Speech - Electorate of Schubert
I rise this afternoon to give a grievance on the Supply Bill as it relates to the unsurpassed electorate of Schubert. We may not have coastline—we may have, though, a dam that becomes open for non-motorised recreational boating and fishing activities in the Warren Reservoir, and I am looking forward to seeing that happen. The absence of coastline is more than abundantly made up by some extremely picturesque scenery and the best shiraz, riesling and semillon in the known world.
The future and the present of the Barossa is extremely strong, and so too the Murraylands. In what is a very tough international environment and market for Australia's grape and wine industry, the Barossa stands out as real bright spot. We have seen, last year and this year, record grape prices, especially for A and B shiraz, which are some of the largest parts of what we do in the Barossa. We have seen record prices, and we have started to see that confidence flow through to the broader Barossa economy.
We see this week that tourism numbers are up in the Barossa, and indeed we have had record amounts of spending on tourism. There has been just a tick under $200 million worth of combined domestic and international spending in the Barossa. Again, that gives cause for confidence and that gives cause for optimism for the future of this very important region.
We also see the unemployment rate. In contrast to the 7.2 per cent statewide unemployment rate that we see today, the latest figures out of the Barossa have various towns somewhere between 3 per cent and 4 per cent, in some cases half of what the state's rate is; and, again that is something that can give the Barossa cause for optimism and confidence in the future.
I must admit that that does make for a happier and more content electorate. That is, I believe, one of the main reasons why the Barossa LSA (the local service area for police), which also does take in Gawler, makes it the safest place South Australia. It has the lowest crime rates in South Australia, and, again, I think that is a consequence of having a good, productive, strong economy, as opposed to the other way around, and long may that continue because that again gives confidence and optimism to the beautiful place that I call home.
But not everything is hunky dory, not everything is as it should be, and there are a number of things I would like to talk about today that I would like to see resolved in order for the Barossa to become even more perfect. The first of those and the perennial issue of those is the Barossa hospital. In 1992 the Tanunda Hospital Board and the Angaston Hospital Board were advised by the government (which was the Labor Party in the dying days of the Bannon/Arnold administration) to merge, and the idea was that, if those two hospital boards merged into one, under one CEO for the two hospitals, that the case could be built for a new single health facility in the Barossa.
Then in 2001, after recovering from a State Bank disaster the likes of which this state has never seen and hopefully should never see again, the Liberal Party committed to building this facility. Unfortunately, losing the 2002 election saw the reversal of this promise by the Hon. Lea Stevens, if I am correct, saying that the money was not in the budget. The money was supposed be there in the 2002 budget but, unfortunately, losing the election meant that that money was no longer there, and that is a disgrace and that is a shame.
Now, here we sit 14 years later and we are in the same predicament. The need in the Barossa grows ever greater. The Angaston Hospital built in 1910 and the Tanunda Hospital built in 1955—both of which have not seen decent upgrades for the last 30-odd years—are in various states of disrepair. And, having had cause to take my three-year-old daughter to each of the hospitals actually on one occasion, I have seen first-hand the brilliant nursing staff working in otherwise disgusting conditions. The Barossa deserves better.
Now I know that an outline business case has been completed by the Country Health local health network. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to have a copy of the document, and that is fine. I know that the copy of that document is sitting on the minister's desk, and I am imploring the minister to pull the trigger on taking that document to the next stage. Put the $60,000, or so, on the table to get a full business case.
If nothing else the people of the Barossa have waited 25 years. They may as well now get a decent consideration from this government, and moving to a full business case shows that next step. It also helps to open up the debate about the ways in which the community can help get involved in that project. On that score, along with a group of interested individuals and prominent individuals from my communities, I am working on a plan to help make that hospital cheaper to build for the state government, because the people of Barossa do not sit from the sidelines and just whinge and say, 'Give me what I want.'
We are more than prepared to roll up our sleeves and get involved in getting this thing done. We are looking at ways to gift the land to the state government on which the hospital will be built. We have got money that has been fundraised and held in trust by the Health Advisory Council ready to go for a new Barossa hospital and that money does number in the millions.
We have two facilities that will be vacated in the building of a new hospital on a separate site, the selling off of which can help to offset the capital cost. I have got local builders who have said to me that they will build the building for cost to get it done such is the need for the community.
I have so much goodwill and so much practical help, as is the norm for the way the Barossa gets on and does things, that I think we can make this hospital between $5 million and $10 million cheaper for the state government. Surely that will help improve the bottom line. What will also help get this project along the line are the savings that will come from essentially merging three facilities—the two hospitals and a third administration site—into one.
Again, that should not be understated because in the longer term, as the cost of staff increases, those savings become ever more important and it is another reason why we should move to a full business case to look at how a new Barossa health facility will actually end up saving the government money. We will continue work on that topic and I have more to say and more to do about that in the community in coming weeks. I look forward to a positive resolution from the minister.
Another project is being run by the very august body known as the Barons of Barossa. They have put on the table an idea for a Barossa grand cellar and they are looking for support from government, from the community and from business in order to get it built. The concept behind this is that the Barossa Valley is the fifth most recognised wine region in the world. It is home to the most prestigious wine brand in the world in Penfolds.
Our story is significant, our story is unique and our story needs to be celebrated in a facility that is worthy of the quality of the wine we produce. I would love nothing more than to see the grand cellar built and become a home and a hub for the best and iconic wines that the Barossa produces, a place where we can take significant buyers and high net worth individuals to try our best and put them up in the type of surroundings that befit the best wines in the world.
The third project on the table at the moment is around ensuring that the quality of our road surfaces is improved. I commend the government on the money they put forward to resurface the main street of Tanunda, Murray Street. Unfortunately, we are still waiting on the NBN to finish its work before that road is resurfaced in two sections and, even though the work was supposed to start in March, it looks like it will be August or September this year before it starts.
My community is crying out for it. Indeed, on social media this week, I had a lot of inquiries and a lot of people are interested in getting that project finished. There is a 2.8 kilometre patch of road from the corner of Yettie Road right through to the Playford council border and that is a stretch of Para Wirra Road that needs to be bitumenised. I know that council has put in submissions to Supplementary Road Funding and also Roads to Recovery to see if we can get the money to bitumenise that patch of road.
I implore all levels of government—local, state and federal—to get behind that piece of infrastructure because it is sorely needed. We are seeing an increase in the level of traffic through that area as it has become slightly more urbanised and it is high time that that dangerous stretch of road is bitumenised. Those are the three wishes on my wish list for this year and I look forward to having those three completed next year and renewing my list with some new projects.