough to receive a briefing from the Campbelltown City Council on the latest with this project. Regrettably, it is not all good news—far from it. The sports minister made the positive pre-budget announcement about state government funding of $3 million for the $17 million redevelopment. However, under questioning in budget estimates, he made the mistake of saying that this was not dependent on federal funding and was then corrected by his advisers.
One might have assumed that the sports minister would be right across the details of this incredibly important project. The opposition on the other hand was fully aware that state government funding was dependent on federal funding and this is why we scheduled our meeting with the council recently. We were keen to see how things were progressing.
Sadly, our meeting at Campbelltown confirmed that federal Labor is not coming to the party any time soon. In fact, we were advised that the former federal minister for sport (the federal member for Adelaide, Kate Ellis) will not even return calls from Campbelltown City Council about this project. The minister evidently handballed this one on as quickly as she could after taking on new ministries, even though she promised the council they would discuss the issue after this year’s federal election.
It seems to me that she has not even had the decency to brief the new sports minister on the plan and ask him to take over the issue. Clearly, when the Labor Party realised that it had no chance of knocking off Christopher Pyne in Sturt, it completely lost interest in this important community project for the north-eastern suburbs. This is very sad. The member for Adelaide reportedly showed a lot of enthusiasm for the project prior to the election, as did the Labor candidate for Sturt, but the federal Labor government has now gone stone cold on the idea
As members are aware, the federal Liberal Party had of course locked into backing this project during the federal election campaign with an election promise of $7.5 million, which was again championed by the member for Sturt. The state Liberals pledged $4 million towards the project in February. We desperately want this project to go ahead.
I am sure that members opposite are interested also, but they are going to have to start working harder on their federal colleagues. I say to members opposite: please do whatever you can to lobby your Labor mates in Canberra as Campbelltown needs this project The Norwood Basketball Club needs this project, as do a whole lot of other community groups. This is a positive project and really the Campbelltown City Council has been left high and dry.
The council has State Swim, Squash SA and other groups ready to contribute funding so we really must see this project go ahead. The council is desperately trying to meet with Mr Crean, given that he is now federal minister for regional development and local government. We can only hope that he shows more interest than that shown by the federal member for Adelaide.
With that being said, I note in this budget the contribution to the Port Augusta sports hub redevelopment. I am sure that this will be a huge bonus for the community in that region, and we look forward to this project being completed. The member for Stuart in the other place has lobbied incredibly hard for this project as a candidate and I know that he looks forward to what it will do for the community he represents. It is an outstanding effort for a new member of parliament: in fact, he is already an outstanding member of parliament.
Just to conclude on sport, I do have concerns that the Office for Recreation and Sport will now come under the Building Communities Division with a number of other bodies, resulting in savings of $9.9 million over four years. I hope that the office will still be appropriately resourced. It is important for sport in this state that it continues to be strongly supported by this government.
Aboriginal Affairs is an important area that has not avoided the Treasurer’s axe, either. Cuts of $3.4 million have been flagged starting in 2012-13 and 2013-14 in restructuring and reallocation of staff and services. Additionally one of the new budget saving measures was the cancellation of the petroleum subsidy scheme for a saving of $7.2 million this financial year. The cancellation of this scheme will have a direct impact on the cost of services and in particular the cost of basic necessities for remote Aboriginal communities.
The cost of food is already high in the APY lands and will no doubt go even higher as a result of the cancellation of the petroleum subsidy. In fact, it will make already isolated communities even more isolated as the cost of travel between communities and to regional centres will rise with the increased cost of petrol. This budget has failed to assist the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in our state.
During estimates, we saw that the Minister admitted she had not spoken with her Federal counterpart since August. I just hope that the Minister is giving this important portfolio the time and respect it deserves.
Correctional Services will certainly have to face the nasty aspects of this budget.
Sure, it includes additional funding for beds at Port Augusta Prison, but when you look further, it is not a good one for Correctional Services.
$5.7 million is to be slashed over four years through a general expenditure reduction.
The department will face a reduction in general expenditure and in the number of executive employees. There will also be effects on the department’s employees across the board concerning leave loading and long service entitlements. Some department employees and their union have obviously already demonstrated their thoughts on this.
Mr President I noted your attendance outside at the rally just a couple of weeks ago as you observed the goings on with the Honourable Mr Gazzola and I could see you both having to stop yourself from joining in the chant of “workers united, will never be defeated.” I’m also advised you were out there today to witness proceedings as huge numbers of people gathered to protest against your Government.
Mr President, I know that you are ashamed about what the Premier and the Treasurer are doing to these workers.
Moving on to the tourism portfolio, it is not a pretty picture here, either. There will be a total of $12.5 million in cuts over the next four years, starting with a cut of $1 million in 2010-11. This has the capacity to seriously damage our tourism industry, and it concerns me greatly.
The Rann government has also demonstrated, once again, that it is all about the big announcements but it fails to do its homework. Under questioning during budget estimates the Minister for Tourism (John Rau) confirmed that the new Convention Centre plans are already changing. On 14 March, during the state election campaign, Premier Rann put out a media release describing the building as having a 3,500 seat meeting venue.
Just months later, an announcement was made about the Convention Centre containing a 2,500 to 3,000 seat meeting facility. At least 500 seats have seemingly vanished into thin air and, according to this release, it could be as many as 1,000 seats disappearing. We could potentially see close to a 30 per cent reduction in seats after Mr Rann initially announced 3,500 seats.
When questioned about this change during budget estimates last week, Mr Rau advised the committee that it was because the meeting venue capacity is still being decided. Why then did Mr Rann make the initial announcement on seat numbers? Just like the Adelaide Oval and other infrastructure projects, we continually see errors, changes and blowouts from this government.
The Hon. Kevin Foley has handed down nine budgets as Treasurer, and I would like to add comments from the shadow treasurer, the Hon. Iain Evans, on a report that Access Economics put out today. I will read from the release, which states:
Another gloomy forecast for South Australia. The release of the Access Economics Business Outlook publication for the September quarter paints a gloomy economic future for South Australia. The report has clearly outlined that our local economy will continue to fall behind the rest of the nation. South Australia’s economic growth was below the national average in 2009-10 and will continue to be below the national average for each of the next five years.
South Australia’s population growth was below the national average in 2009-10 and will continue to be below the national average for each of the next five years. South Australia’s export growth will be below the national average in five out of the next six years. South Australia’s employment growth rate was below the national average in 2009-10 and will continue to be below the national average for each of the next five years. South Australia’s unemployment rate will also remain above the national rate up until 2014-15.
The report even plays down Premier Rann’s mining boom saying that, although resource development will be a long-term positive for South Australia, it is not likely to reverse…the relative loss of national market share and population output.
Shadow treasurer, Iain Evans has slammed the Rann Labor government for allowing South Australia to fall behind the rest of the nation. ‘The Rann Labor government has completely failed South Australians at a time when the state has seen rivers of gold from the GST and record revenue we are languishing behind the rest of the nation. There are less mining jobs in South Australia today than there were in 1985, the state’s exports continue to plummet and people continue to leave South Australia for better employment opportunities interstate. If SA had kept pace with national jobs growth under the Rann government there would be 35,000 more jobs in SA with the report indicating this number will keep rising. We are the highest taxed state in the nation but what do we have to show for it? You cannot trust Labor to manage our economy. Eight years of poor economic management by Treasurer Foley is coming home to roost’, Mr Evans said.
With those few words I share my frustration with a budget that really leaves South Australia in limbo. We have had nine years of the Hon. Kevin Foley telling us what a wonderful job he is doing when, quite frankly, we are absolutely in the wilderness.