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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9496

Ms KATE ELLIS (Adelaide) (21:20): I rise tonight to talk about the absolute betrayal felt by South Australians with this government looking to break another election promise, one which would have created thousands of much-needed jobs in our communities. I want to remind the House of the words coming from this government before the election. In May last year, the Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston, stood at ASC in Adelaide and made an ironclad promise to the people there when he said:

We will deliver those submarines from right here at ASC in South Australia.

…   …   …

The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide.

That is a pretty clear promise that was given to people before they went to the polls and a very clear promise which this government is now intent to add to its pile of broken promises. But it was not just the words of the now minister. The coalition's election policy booklet spelt it out and black and white. It said:

We will also ensure that work on the replacement of the current submarine fleet will centre around the South Australian shipyards.

The Abbott government has walked away from that commitment and is now looking to buy their submarines offshore.

This broken promise is not just about politics. It is not just about the parliament. It is not just about a breach of trust on a promise that was made to the South Australian public. It is actually about the result of thousands of jobs that will be lost in my home state, along with the skills and training that support this strategically vital industry, at a time when South Australia desperately needs more jobs, not less.

I come here and stand in this parliament today to ask, 'Where are the South Australian Liberals now?' Not one has said boo about this government once again selling out South Australia, breaking its promises to our state and flogging off our jobs overseas. At least under the Howard government we had South Australian Liberals like Senator Minchin, like Alexander Downer, like Senator Hill and like Senator Vanstone, who would stand up for South Australia when it came to the crunch. Now all we have in our current South Australian federal Liberals are pathetic, spineless members who blindly follow the Prime Minister to the detriment of our state and in doing so breach the responsibility they have to stand up for their community and our state. They are content to see South Australia's unemployment grow and to rip jobs away from our state at a time when we desperately need them. The Liberals today who come from my state are a pathetic shadow of their former selves. All we have now is a bunch of career climbers who are more interested in weakly following the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, as they destroy our local jobs and treat us like fools, than in actually doing the job they were elected to do: stand up and advocate for South Australia, for our community and for our jobs.

At the last election Tony Abbott looked South Australians in the eye and promised to keep building submarines in Adelaide. We now know that was nothing but another deliberate deception. And this is not just about the jobs of today. It is about our national capacity, it is about our economic growth and it is about South Australia's place in the nation's future. The first real display of spinelessness and betrayal from the South Australian Liberals came in December last year, when they not only did not stand up and fight for Holden workers but were in fact at the forefront of advocating for the complete destruction of the automotive industry in Adelaide. But we see that they are not content with that level of destruction. They intend to then build on that with this horrid broken promise to the people of South Australia.

I want to put in to context exactly what this means. South Australia has 27,000 defence jobs, 3,000 of them in shipbuilding. The submarine project alone would deliver $250 billion over 30 years to South Australia's economy. I know that many of the people I represent are amongst those people who work in the defence sector and who work in shipbuilding. And I know that they expect me to stand up in this parliament and fight for their jobs. But I also know that many of them live in the electorates of those opposite, and they are being let down and let down again. I am utterly appalled and disgusted at the spinelessness of South Australian members and senators. I truly feel despair for the people they represent. We need good people to stand up for South Australian jobs. This is what I and my colleagues on this side of the House will do, but it would be really nice if members opposite could join us.