Mr DULUK (Davenport) (16:04): I would also like to make my contribution to the Appropriation Bill and speak about some measures that are in the budget, some measures that are not in the budget and give some general reflections. First and foremost, one thing I have been banging on about in this chamber since my time in this place is the Blackwood roundabout, and I am very pleased that there is a line item to fund $3.5 million in this year's budget. I know that it will alleviate many of those traffic delays throughout my community.
The state Liberal team has been campaigning for funding to improve this roundabout for decades. We all know that it would have been completed in 2002 had the Liberal Party formed government, as the Blythewood roundabout was completed at that time. But we know that in 2002, the Labor government pulled the funding to provide further upgrades for Mitcham Hills roads. Finally, some 16 years later, they have seen the light.
I would like to take a moment to thank my predecessor, the Hon. Iain Evans, who was a strong advocate and constantly highlighted the need for investment in my community's road network, especially in the wake of the 2009 bushfire inquiry report which was released by the Natural Resources Committee (NRC). In 2009, it recommended the provision of substantial funds to improve the road corridor throughout the Mitcham Hills. That committee recommended that money be spent in the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 budgets. Of course, for my local residents and the thousands of commuters of my community, that funding was never forthcoming.
However, not to be deterred, the state Liberal Party has remained committed to the needs of my community and continued to campaign for government funding. Last year, I moved a motion in this house to prioritise the upgrade of the Mitcham Hills corridor. In February this year I wrote to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure regarding the importance of appropriate maintenance and investment, and in particular funding the 2015 Road Management Plan for my community. That is the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure's Road Management Plan.
I wrote to the minister in February. He responded to me in April of this year. The minister noted that projects identified in the Road Management Plan, including the Blackwood roundabout, are currently unfunded and would be considered against other projects on a statewide basis. I was therefore quite surprised at this year's announcement that some funding has been allocated in this year's state budget. It is very much welcomed by my community. I thank minister Mullighan for listening to my community and my requests and finally seeing the light in that regard.
Of course, $3.5 million for the roundabout is simply not even going to address the greater needs of the community which, as I said, were first identified way back in 2009 in the NRC report. Upgrading the Blackwood roundabout is only a small investment in fixing the overall Mitcham Hills road network. Much more is needed, and the minister knows this. Last week, the minister was a panellist in a traffic forum at the Blackwood lawn bowls club. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Henk Smelter, president of the club, and Malcolm Parrott for their hospitality that evening.
I would like to thank the minister for taking the time to visit my community, my electorate, and to meet with and listen to the concerns of my constituents. I hoped hearing directly from the locals would resonate with the minister and the department, as well as on top of all the correspondence I have been sending for many years. I hope he and the government are left in no doubt that putting money into the Blackwood roundabout is only part of a greater solution that is needed.
We need investment in the whole corridor, and this is what a future Marshall Liberal government is committed to investing in: the entire Mitcham Hills road corridor, through Coromandel Valley, Craigburn Farm, Bellevue Heights, Eden Hills, Glenalta, Hawthorndene, Belair and all the way down to Mitcham. That is what we need. We need to look at, and fund correctly, what has been identified in the Road Management Plan. All that needs to be done is for the funding to be provided. We need to look at those bottlenecks that have developed at Glenalta and the Blackwood railway crossings, which feed into the main road corridor through Blackwood; the congestion and safety issues on Waite Street and Brighton Parade intersections; and what is quite important is that we provide friendly pedestrian infrastructure and bike infrastructure throughout my community.
We have to remember that Blackwood is more than just a roundabout; it is a commercial, retail and social precinct, and funding is required for that. It is all well and good for people to come in at the last minute and say, 'This is a great initiative and I am here to solve all your problems,' but my community knows that we on this side of the house have been banging on about this. They know what the issues are in their community and that we will be strongly advocating for them.
If anyone else wants to be an advocate for my community, they should match the Liberal Party's $20 million commitment and invest in the Mitcham Hills road corridor. Traffic congestion and safety concerns, as I said before, do not begin and end at the Blackwood roundabout. The Liberal Party and a future Marshall Liberal government have a commitment to properly invest in and fund an upgrade to that road network that will benefit so many commuters, residents and users of roads throughout my electorate.
Another initiative that was in this year's budget relevant to my community was the $200,000 for the construction of a dedicated pedestrian bridge within the Brownhill Creek Recreation Park. This is to be constructed alongside the existing White's Bridge and will provide safe passage across the creek for pedestrian and school groups, who are currently forced to share the bridge with vehicles. This is a bridge in Brownhill Creek that was damaged in the September 2016 storms. I certainly appreciate the work of the Department of Environment and the Mitcham council, which have worked together to assess the risks and attend to these reparation works.
This is a good little announcement in the budget and I have to thank Ron Bellchambers and the Brownhill Creek Association for their tireless work to preserve and upgrade Brownhill Creek not only for the local community but also to make it a destination for all South Australians and tourists. To that extent, in the last federal election there was a $200,000 investment in Green Army projects for the Wirraparinga Loop Trail and Brownhill Creek. That was part of a Green Army initiative and I would like to congratulate the federal member for Boothby for her advocacy on that project.
With the money for Wirraparinga and the investment in Brownhill Creek in the state budget, that will certainly go a long way towards looking at tourism and improving the heritage and education of that wonderful part of the Mitcham Hills. It is good to see all levels of government working together in that regard. Another good measure in the budget is the continuation of the Statewide Gambling Therapy Service.
We have seen $360,000 in this year's budget for the continuation of the Statewide Gambling Therapy Service. This money is in addition to the existing funding for gambling therapy services being provided by PsychMed. I am glad the money is there, but the way this funding has been treated is symptomatic of the way this whole government goes about its business: it decides something at some point in time, it then changes its mind, it cuts funding to a program and then it realises it has made the wrong decision and reinstates that program.
We have certainly seen that with Transforming Health and the hospital situation. We have seen that with the Henley Beach Police Station. The government actually cut funding to the Statewide Gambling Therapy Service, which is based out of Flinders Medical Centre. They ceased that funding back in December 2016. The service did previously receive $1.3 million annually and it lost more than half of it when it lost its contract from the government.
Of course, the government decided at the time to provide funding to a new contract partner, being PsychMed, in terms of providing a gambling service, which of course is run by Dr Quentin Black, a former Labor parliamentary candidate. Then, in this year's state budget, we see $360,000 being reapplied to the Statewide Gambling Therapy Service, which is provided through the Flinders Medical Centre.
It is good to see that money being put back into gambling services to help those people with chronic gambling, but once again it is symptomatic of this government that makes a decision one day, realises it has made the wrong decision and then tries to fix it up. The 2017-18 budget is full of examples of where the government is trying to paste over and cover up the sins of the last four or five years (dare I say 16 years) and prepare itself for a state election, which may be as soon as in the next month or two. If that is the case, bring it on.
In the state budget, there was some funding for increased train services and public transport services that will benefit the Belair line, which is very welcomed by my community. We will see increased frequency of train services on the Belair line over weekends and public holidays, which will go from the current hourly service to a half-hour service. That is certainly a very good move.
The Belair passenger service is a critical part of the public transport network's service in the Mitcham Hills area, and if we are going to deal with growing demand and population growth, which we are seeing in my community, we need to have adequate public transport. The Belair train line is certainly used by many tourists to get to the wonderful Belair National Park, and the additional weekend service will provide in assisting those tourists who come from the city up to Belair National Park. It is great for those who are mountain bikers, as they regularly use the train to get themselves up the hill and then take the popular mountain bike tracks back down.
Another part of the budget is the Fund My Neighbourhood program. We are talking about $40 million over the next two years. This program allows the community to decide what projects should be funded within their neighbourhood. It is quite a unique concept and it does raise a question about the role of local governments going forward. I understand that the LGA has expressed some concerns. There are certainly a lot more questions around the detail of this project.
Once again, the cynic in me would say that, in the lead-up to an election, the government has announced another initiative without any consultation, because they certainly have not consulted the LGA or many communities. The cynic in me says that this is a way for them to do a little bit of pork-barrelling but, if the Fund My Neighbourhood project takes off the ground, then I think there are some worthwhile projects and local communities that can be funded through this.
Women's sport facilities are receiving an extra $40 million over two years to address the barriers to female participation. Of course, this builds on the funding provided in the 2016-17 budget and takes the value of the fund to about $10 million per annum. It is important that we have modern and appropriate facilities for players, and there are enormous benefits for the community to have people participating in local sports.
Sadly, many sporting facilities have been neglected over the past 15 years. Female participation and investment in female community clubs have been neglected over that time. I strongly support this commitment in this year's state budget. Many of the local groups in my community applied for funding in the last round of sports grant funding and they await the news of their success or not in July in terms of whether they will benefit from any funding.
There is also another $20 million over the next two years for grants to sporting clubs to establish and replace artificial playing surfaces, which will improve programming for sports. New improved surfaces will encourage additional participation across a variety of sporting codes. It is another important investment in local assets, but of course this needs to be done in a methodical and on an absolutely needs-based basis. It cannot, as I think we have seen too often with some of these other funding projects, go to marginal Labor electorates.
Within my community, reserves such as Hewett Reserve, Manson Oval, Blackwood Oval and Flagstaff Hill all need investment and an injection of funds in their communities. I will continue to advocate on behalf of my community to ensure that they get their fair share of funding out of this synthetic playing surfaces grant funding.
One issue that many people in this house know I have a big association with and a lot of time for, as I know the Deputy Speaker does as well, is epilepsy. Epilepsy affects about 61,000 South Australians. The Epilepsy Centre does not receive any state government funding, and the major source of their funding is a call centre, which telemarkets lotteries and has donation campaigns. Once again, I am disappointed that the state budget did not include any new measures to provide funding to the Epilepsy Centre.
The Victorian epilepsy foundation receives about $1.2 million annually in state government funding from the Victorian government, and many South Australians living with epilepsy already visit Melbourne to receive specialist treatment that is either unavailable in our state or if they face unacceptable waiting periods. If South Australia wants to position itself as a place of medical excellence, we need to do more than just build expensive buildings on North Terrace. We also need to invest in our people and our services.
In terms of local spending in our health network, the Flinders Medical Centre is receiving a $3.5 million upgrade for two existing cold shell operating theatres to expand the number of operating theatres from 10 to 12 to accommodate the consolidation of SALHN's surgical activities. There is an investment in the neonatal unit, which is very important.
All this investment in the hospitals in SALHN, whilst all very welcome, is all very last-minute. It is all designed to prepare this government for the budget, for the election due next year. It is not me saying that; it is Ms Vickie Kaminski, the boss of SA Health, who is saying it. She revealed only last week that she found out about the abrupt about-face changes to funding arrangements across the healthcare network—at Flinders, Noarlunga and The QEH—when the budget was released. The government, the health minister and the spin doctors who work for this Labor government did not consult the CEO of SA Health about the huge capital injections into key hospitals in our community.
Whilst we certainly welcome the funding at the Flinders Medical Centre, it is incredibly disappointing that, of the $1.1 billion cash splash on health across South Australia that the government is promising to spend on health over the forward estimates, there is not a single dollar for the Repatriation General Hospital. Deputy Speaker, as you know, the hospital that you love in your community is receiving some money in this year's federal budget. The QEH is receiving money, and it is very close to the member for Lee's electorate. The Flinders Medical Centre in my community is receiving funding, and Noarlunga Hospital is receiving an upgrade.
Almost every metropolitan hospital in South Australia is receiving funding upgrades in this year's budget. I give full credit to those local Labor members of parliament who lobbied the health minister to get funding for their hospitals, except there was no funding for the Repat. The government could find billions of dollars to invest in other hospitals, but they could not find any money to put back in the Repat.
It is not for me to question this, but I would have to look at the advocacy of the local member for where the Repat lies, the member for Waite, and of course the member for Elder, who picks up the Repat in the redistribution. Both members could not get any money to keep the Repat open. It is an absolute disgrace that every other hospital in metropolitan Adelaide can receive money in this year's state budget except the Repat. That is an absolute disgrace for everyone in my community who uses the Repat, loves the Repat and goes there all the time.
We know that the member for Elder used the Repat in her marketing campaign in the lead-up to the last election, but they cannot find any money out of this billion dollars of funding, which is going into capital works and hospitals across the forward estimates, for the Repat—not a single dollar. Forget the needs of the community, forget the almost 120,000 South Australians who signed a petition to keep it open. They cannot find a single dollar whatsoever for the Repat. That is one of the most disappointing parts of this year's state budget.
In my community, there has been a lot of scepticism about the government's billion dollar health spend. This is on the back of a long list of broken promises made by the Premier and the health minister. In the lead-up to the 2014 state election, the Premier proposed to build a new women's and children's hospital within a decade, and now it has been announced in this year's budget that there will be a women-only hospital. Labor promised to close the Repat, and it did. Since 2014, Labor has slashed its promised investment in Noarlunga Hospital by almost two-thirds.
The new RAH was promised to cost only $1.7 billion and be open in 2016. Of course, it has now cost us $2.3 billion and will not open until September this year. We know that Labor promised to redevelop The QEH in 2010 and 2014, and this is yet to be delivered. So, at five minutes to midnight, the government said it is going to pour all this money back into capital works for health, but of course we will wait to see if that will happen.
Really, if the government is serious about health policies in South Australia, it should be pouring money into prevention. That is where in the long run we will do the most amount of good in health policy: prevention. The Liberal Party has a preventative health policy with five key issues that we need to look at. We need to look at individual and community action, education, screening and vaccination, research, monitoring and evaluation, public health regulations and leadership and coordination. The future of public healthcare spending and investment is in preventative health, and it is about keeping people out of big hospitals. It is not about big, new, shiny projects in the lead-up to an election.