Northern Economic Plan

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:20 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Automotive Transformation a question regarding the possible inclusion of the Town of Gawler in the rollout of the government's Northern Economic Plan entitled Look North.

Leave granted. 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Earlier this year, the state government announced its response to the impending closure of General Motors Holden manufacturing operations in South Australia with the launch of the Northern Economic Plan entitled Look North. Partners in this plan include local businesses and community organisations, as well as the local councils of the Cities of Salisbury, Playford and Port Adelaide Enfield. However, the Town of Gawler, which will be substantially impacted by the closure of manufacturing by GMH and the ensuing reduction in economic activity, has been excluded from this plan. 

In response to this exclusion, the council has developed and forwarded a prospectus of economic opportunities for the Gawler region to the minister for his perusal. Subsequently, on 22 June this year, the Mayor, Ms Karen Redmond, wrote to the minister querying why no state government funding aligned to the Northern Economic Plan will be offered to Gawler. I understand that council is still awaiting a response. Given this, my questions to the minister are: 

1.Why has the Town of Gawler been excluded from access to funding associated with the Northern Economic Plan? 

2.Has the minister considered the prospectus of regional economic opportunities provided to him by the Town of Gawler? 

3.Will the minister commit to including Gawler in discussions relating to the rollout of the Northern Economic Plan and remove the restriction on the council receiving any funding from the NEP resources? 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:22 ): I thank the honourable member for his important question and his very genuine interest in matters affecting Gawler and northern Adelaide more generally. He has been a strong advocate for the interests of Gawler as we look towards the end of Holden manufacturing vehicles in Adelaide at the end of 2017. I know he has agitated in this place previously about the Northern Economic Plan and the boundaries associated with that. 

Inevitably, when you draw plans they have boundaries, as they must do when you have an area. If you had no boundaries, then what was available in your plan would then be available to the whole of South Australia. One does need to draw boundaries. I do accept, and I have had discussions with the Mayor of Gawler and the member for Light, who is a very strong advocate for the Gawler area as well. 

Members interjecting: 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: A very, very strong advocate. He keeps winning the seat in the face of very strong opposition. The evidence before us is that he is the strongest advocate for Gawler, because he keeps winning the seat. 

The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting: 

The PRESIDENT: Minister, take a seat. The Hon. Mr Hunter.  The Hon. I.K. Hunter: Yes, Mr President.

 

The PRESIDENT: I can understand some interjection from this side of the chamber, but not from our side, when the minister is speaking. Do you understand? The honourable minister, will you continue with your answer. 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Point of order, Mr President: can you define why you consider the President of this chamber as on the side of the government? 

The PRESIDENT: On this side. 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Thank you, Mr President. 

The PRESIDENT: Thank you very much for that very important distinction, so you can get on with your answer, minister. 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Thank you, the wise and independent President. As we were just discussing, the member for Light, as evidenced by the fact that he keeps getting re-elected, is almost by definition the strongest advocate for the area of Gawler. But on this, the Hon. John Dawkins and his good friend in the lower house, the member for Light, Tony Piccolo, both advocate strongly for Gawler. 

When one has a geographical area, obviously there will be boundaries where people outside those boundaries are not included. I take his point, and he makes the point well that there are significant people who live in the Gawler council area and in other council areas that are contiguous to the Northern Economic Plan and the three council areas that are included that have already been and will continue to be affected by the slowdown in the auto industry and the eventual closure of Holden. 

It was a suggestion, and a suggestion well made, by the Hon. Mr Dawkins previously that we include in communications people from Gawler when taking on board his suggestion. We did just that with the last tele town hall meeting. It was extended to Gawler, and I thank him for his suggestion. We certainly did take him up on that. In relation to the plan, I understand the office has received suggestions from the Gawler council and we absolutely and certainly will be considering those. As I said, we understand and accept that it is not just those three council areas but other areas that are affected. 

There are a number of programs that apply statewide in terms of assistance for industry, but I know areas from Gawler and from the Barossa as well have gained access, but we certainly will very seriously consider any ideas that the Gawler council, the member for Light Tony Piccolo and others have about assistance we can provide to Gawler, particularly in the face of those people and those businesses that will be affected by the slowdown in auto manufacturing.