SA Motor Sport (Misc) Amendment Bill 2022

07 July, 2022

The Hon. J.S. LEE (11:02): I rise today to speak on the South Australian Motor Sport (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2022 and indicate that I am the lead speaker for the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council for this Bill.

This Bill aims to re-establish the SA Motorsport Board to undertake promotion and management of motorsport events in South Australia and for the board to enter into agreements on behalf of the state.

I have a specific interest in this Bill, because it will have direct and indirect impact across all my Shadow Ministerial portfolios, including Tourism and Hospitality, Multicultural South Australia and Communities.

With the national economy looking to rebuild after a difficult two years, a study by Ernst and Young revealed motorsport has a significant contribution to the Australian economy, with a total gross annual output of $8.6 Billion. The study found that the motorsport industry provides $3.1 Billion in direct output while providing $5.5 Billion of indirect output based on the pre-COVID figures.

The motorsport industry also supported 16,900 direct jobs and a further 29,900 indirect jobs in 2019, the year the study was based on. The sport also enjoys support from approximately 18,900 unpaid officials and volunteers, creating a total workforce of 65,700.

Locally, in South Australia, it was reported that the Adelaide 500 in 2019 injected $45 million into the South Australian economy and created 435 jobs and some 250,000 people came into the CBD, consisting of South Australians and visitors from interstate and overseas. Activities associated with motorsport generated enormous tourism, hospitality and economic benefits for our state.

With these social, cultural and economic benefits, which I have outlined, in mind, I will echo the contribution made by our Shadow Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing, Mr Vincent Tarzia, the Member for Hartley in the other place, which showed our bipartisan support for this Bill in the House of Assembly. I will indicate to the State Government today that it will also have a clear passage in the upper house.

While the opposition will be supporting this Bill to establish the South Australian Motorsport Board, I would like to take this opportunity to remind South Australians how the Malinauskas Labor Government is desperately trying to rebrand themselves as the 'new Labor'. Through their rebranding, they are dissociating themselves further from the Weatherill Labor Government.

Let me remind Honourable Members that it was the former Labor Government that abolished the Motorsports Board in 2015. Between 2015 and the lead-up to the last election in 2022, the Labor Party obviously had a change of heart because they saw a political opportunity. They are now admitting that they were wrong to abolish the Board in 2015.

Those who were around in 2014 may recall that there was a review of Government boards and committees in 2014. The SA Motorsport Board was one of the many abolished by the Weatherill Labor Government. It will be no surprise to many that the jurisdictional arguments they used to abolish the Board include that it contributed to duplication, unnecessary complexity and inefficiency within government, and they also said it was creating unnecessary work for the Public Service.

At the time, in 2015, the national body, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, lobbied for the Board to remain. Concerns about scrapping the Board raised included the detrimental impacts on the economy, risks to governance and safety of the Clipsal 500—which is what it was called then—and World Solar Challenge events and a hit to grassroots participation.

The national body warned that the Board disbandment would hurt the State economy and unquestionably damage the SA motorsports sector, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The former tourism Minister, the Hon. Leon Bignell, the Member for Mawson, stated at the time in Parliament:

“…we decided to get rid of this Liberal invention of a Motor Sport Board so that we had more control over what was going on.”

The Member for Mawson further went on to say:

“Of course, the people involved in the Motor Sport Board kept telling me that it would be a disaster, that the Clipsal 500 would be a disaster.”

Mr Bignell in the other place argued at the time that if the State “could run the biggest bike race, outside of the Tour de France, then we could probably do a pretty good job” of running the Clipsal 500 motorsport race without the SA Motorsport Board.

It is really interesting, however, that a few years later the tone of Labor's seemingly compelling or, some would say, convenient argument back then has now lost its purpose, because the current Labor Party is detaching themselves from the past, separating their policy settings from the old Labor.

It is like watching the movie Back to the Future, as if we are travelling in a time machine. What we see here is the new Labor Government winding back the clock and re-establishing the board which they axed seven years ago.

Ironically, this Bill comes to the debate at the same time as the new Malinauskas Labor Government has announced another review into State Government boards and committees, looking once again—once again—to slash the number of boards to find savings.

Another interesting observation to puzzle over is why the Premier, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas, the Member for Croydon, has taken motorsport out of the Tourism portfolio and taken it for himself.

On 14 April 2022, it was printed in the Government Gazette that the Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Zoe Bettison, delegated all her functions and powers under the South Australian Tourism Commission Act 1994 with respect to the Adelaide 500 motor racing event to the Hon. Peter Malinauskas, the Premier.

Those who are paying close attention may notice that the current Premier of South Australia does not have any Ministerial portfolio responsibility. Unlike the former Premier, the Hon. Steven Marshall—who had about six portfolios, including Minister for Tourism—Premier Malinauskas has not given himself any portfolios other than being the Premier of South Australia.

My curiosity prompted me to make an inquiry to the Parliamentary Research Library to look at what ministries were held by former Premiers. I am very grateful to the research library for producing the historical data table for me. The table shows a fascinating comparison of all the ministries held by every single premier of this state since 1938, dated back to the Playford era.

It highlighted that every single Premier we have had in South Australia has held many Ministerial portfolios in the history of this Parliament and in successive Governments, whether Labor or Liberal—with the exception of the current Premier, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas.

The current Premier does not have any specific ministries attached to him. Historically, the Motorsport Act and the Motorsport Board have been the responsibility of the Minister for Tourism. One cannot help but wonder why the current Premier chose not to demonstrate his full commitment to motorsport by simply making himself the Minister for Tourism, but instead he is cherrypicking his favourite projects or areas of interest.

Another interesting observation is the way the key appointments for SA Motorsport were announced. Today is Thursday 7 July 2022. The SA Motorsport Bill is still being debated. It has not yet passed the Upper House, yet the announcement of some of the SA Motorsport appointments was already made on 1 May 2022 by the Malinauskas Labor Government.

Do we not think that this whole process is undermining the work and proper process of parliament? Where are the consultations with elected Members like us? Where is the transparency and accountability of the Malinauskas Labor Government?

It seems that the decisions have already been made. The Labor Government is making decisions ahead of the legislation being properly considered by elected Members. The Government is calling for tenders and procurement of contracts when the Bill has not even passed the Legislative Council yet.

It is very astounding how Labor is taking things for granted. It shows a disrespect for the due process of parliament, and it demonstrates the high level of pure arrogance of the Malinauskas Labor Government.

Nevertheless, we accept that the appointments have been made, and we are glad the appointees are widely accepted as the most suitable candidates. I would like to congratulate Mr Mark Warren as Chief Executive for the new South Australian Motorsport Board and also convey my congratulations to Mr Andrew Daniels, the Chair of the Board.

I want to put on the public record that the Liberal Party welcome their appointments because both of them are highly regarded by the industry and have extensive experience and passionate expertise to deliver motorsport events. I understand that Motorsport Australia supports their appointments as well.

The Liberal Opposition look forward to working with them and wish them every success in their roles to deliver the anticipated outcomes for South Australia.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Eugene Arocca, Chief Executive of Motorsport Australia, and Mr Mike Smith, Director of Motorsport, and their team for taking the time to meet with myself and Mr Vincent Tarzia to give their feedback on the Bill and to provide their valuable insights into the motorsport industry more broadly.

During our conversations, they highlighted one very important development in South Australia, which is the establishment of The Bend Motorsport Park by the Shahin family.

During the visit to The Bend, former Premier Marshall commended Dr Shahin's bold vision and obsession for motorsport as a driving force for bringing the world-class facility to Tailem Bend and injecting economic activities into the region. Motorsport Australia reported a 30 per cent increase in motorsport permits issued in the period immediately after The Bend started hosting events.

Without any doubt, Motorsport Australia absolutely supports the re-establishment of the board, and they are very pleased that the Bill will have bipartisan support. The Opposition took the liberty to invite them for comments, and they provided valuable input regarding the composition of the board and skill set required. They believe that the Bill should mandate that a representative of Motorsport Australia be appointed to the board.

I would like to take this opportunity to incorporate some key and valid suggestions by Motorsport Australia for Honourable Members' consideration. Motorsport Australia is calling for the Parliament to mandate that a representative of Motorsport Australia be appointed to the Board.

The previous Board had such an appointment. An appointment is seen to be advantageous for the board to ensure proper advice on everything from circuit design to safety related matters can receive due consideration and to pursue new events.

Another critical suggestion is to bring a Board Member who understands the culture and trends of motorsport, who is fully committed to seeing the sport grow in a safe and sustainable manner.

One other valid recommendation by Motorsport Australia is relating to the term of appointment. They suggest that the term should be for three years, with eligibility of reappointment. However, there ought to be a provision that no-one should serve more than three terms. Having a time limit allows for fresh ideas and renewal. This is in keeping with good governance and to ensure that adequate succession is in place.

While the Liberal Party is not seeking to make amendments to the Bill in the current form, I encourage the Malinauskas Labor Government to consider providing a spot at the table for Motorsport Australia, because I think there is great value to have a representative from Motorsport Australia, who can provide advice to support the popularity, growth and long-term sustainability of motorsport in South Australia.

More importantly, as the Shadow Minister for Tourism, Hospitality as well as Multicultural South Australian communities, I strongly concur with the view that a representative from Motorsport Australia will provide direct access and act as a conduit to ensure better cooperation and more collaboration at a national and international level.

I see enormous opportunity for a representative from Motorsport Australia working with the SA Motorsport Board to ensure events are conducted to include activities that promote youth and junior participation, diversity and inclusion, including multiculturalism and volunteerism in motorsport. This is an area that is very close to my heart. If you want major events in South Australia to succeed, we must bring all our community members along on this journey.

From the many independent reports and information presented to us for consideration, motorsport is an exciting industry that holds many social and economic opportunities for South Australia. It has flow-on effects to a variety of industries outside of supercar racing, which includes tourism, hospitality, retail and entertainment. Accommodation venues at local, state and national levels all benefit from their motorsport presence, providing a significant impact on a large number of communities.

With the motorsport market growing rapidly in Asia and other parts of the world, there are many opportunities for South Australia to leverage on attracting other international events to the State and providing world-class training for international delegates and race officials.

It will be helpful if the Labor Government can explain during the committee stage how SA Tourism Commission and SA Motorsport Board will work together in practice.

In order for the new Motorsport Board to achieve what is sets out to do, it has to be an efficient and effective organisation that has the expertise and skills to carry out its vision and objectives. We want to see motorsport grow and have long-term sustainability in South Australia beyond the Adelaide 500 race.

As indicated, we do not intend to hold up the passage of this Bill. With those comments, I conclude my remarks and look forward to raising some questions in the committee stage.