Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 15:11 :30 ): We have had some dreadfully disappointing unemployment figures come out today showing that South Australian unemployment is at 7.1 per cent, compared to 6.2 per cent nationally. However, what I really want to talk about is unemployment in the Upper Spencer Gulf.
The latest figures I have broken down for the Upper Spencer Gulf region and the Upper Spencer Gulf cities are from December 2014—so they are a few months out of date. Unfortunately, I would have to say they have probably worsened since then, and I thank Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf and their Executive Officer, Mr Mark Malcolm, for providing me with these figures.
As of December last year, unemployment for the Upper Spencer Gulf cities was 11.1 per cent, and we are all dreadfully concerned about that 7.1 per cent across our state announced today. It is 11.1 per cent in the Upper Spencer Gulf cities, but probably worse than that by now.
At the end of last year, Whyalla had an unemployment figure of 10 per cent which is, no doubt, worse by now; Port Pirie and districts, 13.2 per cent; and Port Augusta, my base, 10.3 per cent. Again, while we are very worried about the fact that South Australia is battling it out to have the worst unemployment figures in the nation along with Tasmania—which traditionally has a dreadful economy, but over the last 13 years of Labor, our government has been doing everything it possibly can to catch them—in the Upper Spencer Gulf our unemployment figures are much, much worse.
It is important to point out that the Upper Spencer Gulf cities are all completely interrelated. Whilst at sporting and some other levels there is good, friendly rivalry, our economies are very closely linked to each other, so we are all extremely concerned about this. People in our part of the world often work in another Upper Spencer Gulf city or in the outback. So, our problem in one city is our problem in another city, and it is really very concerning to see that all of these cities are suffering from dreadfully high unemployment.
After 13 years of being in government, the current Labor state government has clearly done nothing to address this issue. I say again: the figures I am reporting now are a few months out of date because the latest I have are broken into city and regional levels, so they are continually getting worse. The government promised 100,000 extra jobs for our state but, unfortunately, since Premier Weatherill came into power, we have actually lost 17,000 jobs. The government has also promised an extra 5,000 jobs in the mineral resources sector, but unfortunately since that time we have actually lost 4,400 jobs in that sector. That sector is incredibly important for the Upper Spencer Gulf. Jobs in mining, as you would expect, affect our region positively when they are there, negatively when they are not. It is extremely hard. People from Port Augusta, Whyalla, Port Pirie and surrounding areas have benefited previously from growth in mining, but at the moment it is a very sad situation.
We are very concerned about the future closure of the Port Augusta power station. Alinta have made it very clear that they have no intention to operate the power station or the Leigh Creek coalmine after 2030, which is only 15 years away, so we are looking at 10 to 13 per cent unemployment at the moment. We know that more jobs will go in mining, we know that over time jobs will go from the power station. Unfortunately we have lost jobs in the railways as well. So, while this government speaks about caring for regions, we are actually seeing results that take us in the exact opposite direction.
We need support for the people of the Upper Spencer Gulf, we need support for the businesses and, as I regularly say in this house, we do not want support for businesses to be successful and for that to be the end goal; rather, we want support for businesses to be successful because successful businesses can employ people and, importantly, successful businesses can offer people secure employment. For us to be looking at the moment at unemployment rates of 10 per cent in Whyalla, 13 per cent in Port Pirie and 10 per cent in Port Augusta when people are concerned about a rate of 7 per cent across our state, we need to do even more work to support the people of the Upper Spencer Gulf.