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Supply Bill

Second Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:35): As other members have previously indicated, the Supply Bill is needed to appropriate the $6.6 billion so that the government and its departments can continue to function until the Appropriation Bill is assented to. Obviously, I am supportive of ensuring that government departments and services continue to be provided; however, I would be interested to see how much of this is actually needed and whether there is room to trim the fat.

I have been advocating for many years for an operational audit whereby the chief executive or minister undertakes an audit of government departments and agencies to look at what they do, what they really need to do, the most efficient way to do this and whether it is performed in the most effective location, how many staff they need to do it, and how that compares to how the departments are set up at the moment. I understand there is some scepticism in getting chief executives to justify their own staffing arrangements and that there should be an external audit undertaken of the Public Service. In my discussions with the government, I have not had either of these options provided as a suggestion, and I flag that I will be moving my bill for an operational audit in coming weeks for the third time.

Compulsory acquisition of land is one area where I believe that efficiencies could be achieved. Whilst I understand that due process needs to be followed, I have encountered many cases where taxpayers would have been better off if DPTI and Crown law had used an ounce of common sense with dispossessed owners rather than stubbornly sticking to the rigid process. This often resulted in protracted negotiations between lawyers, with lawyers' fees ultimately being paid by the taxpayer. Extended negotiations have already had a detrimental effect on the mental and sometimes physical health of owners.

In my experience, those who have dealt with compulsory acquisition in recent years have observed no sense of urgency by the government. For DPTI staff and Crown law, they think nothing to drag the matter out for as long as they like, as they have nothing to lose. At the end of the day, they go home to their family and they are simply doing a job, but in my opinion not particularly well. However, for owners, it is living with the constant uncertainty of where they will live as they do not know what they will be able to afford. This is often coupled with the withdrawal of funding for temporary accommodation which imparts additional stress to owners.

I remember in 2005 I had a conversation with then minister Patrick Conlon and I stated that I would have no issues if the government were to compulsorily acquire my property, as I had faith in the process and those tasked with acquisition. Sadly, I can no longer say this as I have witnessed first-hand the nightmare that this has become for many owners. The process has become so bad that there are many valuers and lawyers who now refuse to take on work if it relates to compulsory acquisition. It speaks volumes when you have professionals in the private sector refusing to accept more work because they do not need the hassle of dealing with DPTI and Crown law. There is definite and urgent room for improvement here.

I understand the government intends to repeal the current Natural Resources Management Act. Whilst I am supportive of conserving our natural resources, the current NRM act is a failed experiment. If a cost-benefit analysis were to be conducted on the undertakings of natural resources management boards, I would expect the outcomes to be negative for the taxpayer and owners of land resources. This is one area which could be improved upon, and I look forward to working with the minister and having a look at the new bill.

In recent weeks the issue of waste has featured prominently in the news due to China's decision to lower the threshold for contaminated recycling material they will accept. The government has announced a $12 million support package for councils to help deal with this issue. Whilst this is a good start, I hope it is not just money for a bandaid solution. There is opportunity for South Australia to establish economically viable recycling facilities to process not only our own waste but potentially waste from around the nation, too. Solutions should be long term and incorporate a circular economy.

The European Commission recently issued a good practice and guidance policy for Public Procurement for a Circular Economy. Essentially, green public procurement is defined as a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their lifecycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured. It would be good to see the government introduce a similar public procurement policy in this state. Such a policy could increase manufacturing opportunities whilst also reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.