Op-ed: labor taking support in SA for granted

05 Apr 2013 Article

Originally published as an op-ed in The Advertiser on 5 April 2012.

PEOPLE in South Australia are rightly questioning why Federal Labor is splashing $1.5 billion in the electorates of the three independents Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie and focusing cash handouts almost solely on the eastern states, bypassing our state.

By now everyone has heard a lot about the needs of the people of western Sydney in this election. Get set to hear a lot more.

Formerly considered to be Labor heartland, there are now several key seats in western Sydney where years of corruption and broken promises by consecutive Labor governments have taken a toll on the voters.

In The Advertiser this week there was a list of many worthy projects that are being ignored by Labor as they spend taxpayer dollars pork-barrelling in eastern states.

There appears to be an increase in support for the Coalition in western Sydney seats and Federal Labor will try everything to hold on to them. This is a clear sign Labor is taking their support in South Australia for granted, thinking their seats are safe here.

For example, the Campbelltown Leisure Centre redevelopment is in my electorate and the funding for the project has been knocked back by Labor on countless occasions in favour of projects in other states.

We know the Federal Government have reportedly racked up a $20 billion deficit this year having promised a surplus Budget and we also know there is around $263 billion in gross debt the Government needs to repay.

But for South Australia to be ignored in the upcoming election is a serious indictment on the capacity of SA Government ministers to deliver benefits for our state.

I can confirm the $7.5 million for the Campbelltown Leisure Centre will go ahead if the Liberals are fortunate enough to win the Sep- tember election. It is a sorely needed infrastruc- ture hub that will result in jobs and investment in the north-east of Adelaide. It will be a state- of-the-art sports facility that can be utilised by various groups and attract national competitions.

While SA misses out, independent MPs in NSW and Tasmania, who have propped up the Gillard Government for the last three years, received around $1.5 billion in benefits for their electorates. This cash splash could have seen the completion of the Leisure Centre 200 times over.

Anyone who thinks this is a fair outcome, or that the power wielded by these independent members has benefitted our country as whole, is just plain wrong.

But the pork-barrelling doesn’t end there.

I happened to see a taxpayer-funded commercial on Monday advertising the National Broad- band Network. It concludes with the viewer being encouraged to check whether they can access the network like the lucky couple on the advertisement, whose homes have just been connected. The truth for the vast proportion of Australians watching is the NBN is years away from going down their street.

In 2010 Labor claimed 1.3 million premises would be able to access the NBN by June 30 this year, but now an internal memo has revealed the NBN Company know they will only reach 120,000 premises in Australia by this date.

And the suburbs where the roll-out is focused are predominantly Labor areas in the eastern states, another example of Labor attempting to boost their flagging electoral prospects.

If South Australians want to get the attention of the Gillard Government, then they need to let Labor MPs know that on election day their vote shouldn’t be taken for granted.