Tonight, I wanted to speak about the state that we find South Australia in, and not just on water issues. We are losing another seat at the federal level. We have a redistribution underway at the moment. In 1997, we had 13 seats in South Australia and, in 1998, we had a redistribution and went to 12. In 2004, we went to 11. In 2018, we are going to 10. For the electorate of Grey, that means it will get bigger. We have to find somewhere near another 20,000 electors for Grey. One would wonder why I bring this up tonight when I have spoken about it before in this place, but it’s a very sad state of affairs for South Australia that we are losing the national economic race. Our population is growing, but only just, and, in terms of population percentage, we’re becoming an ever-smaller part of Australia. Unfortunately, this has led to a mass migration of our young and best and most-talented people interstate-including two of my children, I must say. This means not only that South Australia’s population is shrinking as a percentage of the national pool but that we are ageing as well. In fact, South Australians’ median age has gone from 36, 20 years ago, to 40. So it has gone up four years in the last 20 years. It is a very significant increase and it is ramping up demand on government services.
In fact, it was Jay Weatherill who said, ‘I don’t run a high population growth state, and I think we are doing just fine here.’ I mean, really-really! It does raise some questions. How has it come to be that South Australia, which, 20 years ago, had a string of Australia’s top 100 companies based in Adelaide, now has three, two of which have accepted government enticements to relocate their business there? How is it that, in the jobs bonanza of the last 12 months in Australia, which has provided 403,000 jobs Australia-wide, South Australia has managed just over 20,000-about half of what one would expect on a per capita basis? Why is it that South Australia has the most expensive but least reliable electricity in the nation?
There’s one common thread: 16 continuous years of a state Labor government, one that has promised a huge lift in export performance; one that has committed to a program to attract expatriate South Australian success stories to come back home-these policies were failures, I must add-one that failed to protect the aged and frail in their care; and one that has backed a string of poor-value city-based investments which have not generated any jobs past the construction phase. There are more bells and whistles, and no substance. There have been projects like the unnecessary opening bridge at Port Adelaide; new tram lines running past a disused, old Royal Adelaide Hospital site; and a desalination plant twice as big as we need and which hasn’t fired a shot in anger since it was commissioned in 2011. And now we have a string of very expensive patch-up jobs on the electricity network, which they chose to blow up.
The South Australian government has invested big time in big, shiny new announcements which don’t support our economy past the construction phase. They have failed to facilitate construction on a genuine deep sea port for South Australia and on building a road network which services our industries that will build our economy and grow the job opportunities in our state. While they have been building a castle of bread and circuses in the city, they haven’t invested in the important regional upgrades which would generate real economy for South Australia, including a number of highways, main roads through my electorate which are little more than bitumenised bump tracks at the moment, it must be said.
We’ve failed on so many fronts. There’s been some reference to the GST carve-up in the last few days. Let me say that South Australia received $1.42 for every dollar they put into the GST. Despite what the member for Wakefield might say, I will fight anything that reduces South Australia’s ability to compete in the future. But it is a very sad reflection on the way the state has been run that we reached that stage. The Liberal team is offering a new future. Steven Marshall is offering a new future for South Australia. It is time for change. Sixteen years at the wheel is too long.