Issues facing Regional South Australians

Tuesday May 03, 2022

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (16:23): My question is also to the Premier. Can the Premier inform the house how this state government will seek to better understand issues facing South Australians who live in the regional parts of South Australia?

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Premier) (16:23): It's a good question because the nature of the question in the way the member for Mount Gambier has structured it—and I congratulate the member for Mount Gambier on his emphatic victory only a few short weeks ago—is that it doesn't presuppose that we know everything on this side of the chamber. We understand that our effort to engage with the regions must be an ongoing one.

We know that the former government were elected thinking they knew it all when it came to the regions and that they don't need to get out there and do country cabinets as a result. We take a different view. We say, on this side of the house, that engagement with regional communities has to be an ongoing and maintained exercise, and we believe that country cabinets can be an important tool to achieve that. That's why I take this opportunity today to announce that our first country cabinet will be in the state's second largest city, the city of Mount Gambier.

The entirety of the cabinet, each and every member, along with the chief executives of my government, will be travelling to Mount Gambier on 8 and 9 June this year. We will use that exercise not just to have a cabinet meeting but, more importantly, to get out and talk to members of industry, not-for-profit leaders within the community, local government, individual businesses and sole traders to learn what more this government can do to benefit people in and around the Limestone Coast.

I have taken a particular interest in the Limestone Coast, and there are a few reasons for that. Each of our regions has a lot to offer our state, but there is an extraordinary amount of opportunity—there is profound economic opportunity—in and around the Limestone Coast. There is a degree of industry know-how, whether it be in the forestry industry or in the agriculture sector, that is particularly unique, that makes it highly productive and serves our state's interests well.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: Of course, there are a few interjections, which probably is an opportune time to point to the difference in policy that was taken to the election regarding the Limestone Coast.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, member for Hammond!

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr Tarzia interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Member for Hartley!

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: Here we had a comprehensive $100 million-plus—

Mr Tarzia interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Hartley is called to order.

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: —commitment on this side of the house to the Limestone Coast—everything from health to education to industry policy—and we are going to deliver on each and every one of those commitments.

Take, for instance, health. One of the things that is always topical when you travel to our regions is concern around country health. We decided that we are not going to proceed with a $662 million basketball stadium. We are going to take that money and we are going to spend it in health, including $100 million of that which in no small part the community around the Limestone Coast will be the beneficiaries of.

Take, for instance, just one element of our country health policy: 24 additional ambulance officers in the Limestone Coast, the vast bulk of them in Mount Gambier. But then, of course, take the Keith hospital. This has been a long-running saga. It existed in the former Labor government. It carried through the former Liberal government.

We are going to solve this problem once and for all by having a seven-year funding agreement with the Keith hospital to ensure that that community has a degree of certainty and confidence, a policy I welcome the Liberal Party's support for because of course the member for MacKillop, who enjoyed an increased vote at this election, endorsed our policy, which acted as a de facto element of increased support for the Labor Party. So we look forward to the opportunity on the Limestone Coast and getting out with our community.

Mr Cowdrey interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Are you calling my attention to a point of order, member for Colton?

Mr COWDREY: My question is—

The SPEAKER: Well, in fact, I haven't called you yet, but I understood that you were raising a point of order. The member for Colton has the call.