State Parliament Supply Bill contribution

Wednesday 10 May 2017
State Parliament Supply Bill contribution

Local issues raised during the Supply Bill debate in State Parliament.

Mr GRIFFITHS ( Goyder ) ( 12:25 :56 ): It is a pleasure to make another contribution to the supply debate about the $5.907 billion. When I talk to people in the electorate, and particularly if they are in my age group, I say to them that they probably lived in the best of times to some degree, because I think there are going to be more challenges as we go forward. I wish that was not the case, but when you look at the complication that exists in our lives and the complication to ensure that we have prosperous futures, even though governments of all persuasions do the best they can in making decisions to try to provide, it is very challenging.

This budget process is part of it. It is a really important part of it. That is something that I say normally to close friends and to those who are reflecting upon things they are not necessarily happy about in their lives and the good things also. We look at each other when I say that and they say, 'Yes, Steven, you are probably right.' There is an older anecdote that the fifties were great times, the sixties were great times and the seventies were great times. I experienced that, and while younger people cannot reflect upon those older years, they are excited by the present. They know there are challenges in the future, but there are challenges for all of us. No matter what your age group is, you want to ensure that the future is a prosperous one.

That is where the budget is a key factor. This is a process that takes a while to go through the parliament. I wish that it was the more detailed version where we speak about direct lines within budgets, what outcomes and expectations would be and what the measurements against the previous year were, but that comes later in the process. This is where the opposition traditionally uses the chance to critique things they are not happy with, acknowledge some decisions that have been made, and put a lot onto the record.

I want to start with a positive. I want to say thank you for the investment that has been announced for the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme. As I understand it, $110 million will potentially come from the state on the basis of some $46 million that has been applied for from the federal government. The Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme is in theory a great project, and in practice I believe it will provide a significant number of job opportunities and an improvement to the food production industry in the Adelaide Plains area, which will be significant.

I and some others will be provided with a briefing about it tomorrow, when we will get greater detail about what infrastructure will be undertaken, the number of connections that can be made—I believe it is 12 gigalitres of water, but I could be wrong on that—the amount of water, the growth opportunities and the potential that it creates. This Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme is a project that the Liberal Party has supported for some time. Before the 2014 election, Steven Marshall, the member for Norwood, as the Leader of the Opposition, made an announcement about a financial commitment to it in the early stages from the Liberal Party, if we had formed government.

It is significant that the Labor Party in government has chosen to continue to support this because it recognises the importance that it plays across those northern Adelaide electorates, where its own members sit, and its importance for those communities. I acknowledge the commitment by the government on this and hope that it is an example of some more announcements that will come later in the budget papers about job creation schemes.

Many members on this side who stand up and talk about our communities, metropolitan or suburban, talk about jobs and unemployment, the challenges for young people and those in middle age who, through no fault of their own, are looking for positions and the difficulty attached to that. The budget has to drive that opportunity, but this is an example where an early decision was made by the state government to invest $110 million. I recognise that and I commend them for it.

Another good point I wanted to make, which you can argue is not directly linked to supply legislation but is supported by the state government and very strongly supported by local communities, concerns the National Heritage register listing. Only yesterday, the Federal Minister, Josh Frydenberg, announced that Burra and Moonta would actually be 109th and 110th respectively on that National Heritage listing, which provides them with an opportunity to apply for and seek World Heritage listing.

That is great. I must admit that I was part of a group of people who had discussions about this going back to 2009. It has taken a long time for it to be achieved, but it is a reflection on the significance of what the Moonta, Wallaroo and Burra Burra mines and the communities actually did in the mid-18th century and a little bit later, which actually got South Australia out of significant financial trouble. It has also brought another part of the world to us, particularly in relation to where I am from, with the Cornish connection.

These are wonderful examples of where the history of those areas has been recognised. They have gone onto the national listing and that provides an opportunity for those communities to push for that higher level of listing with world heritage site listing. That is fantastic news. It has taken too long to be achieved, but it is just another step in the efforts being made to ensure that what is there is recognised, that those who built it are recognised and that we all benefit.

I know that in the Goyder community, when you drive around Kadina, Wallaroo and Moonta, the buoyancy that existed in the local communities when the mines were strong and provided job opportunities is so pronounced. Yes, there was a sadness attached to poor health conditions at that time, including the terrible influenza epidemic and the loss of lives resulting from that, but they built and constructed those communities in a way that was an exponential leap above what would have been their natural growth.

Indeed, they provided some fantastic facilities not far from us on North Terrace from the money, the revenue and the profits and the commitment of those to improve South Australia by contributing to the facilities on North Terrace. What they did in the state in that period in the 1900s was significant. What they did locally was of extra special significance, but there is a longer term benefit from it also. I commend all who have been associated with that. It has taken a lot of effort for it to be achieved, but it will be part of that next level of recognition.

For the Kadina, Wallaroo and Moonta communities, it builds on the Kernewek Lowender, the Cornish festival that will happen in only a few weeks' time. For those members who are listening and who are not committed during 19-21 May, there is a wonderful three-day event—it used to be a little bit longer than that, but the moving of public holidays has made it a bit more challenging—where the Cornish history of the community is recognised by thousands and thousands of people. I am pleased that the Premier is going to be there on Friday at Moonta to open the event. I think it was four years ago when the member for Frome and I were—

The Hon. G.G. Brock: Dancing.

Mr GRIFFITHS: Yes, that's right—not maypoles; I should remember this. I know that other members of parliament will be there too who might have a Cornish connection in their own family or have a deep interest in history in the community. I encourage all to attend. You will certainly enjoy your three days. Accommodation might be hard to find now because the festival brings a lot of people to the area. Even if you just drive up for the day, it will be time well spent. It is another recognition of our history, which is interesting because May is History Month. It is a good time of the year.

Talking about supply, I want to put on the record an issue I am a bit conflicted about. The Minister for Transport made some announcements in August or September last year, a little bit after the budget was delivered, about the level of investment in road infrastructure in the electorates of Frome and Goyder. That is fantastic, I must say. There is a variety of issues, including Y-junction repairs becoming T-intersections, shoulder widening and pavement improvements. It is not all of it. We certainly need a lot more done across both electorates, there no doubt about it, but it is a significant investment, which did not receive a lot of fanfare at the time of the budget announcement, but it has come out since and it is exciting to see what it will do.

However, there is one component of it that I have had concerns with, and it is not necessarily about the intention but the scope of the work, and that is the Federation Park roundabout. Other members in this place might be aware that if you are a visitor to Yorke Peninsula, travelling there or leaving during peak holiday times, it is not just that current T-intersection, it is also the intersection with the Copper Coast Highway and Highway One just north of Port Wakefield which causes concerns.

There is about $4 million in this commitment by the Minister for Transport to construct a roundabout at Federation Park. I believe that is a significant part of the fix for it. I have no doubt about that, but it is the scope of the roundabout that concerns me. One part of the road rules is that we give way to those on the right. At the moment, if you are headed from the Copper Coast towards Port Wakefield and further south, Yorke Peninsula traffic attempting to get onto that main road often takes a long time to do so. For example, deliberately during a challenging time I travelled back to Adelaide, and it took me 33 minutes to do about two kilometres from the old railway line that crossed at the top of the gulf to the Federation Park T-junction and then 27 minutes to get to the Highway One intersection, so an hour to do about 10 kilometres.

The fix that the government proposes and that the Minister has put in place, for which construction work is probably about to start very soon, is for the roundabout to be a single lane. A single lane does not necessarily concern me, but my wish and the wish of the alliance of councils—Barunga West council, Copper Coast council, Yorke Peninsula Council and Wakefield Regional Council—was for a slip lane to exist on the eastern side of the roundabout to allow Copper Coast traffic heading south to go around the roundabout and then have a connection on the southern side of the roundabout where the Yorke Peninsula traffic going around the roundabout will connect and head into Port Wakefield.

The Minister was good enough to meet with me and the Mayor and CEO of each of those councils in about the middle of October last year. I am really grateful for the opportunity. They all came down and met here in State Parliament. The Minister and his staff put to us that the modelling undertaken for the intersection was for the maximum weight and dstance (not necessarily time) to be no more than 70 metres from the roundabout when it goes through it. Remember that the roundabout creates a different situation, whereby Yorke Peninsula traffic gets on it and Copper Coast traffic has to then stop for it because of its single lane nature. The concern of the councils about the design by the Minister and his staff was that the intersection would not be improved necessarily because it would transfer the challenge that, instead of Yorke Peninsula traffic having to stop, Copper Coast traffic would have to stop, and that has created some worries.

The Minister met with the Mayors, CEOs and me. He listened to the request for the slip lane on the eastern side of the roundabout for Copper Coast traffic heading south to be included. The Minister committed to providing the modelling, but unfortunately the modelling has not been provided. There have been numerous requests for it, but it has not come through, and the minister has made the final determination that the design work shown at that meeting will continue and there will not be a slip lane but a single lane. I only hope that it works.

I am contacted regularly about this by people who feel as I do that, yes, it is fantastic that money has been invested, but the money is not going to provide the solution that it should for the long-term benefit of the Copper Coast and Yorke Peninsula communities and their visitors. I hope it works out. I have grave doubts about that. I am frustrated to some degree by the lack of feedback that has come through from it.

While I am very comfortable with 90 per cent of the expenditure of that $32 million that the State Government has committed to the infrastructure in the areas of the members for Frome and Goyder, I am frustrated that this money might not be put to its optimum use. That is part of the challenge. There has been a lot of local media about it. The Minister has been contacted by a variety of people about it. It is not just traditional sedan or car drivers, but the transport industry has also put its position about this, so I hope it works out.

I also want to put on the record some frustrations I have with hospitals, and I hope that there will be investment in hospitals in the budget when it is eventually submitted; for me, a typical example at the moment is Yorketown Hospital. The Member for Frome was invited to a public meeting. He was unable to attend, but he provided me with some words that I committed to read at the meeting. Minister Snelling, the Minister for Health, was also invited, but he was unable to attend and so one of the senior regional SA Health people was there. There were 607 people who attended that meeting, which is a lot from the southern Yorke Peninsula area, and it was because they are passionate about their hospital.

In the convening of that public meeting, the key person for me in making sure I was there was Dr George Kokar. I have known George for a long time. He put my shoulder back in a couple of times when I popped it out playing sport. He was there for the birth of both my children and, even though the midwives did all the hard work, Dr George was there. He has been practising in the area for 44 years, and he is part of an age profile of GPs.

Lyn Poole from the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency advised me that previously doctors dedicated their lives to their practice, and many would be there for a long time in very small practices. There used to be single doctor practices, but these matured into two-doctor practices to at least give them some days off. It was not unusual for them to have late nights, very early mornings, seven-day schedules and very little time off.

Dr George Kokar also provides anaesthetist services for surgical procedures conducted at Yorketown. George is 70 and he has indicated that within a couple of years he will choose to do something else this life—and he has earned that right, absolutely and completely. Because of the difficulty of getting skills into regional hospitals in particular, they are all facing the same sort of challenge.

This is a really important policy area where governments and oppositions need to work in association with universities to ensure that it is a solution that can be found through not just regional kids who study medicine and go back to practise in regional areas but metropolitan kids who study medicine and who are prepared to practise in regional areas. Unless we get that skill transfer right and we have skilled people in regional hospitals providing important health services, we are going to lose more and more.

The surgical challenge for Yorketown Hospital was that colonoscopies would still be conducted but that three other surgical areas would be removed or transferred to Wallaroo. I believe that places significant pressure upon Wallaroo Hospital's ability to continue to provide. Wallaroo is a bigger structure organisation. It does not have any more beds than Yorketown, but it does have seven private beds associated with the public hospital. Health is trying to do the best they can within the resources provided to them, so it is a resource issue but, as I said at the public meeting, it is also a society challenge.

In the future, maybe we will not get doctors who are prepared to devote their lives to their patients, commit themselves to their patients and forgo their own family commitments, but we cannot necessarily have a situation where professionals are restrictive in their hours. It has been put to me that too many younger professionals graduating as doctors only want to work nine to five. I am surprised by that. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I believe that, if you commit yourself to seven years of university study for a medical degree, you are going to work a lot more hours than that because that is where you believe that your life lies and that is the commitment you make to the people and to the community you serve and in which you work and become such an important part of.

There were 607 people at that meeting. Within three days we had 650 people's names on a petition calling for resources to be allocated to it. I was very pleased that the Hon. Stephen Wade from the other place as the Shadow Minister for Health attended the public meeting, committed from the Liberal Party perspective, on the basis of being elected into government next year, the funding required for the hospital surgery upgrades. That was up to about $220,000 and Mr Wade made that commitment, which is fantastic news.

I hope that the government can recognise the important service that surgical procedures in regional hospitals provides to all areas. It is easy to say that people can go to Wallaroo instead. It is easy to say that it is an hour and a quarter drive, but it is 75 minutes if you live in Yorketown. If you are further down the southern Yorke Peninsula—say at Marion Bay—you have another 45 minutes on top of that again, so you are two hours away from the place where the procedure is to be undertaken, and if you want to deliver a baby on the Yorke Peninsula Wallaroo is the only place that does obstetrics and deliveries. It is part of the challenge.

I know that many members on this side live in regional communities and we know the challenges they face; dollars are part of it, but policy is a really important part of it, too, and that is where the budget and the Supply Bill help drive that, because government departments need resources, all government departments need to be efficient in what they do. The Member for Stuart talked about $4 billion in expenditure that was above budget figures, also over a few years, but it is that efficiency of service delivery that has to create the resources to provide what everybody needs.

I have long been a believer—it is part of the reason I came into this place and sought to represent others—that no matter where you live you should receive the same level of service. The more information I possess the more I understand the great challenges of that, and that is why there is a significant investment in metropolitan areas. I understand that, because that is where the concentration of people live, but those of us who choose to live in the regions and who want the regions to be vibrant and strong communities that provide a future for the next generation and the capacity for our older generation to live there, retire there and live their last days there need to ensure that state budgets actually provide for that.

That means you have to have a strong economy, and that is why others talk about jobs. I absolutely and totally agree with that because it is jobs that create opportunities for revenue and it is revenue that creates transactions, and it is transactions that put money into Treasury's hands. Treasury then dishes it out with the capacity to fund what it needs—

Ms Redmond: For services.

Mr GRIFFITHS: Absolutely, for services and infrastructure, as the Member for Heysen confirms. It drives everything. I hope that, while we sit in here and talk about $5.907 billion we get it right, because getting it right provides an opportunity for all our communities to live and prosper.