I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Regional Development, representing the Premier, on population.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In March 2004 the Premier announced:
As part of our population policy Kevin Foley and I will be embarking on a major promotion of our State throughout the eastern seaboard of Australia and overseas.
Certainly anecdotally, I am aware that there were a number of expat South Australians who were invited to soirees for cocktails and South Australian wine several years ago. In March 2011, the ABS statics showed that population growth was the lowest in South Australia of any mainland state, with a net 3,307 people leaving in the last 12 months. My questions for the Premier are:
1. How successful does he believe his promotion of South Australia has been?
2. Has that program ever been formally evaluated? If so, what were the results?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:28): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions and will refer those to the relevant ministers in another place and bring back a response. At this point I want to make a few very general comments. South Australia has turned around our population demise. We were in a diabolical situation not that many years ago when our population was declining at a very rapid rate. However, we have been able to turn that around so that we do at the moment enjoy population growth.
That has been due to the efforts of a great deal of careful planning and consideration, not just in terms of migration programs, but the South Australian government has been very strong on developing jobs here. We have been very successful in bringing our unemployment rates down to an all-time low, which is a fabulous achievement for this state. We have a huge infrastructure plan. We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure development, and that translates to jobs: mining, defence and international students. I spoke in this place about that yesterday.
These initiatives are about generating jobs and investing in this state for a long-term, sustainable future. We have been able to turn things around here, so it has been a very successful strategy indeed. Of course, we then have the 30-year plan for the metropolitan area and surrounds. We are on our toes and we are looking forward, and it is about a sustainable future for this state. As I said, I am very pleased to refer the specific questions to the relevant minister in another place and bring back a response.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:31): I have a supplementary question arising from the answer in which the minister stated that the 'population had turned around'. Can the minister identify what year precisely did population reach its lowest levels in South Australia and at what point was the net interstate migration from South Australia highest?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:31): I do not have those details with me; I do not carry that level of detail around in my head. It is not an area I am responsible for, but I do know that in the recent past we have certainly turned those trends around. We certainly have in recent years been able to achieve unprecedented levels of employment. These are things this government is very proud to have contributed towards and now builds on and continues to grow.