Mr DULUK (Davenport) (16:38): Since the Treasurer delivered his budget on 7 July, my office has been contacted by quite a few constituents. I can tell you that not one has phoned, emailed or visited my office to sing the praises of the Treasurer's budget. No-one has said that it is an excellent budget, no-one has even said it is a good budget. What they have told me is that they are very disappointed. They are frustrated and they are very angry. They are frustrated by the government's unwavering commitment to Transforming Health, despite growing protests from medical professionals, staff and patients, as well as budget blowouts and despicable waste, including $3 million of taxpayers' money the government spent spruiking its changes to the health system.
They are angry that the government has ignored the most pressing issue for every household and every business operating in South Australia, and that is the extraordinary increases to cost of living. Every household and every business is hurting. They are hurting because of increases to electricity bills, because of increases to ESL and because of increases to council rates. What does the budget do to help relieve these rising costs? What does it do for young families, for couples, for single income homes, for pensioners and for business owners? This government has increased the tax burden for all of them. That is right: it has increased the tax burden on all these people.
The government has increased the solid waste levy. The levy will cost South Australians an extra $64 million per annum by the end of the forward estimates, with the price increasing from $62 to $103 per tonne by 2019-20. The Onkaparinga council, which my electorate overlaps, has already incorporated this price rise in its rates with an eleventh hour increase following the budget announcement. With the addition of the waste levy to the annual rate increase, Onkaparinga residents are now paying 3 per cent more each year or an average of $44. That is, $44 that households no longer have to help with school fees, to pay for a doctor's visit or put towards groceries.
Taxis, chauffeurs and ride-sharing trips will also attract a new levy for every metropolitan trip from next year. Public transport has again gone up with a single trip now at about $5.30. Indeed, fees and charges for all major government services have increased—registering a motor vehicle, CTP premiums, driver's licence renewals and speeding fines. Although there has been some minor relief to water bills this year, let's not forget that in 2008-09 the average residential water bill was $340.60. In 2015-16, it was $783.44.
Successive Labor governments have made a conscious decision to inflict an increasing financial burden on South Australians year on year. They have done so to help prop up a budget and to compensate for the government's disgraceful mismanagement of taxpayer money. As a result, South Australia is now the highest taxing jurisdiction in Australia, as reported by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
Once again, the government has not only failed to deliver any cost of living relief for South Australian households and businesses, but it has actually increased cost-of-living pressures with new taxes, increases to existing taxes, and additional fees and charges. My constituents are walking around the local community with much lighter pockets as a result of this Labor government and, as they move about their community, travelling to and from work, visiting the shops and enjoying their weekend activities, they are wondering, where are all their dollars going? How is their local community benefiting from all these taxes, fees and charges?
Whilst they welcomed the government's announcement that $2.5 million in STEM funding will be invested in Blackwood High School, they are left disappointed that once again the government has neglected the infrastructure and transportation needs of Davenport. The state budget has failed to allocate any funding to help develop a new multi-use sports hub at Hewett Sports Ground in Blackwood.
Efforts by the City of Mitcham and local clubs to secure state government assistance have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. The council has committed over $400,000 to the project and was seeking an equal contribution from the state government. The upgrade is desperately needed to improve the facilities which are in terribly poor condition. On a recent visit to the club rooms, I noticed that the rooms were opened by Robin Millhouse, who was the member for Mitcham many years ago.
The clubrooms represent the essence of grassroots sport, operating as a home facility for the Woods Panthers Netball Club, Blackwood Tennis Club, Coromandel Cricket Club, Blackwood Football Club and Sturt Lions Soccer Club. They are also used by many other clubs, schools and organisations, but the local clubs, volunteers, coaches, athletes and local residents who rely on these facilities to practise and compete in their sports have again been ignored by the state government.
The government could not find $400,000 to make a real difference to the community. Thankfully, the federal Coalition government wants to make a difference and has stepped up to fill the void left by the state Labor government. I would like to commend Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, sports minister Sussan Ley, and new member for Boothby Nicolle Flint for making this commitment possible.
I am becoming quite repetitive but I will tell the house again that the road capacity in the Mitcham Hills will not stand an evacuation when there is a fire. Traffic along Main Road, Old Belair Road, Belair Road and Fullarton Road in and out of the Mitcham Hills continues to increase and yet again the government ignores the desperate need to upgrade roads, especially the central corridor through the Mitcham Hills.
On Monday this week, there was an unfortunate accident along Old Belair Road at the James Road intersection. This accident happened during peak hour and resulted in traffic banking up all the way to the Glenalta crossing. It was a frightening insight into how quickly and easily congestion immobilises commuters and residents in the Mitcham Hills. It is a situation that is at the forefront of the minds of my constituents each summer as they contemplate their capacity to evacuate in the event of a bad fire.
In 2009, the Natural Resources Committee, chaired by the current Deputy Premier, released its interim bushfire inquiry report. Recommendation 1 stated:
The committee recommends the provision of substantial funds to improve road infrastructure in the Mitcham Hills to be spent over the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 budgets.
Not for the first time I ask: how much has been allocated to meeting the recommendations of the Natural Resources Committee? The answer is: very, very little. As then Sturt CFS group officer Mike Pearce noted in his evidence to the committee:
…if there was to be a major bushfire in the Mitcham Hills area on any weekend…we could have more than 8,500 vehicles fleeing from an approaching front. Of the six exits from the district, you could only reasonably expect less than half to be suitable for this purpose due to bushfire impacts. The situation will cause severe traffic congestion throughout the district and leave road users in some areas at extreme risk.
The need to invest in infrastructure and upgrade local roads has only increased since these comments were made due to the population growth throughout the Mitcham Hills and surrounding districts. This state budget once again ignores the safety of local residents. The government still has not responded to the report's recommendations and it has failed to allocate any funding to improve road infrastructure in the area.
The government has not even met its obligation to improve public transport in the area and in this year's budget it has only allocated $10 million to the much-needed Tonsley train line extension, when the state government is due to make a contribution of $40 million to the project. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has committed to partnering with the state government to cover half of the $85 million project, but the best the Treasurer can do in this budget is to commit $10 million to the project, which we understand is to be completed by 2018.
Ten million dollars is not going to get the job done and again Davenport residents miss out. Of course, the Tonsley project is a fantastic project: it is a rail extension between the Tonsley innovation precinct and the university and includes a new train station adjacent to the Flinders Medical Centre. The benefits of extending this line 620 metres are numerous, including: cutting travel times from the city to the campus to just over 20 minutes; easing parking woes for users of the hospital as well as staff, patients and visitors; improving access to the university; and enhancing the attractiveness and liveability of southern Adelaide. However, the benefits for commuters, patients, staff and students do not appear to be a priority for this government.
Finally, I would like to touch on the topic of epilepsy. I know we had many people from Epilepsy SA in the house recently, but there is no funding for epilepsy or the Epilepsy Centre in this state budget. The Epilepsy Centre is South Australia's community support base for more than 61,000 South Australians living with epilepsy. They operate without government financial assistance and, after repeated requests, they have still not received any assistance. I commend the Epilepsy Centre for their work and for what they do with limited resources. I encourage all members to support the epilepsy lottery because, quite simply, they do not have enough money and with this government that is unlikely to change.