Speech in Parliament on the need to create more employment opportunities in South Australia.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON (Ramsay) (15:08): I rise today to speak about an issue that is extremely important to me and to the people of Ramsay I am very privileged to represent in this place, and that is the issue of employment and job opportunities in South Australia. My constituency should have every right to be upset with the Marshall Liberal government because jobs are important. If you do not have a job, you have very few choices in life, yet this government has cut 29 job-creating initiatives, including the Future Jobs Fund, the Job Accelerator Grants and the Investment Attraction agency.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of this government, we are starting to see the effects of this on our unemployment rate: in November 2018, it was 5.3 per cent; in December 2018, it was 5.9 per cent. The January 2019 rate was 6.3 per cent. In the final 10 months of the previous Labor government, 18,100 jobs were created. In the first 10 months of the Liberal government, the number of jobs decreased by 200. ABS data released today has shown that construction work done in South Australia has fallen for the past two quarters.
If we just contrast this with what Labor did in government, a total of $2.5 billion was invested into projects: the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Torrens to Torrens upgrade, the Northern Connector project, the Darlington upgrade, the O-Bahn tunnel extension, the Festival Plaza redevelopment and the construction of Adelaide Botanic High School, which is now of course locked out to anyone living in a Labor electorate. All of these large-scale capital works programs have either now been completed or are coming to an end.
It does not matter which way you look at it, this government is failing to create new opportunities for South Australians. They are too busy appointing their mates to board positions and making dodgy deals. The government should always put the people first. We should be looking at creating new employment and training opportunities, not cutting them. To add insult to injury, the government is also cutting back on its Service SA centres and we are only at the start of the cuts to bus transport services. Even if you are working, the government is trying to make it even harder to get to work or renew your driver's licence. Premier Marshall has always gone on about government getting out of the way, but I think we all know what that is code for: cuts, closures and privatisations.
Labor will always stand up for the workers and the people who want to work. When Labor was in government, we did all we could to generate new economic activity and create new jobs. We even got multinational companies like Boeing and Technicolor to set up headquarters here in South Australia. Labor believes that South Australia can lead the nation in growing key industries, such as defence and space; renewable energy and mining; tourism; food and wine, which is a bit hard with a cut of $11 million to the budget; health and biomedical research, which is also a little bit hard with the abolition of the health industries; IT; and advanced manufacturing. These are jobs not just for the present but also for the future.
We are not seeing that type of vision or long-term planning from the Liberal government. They are just happy they made it after 16 long years in opposition, but they have nothing to show for it—no plan, no vision, just cuts, closures and privatisations. If the Liberals do not want to do the hard yards, if you do not want to put your hands on the wheel, take control and take the issue of unemployment by the scruff of the neck, then I say we on this side are ready to make jobs our number one priority for the people of South Australia.