Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:56): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your protection. My question is to the Minister for Regional Roads, Local Government and Veterans Affairs. With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I congratulate the minister on his appointment to cabinet and ask him whether he sought to give any undertakings to the Premier as a condition of his appointment to cabinet?
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Stuart—Minister for Local Government, Minister for Regional Roads, Minister for Veterans Affairs) (14:56): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also acknowledge your reappointment as the Speaker and the member for Hammond's re-election. Can I perhaps go back to an ABC interview that I am sure the member would have heard that had the same argument.
Let me reassure the house that leading up to the election there had been no discussion with myself between either the major parties, being the Labor Party and the Liberal Party—during the election campaign period of time, no discussions, no visitations. The only forum I attended was for the shadow health minister at Port Augusta, which was attended by the other members around the area and the councils, etc.
As I indicated in the ABC interview, on the Tuesday after the election I had a call from the Premier offering me the opportunity to join the cabinet. I am a regional person. I have great passion for the regions out there. If anyone in this house disputes that, they only have to look at my record and my commitment over the last 13 years, my 20 years on local government and my commitment to local government. Even from that, I have always been a great supporter of local government across all of the regions, including metropolitan areas. On that Tuesday, the opportunity arose for me to consider that opportunity. It came out of the blue. After consideration, talking to my partner and my children and my family, I elected to consider and to accept that on the proviso that I am still able to voice my concerns.
With regard to the Minister for Veterans Affairs, again I compliment everybody who is out there in the regions and metropolitan Adelaide for their dedication over the many years in various conflicts, including the Boer War up to today. There are many conflicts out there. My father served in the Second World War in New Guinea, and he lost quite a few of his friends, including my uncles, in that war. My brother served in the Vietnam War and he is a returned veteran. I served for approximately six years in the Army Reserve.
I have had a great passion for people out there, veterans across all sectors. I want to be able to pay back not only to my own community but to regional South Australia and to the whole of South Australia, including the metropolitan area, and to the veterans who have gone out and fought for what we've got today. We have freedom and we have peace in this country. Look at the opportunities we have had because of the sacrifices of families over many years. The member mentioned this the other day in his grieve.
We have all suffered because of family loss over many, many years. If we look at what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, I am very, very disturbed about what is happening over there, and we all should be.
To answer your question: no discussion, no commitment. I am here to serve the people of South Australia in whatever capacity I can, whether it is in these three portfolios or any other opportunities with this parliament. I have already put the offer out to both shadow ministers to work collaboratively to get the best opportunities for the three portfolios I have been offered, and I will continue that work.
The SPEAKER: A supplementary question. The member for Hammond on a supplementary.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Stuart—Minister for Local Government, Minister for Regional Roads, Minister for Veterans Affairs) (15:00): I'm not too sure that is a relevant question to me as the minister. I have—
The SPEAKER: Order! There is a point of order, minister. Minister, please be seated, there is a point of order.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: He has a very good point, sir: standing order 96, questions concerning public business. The volunteers on an election campaign are not the business of this house.
The SPEAKER: Order! I understand—
Mr Tarzia interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order! Is the acting leader making submissions in relation to the point of order that has been raised, in which case I will hear them—
Mr TARZIA: Yes.
The SPEAKER: —or is he raising a new point of order!
Mr TARZIA: No, on that.
The SPEAKER: Very well. I will hear the acting leader.
Mr TARZIA: With all respect, 96 may well apply. However, the minister began to answer the question, and the point of order should be raised at the time not after the commencement of his answer.
The SPEAKER: It is sufficiently contemporaneous for me to take it in hand. I have in mind—
The Hon. S.C. Mullighan interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer is called to order. I have in mind standing order 96, questions concerning public business. I uphold the point of order. I am not certain that what the volunteers may or may not have done, or what visitors to volunteers may or may not have done, is necessarily immediately relevant to any business in this house.
I also remind members, of course, of the important provisions in relation to not imputing improper motives to members in the house as well. I draw your attention to standing order 127.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:02): Supplementary, sir: I am certainly not imputing anything improper; I am just asking the question.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order, member for West Torrens!
Mr PEDERICK: My supplementary is: did any Labor members of parliament or union members support you in your re-election, sir?
The SPEAKER: Point of order. There is a point of order from the member for West Torrens.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for West Torrens will be heard on a point of order. I must give precedence to the point of order.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Thank you, sir. Standing order 96: none of these matters raised by the member for Hammond relate to the ministerial responsibilities of the minister.
The SPEAKER: Member for Hammond, do you wish to address me on the point of order, otherwise—
Mr PEDERICK: I have another question, sir.
The SPEAKER: That may be, but for the moment, member for Hammond, consider that standing order 96 has been raised with me. It doesn't seem to me that the activities of members of the community in the electorate mentioned, or any other electorate, are relevant to the minister's responsibilities immediately to the house. The member for Hammond has the call.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Regional Roads, Local Government and Veterans Affairs. Noting that on the last occasion he joined the Labor ministry in 2014 as a minister when he negotiated an agreement with the then Premier, which specified his independence to vote however he chose on certain issues, does he have the same understanding with the current Premier and, if so, will he identify those issues on which he will maintain his independence?
The SPEAKER: The Premier has the call.
Mr Tarzia interjecting:
The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Premier) (15:03): I thank the member for Hammond for the question. I can assure the member for Hammond that the minister you asked a question of earlier adequately and accurately described exactly the events as they unfolded post the 19 March election.
I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that I and I alone made a determination that it would be a great virtue for our government to have the assistance of the member for Stuart sitting around the cabinet table providing his vast depth of experience and knowledge on regional communities, advocating on behalf of the people of the state.
When I called the recently re-elected or newly elected member for Stuart—having previously been the member for Frome—when I called him post the election and asked him to join our cabinet, I think it is fair to say he was somewhat surprised and taken aback, particularly considering that we were elected with a substantial majority. I asked the member for Stuart to contemplate the invitation and the request. He subsequently called me back and said that he could only take up such an offer if he was able to maintain his absolute independence when it comes to his membership within this place. I, of course, obliged and conveyed to him—
Mr Pederick interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Hammond!
The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: —that I expected nothing less. The member for Hammond, along with all present in this chamber, should be absolutely under no illusions that the member for Stuart acts as a member of this government. We very much value his acceptance of our invitation to be around the cabinet table but he, of course, resolutely maintains his independence, and that is something that we wholeheartedly support.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: If only you could say the same thing.
The SPEAKER: Order, member for West Torrens! The member for West Torrens is called to order. The member for Hammond on a supplementary.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:05): Considering the minister has ensured his independence on such matters and, if he has agreement with the government, will he advise us what the matters of independence will be and will he table the agreement he has with the government?
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Stuart—Minister for Local Government, Minister for Regional Roads, Minister for Veterans Affairs) (15:06): To the member for Hammond: my word is my bond the same as your word I would trust, whatever you commit to. Can I make it quite clear in this house here, as I have in the media, two things. To answer your question before, I had members who supported Labor and I had Liberal members handing my how-to-vote cards out and supporting me in the last election.
Can I reassure this house here that I have the opportunity to voice my concerns—and we are in the third day of the parliament. There has been no opportunity to actually have a vote on any discussion where there's going to be a division. I can reassure this house here I will be voting in the future on things that are best not only for my electorate but for all of regional South Australia in particular. Even though I might be the new elected member for Stuart, I still have a very great passion for all of regional South Australia. I question anybody who doubts my ability to do the best for regional South Australia, as you are trying to indicate over that side.
My passion is for the people. I could have quite easily not gone on. I could have retired, but my passion is still to try to do something for the people of Port Pirie, Port Augusta in particular, and regional South Australia. I will continue to do the best thing I can in this house here to represent the people of this state and to do the best I can and work with both sides of politics here to get the best results for South Australia in general.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Unley is called to order, the member for Mawson is called to order.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Stuart—Minister for Local Government, Minister for Regional Roads, Minister for Veterans Affairs) (15:08): To the member for Hammond, and to every member in this house here: do we always have to have something written down on paper? As I said earlier to the member for Hammond, and to every member in this house here, our word should be the truth. If you're going to make a commitment in this house and you go against it, then you shouldn't be in this house here. I have made a commitment to the people—
Mr Pederick interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Hammond is called to order and reminded that imputing improper motives is contrary to the standing orders.
Mr Pederick interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for Hammond is warned.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK: Can we just go back to common sense? We are here to represent people. Whether we are elected as a party person, an Independent or a minor party, we are here to serve the people of South Australia, and we in this house should be looking at the future, at what are the best opportunities for all South Australians.
We have a pandemic we are coming out of, and I still have some concerns that we haven't seen the end of this, but we have to be very concerned about the issue over the last two years and the damage that has been done to our communities and businesses. The other issue is the mental health and wellbeing of the community out there, especially children. We need to be working together to ensure we have the best opportunities and face these challenges together, not pick on wee little things that are of no significance to the general public.
The SPEAKER: Order! Member for Florey, order! The member for Mawson is warned. The member for Hammond has the call.