Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (12:24): I rise today to recognise and speak on the motion put forward by the member for Chaffey, namely:
That this house—
(a) notes the ongoing exodus of South Australia's population interstate;
(b) calls on the state government to address the concerning population drain to ensure our skilled workers are not continually moving away to seek work, career and lifestyle opportunities;
(c) notes the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that South Australia had 27,467 people move interstate resulting in a net loss of 5,887 people in the 12 months to March 2016; and
(d) acknowledges South Australia's net population loss interstate is almost double the 10-year average of 3,480 people.
The South Australian government is one that does not care about the people of South Australia. They claim they do, but the facts are they do not. They do not care that our young people are leaving South Australia; they do not care that it is important to keep these people here in our state and grow opportunities for young people. That is what the Marshall Liberal team is very much focused on. It is a big part of the reason that I came into this place.
As a father of four young people in South Australia and knowing lots more in my community, I am very aware of how important it is that we create opportunities to keep young people in South Australia and to give them an opportunity to grow. Also, we need to create an opportunity that will attract great people we have lost back to South Australia and bring others to our great state. We have a great state—no-one is disputing that—but the way that it is being run under this current Weatherill Labor government is an absolute shame. It is a big part of the reason that after 15 years of this government people are just leaving and not coming back to South Australia. It is a real shame, as I said, to see this happen, and South Australia is paying the price.
We need to do all we can to create the right environment to keep businesses here. We see businesses leaving all the time. Recently, we have seen Coca-Cola investing $90 million to go to Queensland and exiting South Australia. We need to do all we can to keep businesses like that operating here in South Australia. It is the economic environment that has been created by this Weatherill Labor government that is causing this mass exodus.
We heard the member for Mount Gambier talking about the high electricity prices we have in South Australia, higher than any other jurisdiction, and the lack of reliability with our electricity. It causes great conjecture for businesses when they are facing a decision to (1) set up in South Australia or (2) reinvest and stay in South Australia. They can do the sums and work out that they operate better on the eastern seaboard or outside of South Australia. We are losing the battle because of the environment that has been created by this current Labor government.
The push for renewables and the 50 per cent renewable energy targets that have been set by the state Labor government are forcing up our electricity prices, decreasing the reliability and the supply side of the electricity market, and forcing businesses to say, 'There is that uncertainty. We are going to be paying more for electricity in South Australia.' If they have to make a decision, they often choose to go interstate. That takes out opportunities, businesses, industry and jobs for people in South Australia and as a result people are flowing out of our wonderful state.
We know South Australia has the highest unemployment rate in Australia and has done for 29 months in a row on trend. That is phenomenal. We have been at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to our employment. We have been the worst state in the nation with the highest unemployment rate for 29 months in a row. Let's just think about that for a minute, because this is another blight on this government. To hear those on the other side keep blaming anyone else they can—the federal government, anyone who is moving. They will blame them for the situation that they have put our state in. They take no responsibility.
We hear it with other issues as well, social issues like Oakden. It is someone else's fault. Child protection? It is someone else's fault. This Labor government has made a mess of our state, and this is just one area where we have seen the exodus of people from South Australia because of what they have done to our state. We see how bad the unemployment rate is in South Australia, how long it has been absolutely woeful and how much it is hurting the retention of people staying in South Australia.
We look at the youth unemployment rate as well and that is also the highest in the country at 18.7 per cent. We are approaching a situation where almost one in five people aged under 25 are unemployed, and that is just horrendous. We know that Holden is closing later this year, it has been on the cards for a long time. The government has underspent in its automotive transformation funding and the schemes that it has set up. It has talked about helping these people but it actually has not delivered on its programs, and that has been another big setback. It has alarm bells ringing for the future unemployment rate in South Australia as well as the youth unemployment rate. Again, to have the highest unemployment rate and the highest youth unemployment rate in the nation, to have had it for such a long and extended period of time, is incredibly damaging, and we can see why people are leaving the state because of it. It is unacceptable.
When I go out and speak to people in my community, doorknocking or at the local supermarkets or shopping centres, at the local sporting clubs or just walking the streets or having a coffee on the weekend, people tell me they are concerned. They are concerned about where the opportunities are for young people in South Australia, they are concerned that they will leave the state, and they are concerned that there is nothing for them to come back to.
I have talked about unemployment, but let us talk about underemployment as well. That is also at a very high rate here in South Australia, and more needs to be done to get people more hours. They are working and they are available to work more but, again, there is not the opportunity there for them to get more work. There are 85,500 people in South Australia who fall into that under-employed category at the moment. Again, no wonder people are looking interstate for more opportunities.
The cost of living is another issue. I have mentioned electricity prices, which are a real kicker, and we know there are things like the ESL, and fees and charges that go on households and businesses here in South Australia are through the roof. When I get out and talk to people in industry and people in business that is something fed back to me all the time, that the cost of doing business in South Australia is far greater than it is in other states. A lot of operations that have arms here in South Australia as well as in other states actually line their bills up and they show me, 'Look, this is what it costs for electricity, this is what it costs in fees and charges here in South Australia, and this is what it costs in Western Australia, Queensland or other states.' There is a marked difference: it is a lot more expensive here in South Australia, and that is a great concern.
We see that the government has released the 2017 version of their 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide. They have been in government for half that time, 15 years, and you would think they might have achieved something in that time, that they might have actually cared about the South Australian people. Clearly, the figures we see show that they do not. In that plan we see that the government has revised down their population growth projection for the next 30 years, with their initial population increase of an additional 560,000 people by 2040 now reduced to 545,000 by 2045. This is a great insight, an example, of how this government has failed. They have failed to grow the population, they have failed to grow the pie. If we grow the economy, if we grow South Australia, we will generate more jobs and everyone will succeed. However, this government has just strangled South Australia, strangled any growth here and, as a result, people are leaving.
On our side, the Marshall Liberal opposition have a plan. We put out our '2036' manifesto, which had the direction we want to take. We have been slotting in our policies around that and we are getting a very good response. We want to reduce the tax burden on businesses and households, and we want to cut red tape and unnecessary regulation to allow these businesses to grow and employ more people. We want to invest in productive infrastructure, support export businesses and encourage their growth. We want to actually send stuff overseas and send stuff interstate and bring their money into South Australia to grow our pie.
We want to foster entrepreneurialism; we have great people in South Australia and we want to see them doing wonderful things. We support growth opportunities for our regional businesses and industries. We have already said that we will return the ESL remissions, put money back into the pockets of South Australians and businesses, $90 million a year, which is a total of $360 million over four years, and council rate capping, again to reduce the costs on families and households and allow more money to go back into the economy to grow that pie. There is Globe Link, a great infrastructure project that will allow us to get more product and produce out to the international market and grow that—a great initiative.
Trade offices overseas, too, are a great initiative of the member for Chaffey, to say 'Let's get more trade offices overseas so that we can sell more of our goods and services overseas and, again, bring money into South Australia,' and this is exciting, With entrepreneurialism, we want to encourage our entrepreneurs to take big and bold ideas and turn them into industries we can grow in South Australia. We have a lot of upside, but under this Labor government we are not seeing it. A Marshall Liberal government would deliver a brighter future for our next generation.