I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills regarding regional jobs.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: South Australian regions are facing an unprecedented jobs crisis with continuing job losses across the state, including Arrium in Whyalla to lose 580 jobs, to 450 at Alinta Energy, IMX Resources laying off 200 people, Penrice finishing up with 95 jobs, and up to 1,000 jobs across the state, including a number of regional areas in the VET sector.
I note that last month another minister announced a $1 million package to assist communities in Leigh Creek and Port Augusta. My question is: what support is there for other regions in South Australia that are suffering under this Labor government?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 15:12 :23 ): I thank the honourable member for her questions and, indeed, it is extremely challenging. We are facing significant challenges in terms of our employment numbers, and this government continues to work with industry to seize every opportunity we can to increase employment.
It is worthwhile noting that there are more than 21,000 additional people in jobs in regional South Australia than when this government came to power, including more than 15,000 full-time jobs. So, in terms of Greater Adelaide and regional South Australia, we have seen an increase in employment compared with the previous year although, as I said, we have very significant challenges.
This government continues to work with business, industry and local communities to attract investment and create regional jobs.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: That's from 2002-15. Our skills and jobs policy sets out a strong strategy for further job creation. This includes direct support for job creation and new initiatives to enable us to work more closely with industry and identify emerging job opportunities in local communities.
The recent state budget will deliver a $985 million stimulus package including major tax reforms and also target investment in growth industries to boost the economy and to help generate job growth. That includes a tax reform package that provides almost $670 million in tax reductions over four years by restructuring business taxes to help businesses invest, grow and create jobs, and it injects a further $315 million over four years into growth industries and targeted infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Clearly, the outline of the wonderful work of our minister Hamilton-Smith has made the opposition very tetchy, very angry and cross.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: They are obviously very sensitive to the good work that minister Hamilton-Smith has done. There are a number of positive signs in terms of our economy.
The PRESIDENT: The minister has the floor.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: We also have detailed plans for jobs supported through this and a raft of other measures to grow business, including payroll tax concessions and reforming WorkCover, and an estimated $180 million in savings to businesses. We know that, as part of our recent budget, there were significant additional funds set aside for roads and this—
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Maher, don't agitate. Your Leader is trying to answer a question.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: We have also established the role of the Co-ordinator General to help assist lodged projects valued at over $3 million to clear bureaucratic hurdles, and we have also provided funding for regional projects such as the $15 million Regional Development Fund and the $10 million Regional Jobs Accelerator Fund.
The first round of grants from the Regional Development Fund has so far resulted in 41 projects across the state, generating investment of more than $337 million, leading to the creation of a projected 665 jobs in the regions. The Jobs Accelerator Fund will be used to:
accelerate the impact of the Regional Development Fund by adding a further $2.6 million in the upcoming RDF round;
establish a new $4 million loan scheme that supplements the assistance available through the Regional Development Fund;
facilitate the indigenous economic development in the north-west pastoral region initiative with $1.4 million over two years; and
to respond to emerging opportunities with $2 million for strategic regional initiatives.
These are just a few of the focused initiatives that we have in our regions to help support investment and business growth and development in our regions and, of course, to create jobs.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 15:17 :43 ): I have a supplementary question. The minister might want to take this on notice: will she cite the resources that she uses to claim that there are 21,000 more jobs in regional South Australia since the government came to office?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 15:18 :00 ): I am advised that there are more than 21,000 additional people in jobs in regional South Australia than when this government came to power, and that is from March 2002 to May 2015, and that would be ABS data.