Address in Reply Speech

Mr PICTON (Kaurna) (16:52): Thank you to the Governor for his speech. Of course, it was great to have him come to the parliament in the other place. He does a fantastic job in carrying out that role for South Australia. I probably do not agree with everything he said in his speech, which is to be understood, of course. However, I do not think that is a reflection upon him at all, but more a reflection on the advisers who sit opposite. I think that he was getting much better advice a few months ago, but he does a tremendous job.

I congratulate the Speaker on his ascension. Congratulations also to the Deputy Speaker on taking that role. It has been great to work with you over the past four years, particularly when we were on the Natural Resources Committee together. I think many people on this side in particular have affection for the great role you play in your community, and I am sure that you will take that on as Deputy Speaker. From my four years in the parliament, it seems that the Deputy Speaker has to do quite a lot of work in the house, and I am sure that you will take on that role with relish.

Essentially, all of us are in this house first and foremost as local representatives. That is a role that I undertake with great honour. There is a lot of work, in particular helping constituents, helping the local community, attending events and functions and really trying to work with your community to achieve the best possible outcomes. These are our first and foremost jobs. It is a job that I have really enjoyed over the past four years, and I am delighted that I have been able to return here as the member for Kaurna, representing what is an amazing part of the world.

The area stretching from Seaford up to Hackham is now the electorate that I represent. As other members have noted, we had quite a dramatic redraw of the boundaries during the last parliament, so I have sadly lost quite a bit of the electorate that I represented previously, namely, Port Noarlunga and Christies, which have transferred to the member for Reynell but, probably most notably, the areas of Aldinga, Aldinga Beach and Port Willunga, which have transferred to the Mawson electorate.

When most people looked at that transfer, I think they thought, 'This has basically been done to ensure that Leon would not be able to win the Mawson electorate,' but those people do not know the current member for Mawson, Leon Bignell, and the tremendous amount of work that he puts in. He took what I thought was a good result in the Aldinga area in the 2014 election and turned it into a remarkable result, as well as going out into those communities down the Fleurieu and on Kangaroo Island, working door to door and working issue to issue to address the concerns, which I think, sadly, have been neglected in the previous decade of representation down in those areas. He got some amazing swings to him and ended up achieving a great result in that area, so amazing credit to him.

We have worked together on a great number of projects down in the area that will have a great impact on my electorate as well, which I think are really important, namely, first and foremost, the duplication of Main South Road between Seaford and Sellicks. This is something the local community has identified time and again, since well before I was a candidate in the area, as a dangerous and congested road, and only becoming more dangerous and more congested as time goes on. That is something about which the member for Mawson and I listened to the people in the community and took action. Particular thanks to the member for West Torrens, the previous Treasurer, who listened to those concerns and was able to ensure that we were able to get funding in the budget to ensure that we will have a dual expressway between Seaford and Sellicks. That is a great result that Leon has been able to achieve.

Another excellent thing will be a new school for the Aldinga area. Aldinga does not have a high school, which obviously impacts on my current electorate, in that a lot of kids from the Aldinga area cannot go to school locally so they will come up to the Seaford primary schools and high school. To have a school down in that growing community is absolutely essential. I think that people will know that Leon is a very hard worker and is achieving great things in that community, but we work together very well, as do all MPs in the southern suburbs, to achieve great things for our southern community.

One really important thing we were able to achieve in the past year for the state was a very significant amount of money to upgrade schools, with both the STEM program and the Building Better Schools program. This was very well received in my community. All the high schools in the south are due to receive substantial upgrades out of those programs, and this is absolutely essential. Going back to my first speech in the parliament, I know how important education is, and that will always be a high priority of mine for as long as I am in the parliament, to defend and try to improve our education system as much as possible. We know that a lot of these schools' facilities have not been up to scratch. A lot have not had upgrades for many decades; some have not had a substantial upgrade for more than 50 years.

These upgrades around the whole state will significantly improve our education system. The government has now made some commitments in terms of not changing those funding allocations, and I hope it does that. We will certainly be keeping it to those pledges, because those upgrades are very important. In particular, in my electorate and in neighbouring schools around my electorate, over $40 million in infrastructure is going into our local schools, and that is something we talked about a lot in our election campaign as one of the very important things that we want to deliver, and I will continue to fight for that in the electorate.

We also want to make sure that our health services are excellent in the south. Certainly, over the previous term of government we saw two new ambulance stations being built in my electorate or thereabouts, one at Seaford for the first time and another at Noarlunga, replacing an ageing station. So we have more services and more ambulances being able to respond to people in times of need. We also were able to upgrade the Noarlunga Hospital so that we can get more operations happening there. Two additional operating theatres have now been built at that hospital so that we can get more elective surgery happening in the local community. That is a very important priority as well.

Nearby to Noarlunga Hospital, the government had plans to build a new Metropolitan Fire Service command centre adjoining where the ambulance station is. This is something that I know, from my previous ministerial role, the MFS saw as a key priority, so we will certainly be keeping the pressure on the government to make sure that that is delivered in the future as well.

There were also a number of very important community assets that were improved in our area, one of the most important ones being the Seaford Soccer Club in my electorate. The Seaford Rangers had been seeking upgrades for their facilities for many, many years, perhaps decades, and had been unable to get anywhere with the council. The council, I have to be frank, put every possible roadblock up to try to stop upgrades happening there, even to stop them being able to apply for upgrades through state government grants.

This was an area where the previous government was able to step in with upgrades for soccer clubs across the state. I am lucky that Seaford, as well as South Adelaide Panthers, were recipients of that funding. So we now have a new synthetic pitch at the Seaford Rangers' club. The really important thing about this is that we are going to get more kids playing sport and more kids being active, and it is going to enable Seaford in the next year or so to have women's teams, which will be great for the local community as well.

Another commitment that we put in the Mid-Year Budget Review was funding for a new recreation centre at Noarlunga. I know this is something that the member for Reynell was very keen about as well. We have very ageing recreation facilities and indoor sports facilities in the Noarlunga area. We want to make sure that that funding goes to fruition. The council is very keen on seeing that happen, and we will be keeping pressure on the new government to make sure that that happens as well.

Surf lifesaving is another very important area in my electorate, not only in terms of community and recreation but also as an emergency service. Most recently, we were able to get $150,000 for some upgrades at Moana Surf Life Saving Club. To explain my bias, I am a member at Moana Surf Life Saving Club. I have previously said that I am the worst patrolling member at Moana; other people assure me that that is not the case. We have also seen, in previous years, upgrades to Southport Surf Life Saving Club. Upgrades are about to begin at Aldinga Bay Surf Life Saving Club. We want to make sure those upgrades continue to happen and that there is additional support for our surf lifesavers in the south, who do such a remarkable job.

Last but not least, we also saw some beautiful and really enriching upgrades to the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park and Onkaparinga River National Park in my electorate and nearby. These facilities are now getting new walking tracks, new canoe ramps and new campgrounds due to that investment from the state government. That investment will be welcomed by not only local people but people across the Adelaide metropolitan area.

We also had plans to invest significantly in the coast park, not just in relation to an issue that the member for Reynell and I have been working on where there is a gap in the coast park at Witton Bluff but also further down in my electorate between Moana and Port Willunga, where there is another significant gap. We had a plan to make sure that we could address all those gaps and complete the coast path. Unfortunately, we have not heard anything from the government on that, and we will be keeping pressure on them to make sure that that is delivered in the future.

Every campaign is a huge amount of work. It is a huge amount of work to go out and talk to a wide range of people. Essentially, you want to try to talk to as many people as possible before an election campaign, help them with their issues, letterbox, doorknock, make phone calls—whatever you can do to connect with people.

You cannot do all that by yourself. I rely upon great support from volunteers who have helped my campaign over the years. In particular, I pay special tribute to the Douglas and Byrne families who gave above and beyond the call of duty in support of my campaign, in particular Kylie Douglas, Alastair Douglas, Laura Byrne and their extended families. They gave such amazing logistical support in getting us out there, connecting with people in the area.

I also want to thank some up and coming people who have recently graduated from high school who are very keen to be involved in politics, which is great to see young people doing. Josh Yeend and Nathan Fiedler have given a huge amount of effort in terms of my campaign, and I am sure we will see great things from them in the future. I also want to thank my electorate office staff who have done a huge amount of work, in particular Jason Byrne and Lucy Fordham, as well as trainee Ellie Stenner and my previous trainee, Jasmin Webster, both of whom will do great things in the future. I think they are a credit to that trainee program in the work that they have done and the skills that they have.

We had a good result in the seat of Kaurna, and I am very pleased with that. I would like to thank all the people who did not just vote for us but also lent support by giving an endorsement or telling their friends or being public about the reasons why they were supporting me and my campaign. Thanks to each and every one of them.

There are a number of issues that still remain unresolved in my electorate that I will continue the case for in this parliament. I think one significant issue that people have concerns about is the Onkaparinga council. The City of Onkaparinga was raised very regularly with me by people across my electorate. People feel that the council has lost touch. They feel that the spending is out of control. They feel that the leadership has the wrong priorities. They feel that it is disconnected from the role it should be playing as a council, and that is something I will continue to speak about as those issues emerge and as we lead into the council election that is happening this year. I think that we will see a significant increase in the number of people voting in the Onkaparinga council election, given what has come out over the past four years in that area.

One issue that has been raised with me by many hundreds of constituents is the discrepancy in collection of green waste, and that is something we ran a petition on in recent months. We have presented that to the council. To be honest, I am expecting them to ignore that as they have ignored every other call for this to happen over the past decades. This is an issue where residents in Onkaparinga are getting fewer services than every other metropolitan Adelaide council, yet they are paying no less in rates. So we are calling on them to reduce their own wasteful spending and to bring in green waste spending to fund fortnightly collections like every other council. We will keep the fight up to them and the pace on that.

Another issue that has been of significant concern to a lot of residents in my community has been the sale and then the subsequent proposals for development of a paddock of land on Commercial Road at Seaford Meadows. This is something that was owned by the Housing Trust, and the Housing Trust Board decided to sell that property. They have sold it to Hickinbotham Homes
which is proposing a development on that area. It is going before the state Planning Commission as we speak.

I hope that the Planning Commission listens to the concerns of the community about that and listens to the concerns where people specifically want to make sure that there is as much open space preserved as possible and also to make sure that we are caring for the environment in terms of the marine park that is adjacent to that area, the recreation park that is adjacent to that area and also the significant number of kangaroos that live in that paddock as well. Also, they want the serious recurrent planning issues addressed, in particular about traffic but also about the design of the development to make sure we get that right and that the infrastructure is there to support that. That is something I will continue to advocate for on behalf of the community about their concerns.

I think it is worth reflecting for a bit on the Weatherill government and, I think, the significant achievements of that government. Sadly, it has, of course, come to an end. The Rann-Weatherill government lasted for 16 years, which is a very significant period to be in government. I am sure that back in 2002 not many people expected us to be in government for that long. I think it is a credit to a number of things: firstly, the commitment to the state that that government displayed over that period of time, and secondly, the renewal that happened within that government over that period of time. It continually brought in new people to refresh it while it was still moving, to make sure that we were continually updated and new perspectives were brought in at every turn.

It really did achieve a huge number of significant things for this state. We only have to look at the transformation in terms of infrastructure in South Australia, the vast number of significant road projects that have been delivered, the number of very significant rail and tram projects, the upgrade to our riverfront that has been delivered, with the Adelaide Oval, stretching down to the new hospital, and particularly including things like the SAHMRI, which is now a hallmark of international medical research. Significant reforms happened over that 16 years. I give particular credit to the member for Cheltenham for his leadership of the government over the 6½ years that he was premier and thank him for his service there.

I was lucky enough to serve in two roles in the last two years of the government. Firstly, I became the assistant minister to the treasurer, which was a role that I took on a bit over two years ago. I really enjoyed that role. It was a great opportunity to get up to speed in terms of being involved in the running of the government. I give particular credit and thanks to the member for West Torrens for his support and guidance during that process and thank him for the opportunity that he gave to me to be involved in so many of his discussions and deliberations leading up to the two budgets that I got to be involved in. I had never been involved in that side of things from a budget perspective before. It really showed me what difficult decisions have to be made and what a professional process leads up to them. I give credit as well to the Department of Treasury and Finance, which I think gave excellent service to the government. I really relished that opportunity; it has given me excellent experience.

I also had the opportunity to lead a number of projects, one in particular being involved in the work of the Industry Advocate. We made that position permanent through some legislation through this house. I give credit to Mr Ian Nightingale, who I think gives the state tremendous service in that role as the Industry Advocate. I hope that we will see that role continue to prosper and increase over time to make sure that our state is getting the full economic benefit it can out of every dollar of state government spending, particularly on those significant infrastructure projects.

I also got to be involved in a number of the government red tape reductions and business transformation projects that were underway, which are not necessarily the newsworthy projects but which I think are very important. I absolutely think that it is part of Labor's mission to make sure that we make government as efficient as possible, so that we can deliver as many services as possible for the people that we are concerned about and we are here to represent. I was glad to be involved in that, in getting rid of a number of acts of parliament and making things easier for business in a number of different ways.

The other area that I had some involvement in during that period was the lead-up to Our Energy Plan and its development, which I think will be seen as a landmark piece of public policy achievement. I think already around the world it is being noticed in terms of the leadership role that we are playing on energy policy in South Australia. I congratulate the members for Cheltenham and West Torrens on their roles there.

A bit over six months ago, maybe eight months ago now, I got the opportunity to become a minister, which is a very humbling experience. I became the minister for police, emergency services, correctional services and road safety, which are very important portfolios. I absolutely loved every day working in those portfolios, trying to make sure that we improved services for the community as best as possible. They are areas where we are very well served as a state by very professional police officers, firefighters, emergency workers and corrections officers. I found it thoroughly enjoyable getting to meet as many of them as possible, both across the metro and regional areas.

Keeping our community safe always has to be one of the top priorities of government. During the time I was minister, we increased that goal in a number of ways, through completing the recruitment of our R313 project for the police, getting an extra 300 police into our service across the state; starting the process in terms of getting a new control centre for the CFS and SES, which is a very important role, as well as more equipment such as trucks rolling out for the CFS and starting the plans for more aerial bombers for the CFS; developing a counterterrorism plan for South Australia with the police and other services; and developing the Road Safety Action Plan.

In addition, we announced a ban on smoking in prisons, to be implemented by the end of next year; opened a new unit at Port Augusta Prison; expanded the prison greyhound program and rolled out a number of projects being delivered in the area of making sure that can we reduce recidivism in our corrections system, which is a project that was started under my predecessor in the role, the member for Croydon. I think it is an excellent piece of public policy and something that I hope the new government continues with much gusto.

In that role, you have a heavy responsibility in terms of what is required and the risk that South Australia faces. That was certainly foremost in my mind, particularly when it comes to things such as bushfires or other major emergencies we might come across in the state. During my time in the role, we had the Sherwood bushfire, which was quite a devastating fire in that area of the state. If that had been in a more densely populated area of our state, I think we would have seen, sadly, much worse outcomes for people in terms of potential casualties happening from that fire.

Getting the opportunity to visit that fireground and meet a number of the volunteers and a number of the people affected was certainly something that I saw as a very important part of my role, as was visiting Murray Bridge after we had had the Thomas Foods fire, which was one of the most significant fires that the MFS and CFS jointly have had to face in an industrial context in a number of years. Working with the member for Hammond in that area, and then leading on to the recovery, I think was a very important thing to do.

The other thing that continually weighs on your mind in that portfolio is the road toll. Sadly, last year we saw an increase in the road toll, and I think that forces us to consider what additional measures we can employ to try and make sure that does not happen again. One of the things that I kickstarted was a review of motorcycle laws, and implementing that, and we re-established the motorcycle reference group to start consideration of a report that we received. I hope that the new government takes that and runs with it because I think that there are a number of very important ways that we can improve our laws in terms of motorcycle riders to improve safety and to avoid what we saw last year in relation to the very significant increase.

I would particularly like to thank the staff I had working in my office at the time, in particular Julia Sumner, Jo Wilkins, Gerda Jezuchovski, Gemma Paech and Aaron McDonald. I would particularly like to single out Julia Sumner, who was my chief of staff. I used to work with Julia back when we were both chiefs of staff in the Rann government, and I was delighted that she was able to come back and be my chief of staff in government.

The one piece of advice I will give to ministers is that you really want to make sure that you have a good chief of staff because in that role, where you are so busy dealing with so many things, you need somebody you can rely upon and you know is going to be able to make a number of important calls and give good advice to you at every turn. I thank Julia for her service in coming back to provide that to me.

I would also like to thank Gemma Paech, who has worked with me in the electorate office right from the beginning when I became a member of parliament. She became my researcher and adviser when I was assistant minister. She then became adviser when I was minister in the corrections area, and she has now continued with me as an adviser in opposition. I have always relied upon her in terms of her expert advice and also her incredible work ethic, which is so important as well. In addition, I would like to thank all the chief executives, commissioners and chief officers with whom I worked in that portfolio and who I think have always given very good advice to the minister. I am sure they will continue to do so in the new government.

In closing, I would like to say a number of things about where we are now in terms of the new parliament. In particular, I would like to congratulate the member for Croydon on becoming the Leader of the Opposition. I have no doubt that he is going to do an incredible job as Leader of the Opposition and Labor leader and, one day, make an incredible premier of South Australia—hopefully, before too long. I think that he has not only a great leadership perspective and a great ability to connect with people but a great mind for public policy, using that to better the outcomes for the people of South Australia. I have seen that in the work he has done as a minister, and I am sure he is going to carry that through.

I would like to congratulate the new members of parliament in this chamber and, in particular, the people on our side: the member for Playford, who I think gave a fantastic first speech just before, as well as the members for Badcoe and Wright and, in the other place, the Hons Emily Bourke, Clare Scriven and Irene Pnevmatikos. I think they are all going to play an excellent role in our parliament.

In the last minute, I would like to thank for their service a number of members who lost their seats, in particular Tom Kenyon and Annabel Digance, who gave great service to this parliament and to the party in advancing the interests of the people of their electorates. In particular, I think that over a long period of time Tom showed what an amazing impact he had on this parliament. He was a fantastic whip for our side of the house and gave us great leadership and great organisation. He is a wonderful person and wonderful family member, and he also cares deeply about people and improving our state.

I would like to say a number of things about the portfolio that I am going into now in health, and I will save that for when we launch into the budget discussion.

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