Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Matters of Public Importance
South Australian State Election
I understand that, pursuant to order, we now return to discussion of the MPI:
"The vital importance that the South Australian state election on March 17th produces a government focussed on energy reliability, energy affordability, attracting business investment, lower unemployment and a South Australian economy that contributes better to the national economy."
Members opposite made the point that sometimes the media is a better arbiter in some of these discussions about where the truth lies. Senator Farrell quoted a number of things out of South Australian media. If you'd like to play that game, perhaps we could look at articles in the Financial Review that highlighted that the confidence in South Australia's economy under the Weatherill government is so low that ANZ chose to sell out of South Australian government bonds, as they were deemed to be too risky because debt has continued to go up. The ABC reported that the current debt, at the time of the article last year, was $6.2 billion, jumping to $6.7 billion in 2017-18. As reported by The Advertiser, seasonally adjusted unemployment is at 5.9 per cent compared to a national figure of 5.5 per cent, and underlying figures show a drop in South Australia's full-time employment despite the fact that the national average is going the other way. Professor Richard Blandy gave a qualitative critique:
Over the term of the Weatherill Government, South Australia's economic performance has been weak by comparison with Australia's as a whole and the two leading economies of Victoria and New South Wales.
Any assessment of economic outcome should look over the whole term because annual South Australian economic growth figures have been subject to massive revisions. For example, the increase in South Australian Gross State Product in 2015-16 was announced in November 2016 as 1.9%. This has just been revised down to 0.3%.
We see consistently that the outcomes achieved in South Australia are at stark variance with the claims that are made, driven by ideology. We heard people talking before about Premier Weatherill's great big renewable energy experiment that he so proudly boasted about on the world stage. But what do we see following the blackouts? Because of the intermittent nature of the structure that couldn't withstand a shock to the power system, the state government spent $550 million on a catch-up program, over $300 million of which was on diesel generators to provide some level of back-up power. We've seen the failures in things like the TAFE system, the very place that should be driving new jobs and new skills for the future. Compare that to the Marshall opposition's strong plan for a future that has a commitment for some 20,800 apprentices, working constructively with the federal government's Skilling Australians Foundation to give South Australia a strong future.