Tuesday, 3 May 2016
South Australia, Election of Senators
Well, what a week it has been for Adelaide. First, the government delivered on its 2013 election commitment to build 12 submarines in Adelaide. Better yet, it chose a French partner, leaving open the potential for nuclear submarines, or even a South Australian nuclear industry. But it got better for Adelaide. The Crows won against Fremantle. Port Power turned their season around, beating Richmond. Then on Sunday, over 50,000 football fans, or soccer fans, if you like, poured into the temple of AFL and cricket, the Adelaide Oval, to watch the Adelaide United Reds triumph for their first ever A-League grand final victory after three attempts, beating Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1.
The grand final was played in the home state of the highest ranked team in the finals series. I hope the AFL took note. The final was also played at a renovated Adelaide Oval, not at the Reds' home ground of Hindmarsh Stadium. There were three times the number of fans at the game than would have been possible at Hindmarsh, or Coopers Stadium as it is known. Hindmarsh Stadium's capacity and quality challenges will be with us for a while, until higher attendance numbers drive a purpose-built stadium in the city. Speaking of purpose-built facilities, the Reds recently set up their training base at suburban Elizabeth, north of Adelaide. I advocated that the Reds were confined for training space at Hindmarsh and not sufficiently connected with local community clubs at their training base. I advocated for the Modbury area, my local area, to become the club's training base.
I met with the Football Federation of South Australia and we were, I believe, making some progress. Regrettably, my local council was not supportive and noted that the Playford council at Elizabeth had, supposedly, more room, though I had identified local space for the facility. Lo and behold, the Reds subsequently ended up at Playford—good on them, and good for the northern Adelaide community but it was the north-eastern suburbs loss.
I put on record my admiration for those who have made Adelaide United this year's national Cinderella story. The Reds' rags to riches 2015-16 season mirrors the club's history. Modelled on nonpartisan Perth Glory, Adelaide United was born out of the ashes of Adelaide City Force in the old National Soccer League. South Australian football fans were desperate to continue being represented on the national stage. Philanthropists like Gordon Pickard, Nick Bianco and Rob Gerard were called upon at times to keep the club alive. South Australians came out in droves to watch the newly formed Reds beat the then Brisbane Strikers 1-0 at Hindmarsh in front of a capacity crowd of 16,000 people. They have been coming out in droves ever since, through thick and thin. Sunday night's victory was for them.
The fans have endured dark days after grand final losses to the archenemy Melbourne Victory and glory days like playing in and hosting the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in 2008. After that high, the club was soon on the ropes again with Football Federation Australia taking ownership of the club for 18 months, until a management team led by current chair Greg Griffin took over. Greg had also helped rescue the great North Adelaide Football Club in the SANFL. I have to record my admiration of the great job Greg and his team have done at the Roosters and since 2010 resurrecting Adelaide United's fortunes.
The on-field personnel quite rightly get their moment in the sun after winning the championship, but the off-field club management also deserve praise. They have copped a fair bit of flak and negative press. What I admire most about the club management is that they have always tried to get the club to stand on its own two feet—as we talk about in Family First, self-reliance not dependency. The management stuck at it, made the hard decisions and now they have the Premier's Plate and Championship Trophy sitting on the sidelines at Adelaide United. Sponsors and transfer suitors are no doubt banging on the door.
The theme of my contribution today is all the positive things that have happened in Adelaide of late. I remember the great days of the early 1980s when more than a dozen of the top 100 ASX publicly listed companies had their head offices in Adelaide—companies like Faulding, Southcorp, Elders, Adelaide Brighton, Adelaide Bank, Normandy Mining, Standard Chartered Finance, Santos and of course News Limited. They all had their head offices in Adelaide. Now there is only one left—Santos.
The submarines decision is a $50 billion positive for my home state. The coalition went to the election pledging to build 12 submarines in Adelaide. Whether that was wise or not, they had to deliver on it and it appears that they will. It is never economically wise to put all your eggs in the one basket and a $50 billion submarine build does not a state make. So, correctly in my view, the Premier has been in France lately seeking ways to expand upon the new submarine partnership into other economic opportunities. An obvious opportunity is France's nuclear industry. They were the only bidder for the submarines who have nuclear powered subs. They also have nuclear energy. There are great opportunities for broader technology transfer in the nuclear space. It is worth noting that when it comes to uranium, South Australia is the world's resource superpower. It makes sense for us to use it. In a week of good news, perhaps this Friday the final report of the nuclear royal commission will chart a nuclear future for our state.
The thousands of submarine jobs will not save South Australia nor, I hasten to add for the umpteenth time, will the state be saved by picking winners—also known as Keynesian economics. Those best placed to diversify the state's economy are those who create jobs—small business and business in general—not governments picking winners, favourites. Like the federal government tonight, the state government needs to relax the taxation and regulation barriers that are killing our state and allow individuals, families, communities and businesses to create new opportunities.
Before concluding, I reflect upon the last one or two days of hearings in the High Court. I filed the High Court challenge as I feel it is vital to ensure that laws designed to radically and fundamentally change how senators are elected are confirmed to be constitutionally valid. The government assured us they were, but we know better than to take government at their word. I am hopeful of a ruling in the next few days, but of course it is up to the High Court.
If the government goes to an election on or before 11 May without knowing the court result, we could have the previous voting system back. That will result in a bigger, very interesting and, might I say, once-bitten twice-shy crossbench in the next Senate. I, for one, will be pulling out all the stops—whatever the voting system may be—to return here to put families first and represent the great state of South Australia.