Appropriation Bill 2017
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
IN PARLIAMENT: Mr GOLDSWORTHY (Kavel) (15:47): I am pleased to make a contribution this afternoon to the Appropriation Bill. What we see with this budget is Groundhog Day, because this budget is pretty much like every budget that we have seen this government bring down over the last 16 budgets. It is a high-taxing, high-spending budget. As the leader pointed out in his contributions to the house yesterday and today, there is a staggering $400 million increase in taxes being raised by this government.
The Premier and the Treasurer and all the speakers on that side of the house are talking this budget up as a jobs budget. They are saying that this year's budget is a jobs budget. What did they say last year when they brought the budget down? I happen to have the 2016-17 budget papers in my office and I went back and had a look at the budget speech delivered by the Treasurer, the member for West Torrens. I would like to quote the last page, page 7: We have a state budget that is in the black and is building new productive infrastructure across our state. And we are training the next generation of South Australian high-tech workers by starting them on a path of science and technology at schools today. At its heart—this is a budget about jobs. We are pulling every lever available to government to create new jobs. Because every extra job that’s created in South Australia is another family that is better off, another family that can afford to provide more for their children and build a more prosperous state. Those were the Treasurer's exact words last year: 'this is a budget about jobs.' If it is a budget about jobs, why does the state have the highest unemployment figures in the nation, at 7.1 per cent? How can you trust this government when they said that last year's budget was about jobs and that this year the budget is about jobs? The Premier, the Treasurer and every other speaker on the other side of the house is saying that this year's budget is about jobs. How can that be factual when the state has the highest unemployment figures in the nation, at 7.1 per cent? Have a look at the other states: Western Australia, 5.8 per cent; the Northern Territory, 3.2 per cent; Queensland, 6.3 per cent; New South Wales, 4.8 per cent; Victoria, 6.1 per cent; and Tasmania, 5.9 per cent. South Australia is well and truly the leader of the pack when it comes to unemployment figures. That is the unemployment rate trend, to be accurate in quoting those figures, so there is no misunderstanding. So how can we trust this government when they said last year that their budget was about jobs and this year they are saying it is about jobs? You cannot trust them because the facts and the figures do not stack up.
As I said earlier, this is a high-taxing, high-spending government. I have said this before in the parliament because it is the truth: it is a hallmark of all Labor governments around every state and federally since the 1970s, the Whitlam years, that Labor governments are high taxing and high spending. In his budget reply speech yesterday and in his contribution today, in debating the motion that was put before the house, the leader certainly laid that out for all South Australians so that they have a clear understanding of why that is the case: $400 million of new taxes in this budget.
Another interesting observation that was raised again today is that when the Premier came to office, when he took over the job of Premier, he came along with rhetoric, 'We're sick of the old way that we were doing things. It's not the way to be able to communicate with the South Australian community—this announce and defend. We don't like that. That's a thing of the past. That was the previous premier, the previous deputy premier, the previous treasurer—that's what they did, and it was no good. I am coming into the office of Premier with a new approach, with an approach of consult and decide.' That was what the Premier said at the time he took over the job a number of years ago. I will not go into any of the machinations that took place leading to the member for Cheltenham taking over the number one job political job in the state because that has been traversed previously, but that was what he said, that there will not be any more 'announce and defend'. Well, what have we seen with the state bank tax? It has been sprung on us and sprung on the South Australian community with no consultation.
Yesterday in question time, the Treasurer was asked, 'Who did you go and talk to? Who did you consult?' He said no-one. They did not talk to anybody in the South Australian community about this new state bank tax. So how can that be 'consult and decide'? How can that approach that the Premier adopted when he first took over this role be the approach under which he would operate? It is not. That is how the previous regime worked. That is how the previous premier, the previous treasurer and the previous deputy premier operated—announce and defend. We know that the South Australian community, the people of South Australia, have rejected that outright. They do not want the state bank tax.
As outlined in the house over the last two days, we know the disastrous record that Labor governments have when they deal with banks. We saw what happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s in relation to the State Bank debacle. It brought this state's economy to its knees and it was only the courage of a newly elected reformist Liberal government that got the state back on track. Government members talk about privatisation: there is going to be no more privatisation; on that pledge card you saw back in 2002, no more privatisation. Those on the other side of the chamber are the kings of privatisation. What have we seen them privatise? They have flogged off the forests to pay for the Adelaide Oval, they have sold part of the Motor Accident Commission and they are talking about getting rid of the LTO. They are the kings of privatisation. The government cannot come in here and preach to us that we negotiated a long-term lease of our energy utilities, because the members on the other side of the chamber are the kings of privatisation.
It is clearly evident that after 16 years of a Labor government in South Australia the economy is not where it should be. The government's policy settings have been wrong. Continuing to implement a policy of high taxation and high spending is clearly the wrong way to go. I think I understand, philosophically, where Labor Party members are, but there has to be some realisation that government is not the answer to these problems. The government has tried high taxing and high spending for 16 years, year in, year out, and it is not working. We have the highest unemployment figures in the nation. We have the highest electricity and energy costs in the world. It is good to be number one in something, but it is not good to be number one in having the highest electricity prices in the world. They say that privatisation was part of the cause. That is absolute nonsense because Victoria privatised its electricity assets and its electricity prices are a lot lower than South Australia's. We have high water prices and we have high taxes, so there has to be some realisation that the policy settings, the economic levers that are being pulled and manipulated, just do not work.
The Treasurer, the Premier and others have said that this is a jobs budget, but they have said that previously. They have to realise that you cannot tax your way to prosperity. It does not work that way. Taxing the community—whether it be corporations, small businesses, families, mums and dads, children's bank accounts—does not work. You cannot tax your way to prosperity. Government members complain that they do not get enough money from Canberra. We hear them whingeing, whining and carping that the federal government does not give them enough money to do what they need to do. During the next year, the government will get more than $10.5 billion in federal funds. That is close to $700 million more than this year. I think we have a budget totalling about $19 billion and that the state budget is bumping up to the high 18s or $19 billion. If Canberra is providing $10.5 billion in federal funds, that is more than half the state budget, and they are getting close to $700 million more this year, so I do not think that they have any grounds to whinge and whine and carp about a lack of funding from the federal government. But it is typical Labor, and this point has been made today. It is typical Labor—they blame everybody but themselves.
Listening to the debate, listening to the Premier yesterday and listening to him today and listening to other members of the government benches, they know deep down that things are not working for them and that their policy settings are not working. What they do is typical, and I have seen it in the 15¾ years that have been here and before that as an observer of politics; that is, when they are in trouble they do not debate the merits of the issue, and they do not debate the merits or whatever of the policy; they go for the man. They get into the area of character assassination. They do not debate the merits of the policy or the merits of the issue; they attack the person. We saw it today and yesterday, with personal attacks on the leader. I think that is an indication that they realise that they are in strife and that they have backed themselves into a corner. They have painted themselves into a corner, and they know that the high taxing, high spending policy does not work, but they have nowhere else to go. They have been fishing around trying to find new avenues of taxation and they have hit on what they think might have been a goldmine, that is, to bring in a state bank tax. Well, it is no goldmine because we are going to block it.
I worked for a bank for 22 years before I entered this place, so I have an understanding about how corporate life operates. If any impost is put on a corporation, it is usually passed on. That will be passed on maybe not in tweaking interest rates, but it may well be passed on in fees and charges, in impacts on shareholder dividends and in impacts on superannuation returns. Do not be fooled, and do not think that they are taxing big wealthy bankers who are going to absorb it, because it will be passed on to every person within the South Australian community. The vast majority of people have a home loan and have borrowed money. The vast majority of people have home loans, mortgages they refer to. In the banking game, we did not call them mortgages; we called them home loans because that was what they were. If they are not a borrower, they are an investor. If you are not borrowing money, you may well be investing money, either side of the ledger. The borrowers and the investors will be hit by this state bank tax, so do not be under any misapprehension about that. That is why we are blocking it—because it is a tax on families in South Australia, it is a tax on businesses in South Australia and it is a tax on the economy pushing ahead in South Australia.
I now want to talk about a couple of issues in relation to the budget to do with my electorate of Kavel. There was a funding commitment of $2.5 million for the regional sports hub at Mount Barker, and that will go towards the $3.75 million that was previously committed before the federal election last year. The federal Turnbull government reaffirmed that commitment upon being re-elected. Those moneys will go to constructing some clubrooms, change rooms and two soccer pitches. That is a good thing and we welcome it; however, it falls significantly short of what we requested and what the community requested. We sought that the state government at least match the $3.75 million funded by the feds. With a contribution from the council—and they are working on that and a few weeks ago formally passed a resolution at a council meeting—that would have allowed stage 1 to progress. Stage 1 is the construction of some clubrooms, an AFL-grade oval for football and cricket, tennis courts, netball courts and the two soccer pitches. That is what we would have had if the government had been prepared to stack up another $1.25 million, but they have not. So, while I am pleased that there has been $2.5 million, it is disappointing for those other sporting clubs and codes that an AFL football and cricket oval, some clubrooms, tennis courts and netball courts will not be able to be constructed as part of stage 1. The construction cost is $11.8 million and, because it is short by $1.25 million, it will not be able to proceed at this point.
The other initiative that we called on the government to look to fund a solution to was the Nairne intersection, the T-junction at Old Princes Highway and Woodside Road in Nairne. I have spoken about that at length over the years and more recently in parliament. I have written to the minister. The candidate for Kavel, Dan Cregan, has run a strong local campaign calling on the government to find a solution for the Nairne intersection but, unfortunately, to date that has fallen on deaf ears. There has been no commitment in the budget for that, and that is disappointing. It is becoming a significant intersection not only in the Nairne township but in the Hills district because traffic flows through that intersection down onto the newly constructed Bald Hills Road freeway interchange, a magnificent infrastructure project delivered by the previous member for Mayo. I strongly lobbied for that project.