Grievance Debate: Regional South Australia

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Published Tuesday, October 31, 2017 | Share:

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:40): Hear, hear! My nephew is also a patient of Professor David David.

When it comes to regional vision, we need a parliament that looks at opportunities for our regions. For too long, people in the regions feel like they have been forgotten. Not since the days of Tom Playford have we had a vision for South Australia that included the regions. He took a largely agricultural rural economy and turned it into a manufacturing hub. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Electricity Trust of South Australia and how water was distributed across the state. He drove the expansion of the Housing Trust. He brought companies such as Philips and Uniroyal to South Australia, as well as the defence industry.

Woods and Forests were powered in the South-East through government spending, as was APCEL in Millicent, power stations in Port Augusta, steelmaking in Whyalla, the lead smelter in Port Pirie and car making in Elizabeth, all on the back of a government and a premier with a vision and focused funding of both state and federal resources. Heading into the future, we can continue to tinker with what is left of this postwar vision of South Australia, or we can be bold and add to the foundation with a vision of our own.

Information technology is our next industrial opportunity and we need to proactively attract the opportunity that exists. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have revenues similar to the gross domestic product of some small countries, yet what are we doing to attract them here? The partnership with Tesla is a positive step in the right direction. We now see the benefits of this, with the new owner of GFG Alliance investing $700 million in solar, battery and pumped hydro storage to deliver power to Liberty OneSteel in Whyalla.

What about the South-East? Why not have legislation enacted to enable the country's first driverless cars to operate in the South-East? Why not legislate to enable the first pod services, short haul automated freight movements? We have an AARNet line, which is a connection between the universities down in Mount Gambier which provides internet speeds 10 times faster than the NBN, yet it is relatively unused and underutilised.

Call centres could be established to utilise the superfast access, incentivised by stamp duty exemptions on properties valued up to $500,000 for regional areas. Cloud technologies for Australia could be based in Mount Gambier, where the temperature is ideally suited to handle hard drive and data storage. Regional centres could have prohibitive legislation removed so that companies could develop their products. For example, in areas where there is minimal air traffic yet they have a population base to service, such as Port Augusta, we could develop drone technology or invite companies here to do that with enabling legislation.

Amazon, a company with a valuation infinitely bigger than the South Australian economy, could invest to develop their home delivery services right here in South Australia. Port Augusta could be the home of drone advancements, training and delivery technologies. I imagine a future where our regions are growing and thriving; where young people are attracted to progress their hopes and dreams in a low-cost environment, very similar to that envisaged by Tom Playford 75 years ago; where regions are drawing our most talented and active minds from not only the state but the nation and even the world; where, instead of declining and ageing populations, we have our regions as growing, prospering and thriving, developing products and innovations that inspire and change lives in an environment that is legislated right here in this Parliament of South Australia.

What we need from both sides of politics in this place is that enabling legislation to take the risk, to mitigate the risk and to convince and educate the people of our regional communities that this is a worthwhile cause. What we need from the government of the day is targeted investment and attraction of that vision. Our regions need a Tom Playford, who sees them as a vital part of the state's ongoing success and prosperity.

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