Safework SA

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:45): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Treasurer on the topic of SafeWork SA.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I refer the minister to the email from SafeWork SA's executive director to staff in May, announcing a cut, some 17 per cent, of the regulator's budget, estimated to be in the order of some $6.4 million. I note that, in a two-year period, SafeWork SA has been a revolving door for staff, with three executive directors, six directors of investigation and four managers of investigation teams, further noting that a specialist investigator unit in SafeWork SA was established in 2015 and budgeted to include 10 full-time investigators, plus two team leaders and a manager.

But, as The Advertiser reports this week, three years on, as of May 2018 only one authorised work health and safety investigator was working in this unit, a figure down from eight just two years ago. We all know, of course, that this body has seen failed prosecutions, is the subject of an ICAC inquiry and that workplace deaths are going unprosecuted and improperly investigated. My question to the Treasurer is: how will he make good on his threats to crack down on the placement of fridges or counters in supermarkets without taking away from these vital resources that should be afforded to workplace deaths and serious injuries?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (14:47): I thank the honourable member for, in essence, characterising the mess that the incoming government has inherited from the former government after 16 years of mismanagement and negligence. I think the honourable member in her explanation very aptly summarised—and I could add further detail—the calamitous circumstances in which the former government left SafeWork SA.

The member has only outlined some of the challenges confronting the new management of SafeWork SA. She has rightly identified the revolving door of senior management in various areas, both at the top level and at the next level down. Having officially inherited responsibility for SafeWork SA as of 1 July this year, certainly as the new minister with responsibility for it, I am entirely supportive of the endeavours of the new leader of SafeWork SA to try to improve, comprehensively, the performance of SafeWork SA.

Under the former Labor government, its performance has been unsatisfactory. It has led to the decision by the ICAC commissioner to establish an evaluation (I use the word 'evaluation', because that is the word Commissioner Lander used, rather than an investigation or an inquiry). We look forward to the recommendations from Commissioner Lander in relation to that.

It is also correct that SafeWork SA, whilst it was with the Attorney-General's Department under the former Labor government, inherited a significant savings task from the former Labor government. There will be further savings on all arms of government, including SafeWork SA, as a result of the election of the new government. The savings task that SafeWork SA has is a significant savings task from the Labor government—the Labor cabinet—which former minister Hunter and former minister Maher voted for. They voted for it, Mr President. Let them not hide behind the fact that there was a significant savings task imposed in the December Mid-Year Budget Review on SafeWork SA.

The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Yes, we do have to try to clean up the mess of the former Labor government, but this is a savings task imposed by the former Labor government on SafeWork SA, and indeed on all departments and agencies. Mr President, the—

The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Hunter, let the Treasurer answer.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: The squeaking and bleating coming from the backbench over there, from the Hon. Mr Hunter, will count for nothing because he cannot absolve himself of responsibility. The blood is on his hands, in political terms, in relation to the cuts that he has imposed on all departments and agencies, including SafeWork SA. We will accept our responsibility for the efficiency dividend and the savings that we outlined clearly to the public of South Australia prior to the election that we will be imposing.

SafeWork SA, as with all arms of government, will have to manage their budget more tightly and will have to—I think as Mr Campbell outlined in his evidence to the ICAC evaluation, he indicated there were a range of issues in relation to the use of government vehicles, FBT charges and a range of other areas where he believed significant savings could be made without impacting on the quality and delivery of the service that was being provided.

Mr Campbell has very clear ideas as to how he wants to run SafeWork SA. He has very clear ideas as to how he believes he can save money in relation to delivering a much better and quality service than had been delivered under the former Labor government.

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