House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Albanese Government

4:07 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It's good to see that the member for Bennelong has so much time that he can sit back and watch television. If I were him I, as a marginal seat member, would be out in my community talking to my constituents about what they're worried about—and they're not worried about ABC television shows. They're worried about governments keeping their promises. They're worried about people who go to an election and make promises and then break those promises when they're in government. When I'm out doorknocking in my electorate, which is an important thing for marginal seat members to do, that's what I hear from the people of Sturt. They talk to me about promises made and promises broken.

Some other speakers have outlined some of the national promises this government has broken, and I commend those remarks to the House. But I want to highlight two that are specific to South Australia, because they need to be on the record in this debate as well. And I'm glad my friend the member for Barker is here, because he knows, as I know, and he's as outraged as I am, about the appalling decision made by this government to scrap funding for the Truro bypass in the electorate of Barker. I care about his constituents, but I've also got a selfish interest in this, because my constituents are just as affected as the member's constituents are through that appalling broken promise.

We want to get trucks off Portrush Road. We want to improve the freight corridors for the nation. We don't think that Highway 1 should run through the suburbs of metropolitan Adelaide. It does, and we had a plan to change all that. We had a plan to invest in the Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass, starting with investing in the Truro bypass, which would also be a great outcome for the people living in Truro, in the member for Barker's electorate. This government went to the last election never saying anything about scrapping that funding. The good people of Truro, like the good people of Sturt and the good people of South Australia had no idea that, if the Labor government were elected, they were going to scrap projects like the Truro bypass. It's absolutely heartbreaking for the people of Truro, for the people of my electorate and for the people of South Australia that this government has done that.

There is another very significant issue looming—a great fraud to be perpetrated on the people of South Australia when it comes to shipbuilding. We are very frightened about a looming announcement that is following the usual path of being soft-leaked to the media. We know decisions have been made that are bad for South Australia. They were made months ago. They've spent months working on the political spin to try and turn a disastrous decision for South Australia into one that kind of looks like a good one—making a silk purse out of a sow's ear—and we ain't buying it in South Australia. We know that the Labor Premier is in on it. We've had the stunt visit to Canberra saying, 'I'm here to fight for jobs.' We've had all the little secret meetings that would have gone on, saying: 'Look, why don't we announce the review in Adelaide so they think it's a really good thing for Adelaide? Why don't we say, "There are all sorts of other shipbuilding opportunities for South Australia that are going to flow from this? We can't give any detail right now. Yes, we're scaling back the one tangible program that South Australia has: the nine frigates through the Hunter program. Yes, we're slashing that, which means thousands of jobs lost for the years of lost construction of those frigates." And we'll pretend that there's going to be some kind of mirage replacement for that, with no detail.'

I think—I'd have a bet with the member for Barker, but he won't let me take his money—that they are going to try and come to Adelaide and make this announcement and pretend that it's actually good for South Australia. Some spin doctor said: 'Why don't you announce it in South Australia? Do it there and then they'll think that it's a really good news story, because why would anyone come to South Australia to deliver bad news in shipbuilding?' That is exactly what is going to happen. We are onto it but, more importantly, the people of South Australia will be onto it. They're not falling for this. They know exactly what happens when jobs are taken out of South Australia. The government went to the last election saying they supported continuous shipbuilding in South Australia. Like so many other things—whether it's cutting your power bills by $275, honouring stage 3 tax cuts, building the Truro bypass—once again, in shipbuilding, we're going to see an example of this government saying one thing in a campaign to get elected and then doing a very different thing after the election and breaking another solemn vow to the people of South Australia. They'll have their say about that, but I implore the government to reconsider these broken promises—reinstate funding for Truro and honour the nine frigates through the Hunter program. Invest in my home state of South Australia and keep your promises.


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