Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:31): I rise to talk about a topic I have an interest in, that is, migration and where South Australia is going with its population policy over the coming years and what we can do in the future, which is very important. Right now, South Australia has a population of about 1.7 million people and we account for about 7.14 per cent of the Australian population. Over the past few years, unfortunately, South Australia's population increase has slowed whilst that of the rest of the nation, particularly on the eastern seaboard, has taken off. There is something we can do, in my view, to look at this issue, and one thing is obviously natural increase.
The Hon. A. Piccolo: You need to do your bit.
Mr DULUK: I know the member for Light has done his bit, which is very important. Of course, the other one is immigration flows, migrants coming into this state. I think there is a huge opportunity for South Australia, especially given the discussions around the nation. The federal government's decision to decrease Australia's overall net immigration intake is a chance for South Australia to open its doors to young, motivated, highly educated individuals who want to come to Australia, in particular to South Australia.
Yesterday, the committee I chair, the Economic and Finance Committee of the parliament, kicked off its first inquiry into the economic contribution of migration in South Australia. We had our first witnesses from the Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment and other government agencies, and it was an opportunity for the stats and figures to be presented to us in terms of demography and where we are going. Something that the Premier and the entire Marshall Liberal government have been strong advocates for is greater skilled migration to South Australia.
It was great that last week the Premier and federal minister Tudge announced a new visa for South Australia in regard to bringing entrepreneurs into this nation via South Australia, so a new visa class arrangement. It will allow the state government to partner with foreign entrepreneurs and investors. It is an innovative idea to bring business here to South Australia and to say, as we are:
'We are open for business. We want you to come here. We want you to bring your risk-taking culture in terms of an investment and drive of business to this state.'
I am really looking forward to and watching the Entrepreneur Visa being rolled out and promoted; for now, it is only available in South Australia.
The Economic and Finance Committee will examine the impact of the population growth on South Australia's productivity and economic performance and investigate policy measures required to attract and retain skilled migrants to South Australia. I believe that the inquiry will assist the South Australian government in shaping its future infrastructure needs, as well as undertake sensible policy reform and really give us a chance to participate in the national debate happening around migration at the moment.
I believe that migrants have made a tremendous contribution to South Australia for many generations. It is important that we appropriately use the knowledge and the data we have available in the need to grow South Australia over the coming years. One thing I have talked about quite a lot is our political relevance within the federation, within the nation. At the next federal election, South Australia is losing a federal seat in the federal parliament.
There are more members of parliament coming from the western suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney than there are from the entire state of South Australia. The distribution of seats is based purely on a population matter, and if we want to ensure that at a federal level South Australia's voice is heard both within COAG and within the framework of the debate we need to be taken seriously, and economic growth and migration and population policy will play a key part in that.
Also, sir, we are an ageing population, as you know, and with that come quite a number of policy challenges, and reversing our ageing population will also be of benefit to South Australia. Of course, the important role that migrants play in regions by filling regional labour shortages is so critically important. I look forward the progress of this inquiry over the coming months.