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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Page: 2151


Senator McEWEN (6:56 PM) —While I like being in Canberra, I like even better being home in South Australia with my constituents. There is a lot happening in South Australia at the moment, particularly in Adelaide at this time of the year. The Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Adelaide Fringe Festival, WOMADelaide, the Clipsal 500 V8 car race, the Adelaide Film Festival, the Adelaide Cup, Adelaide Writers Week, the rugby sevens and various music festivals all fall within weeks of one another. It is no wonder that we call March in Adelaide ‘Mad March’. This year the Adelaide Festival and the Fringe Festival both celebrated 50 years of activity in South Australia. These iconic South Australian events continue to break attendance records year after year and provide a strong economic boost to the state.

Last year’s Fringe Festival injected some $27.2 million into the state, with over 530 events being held across 260 venues. This year’s Fringe was breaking records even before it started. It is set to be the biggest-ever event in the history of the Adelaide Fringe, with 705 shows across the city. When it came to a close last Sunday, the 2010 Adelaide Fringe Festival eclipsed all previous records, with more than 300,000 tickets sold over the three-week event. I welcome the announcement by Premier Mike Rann that the Adelaide Festival of Arts, like the Fringe Festival, will be an annual event from 2012. That is an indication of the state government’s commitment to the arts in South Australia.

There is a lot more happening in South Australia too. We are no longer the rust-bucket state. John Brumby cannot call us a ‘backwater’ without grossly offending every South Australian. The transformation of South Australia into a confident, sophisticated, economically secure state owes much to the great leadership of Premier Mike Rann, who has successfully led South Australia for two terms and will, hopefully, secure a third term as Premier at the state election on Saturday, 20 March. In the past eight years, Premier Rann has delivered for South Australia and for South Australians. Under the state Labor government, the unemployment rate has dropped, the crime rate is down and, for the first time in years, substantial projects are being built across the state.

Change in South Australia has been particularly noticeable in the last couple of years, when South Australia has really flourished with the partnership of the Rann government and the federal Rudd Labor government. The Rudd government’s Nation Building and Economic Stimulus Plan has been of great benefit to South Australia. For example, as at September last year, in the electorate of Sturt alone 190 projects at a value of over $111 million were underway as a result of the economic stimulus plan.

Part of that plan was of course investment in schools. Investment in schools in South Australia has been a great success because of the partnership between Mike Rann and the federal government, both determined to make the most of the economic stimulus plan and the opportunities that it gives. All of the principals, teachers and students that I have spoken to are very appreciative of the government’s investments in education and are grateful to have new buildings, new classrooms and new technology after years of neglect by state and federal Liberal governments.

I have visited a number of projects at schools with local state members of parliament, including Grace Portolesi, the member for Hartley; Robyn Geraghty, the member for Torrens; and Lindsay Simmons, the member for Morialta. They are very hardworking local members of parliament and it is a great privilege to be able to work with them in their electorates.

The partnership between the Rudd government and the Rann government has benefited the education sector in South Australia, and in fact across a number of sectors and industries South Australia is steadily gaining prominence nationally as a result of solid investments that are securing the longevity of the state. Construction, it seems, is everywhere in SA. Last month alone, the remote South Australian town of Ceduna celebrated the official opening of the first stage of their streetscape project, which was made possible through a contribution of $100,000 from the federal government’s economic stimulus plan. In February, Port Lincoln, another South Australian regional town, celebrated the opening of the upgraded Nautilus Theatre, a great community facility funded with over $188,000 from the federal government. A $2.1 million foreshore redevelopment was opened in Whyalla last month, with over $700,000 coming from the Rudd Labor government.

Funding of almost $600,000 for other councils across the Eyre and Yorke peninsulas was announced last month. That will help 13 ready-to-go community infrastructure projects get underway. Through the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, the federal government has delivered a billion dollars to build or renew community facilities across Australia, making it the largest single investment in the nation’s history. I am very pleased to see so many South Australian regional and rural areas benefiting from that great program.

Labor governments like to get things done. Since the Rudd Labor government came to office, the Australian government’s investments in South Australia’s road and rail infrastructure have increased by 264 per cent compared to the investments made over the duration of the Howard government. These investments include $500 million for the South Road upgrade; $451.2 million for the Northern Expressway extension; almost $300 million for the electrification of the Gawler rail line; $291 million to extend the Noarlunga rail line; $61 million to extend the world’s longest guided busway, our fabulous O-Bahn; and $45 million to build overtaking lanes and upgrade the Sturt Highway throughout South Australia.

Just last week I was really pleased to see that the federal government has allocated $3.6 million to Renmark, in South Australia’s Riverland, to upgrade the safety of local intersections. There have been investments in road and rail infrastructure, creating jobs and securing a safer future for local communities in South Australia and there is also evidence of the South Australian and Rudd Labor governments’ planning for an increase in population—planning ahead and adhering to the South Australian government’s strategic plan, which was so visionary and well thought out. It was implemented, of course, by Mr Rann, the Premier of South Australia.

There has been much talk, especially in this place, about the challenges that the future holds. I note that South Australia is in great shape to confront one of those challenges—climate change. The South Australian state government has been recognised internationally for its pioneering role in implementing strategies to protect the environment from climate change. The South Australian government was one of the first governments to pass legislation on greenhouse targets, and the South Australian state government continues to encourage individuals and the local community to work together to reduce carbon emissions.

We have recorded a number of achievements. South Australia was the first state to ban the use of plastic shopping bags, it is the only state in the country to have a comprehensive bottle and can refund scheme to encourage recycling, and the state is rolling out solar panels in schools. It is the combination of the smaller projects, together with the larger schemes, that is enabling South Australia to lead the way nationally in the fight against climate change.

With the assistance of the federal government, South Australia is tackling water issues head-on, too. With a federal investment of $328 million in Adelaide’s urban water supplies, the city’s desalination plant will be doubled in size, with the capability to secure half of Adelaide’s future water needs. Other projects, such as the $100 million Waterproofing Northern Adelaide project, to which the federal government has contributed $38 million, are demonstrating the state and federal governments’ commitments to investing in alternative water supplies to meet the demands of a growing population, and securing South Australia’s water supplies for the future.

South Australia is proving to be a hub for renewable and alternative energy sources. South Australia has around half of Australia’s wind power capacity and about 25 per cent of the nation’s grid-connected domestic solar photovoltaic capacity. The Rudd Labor government works in collaboration with the South Australian state government to make a concerted effort to invest in alternative energy sources throughout the state.

Next Saturday, South Australia has a clear choice. South Australians can elect a state government, led by Mike Rann, that will be confident, visionary and progressive or they can elect a government under the Liberals that will be riven with divisions, hamstrung by ineptitude and that will have no coherent plan for the future. I think that I have outlined that there really is no choice for South Australians next Saturday and that they should re-elect the Rann Labor government.