This speech is an address in reply and is to acknowledge the hardworking Governor, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AO, CSC, RANR and his wife, Liz Scarce, and congratulations to him on his reappointment for an additional two years.
(OPENING OF PARLIAMENT)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:10): I would like to acknowledge the hardworking Governor, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AO, CSC, RANR and his wife, Liz Scarce, and congratulations to him on his reappointment for an additional two years. I would like to acknowledge the great commitment that this couple have to South Australia in performance of their civic duties. They attend a great number of events in their roles. I note that Mrs Scarce is the Patron in Chief of the National Council of Women of South Australia and I had the pleasure of her company on Australia Day at their event at which I was a guest speaker.
I wonder what sort of change in landscape we have had since the last Address in Reply was delivered in this place. I think not much would be the simple answer. We have had a new Premier who, following the deposition of Mr Rann, promised a different form of government. However, it is worth noting that Premier Weatherill started on day one of his new job in the parliament as a Rann cabinet minister, so he has been a part of every single bad decision that has been made.
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: They have all got their fingers over it.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: They do indeed have all their sticky little fingers in all of them. For him to try to portray himself as somehow new Labor, Labor 2.0, I think is very high farce. Because we were going into the period with the upcoming by-elections, we saw some pretty amazing backflips, notably the Newport Quays, which my leader has referred to as well. I think it is a great shame that in all of that the boatsheds had to be lost. It is very unfortunate that this government did not listen to the wisdom of the Legislative Council in asking for a stay of execution to retain those heritage properties, which, unfortunately, were not listed and which are gone forever, and any future development will be the less for not having them. We also had the backflip on the marine parks and a number of other things as the government sought to clean up its mess before it had to face the polls. In terms of the content of the address, I also wish to congratulate the Governor on his delivery of what was a fairly uninspiring speech. A number of us, I think, were waiting for some sort of thunderbolt, some sort of grand announcement that would be a signal to what would be the new direction for this government and were left sadly disappointed. It was a great big yawn.
There were seven priorities, and I had to laugh at number one being the clean green food industry. There seems to be a sort of latter day Damascene conversion on that one, although I am sure that the rhetoric will not be met with any sort of genuine commitment. The irony being that food is largely produced in regional South Australia which is an area that is neglected—to provide a kind assessment to this government. I think regional South Australia just does not feature on the agenda of this government. Agriculture makes the most significant contribution to our state's GSP, yet, at the same time, country people are facing cuts to hospital funding, roads and services, massive cuts in PIRSA. When you ask why—I think the answer was provided to us by the Minister for Agriculture in this place recently that 'these are not our punters', which is something we have always known.
There was also a reference in the speech to bikie laws. Again one has to ask what genuine commitment there is, given that this is a government that has had 10 years. I wonder how that promise to tear down all those bikie fortresses is going—not one. In relation to cost of living, water charges alone are up by some 200 per cent and rising. We also had the call to all members to maintain proper standards. I would say to the Premier that, if he wants to call for that, he needs to look in his own backyard first. He may be lucky that Messrs Foley and Rann have just left the building. However, minister Wortley used very unparliamentary language to my leader this week, which unfortunately has not made it into Hansard. All members in this chamber are regularly abused by government members during question time for asking for a straight answer to a straight question, such as, 'How much does such-and-such a program cost?' So, I look forward to seeing that code of conduct.
The new Premier was at such pains to push some strange concept he has developed, that this is a decade of definition, that he sent a missive to everyone on the SAGEMS email list, which is everybody who has a Public Service email address. I am sure that they were all delighted to read the product of this government's spin machine.
We have had 10 years of hard Labor. It has recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, although there were too many champagne corks popped on that occasion. It has just been a litany of lost opportunities. As usual with a Labor government, they cannot help their spending habits, and they have squandered a hard-fought surplus, which was brought back into the black by our honourable colleague Rob Lucas as treasurer and Mr Stephen Baker before him. We have had unexpected rivers of gold from GST and property taxes, which propped up the government's budget in the early years, but we have reached the point where the government is running out of cash.
There have been expensive exercises in vanity, such as the new Royal Adelaide; the Adelaide Oval; the too large desal plant, which we do not at that capacity; and Puglia. Just today, the $1.5 million for the Resistance children's program, which was to tempt the producers to produce it in South Australia, may have gone down the drain; Lance Armstrong's undisclosed temptation fund; and even the proroguing of parliament has been an exercise in vanity. I am told that Mr Rann's hush deal, which was to send him on his way, now sees him being provided with an office and a driver. Mr Rann is located on the 16th floor in the State Admin Centre. So, now that he is located above the new Premier, I guess he gets to be on top all over again.
We are back to a state debt of $11 billion, which is some $2 million per day in interest, which could fund all kinds of projects, not least of which could be hospitals in Keith, Ardrossan and Moonta. As mentioned, this budget is getting very, very short on cash, so the fire sale is to take place, with the forward sale of the South-East forests and penny-pinching from such programs as the State Herbarium. The rot is well and truly setting in, with the factional bickering and paranoia on the Labor side, with the member for Croydon FOI-ing his colleagues ministers Portolesi and Rau and now openly criticising the latter's role in the McGee case.
As my leader, Isobel Redmond said in her speech yesterday, South Australia now has the highest taxes in Australia, the worst economic growth, the biggest decline in job vacancies, worst building approvals, and an appalling performing workers compensation scheme which, from an unfunded liability of $59 million, has blown out again to over $1 billion.
It is no wonder that we have seen such significant swings in Labor heartland seats in the recent by-elections. Every time this government receives a rebuke, it promises to listen; so much so, that it is just like a broken record. They might need an ear trumpet! I might get them one for Christmas, or one for the whole lot of them. The seat of Port Adelaide certainly had a lot of issues brewing, including Newport Quays, which has been such a balls up. The Premier and his infrastructure minister were dishonest in their recent interviews about how much they had embraced this project. I still recall all those shots on the news of beaming ALP identities at Labor fundraisers at that site, and now they deny that they were ever in favour of it at all.
The preference deal was very disappointing, although I do not know whether the word 'disappointing' really cuts. Time after time in this place, the Liberal Party has had more common ground with the Greens than the Labor Party, whether it is agreeing to motions, amendments to bills, or referring things for investigations. Those issues include, among others, significant trees; the EPA's secretive practices; the closure of pubs and clubs from 4 to 7am; school closures; native vegetation; waste and landfill; the Mount Barker, Glenside and St Clair developments; population; and desalination.
You have to wonder whether the Greens are fair dinkum about preferencing on merits or whether they are just into doing deals. No doubt we will hear on talkback radio all sorts of complaints about what rogues this government is on this and all sorts of issues, including Torrens Island. It is like watching someone in a bad relationship. Even when the Labor Party tries to humiliate and embarrass the Greens they still go back to them and preference them every time, so in our minds a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labor.
They also had the opportunity to preference a local candidate in there, Gary Johanson. The Greens espouse that they support grassroots politics and frequently on the Environment, Resources and Development Committee the Greens are very supportive of the local government position which is probably many times for good reason but, again, they could not help preferencing the Labor Party. So, a vote for the Greens really is a vote for Labor, and a vote for Labor is a vote for botch-ups, spending like drunken sailors and never having to say you are sorry and mean it.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola.