Country Cabinet

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:04): Thank you, Mr Acting Speaker, and what a fine job you are doing. I rise to support the amended motion and to acknowledge the hundreds of trips that our ministers and our Premier do between them. They not only come out to our electorates but obviously some of our ministers live in our electorates. In fact, you would think that the Minister for Water had a second house down at the Coorong, judging by the number of times he is in my electorate or in the electorate of Finniss or in the electorate of MacKillop.

After the member for Light's revelations about how well Labor did in the regions, I have to say that I know that some of their ministers had to ask some of our regional members where certain places were. I will leave them unnamed, but I understand that one of them asked one of our members where Pinnaroo was because they did not know. Not only that, but they could not pronounce the names and did not know where they were going. Allingtons had a huge sale because all of a sudden they needed to buy some Akubra hats, some RM boots and some moleskins so that they could put on the look to come out to the regions.

When these country cabinets were organised, I saw that they took a very confected and very stage-managed approach, making sure that things were in line so that no-one got embarrassed, because the Labor Party knew that they were heading into hostile territory—hostile territory because members on this side of the chamber live in those regions and look after the regions.

We had that scintillating display from the member for Light, who used to be the emergency services spokesman when the Labor Party were in government.

Mr Odenwalder: The minister.

Mr PEDERICK: What did I call him?

Mr Odenwalder: Spokesman.

Mr PEDERICK: Okay, he was the minister.

Mr Duluk: He wasn't very good. They sacked him.

Mr PEDERICK: Well, he wasn't very good because he went out in a farcical display of trying to merge the Country Fire Service, the State Emergency Service and the Metropolitan Fire Service. It was another case of attempted unionisation, which went badly wrong and ended up costing him his job. Obviously, there was not enough consultation and it was never going to work, and he lost his job because of it, apart from probably other failures.

The issue is that we live in the regions and we understand the regions. I know that there was some conjecture earlier today about where the regions are and whether or not they are in the Adelaide Hills. I want to talk about the Adelaide Hills for a moment. I was connected to this issue because I used to look after Strathalbyn, but it is now in the member for Heysen's electorate and has been for many years now. I looked after Strathalbyn in my first term, between 2006 and 2010.

On the issue of Kalimna Hostel, not only did the Liberal Party back that in but it stopped it from being closed. The member for Heysen fought valiantly. He had minister Wade connected straight into that community to make sure that we had the right outcome for those residents of Strathalbyn and surrounding areas, instead of what the Labor Party did to those good regional people, farming them out all over South Australia. They had people moved from Kalimna to Gumeracha and a whole range of other places because of their flawed policy plan and not listening to the community—the community that donated that land when Kalimna was built, back in the eighties I think it was. That is just some of that good advocacy. People know who really cares for the regions.

We also had some comments from the member for Light that we take our regional seats for granted—I can tell members that I have never taken one vote for granted, and I have been elected four times—and that we do not get anything for our electorates. Back in 2014, I managed to round up $20 million for a racetrack proposal at Murray Bridge, which will be opening this year. We had a $5 million grant from the federal government, a $5 million grant from us if we had won the election in 2014 and a $10 million loan from us on this side of the house if we had won that election.

That was no mean feat in a so-called safe seat. I have never taken it as safe. Thankfully, after a few years we are getting that racetrack up and going, and I had the good fortune to go through it the other day to have a look at the venue. It is going to have seating in there for 650 people for meals and is going to be a great asset not just for Murray Bridge but for the whole Hammond electorate.

I look at how good we are as a party to this state—right across the state and right across the regions, not only what we are spending in city Labor seats—regarding what we want to do for the people of South Australia because we are the Marshall Liberal government for the whole state of South Australia. One thing that really stands out in the regions is the $100 million we are putting towards the new high school in Whyalla in the member for Giles' electorate. There are people on my side of the house who question that commitment, because we could all do with money in our electorates for other proposals, whether they be for health or education. That just goes to show: it is a safe Labor seat, and all Eddie has to do is say 'thanks'. We are putting $100 million into that school.

Another election commitment I got for our electorate, working with minister Wade again, who does great work across the whole state, is $7 million for the new emergency department at Murray Bridge. That will be a great emergency department to bring the Murray Bridge hospital right up to speed into the future.

The member for Mount Gambier has brought this motion. I class the member for Mount Gambier as a good friend of mine, but I note that in 2016, when asked what score he would give Labor's country cabinet when it visited Mount Gambier, Mr Bell replied, 'Two out of 10.' He also made the comment that country cabinet was lightweight and lacking detail.

That really reflects what I saw with the confected way the Labor Party, when it was in power, arranged country cabinet. It was all very structured, who was invited, how they would speak to people—apart from the rushed trip out to Allingtons or RM Williams to load up with country gear so that they could fit in, or allegedly fit in. It did not work. Country people were not fooled.

I am not part of cabinet, but I see ministers coming through my electorate or neighbouring electorates and then hear the stories about where they are travelling right across the state. Whether they are the Minister for Health, the Minister for Education, the Minister for Industry and Skills, the Minister for Tourism, or the Minister for Water, etc., they are constantly coming through our electorates and the people in our electorates know they are accessible.

The great thing about being in government is that you can contact your ministers, catch up with them while you are in here, or talk to their chiefs of staff or other staff, and know that you can get things done. I commend the work all our ministers are doing across the state, and I commend the many visits the Premier continues to make across the state. He gets great feedback wherever he goes. Certainly, through the regions during the drought visits people were very appreciative when the Premier got around at Karoonda, Pinnaroo and Mannahill, over on the West Coast. Country people acknowledge that the Liberal Party is the party for regional South Australia.