Address in Reply 15 May 2018

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:34): I rise to welcome the Address in Reply and the Governor's speech, and in doing so I thank His Excellency the Governor for his contribution to our state and indeed congratulate him on his fine service to our state and our community. It is, of course, not lost on me that our Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le, came to this country in a way that in this day and age certainly would not see him across the road in that Government House building; it would see him languishing in an offshore detention centre. That is to our shame.

But he came with his 'suitcase of dreams', and this government certainly comes with their suitcase of dreams, some of which the Greens will wholeheartedly welcome: decentralisation of decision-making; and grassroots democracy is something that we will always support. There are many things, of course, that it will not surprise those on the government benches that the Greens will not countenance.

In terms of the government's vision for this session of parliament, it will be something to be commended should the government take seriously their pledge for transparency and for such things as shield laws to protect the sources of journalists and to ensure a free press, which is indeed one of the fundamentals of our democracy.

The Greens also welcome a commitment not to use government advertising for political purposes. We will hold this new Marshall government to that pledge, just as we held the former government to their pledge. Certainly I, for one, have lodged a few complaints over the years with respect to certain advertising campaigns that seemed to me a little bit too politically coloured and charged.

I welcome the appointment of a new TAFE SA board. The Greens have long been critical of the management of TAFE in this state. We have not been critical of those fine workers within the TAFE sector, certainly not critical of our need for technical and further education and certainly not supportive of the words of the current federal minister with responsibility for this portfolio, who defined TAFE as somehow a bunch of basket weavers.

Firstly, Mr President, basket weaving is actually really hard. I do not know if you have ever done a class, but I have, and it is a very important skill! I think, however, the new minister was referring to one of the former Hawke era sledges of this sector as somehow underwater basket weaving, but perhaps he will at some stage correct the record. But of course plumbers, electricians, carpenters, digital creatives, those in the games industry and hospitality—so many things come through the technical and further education sector.

It is of vital importance to our state to ensure that we have the range of vocational options and educational options that do not just end with high school or indeed only countenance a university education. Vocational education should be treated with the respect it deserves. Unfortunately, for far too long it has been seen as the Cinderella of the education and training industry, and I look forward to there being some importance placed on this sector.

On that note, while I do welcome a new TAFE SA board, we also see that there is a role for public vocational education in this country, and the Greens strongly support the role of TAFE within that. A system of full contestability is a folly.

However, a system that ensures that we address the needs that we are to have into the future before they become either too pressing to deal with and require visas to fill, or in fact entire industries go under, is most welcome. The rejuvenation of the industry skills boards will be something that we will support. The decentralisation and the support for regional communities, particularly through TAFEs, will be something that we will support. A transparency of decision-making and ministerial accountability will be something that the Greens will support. We urge, in both this sector and the education sector, however, for the new government to consider the role of ombudsmen so that we stop seeing students ripped off, staff treated appallingly and the whole thing being seen as in the too hard basket.

We on the crossbenches in the Greens certainly think that vocational training and high-level skill creation is crucial for our state's future. We look forward, with those provisos, to working with the new government to achieve that. We are not sad to see the former CEO or, indeed, especially the chair of the previous board, lost to this state and we look forward to a far brighter future for TAFE.

In terms of the government's commitment to regions—and the Greens welcomed the briefing that we had prior to the election from the many mayors across our regions—we look forward to there being a decentralisation of some of those decision-making forums, but certainly the resourcing. We do not necessarily know whether or not the Royalties for Regions scheme as it stands is the best model, but we look forward to the government putting that on the table.

We also look forward to what the government has seen to be one of their big-ticket items: the extension of shop trading hours being debated in this place. I would have thought that would have been here by now. I would have thought that on the first day of parliament we would have actually had some form of legislation or, indeed, an outline of what this government's plan is to further deregulate shop trading hours.

So far, we simply have a promise in this Governor's speech that it will somehow create more jobs as well as provide consumers with greater choice. Well, unless there is a magic pudding, I fail to see how this will create more jobs, where the duopoly—the Coles and the Woollies and the big players—will be given the advantage over the local chicken shop and those small businesses will be put out of business. That is not creating jobs: that is simply pandering to the big end of town. The Greens will not support that. We will stand up for small businesses and will stand up for true choice.

The Greens will support some of the reforms of the education and children's services act. The transition of primary school into high school at year 7 is something that we welcome. We also very much welcome the reinvigoration of language studies in our South Australian schools. We also welcome the difference in the bill that we are yet to receive in this place, which will not seek to restrict the parent voice and the governing council voice. We would have moved to amend those from the previous government's legislation and we will support this government.

We will also urge this government again to ensure that we have true transparency and accountability in the sector, again through an ombudsman. The Greens have long called for an education ombudsman. We have seen time and time again those within this sector, be they the students, the parents or the staff themselves, identify flaws in the system but have nowhere to take those flaws to until they become scandals. That is not an appropriate way to deal with systems. We know that no system is perfect. We know that there will always be issues. Those issues should have a remedy and a redress before they become irreparable.

In terms of the government's proposal to introduce legislation that will provide legal safeguards for adults who are vulnerable to abuse or neglect, we note that that has come not only in the wake of Oakden but in the wake of the work of the previous member, the Hon. Kelly Vincent, with her long efforts in that, and certainly from the Greens benches we will be supporting mandatory reporting of elder abuse. We think it is high time that we took seriously the issue of elder abuse in this state and we will support the government in its bid to elevate that.

We will also be pushing to ensure that this state does whatever it can to increase the standards in our aged-care facilities. That means that, even if we do not see ratios agreed to at a federal level, in South Australia the Greens will put forward a bill to require those aged-care facilities to publish on their website, in their prospectus, their staff ratios: that is the least that we can do to ensure transparency and accountability to those families, loved ones and residents of those facilities. It is a simple measure but it could have a very big impact.

We will also support the abolition of the limitation of actions for claims arising from institutional child sexual abuse and look forward in the coming weeks to debating the state disability inclusion plan—yet again, another disappointment that that bill lapsed on those final days of the last parliament.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome and commend the announcement of the appointment of a commissioner who will have carriage of the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people. We welcome the great outcomes this could bring that we have seen just across the border in Victoria. It is one of those Victorian things that we do not mind pinching and do not mind emulating. A Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People has had a great impact on the outcomes for those young people in that state, and we welcome the introduction of a commissioner here.

I commend at this point the work of ALRM in particular in progressing this debate, and the goodwill shown by all political parties in the recent state election in coming to the table to support such a commissioner. I think it will be a position that will not be simply symbolic but will have real practical outcomes for those children to have fulfilling and excellent experiences and lives, and that is what we should want for all children in this state. It is to our shame that Aboriginal children do not have those outcomes, compared with non-Aboriginal children at this point in time.

It is often the First Peoples and the last peoples who are the least equal in our state. I have noted that, had His Excellency our Governor come in this day and age he would not be over in Government House. The First Peoples of this nation have long suffered with inequality and conditions, stigma and discrimination that is simply unacceptable.

One thing that is simply unacceptable in the government's commitment is the idea that they will enshrine Australia Day celebrations within legislation in this state, somehow compelling local councils to comply with this law. I look forward to that piece of legislation coming before us. It was certainly confused messaging during the election that somehow local councils would be compelled to observe Australia Day.

In the wake of a change-the-date debate that is growing in force and includes former members of the federal Liberal government in its supporting ranks, to shut down a debate is the exact opposite of welcoming transparency and is the exact opposite of ensuring grassroots democracy. It is a totalitarian approach. I also look forward to seeing how constitutional it is and note that there is a Constitution Day in the calendar, and perhaps we might start observing that and all be educated about just how we came to have Australia Day on 26 January each year. That should be an interesting debate.

In terms of the shield laws, as I have said, I look forward to supporting those. I also look forward to seeing that freedom of information and, indeed, the commitment to losing the spin doctors within government abided by. I hope that one of the conventions of this place is honoured for a change, that what is said in opposition is held to in government. With those few words, I commend the motion.

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