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State Budget 2021

23 June 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on the Marshall government's budget and the failure of that budget to deal with the climate crisis and to deal with growing inequality in our state. Looking at this budget, one of the key questions that comes to mind is: where is the support for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community? Where is the investment in social housing; where is the investment in new public housing?

This government has committed $662 million to an investment in the extension of the Adelaide Convention Centre, and guess how much they have invested in new social housing during this budget. Can you guess? Well, nothing! The answer of course is nothing—a big fat zero. The government has made much of its focus on affordable housing for homebuyers, but that will not assist those who are excluded from the housing market, particularly when one considers that their definition of affordable housing is well beyond the reach of most South Australians.

The government is also giving away $10.7 million in support and compensation to landlords who were impacted by the government's 2021 decision to close a loophole, allowing them to minimise their tax. So why on earth are we giving away more and more taxpayer funds to subsidise landlords? They are selling off $80 million of public land and they will be reducing government assets, and these assets could have been used for social housing or other social purposes.

This government makes much of its environmental credentials. Flicking through the budget I expected to see climate change being referenced. I ask you how many times was climate change referenced in the honourable Treasurer's speech? How many times is it referenced in the budget document, given that it is one of the key crises we face as a state? Again, the answer is simple: zero—it was not mentioned at all. It did not even warrant a mention from the Liberals in terms of setting out their economic plan for South Australia.

Really, that is not that surprising when one considers the absurd approach that they have taken to the electric vehicle industry. I was gobsmacked to see that they have revived their toxic policy to place a tax on electric vehicles. This is a policy that has been condemned internationally, it has been absolutely panned by global automotive manufacturers and industry experts. In fact, the policy has been described as the world's worst electric vehicle policy, and it is being rolled out right here in South Australia under the watch of the Liberal government.

The Liberals should be doing a U-turn here. They should be doing a U-turn, dumping this ridiculous tax and instead focusing on what they can be doing to encourage electric car manufacturing in South Australia and to encourage electric car purchasing in South Australia. Why not invest in that industry? Why not waive the stamp duty for these vehicles to make it more attractive for people to buy electric cars?

Victoria has made itself a complete laughing stock by introducing an EV tax earlier this year, and now South Australia is moving into the same territory. What a disgrace that is. Why on earth is the Liberal government trashing South Australia's clean and green reputation in this way?

This year, the world has woken up to the climate emergency. As I said, climate is not even mentioned in the Treasurer's speech. We also need to have a vision for dealing with the loss of trees in this budget. We used to have a vision for a million trees. Now we have a vision for tens of thousands of trees. The loss of trees is decimating Adelaide and destroying our natural environment. Indeed, there were 75,000 trees cut down over the last year.

To conclude, the Treasurer has talked a lot about his focus on young people, but we cannot rely on the pandemic grounding young people in South Australia. Perhaps if they want to be serious about attracting young people to South Australia, the Liberals could come up with some ideas for long-term jobs. Again, there is nothing for that in this budget.