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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1262

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (10:29): I am not at all surprised that this motion has come before the House two weeks before the South Australian state election, because the South Australian Liberal opposition leader needs all the help he can get and the members here in the federal parliament are trying to do just that. Can I say in respect of the member for Hindmarsh's address that he has just presented to the House that it is full of political rhetoric and full of bland statements and aspirations but very light on facts.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to this motion, because I am happy to bring some facts to this debate. During Labor's first decade in office, between 2002 and 2010-11, the South Australian economy grew by 22.4 per cent. It did so at a time of great difficulty and it did so because we had a state Labor government that was focused on the state and focused on the things that were going to improve productivity in South Australia—and the things that it invested in are doing exactly that. I refer to things like the new medical health and research centre that was opened only last month, a magnificent facility that will not only create jobs but will be the focus of medical research not just for Australia but for many parts of the world, something that we can indeed be proud of. The new Royal Adelaide Hospital, which is currently underway, is also a sign of a government that is looking to the future, not the past, because the South Australian government understands the importance of a good health system to the everyday lives of the people of South Australia. More importantly, it is also about efficiencies, because if you operate from an old, tired and run-down facility, the medical costs to the consumers and to the state are much higher than if you have a better facility.

The extensions to the convention centre are already underway. I spoke to the manager of the convention centre in recent weeks, and the centre is booked out for months and months in advance. It is very important to bringing people to South Australia. The South Australian Labor government totally understands that, and that is why it is investing in expanding the facility to accommodate the growing demands for the use of it. We have seen the Adelaide Oval redeveloped. Again, not only will that bring more people into South Australia but it becomes an asset and a showpiece for local and international sporting events. It enables the South Australian government to boost the economic activity of the state, because it can attract international events, which you could not otherwise do.

I heard the member for Hindmarsh talking about South Road. It was the state Labor government that put on the agenda the improvements of the South Road from the Torrens Road to the River Torrens, opposed by those in this place and opposed by the Liberals in South Australia. They would have preferred to spend the money down south at Darlington, which they think it is more important, against the advice of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure in South Australia. The people who know best have advised that the money should have been spent in the Torrens Road to River Torrens area, but, no, these folks knew better. What they knew better was where to spend money to hold seats that they were desperately in need of holding at the last federal election.

The state Labor government has also invested in the Northern Expressway and the new Superway, at the northern end of South Road—new roadworks which will improve productivity because they will save transport times. It is about having in place a government that understands what is needed if you want to improve efficiencies and productivity, enabling industries to operate much more viably and not only attracting new industries but keeping the ones that you have.

I want to talk a little bit about the issue of jobs. Just after the September election, Minister for Industry Macfarlane came out to visit GM Holden, because there was the discussion about its future. The member for Hindmarsh willingly came out, visited the plant, put on his fluoro vest and walked through the plant as though he was there to save Holden, along with Minister Macfarlane. What happened immediately after that visit? The Abbott government decided that it would turn its back on Holden. It did so by not only cutting $500 million of funding from the auto industry but also by saying to GMH and car makers in this country, 'There will be no further funding beyond 2017, and we're not going to make any decisions; we're going to handball the issue on to the Productivity Commission.' When they did that, where was the member for Hindmarsh? He became invisible. The fluoro vests suddenly disappeared. At least the member for Murray had the decency to come in and stand up for her community and her electorate.

The member for Hindmarsh went missing. He was happy to be seen when the cameras were there, but he was not prepared to stand up for GMH workers when the decisions were made. And he talks about jobs, yet the jobs that will be lost to South Australia as a result GMH not continuing in South Australia beyond 2017 will run into the thousands. There will be several hundred small businesses and their employees who will also be affected—because their futures and their livelihoods, depend on GMH. Nobody knows that better than the member for Wakefield—who is going to speak in a moment—and myself. We have been part of that community for decades. And can I say to the member for Hindmarsh: in terms of the unemployment figures, the northern parts of Adelaide needed GMH to continue if they were going to increase and sustain employment down there.

This does not stop with GMH. Before the election, members of the Liberal Party happily wore, 'I love the Murray' T-shirts and paraded themselves in front of this Parliament House. In South Australia, those opposite were happy to campaign on the fact that they were going to save the Murray River. But as soon as the election was over, where were they? They have turned their backs on $600 million of water buybacks which were critical to South Australia. They have turned their backs on the 450 gigalitres of additional water to put back into the river Murray, that we fought tooth and nail for. We did that because we understood the importance of restoring the flows to the Riverland fruit growers in South Australia, who had been doing it tough for a decade under drought and needed every drop of water they could get. If those growers are denied the water they desperately need, what does the member for Hindmarsh think that will do to productivity and to jobs in South Australia?

Those people are struggling to survive now—improving their productivity would mean jobs for the Riverland area and it would mean jobs for South Australia, because their produce goes to small-business people, wineries and the like. Yet members opposite were happy to campaign saying, 'We are going to save the Murray if you elect us', but then turn their backs on that as soon as they were elected. And—of all people—the member for Hindmarsh, who brings this motion into the House, has not said a word about the water buybacks or the 450 gigalitres of extra water that he knows we fought tooth and nail for. Premier Jay Weatherill led the charge in respect of ensuring that we got that additional 450 gigalitres.

Mr Briggs interjecting

Mr ZAPPIA: I would just like to finish on this point: the member for Hindmarsh comes in here and talks about a government that is going to grow the economy and all the rest. Let me quote to him the headline of an article only this Friday on the front page of The Australian—not a paper that is supportive generally of Labor politics in this country. The headline says: 'Investment spending will fall: Worst slump in 20 years'. This is what they predict under the new Abbott government—the worst slump in 20 years. And you cannot keep blaming what has happened in the past for what is projected to occur in the future—that view is based on the policies of the government of the day and the policies it is espousing for the future. Investors make decisions based on those things. And what they expect is the worst slump in 20 years—that is what people in this country have to look forward to under an Abbott government, and that is what they will have to look forward to in South Australia under the Liberals—if they are lucky enough to win the next state election. That worries me, because there will be further jobs lost in the manufacturing sector and in the mining sector. According to the same article, manufacturing is already down by 20 per cent, and mining is expected to fall by another 25 per cent. Both industries are critical to the future of South Australia—as they have been critical to South Australia for the last three or four decades. We need to support our mining. We need to support our manufacturing. We are not going to support them by implementing policies that are already scaring investors away from South Australia.

This motion is nothing more than a political stunt. The South Australian government is doing the right thing: preparing for the future, investing in the future, and ensuring that South Australia has a viable future— (Time expired)