Former Labor Government's Mismanagement

14 February, 2022

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (16:38): moved

That this council condemns the record of the former Labor government including:

1. Appalling financial mismanagement;

2. Economic growth below the national average growth;

3. Unacceptably high levels of unemployment;

4. More people leaving the state than coming to the state;

5. Increasing costs to households and businesses; and

6. Wholesale slashing of government services especially in areas of health and education.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (19:46): I rise to support the important motion moved by the Treasurer, the Hon. Rob Lucas, to condemn the terrible mismanagement of the former Labor government and echo the same sentiments expressed by my many Liberal colleagues.

This motion serves to remind South Australians that the Labor Party had the wrong priorities when they were in government, and how the people of South Australia have suffered and were completely let down by an incompetent Labor government.

Everywhere we looked, whether it was in metropolitan Adelaide or regional South Australia, the Labor government had the wrong policy setting and failed to deliver jobs and encourage growth.
Under Labor our economy was stagnant, and South Australia was at the bottom of the ladder in key performance indicators in comparison with the other states in Australia. Under Labor's poor management of our economy, even in a time without coronavirus, when the world was not facing a pandemic, South Australia under the former Labor government had the highest unemployment rate in the country, there was a lack of business confidence, and thousands of bright and capable people left our state to seize better opportunities elsewhere.

Labor failed to develop a suitable business climate and economic conditions to create jobs. Under the former Labor government South Australia had tens of thousands of individuals and families desperately searching for jobs.

Some of the most disadvantaged groups of people in unemployment come from the cultural and linguistically diverse communities. Some of these people are highly skilled and qualified, but due to the state's poor economic conditions and bad policies they were facing great difficulties in finding jobs under the poor management of the former Labor government.

Our Treasurer reminded us that in February 2018, just prior to the last election four years ago, the unemployment rate in South Australia was 6.2 per cent. When Labor was in government in the last term, we saw some unacceptable employment numbers for the whole 12 months leading to February 2018; unemployment rates were averaging 6.8 per cent.

In contrast, under the Marshall Liberal government there is an increase in people employed in South Australia while we have been fighting a global pandemic.

Recent ABS figures show South Australia as the fastest growing economy in the nation, and the unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent was the lowest since monthly records began in 1978.

I am very proud to be a part of the Marshall Liberal government that is saving lives, providing support to save businesses and jobs under incredibly difficult business conditions. South Australia still managed to employ nearly 44,000 South Australians with an unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent.

This further demonstrates that the Marshall government can manage our economy while dealing with the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic.

The recent economic indicators show further positive signs that the South Australian economy will continue to recover strongly from the global pandemic.

Instead of supporting our community and businesses in dealing with the new challenges presented by Omicron, the Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas MP and the Labor Party are undermining South Australia's pandemic response for their own political purposes.

I would like to now turn my attention to speak about multicultural affairs.

When I came into this parliament in 2010, I was honoured to be appointed by the Liberal Party as a spokesperson for multicultural affairs and have continued in this portfolio as Assistant Minister to the Premier.

It is my great privilege to be the continuous longest serving Member of Parliament in serving our multicultural community for 11 consecutive years.

My years of enduring service and strong advocacy for multiculturalism and interculturalism demonstrate a long-term vision and strong commitment by the Liberal Party and our government to serve our diverse communities in South Australia.

In contrast, the former Labor Government handled multicultural affairs under a revolving door of Labor ministers.

In 2010, the first year I entered parliament, the Minister for Multicultural Affairs was the Hon. Michael Atkinson , followed by the Hon. Grace Portolesi, then after that by the Hon. Jennifer Rankine, followed by the Hon. Zoe Bettison.

When the Liberal Party won the election four years ago and formed government in 2018, we had seen the change of shadow ministers in Labor from Katrine Hildyard, the Member for Reynell, to Jayne Stinson, the Member for Badcoe and then back to the Member for Ramsay.

Over 11 years, there have been seven changes in Labor's representation in the multicultural portfolio.

Labor changed their multicultural affairs spokesperson seven times in 11 years and it says a lot about their lack of focus and interest in generally engaging with and working with our diverse multicultural communities.

There is a pattern of the portfolio being handballed from one minister to another or from one shadow minister to another.

Labor never had the vision nor the courage in their 16 years in government to review and update the South Australian multicultural legislation to reflect the changing needs and diversity of our state.

The Labor Party is full of hypocrisy when it comes to looking after our culturally and linguistically diverse community.

Under the former Labor Government, budget papers show that between 2014 and 2018, Labor had allocated around $11 million of grants for multicultural affairs.

I am proud to report that the Marshall Liberal Government in our first term of government has delivered more than $14 million in multicultural affairs grants to support and strengthen governance, capacity building, cultural festivals, infrastructure upgrades and building stronger families and communities through four streams of grants programs including Advance Together, Celebrate Together, Expand Together and Stronger Together.

In addition to the four grants, our Marshall Liberal Government has also been responsive to the needs of vulnerable multicultural communities by listening to their concerns and redirecting funds for COVID outreach projects, translation of SA Health materials and also introducing the Connect Together grants to help the multicultural community better respond to the challenging impact of the COVID pandemic.

Going forward, we look forward to working with the new SA Multicultural Commission in consultation with our diverse community to develop the first Multicultural Charter which will shape the multicultural policy for South Australia into the future. The Multicultural Charter is the centrepiece of the new multicultural legislation that was passed for South Australia.

This is unlike Labor, who continue to pretend that they are caring and supportive of people from a multicultural background and that they are backing female leadership to advance in our society but they do the opposite.

I want to take this opportunity to demonstrate how two-faced the Labor Party truly is.

When they had the opportunity to support the Liberal Party's nomination for me to be the President of the Legislative Council in 2020, guess what?

They went against the parliamentary convention and nominated another man for the job.

The Labor Party played dirty politics, created false accusations and a negative campaign to discriminate against me, to intimidate me and deny me the opportunity to be the first female multicultural member of parliament to be the President of the Legislative Council.

Peter Malinauskas, the Opposition Leader, speaks about equal opportunity:

saying how the Labor Party is a great supporter in promoting women and a great supporter in promoting diversity.

Well, they did the opposite.

They are full of hypocrisy and double standards.

Later on tonight, the Hon. Rob Lucas will move another motion in this chamber that this council

“expresses its dismay at the toxic culture of bullying and harassment of staff that exists within the offices of Labor MPs and the lack of leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Malinauskas MP, to take any action against his Labor MPs”

That motion will further highlight the toxic culture of bullying inside the Labor Party.

The Minister for Health and Wellbeing will move another motion later about health.

Under Transforming Health, under 16 years of Labor management of health, we saw it move in the wrong direction.

It demonstrated all the hallmarks of a typical Labor government: an inability to manage budgets, subservience to the unions and an addiction to centralised government control.
Transforming Health was a disaster that closed down or downgraded hospitals.

So at the next election, just ask the question and remind everyone of how many services and beds were downgraded and dismantled under the former Labor government and Transforming Health.

When you look at the damaging track record of Labor, we cannot trust Peter Malinauskas and the Labor Party when it comes to managing the pandemic.

And we definitely cannot trust Labor to manage our economy.

Only the Marshall Liberal government will continue to keep South Australians safe and our economy strong.

I thank the Hon. Rob Lucas, our diligent and competent Treasurer, for highlighting the appalling financial mismanagement by the former Labor government.

I also acknowledge his comprehensive recount of Labor's incompetencies and the scandals of Labor MPs and former ministers on the public record.

This record will show that Labor cannot be trusted and they will continue to be bad news for South Australia.