Address in Reply 2022

02 June, 2022

The Hon. J.S. LEE (11:51): It is a great privilege to rise today to support the adoption of the Address in Reply. Sincere thanks to Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia, for opening the Fifty-Fifth Parliament of South Australia. Her Excellency reminded us in her speech that we were the first place where women successfully campaigned for the right to vote and stand for parliament—in 1894. This changed the status of women in our society forever.

As honourable members know, Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson is a proud sixth-generation South Australian. Her mother, the Hon. Jennifer Cashmore AM, was a South Australian parliamentarian. The Hon. Ms Cashmore was a Liberal Party member of the South Australian House of Assembly between 1977 and 1993, representing the eastern suburbs seat of Coles, known as Morialta since 2002. Her Excellency's mother was the third woman to be elected to the House of Assembly.

We were deeply honoured to have Her Excellency open the Fifty-Fifth Parliament in this place where her mother was once a valuable member of this parliament. Her Excellency is an inspiration to us all, and what a great asset to our state to have her return to South Australia to take on this important role as our Governor after her trailblazing role on the world stage. We are incredibly fortunate to have the Hon. Frances Adamson as our Governor and I thank Her Excellency sincerely for her speech and her commitment to serve the people of South Australia.

Mr President, please accept my congratulations on your return to the esteemed office of President of the Legislative Council. I know you will serve the role with distinction and fairness and maintain the highest order and dignity of this chamber.

While the 2022 March election result was very disappointing for the Liberal Party, congratulations to the Malinauskas Labor government. Congratulations also to all members who have been re-elected, and I welcome new members who were successfully elected for the first time. From this side of the chamber, I would like to congratulate the Hon. Michelle Lensink, the Hon. Dennis Hood and the Hon. Nicola Centofanti for being re-elected and extend my warmest welcome to the newest Liberal member of the Legislative Council team, the Hon. Laura Curran.

I believe the Hon. Laura Curran is currently the youngest member of the Legislative Council. She brings a fresh approach and energy to this place and we congratulate her for immediately stepping up to the important role of Opposition Whip, as well as shadow assistant minister. I join all honourable members in congratulating the members who have been re-elected to this chamber and the newly elected members of the Legislative Council: the Hon. Sarah Game, the Hon. Robert Simms and the Hon. Reggie Martin.

This council seems a bit strange without the familiar face that was here for over 39 years, and I think honourable members know exactly who I mean. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the Hon. Rob Lucas, the former Treasurer, who retired at the last election after serving for more than 14,000 days in the South Australian parliament. He certainly had a long and distinguished parliamentary career. The Hon. Rob Lucas will be remembered for his thoughtful and fearless debate, his significant contributions and the profound impact that he made in this place and for the South Australian community. I wish all members who have retired from this council a very happy retirement.

Sadly, at every election some sitting members fight really hard but face the devastation of not being returned. I wish to take a moment to acknowledge and thank the members of the parliamentary Liberal team whom we will miss following the 2022 state election. These members are: the former member for Stuart, Dan van Holst Pellekaan; the former member for Gibson, Corey Wingard; the former member for Adelaide, Rachel Sanderson; the former member for Elder, Carolyn Power; the former member for King, Paula Luethen; the former member for Newland, Richard Harvey; and the former member for Davenport, Steve Murray. Two Liberal members in the other place did not contest the 2022 election: the former member for Schubert, Stephan Knoll, and the former member for Flinders, Peter Treloar.

Everyone came into this parliament to make a difference, and these members have utilised their skills, experience and capabilities to do everything they can to serve their respective electorates and communities. I wish to thank each and every one of them, the former members of parliament, for their contributions to the Marshall Liberal government and for their tireless work as outstanding local members of parliament.

I thank these colleagues for their significant contributions to the Liberal Party and for their wonderful friendship. They will all be sadly missed by our parliamentary team and those they served. I wish them and their families well in their future endeavours. No doubt they will still be out there serving our communities with the same passion and vitality, just in different capacities.

Turning my attention back to the Legislative Council, it is very rewarding for the Liberal Party to have four women from the upper house on the front bench holding shadow minister positions. This is quite a contrast to the Labor Party. I recall that in 2011, the Hon. Gail Gago was recognised in the media as the most powerful Labor woman in the state when she became government leader in the upper house, and the only minister in the upper house at the time.

As sole minister, the Hon. Gail Gago had to remain in the chamber at all times and had to handle every piece of legislation that went before the upper house. Currently, the Labor government only has two ministers in this house. Perhaps they should think about promoting the Hon. Emily Bourke to cabinet. It is a bit odd that she is Assistant Minister to the Premier but without any portfolio duties. Of course, that is a matter for the Labor Party to work through.

In contrast, on our side of the chamber we have four Liberal woman who have been appointed to shadow minister positions. What I am incredibly proud of is that the Liberal Party recognises talent, diversity and wideranging experience in the upper house. I congratulate and acknowledge the Hon. Nicola Centofanti on her elevation to the new Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council. She is passionate about the regions in South Australia and has proven to be an inclusive and dynamic leader. I believe the Hon. Nicola Centofanti is the first woman on our side to be elected to the position of leader in this council. It is a marvellous achievement for the honourable member personally and for our Liberal Party.

Living in a state where diversity is celebrated across our communities, I would also like to thank my colleagues for their trust and confidence to elect me as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council. It is truly a great honour to be a first-generation Australian with Asian heritage to be elected in this position. I am deeply humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside the Hon. Nicola Centofanti in the new leadership team. We will work diligently to support our new Liberal Party leader, the Hon. David Speirs MP, the deputy leader, the Hon. John Gardner, and the whole shadow cabinet and the Liberal team to ensure that we hold the Labor government to account and ensure that South Australians get the best services and outcomes they deserve.

The South Australian community has responded well to our united, dynamic and fresh Liberal Party team. We will continue to work hard to focus on matters that are important to the people of our state. We will harness ideas from our community to present new options and alternative vision for South Australia.

It is probably true that winners are usually grinners. I would like to caution the new Labor government and Labor members not to be too arrogant about their election win. For the record, about a third of South Australians voted Labor, but also about a third of South Australia's population voted for the Liberal Party. The Labor Party has the Greens to thank for their electoral success, based on the strong flow of preferences they received from the Greens. Just a gentle reminder to the Labor government that they must not be too boastful about their election win.

At this point, I would like to express my thanks to all the Liberal Party members, volunteers and people who voted for us, because these people recognised and appreciated that the Marshall Liberal government managed to save lives and livelihoods during the global pandemic that we have never seen before. It would be an understatement if I said that the Liberal Party came into government in unprecedented times. As we know it, our world was crumbling with infectious disease and, like everywhere else in the world, our state was facing a global health and economic crisis. No other Premier before the Hon. Steven Marshall in this state had ever had to deal with challenges like the coronavirus pandemic.

We came into this government in 2018. Not only did we inherit the mess from the previous 16 years of Labor government, we were impacted by the drought, bushfires, followed by coronavirus in our first term of the Liberal government. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Hon. Steven Marshall, the member for Dunstan, for his incredible leadership throughout the COVID pandemic. He worked relentlessly, diligently as Premier during the most difficult and darkest time for our state. I also would like to thank the Hon. Stephen Wade for his hard work and empathy as the minister for health, ageing and wellbeing.

It has been an honour to have served in the Marshall Liberal government. Often we say that leadership in crisis allows us to truly judge the strength of character of a leader. Premier Marshall did not back away from the hard stuff, and it is important we acknowledge the difficult position he was in during the pandemic and pay tribute to his leadership, resilience and commitment to serve the people of South Australia.

It was an honour to serve as Assistant Minister to the Premier and to be a part of the Marshall Liberal government, which achieved so much and delivered record funding in infrastructure, hospitals, schools and roads for our state despite a once-in-a-lifetime challenge presented by the pandemic. When the Liberal leader, the Hon. David Speirs, announced his shadow cabinet, I was deeply humbled to be appointed as the shadow minister for multicultural affairs and shadow minister for communities and shadow minister for tourism and hospitality. I was a little bit surprised that in the speech prepared for Her Excellency by the new Labor government there was not one mention about multiculturalism or interculturalism in that speech. Perhaps it was an oversight.

While we are all eagerly anticipating the release of new census data this year, we know that the 2016 census showed that nearly 25 per cent, almost one-quarter, of the South Australian population are migrants or children of migrants from a non-English-speaking background. South Australians proudly come from about 200 countries and it was surprising that there was no acknowledgement of our diverse and harmonious multicultural community in this year's opening address in parliament. I think this is quite a stark contrast to the Marshall Liberal government's proud commitment to acknowledging the contributions of our multicultural communities.

I am also very proud that the Marshall Liberal government undertook the first major review of South Australian landmark multicultural legislation in 30 years, delivering the South Australian Multicultural Act 2021, which introduces the concept of interculturalism as a way of strengthening multiculturalism and recognises the valuable contributions to our state made by South Australians from diverse backgrounds.

I hope the omission from the opening address is not a reflection of the Malinauskas Labor government's commitment, or lack thereof, to supporting our multicultural community members. I fully intend to dedicate myself to ensure that one-quarter of South Australia's population are not forgotten or neglected by the new government.

As I take on portfolios as new shadow minister for tourism and hospitality, I cannot help but reflect on Steven Marshall's passion and dedication to the South Australian tourism industry. Latest figures from the South Australian Tourism Commission reveal that six of South Australia's 11 tourism regions have exceeded their visitor spending targets four years ahead of schedule.

I was pleased that the Malinauskas Labor government recognised the important policy settings of the former Liberal government by highlighting that the South Australian Regional Visitor Strategy 2025 is helping drive outcomes for tourism success. This strategy, the Regional Visitor Strategy, was released in 2021 under the former Liberal government after extensive consultation with stakeholders.

I was delighted to see that, despite the severe disruption of the global COVID-19 pandemic, regional tourism performance has bounced back. Regional tourism now makes up 60 per cent of South Australia's total visitor expenditure, up from 44 per cent at the end of 2019. While Labor can try to piggyback on these achievements, it is thanks to the former Liberal government's initiatives to support our tourism operators that we are seeing such great outcomes across our state.

The Regional Visitor Strategy has provided a road map for navigating the challenges of the past two years, and initiatives brought in under the former Liberal government, such as the hugely successful Great State Vouchers, have helped drive the tourism boom. Six of the state's 11 tourism regions have surpassed the 2025 visitor expenditure target, helping drive total visitor expenditure in regional South Australia to $3.6 billion in 2021, just $400 million shy of its December 2025 target of $4 billion.

Just a few weeks ago, I visited Monarto Safari Park with my parliamentary colleagues and was delighted to speak with Mr Peter Clark, Director of Monarto Safari Park. He could not speak highly enough of Steven Marshall's commitment to our state tourism industry and the incredible investment that the Marshall Liberal government delivered as part of a major zoos package for South Australia. This is just one of many examples of what we have achieved under the Marshall Liberal government.

I am delighted to have been appointed as the shadow minister for communities. I want to particularly thank the Hon. Michelle Lensink, the former Minister for Human Services, for her work for the communities. I am committed to ensuring that our vulnerable young people and families receive the support and services they need to flourish and achieve their aspirations in South Australia.

As the new shadow minister for communities, I am focusing on keeping the Labor government held to account and ensuring that the strategies, programs and services that were put together by the Hon. Michelle Lensink as the former minister will help to drive wellbeing and ensure that individuals, families and communities across South Australia are maintained and continued.

I will continue to be passionate about advocating for people from all walks of life and working together with people from diverse backgrounds and industries to build a harmonious and inclusive South Australia. This is a great place for our local community and visitors to South Australia from around the world. They can really enjoy living, playing and visiting here. I am proud to take on the new portfolios, as I mentioned before, and I will continue to work closely with all members of parliament to advance the interests and welfare of all South Australians.