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Cross Border Commissioner Bill Amendments

14 June 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The member for Mount Gambier's ears will well and truly be burning this afternoon. He has been the subject of a riveting debate. In the interests of time, I think we need to cut to the chase here. I am concerned that what we are seeing is a meal being made of an entree. I am not a good cook—the Hon. Tammy Franks can attest to that—but I do think that what we are seeing is something being whipped up out of nothing.

I do understand the Hon. Clare Scriven's concerns, and it is for that reason we made it very clear that we were not going to support the original amendments that were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in this place, because we could see the potential for there to be some unintended consequences. I take at face value the leader's claims that she wants to ensure that taxpayers get good bang for their buck in terms of this role and is not trying to hold up the position.

What she has come back with, though, in terms of some revised amendments, I think strikes the right balance. I understand that it is the government's desire for this not to be amended at all and for it to go through as is, and I completely understand that, but I think what is being proposed is a fairly reasonable compromise. I do not think the sky is going to fall in if we agree to this.

I would be concerned if someone is appointed to this role who does not have the capacity to deal with scoping out a plan versus also beginning the work. That does not strike me as being terribly onerous, and I am keen to understand why that might be the case. My view is: let us move on with this. I know the minister says that she is very keen to get this happening and for it to be a priority. We in the Greens share that desire; we have always been supportive of this proposal. Indeed, my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks has advocated previously that any such commissioner should reside in a regional community, and we think that is an important principle.

The idea of having some requirements in terms of the development of an annual plan and setting in place some consultation requirements I do not think is an outrageous suggestion. Obviously, Mr Bell will be a very important stakeholder, but there will be a range of others as well whom I envisage would be engaged with, and I think they are stipulated in the leader's amendment. So let's kind of move on, because I am concerned that this is, as the Hon. Connie Bonaros said, making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill—or a Mount Gambier out of a molehill; there has been a lot of mention of the Limestone Coast. So let's move on.