Clearly, an increase in exports leads to a more prosperous economy. However, our national share of merchandise exports, a measure that the Liberal government used when it was in opposition, has collapsed under the Marshall Liberal government.
In October and November 2018 and January, May, July and August 2019, South Australia had less than 3 per cent of national exports. Compare this with the average between 2014 and 2018, which was 4.4 per cent. It is just not good enough.
There are more than 72,000 export-related jobs in SA. Fewer exports mean fewer jobs here in South Australia, and we already lead the nation in unemployment (as of November 2019).
Marshall's take on trade: Cuts of $26.8 million
The Marshall Liberal government's approach to the state's trade policy has simply been to constantly review and cut the trade department. We have had 18 months of delay to get on with it, and now we know the department is cut, cut, cut: $26.8 million. Staff have been very concerned about their jobs; many have lost their jobs, and these are people with great skills and expertise. They have gone.
These are real and tangible cuts to initiatives that are designed to help South Australian businesses expand their presence around the world. These cuts are making an impact. These cuts stop us from exporting to the world.
Labor backed our producers of premium food and wine with a range of measures, including Adelaide's membership of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network; the introduction of the annual $1.8 million South Australian Wine Industry Development Scheme; annualising the Tasting Australia festival; funding a range of development and export grants, and export grants that were consistent; the development of export training; and not just a commitment to year-on-year funding but a commitment to people that we know that export education is important, to support people who are looking to export and to support people who are already exporting to look at new markets.
Investing in the future of our State
We need to continue our focus on export education and to give a commitment not just to year-on-year funding but to multiple-year funding for this to continue.
It was under Labor that South Australian wine export earnings increased to $1.56 billion in 2017, the best global market result in 10 years. Labor undertook considerable investment toward developing new technologies for the food industry, but it is also important to remember that our service exports play a valuable role in South Australia's trade performance.
The Closure of Brand SA
Premier Steven Marshall killed off Brand South Australia mid-2019, axing the organisation in a $1.6 million cut.
Brand South Australia was an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promoted South Australia, including the successful I Choose SA program.
Brand SA boasted a membership of more than 4,600 businesses, with well-known South Australian small companies not only putting their name to the program but flourishing under its promotion and support.
Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas addresses the government's shut down of Brand SA, "The state government's decision to shut down Brand SA, to close down potentially 'I Choose SA', is incredibly alarming for many small businesses around the state."
BrandSA said there was now no escape from extinction with its board officially signing off on a June 30, 2019 closure. Members were tight-lipped as they met to finalise their unhappy exit and the loss of 16 jobs.