Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Budget

Statement and Documents

10:11 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | Hansard source

I rise tonight to speak on the budget, and I'm only going to have a brief session on this. There are lots of good things in this budget, and I'm not surprised—it's an election budget. I guess what we need to do now is look at what Mr Shorten announces in the other place. Voters will get to have their choice in respect of who they wish to lead and who might better manage the economy and provide leadership in the building of this nation. Whilst there are many good things in the budget—and once again I have to concede that there are—there are some issues, including some issues for South Australia, that I just want to put on the record.

South Australia has a declining population when compared to other states, and that's indeed why we currently have 11 members in the other place but, after this election, we'll only have 10. That is because of the declining relative population of South Australia. In some sense that's because we've been constrained in terms of growth, and some of that has been because of poor immigration policies. I concede there's some light at the end of the tunnel. We are now looking at bringing skilled migrants into regional areas, which is a good thing.

I also note that this year we got quite a good percentage of the infrastructure spend. Last year we got less than our population share. This year we've got about 13 per cent of new funds being injected into South Australia. But there's a problem. This money seems to have been injected, in some sense, in a pork-barrelling, targeted fashion rather than in accordance with a plan.

Let me talk about a road trip I did last week around the northern part of South Australia and in the Eyre Peninsula. There are a number of projects around South Australia that could bring great wealth to South Australia and, indeed, to the nation. We have the Braemar province to the north-east of Adelaide, where there are quite significant deposits of iron ore. I was up in Roxby Downs at Olympic Dam last week, where BHP, with a predominantly copper mine, are trying to expand. They're exploring expanding their operations there. I went to Leigh Creek. Last week Leigh Creek Energy announced to the stock exchange that they have discovered gas with a quantity equivalent to that of the Cooper Basin, so it's a significant find and a significant opportunity for South Australia.

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