Skip navigation

Pages tagged "Transport and Infrastructure"

World Car Free Day: Government must act on recommendations of Public and Active Transport Committee

22 September 2023

The Greens are urging the State Government to finally respond to the recommendations of the multi-party Parliamentary Committee on Public and Active Transport, on World Car Free Day.

The committee, chaired by Greens Transport Spokesperson, Robert Simms MLC handed down its report in February of this year.

“This World Car Free Day (today) presents an opportunity for the Government to finally respond to the full suite of recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Public and Active Transport,” said Mr Simms.

“During this time of climate crisis our state must do what we can to reduce the number of cars on our roads, reduce carbon emissions and encourage green transport options. Instead, we have public transport use continuing to slump and cycling infrastructure stalled by a lack of Government focus and investment.”

“The parliamentary inquiry made a number of sensible recommendations that could be actioned by the Government. Sadly, 6 months on, I’m yet to hear a whisper from the state’s Transport Minister. Rather than pumping out more road projects and car races, it’s time for the Government to respond to the report and show the leadership we need to get public and active transport in our state back on track. “

Some of the key recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry include:

  • Increasing the frequency of bus services, simplifying concessions and improving connectivity
  • Trialing of passenger rail services from Mount Barker to Adelaide and incentivising passenger rail between Adelaide and Melbourne (while servicing regional stops)
  • Trialing separated bike infrastructure and traffic calming measures, including speed limit reductions
  • Commencing planning for a state-wide, integrated separated cycling network
  • Development of a state-wide strategic transport network plan
  • Promotion of alternatives to car travel to reduce carbon emissions (with removal of Government messaging that prioritises cars).
  • Legislating to enable the use of privately owned e-scooters and other e-personal mobility devices in public spaces (with a recommendation for further work to be undertaken by Government with respect to insurance concerns)

In April this year the Government announced it would be consulting on the status of e-scooters. There has been no public response to the other recommendations. The committee received more than 100 submissions and heard evidence from 50 witnesses.

World Car Free is held on the 22nd of September each and aims to highlight alternatives to car travel.

Question: Tram Drivers Dispute

31 August 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:43): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Public Sector on the topic of the tram strikes.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: This morning, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) announced that tram services will be disrupted tomorrow as tram workers take industrial action against their employer, Torrens Connect. According to Hayden Boyle, the SA and NT branch organiser from the RTBU, workers are seeking a pay rise that keeps pace with the rising cost of living, but Torrens Connect management are digging in their heels.

In its pre-election policy platform, the then Malinauskas opposition made a commitment to, and I quote, 'reverse privatisation of our trains and trams, bringing them back into public hands as soon as possible'. The policy document from the then Labor opposition also goes on to state that a Malinauskas government would, and I quote:

Ensure the return of a trained and competent workforce back into the public sector, including train and tram drivers and maintenance workers.

My question to the minister therefore is:

1. What action is the minister taking to return the trams and their workforce to the public sector?

2. Is the minister concerned that tram workers are getting a dud deal from Torrens Connect?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:44): I thank the honourable member for his question. Although the matter of returning the privatised rail network back into public hands is the responsibility of the Minister for Transport, the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis, member for West Torrens, I am aware that much work has gone into doing just that. There have been a lot of discussions with operators of the rail network about doing just that. There is a commitment, as the honourable member has outlined, that that will happen, and that is exactly what will occur. I know the work is very well developed.

I have to say that one of the consequences of the Liberals' ideological obsession—particularly under former Treasurer the Hon. Rob Lucas—with privatisation is that it has not done well for South Australians. There is nowhere in the world where the privatisation of public transport has led to better outcomes for citizens in that jurisdiction. Regularly, when public transport is privatised, you see fares increasing and you see services declining.

You pay for a private company—often a private company that is not based in Australia and that sends profits to shareholders who aren't here—having to take profit margins, and that comes at the expense of what happens in the system, the service to people and the cost of using the rail system. We have a commitment. We are acting on that commitment and we are deep into the process the transport minister is leading to return it to public hands.

If the rail system had not been privatised under the Hon. David Spiers and the Hon. Steven Marshall's previous government we would have had a role to play in negotiations. We don't always agree at first instance when we go into industrial negotiations with public sector unions, but we have had agreements between unions like the nurses, the firefighters and the ambulance officers, and we are currently, although there is some way to go, in negotiations with the teachers. We have negotiated in good faith and have bargained in a way that is respectful.

I look forward to the rail network being returned to where it should be: in public hands, and the government having a role to play in these negotiations in the future.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:47): Supplementary: I just remind the minister that my question was about the trams. What action is the government taking in relation to tram workers?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:47): Unfortunately, and as I have outlined, in relation to tram workers the government doesn't have a role to play because of the privatisation by the former government. Since 2009, when the industrial system for private sector workers was handed over entirely to the commonwealth—except for some areas like health and safety—we don't have a role, as a state jurisdiction, to play in private negotiations between a company and its private sector employees. We will when it is returned to the public sector, which we are committed to.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:48): Final supplementary: when will the parliament get an update on the work that has been undertaken in relation to returning the trams back to public hands?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:48): I thank the honourable member for his question. I know there have been a number of announcements that the transport minister has provided in the ongoing work to return the trams to the public sector. I am happy to go away and get an update for the honourable member as to where that stands and provide a response to his question.

Crafers Bikeway

3 May 2023


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Can the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport advise—

1. Will the minister commit to repairing the Crafers bikeway, including sealing track edges, and repairing fencing and other barriers?

2. Will the minister commit to extending the bikeway so that it commences at the intersection of Cross Road and Portrush Road?


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised:

1. An inspection and scoping of any repairs for the Crafers bikeway will be completed by early June 2023, with any immediate works identified to be undertaken in June 2023, subject to weather conditions. The bikeway may need to be closed during works to ensure the safety of cyclists and workers.

2. The City of Burnside received $25,000 from the 2021-22 State Bicycle Fund to construct a shared use path between Boucaut Street and the Crafers bikeway. The project is currently under construction. The section of footpath between Boucaut Street and Portrush Road is under the care and control of the City of Burnside and is constrained by the South Eastern Freeway and adjacent development including the veranda of the state heritage listed Colonial Restaurant.

Any further upgrades to the Crafers bikeway will be considered within the overall cycling network in metropolitan Adelaide to ensure that the facilities are best meeting the needs for active travel.

Question: Regional Rail

14 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:35): It is hard to follow that, but I will try. I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition is missing it; she would be very interested. In February, the parliamentary inquiry into public and active transport handed down its report. This contains several recommendations related to regional rail, including the incentivisation of passenger rail between Adelaide and Melbourne and the reactivation of rail for passengers and freight in the regions.

The Australian Labor Party recently released its draft National Platform for members ahead of their national conference. In chapter 1 of the document, which is published on the Labor Party's publicly accessible website, it states under sections 54 and 55:

Labor will…continue to invest in faster rail and upgraded rail corridors across the nation. Labor will work with state governments to address regional rail infrastructure needs and will ensure more trains are built in Australia to create skilled manufacturing jobs.

The document also goes on to state that:

Labor will work to ensure the resilience of our supply chain and freight networks, including considering the importance of rail in the movement of freight across Australia.

Given the synergies between the recommendations of this council's committee on public and active transport and the draft ALP National Platform, my questions to the minister are:

1. Has the minister yet read the report of the public and active transport committee, and has she raised the potential for regional rail with her Labor colleagues in the Albanese government in Canberra?

2, What action has she taken to progress the recommendations contained in the select committee report?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:37): I thank the honourable member for his question. I can see that there is a media release imminent from the honourable member, where he will try to get some coverage on the fact that, as Minister for Regional Development, I should be reading the reports of every other portfolio.

It kind of links in a little bit with the question we had from the opposition yesterday, and my comments that there are some who seem to think that, as minister, I should be minister for all the portfolios here. As one of my colleagues said in jest earlier today, perhaps I should be flattered. Perhaps those opposite and perhaps some on the crossbench think that I am so capable that I can actually be across every other minister's portfolio.

That was a light-hearted quip from one of my colleagues. I certainly don't expect or even hold myself out to be able to be across every single other portfolio. If the honourable member and those opposite are interested in the Labor government's response to reports, I am very happy to refer that to the relevant minister in the other place, the Minister for Transport, and bring back a response.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary.

The Hon. H.M. Girolamo interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: We will have a supplementary from the Hon. Mr Simms when the Hon. Ms Girolamo is silent.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:39): Why hasn't the minister read the recommendations relating to the regions contained within the report of the select committee of this chamber, and when will she undertake to read it? How many times have I asked about this?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:39): I again reiterate: we have a collegial team on this side of the chamber. We have portfolio responsibilities. The Minister for Transport is responsible for transport.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:42): Supplementary: has the minister discussed the recommendations of the select committee report with the transport minister in the other place?

The PRESIDENT: Minister, you did talk about the transport minister in the other place in your original answer.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:42): Certainly. I am pleased to be able to say that I have frequent discussions with the transport minister across a range of matters, all of which are always very fruitful.

Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) (Fees) Amendment Bill Speech

18 May 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:45): I rise to indicate the Greens' support for the Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) (Fees) Amendment Bill. The Greens believe that high-quality national freight and passenger rail is essential to our modern economy and our society. Many in this place know of my ongoing interest in rail as a mode of transport, particularly in regional areas. Rail transport is accessible, it is low emission and safe.

This bill establishes a new cost-recovery method to fund the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator. This model will align accreditation fees with the risk profile and regulatory effort expended by the regulator. These provisions will create a more equitable fee structure for rail operators. Furthermore, heritage and tourist rail operators will be exempt from accreditation and registration fees.

Currently, these operators are charged an annual fee of $2,000, which is sometimes covered by the government as a community service and usually only covers less than 5 per cent of regulating the sector. There are a number of these heritage and tourism operators in South Australia, including the mostly volunteer-run Pichi Richi Railway and the SteamRanger.

I actually went on the Pichi Richi Railway many times as a kid and I was surprised to know that they were paying a fee. These organisations are preserving the heritage of our rail networks and it is welcome news that they will now be exempt from these fees. The Greens support these changes, which will create a model with equitable fees as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments and the transport ministers. The introduction of a more proportionate fee structure to fund the Office of the National Safety Regulator is a positive step forward.

I want to use this opportunity to urge the government to look seriously at rail, particularly rail in the regions. As you would know, Acting President, I was chair of the parliamentary inquiry into public and active transport. I have not yet had an opportunity to meet with the transport minister. He has not responded to any of my requests to meet. I would welcome the opportunity to talk to him about the myriad issues in the transport portfolio, particularly relating to rail.

This bill plays an important role in addressing one issue but there are a whole heap of other issues that could be addressed. Of course, the Hon. Connie Bonaros asked questions today about the end of Rex in some of the regions. There are regional communities that are at risk of being cut off and they really rely on rail as a way of connecting them with the broader South Australian community. I urge the government to dust off that report and to meet with me so that we can discuss what might be done.

Question: Regional Rail

8 March 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last month, the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport handed down its report. Two of the recommendations contained in the report, recommendations 2 and 3, relate to regional rail. Under recommendation 2, the committee recommended that the state government—and I quote from the report:

…as a high priority conducts a trial of passenger train services from Mount Barker to Adelaide, with a view to adopting similar trials of services from Roseworthy to Gawler, Aldinga to Seaford and Adelaide to Port Augusta.

Under recommendation 3 the committee recommended that the state government:

(a) considers reactivation of regional rail for freight (particularly grain) and passenger services;

(b) in regards to regional rail, considers the environmental, health and wellbeing benefits of rail versus roads; and

(c) reports on expenditure on public transport in regional versus metropolitan areas per capita.

A story in yesterday's Stock Journal reports that grain producer Viterra is pushing for reinstatement of rail freight in Eyre Peninsula. Over the last five years, groups such as the South Australian Regional Rail Alliance have been calling for investment in rail infrastructure in areas including the Limestone Coast for passengers and freight. My question to the minister therefore is:

1. Has the minister read the report of the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport?

2. Does the minister support the reactivation of regional rail?


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I haven't read the report that the member refers to. In terms of supporting regional rail, I think what is needed when we look at any infrastructure is a cost-benefit analysis.

The benefits to industry, the benefits to passengers, the economic impacts—both positive and also the costs—all of those things are appropriate before any decision is made. I am happy to refer details to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in the other place and if he has further information to add I am happy to bring that back to the chamber.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: given the focus on the regions, why hasn't the minister read the report of the committee and will she do so?


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport is the minister who is responsible for that type of matter—transport, funnily enough—so I am sure that he is being briefed by his department on all appropriate literature that is available on the subject.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: does the minister not consider regional rail—and in particular regional freight—to be relevant to regional development?


Members interjecting:



The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): Of course, every aspect of regional living is relevant to regional development, but that is different from being directly responsible for that. If I was to take a different view then I would potentially become minister for regional health, minister for regional transport, minister for regional education, the list would go on.

I am very fortunate that, as a regional member, I am able to have input when those discussions come up around the cabinet table as well as, of course, other discussions with my cabinet colleagues and my caucus around so much of this. Stakeholders who I meet with—which I do of course on a very regular basis, both here in Adelaide but importantly out in their own areas as well—do bring up issues which intersect with all areas of regional life. I am very fortunate to be able to have input into those discussions, but in terms of direct responsibility we of course have appropriate ministers for that.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: as part of the input into these discussions that the minister has, will she be advocating for regional rail?


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I advocate for a wide range of issues. As I mentioned in my original answer, a cost-benefit analysis has to be appropriate for any type of decision that is made.


2 May 2023

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised:

The reactivation of regional rail is supported, where there is evidence that it sustainably meets a defined service requirement. Viterra and Aurizon's current investigation of Eyre Peninsula rail is an example of investigating rail, as part of a defined supply chain solution.

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport is assisting Viterra and Aurizon in their investigations and look forward to the outcome of their assessment and business case.

Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) Amendment Bill

9 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to indicate that the Greens also support the Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2022. Hearing all of the speeches, one thing is very clear: Labor loves to talk about rail. But talk is cheap. Whether or not they will put their money where their mouth is remains to be seen in terms of investing in the infrastructure upgrades that are required for our state's railway network.

I spoke recently in this chamber about the push for regional rail. My colleague, the Hon. Frank Pangallo, has spoken at considerable length about that. I do not intend to reventilate the arguments that he made—they are very compelling. I note that the chamber is full of Labor members. I hope that they were taking notes and will be following up on the important issues that the Hon. Mr Pangallo has raised because I am supportive of those concerns around regional rail and recognise, as does the community, how important that would be in terms of getting our rail network back on track.

The bill before us today is not talking specifically about regional rail; rather, it is looking at the issues of certificates of competence for rail workers and seeking to ensure that rail operations can continue under a state of emergency. The measures in this bill are valuable in ensuring the safe and continuous operation of rail networks across the state and, indeed, across the country. The first is to make it an offence to falsify a certificate of competence. We have been advised that there are instances where this has occurred, and this is a significant risk to public safety.

Secondly, the bill seeks to allow an exemption to health and fitness requirements in the case of a declared emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic, as my colleagues have noted, has taught us lessons about circumstances where activities under an emergency or a disaster could be hindered by an existing law or regulation. This part of the bill provides some flexibility in cases where an emergency has been declared and will enable the rail workforce to continue their important work.

The Greens are always supportive of rail as a mode of transport. We recognise rail as being safe, reliable and accessible. Indeed, we have been calling for new and extended rail networks across South Australia, particularly into regional areas. We are satisfied that the provisions in the legislation will enable the continuous safe operation of rail. With those very brief remarks, I commend the bill.


Report from the Public and Active Transport Committee

8 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That the report of the select committee be noted.

I want to speak briefly on this report and firstly begin by thanking the members of the committee for the valuable role that they have played. The members of this select committee were the Hon. Justin Hanson; the Hon. Dennis Hood, who was later replaced by the Hon. Nicola Centofanti; the Hon. Frank Pangallo; and the Hon. Tung Ngo. I also want to thank the secretariat for the committee, Ms Emma Johnston and Dr Merry Brown, for all of their work in ensuring the committee ran smoothly.

We had over 100 submissions from a broad cross-section of the community and we heard from 50 witnesses. One of the things that struck me, as Chair of the committee, was the consistency in the themes that came through, not only in the submissions that were received but also in the verbal evidence—and we had a number of groups that came to speak to us.

One of the things that was really clear is that there has not been an appropriate investment in public transport infrastructure over many years, particularly in the regions. There was a broad consensus from community groups that that needed to be remedied but also that there has not been enough of a focus on active transport.

We have seen successive governments focus almost exclusively on the car and that has been a big part of government messaging from both sides of politics, but there has not been enough of a focus on trying to encourage people to cycle, to walk and the like. In that regard, the committee made a number of recommendations. I will not obviously go through them all—there were 13 recommendations—but I will in speaking to the report just highlight a few of the key recommendations.

Not surprisingly to anybody who has taken a bus in South Australia, one of the key recommendations from the committee was that we need to increase the frequency of buses in metropolitan Adelaide and in regional centres. We also need to look at better bus connectivity between metropolitan suburbs, looking at integrating different forms of transport and also ensure that there is some fairness and equity in fares and, in particular, we need to review concessions to streamline the process.

The committee also recommended that the state government as a high priority conduct a trial of passenger train services from Mount Barker to Adelaide. It is clear that there is significant community support for getting rail moving to the Adelaide Hills, but also the committee suggested the government should consider similar trials looking at areas like Roseworthy to Gawler, Aldinga to Seaford and Adelaide to Port Augusta.

In terms of rail, the committee also has advocated for the reactivation of regional rail for freight and for passenger services and looking at wanting to get the rail service moving between Adelaide and Melbourne, also servicing regional towns like the Barossa. The committee has also advocated for targets around increasing the patronage of active travel, looking at things like trials of separated bike infrastructure and traffic calming measures like speed limit reductions. A number of other states are doing that at the moment and the committee was of the view that that should be done here in South Australia as well as, of course, finally developing a statewide integrated separating cycling network.

Of particular interest to members of this place may be the committee's recommendations relating to e-scooters. We heard significant evidence around e-scooters. The committee was of the view that we should allow for privately owned e-scooters and other personal mobility devices in public spaces in line with other jurisdictions. Members may be aware that at the moment you can purchase an e-scooter or a private mobility device, but you are not able to use it on public space and that is an inconsistency.

We are advocating for the government to address that but there are, of course, some important issues that need to be considered in that regard. The committee heard significant evidence around concerns for the safety of pedestrians on footpaths but also some of the issues—and this was a matter of particular concern to the Hon. Tung Ngo—relating to insurance and the protections that are afforded to the users of these devices. These are issues the committee has advocated that the government should consider.

I understand that there is a bill that has been introduced into the other place and so I am sure the committee's findings will be useful in that regard. The committee also advocated for a removal of messaging that promotes cars over other forms of travel and also for there to be better transparency in consultation when the government is dealing with major road projects.

Finally, one of the key themes that came through from a number of the groups that gave evidence to the committee was the need for an overarching plan for transport in South Australia that looked at active travel, that looked at public transport and tied all of these things together. It would seem that that has been a long-term gap.

In closing, my thanks to everybody who was involved with the committee: all the members of the committee, the secretariat and members of the community who engaged with us. I hope that the government considers the recommendations, and I look forward to their response.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.

Electric Vehicle Levy Amendment Repeal Bill

1 December 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak in support of repealing the Motor Vehicle (Electric Vehicle Levy) Amendment Act 2021. It is no surprise to anybody in this chamber that the Greens were very disappointed when the electric vehicle levy legislation was passed in this place last year. At that time, I reflected on what an embarrassing moment that was for our parliament and indeed for our state, as the Liberal Party, with the support of the SA-Best political party, set to trash our reputation as a clean, green state, set to trash what had been a reputation built over many years across all sides of politics in terms of working together to take climate action.

What we saw was, I think, a really embarrassing blemish on that proud record, where South Australia joined Victoria in becoming one of the only states in the country to have a tax being placed on electric vehicles, one that was actually going to disincentivise people from using electric vehicles during this time of climate crisis.

At that time, the Greens indicated that we would oppose these changes, this tax, tooth and nail. We took that commitment to the election and we welcomed, of course, the Labor Party campaigning strongly on this issue at the election as well. I am excited to now be returned to the parliament and to be in a position to make good on that commitment.

Electric vehicles are the way of the future. They have been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also reducing the costs for households. In this time of climate crisis and a cost-of-living crisis, having a tax on electric vehicles is absurd. Just last year, the RAA survey of South Australian drivers found that 78 per cent of people would consider purchasing an electric car. However, in this state we have a tax that dissuades electric vehicle ownership, and we have seen a real failure, I think, of government to look at what can be done to incentivise electric vehicles.

Australia, and indeed South Australia, has been lagging behind the world in the uptake of electric vehicles. The list of other jurisdictions that have set a date on the end of petrol vehicles continues to grow. China, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UK have all made commitments to eliminate internal combustion engine vehicles. Here in South Australia, where we have a rich source of renewable energy, we are unfortunately not seizing the opportunity to use that energy to power our vehicles.

When the electric vehicle levy was being discussed in this place last year, I spoke of the need to remove roadblocks to purchasing these vehicles. While uptake of non-combustible engine vehicles is increasing, it is vital for us to do what we can to motivate the move towards a future without petrol cars. The Greens-Labor government in the ACT are moving to waive stamp duty, providing two years' free registration and $15,000 no interest loans for people who purchase electric vehicles. These are the actions of a government that has foresight and a real commitment to taking action on climate change.

Last year, I introduced a motion in this place calling on the then Marshall government to support electric vehicles in South Australia by offering real incentives to increase the uptake of these rather than following the flawed approach that was taken by the government in Victoria. I echo the sentiments of that call of last year and now call on the new Malinauskas government to provide these incentives. I really hope that, following on from its decision to axe the Liberals' tax on electric vehicles, the new government will consider incentives in their next budget, look at things like waiving stamp duty and look at rebate programs for electric vehicles so that we can really ramp up their use in South Australia.

Even electric vehicle manufacturers and automotive bodies have publicly renounced the idea of a road user charge. At the time, Hyundai described it as a 'disappointing development'. Community expectation is that we move towards electric vehicles and, when this is matched by the views and actions of car manufacturers, there really is no excuse for us to continue with an EV tax.

I must say, one of the big failures of both of the major political parties in this parliament over many years has been the failure to really invest in a manufacturing strategy that considers electric vehicles. We could have led the world when it came to manufacturing electric vehicles, but unfortunately the previous Rann government, when it gave significant subsidies to the car industry in South Australia, never had the foresight to look at investment in electric vehicles, and the Abbott government made the appallingly short-sighted decision to axe subsidies for the automotive industry in South Australia.

I had a bill before parliament when I was in the federal parliament that would have actually reallocated the subsidies that were on the table at a federal level to support innovation and encourage electric vehicles in South Australia so that the automotive industry could have really started to manufacture EVs in SA. We could have led the world in electric vehicle manufacturing. Sadly, I could not get either of the two major political parties to support that bill, but the Greens here in this place, and indeed in Canberra, continue to advocate for electric vehicle manufacturing in states like South Australia and Victoria where we have the skills and experience and we could put those to use.

I also want to reflect on some of the positive innovations of the new government with respect to electric vehicles. I commend the announcement by the Malinauskas government that the Department for Transport are working on a business case for transitioning Adelaide's bus and train network to zero-emission vehicles. That is a really welcome innovation. Electric public transport is one of the keys to low emissions and we need that going forward.

We need to ensure that people who travel by car can also afford to buy electric vehicles without having to pay additional levies or taxes. Just last week, we saw a move by the federal government to make it cheaper to buy EVs. The Greens supported that bill in Canberra, with amendments to phase out plug-in hybrid vehicles and prioritise electric vehicles for the federal government fleet. These are really welcome developments in the move to an electrified transport system.

Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, they are better for our planet, and they are the way of the future. We support axing the Liberals' EV tax, and we call on the government to go further in its next budget to provide real incentives so that we can speed up our state's transition to EVs. Let's be a real leader in that space. I think with the right political vision we can make that happen.

Paid Parking Bill Speech

3 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak today on behalf of the Greens in support of the Private Parking Areas (Shopping Centre Parking Areas) Amendment Bill. I do want to start my remarks by reflecting on my own journey in terms of my working life and the importance of this bill. I actually got my first-ever job when I was 17, having finished year 12, and it was working in the retail sector. Indeed, I was working for Big W at Westfield in Marion.

I remember—working night shift packing boxes and packing shelves—how difficult it was for me to get home at the end of my shift. That was over 20 years ago now, and in fact there was such an absence of transport that my dad used to come to pick me up late at night to make sure I could get back to the southern suburbs because you could not get a ride home.

It is pretty disappointing that decades on so many of our state's retail workers find themselves in the position where they are often trapped, finding it difficult to get home from work, and then being slugged increasing car parking fees. It is particularly disappointing when one considers what our retail workers have been through over the last three years of this pandemic because we know that their work really is essential.

These are the people who have been at the frontline ensuring that our society could function during the pandemic. These are the people offering critical goods and services to our community, and they were often people copping abuse, copping unfair treatment, and what they have also been copping of late is an increase in their car parking fees, and that is outrageous.

For us in the Greens, we have always recognised the need for these crucial workers to be given free car parking, and that is one of the reasons why we are supportive of this bill. We of course recognise that we should always prioritise alternative forms of transport where possible, but we do acknowledge that travelling by car is necessary for some people, and that is particularly the case for retail workers. As I mentioned, there is often insufficient public transport available for these workers, and I hope that the government will take action to address that over this term of parliament.

The Greens believe that all workers should have safe ways to get to and from work. My office has received over 530 emails in support of free car parking for retail workers at shopping centres, but we have also had a large volume of correspondence from retail groups also calling on better ways to manage car parking.

One of the issues that we have been alive to in the Greens when the government first put this bill forward was the need to find a resolution for hospital workers. Whilst we were supportive of free parking being made available to retail workers in these key shopping centres, for the reasons that I have outlined, we also felt that it was important that that principle should apply to our hospital workers—people who have also been at the frontline of this pandemic and in particular during this really tough flu season—so we have been advocating for the government over some time to deliver a better deal for those workers.

I must say, what the government have come back with is a really excellent solution. What the government are delivering is car parking for just $2.50 for hospital workers, just $2.50. That is cheaper than a cup of coffee—that is $12.50 a week—that is cheaper than a sandwich. This is going to be cheap car parking made available to these workers in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. As a result, car parking for hospital workers will be at the lowest level it has been at for more than 10 years. That is a really good outcome for these critical workers. The other thing that the government have put on the table is they are going to provide free public transport on an ongoing level to workers who do not have access to a car parking permit. That is another terrific win.

It was the Greens who first filed amendments to provide free public transport and free car parking to these critical workers. The Greens came out very strongly on this issue months ago, and we of course welcome the Liberal Party joining the call, and we have now achieved that outcome because the government have delivered this heavily discounted car parking and free public transport, and there is therefore not a need to pursue our amendments. So, I indicate that we will not be supporting the amendments from the opposition in that regard either. The other issue—

The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I hear the Hon. Stephen Wade is interjecting, screaming out 'backroom deal'. I do not make any apology for working to get good outcomes for all workers, particularly those in our hospital sector and those in our retail sector. That is why the Greens are here. The same could not be said of the Liberal Party that, as we know, served the interests of big corporations like Westfield—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: But the other—

The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Mr Wade!

Members interjecting:


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Simms, continue.

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Ms Franks! The Hon. Mr Simms, continue.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Sorry, Mr President, I heard the Hon. Michelle Lensink interjecting with 'small family business'. She obviously has a very different definition of small family business. I would not describe Westfield as being one of the small family businesses.

Just to go on to some of the other issues in this bill, one of the other issues that we were concerned about was the fact that the bill was going to give local councils a role to play enforcing these car parking provisions. We heard from the local government sector that they did not actually want to be placed in that position and, indeed, many would have a conflict of interest because they manage car parking. That was an issue that we raised with the government, and I understand the government has taken that issue up and will be moving amendments to address that.

Given that all of those concerns have been addressed, we are delighted to be supporting the bill today. I think this is a breakthrough that will be welcomed by not only our retail workers but also our hospital workers as it brings to a close what has been a bit of a saga. It means that heading into the Christmas period those workers will have more money in their pockets, and that is going to be really critical as they continue to deal—as all South Australians do—with this ongoing cost of living crisis. I am proud of the role that the Greens have played to bring these issues to a head.