Infrastructure Projects

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:51): My question is to the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government. Can the minister inform the house how the Marshall government is investing in productive infrastructure to create jobs in the Murraylands?

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL (Schubert—Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (14:52): Mr Speaker, can I say that the member for Hammond—and I have previously talked in this place about when the man comes at you for a bear hug—is invested hugely in the town of Murray Bridge. It's the heart of his electorate. He is also invested in the biggest gig in town in Murray Bridge, and that is Thomas Foods.

We have been through a very difficult 18 months at Thomas Foods and dealing with the aftermath—and the employment aftermath—of essentially one of the state's largest employers needing to significantly reorient their operations. But the beautiful thing is here is another way that the Marshall Liberal government is moving forward to help grow jobs in this state. We know at the moment that we are experiencing a period of record employment here in South Australia. We are—

Mr Brown: Unemployment!

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —experiencing a period of record hours worked here in South Australia, but there is a very bright future to come, especially in one of our largest export sectors, that being the red meat and livestock sector. This is a government that, instead of trying to pick winners, is seeking to underpin entire industries. The work that we've done together with Thomas Foods will deliver up to 2,000 jobs—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Wright is warned for a second and final time.

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —around the Murraylands area but, more than that, it will actually underpin jobs in the livestock sector right around South Australia. At the moment, we see the very awful outcome, where we see trucks of livestock—small stock as well as cattle—having to head across the border to be processed in New South Wales and Victoria because we don't have the capacity here locally to do it.

By working together with Thomas Foods, we will be able to underpin an industry that will see not only all of South Australia's stock able to be processed here but also trucks coming the other way—trucks coming back into South Australia—to be processed here and for those jobs to be here in South Australia, especially around Murray Bridge.

Can I say that we worked long and hard with Thomas Foods to get to a deal that would underpin this success, including around $14-odd million to help underpin road infrastructure, which we know is so very important to provide efficient access for large-format performance vehicles into Thomas Foods so that, when we are carting these animals around our state, we do so in the most efficient way possible and that we improve the productivity of that so that we can return better margins and better returns to the growers of that livestock.

We are also very keen to make sure that we support that underpinning infrastructure. We think that is a very important role for government, in that we are here to help underpin and make sure that the government is providing the infrastructure necessary to support these kinds of operations. But it is not only Thomas Foods that we have been able to deliver for: we were also able to help deliver for Teys in the South-East, around Naracoorte, in the member for MacKillop's electorate.

We are also helping to underpin access to the Dublin saleyards in the member for Narungga's electorate—all to help improve freight productivity for the livestock sector, which, as it skills up and as it gears up for the expansion that is going to happen under the Thomas Foods' plant expansion, will see a re-enlivening of this industry here in South Australia and a huge increase in exports out of our state overseas.

The Premier has said often that we need to focus on improving the biggest sectors of our economy that are going to deliver the biggest returns for South Australia, and I can think of nothing bigger in achieving that task than helping to grow 2,000 jobs in the Murraylands and in the member for Hammond's electorate.