APPROPRIATION BILL 2020

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (21:00): I rise to speak to the Appropriation Bill that we have before us for the budget running in 2020-21. I must say that I am so pleased to see this massive infrastructure spend of $16.7 billion coming into the state so that we can build our way out of the issues raised by COVID-19. I really do commend the Treasurer, the Hon. Rob Lucas in the other place, because it certainly is not in his nature to spend money like this. I know that from advocating for projects in my electorate, where we have worked hard to make sure we get funding, so I know how fiscally responsible the Treasurer is. He also knows that we need to do something to bring this state out of the issues raised by COVID-19.

It is a massive spend, and it will be absolutely fantastic as we move forward from what has happened to the state with the impacts of COVID-19 which, by the way, we have done such a great job of combating. Sadly, four people have lost their lives, but it could have been a lot worse. It has been tough, and I say that as a border MP having to manage border communities, which I know only too well through football, especially my border community of Pinnaroo and Murrayville. My boys have been playing up there, but they did not play this year in the Mallee league because of COVID. Those border communities have really done it tough. They are people in extended communities, people with children in schools and universities on the wrong side of the border, because that is their will. Let's hope that we get those kids home as soon as we can, especially well before Christmas.

I want to talk about the $4 billion of economic stimulus we are putting into the challenge arising from COVID-19 and the bushfires that have impacted our state and certainly impacted our state yesterday. I note there were many fires on Yorke Peninsula in the member for Narungga's electorate that were helped out with timely rain. The CFS and farm fire units did such a great job in containing those fires and fires in other places as quickly as possible.

These total stimulus measures are for $4 billion. This package will also leverage an additional $1 billion of commonwealth, local government and business spending. As part of that economic stimulus package, we see the Business and Jobs Support Fund and Community and Jobs Support Fund, $795 million; support for the community and community infrastructure, $747 million; support for our educational institutions, $657 million; tax and fee relief, $592 million; economic and business growth, $354 million; investment in road infrastructure, an extra $317 million; investment in our assets, $297 million; the Digital Restart Fund, $120 million; and investment in health infrastructure, an extra $118 million, which gives us $4 billion.

In responding to bushfires and COVID, there is $330 million. That is a combination of commonwealth and state funding to protect the health and wellbeing of South Australians in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and support frontline workers. When we look at creating jobs, backing business and building what matters, we see the investment in infrastructure, which has gone from $12.9 billion to $16.7 billion, up by almost $4 billion over four years.

The north-south corridor is to be completed in 10 years, by 2030, with a combination of tunnels and at-grade sections, and $8.9 billion is the estimated cost of that solution for that north-south connection. This is the toughest bit, over 10 kilometres, and it has been left to us to fix this problem as part of the north-south corridor. It could have been fixed with the MATS Plan decades ago, but we have bitten this one off and we will chew it. We will do the two tunnels that are involved and lower those road sections that are different sections. Some are a kilometre long and some are 1.1 kilometres as the ramps that lead into these tunnels.

This is such a fantastic solution that lessens compulsory acquisition and also saves some of those great institutions such as the Thebarton Theatre. It is a massive job, the biggest infrastructure job ever taken on in this state, a small state by population measures, and it just goes to show that we are serious about getting this north-south route fixed. It is exciting and I think will create 4,000 jobs over the life of the project. I know that contractors and other people to be involved in this project are rightly excited about it.

The investment in road infrastructure is $6.9 billion over four years. I reflect on projects in my electorate that have already been taken on as election promises since the last election in 2018, roads like the Browns Well Highway and the Ngarkat Highway, where hundreds of kilometres of shoulder sealing and barrier work are being put in so that we can get these road back to 110 km/h. They are already rated for road train status and it will make them so much safer. I am really proud that we are investing $72 million in eight roads. These two roads take over half that funding to get that vital freight route fixed along the edge of our state with Victoria.

The tradies package is a boost in infrastructure spend of $851 million over two years, with a focus on jobs. This is absolutely vital. In fact, with the things we have in place already at the moment with the commonwealth and state housing grants, where people can get up to $40,000 each, you can barely find a trade that is not busy, not flat out, and that is absolutely what we need to help build our way out of this COVID crisis. Here we see another massive amount of funding so that we can move forward into the future.

We have the allocation of $685 million towards the new Women's and Children's Hospital that will sit adjacent to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. It is absolutely vital to put these health units next to each other, get the build right, use the money appropriately, talk to the clinicians and get it absolutely right.

There is $305 million for bushfire response and recovery. I must say that it is great to see that a lot of the recommendations of the federal and state inquiries have been heeded. I wrote to both in regard to what we need to do about proactive management and cold burns. We do need to take proactive management so that we do not see these massive fires that happened not just in this state but along the east coast.

We had fires pretty well all round the state, obviously notably in Kangaroo Island and Cudlee Creek. Harrogate in my electorate was badly hurt, but there were also fires at Keilira in the South-East and fires at Carcuma out the back of Coonalpyn and in other areas around Kingston and far more areas. When fire rears its ugly head it is good to see that we also have investment going in there to take that on into the future.

We look at the land tax relief resulting from the 2019-20 budget land tax reforms, plus the additional COVID-19 support measures of $233 million. Sport and recreation infrastructure planned includes upgrading Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide, $45 million, and the Memorial Drive tennis courts, $44 million, which is $204 million over four years. There is increased funding of $124 million over four years for children and young people in care.

The local government infrastructure partnership program will provide grants of up to 50 per cent of the cost of projects, resulting in at least $200 million of investment and $100 million over two years. At the new memorial wall at Milang I ran into Glenn Rappensberg this morning, when we were paying our respects to those who have served this great country and those who are serving. I truly do, as everyone here does, pay my respects to those who have served this country, people who are prepared to lay their life on the line. You cannot have more respect than for those who are prepared to do that as there duty to their country. Councils are certainly excited about the co-funding going in to support more infrastructure builds moving forward.

We have a skills and job trainer package for workers to reskill or upskill of $87.9 million over two years, and round 3 of small business grants, available from 9 November and extended to non-employing small businesses operating from commercial premises, is $82 million this financial year. I had a constituent who, because he did not employ people directly, was not eligible for the $10,000 grant. The $10,000 grants will be available for those who were eligible in the past, but for those who do not employ there are $3,000 grants to help them along as well in these COVID times, and I am really pleased with that outcome.

I talked about the housing construction stimulus package earlier, and support for the sector when it transitions from the stimulus impact of the HomeBuilder Grants and the expansion of the HomeStart Starter Loan is an extra $76 million.

Kangaroo Island bushfire recovery, to replace damaged government assets, is $45 million over three years, and grants for maintenance projects for government schools and preschools is $37 million over two years. I note that in my seat of Hammond there will be over $1 million going to schools in that program, and that they will be truly welcomed.

Then we look at what we are doing with parks, and I commend Minister Speirs' Parks 2025, conserving our natural landscapes and wildlife, taking total funding to $44 million over four years. That is $32 million allocated there over four years. This is fantastic work happening in our parks, making them more available for people and improving the visitor experience, especially because at the moment we have to travel locally more than ever. I certainly noticed that going up to a farm stay or a station stay just north of Hawker at Mern Merna Station on the October long weekend. The number of people travelling internally in the state is fantastic.

I have talked a lot about the infrastructure spend and what is going on, and these things will affect all our electorates right across the state and assist them in moving forward. However, in regard to particular things destined for my electorate, there is $52 million for upgrades to the Dukes, Spencer and Riddoch highways. Obviously, in my electorate, the Dukes Highway will be taking a fair lump of that money.

We have $37.6 million for the Sustaining Riverland Environments Program, delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan outcomes. This is absolutely vital for the health of the river. It is just so good to see the northern rains and the southern rains in the basin, but it has been so dry. It is so dry that for the catchment just to catch up it just gets wet because the water soaks in. It takes time to get that water flowing down all the creeks and tributaries of both the northern basin and the southern basin. We must keep fighting to make sure we keep all the ideals of a freshwater recovery for the River Murray front of mind.

As I indicated before, we are getting a major lump of the $37 million for priority maintenance at government schools. We are getting over $1 million of that in the seat of Hammond. Another place that is dear to my heart is the Strzelecki Track, which is a track I have been traversing since 1982 when I worked up in the Cooper Basin for a couple of years. There is $135 million going towards sealing the Strzelecki Track, which is a great project that I think should have been done before. We are taking it on.

We know this project is expected to cost $180 million. I am sure that other revenue sources, including a possible contribution from the private sector, will be investigated to fund the remaining portion. As part of that—and I saw this work when I was up at Innamincka in July with my youngest son, Angus—there was $6 million towards the sealing of Adventure Way from Innamincka to the Queensland border. That is a section of about 29 kilometres. I saw the roadworks that were happening up there in July and ran into the trucking operators who were carting heavy road base from Whyalla up to Adventure Way.

As luck would have it, if anyone has done any outback travelling on the Strzelecki, as has happened on my latest two trips in the last 10 or so years, we had a bit of rain. We packed up and went to leave Innamincka, and they said, 'You'll get held up down at Merty Station.' I was not even sure where Merty Station was, but we took off because the green sign was on saying the Strzelecki was open. Sure enough, we got down to one of the few kilometres of sections on the Strzelecki right down to Lyndhurst that are bituminised, and there were eight road trains pulled up. They said, 'You're not going any further; she's too wet.'

I think I had one of the funniest couple of days of my life. We were forced to stay there and, when the truckies saw that we had the barbecue on board, we were the caterers. I acknowledge Christine from Merty Merty Station, who brought in some light refreshments and beef so that we could eat. Some truckies from one of the oil camps came in and dropped some more off. Jono, Alan, Tony and the others who were camped there for that couple of days: I say g'day. It just goes to show what can happen when the Strzelecki gets wet.

It did not take a lot of rain to hold us up. It is absolutely vital we get more efficient so that we can get more freight carted from the Adelaide end instead of coming out of Brisbane. When Adventure Way is finished being sealed at least to Innamincka, it will be bitumen all the way to Brisbane. Eventually, we will have a sealed route from Adelaide through to Brisbane. I must say that the Strzelecki, even as a dirt road—and some of it is in the gibber country; you have to take it pretty easy—is in pretty fine nick, but when it gets wet you just have to stop, literally to keep that road in operation.

As we got closer to Lyndhurst, there was a place (I think it was called Art Baker; I will have to check that) where a lot of road trains had stopped, carting drill pipe, fracturing sand and other materials up to the basin. They just had to stop until it dried out a bit more before they could go through. It is one of those vital projects. We look at the Cooper Basin that has been providing gas to this state and this country for well over 50 years and note what Santos and other companies, such as Delhi Petroleum, Beach Petroleum and a whole range of others, have contributed in that field.

I want to commend what we have done as a government and commend the Treasurer for having the foresight to make sure that we can put this amount of money on the table so we can get this state working appropriately. There is $16.7 billion, which will be a once-in-a-generation budget—the biggest budget that this state has ever seen but the budget that we need. It is the budget we are putting in place to build our way into the future and out of the disaster affecting the world that has been COVID-19, even though we have managed COVID so well here. I commend the Appropriation Bill to the house.