I rise today to talk on the current state of affairs within the South Australian body politic. Current economic indicators show that the once great province of South Australia now lags behind all other Australian states in terms of unemployment and business confidence, and there is no relief in sight. To date, the Rann/Weatherill Labor government has done nothing to slow the economic rot in South Australia. Constant promises of new job creation and boom times remain unfulfilled.
The former premier the Hon. Mike Rann's famous election promise of 100,000 new jobs has been proven to be no more than empty words. So what can be done? The issue to this point has been overselling and under delivering. The promises doled out by the Labor Party in this state have been grossly irresponsible, in that they could not possibly have been delivered, especially those related to economic performance, something which is more often than not out of the direct control of the government. This needs to stop. The only way government should have an effect on the economy is by setting the conditions. Regulation, expenditure and taxation directly affect the South Australian economy and those who participate within it.
First of all, to regulation. In my previous life as a business person, I was bewildered at the hoops I had to jump through in order to be compliant with the law, simply to run my business. On a more philosophical level, it is in the government's interest to ensure that businesses run unhindered, as they keep its citizenry employed whilst also providing the economic activity necessary to make the state prosperous. Onerous occupational health and safety regulations prevent small business people from spending their time and resources more efficiently on more immediate needs. Often regulations are one size fits all and are irrelevant to many workplaces, and this needs to change.
Sadly, the Australian Labor Party will always kowtow to the pressure of the union movement which must justify its existence by continuing to hold Australian business to ransom. I would like to see further exemptions for small to medium enterprises from work health and safety laws on a practical basis. Many businesses do not require the protections that many larger businesses do, and compliance ends up being onerous and expensive for many SMEs.
Secondly, government expenditure should be kept as low as it possibly can be. The government needs to stick to essential services and ensure that they are being delivered in the most efficient way possible—the absolute best services for the lowest cost. Anything outside of that should be abolished immediately.
When a solution is required, it is not always the role of government to find it. If a service or an outcome can be delivered by a non-government entity or in the marketplace, then the government has no reason to get involved. Put simply, the less done by government the better. The government has a role just about everywhere in South Australian society. You cannot go two metres without seeing the badge of the commonwealth, state or local governments.
The Weatherill Labor government should be working closely with the commonwealth government to reduce duplication of services and bureaucracy. I commend the commonwealth Coalition government for looking to federation reform. It is absolutely necessary that government in this country returns to its natural and rightful form, that the Australian constitution is reimagined as per the intention of the founding fathers and that state sovereignty is truly respected once again.
Lastly, if the first two roles of government are reformed, it makes taxation reform far easier. If there is less regulation and prudent government expenditure, government is cheaper, and therefore funds can be returned to the taxpayer. Government should always be looking to return money to the taxpayer, no different to profitable businesses returning dividends to their shareholders.
Too often we see government recklessly spending taxation windfalls in good times rather than returning them to the taxpayer. Worse still, we see the government borrowing to service debt and pay wages. I am sick of governments talking about revenue as if the money is earned as income or made through generating a profit. The government is not entitled to this money; it has a responsibility to spend shrewdly and take only that which is necessary.
The government does have a right to tax its citizenry: it does not have a right to plunder it. I am aware that these thoughts of mine can only be dreams under a Labor government, where big government, high taxation and massive government expenditure are part and parcel. We know that the Weatherill government is exactly this because the Premier has said it himself. However, South Australia can no longer afford this European style of social democracy, in more ways than one.