SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MULTICULTURAL BILL

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:15): If we are talking about cars, we had a 1974 HQ with a 308. That was a beautiful wagon and we should never have sold it. It was very reliable.

I rise today to speak in regard to the South Australian Multicultural Bill. I want to acknowledge Norman Schueler who is here today and his work with multicultural communities right across South Australia and beyond. Without multiculturalism, this great state would not be what it is today.

In fact, apart from the first peoples who were here, the Aboriginal peoples, all of us have migrated from somewhere at one particular time or another. I have spoken in this place before about my family, the Pedericks, who came out from England in 1840—in the first 10 years of this state—as pioneers, settling here and making a life in farming, and boot making for a while, and then continuing on with farming and still having the farm to this day. That is the English side of my family.

Then there is the Scottish side, and I am not sure when they came out, with the Craigies and the Patersons coming out from a little place called Kirriemuir. Our farm is still called Kirriemuir because of that link and I am very proud of that. Just for general interest, Kirriemuir is the town that Bon Scott from ACDC grew up in. His contribution to music should be applauded. Certainly, we have all come from across the seas in one way or another. I note that under COVID conditions that has been pulled up seriously at this moment in time, but we will see things improve over time, especially with the rollout of the vaccines, to keep enriching our communities.

I note that in the agriculture sector, whether it is picking fruit or cultivating in horticulture, you could be in the Riverland, through my electorate picking fruit or you could be working around the areas of Parilla, Pinnaroo and Peebinga, in the irrigation area of the Mallee Wells district, a vibrant horticulture district. I commend the Pye family on everything they are doing up there and everything they have done for many years now. They came out from New Zealand and I think they have been in the area for well over 20 years, possibly 30 years. They found the good groundwater around Parilla and then decided to irrigate for potatoes, onions, carrots and other horticultural products to really help this state grow.

I acknowledge the $40 million they are investing in a new packing shed at Parilla. They will certainly need the support of people from overseas. They have been very reliant on backpackers, who are in very short supply at the moment, as are skilled migrants, regarding filling workplace shortages in South Australia and beyond because of the travel restrictions due to COVID.

It is certainly an area in horticulture where many skilled migrants and a lot of South African farmers are now working throughout the Mallee and other areas operating farms, whether they be irrigation properties on the River Murray or operating in the irrigation sector in groundwater. I welcome their involvement. I know a lot of their families have well and truly integrated into the Mallee. My boys have played footy against their boys. It is great to see that cultural diversity going right across my electorate because they make a great contribution.

The work is vital in the packing sheds or in the cultivation of crops and products. It is just a simple fact that for one reason or another we are totally reliant on migrants to help back up the local workforce and, hopefully, we are turning that around. We are giving $6,000 grants at the moment to entice people into the regions. It is a pity that that has to happen because there is so much work available that people can partake in to help support this great state and this nation.

Then there is the next level of value-adding industries in our community, and I look at what is happening in areas surrounding Murray Bridge. There is Costa mushrooms. The Schirripa family started up the mushroom farm, Adelaide Mushrooms. Once they moved out of Aldinga they came to Monarto to have bigger premises. That has recently been doubled by an investment by Costa, the new owners, with a $90 million injection.

I know for a fact that, apart from local workers who are working there, there are a range of migrants from different backgrounds who come from the surrounding area and also from some of the suburban areas, right up to Elizabeth and Salisbury. I commend them for working in that area. They have managed mushroom growing in a shed environment. I think it is operating on at least two shifts, and obviously the mushrooms are growing 24 hours a day in a controlled environment and everyone is doing magnificent work.

Then we come to the obvious one, the big meatworks, Thomas Foods. It has not been operating since 3 January 2018, but it is back on track after significant investment by both the federal and state governments. I applaud that investment in my area of $14 million on community roadworks. People keep praising me on the intersection work and how it was built off the Mannum Road to get that access, and the 2.2 kilometre inlet road to where the plant is about to be built so that we can have a beef plant going again at Murray Bridge and then build a sheep processing plant as well.

The simple fact is that we will need 2,000 staff and, for a range of reasons, I believe that many of those staff will have to come to us in some sort of migrant program. I know we used to have the 457 visas and a whole range of other numbers associated with visas. These people make a vital contribution. It is interesting to note that when Thomas Foods burnt down I think 1,500 people were there on that day and 500 were on a backpacker visa arrangement. Whether it is right or wrong, that is the way it works under a backpacker hiring scheme.

Sadly, the fire brought their employer at the time to a halt, but I must commend Thomas Foods for the work they did in relocating people and giving them the offer of going through to Tamworth in New South Wales or doing shifts at Lobethal, which was moved up to be a small stock abattoir, and they are processing sheep and small stock up there as we speak.

Some people took that opportunity and some people did not, but it was a real joy to work with all those people and all those communities. Their lives were severely disrupted. They are very polite people. I acknowledge the work that the Catholic church did in supporting a lot of these people and coming to see me and working through to get good outcomes.

I believe I have told this story in the house before. I think the worker was Filipino; forgive me if she was not. I saw her in the recovery centre a few days after the plant had burned down. She told me the story about what the fire meant for her. What was significant was the work ethic of these migrant communities, and it was really spelled out in the story this girl told me.

They are all evacuating the workroom because it is going up like nothing; it is all burning down before them. When the workers go on a shift or come off a shift, there is a room where they usually wash their boots. This girl promptly grabs the washer hose to wash her boots as she is leaving the building, which is going up in flames behind her. She is one of the last ones out. The supervisor just said, 'Get out! Get out!' That shows the real work commitment of people in that environment. As mad as it sounds, they just knew that that was what you did when you left the floor. The thing is, no-one was ever going back on that floor because it was going up in smoke. It did change a lot of people's lives forever.

Certainly, mainly around Thomas Foods, we have had a lot of migrants from a lot of places. A few years ago now, a large Afghan community came through. In fact, they have their own burial site at the Bremer Road Cemetery in Murray Bridge. They, along with all the different groups and cultures, made a significant contribution. I do not think there are many there now, but certainly they made a significant contribution.

We have had the Chinese and the Sudanese, and a lot of these people are still in the area. We have had Vietnamese, Cambodians and Filipinos, about 30 or 40 different cultures supporting our community and adding that extra value, building our economy and building the whole strength of the local community. It really does add to the vibrancy. We talk about not just the work that they do in these value-added industries like Thomas Foods but also what they add, because they bring their food and their lifestyle. We have many multicultural days when they display their dancing and other performances to remind us of their links to their former homes. In saying that, they are so happy to also call Australia their home now, and I go to many of their citizenship ceremonies.

Someone made a comment, which was quite a slur really. I went through Thomas Foods only about 2½ weeks before it burnt down, just by chance, and someone said to me, 'How many Australians did you see there?' I said, 'I wouldn't go down that path because I would suggest that out of those 1,500 workers there would have been at least 500 who were naturalised Australians.' What does it matter, as long as they are contributing to our society, contributing to the wealth of our society, which they are doing and will do.

It will be a problem into the future, finding homes for these workers when we need them, especially around Murray Bridge. At the moment, our biggest employer is not operating. It will need to be operating by the end of next year, when it is going to be finished. You cannot get a rental in Murray Bridge. This is part of the growth of people moving into regional areas.

We have a lot of other industry, whether it is light manufacturing with trailers or medium manufacturing with silos, semitrailers and a whole range of things. A lot of service companies are based in Murray Bridge. Obviously, we have more engineering and fire truck servicing and building. There is a huge range of opportunity. Staycrisp lettuce employs a lot of migrant labour as well. You will see their lettuces in many grocery stores across South Australia and Australia. It is the land of opportunity.

I will say that the whole electorate and the state would not function without the valued input of migrants. As I said, I am not fussed whether they are here as backpackers, whether they are here on a visa or whether they are making the change to become Australian citizens: they are well and truly welcome. I know we have a function coming up shortly in Murray Bridge to interact with these communities to keep making them welcome in my area.

In regard to the bill, there has been extensive consultation. It has been introduced to replace the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Acts to build stronger and more vibrant multicultural communities and also to modernise the language used to refer to multiculturalism and reforms the current multicultural commission. Part of the actions of the bill requires the development of a multicultural charter that will lay a foundation for development of future government policies and better services for our community. The bill will also reaffirm the importance of multiculturalism to South Australia and reassert our government's commitment to continue to serve and deliver for the contemporary South Australian multicultural community.

In 2019, our government conducted a legislative review of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Act to help shape new legislation, which is why we are here today. The consultation phase of the review featured six community forums, an invitation-only stakeholder workshop, written submissions, an online forum and an online survey via YourSAy. Key themes from the legislative review consultation were:

the concept of multiculturalism should be modernised to reflect changes in thinking and practices;

SAMEAC's functions should be modernised;

the legislation should recognise Aboriginal South Australians as carriers of the original cultures in the state;

SAMEAC member appointments should be more transparent; and

the language in the SAMEAC Act should be contemporised.

The South Australian Multicultural Bill 2020 reflects much of the feedback received during this consultation process, and we are certainly very appreciative as the Marshall Liberal government of all those who were involved in the consultation period for their passion and interest in modernising our state's multicultural laws.

We are determined to pass this bill, as it will deliver better services and policies for our community. Our state has certainly been a leader in multicultural affairs legislation for many, many years and we have a proud and justified reputation in this area. It is vital that we continue to underpin policies, programs and activities with contemporary legislation.

In regard to the bill, its language has been refreshed and modernised, with the main changes being the removal of the term 'ethnic' and the introduction of the concept of interculturalism. In the consultations, the term 'ethnic' was widely acknowledged as being outdated and potentially divisive and therefore it was removed. To expand thinking beyond multiculturalism, the concept of interculturalism was incorporated in the legislation as being inclusive, contemporary and encouraging the exchange of ideas between communities.

The bill also requires that a South Australian multicultural charter be prepared and maintained, which will be informed by consultation, be expressed in inclusive and positive language, be aspirational in nature, lay a foundation for development of future government policies and create better outcomes for our whole community. The bill also refines the functions of the renamed multicultural commission, which will be well placed to lead a shift in our thinking about multiculturalism and interculturalism. It also modernises its operation to ensure transparency and consistency with the policy and guidelines for South Australian government boards and committees.

On the 40th anniversary of the SAMEAC Act, this bill is a timely reaffirmation of the importance of multiculturalism to South Australia. It reasserts the Marshall Liberal government's commitment to continue to promote and support the contemporary South Australian multicultural community. I want to commend the work that the Hon. Jing Lee in the other place does interacting with multicultural communities. I do not know of anyone else who is so committed to reaching out and working with multicultural communities right across the state, so I really do commend the lead that she takes in that sphere.

As I indicated earlier, not just for my electorate but right across the state, our state would be a far lesser place without all these cultures that come here to live or even visit for a while, as the backpackers do, and learn our beautiful ways and see our beautiful country. We would be a much lesser place. I commend this bill in bringing things forward in a more modern way. May multiculturalism and interculturalism be the lead into the future for working together with everyone in our communities across South Australia.