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Bill Restricting the Privatisation of State Assets passes the Upper House!

8 September 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:43): I want to thank all members for their contribution to this debate: the Leader of the Government in this place, the Hon. Kyam Maher; the Hon. Heidi Girolamo on behalf of the Liberal Party; and the Hon. Frank Pangallo. As the Hon. Mr Pangallo has noted, we were both part of a select committee to investigate privatisation in South Australia and the effects that it has had on our state. As the member has noted, those effects have been devastating.

Privatisation has had a catastrophic effect on South Australia. It has resulted in higher prices, it has resulted in reduced services, and it has resulted in Public Service cuts. That genie was let out of the bottle many years ago by the Olsen government, and we have not been able to put it back in over many years. What we have seen is a fire sale of our state assets, and that has come at a terrible cost for our community.

What this bill does is prevent governments from being able to privatise public services by stealth. It ensures that there is public oversight, a parliamentary oversight, examination by a committee, and approval of any attempted sale of public assets by the parliament itself. I think that is a really important safeguard.

It is a very important safeguard when one considers the extraordinary statements made by the opposition in this place today that demonstrate that they have not heeded the lessons from their recent election defeat. It seems they still have a privatisation agenda, and should they ever return to the government benches in this state, it is an agenda that they will seek to implement once again.

We know from their form they say one thing during an election campaign—we are not going to privatise public services—but hey presto, when they find themselves on the government benches the fire sale begins. Just look at what they have done to our train network. What this bill does is safeguard those public services that have not been privatised, key public assets from privatisation of any future government, and I think that is a really important step.

Should this bill pass both houses of parliament, and I anticipate it will with the support of the Labor Party in the other place, then this will end the practice of government saying one thing before an election and doing another once they find themselves in office because it will ensure that the parliament plays a key role in scrutinising privatisations and blocking attempts to privatise services when it is considered in the state's interests to do so.

I want to thank the Labor government for the constructive way in which they have engaged with the Greens on this bill. In particular, I want to thank the Treasurer, Stephen Mullighan. He and I have had many conversations around this reform, and I have really appreciated the constructive way with which he has worked with me on this, and I really appreciate the government's support of this.

As noted by the Leader of the Government in this place, the Labor Party, like the Greens, campaigned very strongly on opposing further privatisations of public assets in this state, and today this sends a very important message in the parliament that the fire sale of our public assets will end, and I think that is something that will be welcomed by the South Australian community. With that, I conclude my remarks.

Bill read a second time.