Country Hospitals

Published Thursday, August 3, 2017 | Share:

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:05): My question is to the Minister for Regional Development. Given that the minister boasted on radio that the state budget is very good for those in regions, why is there no assistance for country hospitals, such as Yorketown, which has been fighting to keep surgical services at their local country hospital?

The SPEAKER: I will be interested in any developments for Schubert.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS (West Torrens—Treasurer, Minister for Finance, Minister for State Development, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy) (15:06): The regions are a very important part of the South Australian economy, producing nearly 25 per cent—

Mr Goldsworthy interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Kavel is warned.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: The only man we fear, sir. The South Australian regional economy is very important to the state, producing over 25 per cent of our gross state product. It is very, very important, and there have been dramatic investments in regional South Australia. I will start with one very important regional investment we are making: $50 million—

Mr BELL: Point of order: can I bring the minister back to the substance of the question. It was around the Yorketown hospital and, if he wants to be broader than that, around health services for regional areas.

The SPEAKER: Would the member for Mount Gambier bring his written question to the Chair, please?

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: In my defence, it was claimed that the budget had nothing for regional areas. One of the tips of the spears of our budget has been regional communities. Port Pirie and Whyalla, these communities have seen dramatic investments from this government, with $50 million that will be invested directly into the Whyalla community.

Mr BELL: Point of order.

The SPEAKER: Yes, I know what the point of order is. The member asked about there being matters in the budget for regional areas and then gave one example: Yorketown hospital. The Treasurer can either answer the example, or he can answer in the broad, and he appears to be answering in the broad.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: My favourite investment is nearly $48 million in PACE gas and, hopefully, all of that is spent in the South-East of South Australia—a $48 million investment in oil and gas, $48 million of more local jobs and $48 million of extracting oil and gas out of our state by unconventional and conventional means. This is not to forget the Job Accelerator Grant, not to forget measures that we have in the budget now for payroll tax cuts to small businesses based in regional South Australia and not to mention the budget continuing the ability of off-the-plan concessions for regional areas, something the opposition never called for once.

There are many regional communities that want to build higher density living and where it is subject to the concessions that were available to their city cousins, and it is this government that extended those concessions to regional areas. Indeed, the South-East of South Australia has benefited from the government's policy, so much so that the South-East of this state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, let alone the state.

Of course, we have made other investments in regional communities as well, on top of the tax cuts. There has been a dramatic investment with local government investing in local infrastructure. There has been investment in sporting clubs, in regional communities, most recently the Port Pirie Demons—

Mr Bell: What a surprise!

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Again, the Liberal Party attacking investment in Port Pirie is very disappointing. There have been investments in Mount Barker, but of course all of our stimulus has not been based on one region but is economy-wide. Our spending, our tax cuts and our stimulus are for all South Australians, for every South Australian, wherever they work, wherever they invest, making sure that they can get the full value of a very good government that cares deeply about regional South Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Would members leave the chamber quickly and quietly.