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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1259


Mr WILLIAMS (Hindmarsh) (10:18): I move the motion relating to the South Australian economy in the terms in which it appears on the Notice Paper:

That this House notes:

(1)   with concern that unemployment in South Australia is higher than the national average;

(2)   that South Australia has a talented workforce that deserves a government determined to:

   (a)   reduce taxes and regulation;

   (b)   grow the state’s economy, and

   (c)   liberate the people of South Australia to realise their destiny; and

(3)   that the Australian Government has a plan to build a stronger South Australian economy so that everyone can get ahead through abolishing the carbon tax, ending the waste, stopping the boats, and building the roads of the 21st century.

South Australia is my home. I have spent most of my life in South Australia and I am passionate about my state. Colonel William Light and the new settlers built the framework for a wonderful city surrounded by some of the best parklands and gardens. Everything about South Australia had a plan and a purpose. But not now.

In the postwar period South Australia, like pretty much all of Australia, was privileged to have a large influx of migrants—the '£10 Poms', the Greeks, the Italians and others from all over the globe. They came to South Australia to make a new start to escape the ravages of war-torn Europe. They came to our shores to live in an exciting new world that Tom Playford and others were creating. Former Liberal Premier of South Australia Tom Playford had a plan to invest in infrastructure, just as our current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has.

Up until the early 1980s, South Australia was larger than Western Australia as an economy. Adelaide was a thriving city that continued to be the home to many creative talents and commerce. We had many and several companies in the ASX 100 that had headquarters in South Australia, but now there are two. So what is the state Labor government doing, or what has it done, to fix the exodus of the South Australian companies or their failure to grow as quickly as other companies around Australia? It has decided that the best thing it can do is to give the businesses in South Australia the highest-taxing jurisdiction in the nation. I see no jobs plan in that.

South Australia needs and deserves a better government, a government that will reduce taxes. We are the highest-taxed state, and the state Labor government has been addicted to payroll tax, levies, the car park tax and high work cover. Just on the weekend, the members opposite would have seen in TheAdvertiser the Australian Industry Group, which looks after the manufacturing sector, say that the cost of doing business in South Australia is a significant issue. It wants to have a lower payroll tax and lower WorkCover levies.

Not surprisingly, since Labor got into power 12 years ago, manufacturing has declined and taxes have increased. There is a direct correlation there, and the members opposite know it. And they know that business creates jobs.

This is something that the state Liberal leader, Steven Marshall, has a great appreciation of, having worked in many businesses in South Australia. He knows how important it is to create an entrepreneurial culture and have a greater focus on exports. Steven Marshall has the drive and the energy to give South Australia a better future. State Liberals will reduce payroll tax. They will remove the car park tax and give businesses a better chance of employing people: more jobs and more incomes for families.

But the state Labor government has no ideas on how to tackle jobs and the jobs crisis engulfing South Australia. Over the last eight months, 25,000 full-time jobs have been lost. South Australia has the highest jobless rate in mainland Australia and the highest unemployment for 12 years. The only thing that Weatherill can do is control debt—or not control debt. And we have record levels of debt: debt, debt and more debt. The Premier and part-time Treasurer, Jay Weatherill, like the member for Lilley and the member for McMahon, has never delivered a surplus. It is just spend, spend, spend. It is the South Australian children who will have to cover the future payments on interest, the $2 million every single day that is going out of our economy—$2 million that could be spent on social infrastructure like schools, education and community projects. At a federal level, $10 billion a year could go to the same causes.

But Labor never consider this in the equation. They just like to spend, increase the interest repayments and get into more debt and more interest repayments. In South Australia, $2 million a day can go a long way to providing infrastructure. I thank the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, who is here, for joining the debate. He knows how important infrastructure is in South Australia to help our growing sectors of mining, resources and agriculture.

South Australia has had some great innovative companies over the years. It has had electronics companies at the high end, like Redarc and Codan, and food companies like San Remo pasta, Haigh's and Robern Menz. In the high-end section of creative industries we have Rising Sun Pictures, which does visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters. Philmac, in my electorate, is a leader in pipe fittings for the irrigation sector; and there is ASC, one of the largest defence projects in Australia, with the AWDs.

South Australians are a patriotic people and rallied behind Spring Gully when their business was threatened last year. This is a great example of how the power of the consumer can have a real, positive impact on a product. This is the message that I have been encouraging government, industry and residents in my electorate to keep in mind, and some people in the media in South Australia have got behind it as well. Leon Byner on FIVEaa, and The Advertiser, have been very active in promoting the benefits of supporting our local produce. But there are not enough companies and not enough employees, and many of our talented workforce have gone either interstate or overseas—30,000 during Labor's reign; a 30,000-person brain drain; 30,000 talented people interstate.

It is also the senior management of our larger corporates who are moving interstate: Hill's Holdings, Harris Scarfe and Adelaide Brighton. Our small business sector, which the member for Makin acknowledged when he spoke last week, was ignored—yes, it was ignored; ignored by the state Labor government and the federal Labor government. There were higher taxes and tougher conditions in doing business. This is what people said to me before the election, that they were facing some of the toughest conditions ever and that Labor and their taxes were not helping. People knew that, and the member for Makin knows that.

South Australia can recover; we need a change of government to give our economic future the best chance. Many regions, both locally and overseas—whether that be in the UK with the closure of coalmines or Germany in the Ruhr area—have faced similar challenges over many years. Newcastle and the Hunter Valley in New South faced a similar situation when the BHP steelworks closed in 1999, with more than 5,000 manufacturing jobs lost. In the 1990s their unemployment was above 10 per cent and reached 16 per cent at one stage.

But what did they do? They diversified their economy. They went into services and they looked at other areas. Like Adelaide, Newcastle has benefited from large defence contracts—most recently the Air Warfare Destroyer Program. This was announced in 2004 by the Howard Liberal government, the total value being over $8 billion. ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne was awarded the tender, and has Adelaide as its headquarters. It lists more than 25,000 people with the AWD alliance as part of that exciting project: high-end engineers and high-end manufacturing—a future for South Australia.

But now, our defence industry enters the potential 'valley of death' scenario. Why? Because the Howard government's commitment to AWDs was the last real investment decision made in shipbuilding by an Australian government. Labor talked the big talk, and Kevin Rudd committed to building submarines prior to the 2007 election. But six years later there have been no contracts and no definite plans. We are working as quickly as possible to rectify these problems from Labor's inaction, and to give certainty to South Australia's defence companies.

The coalition government has a plan to build a stronger economy, the new infrastructure that Jamie Briggs is working so hard to deliver: the North-South Corridor and $500 million committed for Darlington. I have been talking regularly to my federal colleagues about fast tracking the Torrens-to-Torrens project. Our commitments are part of billions of dollars nationally. We are reducing $1 billion in regulatory costs; the freighters, the industry groups, the resources and Business SA have all spoken to me about cutting red tape. I note in today's Advertiser that Liberal leader Steven Marshall committed to reducing red tape, saving $100 million a year. Another area in which we are helping small businesses—not ignoring them, helping them.

We are removing taxes, like the carbon tax and the mining tax, and I just want to touch on the minerals resource rent tax. It applies to iron ore, something that the Premier, Jay Weatherill, does not acknowledge. There are currently three operational iron ore mines in South Australia, with a further three approved under construction and 11 developing projects. The mining tax is not good for South Australia, and Weatherill needs to stand up to his Labor mates in Canberra and tell them to adhere to the wishes of the people at the last election and get rid of the mining tax.

The mining tax is a $1 billion hit on manufacturing. The carbon tax is a $4 billion hit on electricity. As stated by the South Australian Chamber of Mining and Energy last year:

SACOME welcomes the introduction of legislation to repeal the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), in line with the Liberal party's election commitment to abolish the damaging tax.

They go on to say:

The MRRT is an unfair tax, and discriminates against South Australia in particular due to our vast amounts of magnetite iron ore, …

The Premier just conveniently missed this. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Pasin: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.