Monday, 21 November 2022
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Second Reading
I rise today to speak to the government's appropriation bill cognate debate. Budgets are about decisions. Unsurprisingly, this government is making different decisions to the last one. I'm delighted to speak on these bills because it has been nine long years that Australians—and I know the people of Boothby feel this—have had to sit through the missed opportunities and shortsighted politicking of the previous government's lacklustre budgets. This budget continues the mission and guiding principle of this government: to deliver on the commitments we made to the Australian people.
I and the government readily accept that there is a lot of work to do to build stronger communities. People are really doing it tough. During our campaign for Boothby, and indeed in my first speech to the House, I spoke of coming across residents living in makeshift accommodation. This was even before some of the cost-of-living challenges we know people are facing really took off, driven by our inflation challenge. So as the Treasurer said on budget night when delivering his budget statement, we face a significant challenge in finding ways to ease the very real cost-of-living pressures facing Australians while not making the challenge of inflation worse. This is not something that those opposite had to deal with in nine years, and it just shows how wasteful so much of their spending was. This budget delivers on productivity-boosting reforms, economic reform with a productivity dividend, as the Treasurer is fond of saying.
So, beyond bringing a sense of integrity, propriety and sense of the budget process, allow me to talk a little bit about what this budget delivers for Boothby. When I was running for the seat of Boothby it soon became clear to me that a top priority for many voters was access to good-quality, affordable and timely health care. We saw the importance of the issue in March this year at the South Australian election, where my friend South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and his team ousted a one-term government—the first opposition to form government since the pandemic, which demonstrated just how stretched so many aspects of our health system are.
So I'm absolutely thrilled that included in this budget is funding towards a commitment that we announced during the campaign: the $400 million upgrade and expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre. Flinders, as it's known in Adelaide, is the major health precinct servicing Adelaide's southern suburbs and the Adelaide hills, and our joint commitment with the South Australian state government will see 160 extra beds, including 136 at Flinders Medical Centre and 24 at the nearby repatriation hospital. While ambulance ramping gets the front pages, we know it's a symptom of bed block, not the issue in and of itself. Most of the beds will be a single room, because we learned very clearly during the pandemic that single rooms help with infection control.
We will also be rebuilding the Margaret Tobin mental health facility, increasing the capacity of the intensive care unit, building additional operating theatres to increase capacity for emergency and elective surgery, and providing a new eye surgery clinic. We'll be upgrading and expanding medical imaging services and establishing the new 24 bed older persons unit as a hub for older persons health and wellbeing at repatriation. In addition to this we will be establishing an urgent-care clinic, one of 50 across the country. This one will be near the Flinders Medical Centre emergency department to take pressure off the ED. We want people who need after-hours care and who can't get into their GP to have somewhere to go, to get the help that they or their family or loved one needs. But we also want to make sure emergency departments can focus on emergencies. Flinders Medical Centre is the major tertiary medical institution for Boothby, Kingston and Mayo. And with the growth in the Adelaide southern suburbs, this commitment is very welcome.
We've also partnered with the South Australian government on a couple of major infrastructure projects that will change the daily experiences for some of our local residents. Whenever I speak to residents along the coast I hear complaints about the traffic on Brighton Road. Brighton Road is an important local road for seaside suburbs, but increasingly it has become a commuter route for people in the growing southern suburbs, represented by my friend the member for Kingston, making their way into the city. The announcement of an on-off ramp at Majors Road in the electorate of Kingston, which will enable commuter traffic to get off Brighton Road and onto the Southern Expressway, is a real win-win. Commuters will have a faster, more direct route into the city and back home again, and Brighton Road will be returned to local traffic. Credit to the South Australian and Labor government: the designs are out for consultation already, right now, and these designs are sensitive to a number of local concerns, minimising the impact on the nearby Glenthorne National Park, adjacent bike and walking trails, and other sporting facilities by having the rampworks almost entirely within road reserve. I know there's been some mischievous misinformation about the designs leafletted in the local suburb, so I would encourage Boothby and Kingston residents to have a look at the designs currently on the department of infrastructure website and let us know what you think.
Our other announcement is the often promised and never delivered Marion Road crossing tram grade separation, first announced by the former government in 2016 and then again in 2019. We are now working with the South Australian government to deliver it in this term. In rush-hour traffic, with high demand on trams, the boom gates are down about one-third of the time. This means the traffic flow on this major arterial road is blocked for 20 minutes out of every hour. This means that, between traffic lights and boom gates, sometimes only three to five cars can get through at a time—really frustrating. The South Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport is currently undertaking site and ground investigations, and a design will be released for consultation.
Environmental issues were raised with me by a large number of groups and individuals during the campaign and continue to be very high priorities that I hear about in my electorate. As we're situated between the hills and the sea, Boothby has a number of creeks running through it, and many of these creeks, waterways and wetlands have been degraded over the decades and are clogged with woody weeds and other pests. A total of around $2 million, across a number of sites, primarily along Sturt River and Brown Hill and Keswick Creeks, will enable important habitats to be restored and re-established, including the oxbow bend at the Warriparinga Wetlands, an important Kaurna cultural site featuring scar trees and ancient earth-oven remnants. And it is great to see the Friends of Warriparinga, the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre and the City of Marion working together on restoring this site.
Last week I had the honour of showing the minister for emergency services around Blackwood and Belair to inspect the storm damage. Most of Adelaide and, indeed, a fair section of South Australia and as far up as Alice Springs in the Northern Territory were hit by cyclonic winds and thunderstorms. Many roads across Adelaide, but particularly those in these hills suburbs, were impassable. Cars were crushed, houses had trees through them and, of course, power lines and power poles were down. Some of these properties ended up being without power for between thee to six days. The clean-up will take much longer.
Of course, front and centre in the storm recovery were the local country Fire service and the State Emergency Service volunteers, working alongside Mitcham council, SA Police and of course SA Power Networks. These volunteers are such an important part of life in the hills suburbs. They respond to storm damage, to bushfires, to car crashes and to all sorts of emergencies. They train weekly to make sure that they are able to serve the community, and they drop everything and come running when the call goes out, day or night. In small communities, you often know the person whose house is on fire or whose car crash you are responding to, and that is an additional emotional strain. And, while they are out responding to such a call, as they did last week for the storm, their own properties or families may also be at risk. But they are ever-professional and committed. So I am particularly pleased about the commitment for two additional quick response vehicles for the Sturt group of the Country Fire Service, as well as additional funding for fuel-load reduction to prepare for the coming fire season and additional fire risk signage. I thank them for their service.
One of the hidden gems of Tonsley is the Tonsley Innovation Precinct. This former Mitsubishi car manufacturing site is now reinvented as a high-tech advanced manufacturing hub, home to Flinders University and Tonsley TAFE, as well as a myriad of other exciting high-tech businesses, such as Micro-X, Tesla, SAGE Automation and REDARC. I was on-site at Tonsley with the Minister for Skills and Training last week to announce 12,500 new TAFE places across South Australia, a fantastic step forward in addressing the skill shortage I hear about from every business I talk to, no matter what the sector, large or small. These new places start next year and will be in a range of industries that we are experiencing shortages in.
Similar announcements across Australia show that the Albanese labour government knows that we need a skilled workforce if we are going to meet the challenges of the future, take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and give Australians the best careers, the best industries and the best lives they can have.
Of course, part of building back for the future we want—a future of advanced manufacturing and of industries born out of renewable energy and renewable industries—is looking to our universities. The Albanese Labor government has committed $10 million to the Factory of the Future, part of the Flinders University campus at Tonsley and a partnership with BAE Systems. This initiative will unlock 4,000 jobs over five years, supporting South Australian small and medium businesses to ready themselves for the defence supply chain through the use of automation, robotics and the expansion and modernisation of these supply chains. This exciting initiative will bring together education, industry and government, bridging the gap between research and development and commercialisation to boost the national economy.
Boothby is home to Adelaide's number one tourist attraction, Glenelg. Glenelg is a beachfront suburb, easily accessible from the city, with fantastic restaurants, a picturesque jetty and a Ferris wheel, and it is the site of many local cultural events, including the Remembrance Day and Anzac Day services, New Year's Eve fireworks, beach volleyball tournament and the like.
I should also give a shout out to the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club. They seem to have forgotten me for their annual Cold Plunge fundraiser in the middle of winter. I confess I am somewhat grateful not to have experienced it again this year, but I'll be up for it next year! Anyone who grew up in Adelaide probably has memories of the Glenelg beachfront and the Jetty Road shops and restaurants. But Jetty Road is looking very tired. It hasn't been upgraded in many a year, and the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Jetty Road is the busiest in Adelaide. So a $10 million upgrade to Jetty Road, specifically the area around the crossing, is very welcome. This will not only serve the people of Boothby; it will also serve the people of wider Adelaide and our tourist trade. I look forward to working with Holdfast Bay council and seeing their fantastic designs.
There are a number of other projects that I'm particularly excited to see come to fruition. There are those that meet specific needs for our local communities in Boothby, including sporting clubs and community groups. There are also national initiatives, which will benefit all Australians, including the cheaper child care initiative. Not only will it directly benefit families with young children; it will benefit us as a society through addressing women's economic inequality and a skilled workforce shortage.
Of course, most importantly, there are our plans to address climate change: Rewiring the Nation, the Marinus Link, offshore wind projects. In Boothby we will be the site of one of the community batteries in Edwardstown. Being able to give access to cheaper renewable power to those who otherwise would not be able to access it—renters, those in multistorey units without rooftop access and those who simply can't afford the upfront financial commitment—is an exciting step forward.
I would also like to comment on the Souths basketball stadium. Souths is a growing club that serves a large swathe of the Adelaide southern suburbs. They have played for several decades in what is colloquially called the shed. And it is a shed; it lets the wind in and it's really not fit for purpose for a growing club. They are having to turn away young children at the moment because they don't have capacity; they don't have enough stadium space for them to both train and play. We did open two new basketball courts in Mitchell Park in the last year, but they still have a shortage. Finally, they are getting the money they need to redevelop the shed and expand it. This is a really significant project for the City of Marion. It is in part of their sports precinct. We have a big oval next door, we have lacrosse and tennis, and an ice-skating rink will be going in there as well. So this is bringing everything together to help those in central Boothby have a full range of access to sporting and recreational facilities. I'm really pleased to be able to deliver for the Souths basketball club, and I look forward to a ribbon cutting in future years.