Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 12:03 :32 ): I rise to also support the member for Chaffey in this motion and acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the member for Davenport, the member for Schubert and others who will follow. The government can say all it wants that it is addressing these issues and trying all sorts of things, but the reality is that the proof is in the pudding and people are still leaving our state for other states and other countries at an alarming rate. Try as they may and say as they may, the facts speak for themselves, and they are alarming.
I am certainly not in the camp that everyone wants to run down South Australia and say it is unexciting, boring, dull or that there is not enough to do. It is a wonderful, extraordinary, remarkable place. The difficulty is that we just do not have enough jobs there. There are just not enough employment opportunities for people, and particularly young people, in our state. We have, by a long margin, the highest unemployment in South Australia compared to any other state.
It is not going to be small bars or time zones or any other distraction that is going to change that. We actually need business opportunities for people—genuine, significant business opportunities not just fun or more daylight at more convenient times or trying to connect ourselves in any way. The modern world could not give a difference about a half an hour time zone between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. It makes no difference whatsoever.
We need to focus on exports. We need exports internationally and exports interstate. We need opportunities whereby we do not even differentiate between selling South Australian goods and services to Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, or internationally. In fact, in many ways it is much easier to do it interstate rather than internationally, not even worrying about the freight difference or the communication difference.
One of the most important differences is that you are far more likely to get paid if you are dealing interstate than if you are dealing internationally. So, many opportunities exist to trade interstate but which still support our economy, which in many ways would be more attractive and, perhaps, most importantly much easier to get into than it would be into international trade.
This motion, while it is relevant to South Australia, is also actually relevant with regard to regional South Australia compared to metropolitan South Australia. We are losing young people in regional South Australia in droves from the country to the city, and the principle is exactly the same. The principle is incredibly alarming. It has been a fact for quite a while now that small, regional towns in South Australia with a population less than 1,000 people are shrinking and that small, regional towns in South Australia with a population of greater than 1,000 are growing. While that might be good for those larger small country towns, it is not actually good for regional South Australia because they are not necessarily just moving from the smaller less than 1,000 people towns to the larger greater than 1,000 people towns: they are actually leaving country South Australia and going to Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, London or where ever it might happen to be.
We have an example that really is very close to home for me at the moment with this in regard to the government’s handling of the northern forests. We have two forests: the Bundaleer forest and the Wirrabara forest, which have operated for well over 100 years in our state. In fact, they are leaders worldwide with regard to forestry in some ways but certainly leaders for Australia with regard to forestry. There are 50 jobs at the Morgan sawmill at the moment which are at risk of being lost while the government looks for other ways to use the land.
Now, I do not mind looking for other ways to use the land, it is a very sensible thing to be doing, but find other ways to use the land in addition to the current commercial forestry not instead of the current commercial forestry. Do not let 50 jobs go so that new ideas can be started which may or may not succeed. Keep 50 jobs and then simultaneously work on those new ideas that may or may not succeed; and I certainly support pursuing those new ideas but as well as not instead of existing jobs.
The member for Chaffey mentioned infrastructure. Now, certainly, from a regional and a metropolitan perspective, if we had the productive infrastructure being built in our state which our government has promised us for a very long time—and the two key points that I would like to raise would be the sealing of the Strzelecki Track, which will help not only regional South Australia but also metropolitan South Australia and other states’ economies as well. If we can make the Cooper Basin oil and gas region more efficient because of a sealed Strzelecki Track that will support the Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales economies as well. That will make our nation more productive.
Also, an export port. We have been promised and promised a dual purpose, deep water export port in South Australia so that mineral resources and agriculture can get a leg up. It has got to happen. The government promised us two Junes ago that, within 12 months, it would have a plan. It is now September, so the plan at this point in time is at least three months late. We need that sort of work, not because of its immediate job creation aspects—that will certainly help, absolutely will help—but we can only build infrastructure that actually makes our state more productive for decades to come. Pick those projects, invest in those projects, and, yes, of course, the immediate job benefits will help us enormously. We need to address the lack of employment opportunities that we have in our state to hit this issue. It will not be small bars, it will not be time zones.
Lastly, the NBN: the NBN is on its way. We can all argue if we choose to—I do not—about whether it is handled efficiently or inefficiently, or anything like that, but the reality is that the NBN is on its way. I urge all South Australians, regardless of where you live, to take full advantage of the NBN, because that is going to create opportunities which address exactly the matter which the member for Chaffey is raising with regard to people having to leave South Australia. It will also address the expanded issue, which I raise, which is of regional people having to leave regions to go to South Australia or other states. It will be possible for commerce to operate far more efficiently in our state in the future, and that will support our job creation opportunities in South Australia. I wholeheartedly urge all members of this parliament to do everything they can to support the communities that they represent to take full advantage of the national broadband network when it is rolled out.