Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:34): Last Saturday, we commemorated one of our most important
national occasions, and of course that is ANZAC Day. Whilst we stood apart, all Australians stood
together in spirit to honour our ANZACs and thank them and those who have served and continue to
serve and, indeed, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation. With our
candles, torches and iPhones at the end of our driveways and by laying wreaths at memorials, we
paused to remember the dedication, courage and mateship of those soldiers who took part in the
first major military campaign of Australian forces in World War I—and that was the Gallipoli landing
on 25 April 1915.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:39): I also rise to make a few comments on the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020. As we all know, the coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on all Australians. COVID-19 has changed our lives: we will not be commemorating ANZAC Day this year in our usual manner; businesses have closed; many Australians are out of work; footy, whether it be grassroots footy or the AFL, has been postponed; Easter religious ceremonies are being celebrated via live stream; and our school system is traversing very difficult waters for both teachers and students at the moment.
Except for those Australians who have lived through conflicts and world wars, for most of us this is the very first time that our everyday lives have been impacted to such a degree. Understandably, there is significant concern and anxiety throughout the entire community, but I am confident, as all of us are in this house, that if we continue to play our small part and work together we will get through this. As Her Majesty The Queen said on Sunday, 'We will succeed'.
Obviously, we found out this morning that a South Australian passed away as a result of COVID-19. Losing a loved one, as we all know, is very difficult, but to lose a loved one to COVID-19 must be truly distressing. Not being able to celebrate that person's life in the usual manner and the nature of the death must be terribly heartbreaking, so my condolences to that family.
I would also like to offer my sincere gratitude to all South Australians who are working hard on the front line to tackle this coronavirus. Thank you to our healthcare workers at the COVID-19 testing clinics, at hospitals, GP clinics and all other health facilities. Thank you to Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier and her SA Health team for leading us through this crisis. It is fantastic to see SA Health utilising vital community assets such as the Repat site in leading the way for drive-through testing for COVID-19.
To all members of SAPOL, thank you. To those who work in emergency services, thank you. Thank you to the teachers and the childcare workers across the state. Thank you to the staff at all our aged-care facilities who are looking after our vulnerable South Australians, especially those in aged care, where they have to socially isolate and, further to that, cannot be visited by family and friends; it is extremely difficult.
Thank you to the staff in our supermarkets during these times of extra demand. To echo the words of the Prime Minister, I think we all need to calm down when it comes to the issue of buying toilet paper. We manufacture toilet paper in South Australia, at Millicent. There is plenty for everyone, and I think as South Australians we must ensure, especially on this issue, that we apply our common sense. Thank you to all the South Australians who are assisting in dealing with this pandemic. To all of you, I pass on the gratitude of the people of Waite. You are the front line of protecting the most vulnerable in our society and keeping us all safe as a community.
As I said and as has been mentioned today, it has been a very difficult couple of weeks and months for many South Australians, especially those who feel socially isolated, are out of work, have closed their businesses or whose future is uncertain as a result of COVID-19. We have seen unprecedented change, and we have seen it evolve rapidly. So many businesses in my electorate have been adversely impacted, forced to close or have lost their jobs due to the regulations put in place to keep our community safe.
It is an incredible sacrifice for all employers and employees, particularly small businesses, mum-and-dad enterprises that work tirelessly day and night and struggle at the best of times. Unfortunately, this is not the best of times, as we are seeing more unemployment, businesses close and a sharp increase in financial stress experienced by South Australians. There has also been an increase in break-ins at local businesses in my community, and just around the corner from my office, as recently as a couple of days ago. In fact, these callous acts are making a terrible situation worse at a time when we are seeing many unoccupied retail spaces throughout our communities.
We should be lifting each other up at this time, not tearing each other down. As South Australians, we all have a role to play in that regard. This is why I think the support from the Australian government and our state government is indeed welcome and timely and, dare I say, visionary. The federal government's total support for the economy is $320 billion across the forward estimates. The stimulus packages, JobKeeper payments and other measures will help to secure as many jobs as possible and support workers, businesses and the wider community during a time of unforeseen challenges to our economy. Steven Hamilton, a visiting scholar at ANU, has said that the JobKeeper initiative 'will keep many businesses afloat and connected to their employees, which are critical to a speedy recovery.'
It is also vitally important that people have jobs. Work and what work means to so many people is important. It keeps communities strong and society even stronger. Allowing that connection to remain between employees and employers, people feeling useful and making a contribution to our economy, to our community and to our society is so important.
I am particularly heartened to see the new Jobs Hub site, which helps connect Australian jobseekers with job opportunities in a range of industries. While, unfortunately, many businesses are reducing their workforce, other areas need more workers to meet demands in their particular sector. Connecting workers with available jobs during this significant downturn is essential to keeping our economy going and it is essential to ensuring we can continue to meet consumer demand.
For the last few weeks there has been a lot of discussion around the community and the business sector in regard to the treatment of rental agreements between landlords and tenants. It is good to see that this is being formalised in the bill before us today. These measures will provide certainty for commercial and residential tenants and landlords during such an uncertain time. Among other measures, landlords cannot evict or increase the rent for tenants who are suffering financial hardship as a result of coronavirus. In the case of commercial leases, the Small Business Commissioner can be called on, in the event of mediation, as to whether or not a tenant is suffering financial hardship.
I know a lot of businesses in my electorate will be grateful for these proposed measures. We are seeing the rollout of this as of today, but I sense this is very much a work in progress. How a strip shop in suburban Adelaide is treated and how it goes about negotiating with its landlord will be very different from how a tenant in a Westfield site negotiates with the landlord. This is very different from landlords who rely on rental payments as their only source of income.
Of course, they may have significant financial debt on their business structures as well. I think this is going to be a very fluid arrangement. Certainly, I have no doubt the government, and especially the Small Business Commissioner, where possible, will be looking to do the right thing by everyone involved. As business owners worry about a loss of income, their employees' welfare and the unknown future, it is of some comfort to know that they do not have to be concerned about rent at this time. I think that will be well received across the board.
The bill also addresses a wide array of matters that are essential to keeping our state running and supporting those who need assistance. This includes protections for residents of supported residential facilities to help ensure that they are not left homeless during this critical time. The member for Hurtle Vale touched on that in her contribution. We have many homeless in our community.
It is wonderful to see the government and the not-for-profit sector reaching out at the moment. What we are seeing now is a change in attitude and a change of policy. As we come out of COVID-19, I am sure there are better ways in which we can look after those who are homeless, those who are marginalised and those who suffer the stigma of mental illness. This package also provides for the streamlined ability of the state government to pass on financial support to those who need it most.
During the recent bushfire season, affected Australians were sometimes left waiting extended periods of time before receiving financial aid from government. I welcome the government's move to streamline this process to help those impacted by coronavirus. I stress that these measures throughout the omnibus bill are meant to address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on our community and on our Australian way of life. I would expect temporary measures and changes that are being proposed to revert back to the normal course and naturally to be reviewed at the conclusion of any COVID-19 declarations.
With this bill, South Australians are placing enormous responsibility into a few very specific hands. This power and responsibility for the passing of any emergency measures needs to be used cautiously and carefully for the benefit of our people. Parliament must always remain sovereign, as it is parliament that is responsible to the people.
I understand that the member for Florey is proposing a series of amendments, which have my broad support, especially in relation to the termination of emergency powers under the bill. In the amendments, I believe this means that if the government believes the emergency provisions in this bill require extension beyond six months, then parliament will have to reauthorise that by further legislation. This is an addition to other aspects of the bill, which make it clear that the powers that have been granted in this bill must not continue beyond the extent of the emergency declarations under the Emergency Management Act and, indeed, the other acts covered in this omnibus bill.
We all have our part to play. While the response to COVID-19 here in Australia is one that is driven by our national and state governments, it really comes down to the part played by each person in their own home and within their own community. In these challenging times it is important that we, as a community, continue to support each other as best we can. I really want to encourage South Australians to continue to shop locally and support local businesses and, importantly, local jobs. It is also important that we stay in touch with family and friends. Being physically distant does not mean we should become socially disconnected. Looking after our mental health and physical health is so important.
With just over 400 confirmed cases in South Australia, I am proud of the efforts of all South Australians to stop the spread. However, we cannot be complacent; we must all play a part in doing what is best for our families, our community and our country. The sooner we can do this, the sooner we will be able to be on the other side of this crisis. I am confident that by working together we can achieve this.
CFS and Bushfire Season
Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:38): Today, I rise to talk about the Country Fire Service and the vital role that it plays in keeping our community safe, especially during the bushfire season. In recent days, we have been dealt a timely reminder of just how dangerous bushfires can be, with fires all across the eastern seaboard, as well as here in South Australia, especially in Port Lincoln. I would like to echo the comments made by the CFS and remind everyone how important it is to be bushfire ready and of the steps that we can all take to ensure the safety of our families and our community.
In my own electorate of Waite, we are fortunate to have the fantastic team of volunteers from the Sturt CFS group keeping us safe this bushfire season. Members of the Sturt group stop what they are doing and give up their own time to assist others, day after day, week after week, year after year. The Sturt group recently sent a contingent to New South Wales and Queensland to help fight the bushfires over there. I understand, unless I am corrected by the Minister for Emergency Services, that over 200 South Australians have gone to the Eastern States to assist in that most important task, and that is obviously to fight the fires over there. A contingent from Belair and Eden Hills stations from my Sturt group have recently been in Port Lincoln as well helping the community of the member for Flinders.
Under the leadership of group captain Dale Thompson, the Sturt CFS group have been vocal advocates for bushfire safety and how families can prepare to ensure that their properties are safe as possible this bushfire season. This week Sturt CFS group posted an important reminder on its Facebook page that I would like to share here today. It says:
We are incredibly fortunate in my community to have avoided a major bushfire since the 1950s. We were unaffected by the devastation of Ash Wednesday in 1983 while many other areas were not so lucky.
This has led to many residents thinking our area is not a major risk, but this is not the case—our area has plenty of fuel that would ignite in the event of a fire, and a fire will eventually happen.
The Sturt CFS group is urging residents to clean up their properties to mitigate the risk of a fire.
It's everyone's responsibility to make sure their property is not a fire risk, and failure to properly clean up may put others in danger [and indeed the whole community].
Taking the time to clean up your property is a small price to pay for the safety of your family and neighbours, and if you are unable or unwilling to clean up, there are plenty of people who can be hired to do it for you.
I urge residents in my community to heed the advice of the CFS. The CFS also has a simple survival plan and a nine-step program for surviving a bushfire. These include having a five-minute bushfire plan; talking to your family, neighbours and friends about that plan; having flexibility in your plan; clearing around your property; having an emergency kit ready; knowing when to leave and where to go; listening to the weather and knowing when total fire bans are; subscribing to the CFS warning emails; and checking the radio, website, social media and news updates.
Increasing bushfire safety awareness is important and now more so than ever. As a recent CFS survey found, more than 40 per cent of young people were not bushfire ready, and just 16 per cent of 18 and 19 year olds were adequately prepared for a bushfire. Research conducted by the University of South Australia also found that 55 per cent of people living in bushfire danger zones would choose to wait and see instead of evacuating in the event of a bushfire.
The advice that my community constantly receives from the government and the advice that the CFS provides to South Australia is to leave and leave early in the event of a bushfire, and in those catastrophic fire days as well be on high alert and be prepared. More importantly, to do the right thing for yourself and for the community you live in because we just cannot rely on the CFS to be bushfire prepared. We need to be bushfire prepared as well.
The Marshall Liberal government takes bushfire safety very seriously, and of course we respect our CFS. This has been reflected in some of the recent funding announcements we have allocated to emergency services, including $5 million for the CFS project Renew, and provided a further $9.2 million to increase our state's aerial firefighting fleet.
More importantly, locally, on 23 November I once again will be hosting my CFS fundraising barbecue at Coles, Blackwood, together with my colleague the federal member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, and the member for Davenport, Steve Murray, to raise funds for our local CFS group. I encourage everyone to come down, buy a snag, have a chat to the CFS and support a great community and a great organisation.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:31): Twice in two days I agree with the member for Giles. I rise to speak about dementia, a disease that we all hope never crosses our paths. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many of us will have to face dementia or will know someone who will be crippled by dementia at some point in our lives, whether it is a loved one or ourselves who fall victim and are inflicted by this disease.
Dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person's functionality. It is characterised by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's, as many know, is the most common form of dementia. It is prevalent in our community and it is the second leading cause of death in Australia. In Australia, and very much so in South Australia, we have an ageing population, so we need to ensure that we have services in place to adequately care for anyone who has this illness.
Raising awareness assists to remove stigma and allows people an understanding of what someone is going through after a dementia diagnosis. People with dementia deserve to live with meaning and purpose, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that they do. No matter what stage they are at in their life, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and care. People living with dementia, along with vulnerable elderly people, should not be ostracised and should be part of the community. We were all outraged in this place and across the state by the lack of care at the former Oakden facility, which closed in the dying days of the former Labor government.
Since then, SA Health has been working towards implementing recommendations following the release of the Final Report of the Oakden Report Response Plan Oversight Committee. One of the key recommendations was to include the development of a neurobehavioural unit to provide specialist care for people living with the most extreme behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. I am proud to say that the neurological unit is being built on the former Ward 18 site at the Repat. It is part of the Marshall Liberal government's commitment to reactivating the Repat.
I was very proud to be part of the announcement of works for the construction and redevelopment of the Older Persons Mental Health Service at the Repat and the creation of South Australia's first dementia village. It was great to be at that launch with the Premier, who I know has been a key part of ensuring the reactivation of the Repat strategy.
Of course, the Minister for Health and Wellbeing in the other place, since the time he was a shadow minister and right up until today and I know well into the future, is going to ensure, together with my federal colleague Nicolle Flint, the federal member for Boothby, that the Repat is reactivated. I really must thank the Morrison federal government for providing much of the funding that is being seen and spent at the Repat site. Unfortunately, my other two colleagues who have been critical in supporting the reactivation of the Repat, the member for Elder and the member for Davenport, could not be there on that occasion.
This was the first significant demolition of works at the Repat as the precinct continues to be revitalised, with construction beginning inside the current C Block building. The C Block building will be the permanent base of the Southern Older Persons Mental Health Service community team. This is the first step towards providing the very best older persons mental health and dementia care in South Australia. The community mental health team is currently operating from a temporary location on site, while the first lot of construction works to refurbish and repurpose C Block is underway.
Families with experience of caring for someone living with extreme forms of dementia were consulted about what service should be included. Having people with lived experience participate in what new facilities are going to look like in South Australia is vitally important. The village has been designed to maintain a sense of self, home and community for people living with this terrible condition. There will be flexible spaces that allow families to be together, good connections between indoor and outdoor spaces and the creation of shared space that supports that safe interaction.
Agreement with the preferred private partner for the dementia village is to be finalised by the end of the year. The Marshall Liberal government is putting the best services possible in place for those living with dementia because we know that it is so important. More importantly, it is so important for us and for my community that we continue to reactivate the Repat as we do. It is fantastic to see the Repat being used as a hub for caring for those with dementia in our community.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (19:30): Today, I also rise to speak to the Land Tax (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill.
Mr DULUK: Sir, please, I have barely started and look at them going at me already.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Waite has the call.
Mr DULUK: Sir, as you know, in the lead-up to the state election, our side—the Marshall team—said that it would be a reformist government, and I think in many senses we have continued down that very path. We said that we would bring a reformist agenda to government, one that is focused on the economy, one that is focused on creating jobs, which I know those opposite are so interested in, yet when we have good job statistics, as we recently had the other day, they do not celebrate them. In fact, they do not like good stats because it takes away their ability to counter—
Mr Malinauskas interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Leader of the Opposition!
Mr DULUK: —their poisonous attitude in their conversation with the people of South Australia.
The SPEAKER: Member for Waite, be seated for one moment. The Leader of the Opposition spoke to this part of the second reading speech unhindered pretty much. It was pretty good behaviour from the government side, and I ask the Leader of the Opposition to return the favour to the member for Waite.
Mr DULUK: Thank you so much, sir, for your protection. As you know, they hate good news. They hate it that job numbers are—
The SPEAKER: Order, member for West Torrens!
Mr DULUK: —positive for South Australia, as they were most recently. They hate that we are out there creating jobs, which we are. They hate it that we are out there reforming the VET sector and the TAFE sector, as the Minister for Education is doing, putting money back into the system, investing in jobs. They hate that. They hate good news.
We have had 16 years of Labor here in South Australia and we need to reform, and land tax is part of that reform we need to undertake. That is why we want to deliver tangible benefits to South Australians. We made a commitment to the people that we would lower taxes and other costs—and we are doing that. We have abolished payroll tax for so many small businesses in South Australia. Do those opposite thank us for that? No, it is something they never did, something they did not want to do. They do not like people who employ people. They only like the unions. That is what the Labor Party is in for.
We have put back the remissions on ESL and returned cost-of-living savings to households across South Australia. We remain committed to capping council rates, reducing electricity prices and cutting water bills, but there is plenty more to do and, as part of that, far-reaching land tax reform is very important. Major reform is never easy. It is not even popular and it is often controversial. However, that does not mean that we should take the easy road, as it says in the Good Book. We have an opportunity for true economic reform—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens is called to order.
Mr DULUK: —reform that will benefit South Australia's economy, reform that will benefit businesses large and small, reform that importantly will actually support mum-and-dad investors and, ultimately, reform that will benefit the community. Governments must have adequate revenue to provide essential services, but I believe in growing that pie—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Member for West Torrens!
Mr DULUK: —to provide those essential services, rather than increasing taxes to deliver those essential services or privatising government assets, such as the Motor Accident Commission, which goes straight into general revenue, or ForestrySA, which goes straight into general revenue—which those opposite did so easily in their last term of government.
True economic reform will achieve this important end. I appreciate that there are many voices in the debate on the nature of the reforms that we should pursue, but there is one thing that has unanimous support—that is, urgent reform is necessary to send a clear message that South Australia is open for business, that South Australia is indeed the best place in the nation to invest in property and that South Australia is the best place to run a business large or small.
As we seek to grow our economy and repair 16 years of Labor mismanagement, the stakes are too high for any missteps. There is no doubt that the proposed land tax aggregation changes have caused significant angst and uncertainty amongst the community. I am the first to admit that the land tax journey to this place since the state budget announcement has not been an easy one and I, too, was an early critic of the process undertaken. At this point, I would like to thank the many constituents who have contacted my office, as indeed they have yours, sir. I include industry bodies such as the MTA, the UDAA and the MBA—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: UDIA.
Mr DULUK: —UDIA—who have contacted me seeking a better overall land tax reform package. I acknowledge many of their concerns. I know that the bill before us that we are debating this week and the additional amendments proposed yesterday by the Treasurer seek to address many of the concerns raised about thresholds, rates and trust aggregation. I am glad to see that we are proposing to adopt a more Victorian aggregation system as opposed to a Queensland one and also a provision where companies that act in a development capacity are treated as trusts in their proposals.
We must not lose sight of our objective to create a competitive advantage over other states. This was certainly the mantra when Sir Thomas Playford was premier of South Australia: to make South Australia a low-cost jurisdiction. It is something that South Australia has lacked since the Bannon Labor disaster of the State Bank. I know that members opposite do not like to talk about the State Bank disaster.
The SPEAKER: Order!
Mr DULUK: Since the State Bank disaster, this state has not enjoyed a competitive advantage in almost any industry, especially in state-based taxation across the nation, mainly due to the monumental catastrophic devastation that the State Bank had on South Australia so that it was unable to grow over that period of time. When it comes to tax policy, I really think that South Australia has been too dependent on the other states. We have been too dependent on grants from the commonwealth, and this needs to change.
We need to grow our pie in South Australia. We need to grow our economy and grow jobs. I know that this government is committed to growing jobs: Labor only pay lip service to jobs growth. We need to grow the pie so that we can become a competitive, low state tax jurisdiction. Sir, I am driven, as I know you are, by conservative principles that lower taxes give us a competitive advantage so that we can grow our economy. I want South Australia to be known as a state with a fair and competitive tax system, a state that is an attractive place in which to invest and live.
For South Australia to achieve its population and economic growth targets, we must make sure that there is a competitive advantage relative to other states in terms of affordable housing, and we must also ensure that the tax burden is not disproportionately applied across the community. We must strive to achieve a fair and equitable system. South Australia's existing land tax regime is unfair and broken.
What we are really dealing with now are the so-called reforms of former treasurer Foley. The member for West Torrens was in the parliament and the government at that time and presided over the mess we have today. When he was treasurer in the former Labor government, he did nothing to fix this land tax mess we are in. He sits there, and he has been the best friend—
Mr DULUK: —of the Property Council for the last six months.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Finniss gesticulates. I ask the member for Waite to cease provoking the opposition, and I ask the opposition not to respond to that provocation.
Mr DULUK: Sir, as you know, the member for West Torrens served Her Majesty diligently as treasurer in the former Labor government. In that time, he did not once seek to reform land tax, but we are doing it. This government, the Marshall Liberal government, is doing it. We all know that, across South Australia, a top marginal rate of 3.7 per cent is too high and uncompetitive. Those opposite who do not want to support this bill are basically saying that it is okay to have a top land tax rate of 3.7 per cent.
The SPEAKER: Order! Member for Playford, be quiet!
Mr DULUK: If Labor oppose, they are saying, 'We want the highest land tax rates in the country.' They want the highest land tax rates in the country. It is unfair that South Australian investors pay the highest top marginal land tax rate in the nation. Land tax should be as broad as possible and as flat as possible. It is important that land held for investment purposes is treated the same from a tax perspective no matter what the ownership structure is. I think that is so important.
If we do not get it right, we will turn away investment and we will stifle economic growth. So the changes we are proposing—looking at lowering rates over time, looking at increasing tax-free thresholds—will help investors in South Australia and tell people that we are open for business. For years, investors have preferred to place their money in other states because of our historic 3.7 per cent top rate of tax. Over time, I believe we must also look further to reform the thresholds and rates paid for rateable land between the $755,000 mark and $1.1 million. It is important that we further lower the rate in that bracket.
The top tax rate must be reduced. We must release that handbrake on investment. The legislation before us aims to create a fairer land tax regime than the current arrangements. These changes will result in a lower tax burden for more South Australians. These changes will also result in a fairer tax burden on South Australians. The payment of tax should be equal; it should not be based on how you structure your investment. But investment should not be a dirty word; in fact, investment should be encouraged.
We should not view the holding of an investment portfolio, whether it is one property or many, as a negative thing. We should not be singling out property investors, many of whom come from multicultural communities, and bemoaning their hard work, risk taking and resourcefulness. Property investors are not only key cogs in keeping our economy moving but they are essential to our economic growth and prosperity. They underpin our residential rental market and are an important source of rental stock. They are an important driver of residential real estate prices. A flatter, broader tax system is essential to providing incentive and reward to those who take risks. A tax system that makes lawyers superfluous to investment decisions is important.
The Hon. V.A. Chapman interjecting:
Mr DULUK: I apologise to the Deputy Premier for that. A tax system that is world's best practice, a tax system that encourages investment in residential and commercial real estate, and the positive flow-on effects this activity would bring would be of enormous benefit to our economy.
Middle-tier investors should not be disproportionately affected by changes in comparison with smaller investors and the big end of town, and vice versa. Investors should not be disproportionately affected by the approach they take to structuring their investments. Government, industry and investors all agree: reform is essential, but we must reform land tax with a positive impact. Too few have carried the large land tax burden in South Australia for too long. It is time we pursued a pathway of reform that reduces red tape, is easy to understand and is economically more efficient.
I welcome the amendments as flagged by the Treasurer yesterday that see a further flattening of the land tax rate with a new 2 per cent threshold, which sits at $1.1 million at the moment and ultimately increases to $1.6 million by 2023-24. I am pleased to see that self-managed super funds are exempt from land tax and, of course, that the primary residence is exempt from land tax. I know that members opposite would love to charge land tax on the primary residence.
It is actually in the DNA of those who love the politics of envy, which is the Australian Labor Party, to talk about taxing the family home. That is what they want to do. I know that that is what the member for West Torrens has previously floated when he was on this side of the house. The member for Enfield shakes her head, but she knows that that is what the Labor Party wants to do to her constituents as well, and that is put a land tax on the primary home.
I am more comfortable with the trust surcharge aggregation provisions than those first announced, but I note that caution should used in the implementation of these provisions, ensuring that those who legitimately use trust structures are given time to transition under the new rules and are also aware of their obligations in regard to beneficiary nominations. I urge Treasury to proceed with caution as they go about implementing this new regime, should the bill pass the house.
I also welcome the legislated independent review of these land tax changes in 2023, and I hope an independent review will call for further reductions in land tax. If I could finish with a few words of caution, any scope in the budget to fast track these tax cuts must be utilised, and of course there is the Mid-Year Budget Review coming up later this year. The drawn out debate over land tax reform this year, I believe, has impacted to a certain extent market and investor confidence. I encourage my colleagues to remember the Marshall Liberal team's commitment to an open, transparent and accountable government.
The development industry and those who are developers play a vital role in housing affordability and jobs. Land tax reform should respect the contribution this sector makes to the South Australian economy. The current statewide revaluation being undertaken by the Valuer-General began under the former Labor government, which they hardly ever mention in dispatches. But the process by the independent Valuer-General, which began—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order!
Mr DULUK: —when the member for West Torrens was treasurer, may have a significant impact on the tax burden for all property owners. Investors may reach a tipping point in a concurrent process of land tax reform, if not managed carefully. We should not and we must not adopt a system that discourages multiple residential and commercial ownership in this state.
As we move forward with this legislation, we must tread carefully to avoid any unnecessary damage to the property sector and the state economy. To this end, I encourage my colleagues, the Treasurer and the Premier to work with key stakeholders to navigate our government's challenging reform agenda to ensure we deliver the best outcome for our state and for all South Australians. Anything less than that risks taking a wrecking ball to the economy.
FLINDERS UNIVERSITY (REMUNERATION OF COUNCIL MEMBERS) AMENDMENT BILL
Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:29): I rise today to make a few remarks in regard to the Flinders University (Remuneration of Council Members) Amendment Bill. Of course, universities are a vital part of the fabric of our state and our nation. Indeed, in my community and the member for Davenport's community, they are a very important part as well.
The bill makes a few changes, but by and large it brings Flinders University in line with and on the same footing as the University of South Australia in terms of payment for council members and the ability of the council of Flinders University to set levels of payment for its members, and that is so important.
In my contribution today, I would like to talk a bit more broadly about Flinders University. We know it is a globally renowned precinct. It is known for its leadership, its innovation, its enterprise and especially for its work in the area of health and education. There is a campus in Bedford Park and also an additional campus in Victoria Square. More recently, in the last couple of years, they expanded into the new Tonsley Innovation Precinct as well.
The work that the university is doing at Tonsley, in collaboration with industry, stakeholders and the state government, is fantastic and transformational and will really see the inner south explode in terms of innovation, advanced manufacturing and creating an employment hub—more importantly, an educational hub—around Tonsley and using that old Mitsubishi site to its full potential, which is fantastic to see.
Offering more than 160 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as higher degrees, the university is a modern university that caters for tens of thousands of students, which is so important. It was founded in 1966 and naturally is named after Matthew Flinders. Coincidentally, in today's paper there is an article about Matthew Flinders being interred in his home town and moved from Euston in the United Kingdom. I think an honourable member in the other house was talking about how Matthew Flinders could perhaps be interred here in South Australia, given his contribution to the founding of our state, finding our state and charting the course of the great southern land.
Sir, you will be interested to know that the Queen Mother officially opened Flinders University in 1966 when the university had just 400 students, and of course Flinders Medical Centre was built on adjacent land.
A really exciting thing that is happening at Flinders at the moment is the Flinders Link Project. I know that for many residents in the member for Davenport's electorate, and indeed in my electorate as well around Bellevue Heights and Eden Hills, they cannot wait for this project to happen. I understand that it should be this time next year that the project is completed.
It is fantastic to see public transport going into that Flinders precinct. It is a $125 million project co-funded by the federal government. I have to praise my federal colleague and the local member, Nicolle Flint, for her advocacy over the last several years to find funding for this project, and of course the Marshall Liberal government as well for funding this most important project.
The project is a 650-metre extension of the Tonsley line. There will be an elevated track over the fantastic Darlington project over South Road. It is really going to create accessibility for residents of Bedford Park in my community, as well as for students at Flinders University, to not only connect with the metropolitan train network but to give them easy access to get into North Terrace and into the City of Adelaide. That connectivity between the universities on North Terrace and Flinders, and more importantly between the two health precincts at the RAH and at Flinders, is going to be fantastic.
Another really exciting project that the university is embarking on is Flinders Village—the university's plan for a health, education and accommodation precinct to be built around the railway station at Flinders on the main oval. It will be centred around the new Flinders Station. Flinders Village will transform the campus into a vibrant urban centre in Adelaide's south that will become a lifestyle focus for southern Adelaide.
What is happening with Flinders Village and what is happening at Tonsley is going to reinvigorate the south and lead to more investment, and we are already seeing that. On Monday night, I was very fortunate to be there when the Premier opened the new development at the Marion Hotel, a fantastic pub in this precinct. There are new accommodation facilities.
I have to congratulate the Hurley Hotel Group on their substantial investment in the south. Peter Hurley, the proprietor of the Hurley Hotel Group, said that one of the main drivers for putting in a new accommodation complex at the Marion Hotel is to cater for exactly what is happening at Tonsley, what is happening at and Flinders University and what is going to happen in the coming years, which is fantastic.
The upgrade at the university village will include high-tech research facilities, cafes, shops and entertainment, as well as an expanded residential offering for students. We know how important international students are to the South Australian economy; it is one of our biggest exports. I know that the Minister for Education, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and the whole of government are pursuing this and want to see growth in international students for what they can bring to South Australia in terms of their skills and inclusiveness but, more importantly, to make a contribution to our society.
The university village will merge university life with the wider community, creating a mixed-used precinct for students, educators, visitors, service providers and local residents. Flinders Village will commence with the development of a world-class health research facility, as well as teaching simulation and clinical research spaces. Amongst other things, it will deliver commercial and office spaces, community gardens, research commercialisation incubators, health commercialisation and start-ups, and health and wellness clinics and consulting suites.
The campus will be the biggest integrated health and education precinct in South Australia and will include transitional health accommodation, a hotel, student accommodation and a range of private developments and retail facilities. This long-term plan for development will create many opportunities for students and the broader community, and the benefits will be numerous, including driving a competitive and dynamic economy for South Australia, which is so important. We have had good news today in terms of employment statistics in South Australia.
Ultimately, it is about jobs and the future, training the next generation of jobseekers and apprentices in South Australia; attracting more students to our great state and supporting real-world research that improves the lives of our community. The Flinders Village will reinforce the importance of universities to the economy and to the fabric of our society. For Flinders University, I believe that this is a really exciting future and a really exciting project, and I look forward to working with the state government over the coming years to see it come to fruition.
Universities transform people's lives through education and through the wider impact of their research. Education gives us knowledge of the world around us, and a university education is more than the next level in the learning process: it is a critical component in our human development. A university education provides not only high-level skills but also training that is essential. and they are anchor institutions in our community. I look forward to seeing Flinders University go from strength to strength.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:44): I would like to talk about attacking mental health in our community and how that interrelates with sport. We all know that sport comes with injuries—it is a fact of life—whether it is a rolled ankle, a fractured leg or a bad back, as the member for Hammond had—
Mr Pederick: An ACL.
Mr DULUK: —or an ACL from too many footy injuries, a strained hamstring or a broken nose. Playing sport can be and is tough on the body. But what happens when it is not a physical condition but a psychological one?
Last week was Mental Health Week, a week that aims to improve community awareness and interest in mental health and wellbeing. It encourages people to consider their own mental health as they would their physical health. A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of representing the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, the Hon. Stephen Wade in the other place, at the launch of Mental Wellbeing in Sport—a panel conversation hosted by the ABC's Ali Clarke, where tips and information were discussed about what to do if someone at a local sporting club is struggling with their mental health.
The SA Mental Health Commission and Sport SA were instrumental in making this forum occur. It is a great strength of the SA Mental Health Commission that it reaches out to the community and really listens to their concerns as they implement the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan. For me, it was an honour to open the forum. At the forum, there were some 200 people in attendance from 125 sporting organisations, representing 43 different sports, recreation and physical activities, from athletics, volleyball and gymnastics to rugby union, soccer, surf lifesaving, football and cricket. It was not just the big sports and the big clubs—SANFL and AFL—that were represented, but community-based sporting clubs and sporting codes were represented as well.
Those in attendance comprised players, parents, coaches, trainers and volunteers—who are seen so much in community clubs—umpires, sporting health professionals and administrative officers who ensure the success of these organisations every single time that they put players out onto the field. There is a huge contingent of sporting clubs in South Australia, with over 4,000 sporting clubs and 58 per cent of South Australia's population participating on a regular basis, supported by over 260,000 volunteers.
There are many benefits in sport. There are fantastic physical, social and psychological benefits of being involved in a sporting club. Playing sport can help you reach your fitness goals and maintain a healthy weight, allow for efficient functioning of the heart, reduce the rate of diabetes and encourage healthy decision-making, while also teaching us time-management skills and, importantly, building relationships and teamwork.
However, despite all these benefits, why are our sporting clubs and communities identifying anxiety, depression, suicide and of course managing depression and performance among their top mental health concerns? Mental health is characterised by emotional wellbeing and resilience to stress. The fact is that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a diagnosable mental health illness in their lifetime. Unfortunately, many people do not talk about mental health and to some it can be perceived as a weakness.
Sporting clubs will not be immune from the impacts of mental health issues. Often, they have their own unique issues, such as how to cope when a sporting career ends or an injury sidelines a player for months or even longer. We see that in professional athletes, especially, when they break down and experience the mental stress that goes with a physical breakdown for elite sportspeople. We want to increase the ability of players, parents and coaches to recognise the signs of mental illness among people in their club and to be able to initiate a conversation and point to resources that might help.
Mental health has historically languished unaddressed in the Australian sporting landscape, but several high-profile athletes have recently opened up about their battles with depression and anxiety, and sports administrators are looking for ways to act. Some of the well-known sporting people who have spoken recently about mental health issues include champion swimmers Ian Thorpe, Libby Trickett and Leisel Jones; rugby league players Darius Boyd and Dan Hunt; and AFL star Lance (Buddy) Franklin. They have all spoken about their struggles with mental health.
Through household names standing up and speaking out, I am hopeful that more people will be encouraged to ask for help when they are struggling with life's challenges. We know that community sport clubs across the country are leading the charge when it comes to promoting physical fitness, but a local sporting club can also support those who are experiencing mental health issues. One in five Australians experience mental ill health every year, and sport clubs can and do play a pivotal role in enhancing and supporting the positive mental health of its members, players and their families.
ABORIGINAL LANDS PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE: APY LANDS VISIT
Mr DULUK (Waite) (11:25): I will not take up too much of the house's time, but I echo many of the words the member for Narungga has put on the record as well, of course, as the member for Giles. It was my first time up in the APY lands and it is a most magnificent and beautiful part of South Australia. The vastness is incredible and, obviously, the cultural history of thousands of years is magnificent.
The way they play footy up there is very different, and I note the Premier was up there recently as well having a look around and was at one of the footy games. I think it was when we were in Amata, if I am correct, that we had a look at the footy oval—absolutely pure red dirt with a white line and people out there having a kick and catch. It was a long way away from Bob Neil No. 1, which is, of course, University Oval No. 1, in terms of a footy oval, but it is a truly remarkable part of South Australia with fantastic people. Everyone we met on the trip was extremely hospitable, and they opened up and were very welcoming of the committee—of course, a bipartisan committee—which was fantastic.
As the members for Giles and Narungga both highlighted in their contributions, it is a part of South Australia that is not without many, many challenges. Employment is certainly a huge issue, as is the tyranny of distance in terms of employment. Places like the trade centre, with the work they do there, are a fantastic investment by government in terms of assisting people with employment. However, employment, health and education are the three biggest issues up there.
When we were in Mimili, we looked at the school community there and some of the teaching methodology on the lands, accounting for the vastness and the cultural and linguistic differences, which are real challenges up there. As both my colleagues have commented, there is an issue of continuity of people working in the health profession and people working in the education sector on the lands and as a government and a service provider of education we are, as we should be, ensuring that continuity of teaching and that relationship building over a period of time with people on the lands.
From a bureaucracy point of view, the more we can do, especially in the education space, is fundamentally and critically important in ensuring we can lift completion rates of students on the land. There is also the ability to share the importance of education, and it is interesting to see what Noel Pearson is doing in his Cape York Institute. It is very much a change in teaching methodology in Cape York, really going back to the basics of the 3Rs that is central to the Cape York Institute's thinking on education at the moment. We are seeing success in completion rates by students in Cape York in Far North Queensland, and I would be very keen to see if there are any similarities that can be drawn out for the APY lands and, indeed, for all remote schools across South Australia more broadly.
Another big concern on the APY lands is health. Access to health care is important, obviously in dealing with some long-term trauma historically around substance abuse and sexual abuse, which are still concerns to many right across South Australia, but in particular on the lands. That was certainly mentioned by many people to us, especially by some traditional owners, traditional elders and many of the women we spoke to as well. It is very much an important issue and it is one we have to deal with as a society because, as always, looking after those who are vulnerable is paramount to all.
Some of the other great highlights on the trip were, as the member for Giles reflected on, looking at the art centres and the fantastic export of art from the APY lands, not only into Australia—and there is an APY gallery on Light Square—but internationally as well by those world renowned artists. It was a fantastic trip to the APY lands. I encourage all members of the house, if they have a chance, to go up there to learn about the culture and that beautiful part of South Australia, but also so that we can educate ourselves about the many challenges that are faced up there and how together as a parliament and a government we can address many of the challenges that are before us.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Water. Can the minister please update the house on the management and remediation of contaminated sites in South Australia?
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS (Black—Minister for Environment and Water) (14:58): I want to particularly thank the member for Waite for the question—
The SPEAKER: Order!
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: —and in particular for representing me at the 8th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference in Adelaide on Sunday night. I understand that he gave a rousing speech to the hundreds of delegates from all over the world—
The SPEAKER: Order!
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: —who came to the 8th International—
Mr Teague interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for Heysen is called to order.
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: —Contaminated Site Remediation Conference. Interestingly, the first such conference was held in Adelaide as well, and of course South Australia has a substantial history in undertaking complex site remediation as a result of our industrial and manufacturing heritage in this state.
This conference was an opportunity for some 600 or so delegates from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America to come together. It included our own Chief Executive of the EPA, Tony Circelli, who was one of the plenary speakers. The Malaysian Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraida Kamaruddin, also attended and was very keen to learn about the site contamination leadership that South Australia has provided over recent years.
In terms of that leadership, one thing the EPA has a particular focus on is dealing with orphan sites. These are sites for which the owner cannot be found anymore or is financially unable to undertake its responsibilities with regard to site remediation. The EPA and the public servants who are part of that organisation have a very important role in coming in and taking care, control and stewardship of those sites. They work through often complex community engagement processes and costly decontamination processes as they work towards the remediation of those sites, making them safe and in some cases aspiring to see other forms of development undertaken on them.
This is something that the government is very interested in being able to do more efficiently and cost-effectively, bearing in mind that safety and community wellbeing are maintained. We know that these contaminated sites are often in strategically advantageous places when it comes to uplifting value for the communities in which they are found. They can be on strategic road and rail corridors. They can often be close to the city centre. That gives them substantial potential value but, unless they are appropriately decontaminated and made a central part of the surrounding community, woven into the surrounding community, that value cannot be attained.
It was very interesting to look at the list of speakers who came to Adelaide. I know from speaking to EPA officials that there was an opportunity for shared learnings between different jurisdictions from all around the world. Of course, they were also able to look at Adelaide, which, despite having these sites, has developed a clean, green reputation. That is a reputation this government wants to continue to enhance through the creation of our governance body, Green Adelaide, which we hope to set up following the passage of legislation later this year. It was a great conference. I hope that the many people who attended it have been able to take their learnings all across the world, and I once again thank the member for Waite for representing me there.
RUFF-O'HERNE, MS J.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:29): Today, I rise to honour the life of a courageous and heroic woman who lived in my electorate and who sadly passed away on 20 August 2019 aged 96 years and that is, of course, the life of Ms Jan Ruff-O'Herne AO, Dame Commander of the Order of Saint Sylvester, holder of the ANZAC Peace Prize and Centenary Medal. Jan suffered beyond comprehension and yet lived her life with grace, faith and a fearsome desire for justice.
Jan was born in the then Dutch East Indies and lived happily until 1942 when, during the war, the Japanese Imperial Army brutally occupied the island of Java. Jan, her mother and two sisters were among many women imprisoned in the labour camp at the disused Ambarawa barracks. The women worked under very harsh conditions at this time.
Two years later, in 1944, then aged 21, Jan was separated from her family members when a high-ranking Japanese official lined up all the single women aged over 17. Ten young women were chosen and transported to another location. They thought they may have other jobs on the island and be used for propaganda for the Japanese Imperial Army. Sadly, these women were to face three months of torture at the hands of Japanese soldiers.
The words Comfort Women do not convey the reality of what these women were to the Japanese during the war. They were, indeed, wartime sex slaves. The 10 young women were placed in a colonial house, which became a military brothel. Their photos were taken so the soldiers could choose their women at their will. Jan Ruff-O'Herne was one of these women. She and the other women endured three months of rape and brutality. Jan suffered further brutality by fighting against the soldiers each and every day under this torment. As you can imagine, such trauma was not a topic that could easily be spoken about by that generation of people. When the 10 women returned to camp, the other women suspected what had happened to them, but no-one spoke a word. In fact, it would take 50 years before Jan could take to the world her message of being a wartime sex slave. After the war, Jan married a British serviceman and had two daughters, Eileen and Carol. They migrated to Australia in 1960. Although they owned very little at first, Jan and her family lived a life of faith, joy, creation and innovation.
But for many, many years Jan held a terrible sad secret. It was in 1992 that Jan bravely broke her silence at the International Public Hearing on Japanese War Crimes in Tokyo and told of her experience in that military brothel. Two years later, her memoir 50 Years of Silence was published, describing the plight of those forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army in World War II. I quote from Jan's book:
During the time in the brothel, [they] abused me and humiliated me. [They] ruined my young life. They had taken everything away from me: my youth, my self-esteem, my dignity, my freedom, my possessions and my family. But there was one thing they could never take away from me. It was my deep faith in God that helped me survive all that I suffered at [their] brutal, savage hands…
Jan continued to speak out about the experience of sex slaves in Japanese war camps and in 2007 appeared before the United States House of Representatives as part of a congressional hearing on Protecting the Human Rights of Comfort Women. She told that hearing:
Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutalities, suffering and starvation of Dutch women in Japanese prison camps. But one story was never told, the most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II: The story of the 'Comfort Women'…I have forgiven the Japanese for what they did to me, but I can never forget. For fifty years, the 'Comfort Women' maintained silence; they lived with a terrible shame, of feeling soiled and dirty. It has taken 50 years for these women's ruined lives to become a human rights issue. I hope that by speaking out, I have been able to make a contribution to world peace and reconciliation, and that human rights violation against women will never happen again.
As I said, that was Jan's contribution to the congressional hearing. Ms Jan Ruff-O'Herne, wife, mother, teacher and faithful parishioner at the Kingswood Catholic parish, our Lady of Dolours, would become a hero for all women and men who have been subjected to wartime sexual slavery. May her legacy live on. My condolences to her family and I would like the house to extend its condolences as well. Vale, Jan Ruff-O'Herne.