Cost of Living

Mr PEDERICK: My question is to the Premier. Will the Premier update the house on how the government is delivering on its commitment to lower costs?

The Hon. S.S. MARSHALL (Dunstan—Premier) (16:30): Thank you very much. I thank my friend the member for Hammond, and I congratulate him on his excellent result in the most recent election. This is an area which is absolutely crucial. I don't know how many of you opposite actually spent some time out doorknocking or at supermarkets but, let me tell you, some of them looked like they were doing quite a lot in the last six weeks. There were some worried faces over there, let me tell you. The reality is that every time I went out speaking to people they were saying that there was less and less money left at the end of the week, at the end of the month, to spend on critical essential provisions for their family.

We listened to the people of South Australia for the last 16 years, unlike those opposite who find all of this very funny. Families in South Australia are struggling. South Australian families were struggling with the punishingly high cost that the former government delivered on families and small business in South Australia. We are going to be different. We are going to listen to the people of South Australia and we are going to respond.

I want to just share with the chamber today a couple of areas that we have already committed to and that we have already put in train to deliver as quickly as possible. One of those is the cut to the emergency services levy in South Australia. Some of the members in here will recall, but others won't, that immediately after the 2014 election the former government, without warning to the people of South Australia, removed the remission on the emergency services levy in South Australia. This was a $360 million hit on the South Australian economy. But it wasn't just a $360 million hit on the South Australian economy: it was a $360 million hit on families, individuals and small business in South Australia. It was very punishing and, as I said, it came without warning.

In fact, prior to 2014, the then treasurer (the former member for Playford) made it clear that if there was going to be an increase with a new land tax, if you like, in South Australia, that they would do that after full consultation with the people of South Australia and that they would take it to the election. Did they conduct a full consultation with the people of South Australia? No. Did they take it to the people of South Australia? No. I will tell you what they did.

After the election, the treasurer slipped his hand into the pockets of ordinary South Australians right across the state. Well, we are going to restore that $360 million, and we are going to do it as soon as possible. In fact, sir, you will note that as of 1 July this year the first $90 million will go back into our economy, and I look forward to putting all of that $360 million back in the forward estimates when the budget is handed down in this chamber in September.

The other area that a lot of people speak to me about, and I know a lot of people speak to the members on this side of the chamber about, is the increasing costs of local government rates in South Australia. We took a positive policy to the election where we said that we would put a cap on council rate increases in South Australia, and I am dismayed that some members of this chamber and some members of our overall parliament do not find this an appealing, positive policy.

I will tell you one thing. When we introduce this, we will be outlining our reasons for it—we will do it in a respectful way—but we will never move away from the position that we want the people of South Australia to have lower costs of living. We are going to restore the emergency services levy remission, the $360 million that was taken by Labor, and we are going to cap council rates going forward.