Regional South Australia

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:44): I rise to support the original motion of the member for Finniss:

That this house—

(a) recognises the vital economic contribution and important role that regional and rural South Australia plays;

(b) acknowledges the state Liberal government’s focus and commitment to growing the regional South Australian economy; and

(c) notes that more than 50 per cent of South Australia’s merchandise exports originate from regional South Australia.

I know we have differing points of view in this place sometimes, but we got to about eight minutes into the member for Giles' speech—and I do acknowledge that he is a regional member; he is the regional member for the Labor Party—before I could agree with anything he said.

An honourable member: It's a lonely task.

Mr PEDERICK: It is a lonely task, a lone voice in that wilderness. I commend him for holding his seat. In fact, I happened to be in William Creek the other day. The boundary line is the Oodnadatta Track, and I could be in Stuart one minute and Giles the next, the two biggest seats in the state. It was a very interesting place to—

Mr Hughes: Yes, but the member for Stuart gets the pub and our side misses out on the pub.

Mr PEDERICK: Yes, well, I slept in your electorate, and I might have met some new friends in the member for Stuart's electorate. Be that as it may, the member for Giles gave some interesting reflections. Over the whole time I have been in this place, apart from being the member for Hammond and a farmer, I have been a shadow parliamentary secretary for agriculture and I have been a shadow minister for agriculture. That does not mean that I am an expert, but I guess I know a bit about the subject.

Sadly, what I saw over all the time I have been here was money ripped out of the primary industries budget—ripped out time and again. It saddened me as time went on, under the relentless bashing on the regions by the previous Labor government, when decades ago we had such a strong focus on agriculture and how we in fact—and I have mentioned this in the house before—exported our skills to the world. When I say 'our skills', we took our technology—our John Shearer equipment and other equipment—to the Middle East, for example, and taught other people not just how to farm but to farm with product made right here in South Australia.

I agree with the member for Giles that it is the farmers who make the difference. They certainly do, and they contribute across our regional economy in this state $25 billion in final finished food products. Sadly, while the member for Giles knows what it is like to go north of Gepps Cross, not many others on the other side do. In fact, when the previous government was in place they had to set up regional cabinet meetings, and the ministers had to look up mapping apps so they could work out where regional South Australia was and how to get there.

Ms Wortley interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: No, it is a fact. I have heard the stories. I have heard the previous minister say, 'How far away to this place?' in conversations they have had with members from this side. Our side has regional members from right across South Australia, from down at MacKillop right over to the West Coast and the beautiful area the member for Flinders represents. Apart from that, we have members right throughout the Fleurieu as well as Yorke Peninsula—the member for Narungga—and others right across.

That creates an influence on a party that is committed with its Regional Growth Fund of $150 million over 10 years and committed with a $10 million blackspot funding arrangement, instead of a paltry amount. I think it was about $1.6 million in the whole time Labor were in, I believe, for mobile blackspot funding in this state.

I talked about mobile blackspot funding just then, and I must commend Optus for some of the work they are doing in the outback at places like William Creek and Marree, where I was the other day. They have small cell technology there, working off satellite. While I was at William Creek, they had a crew there looking at expanding that process. That will connect not only the two million tourists who visit the outback every year across South Australia and the Northern Territory, and round the whole Diamantina, Queensland, and New South Wales area, but also the station owners and people who operate in that area.

On this side, to back our regional communities, we are backing regional health. We are putting more regional health practitioners into regional areas. We are certainly making sure that education is upgraded to the right standard and that people do not just stay in the regions but are attracted to regional South Australia by the many employment opportunities that are there. I tell you what, it is hard. It is very hard at the moment this year in South Australia. There are varying fortunes right across the state, with some people in serious forms of drought through to some people who are looking as if they will get a reasonable crop. From what I have seen, it is terrible in the Eastern States, especially in Queensland and New South Wales.

I would like to commend what our hardworking men and women do in regional South Australia. They have done it with very little support. On this side, we are committed to making sure that we get those right outcomes. In regard to transport, which is one thing I have not canvassed yet in my contribution, we want to make sure that we can have efficient transport systems throughout the state instead of there being a $1 billion backlog in road funding, as there is at the minute in South Australia.

We want to make sure that we get our roads back, as with those that have just had the signs changed from 110 km/h to 100 km/h. That is easy. That is the easy option. That is the option the previous government took. We lose all that productivity from people getting to where they need to be, getting products to export, and it impacts right across South Australia. With those few remarks, I commend the motion by the member for Finniss and salute the work that everyone in regional South Australia does.