Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (22:24): I rise tonight to speak to the Supply Bill 2018, which is the appropriation of $6,631 million, or just over $6½ billion, so that we can keep the functions of the Public Service operating, keep the functions of government operating and keep everyone paid until the budget is approved. The budget will be announced on 4 September (which personally is a significant date, but I will leave that out). This is standard practice. I heard in the contribution from the member for Lee, and from other members on the other side, the feigned shock and horror at this spending and how there is not a vast list of budget proposals for this money to go to.
Well, how short their memory is of the 16 terrible years they were in government. They cannot even remember how a supply bill works. Even those members who have been here for a couple of terms cannot remember. They know darn well how it works. This has been standard practice for decades and certainly for the16 years under the previous Labor government. Yes, the numbers change. Of course the numbers change because in a non-election year the budget is laid down well before September, but obviously everything has to be put in place when there is a change of government, whether it is the Liberal Party or whether it is the Labor, and we did see a failed third force who thought they might be in government but over-reached by several miles. This is how it works, and I wanted to make those obvious statements.
We listened to the member for Lee and his vigorous contribution of several hours over a couple of days and he talked about transparent land deals. That is exactly what we should have in this place, but what did he and his government preside over when they were running this state? Gillman. What a disgrace that was. That was supposedly going to be some great oil and gas hub that was going to look after the interests of the Cooper Basin. Yes, I did work in the Cooper Basin, as did the Minister for Agriculture (member for Chaffey). Decades ago, I did a couple of years up there.
Yes, it is a noble aspiration to have a hub for oil and gas and to have somewhere to set up operations. They promised 6,000 jobs under this deal, this very shady deal, which fell apart. The only people who were employed in this whole operation were the lawyers who were trying to defend the previous government.
An honourable member: Pretty good jobs.
Mr PEDERICK: Yes, pretty good jobs. So, so much for those 6,000 jobs that were supposedly going to come with the oil and gas industry. It does worry me when people come here trying to validate where they were in previous times.
I want to talk about health for a little while. I was on the Social Development Committee, and we looked into how regional health operated on an excellent reference put by the Minister for Energy and Mining (member for Stuart) in regard to how health advisory committees operated and the like.
The beauty of it is that we are going to change all that anyway, and we are going to put local health boards in. We are going to get health operating from the ground level because certainly from what I found from that committee and what I have heard throughout the community, health advisory councils, for whatever reason, did not know the full reach of the ambit within which they could operate, or they were purposely not told what their reach was.
There was a big claw of government with seven layers of bureaucracy, from the ground floor at the local level impacting right through to the minister. I had a classic example of that one day. A local bloke from Coomandook had lost his shaver in the Flinders Medical Centre. I thought that I would just write to Flinders to see if I could get his shaver back. Well, that was wrong.
I got a letter back from the minister at the time, the former member for Playford, and it said, 'No, you can't do that. That is a terrible thing.' I thought, 'Hell, I was hardly undermining the government by asking for a shaver.' I went through the process, wrote the ministerial and they actually put up the money for a shaver—but what a process—and we were talking about so-called transparency before with issues like Gillman.
I look at health and the lack of funding especially in regional hospitals, where we have a $150 million backlog in maintenance funding that needs to happen, and the litany of Labor's failures especially with the building of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Someone who works for me was in there only last week and they spent three days in the emergency bay before they got to a ward. When they got to the ward it was a nice single room, absolutely, but it was for one night. I talked about the food the other day so I do not need to repeat it—but it is disgusting.
I am not having a crack at the staff by any means. When I visited my employee the other night, a team leader caught hold of me because he could see I was trying to find the right way into emergency, because you have to go outside the main building to the car park and back through another door and it is not exactly clearly signed, and that person set me on the right track so they were very good.
The problem we have with the new Royal Adelaide Hospital is that they were obviously planning it as they built it instead of spending the time to plan it appropriately, but because of their political ideals and their political aspirations they decided, 'No, we'll just rush it,' and there were so many flaws—tens of thousands of flaws. We have since found out that there is about a $270 million blowout in health apart from other single line budgets, we have found that since coming into government.
There is a lot of work to do. I am proud of our minister in the other place, the Hon. Stephen Wade. He did an exemplary job in opposition and he is doing an exemplary job as a minister. From what I understand, in the very near future the works on the new emergency department at the Murray Bridge hospital will be under way. That was one of our election commitments, one of our 300 election commitments to this state.
I look at education where there is so much work to be done. Finally, we have got in and over time–and it will take time—we are going to bring year 7 out of primary school and into secondary school and actually catch up with the rest of the nation. For many travelling families—and we run into them even in a little town like my home town of Coomandook—they come from Western Australia, they come from Queensland and they work for local farmers and the like and travel around. They need education, but there is that blip when you are in primary school in one sector and secondary school in the other.
I acknowledge that health and education probably take up about 50 per cent of the state budget, which will be about $19 billion this year, but it is vital that we get those services in play. I certainly understand this because in the conversations I have had in places like Murray Bridge High School (and I know I have another meeting coming up shortly) they are already concerned that they are pretty well at capacity. They are not concerned about the policy as such, they are just concerned about where they are going to fit the students. I have said to them that it is not going to happen immediately. We will work through that process, we will work through it diligently, and we will work through it appropriately so that we get the right things in place, especially the infrastructure that will have to go into place to put year 7 students into secondary school.
We have heard a bit about transport in this place over the last couple of days, as well as rural roads. Whether you are in the electorate of Flinders, Narungga, Mount Gambier, MacKillop or my electorate of Hammond, there are so many roads that have been let go. When the Labor Party was in government, instead of spending money on road funding they just dropped the speed limit. That is a great idea, especially if you are an almost outer suburban member like myself, still doing 60,000 kilometres a year, and then I look at the Deputy Speaker who probably does close to 100,000 and the member for Stuart, the Minister for Energy and Mining, who probably does 100,000 kilometres a year, apart from when he flies.
You have to get somewhere. It is all right to bring up the argument, 'We have to bring the speed down. We'll save so many lives,' and I have listened to the academics. I have seen what they have done between Murray Bridge and Mannum, between Murray Bridge and Langhorne Creek and Wellington. Those roads were slowed down about five years ago due to lack of infrastructure spending, to make sure they could sit at 110 km/h, but, 'Oh no, we'll just slow everything down because that is all the road is rated at now.'
Not long before the state election back in March there were eight specific roads across the state: two were in my electorate (for the last four years they were looked after by the member for Chaffey, the Minister for Agriculture), the Browns Well Highway and the Ngarkat Highway, and the other six roads were across the state. All of a sudden it was, 'No, we won't upgrade them. We'll just downgrade the speed limit.'
It gets more interesting because recently, before the election, and certainly in the case of the Browns Well Highway which has been a B-double route for quite a while, there was a desktop study done and, 'Oh well, we'll put it up for road train status.' I have no problem with that as far as the freight task goes. As far as the freight task goes I do not mind bigger vehicles, 36-metre vehicles taking on a load, but they have to be on roads that can handle it. I just do not agree that you can do a desktop study, with no inspection, and say, 'This is how we do it,' when not that much earlier the government had decreased the speed limit.
What happens when you have the end of a close to 36-metre vehicle? Sometimes they get up a bit of a wave and you do not have many centimetres of bitumen, and the next thing you are in the dirt. It is very dangerous for those big vehicles coming either way but also for smaller cars and four-wheel drives, etc., travelling on the road. I have written to our transport minister, the Hon. Stephan Knoll, to see if we can get shoulder sealing done, especially on the Browns Well Highway, because that is the main road train route now from Pinnaroo around to the Port. As I said, I have no problem with the freight task; it is just that we need to manage it appropriately and spend the money where we need to.
In regard to transport, we have had the great tragedy of what happened at Thomas Foods on 3 January. On this side of the house, we have kept up the commitment to make sure those workers from Murray Bridge can get transport through to Lobethal and back to Murray Bridge, especially the ones who finish at midnight. I commend Darren and Chris Thomas and their team, David McKay, for offering everyone a job bar the 417 visas, the backpackers. Everyone else, the 457s and the permanent workers, had the opportunity to still have work in Murray Bridge—and there are about 90 people working at the plant in the skin section and the rendering section—and about 400 have gone to Lobethal and quite a few have headed over to Tamworth. They have worked hard after a great industrial tragedy, and thankfully it was not a human tragedy.
The issue with getting access to Lobethal has been an interesting one for B-doubles. We have been seeking B-double access into Lobethal for seven years. It is a real tragedy that it took this industrial tragedy—a $300 million-plus fire—to fix a problem that had been mulled over for seven years, and it was fixed in two weeks. We got B-double access into Lobethal. I acknowledge the Adelaide Hills Council and the Adelaide Hills community for embracing what had to happen so that those processing rates of sheep could be kept up.
A lot of the cattle have been shipped off to works the other side of Melbourne to try to keep up some of the Woolworths contracts, etc. But as far as I understand it, the processing of cattle is still down on those numbers, but with that double shift now at Lobethal sheep can be processed. I think it is in the Minister for Education's electorate, and it is a very good thing. I acknowledge that I have not always been friends with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) but they got on board and got the clearances in place so that things could happen and get the building done. I praise all the workers who got the extra building in place so that those double shifts could happen.
In the few minutes I have left I want to talk about electricity supply in this state. It has been outrageous that the outlook of the previous government was all about green energy, and they forgot about the transition bit, which is absolutely serious. We saw the chaos of what happened. We were sitting in this place at 4.16pm on 28 September 2016 when the lights went out from Mount Gambier to Border Village. It was outrageous.
What was even more outrageous, as the member for Flinders, the Deputy Speaker, knows, there were issues with emergency generation in his electorate and there were issues with emergency generation at Flinders Hospital. It is sad that I have heard of similar problems at other hospitals when they have done tests recently. I think it was the new Royal Adelaide Hospital when they did a test of simple procedures like making sure that you can pump diesel through to the motor that is going to power the place.
This was outrageous. Yes, there was a storm event because of the absolute over-reliance on wind energy in this state—53 per cent of our energy is generated by renewables. Renewables are fine but we just have too many of them. For a few million dollars the government could have kept the Northern power station going. My father-in-law, who passed away a few years ago, would be rolling in his grave. He used to work there and he would have been absolutely disgusted at what happened.
It was pleasing to hear the Minister for Energy and Mining, the member for Stuart, talk about the quotes from the former minister for energy, the member for West Torrens, in regard to interconnection. Before we came out with our policy of interconnection to New South Wales and put in the seed funding of $200 million, the Labor Party was on board with the interconnection. They said that it is a great thing. We certainly have about 900 megawatts of interconnection through the Heywood interconnector and the Murraylink interconnector through to Victoria. It does great work. We can suck into coal in Victoria and New South Wales when we need it, and when our wind farms have stopped going and when the silo is not operating, then we can send the power back when they are operating.
The beauty of our interconnection policy will fix that up in the longer term with that mix. What we need is base load energy in the east and the overabundance of renewable energy in this state. It is a great thing to be on the side of the house and, after 12 years of being in opposition, I certainly understood when the Supply Bill came through. We were organised to speak on it. We knew what it was all about. We knew what the funding was for and we knew that the detail would come through in the budget bill. I commend the bill.