Address in Reply

04 March, 2020

The Hon. J.S. LEE (17:16): It is a great honour to rise today to support the adoption of the Address in Reply given by our Governor, His Excellency the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC, at the opening of the Second Session of the Fifty-Fourth Parliament this year.

His Excellency is a great asset to South Australia. His incredible hard work and dedication, along with Mrs Lan Le, can be witnessed and felt in every corner of South Australia. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Governor and Mrs Lan Le to their outstanding commitment to serving the South Australian community. We are incredibly fortunate to have his Excellency and Mrs Le serving South Australia with their greatest care, highest respect and sincere affection.

Mr President, I would like to add my congratulations to you on your elevation and esteemed appointment as the new President of the Legislative Council. We have full confidence that you will serve the role with distinction and maintain the highest order and dignity of this chamber.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the former President, Mr Andrew McLachlan CSC, and thank him for his meritorious service to the council and to the South Australian parliament. I wish Mr McLachlan all the best as the new Liberal senator, and no doubt with his intellectual capabilities, experience and conviction he will represent South Australia well. I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new capacity.

It is my pleasure to get back to the Address in Reply. I would like to congratulate His Excellency for his great vision, set out in his speech that opened the Second Session of the Fifty-Fourth Parliament. We are moved by his heartfelt acknowledgement in thanking firefighters and emergency services personnel and volunteers and in expressing his deepest sympathies with communities that have been affected by the devastating bushfires in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island. I thank the Governor for outlining the efforts taken by the Marshall government in addressing the challenges of the impacts of the bushfires and reaffirm our commitment and determination to help affected communities get back on their feet as soon as possible.

The outpouring of support from South Australians has been a fantastic reminder of the resilience of our people and what makes South Australia such a remarkable place to live. In my role as the Assistant Minister to the Premier, I have personally witnessed the tremendous response and incredible fundraising efforts generated by a long list of community groups that support the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island bushfire-affected communities during these devastating times. I will provide a more significant contribution when I speak to the South Australian bushfires motion later this afternoon.

In his speech, His Excellency highlighted that South Australia is a state that is dynamic, vibrant and enterprising. I am a proud member of the Marshall government that works hand in hand with our industries and communities to embrace big thinking and bold change to take our state forward in a new century. Over the last two years, it has been a privilege to be part of a responsible government that has consistently delivered the commitment to create more jobs, lower costs and provide better services.

His Excellency highlighted in his address that our state economy is maintaining a solid level of employment and rising levels of business investment. It is great that South Australians and investors are showing confidence that our state has a prosperous future full of opportunities and that our community is responding to this potential. For instance, South Australia has the third lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of all states, with the rate dropping to 5.7 per cent in January.

Apprenticeships are vital to building a skilled supply of workers for industry as we move to a more diversified economy. Businesses that I have spoken to indicated to me that they are encouraged by the state's largest skilled migration pathways that will breathe new life into South Australia, particularly in the regions, by enabling employers to grow their businesses by finding the skilled workers that they need.

I am pleased that the Minister for Innovation and Skills, the Hon. David Pisoni, in the other place announced the signing of two Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) in April 2019. These agreements will deliver more flexibility for businesses to deal with immediate skills shortages while they are training their local staff to grow their businesses. Initiatives like the $203 million dollars of investment in Skilling South Australia and DAMAs are just two of the ways that we are solving the skills problem that the previous Labor government failed to address.

I am also pleased that His Excellency highlighted in his speech that the loss of younger South Australians to other states and elsewhere to seek jobs has reduced significantly. More young South Australians are in training and on the pathway to new jobs thanks to the training investment and reforms by the Marshall Liberal government. Validation from an independent source is a testament to our government's good work. The latest data from the Productivity Commission's annual report on government services stated that the Marshall government delivered the highest boost of skills training and funding in the nation, boosts to non-government training providers and delivered improved employment outcomes for students.

In terms of future infrastructure, in his speech His Excellency highlighted that the Marshall government has invested a record $12.9 billion on infrastructure over the next four years, which is acclaimed as South Australia's largest ever infrastructure spend. An array of infrastructure projects will no doubt benefit from this record investment, which in the long term will provide 80,000 construction jobs and better services for all.

The Governor also outlined that the government firmly believes that South Australia offers a blend of economic and environmental opportunities that are highly attractive to businesses that can harness new technologies, ideas and knowledge, while offering their employees a lifestyle that is second to none. The sky is no longer the limit in South Australia because we have the Australian Space Agency. It is up, up and beyond.

We are very pleased that the agency opened its headquarters in Adelaide on Wednesday 19 February. This exciting milestone will act as a launching pad to triple Australia's space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030. Thanks to federal government investment, we have also secured the headquarters of SmartSat CRC, Mission Control and the Space Discovery Centre in the heart of the Adelaide CBD at Lot Fourteen. Not every city of our size is presented with such a groundbreaking opportunity that will transform our economy and our landscape.

Some honourable members may have heard the saying, 'If you build it, he will come,' in the movie Field of Dreams. The slogan of 'if you build it, they will come' embodies the vision that if someone dedicates attention, effort and energy to an idea, that idea can manifest into reality. The Marshall government is definitely demonstrating leadership and investment in Lot Fourteen, and it is bringing together the most ingenious minds in defence, space, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and creative industries to push boundaries and foster collaboration and opportunities for current and future generations.

I recently spoke at the International Student Welcome Reception hosted by the University of South Australia. I met many, many bright students with bright minds, and they are excited about being in a city that is home to the Australian Space Agency. While I am on the topic of international students, I wish to thank His Excellency for highlighting that South Australia's international education sector has overtaken wine as the export sector generating the highest earnings for our state. The investment by our government in StudyAdelaide has certainly delivered tangible outcomes. The number of international students enrolled in South Australia has exceeded 40,000 for the first time.

His Excellency also highlighted the Marshall government's initiatives that are already reducing living costs for hardworking South Australian households, families and businesses. For example, sports vouchers for primary-aged children for swimming and other sports lessons have been doubled to $100, which has resulted in the take-up of the vouchers increasing by more than 40 per cent. We have delivered massive reductions in ESL bills; we have abolished payroll tax for all businesses, generating more jobs in the economy; and we have also introduced power bill concessions.

Multicultural leaders and community members have also praised the Marshall government for abolishing fees for volunteer checks. Under the previous government, volunteer screening checks were $59.40 each. Since the Liberal government's promise to deliver free volunteer screening checks, the South Australian not-for-profit sector, including our multicultural communities and volunteers, has saved more than $3.4 million in the past 12 months. This is fantastic news because it means millions of dollars have been injected back into the sector to help organisations like sports clubs, community service organisations, emergency services and charities to deliver more vital services for our community.

The Governor mentioned in his speech that the Marshall government remains committed to encouraging a better educated and healthier South Australia. In terms of education investment, over the next four years our government will be spending $1.3 billion on capital works programs to build education infrastructure to ensure our kids have state-of-the-art facilities. Almost 100 schools will share in the $856 million of upgrades. Thousands of students and families from Henley High School, Brighton Secondary School and primary school, Underdale High School, Hallett Cove School, Plympton International College, Ocean View College and Adelaide Secondary School of English can now see what their future school will look like, with $73.8 million being spent across the eight schools, with designs and concept images recently revealed.

In addition, His Excellency also announced that the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) completions are at their highest in nine years. It shows the commitment of the Marshall government to our education sector. I want to touch very quickly on investment into health. The Governor highlighted in his speech that the Marshall government remains focused on supporting a healthier South Australia. Over four years, we will be spending $1.5 billion on building health infrastructure.

The government is certainly very serious and it is taking on a strong commitment to combat and prevent domestic and family violence. While visiting various cultural community groups, I found that domestic and family violence in these communities is not good. So it is good to see that there is support coming to address these areas in terms of providing 40 new domestic violence crisis accommodation beds and a $4 million commitment to deliver a state-first pilot program. There is also a suite of policy implementations to address this area to improve the safety of women and children in South Australia.

It is a great honour to serve the Premier as his assistant minister, particularly in the portfolio of multicultural affairs. I am proud that His Excellency highlighted in his speech the importance of the rich diversity of our multicultural society. I know that he is a strong supporter of multiculturalism in our state. Recognising that our state's key piece of multicultural legislation is now 40 years old, our government is taking steps to review and modernise the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commissions Act 1980. We are putting in place plans to advance multiculturalism in South Australia and are ensuring that there are policies that reflect the changing needs of our community, recognise the valuable contribution of our diverse communities and support the development of responsive services by the Marshall government.

It is a great privilege to be a part of the Marshall government, which is working closely with industries and our community to address the many economic and social challenges caused by natural disasters, such as drought and bushfire, and the risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak that could have a potential impact on our health system, tourism and many export sectors. Despite these challenges, South Australians are demonstrating a high level of resilience and willingness to work with our government to overcome these obstacles. I thank all South Australians for their commitment to working together with our government in strengthening our economy, valuing our diversity and building a strong future together.

As a proud member of the Marshall government, I am fully committed to delivering better services for all South Australian families and businesses. Once again, I offer my sincere thanks to His Excellency for his outstanding service to South Australia. It is a great honour to join my colleagues in supporting the growth agenda and vision set out by His Excellency. I commend the motion to the chamber.