2018-19 budget remarks

Mr DULUK (Waite) (17:19): It gives me great pleasure to make a small contribution on this, the first Liberal budget in quite a long time. I have to say that I am glad Rob Lucas from the other place is our Treasurer, a man who is sensible, calm and collected and who provides a contrast to the shrill noise of those opposite.

I actually have a lot of respect for the member for Reynell—and, in fact, quite a few of those opposite, who I know come to this place with good intentions. Yet they seem to forget that for the last 16 years they were in charge of the Treasury bench, and in speech after speech, starting with the Leader of the Opposition at 12 o'clock today, all I hear is whinge and complain, whinge and complain. There is no acknowledgement of their sins and no acknowledgement of their budget failures, just whingeing and complaining.

When you return a $397 million budget deficit to the people of South Australia, when you work backwards and look at all the so-called budget surpluses that the member for West Torrens handed down in previous years, they were only supported through the privatisation of fantastic state assets such as the Lands Title Office, the Motor Accident Commission and the forests in the South-East. I know that the member for Mawson is from the South-East, and he would have been appalled at the decision to sell the rotation for the forests for less than the rotation is making right now. That is the vandalism of those opposite.

They give the people of South Australia a gift of a deficit of $397 million, but then we are going to see, when debate continues over the coming weeks, the hypocrisy of those opposite regarding their actions. If one looks at what they did, at what they tried to do—and the Leader of the Opposition this morning on radio had to come out and say that, yes, he actually looked at not the outsourcing of services at prisons but the privatisation of prison services when he was corrections minister, albeit briefly—it knows no bounds. That is the problem with those opposite.

Treasurer Lucas and all of us on this side of the house will not be lectured by the Labor Party on how to run the state's finances. That can be seen in the budget papers, the key indicator of a loss last year, 2017-18, of $397 million. If you accept the premise that Labor made a loss of $397 million of state finances, if the government were a business and you were the CFO and you looked at those figures of an organisation with revenues of $19 billion making losses year on year on year, you would have to ask what you were going to do differently in order to get your budget and your company back on track.

That is exactly what this Marshall Liberal government is doing. It is getting the company, the company of South Australia, the shareholders of which are our wonderful people, back on track—and we are getting us back on track through three simple key points: more jobs, lower costs and better services. We know that if we keep to that theme of more jobs, lower costs and better services for the people of South Australia we will have done the right thing in this budget.

Budgets are not easy. Setting your own family budget is never easy because there are always competing priorities, and setting a company budget is never easy because there are always competing priorities. Of course, setting the budget for the state is never easy because there are always competing priorities there. I will not give this speech today, I might save it for my budget grieve, but I think there is an immorality in having long-term budget deficits. There is an immorality in making reckless budget decisions because ultimately, at some point, somebody has to make the right tough decisions, which inevitably lead to a conflict in priorities.

There has to be reallocation of services and expectations, and it takes away from the ability for us to be able to do what we want, how we want, and provide the services to the people of South Australia. We are talking about the fantastic initiatives that were in the budget for my electorate. My electorate of Waite is pretty excited, first and foremost, about the $16½ million investment in local roads. When I was elected to parliament in 2015, we promised that a Liberal government would spend money on fixing local roads in our community because for 16 long years in the wilderness not a single dollar of local road investment was put into my electorate.

In fact, the last bit of funding that was spent by the Olsen-Kerin government in 2002, when my predecessor, Iain Evans, was the local member, was at the Blythewood roundabout at the bottom of Old Belair Road. A series of works was laid out in the 2001 budget to spend on infrastructure throughout the Mitcham Hills. There was a change of government, and for 16 years not a cent was spent.

Even when the former member for Waite, the Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith, switched sides and joined the Labor Party, he did not deliver a single cent for the electorate either. The former government failed to listen to my community, and I am very proud that a Liberal government is listening to my community and funding the very important road upgrades that are required throughout the Mitcham Hills road corridor. We are also going to look at the intersections of Main Road and Russell Street, and of Brighton Parade, Shepherd's Hill Road and Waite Street, other blackspots in my community that will finally be getting those upgrades.

There is also money in the budget for the upgrade of Flagstaff Road, which is something that is very important to my broader community. I must put on the record my thanks to the new member for Davenport as well for continuing with the advocacy in that area. Of course, there is also money in the budget—$20 million—for the GlobeLink master plan, which is going to look at freight throughout South Australia, in particular road freight and rail freight throughout the Mitcham Hills, to see how we can create efficiencies in the delivery of freight.

We know that exports are key to our longevity and our economic stability as a state. We need to export our goods and services. We need to give our fantastic manufacturers and primary producers the ability to get their product to market, whether it be interstate or overseas, as quickly as possible in the most timely and efficient manner. Looking holistically at that is so important.

Another really big issue in my electorate is obviously the provision of healthcare services. It is fantastic to see an additional $43 million being spent to cut elective surgery waiting times. I know that the major hospital in my community, the Flinders Medical Centre, and SALHN are going to greatly benefit from that additional investment in elective surgery.

Those opposite, most recently in the contribution by the member for Reynell, say that we do not care about people and we are not investing in the community. What the former Labor government did in health, in Transforming Health, in the decimation of rural and country health (as the member for Narungga knows, with issues in his electorate), in the closure of the Repat—which I think, given where it sat, has probably saved, over the course of two or three years, about $6 million if you look at the budget paper—shows everything you need to know about those members opposite.

Collectively, the Labor Party has no heart and it has no brains. If it had heart and if it had brains, it would never have implemented Transforming Health, which has done nothing but wreck healthcare services across metropolitan Adelaide and throughout the whole state. It is our task and the health minister's task to reverse those terrible decisions.

In my community in particular, of course, it is centred around the Repat and our policy to reactivate the Repat. It has been a real pleasure to work closely with the member for Elder, the member for Davenport, the federal member for Boothby and the health minister in ensuring that the Repat becomes an important health precinct again and provides a suite of services that the people of my community expect and most certainly need.

In terms of some other local projects that were announced as part of the election campaign and delivered in this year's budget, there is investment in the Wirraparinga Trail Loop at Brownhill Creek. That continues the great investment that this conservative government is applying in a practical way to the environment. No more slogans, no more outrageous targets, no more love affairs with slogans saying, 'We're going to be clean and green by 2030, 2040 or 2050,' or whenever the member for Cheltenham had in his dreams. This is practical, on-the-ground, sensible conservation of our environment, which is so important.

We are delivering more park rangers to places such as the Belair National Park in my community, which goes towards helping our natural environment. We are reforming NRM to give local groups and organisations a say in land care management, which is so important. There is no more need for lefties talking about the environment, as they like to do, without any practical outcomes—just practical, conservative measures to fix and ensure we have a wonderful community and a green environment that is going to be there for generations to come. This includes the Glenthorne precinct, the new national park and the development of the whole of the southern suburbs into an open recreation space that also looks at recreation and the desire for that—and also the environment.

I was at a Polish community function on Saturday, where we were celebrating 100 years of Polish independence from 1918. A lady from the Polish community in Flagstaff Hill came up to me and asked, 'When are we going to get the boats in the Happy Valley Reservoir?' It is something that they do in Europe. You are allowed to fish and partake in water sports in reservoirs and dams throughout Europe. It also happens in Brisbane, but the former environment minister (Hon. Ian Hunter in the other place) said you could never do it. We are going to do it. We are going to open up our reservoirs for recreational use, and we are going to open up our environment for the people of South Australia to enjoy, which is so important.

More broadly, we have a platform to grow our economy and to grow South Australia, and that is so important. This budget looks to address the lack of consistent investment throughout the state. As Treasurer Lucas outlined in his budget speech, it is about reforming the way we think. No more corporate handouts, no more picking winners. That is a thing of the past because it is inefficient and it picks favourites. By picking winners, you are by default picking losers. We are not here to pick losers in this state budget; we are here to create a level playing field, especially in the economic space and the business space, that allows all South Australian businesses to compete.

How are we doing that? First and foremost, we are reforming payroll tax. Every year, year after year, the former Labor government did very little to tackle payroll tax. It is one of the most insidious taxes there is because it taxes employment. From 1 January, the threshold for payroll tax will be $1.5 million, one of the best in the nation. That is going to create a level playing field. It is going to send a message to businesses to say that we can invest and we can employ without the penalty of increased payroll tax, which is so important.

We are spending $157.2 million to abolish payroll tax and a further $95.9 million for land tax relief as well. We are seeing a lowering of the land tax threshold as well. The message to the people of South Australia, and indeed to the people of Australia, is that once again South Australia is open to business on a level playing field. You do not have to be Jay's best friend and you do not have to be Tom's mate; all you have to do in order to succeed in this state is to be a friend of South Australia, because we are not going to penalise you for having your chance to have a go.

We are supporting lower costs. The cost of doing business is going to change in this state, and the costs to South Australians is going to change. For too long, we know that the cost-of-living pressures have been a huge burden for so many South Australians, and we have listened to the people of South Australia. That is why we are cutting ESL bills, putting $360 million back into the pockets of South Australians so they can spend their money how they see fit, which is so important. We are also capping NRM levies from 1 July 2019.

When we talk about supporting communities, a really big issue is volunteer checks, which I am very proud that we took to the election and which we are implementing. I know people come into my office all the time to get their DCSI clearances signed. Even if they just want to volunteer at Meals on Wheels, as they do, or in a school group or Scouts, they have to pay a volunteer fee. Fancy charging someone a fee so that they can volunteer. It is actually quite ridiculous.

These are the types of fees and charges that have crept in under the former regime because they had to try—not that they ever did—to balance the budget year after year. They just kept on bringing more charges and taxes for people who just went about their ordinary lives in our beautiful suburbs and towns around the state, doing what they do best. We are saying that you can be a volunteer without paying a fee. Isn't that fantastic? That is what the community needs.

We are investing $100 per primary school-aged children, at a cost of $29.7 million. That is another project that Labor actually did not fund. The former minister, when he was the minister, did not fund school vouchers for kids in sport in the Mid-Year Budget Review. We have, to the tune of $100 million, invested in schoolkids so they can participate in sport, which is actually vitally important. I always talk about the arts as well, as people know, and expanding that to support kids' participation in music and arts, which is actually somewhere we should be going as well.

In terms of better services, we are spending over $1.2 billion in health. We are spending $692 million to upgrade and modernise school infrastructure, and there is a further $515 million increase in education spending. That includes helping the independent and the Catholic sector as well. No matter where you send your kid to school, whether is in my electorate at Blackwood Primary, Mitcham Girls High, or St John's Grammar, or wherever you are, it is important that your children, and you as a parent and a taxpayer, will be looked after by this government.

We have allocated an extra $22 million to extend police station opening hours, which is important because law and order in the community is vitally important. We are looking after people's safety, which is so important. In terms of funding at a human services level more broadly, an extra $11 million over the next four years has been allocated for a suite of anti domestic violence measures to ensure that women living in violent or abusive relationships are better able to access immediate support. That includes 40 new crisis accommodation beds, and $5 million in interest-free loans to non-government organisations to fund new domestic violence support services.

We have allocated an extra $1.6 million over four years to extend Women's Safety Services at SA domestic violence, as well as $510,000 to support the statewide trial of the domestic violence disclosure scheme, and $624,000 over four years for the South Australian Coalition of Women's Domestic Violence Services to enhance community working activities. This public policy spending is so important and should be bipartisan, but, in listening to the contributions so far today, the opposition are attacking the government for investing in important social services, which is obviously disappointing to hear from those opposite.

In the area of trade, tourism and investment, it is very important for South Australia because that is what generates real growth. Tourism is so important across the board. We are investing in tourism, which is fantastic. We have allocated $12.7 million over four years for new trade offices. The former government did do some good work in the trade space and they were pretty parochial. The member for Mawson was pretty parochial in his support for South Australia on the world stage, and I certainly know he did his bit to spruik us on the world stage. I am glad that we are continuing to do that as well.

Mr Ellis: Is there going to be an office in Poland?

Mr DULUK: No, he never went to Poland, unfortunately, but that is something a future Liberal government can look at. New trade offices are actually important to support our businesses getting their product to market. We are also introducing the new programs, including the SA Emerging Exporter, the Export Accelerator and New Market Entry programs. It is so important to go there. One area in which we are lacking and behind is international education. There is a big investment from this government in international education.