Interstate migration

In Parliament - Thursday, 10 September 2015

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (11:44:19): Can I commend the member for Chaffey for his magnificent motion, because it goes to the core of many of the issues that we face here in South Australia. I stand here as a gen Y MP—

Mr Pederick: Gen Y?

Mr DULUK: Gen Y, yes; I do not have much hair, but I am gen Y.

Mr Pengilly: Not Shandong?

Mr DULUK: Not Shandong—as an MP who has probably chosen to have their professional career in South Australia but as someone who speaks from a graduating class of 2004 at Adelaide University I can say that many of my friends from that class no longer work in South Australia.

If you were the top law graduate in South Australia and you want to pursue a career in commercial law, you probably will not be practising in South Australia. If you were a top economics graduate you probably will not get a job with the RBA here in Adelaide, you will be in Melbourne or Canberra. If you were a top boilermaker or fitter and turner or you want to work with your hands in the mines you will not be doing that in South Australia, you will be doing that in the west or in Queensland. In so many industries, in so many sectors, the best opportunities for people to pursue those careers are, unfortunately, not in South Australia.

South Australia has always had a history of people moving to Melbourne and Sydney, and we are not going to stop that. We are not going to pretend that it is not going to happen. We see people moving from the country to the bigger cities. The problem is the trend of what is happening. The trend is that more and more young South Australians are leaving every day. The other problem is that where maybe a generation ago they were leaving by choice, they were leaving because they wanted to go to see something else, these days they are leaving because they need to—necessity is forcing them to leave South Australia.

This morning we have seen that, once again, South Australia has the highest unemployment in the nation at 8.1 per cent, and the highest level since 1995. Of course, youth unemployment is a high proportion of that. Our population in South Australia declines each year as residents leave this state looking for opportunities elsewhere. Since 2002, the average number of South Australians leaving to move interstate per annum has grown by 9.8 per cent—9.8 per cent of South Australians are leaving. That is not by choice because they love it here, people love living in South Australia and they love the 20-minute city and they love our wonderful schools, environment and services, but they leave for jobs; they leave because there is not the right job mix for them and their families.

Of course, the highest proportion of South Australians leaving is in the 25 to 29-year-old age group, an age bracket that I was in not too long ago. That is really concerning. Young people are studying here and finishing primary and high school here, they are finishing their university or trade years here but then they are leaving. Their trade or university result does not enable them to get a good job in South Australia. The government needs to share responsibility for that and it should hang its head in shame for what it has not been doing.

People are walking away from our state for study, careers and lifestyle opportunities. Young people are enticed by the perception of improved career prospects and a more vibrant cosmopolitan lifestyle interstate and overseas. The brain drain costs our economy millions each year. As I said, we lose people in the 25 to 29-year-old age group. We are losing future taxpayers which means that we have fewer taxpayers funding schooling and the services that go with it.

Unfortunately, young people are not coming back to South Australia as they used to. A good case in point is my cousin who lives in Melbourne. She has a very good planning job in Melbourne and, unfortunately, she has married a Hawthorn supporter over there, and she now has two kids and is staying in Melbourne and she is never coming back to Adelaide. My sister is in the same boat. She works in the wine game, she works for Treasury Wine Estates as one of their top marketing managers. She is not doing it in South Australia. My brother is in London. The member for Chaffey talked about his children and their friends. We all have examples of friends and family and relatives who are leaving the state day by day, and they do not want to.

The other big issue, of course, is that it creates a bit of a breakdown in our own family units as families are relocated. Between 23 December and 2 January we see a mass return of expats coming back to South Australia to celebrate Christmas. You can walk down Rundle Street and have a beer at the Exeter on 24 December and catch up with all your old university mates. They are all having a drink because they have all come back to Adelaide for Christmas but then they go back to Melbourne, Sydney and other states. The long-term effect of this is going to have a very detrimental effect on South Australia.

We need to have our young people staying here. We need to reverse an ageing population. An ageing population does not lead to vibrancy in a city. It is more expensive, obviously, to have an ageing population. There are benefits with an ageing population but we do need young people and families to stay in South Australia. An ageing community means there are fewer ratepayers, fewer taxpayers, fewer volunteers and fewer people to work with.

An ageing population and slowing workforce growth is placing increasing pressure on our local councils. If young people continue to leave South Australia, many of our councils will not have the ability to provide services because they will be outstripped by demand. The government has been banging on about the need for the city to have exciting job opportunities that keep people in South Australia. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening. Attractiveness to the city—mind you it has improved with the Adelaide Oval upgrade and certainly the small bar licences of late and that is one part of what needs to be done, but the real problem is economic growth.

Economic growth is the driver of prosperity; economic growth is the reason why people invest and why people employ, and with the worst unemployment in the nation that is correlated with our poor economic growth at the moment. As I mentioned the other day, our unemployment is heading into double-digit figures. Over 70,000 South Australians are unemployed and many are underemployed. The problem has obviously manifested itself in a lack of employment but also there is a lack of solutions from those opposite.

Last night I was at Hub Adelaide, which is one of our start-up locations, for their Spark forum. I was speaking to one person there who said, 'The problem with South Australia at the moment and the problem with the thinking of the government is that they want to find one employer that employs 500 people in an old-school model of thinking and an old-school manufacturing mindset. In South Australia we need to be looking at 100 employers who employ five people because that is going to be South Australia's future.'

The notion that we are going to have these big industrial firms come into South Australia and employ hundreds of South Australians on a production line, as was the case generations ago, no longer exists. We need to be able to create the right environment, the right regulatory environment for small business to prosper, and that includes removing barriers to employment—payroll tax, stamp duty—as is happening, I have to say, to give credit to this current Treasurer, albeit a bit late. We need to remove those barriers.

Mr Pengilly: Don't give him too much.

Mr DULUK: I will not give him too much, member, but I will give him a little bit. Red tape and council planning. Right now the Attorney-General has introduced his new planning reforms. Planning reforms should really be used as an opportunity to create employment, create jobs and to remove red tape for businesses in South Australia. If we are actually serious about jobs in South Australia, we need to support enterprise, we need to deregulate. We have seen—and this was a comment made to me last night as well—this with the small bar licences. The freeing up of enterprise in that industry has seen not only an explosion in vibrancy but also in job creation.

I think it is a great example when government gets out of the way, when we deregulate, when we set a framework for everyone to work in but people know that framework. Of course, we need rules and regulations, but when we set that framework of acceptable behaviour and when we set a tax regime that supports South Australians, then we will see employment and we will see job creativity.

When we see employment and job creativity, we will see young people making a choice to stay in South Australia, to be part of a community and to reinvest in South Australia, which will add to our skill set. We need them to buy their first home and to have their children here in South Australia—not have them in Melbourne becoming Hawthorn supporters, but having them in Adelaide growing up as good Adelaide Crows supporters. That is what we want; we want more Crows supporters. I commend the member for Chaffey for this motion and for bringing this issue to the attention of the house. It is a very worthy motion.