Goods and Services Tax, Tasmania: Biosecurity Take Note of Answers

Clearly there is an election in the air in both Tasmania and South Australia, because all we hear from the other side are scare campaigns to try and convince the voters in those states to vote for the Labor Party. Let’s take the example of fruit fly. If you believe the senator opposite in the contribution that she just made, it is the presence of a Liberal government in Tasmania that has caused a fruit fly emergency. Heaven forbid she should look at South Australia where there’s a Labor government!

At the moment, unfortunately, despite the best efforts of state and federal governments, Queensland fruit fly has been detected in the Riverland, in the pest-free area. That hasn’t triggered an outbreak, but one of our trading partners—Indonesia—has expressed concerns, and that’s resulted in new biosecurity measures being required before we can export there. So we’re working to try and get that status, as a fruit-fly- pest-free area, restored.

There was also an outbreak of Mediterranean fruit fly in February in Adelaide, in the suburbs. We’ve implemented in South Australia the eradication in accordance with the codes of practice. But what I’m getting at is that they choose to ignore an outbreak in South Australia, where there’s a Labor government, and they talk only about an outbreak in Tasmania, because there happens to be a Liberal government there, rather than accepting that this is a fact of agriculture in Australia and that we have a program at both federal and state level, regardless of who is in power, to empower our agencies to take measures to reduce the risk of fruit fly infection or the occurrence of an outbreak.

We’ve already committed some $200 million extra to building a better biosecurity system, through the Agricultural competitiveness white paper. As a result, the total expenditure for biosecurity this financial year is $752.7 million. That’s a 25 per cent increase in this area since the coalition came to power here in Canberra. I’d encourage people who are listening to this debate to realise that much of what they’re hearing from the Labor Party is purely a scare campaign and it ignores the realities.

When it comes to South Australia and GST, the Labor Party again is trying to launch a scare campaign that some change is coming to the GST and that South Australia is going to be worse off. In South Australia, ever since the scheme started in 2000, there has been a trend upwards in the amount of GST we have received. From 2013, when the coalition came to power, the amount of GST in South Australia has continued to increase. The state government is receiving more money through the GST than it’s ever had. The question South Australians should be asking is: with this money coming from the GST rolling into the state, how well is the state government spending it?

There are a few good examples that people should be looking at and asking questions of Premier Weatherill and his government as to whether he has made good use of that money. They should be asking why, in the middle of the blackout in South Australia, when all the lights went out, he didn’t work with Alinta—who had highlighted the risk of blackouts, the risk of not investing in baseload power, and had asked for a contribution by the state government of just over $20 million to keep the Port Augusta power plant operating—and instead Premier Weatherill pursued what he calls his great big experiment of renewable energies. We ended up in a situation where the government came up, after that blackout, with a plan to spend $550 million, and hundreds of millions of dollars of that was on diesel generators—diesel generators!

Look at Transforming Health. Transforming Health has resulted in a huge amount of expenditure in South Australia, including the world’s most expensive hospital. And yet we are hearing from health professionals that the level of health care available to South Australians is decreasing both in quality and in scope. The very basis that was used by then Minister Snelling to justify that expenditure—mortalities in care—has been shown to be flawed and false. Here is a government that, driven by ideology rather than science, is wasting the GST that is going to South Australia. On 17 March the people of South Australia have a very clear choice. If you want a strong government for a strong future, vote for Steven Marshall and the Liberal Party.