Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:24): I rise to give my Address in Reply speech after the Governor's speech was delivered the other day in the other place.
I acknowledge the member for Reynell, who has just completed her speech. In a bipartisan way, I appreciate that, as a minister, she made the time to participate in our yearly sporting event, the parliamentary bowls, which was hosted in Adelaide; I appreciate it.
Ms Hildyard: 'Participate' is a better word than 'compete' for me.
Mr PEDERICK: Excelled. It is so great to be here, and I commend the Premier and the team. I congratulate the 11 new members in this house on our team, and I congratulate the new members on the other side, on being elected to this place. The Premier is a man who stuck to his steely resolve when all sorts of advice was offered to him about how he should win an election, but he held out with the team, and everyone held out, and we won in our own right.
I was concerned when I saw in some media that we might have Stockholm syndrome, where everyone just votes in Labor, just votes in Labor and just votes in Labor, but that was not going to be any good for this state. I am glad the people of South Australia saw that it was time to change, to get on with the job of giving good governance for all citizens of this state, but also to get this state back on track, to get the cost of living under control, to get the price of electricity under control and to get us back on a competitive edge so that we are not seeing those thousands and thousands of young people exiting this state every year. It is an outrage, and we are going to turn that around. We have 297 election commitments, which we absolutely will follow through on, and we will get the job done for South Australia.
With regard to the seat of Hammond, we have commitments across the board. One major commitment is to upgrade the emergency department at the Murray Bridge Soldiers Memorial Hospital. This area has not had an upgrade for over 30 years, and with more challenging presentations that come over time, whether it be violence issues or people affected by drugs, there are rooms where you have to treat patients and everyone is just screened off with a curtain. I inspected a small room, which is probably 2½ metres long and about two metres wide, where at times five people have to work. That is a small, semi secure room in the area so that people could operate the emergency department. There is no real waiting room, unless you are out in another room used by friends of people coming to emergency.
Outside Mount Barker, Murray Bridge would probably have the highest regional growth rate of a town in South Australia. We have this huge growing population, and we need to be able to service it with the appropriate healthcare facilities that the community needs. I understand that is being looked into as I speak by the appropriate departments—the departments of health and transport—and I can only hope that that work starts on the actual construction sooner rather than later because it is really needed.
Another election commitment that I got through our system was about getting Metro ticketing to Murray Bridge. I got as far in the system as I could from opposition at the time, which was to commit to a full study on its viability once in government. Once we see that, I hope that we can get Metro ticketing into Murray Bridge to save all those people who are driving through to the city or coming from the city to Murray Bridge. Certainly, from the Murray Bridge end, for schoolchildren, people going to uni and people going to work, instead of using the Link bus, which is a good service but expensive (it is about $23 a ticket to get to Adelaide) school students especially often get their parents to take them to Mount Barker, they get on a Metro-ticketed bus and are taken into Adelaide. It is certainly my commitment to get that happening. I have had that on my radar since before I came into this place in 2006.
I must say that I am forever thankful to the constituency of Hammond for having their faith in me for a fourth time in getting into this place. I thank my staff for keeping the electorate office running and I thank them for their volunteer time, and all my volunteers for what they did to make sure that we had not just the win in Hammond but the win across the state for the Liberal Party.
In regard to other policy commitments we made coming into the election, we had eight highways which had been recently delisted from 110 km/h back to 100 km/h. I think that was an outrage when they did it around Murray Bridge five or six years ago where we had roads like the road connecting Murray Bridge to Mannum, Murray Bridge through to Wellington through to Langhorne Creek, and it was just an excuse not to spend road maintenance funding.
What I understand across the state between local government, state government and federal government roads is that there is a billion-dollar backlog in what needs to be spent to upgrade these roads across our state—and that is all roads across the state, I should say. In regard to these eight specific roads, there are two in my electorate which need attention, and they are the Browns Well Highway between Pinnaroo and Loxton, and the Ngarkat Highway between Pinnaroo and Bordertown.
It is interesting how roads get downgraded from 110 km/h to 100 km/h. I found out recently that when the Browns Well Highway was upgraded to road train status from B-double status—so, that applies to vehicles up to 36 metres—it was just a desktop study. I talked to one of the public servants involved (I managed to find him somehow before the election) and I said, 'This is ridiculous,' because the issue is that the Browns Well Highway is only just wide enough to have trucks on. By the time you get a second trailer, especially on a road train, and it starts waving about a bit, there is not a spare centimetre of bitumen. They can swing over the white line into the other lane, obviously with the inherent risks.
I have certainly been lobbied hard by people who use that road that work needs to be done. As I have acknowledged in this place for the whole time I have been in here, there is approximately a 20-kilometre section that needs a complete rebuild just to get this up to status, because that is major work that will cost many millions of dollars. When I say 'rebuild', it means digging out and doing it properly because it is just rough and it has bumps through it. It is just terrible. Essentially, that highway is 104 kilometres, so it will need 208 kilometres of shoulder sealing. I have already approached the transport minister about that and I think it needs to be done as soon as possible.
In regard to the Ngarkat Highway, that requires work as well. We have another road that I do not believe was on our list but it has been downgraded to 100 km/h—the Alawoona to Lameroo Highway. I would like to see common sense prevail over time, and it will take time. It will take time because of what has been the neglect of rural and regional South Australia, especially our road network.
What really breaks my heart is that there are some local government bodies that are forgetting some of their core issues around local roads. When you go out on a local road, it is a council responsibility. You get out there and there are major dips where it is down to sand, and they have forgotten how to construct a road properly, they have forgotten how to maintain a road, because they are diverting their money elsewhere. I think it is disgraceful. What is the old saying in local government? Roads, rates and rubbish.
When they neglect one of the core reasons they are there we need to urge all South Australians—especially those in regional South Australia, where we have many thousands of kilometres of rural roads—to look at who they want to represent them in the local government elections in November. Basically, they just need to get new people in so that we can focus those odd chief executive officers who have lost track of directing their councils on where they need to be. I firmly believe that, and if any council wants to have a conversation about it I am more than happy to do so.
When you find out that there are truck accidents, four-wheel drives with collapsed front ends, that is not what should be happening on our roads. I have certainly informed my local council that I will not drive my two-wheel drive vehicle on any of their roads. So we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do on our state's roads, and we are committed to that.
Furthermore, we have commitments right across the state, massive health commitments, to bring health boards back on board. I was involved in the Social Development Committee inquiry into healthcare provision across the state and how the health advisory councils operated. I learnt there were seven layers of bureaucracy from where we were on the ground floor right through Health. What a waste of money, what a waste of time and what a disgrace of red tape. We will bring back boards so that decisions can be made on the ground, and we can get far better outcomes for people in their communities.
I think some of it, perhaps, was that the powers that be at that time wanted so much control from the top, by government order, and did not want people in the health advisory councils to know what their power was. I think that is exactly what was going on. There is so much to do in health. The previous government built a brand-new Royal Adelaide Hospital that, I gather, was planned as it was built because of all the chaos and many tens of thousands of faults that had to be remedied as they built it. I am told that it should have been 10 years of planning but that they planned it as they built it. It is already overflowing, and I happen to know that because, apart from media reports, one of my employees is there currently—and I wish her all the best. Cheyanne, get out soon.
They witness triage being done in the back of ambulances. It is happening; it is not just a media beat-up. That is disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful, and that is happening. To think that a hospital was built and we did not even have a discharge room—really? It is just out of control. How did this happen? Then we get to the catering at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. I am not trying to beat up the caterers, but what is going on? I understand it is catered off site, which I do not understand because there would be at least 3,000 or 4,000 meals that go through that place every day. I will reflect on one constituent's inquiry—and this is only one, but they come in daily about food alone at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, a place where you are supposed to get better.
A constituent recently underwent an operation at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on a cancer in her mouth. After the operation, she was served meals that were not suitable considering the nature of her operation. Day 1 breakfast was dry cornflakes, no milk, sugar or spoon (she was unable to even open her mouth at this stage). I think she missed lunch. The evening meal was chunky stew. Day 2 breakfast was semolina with no milk or sugar, and lunch was some chunky stew with no utensils. Day 3 breakfast was dry Weet-Bix, no sugar or spoon. Thankfully, for lunch the constituent's daughter saved the day and brought in some chicken soup, yoghurt and pureed fruit.
By day 3—the meal before the constituent left the hospital—the dietician had intervened and the quality and the appropriateness of the food improved. They still delivered the food with no utensils. A general commentary about the food included that the food is dry and bread rolls hard and inedible, and I had a video from my staffer that showed a plastic knife collapsing while trying to cut the bread roll. The food is cold and inappropriate for medical conditions, there is a lack of utensils, the food is mostly inedible, cooked protein is like leather, and the vegetables have no taste. This contract was put in place by the previous Labor government, and we need to fix it up. It is disgraceful if it is your business to supply food that it cannot happen in the appropriate way. I hope that there is some intervention. It would be so much better for our people of this state.
Getting back to other things that have happened in my community, one of the bigger ones is the Bend Motorsport Park. I acknowledge that about $8.5 million dollars of state money went towards it and $7.5 million dollars of federal money. Certainly, from our side of government, we have supported a couple of events there since it started running only a few weeks ago. I commend the Shahin family, the Peregrine Corporation, for their investment in my community. Well over $100 million is being invested, and a fantastic track is being set up. There are four different tracks. In fact, they are set up so that you can have two separate tracks running at once, or you can go on the big track, the 7.7 kilometre track.
I have only been around it slowly in a car and in a bus, but the 85 millimetres of bitumen is absolutely smooth with the bit that they put on top. I had a conversation with Sam Shahin. I would like to get my old V8 ute out there, and he assured me that I would have my opportunity. However, it has been challenging. I told the corporation that, when they started, they would be building on a rock—and it is one big rock. Quite a few tonnes of Nitropril were used. One thing that land at Tailem Bend is certainly helpful for is road base, because once you can break it up it is good road base. I think the contractors had plenty of issues with the earthmoving equipment, making these tracks and getting the facilities going.
Over time, we will have a V-max straight-line track. There will be an airstrip there, and the dragstrip will come back from 40 years ago, which I attended way back then. I was pretty young, obviously. The drift track will be reborn out there and there will be four-wheel drive tracks. Certainly, as we have seen, with different motorcycle events and the car events of recent days, there is plenty happening. However, they have also had their challenges with the weather, the lack of rain until recently and a bit of dust coming across the track.
There have been other things going on. Big River Pork have completed an expansion, and we have had Ingham's putting in layer sheds at Yumali, not far from my place at Coomandook. Costa mushrooms is going to double in size and spend $64 million. A lot is going on. A whole lot of other industries in the horticulture field are expanding and getting on with the job. The other one I want to take note of is the Bridgeport Hotel development, which, after six years, when the proponents first came to me, is going to go ahead. I think that will be a major boon for Murray Bridge and surrounding areas.
It was a long process because the original Bridgeport was built way back in the 1800s. It certainly was a beautiful heritage building, but the present building is nowhere near that. It was tarted up in about 1970 with some steelwork around the outside and a lot of brickwork. There are some limestone walls if you look closely, but one of the heritage architects had a good look at it and said, 'They won't support what you are going to do with the new build.' At the very least, I hope it matches the Port Lincoln Hotel in the member for Flinders' area because it will be a similar size: six storeys, 99 rooms, 4½-star convention facilities. It will be a great boon, offering other accommodation for things around Murray Bridge, for executives to come in from all the companies operating in the area and also for events that happen out at the Bend Motorsport Park.
I also want to talk about Murray Bridge Racing Club. This is another one that has been long going. I did joke once, early in the piece, that when they finally built the corporate facilities I would have my 50th there. Sadly, I hate to admit it to the house, but I am a little bit north of 50 at the minute.
Mr Ellis: Rubbish. You don't look it.
Mr PEDERICK: Thank you. That has been a bit of an ongoing joke as I have talked to various players in the field. Coming into the 2014 election, we put up $20 million from the Liberal Party. We had $5 million from the federal government, a $10 million grant from us and a $5 million loan from us, and all we had to do was win the election. Sadly, we missed by a ham and pineapple pizza, but that is life. We were devastated enough.
I will commend the team from that day, that Sunday when we realised what had happened. This team stuck together. This team absolutely stuck together. We could have fallen apart, could have collapsed, but everyone held. We managed to recruit some amazing candidates and get 11 into this place. I take my hat off to them, and I take my hat off to the unsuccessful candidates, who also put in so much hard work and sadly were not rewarded with a seat.
I remember one day having a conversation with the former minister, the member for Mawson. I do not know if this had any effect—he might tell me later—but I said, 'I know you're probably not going to grant them $5 million. Is there any chance you could lend the facility $5 million?' In the end, that did happen. Thoroughbred Racing SA got on board, and Burke Urban are involved and some other partners. It is not just the racing development out there. The racing track has been built for a long time. They will have a man-made track inside for those races that get too wet around the state.
The convention corporate racetrack facilities are being built as we speak. The million-dollar horse stables are there, ready to rock and roll. I believe it will become the racing centre in South Australia. I take my hat off to the racing club and all their partners for their patience. It has taken absolute patience to get this facility up and running. There are certainly people who have got going, but there has been so much more optimism since we gained the office of power. We can help deliver more outcomes not just across Hammond but across the state.
Hammond has certainly changed quite a bit since I was first elected in 2006. In the initial term, I represented way out to the Mallee, Strathalbyn and just north of Murray Bridge. That was the first term. In the second and third term, I had the great opportunity to be the representative of Goolwa and Currency Creek, which have recently gone into the electorate of the new member for Finniss. I commend him for his election. It is a beautiful place in the state, a tourism Mecca. It is with some sadness, I must say, that I am not representing that area anymore but, with the redistribution that was absolutely vital in helping us form government, it has gone into very good hands.
In saying that, they needed to find me 6½ thousand voters somewhere else. It is good. They have developed a seat that, after three terms where Hammond essentially shrunk, has just gone—bang! It now essentially goes from Petwood and Harrogate. Up near Mount Barker, I have addresses around Nairne. It goes through to Pinnaroo. Tungkillo comes in, almost to Mount Pleasant, and Cambrai, Walker Flat and Nildottie. As I said, it goes all the way out to the Mallee, which is great because my kids play footy in the Mallee when they do not have broken arms or are playing footy elsewhere.
It is great to have the boys out there playing footy in one of those great country leagues, the Mallee Football League. I believe Hammond has come back to a real Murraylands-Mallee electorate, and I will certainly do my best to represent that constituency as well as I can. I certainly applaud the work that my staff do in that constituency because without good staff, as all members in here know, it just does not happen.
As I said, we had firm policy commitments before the election and we will deliver on them. There is a need to accelerate growth in the South Australian economy as we transition from manufacturing to a high-skill base and we will get on and do that right across the board and right across the state, whether it is in the regions or in the city.
In my closing few minutes, I want to reflect on the regions and our commitment to them. We put up a 30 per cent mining royalty program, Royalties for Regions. At the time we wrote the policy that was $750 million and has since increased to $760 million over 10 years. We will be putting that into the road infrastructure I was talking about earlier, and it will also assist other infrastructure projects and bring our regions back on track. For too long, people who have always voted Liberal—and some have probably wavered at times—have been just hanging out to have what is needed for them. The 30 per cent of citizens who live in the regions, who have been forgotten by the previous Labor government, deserve their day in the sun and we will deliver it.
We will also be putting a $10 million program into mobile phone tower implementation across the state, which will combine with industry funds and federal funds to get that connectivity right. I remember it was only a couple of funding rounds ago when the Labor government put very little money in. It might have been $1 million, from memory. It was farcical compared to the tens and tens of millions of dollars that New South Wales alone put up for mobile phone coverage in their regions. In fact, I have driven through New South Wales. I have been north of Brewarrina on one of my trips one day, and it was just amazing to find out that I had phone service way out there. We will commit to that infrastructure spend.
We will commit to the $30 million of urgent work that needs to be done to our regional hospitals to get them up to speed. It will not just be the $30 million. Over time, it will be $150 million so that we do not always have to rely on the good constituents like one in the South-East recently, an anonymous donor who put the roof on the Kingston hospital. It is outrageous that a member of the community had to do that to make sure that there were decent health facilities in Kingston. It just should not happen and it should be funded.
We have seen what should have been a jewel in the crown for health in this state, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, become a shemozzle. I think the total spend on the hospital went from about $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion, and there is another $300 million we have found in the books that is gone, and it still does not function. It is outrageous. It is outrageous that this is the case when we are trying to assist people at their most vulnerable times and their time of need.
In the last little bit of time, I would just like to thank my family, Sally, Mack and Angus, for their patience and support throughout the campaign. Also, to my ever-resolute staff, despite the times when we had the dark days and you witnessed the slander, the hate and the trolls, we prevailed and we will still have a positive future for Hammond.