The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN (Lee—Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Minister Assisting the Minister for Planning, Minister Assisting the Minister for Housing and Urban Development) (12:09:08): Thank you, Deputy Speaker. As I commence, I would like to acknowledge that we meet here today on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people and I acknowledge and respect their relationship with this land. Can I also acknowledge my fellow members on both sides of the house. I am grateful and humbled that so many would be present today to hear our contributions and I congratulate them for their elections to the house. Can I also congratulate you, Deputy Speaker, on your role as Deputy Speaker of the house.
I am deeply honoured to be standing here today as the member for Lee. Our community is one of the best in Adelaide and not just because of its beautiful beaches, proud industrial and maritime heritage, tourism attractions and successful sporting clubs. Our community is such a great part of South Australia because of its people. Residents of the Lefevre Peninsula and the western suburbs truly are the best going around: neighbourly, compassionate, proud of their heritage and always looking out for those in our community who need a hand. To be considered a worthy representative to this place is a great honour, indeed. Deputy Speaker, I can assure you that I will be working conscientiously to do my best on their behalf.
As I am sure all other honourable members would know, delivering a maiden speech to the house on behalf of your constituency is the culmination of a long, arduous and testing journey, and all of our paths here are different. Perhaps I can begin by telling the house a little about mine.
I come from a large, close-knit and loving family. I am the youngest of five boys and we had a fun and very fortunate upbringing. Mum stopped working when she had my eldest brother and stayed at home to raise us all and manage a very busy and demanding household. My father worked very long hours, but always made a point to take us to school every morning and to set aside time at weekends to spend with mum and us boys. As a result, we had a very happy childhood and I know that this has given me the confidence and fortitude I enjoy today.
Both of my parents were similarly proud of their upbringing. Dad was raised first at Semaphore, then at Largs Bay. His father, Fred, worked nearby at the old Osborne power station. Dad played junior footy for the Port Magpies, and he was the local postie while putting himself through university. When my brothers and I were growing up he would take us to Alberton Oval to watch the 'Pies', to visit the beach at Largs, or go fishing off North Haven. As it is now, in those days it was a tight-knit community on the Lefevre Peninsula.
My great uncle was Sir Cecil Hincks, a veteran of both Gallipoli and Western Front campaigns, and was a minister in the Playford government until his death in 1963. He would spend time at Largs visiting his sister, my grandmother, Emily.
When we were growing up, dad would take us to Largs or North Haven and show us where he grew up; where his uncle Cecil lived; the houses of the families he knew; and the shops, warehouses and factories in and around The Port that provided for so many livelihoods in the 1940s and 50s. Though I did not realise it at the time, these experiences as a young boy—of being driven around by my father and shown the community that meant so much to him—left a deep impression on me.
When it came time for me to buy a home, I bought in Largs. Though it had never been home for me, nonetheless it felt like it. Today I live on the same street on which dad was raised. This was only a small part of his influence on me and my brothers. Dad's Lefevre upbringing gave him a strong sense of justice, a cynicism towards privilege and establishment and a deep compassion for those less fortunate in our community. He sought out opportunities to help people. He worked incredibly hard, but always made room in his life for family, cricket and football (particularly the Port Adelaide Football Club) and for cooking and gardening. All attributes left deep impressions on me and my brothers, and these are qualities we seek to emulate today—except, perhaps, the gardening! Working hard and finding ways to help those less fortunate, particularly if we should be in a position to do so, was infused into all of us.
Unfortunately, I never met my maternal grandfather, Ray 'Jimmy' Campbell, a wing commander in the then Royal Air Force, who passed away before I was born. Instead, my brothers and I spent much time growing up with his wife Rita, our nanna. Born in England, she lived through The Great Depression and, as a result, knew the value of a dollar. Like so many who had lived through the period of rationing she had an outstanding appetite for butter and being so thrifty we would joke that she would wash Glad Wrap for reuse.
Like nanna, my mother is not only very caring, but very astute—a font of wisdom and advice on anything we might seek her counsel on. It was often surprising and embarrassing what mum knew about us as we grew up, but she always had the right words and heartfelt concern for us. We were very lucky indeed to have the upbringing we did.
Though I was a good student at school, I never had a clear idea of what I wanted to do and like many who were uncertain about their future I commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Adelaide in 1996. As I now realise, this was a turning point for me. Until then, from the age of five to the age of 18, I had grown up in a country governed by Labor, first under Bob Hawke and then under Paul Keating. While my family never really discussed politics—I still do not know how my parents voted—we would watch the news and current affairs programs. While we were not political, I guess I had become politically aware and I was shocked when Paul Keating lost government just as I was starting university. Instead, the country had a new conservative prime minister, John Howard. Immediately he and the new treasurer, Peter Costello, established a commission of audit foreshadowing savage cuts across a range of areas. How history repeats.
That year massive cuts were made to the higher education sector meaning, among other things, undergraduates like me were suddenly paying much more for our degrees and for other day-to-day costs. This sparked what was the last wave of student activism across the country. Our generation had always been led to believe that education is the key to a successful future and here was a government doing its best to make it harder to get a degree. We marched in our thousands through Adelaide, echoing other rallies around the country. These were my first weeks and months at university and for me they were heady times. My disappointment at Labor losing government turned to anger at the new Coalition government. Strangely enough, John Howard had activated a nascent Labor career.
In response to ongoing national protests and because the conservatives do not like collectivism, the Howard government had two attempts at introducing voluntary student unionism. It knew that if it could succeed in effectively defunding student organisations, it would undermine the organising capacity of future generations of activists and go a long way to silencing dissent against right-wing policies into the future. The Howard government eventually won that battle in the early 2000s and as a result students are now more poorly represented and denied much of the activities and experiences that used to make attending university such a rewarding and life enriching experience.
Of course, perhaps emboldened by this early success, Howard then attacked the union movement and the entitlements and representation of working Australians in his WorkChoices policies, which were fortunately defeated at the federal election in 2007.
I became involved in student representation and, through it, the Labor Party. As president of the students' association I learned about advocacy, about helping students, and about defending institutions. It was a time when the university was considering closing the Elder Conservatorium, restructuring its law school, and drastically cutting staff and services, and we managed to prevent the worst of these measures.
When I left university I was grateful to accept an offer from the member for Enfield, now Deputy Premier, to work part-time in his electorate office. Back then he had a regular spot on talkback radio and he took great delight in directing callers, regardless of their electorate, to the office for assistance. The office was—as all good electorate offices are—a de facto community legal centre, dispensing advice, assistance and, from time to time, advocacy to those who could not get help elsewhere.
For me it was another chance to help people regardless of how small or large their problem might be. We felt we were giving people someone to turn to or a voice when they felt neglected or disenfranchised, particularly given the social issues in the Parks and in Kilburn.
I also spent some years working for the then Treasurer, first as an adviser, then as chief of staff. It was a very productive period for the government. Bold initiatives to create the Economic Development Board, to develop and release a strategic plan for the state, and the pursuit of industry development in both defence manufacturing and mining were undertaken, with significant successes. As the state economy rebounded after the 1990s, revenues increased and government debt was reduced, taxes were cut significantly, investments were made in infrastructure, and better services in health, education and social welfare were delivered. For me, it was a great time participating in the efforts to grow our economy and also to improve services to the community. This was a new and vastly more challenging way to help people.
The strategy for the government to invest in industry development policies and take an active role in facilitating the growth of the economy was a clear strategy. Further, it ensured that there was a clear social dividend from these investments through better services and infrastructure; that one followed the other and that a government has responsibilities in delivering both was a valuable lesson in the role of government. It was a hard, busy and rewarding time and I know that over the period the state has advanced significantly, socially and economically.
Nonetheless, I wanted to broaden my experience and I left for a role at Deloitte Access Economics, developing its South Australian business. The experience of being responsible for my own business unit, for recruiting and managing a team, for being accountable for budget targets, utilisation rates, industry strategies and marketing plans was very fulfilling. Being part of a national economic team was also a terrific experience. Working alongside some of the leading economists in the country, I saw government from the other perspective, where decisions, investments and programs are judged from a drier, more rationalist perspective.
Predominantly, government expenditures are assessed on whether they are the most efficient allocation of resources for a given outcome—the economist's bread and butter. In an environment of fiscal constraint, this is a valuable skill to apply to public policy. However, I also learnt that, while this perspective is important in assessing public sector expenditures, it is only one of many important considerations. Just as social groups should have a mind to the cost and financial implications of their priorities, so should economists and business groups have a mind to broader social objectives. It was gratifying to know that some of Australia's most well known and respected economists had a balanced view of their role in the public policy debate.
It is an important lesson, because much of the national debate at present seems to miss this balance. The pursuit of fiscal outcomes is certainly important, but is it a government's sole or even primary responsibility, and should the pursuit of these outcomes prevent investments in projects and programs that generate ongoing economic returns, such as secure employment? I felt we also missed a more balanced debate on this point regarding assistance for the automotive manufacturing industry. Government investments to secure industry development and jobs in the long term pay significant social dividends.
The state government's investment in the Techport Australia precinct is a case in point: it was central in winning the air warfare destroyer contract and thousands of jobs, and it has established Osborne as the premier shipbuilding location in Australia. It provided significant benefits for the local communities, particularly those of the northern and western suburbs, many of which fall into the electorate of Lee. With the neighbouring electorate of Port Adelaide, Lee shares the port and the Lefevre Peninsula. Ours are communities that have historically been central to much of South Australia's economic prosperity: the export and stevedoring operations, the warehousing and distribution, and the maintenance and construction of shipping.
As time and technology have moved on over the decades, so have many of the jobs. Government investments to secure industries into the future through major contracts, such as that air warfare destroyer contract, the relocation of the 7RAR Battalion to Edinburgh and the next generation submarine contract are critical. They underpin employment and economic opportunities in communities like Lee and more broadly throughout South Australia.
Over the past year I doorknocked many people who work at Techport. They were thankful that the government had the foresight to invest in such a facility, securing jobs and prosperity. On a side note, I am also very pleased to see how shipbuilding is providing wider benefits to the community. The Lefevre High School has been investing in programs to assist students to learn about shipbuilding, engineering, advanced manufacturing techniques and the trades, and they are already having success in placing graduates into jobs in related industries on the peninsula. This is a model now being pursued by another peninsula school, Ocean View College, in the member for Port Adelaide's electorate, in the transport and logistics industries.
I also doorknocked many Holden workers and automotive component workers. They were less thankful for the decisions their national government has recently made. The commonwealth government saving $500 million in automotive assistance might seem prudent to some, but if the forecasts are correct and tens of thousands of workers lose their jobs over the next three years, what will be the saving to government? We know that there is likely to be vast economic and social dislocation unless a well-funded and cleverly implemented adjustment package is rolled out by all levels of government. It beggars belief that the full costs of additional government efforts will not significantly exceed the dollars saved in industry assistance. I am not convinced that we were given the full cost-benefit analysis by the commonwealth in this respect.
The decision to withdraw support from the automotive sector is a good example of how the economic rationalists have dominated the national debate and won. We should be careful to balance these debates in the future because the impacts of these decisions have significant and lasting impacts through our communities.
My next-door neighbour is a Holden worker, and the challenge that he and his family faces in the coming years is disheartening, particularly when it was avoidable. His experience, and those of tens of thousands who will be similarly affected, convince me even further of the role the government has in facilitating economic growth and prosperity.
Our community in Lee has a very keen interest in the redevelopment of the Port. I am glad that the government has stepped in to take control of the future development of the inner harbor. Good development is exactly what the Port needs. It is rare to have a second chance at such significant developments, but we are lucky enough to have this in Port Adelaide.
Many residents, stakeholders and community groups felt disenfranchised at what occurred over the last 15 years. The first attempt by the previous developer has not delivered the benefits that the community anticipated. However, there is a tentative sense of momentum in the Port now. We are starting to feel proud of it again. We are starting to picture what it could look like and how good it could be, instead of just lamenting its current state. Those who have worked so tirelessly, and mostly thanklessly, sustaining our maritime heritage, a built heritage and the renowned Port Adelaide art scene, are feeling some optimism. I look forward to working hard to help the Port reach its considerable potential.
I am very proud that the consistent investment by this government in the Port and the Lefevre Peninsula has underpinned economic opportunities. The next step is to encourage more people to live in and around the Port and help it become the premier tourist destination it deserves to be.
Elsewhere, South Australians are waking up to the fact that we in fact have Adelaide's best beaches. Semaphore and Largs are beautiful places, so far unspoilt and not losing their character. It will be a challenge supporting the continued growth of Semaphore Road and Jetty Road at Largs without losing the country town atmosphere and the heritage that makes it such a unique part of Adelaide.
In West Lakes, the move of AFL football to Adelaide Oval and the planned redevelopment of the land surrounding AAMI Stadium are key concerns for residents. I campaigned with residents to scale back the SANFL's plans for the precinct to something a little more reasonable. West Lakes is one of the first and most successful broadscale housing developments in metropolitan Adelaide. Ensuring that the community has adequate input into how land is developed and ensuring that development is in keeping with the surrounding areas will be important, and I look forward to continuing to assist residents in this respect.
Before I finish, there are some people I would like to thank for their role in helping me here today. First, my family: to my mother Jan and my late father Ted, I can never adequately express how much your unfailing love and support has enabled me to pursue all that I have in life. either have ever sought to influence or dissuade me in the decisions I have made, but instead you have armed me with the wisdom and guidance that has enabled me to traverse the paths that I have today.
To my wife Antonia, thank you for your steadfast love, as well as patiently and generously accepting all the time, effort and energy that has gone into me arriving here. It has been a difficult and challenging road, especially as newlyweds, and I am in awe of your reserves of love and encouragement.
To my brothers James, Charles, Paul and David, thank you for your encouragement and the confidence you give me, and your incredible support. I am so glad that no matter how old we get, we still enjoy chasing each other around mum's kitchen, whipping each other with her tea towels.
Thank you also to my wife's parents, Lefky and the late Ben, and their families as well, the Iannunzios and the Hizartdzidises, who were so generous with their support and efforts in helping me: Liz and Gio, Desi and Stellio, Jenny and Mick. Thank you also to George Mazarakos and his family, and the team at Sotos.
Thank you to my friends for the support and encouragement: Matt and Kirsten Hawthorn, Alex Dighton and Claire Jarratt, Tom and Carrie Radzevicius, Aaron and Tanya Witthoeft, Matt and Nicky Sykes, Paul and Jane Sykes, Simon and Allison Dawe, Frances Dreyer, Sarah and Tim Goodchild, Chris and Penny Gent, Kelly Ansell, Annabel and Will Haslam, Sam Tomich, Rosslyn Cox, Victoria and Michael Brown, Nick Champion, John Bistrovic, Rik Morris, Caroline Rhodes, Aaron Hill, Rob Malinauskas, Mel Cocking, Jarrad Pilkington and Lucy Hood, Reggie Martin and Shannon Sampson, and Kim Eldridge.
I also want to thank those friends of mine who have been particularly supportive who are also in the Labor Party, especially Peter and Annabel Malinauskas; the member for West Torrens and his wife Anthea Koutsantonis; Don and Nimfa Farrell; Alex and Paola Gallacher; Aemon and Emily Bourke; the member for Enfield and Deputy Premier; Kevin Foley; Mike Rann; the member for Playford; the member for Little Para; the member for Newland; the Speaker; the member for Kaurna, the Hon. Tung Ngo; the member for Ramsay; the member for Port Adelaide; Jason Hall, the secretary of my union (the Finance Sector Union); John Bistrovic; Dan and Sonia Romeo; our Premier and member for Cheltenham, also for the fantastic campaign that he tirelessly led; the federal member for Port Adelaide (Mark Butler); Nick Bolkus; the former member for Lee (Hon. Michael Wright); and the former member for Semaphore (Hon. Norm Peterson) who joins us today.
I would also like to take some time to thank those who have spent a lot of time and effort to help, guide and mentor me, including Adrian O'Dea, Nick Alexandrides, Peter Bicknell, Adrian Tisato, Jeff Mills, Simon Blewett, and John Hood. And to my campaign team, thank you for working so tirelessly: Peter Gonis, Liam Golding, Dave Kirner, Warwick Norman and Kay Ronai, Jono Schomburgk, Lachlan McInnes, Pat and Donna Hansen, Brad Green, Daniela Rattenni, Shaylee Leach, Suzie Trifunic, Wasim Saeed, Julie MacDonald, Scott Freer, Eric and Jill Lavender, Kyall Smith, Damian Allison, David Wilkins, Hannah MacLeod, Amy Ware, and of course, the wonderful Karen Abineri.
I also thank all the others I may have neglected to mention who supported me, who bought raffle tickets, attended barbeques, made phone calls, letterboxed, handed out on polling day, or just offered me moral support.
I want to make mention of the way in which we chose to campaign for the electorate of Lee. I am a significant believer in the capacity of local MPs to be agents for positive change in their communities. In my campaign, we concentrated on helping groups with issues that were important to them. One I would like to make mention of, an issue of considerable community concern, is a development on a local park.
The campaign to prevent this continues, and it is being led by a group of residents, including Catherine McMahon, Pat Netschitowsky, Maureen Jones, Jane Edwards, Fiona McConchie, Alan O'Connor, Alison Hastings and Tim Walsh, and supported by South Australian Neighbour of the Year, Len Scott of Peterhead. Over time, as more and more people have become involved in this issue, and they have taken a more active interest in local clubs, community groups and other issues. This is one example of local capacity building, involving more and more people in what is happening in their communities, and the more it occurs the more inclusive and active our society will be. It also invariably leads to better decision-making. It has been a privilege to work with them, and with other groups, on the campaigns over the last 12 months.
I mentioned earlier how deeply honoured I am to be the representative for my community in this place. I have also mentioned a few of the challenges and the opportunities that await. My greatest thank you goes to the electors of Lee, who have placed such faith in me.
I am convinced that we all put our hands up to run for parliament because we genuinely want to do the best for our communities. In previous roles I have been fortunate to witness many members, from all sides, who, to me, exemplify what it is to be a good MP. There are also those who conduct themselves with an added air of integrity, of authenticity, and a willingness to put politics aside and work to deliver outcomes for the benefit of our state. I am pleased to say that there are a lot of those on both sides of this chamber today. At times they appear to be a diminishing breed, but I will do my best to learn from and to emulate them.
In finishing, I am very conscious that while we have what seems a long period in four years, it is merely a brief moment in the life of our respective communities and also of this house. All of us, quite frankly, do not have a moment to lose. While the challenges confronting us seem numerous, so are the opportunities. We should not hesitate to work tirelessly in moving our communities and our state forward, and always be mindful of the impact of the decisions we make on the people we represent.
Honourable members: Hear, hear!