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How SA Labor's Bank Tax is strangling business growth in our state

Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 16:27 ): There has been a lot of debate around this most recent state budget, potentially more than ever before. The government's failed Transforming Health program has come under scrutiny. The constant ramping of ambulances at the Flinders Medical Centre is a hot topic. The issues of emergency departments closing across the city, the downgrading of services at Noarlunga Hospital and the shameful government decision to close down the Repat hospital have South Australians up in arms.

Child protection and this government's inability to care for our most vulnerable children have also had South Australians fuming. We all know the story of Chloe Valentine and her suffering. We were also left shocked when the Shannon McCoole case was uncovered and equally stunned at how he could have infiltrated the system of Families SA.

More recently, there has been the ill-treatment of some of our state's senior citizens at the Oakden mental health facility. The handling of the situation by the government has been widely reported in the media, with the dismissive manner around the lack of care being the most shocking. Who could forget the culmination of the ill-treatment turning into a passing conversation by the minister at Bunnings? It was a sad outcome for families who have already been through a lot.

South Australia's horrendous unemployment rate has also been a key talking point. We have had the worst unemployment rate in the nation for the past 30 months straight. Unemployment, underemployment and youth unemployment in South Australia are worse than in every other state, including Tasmania, and there is more to come when Holden closes later this year.

They are just a few of the state government's major failings. They are failings that have left our state low on confidence; failings that have driven businesses out of town, taking valuable jobs away; and failings that have created an environment where everyone in South Australia is feeling strangled by the Premier and the Treasurer and all those on the other side of the chamber. They are failings that have seen our brightest young people pack up and leave our state.

It is this feeling that has people stopping me at the supermarket, at local sporting events, at the local school and at the pub. They are screaming, 'Enough!' They have had enough of feeling the restriction and suffocation that has been inflicted by the Premier and the Treasurer and the entire South Australian Labor team.

All this leads us to the Premier's and the Treasurer's proposed state bank tax, another tax to go with the state Labor government's ESL rises, to go with our state's high-priced and unreliable electricity, our sky-high water prices and other state fees and charges, such as land tax and stamp duty. They are all hitting South Australians any way they turn, so on this side of the house the Marshall Liberal team says that enough is enough. The state Labor government cannot tax its way to prosperity. For the good of this generation and the next, we have made a stand for all South Australians.

We have to be the party for all South Australians. We have to block this tax to remove the suffocating measures on people wanting to have a go, wanting to take a risk and wanting to grow a business and generate jobs in our state. South Australian families with a mortgage and bank accounts are being attacked by the South Australian Labor government. That is what the Marshall Liberal team will do, and it starts now by making a stand. We are clearly stating on behalf of our community that enough is enough. We must remove SA Labor's toxic state bank tax from the budget.

The Marshall Liberal team wants our state and, more importantly, our people to thrive into the future. In this debate, the SA Labor government will throw around the usual spin. They have already spent and will continue to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on political advertisements in the paper, on radio, TV and social media to propagate an imaginary fight. What I am asking people to do is this. Every time you see this state government propaganda, every time you see the Premier or the Treasurer in the media, ask yourself this question: how is South Australia going as a state? Be honest, and if you are honest the answer is that we are not going good, and that has been the answer for too long.

Well, the Marshall Liberal team does not accept that anymore. We know that we have a great state with great people, and that is why we say that enough is enough and that the Weatherill Labor government has to go. When you see the Premier and the Treasurer walking along awkwardly holding their latest high-priced taxpayer-funded flyer, ask yourself: can you really believe anything they say? For the last three budgets, the Treasurer has promised jobs budgets, and in that time we have had the worst unemployment rate in the nation, worse than any other state, worse than Tasmania. The state Labor government have trumpeted jobs program after jobs program, but they have no measurable outcomes. They produce no jobs.

Manufacturing Works, Our Jobs Plan, the Northern Economic Plan, these are the proposals they put forward that cost millions and millions of dollars to South Australian taxpayers, but there are no outcomes. Now they have the Future Jobs Fund, which is more spin and, like the other programs, no outcomes. The Manufacturing Works program was a 10-year program, and just a few years ago the government did a review into its own program. The Frost and Sullivan report was commissioned and the findings showed that the Manufacturing Works program lacked outcomes. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent but, as far as generating jobs are concerned, the Manufacturing Works program lacked outcomes.

What have they done? They have ordered another review in to Manufacturing Works. Two years after the last one, spend some more money, do another review, and again that review will be released after the budget so that any measures could not even be put in place prior to this budget. This government has been here too long, they are tired and they are not getting outcomes for South Australia. As we look at this budget, the third in the series of his jobs budgets for Treasurer Koutsantonis, what does it say? It says 1 per cent jobs growth for South Australia, less than half of what Victoria has forecast and below Tasmania again. In fact, you guessed it: we have the worst outlook in the nation. I say again: enough is enough. You cannot believe the Treasurer's spin.

Even the Treasurer cannot spin the fact that the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, an independent body, has done a review on the Treasurer's own forecast of jobs growth, which they put at 1 per cent—again the worst in the nation—and what does the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies say about this forecast? They say, 'It is overcooked and highly unlikely to be achieved.' So again the Treasurer is overtalking and massively underdelivering to South Australians. Remember that premier Mike Rann promised 100,000 jobs, but that deadline came and went and the government had not produced 20,000. They missed by that much. They promised 100,000 but did not deliver 20,000 jobs. However, again the Treasurer stands up on the other side of this chamber and spruiks again and again, 'I'm delivering a jobs budget,' but the facts show that he is failing, that this government is failing, and South Australia has had enough.

As a result of the poor economic conditions that are created by this state Labor government, we are seeing our youngest and our brightest exit South Australia. They are up and leaving and heading for brighter opportunities in other states. In fact, net migration to other states totals 6,903. That is right—people are getting up, abandoning this state Labor government, abandoning South Australia and heading interstate because they know there is no future under this state Labor government.

I have talked about unemployment and, as I said, for 30 months in a row on trend we have had the highest unemployment rate in the nation—below Tasmania. There used to be a time when we had the worst unemployment rate on the mainland and Tasmania was excluded because no-one thought we could go below Tasmania. Now we go below Tasmania, and we have been there for 30 months in a row. Holden has not closed and does not close until October 2020, so we have more pain ahead. This government has not been able to get the settings right to create an environment that will generate opportunity for people in South Australia to grow jobs. It is so evidently obvious and, although the Treasury comes out this budget and says that it is another jobs budget, no-one out there can believe him.

What we say on this side is that we need to grow exports. That is something we are very bullish about. We need to grow the size of the pie for South Australia and not keep strangling or restricting people in this state. If we look at South Australia's export performance, over the last 12 months alone our exports fell 5.2 per cent, to just over $11 billion. The government set a guaranteed target this year of $18 billion but only hit $11 billion. That is a massive shortfall for this government, when $18 billion was the target and $11 billion was the delivery. We need to grow our exports, and I will talk more about our policies to help achieve that.

This government has failed on so many levels, and people out there are feeling it. During the Premier's time in office, economic growth in South Australia has been 1.4 per cent against the national average of almost double that. That is where South Australia sits on the national scale. We are at 1.4 per cent and the national growth has almost been doubled in the Premier's time here in South Australia. How do they keep talking about surplus budgets and what do they do? Before the last election, and they kept this hush-hush, they planned to sell off the Motor Accident Commission, drop a whack load of money into the back pocket of the Treasurer—again, money raised by South Australians—and he has used it to prop up his budget.

A fake budget surplus really is what we are looking at. They promised not to privatise, yet here they are selling off the compulsory third-party insurance market, the MAC as we know it, the MAC that is so actively involved in a lot of community organisations, sponsoring a lot of community sports and community events, and it has been sold off by this government. It will disappear and not come back, and when that money is not there people will know that it was the Treasurer of our state at this very point in time who made this happen. What has he done with the money? He has tried to use it to make himself look good. He has tried to be tricky in saying that he is producing a surplus budget.

Last year, $297.8 million was put into the budget from MAC. The surplus he produced was $239 million, so more went in from the MAC than the surplus the Treasurer claimed. Really, it was not a surplus at all but a cover-up with the MAC money. The Treasurer has tried to be very, very sneaky, but South Australians are waking up and they are saying that enough is enough. Over the last 16 years, Labor has spent $6 billion above budget—$6 billion above budget. That is the way they operate and that is the way they work. That is $6 billion that could have gone into funding projects, but the government instead just overspends. It overspends and overspends, and it is a situation that again has South Australians screaming that enough is enough.

When we look at this budget over the next four years, payroll tax revenue is almost $5 billion. That is a $5 billion tax on jobs. On the other hand, the government are saying that they are going to put $200 million into a jobs fund, and I have talked about their previous job funds and about the fact that they do not have outcomes and do not generate the jobs they promise at the start. They are good at pumping up a big figure—a $200 million jobs fund—but bear in mind that they are getting $5 billion in tax revenue from payroll tax, which is a tax on jobs.

So $5 billion is coming in and they are putting $200 million out in their jobs fund, but what is it going to deliver? That is the question that South Australians are asking. When you compare $200 million for the jobs fund with $5 billion coming in from payroll tax, really the disparity is quite alarming. Because of that big tax on jobs, and because of the payroll tax that this government grab, they admit that they need to put money back in through rebates and concessions to create and grow jobs in South Australia. The problem is again that it is not working.

That is what this government does. They are a taxing government. They want to get their hand in your pocket any way they can. They want to take money from you any which way they can, and the latest way that has come through in this budget, where we say enough is enough, is the state bank tax. We know what this government did to the State Bank back in the eighties, and now they are coming after a state bank tax as well. This is the government's plan, to tax the banks, which we know flows through to every South Australian, anyone with a mortgage or a bank account or who uses EFTPOS in any way shape or form. If you have an association with a bank, this government is coming after you and they want to get money from you.

On the federal scene, we know that there is a bank tax and that creates a national perspective. Everyone is in the same ballpark. This tax for South Australia means that we are at a competitive disadvantage. Make no bones about it: this puts South Australia at a competitive disadvantage. It means that businesses and industry and people will keep leaving, as I was saying a few moments ago. They will go where there are better economic conditions to invest their money and to grow industries in other jurisdictions.

When the government came up with this bank tax idea, did they do any economic modelling? Did they have a look at what damage this will impart on our great state? Did the Treasurer speak to anyone in industry, in the banking fraternity, small business, big business, anyone or anywhere that this might impact? Did he speak to families and ask how they might feel about it? No, the Treasurer spoke to no-one. They did no economic modelling of what this tax will do to the South Australian economy. The Treasurer did nothing, and again I say that enough is enough. A Treasurer who does no economic modelling on an impact such as this has to have some serious questions asked about his operations.

The Labor government has an Economic Development Board, they have an Investment Attraction agency and they have people in place to help give them advice and guidance on how the state should operate when it comes to economic development and investment attraction. In charge of that Investment Attraction agency is a gentleman called Rob Chapman, a very astute person who has had a long career in the banking industry. He is one of the advisers to the state Labor government.

Was he asked what impact this bank tax would have on South Australia? No, he was not. It just beggars belief that the Treasurer of our state will not speak to anyone when he is implementing a tax that will put us at a competitive disadvantage. Everyone out there who has an association with a bank—be it a bank account, a mortgage, shares or superannuation, or who uses an EFTPOS machine—knows that this tax will be damaging to them and to South Australia's prosperity. I say once again: enough is enough. South Australians have had enough. We need a change of direction, and the Marshall Liberal team is offering that change of direction for a prosperous South Australia.

From opposition, we have been forced to do this because it was a damaging tax to South Australians. We have already announced more than 40 excellent policies that we believe will reinvigorate this state and take South Australia forward. We have to take off the shackles. We have to stop strangling our state because that is what the people out there are feeling, and that is why South Australians are leaving, that is why business is leaving and that is why we have the jobs crisis we have here in South Australia. Already, we have committed to reducing the emergency services levy. This is a cost again on South Australian homes and businesses. It is another one of those strangulations that this government keep imposing on the great people of our state.

We are going to cap local government rate increases which will again reduce the cost of living on all South Australians. We are going to pursue the Globe Link project, again, an opportunity to grow and export out of South Australia, get businesses that are doing great things in South Australia and take them to an international market through a faster, safer and more efficient railroad and air link project. That is exciting and that is what we should be doing. We should be looking to grow our pie here in South Australia, not strangle it as this state Labor government is doing.

We will also ensure much more effective overseas representation for South Australia, opening up more trade offices overseas to allow our businesses and industries to export—again, to grow that pie. Let's sell overseas. Let's sell interstate. Let's bring money into South Australia so that businesses can grow. When businesses grow they will employ more people.

We are going to deregulate shop trading hours to allow businesses to operate and compete against other companies that are selling on the internet. This will allow people to shop when they want to shop and allow businesses to open when they want to open. If they have a new and unique way of making money and selling their produce, let's let them do it. Let's take the shackles off South Australia again.

We will also introduce major reforms to our health system. I have talked about the problems with our health system here in South Australia. Wherever you go in local communities, people will tell you that our health system is in all sorts of trouble. We will give local communities and health professionals much more involvement in the decision-making at a local level. That is very important for all the community.

We will move year 7 into high school, and we will look at opening entrepreneurial specialist schools in South Australia as well to allow people to be entrepreneurial and to allow people to start thinking, 'We can do something great.' We can use the greatness that exists within South Australia to open businesses, to open opportunities and to open markets so that we can grow South Australia and, again, take the shackles off and stop strangling South Australians. People are sick of what this state Labor government is delivering. Enough is enough, we need to open up this state and we need to create more things.

As well as that, we will roll up our sleeves and work with South Australians. We will not strangle South Australians as this state Labor government has done. They strangle and they suck the life out of everyone in this state. They suck it out with taxes. Tax is what they know. Someone said to me other day, 'It is T for Tom and it's T for tax. It's all this state Labor government knows.' We need to put the life back into South Australia and we will work with the South Australian people. We will roll up our sleeves. We know that the situation we are in is not good. I have talked about the unemployment rate and I have talked about the lack of growth here in South Australia, but together we can do it.

The Marshall Liberal team is determined to get South Australia back to its prosperous best and to give South Australians, the people of today and the people of our future, an opportunity to grow. We need to get rid of this state Labor government. A Marshall Liberal government will deliver for South Australia. We need to say to this state Labor government, the Premier and the Treasurer, 'Enough is enough. We need to get the shackles off and grow our great state.'

I rise this evening to speak about some of the portfolio areas impacted by the budget. I did speak at length earlier today about the overarching position of the budget and why we do need to change this horrendous Labor government.

Tonight we want to look at what the Treasurer entitled a 'jobs budget', because that is important to everyone in South Australia but in particular to the industry portfolio that I cover. The Treasurer said this was a jobs budget; it is his third jobs budget. When we look deeper, what we see is a tax budget. We see a $370 million state bank tax which will not deliver jobs, will not help industry, will not help business and will not help struggling households with the cost of living. That is what has been delivered by this state Labor government and the Treasurer just the other day.

When we look at how South Australia is travelling and we go out and speak to people in our communities, to small business operators, people in the industry, people who are wanting to get ahead and make a go, we ask them, 'How is our state going?' Sadly, the response is, 'We are not going good. We are going poorly.' We are travelling very poorly on the spectrum, when we look across all the states and South Australia. It is because of the budget and the taxation measures that this Treasurer wants to put in our state. That is a very key reason, and we have seen it in this budget as well.

We know we have had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for 30 months in a row. That should set alarm bells ringing right across the board. We need to get people working. We have very high youth unemployment in and around my community as well. That is a real issue. I think it is a real issue right across the state, and people are very conscious of that.

In fact, if we go back to Labor's promise in February 2010, they promised 100,000 jobs. We know that by the deadline that they set for themselves at the time that they had produced only 17,200 jobs. The state Labor government has form in this area, and it really is not very good. We know South Australia's economic growth has been at 1.9 per cent of gross state product compared to the national growth which has been at 2.8 per cent, so again we have struggled there. Only Tasmania and Western Australia grew slower than our state, so we are sixth out of eight on that measure, again towards the bottom of the table.

I mentioned jobs, and when we look at this budget we know industry right across the board is very interested in jobs. The government's own budget paper shows that they are predicting just 1 per cent jobs growth for South Australia, half of Victoria and below Tasmania. It is incredibly disappointing to see South Australia struggling so much. The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, an independent body, gave their assessment of the 1 per cent target that has come from the Treasurer's budget. They think that that is overly ambitious, and they do not think that South Australia will even get to that 1 per cent jobs growth target.

That is alarming right across the board. We look at industry and say, 'How is industry going to help? How are small businesses going to help?' particularly when we have a high-taxing budget as has been brought down here with the state bank tax, which we know is going to hurt families, hurt businesses, and hurt growth opportunities right across this state, so that we will again be languishing at the bottom. The government does roll out and say that they have jobs creation programs. I think the newest one is the Future Jobs Fund, which is a rehashing of some old money, but that is what they are saying is going to help grow jobs in South Australia.

Yet again, I mention the Treasurer with his jobs budget. He has had three of these before and we have been at the bottom of the unemployment table ever since he started this project. A number of other programs have come into place with this Treasurer. We have had Manufacturing Works, Our Jobs Plan and the Northern Economic Plan. The list goes on and on and, unfortunately, none of them have returned jobs outcomes. That is what we keep asking in estimates and through the other place of the minister there. We keep asking: of these programs, what are the job outcomes? The response we get back is, 'We don't measure that. We can't tell.'

Manufacturing Works is a 10-year program, and a couple of years ago a report was done. Taxpayers' money was spent on the Frost & Sullivan report, and the big outcome from that report was that there were no job outcomes from Manufacturing Works. So, it really is quite incongruous that these programs that the Treasurer keeps putting in place to grow jobs are failing and are not working. It is hard to trust any program that he puts forward now because of the history of failure by this government, and industry probably has every reason to be doubtful and scratching their head. We know industry development is one of the major requirements of any state to grow its economy; however, in this year's budget, Labor has cut industry and innovation by $20 million.

The estimated result from 2016-17 in the budget was $52.325 million and the budgeted figure for 2017-18 is $32.896 million. Here we are wanting to grow industry and the government is cutting $20 million from its industry and innovation budget, and that is disappointing for South Australians. The budget for industry development has been cut by $10.26 million. Funnily, it used to be called industry manufacturing and it is now called industry development, and they have taken the term 'manufacturing' out of this budget line.

Again, the estimated result in 2016-17 was a $19.379 million spend and the budget for 2017‑18 is an $8.755 million spend, so there has been quite a dramatic cut in industry development. Again, the government will say it is putting investment into its Future Jobs Fund but, as I have pointed out, we will inquire further about this because a lot of these funds and programs that the government has put in place in the past have not produced jobs outcomes.

Regarding automotive transformation, Holden will close its doors for the last time on Friday 20 October 2017, so again more job losses are coming to South Australia. With that closure coming, and the state government has known about this since December 2013, they have had a poorly-run range of automotive assistance programs that have failed to manage that transition in the automotive manufacturing components supply industry into developing industries in South Australia.

They have underspent this program for a number of years. They could not get it working, they could not get outcomes, as I have mentioned. They had underspent by $10 million up to last year. They loaded a heap of money in last year and did not get the results but, this year, as we see Holden about to close, let's have a look at the budget lines and see what is being spent: the estimated spend in 2016-17 was $18.285 million, and in 2017-18, the year that Holden is going to close, we have been given a budget of $10.438. That is an $8 million cut, and Holden workers and the supply chain workers deserve a whole lot better. This government has failed to do that transition. They have talked about transitioning workers, but they have failed to deliver. Of course, we will be keeping them to account on that in estimates.

The government will talk up sport and rec as well, and I will brief because I only have a couple of minutes left. The government has talked about injecting money into sport and rec. For a long time, they have really turned their back on grassroots sport and recreation funding, and on this side of the chamber we know our communities. Our electorate candidates and members who live in their electorates know how much this is needed for local community clubs in their local regions.

Between 2011 and 2015, the government underspent their budget by $16.2 million. They ignored the community grassroots recreation and sporting clubs and facilities for a long time. The state Labor government underspent by $16.2 million between 2011 and 2015 and then all of a sudden, because of badgering by good local members, mostly on this side of the chamber, the government realised this was where they needed to start investing money. They listened to what we had to say and they started investing money at the grassroots in community clubs, coincidentally just before an election, but we take it whenever we can get it. The government is starting to do some work.

Since early this year, we have had the SA Sports Survey, which has been listening to community groups. Really, it is just a formalisation of what each member on our side of the chamber does in their local community. They listen to what their local communities need and want as far as this is concerned. We will be keeping the government to account. We will be making sure they know of all the projects that need doing in our electorates and in our communities, and I know that it is very prevalent in my community as well.

I have recently been out at Tea Tree Gully and Golden Grove, up in the Adelaide Hills as well as around Mount Barker. I know that down at Reynella and Morphett Vale and also in the Marion vicinity and Glenelg that we have some good people working very hard in those areas making sure that the government knows about community facilities that need upgrades. For too long—those years that I mentioned before, between 2011 and 2015—there was a $16.2 million underspend in this area. We are making sure that our communities are looked after at grassroots sport and rec, which the Marshall Liberal team knows so much about and does so much to support. We will ensure that these community groups are looked after well into the future.

They are just a couple of things, but there will be more, of course, in estimates, and I look forward to going through those matters with the ministers associated with these portfolio areas and making sure that South Australian taxpayers are getting good bang for their buck and not having more money ripped out of their pockets. 

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