Supply Bill 2018

Supply Grievances

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (16:09): It is with pleasure that I speak in a grievance to this debate and remind members of the importance of the passage of the Supply Bill. Obviously, the funds are necessary to provide the continued services of the public sector, including contractual services. As a member of the new Marshall government, we are committed to act responsibly and to earn the respect of the people of South Australia.

 

In opposition, we watched in disgust the conduct of the previous Labor government in their delivery of commercial projects for our state, which were laced with dodgy deals that lacked transparency, broke the rules, wasted taxpayers' money and risked investment in our state. I name the Gillman land deal and the plaza development deal, both of which resulted in scathing reports from the Auditor-General in this state and, in the former, a very comprehensive smashing from Mr Lander in his report.

Now we have the Land Services deal. The member for West Torrens has been a key player in all these events, along with his sidekicks, the members for Enfield and Cheltenham. They all feature as the Three Stooges of financial mismanagement in this state. Yesterday, the Treasurer (Hon. Rob Lucas) announced that the $1.6 billion contract to sell the Lands Titles Office services and other valuation and mapping services had a secret side deal. Yes, members, an $80 million payment was made to secure an option for future state registry sales or commercialisation by a government, which was disclosed but deliberately kept secret until after the election when the contract was able to be viewed and this despicable secret was exposed.

When the member for Torrens was asked to explain publicly, he is reported to have said yesterday—and I will read the direct quotes:

The consortium asked that we keep it confidential. We took advice and we agreed with them…

Mr Lucas knows full well he doesn't have to go through with the deal. He can pocket the $80 million and just add seven years to the contract of the Lands Titles Office.

That is the standard of the member for West Torrens' conduct.

He knew that the money had already been received and he spent it. He just adds 'just add seven years to the contract'. On the raw data, $1.6 billion divided by 40 years is $40 million a year; that is worth then another $280 million. How dare he sell another seven years' penalty for $80 million, blow the money and then say, 'Just don't go ahead with it. Just give them another seven years to their 40-year deal.'

As to the Land Services commercialisation, when announced as an opportunity to invest, the government issued a Land Services commercialisation information flyer in October 2016. There is not one mention of the proposed sell-off of other registries. On 10 August 2017, when he came into the parliament to make a ministerial statement, he described it as 'the private sector taking over the processing of transactions for the next 40 years', full stop. He does not mention the option of a possible another seven years. There is an absolute misrepresentation by omission in relation to that material.

He identified the features of the contract and, near the end of this ministerial statement, talked about 'Land Services SA receiving exclusive rights to commercialise related data, subject to government approval'. Presumably, that is the envelope in which we are supposed to understand that there is some other opportunity. How the motor vehicle registry, marriage registration in this state or anything else is related data to lands titles is absolutely beyond me, and I think it is gross misrepresentation. This is what he said in parliament on 10 August when asked questions about the contract, which he obviously refused to disclose at that point. When asked:

Does the government have any further plans for privatisation of South Australian government services or assets?

Answer:

No, we absolutely rule out the privatisation of SA Water and its associated assets, something the opposition have yet to do—

That was his answer then. He did not mention, 'Well, we have signed up with an option.' There was no mention of that whatsoever. Then, when asked questions by the Premier, he again was asked to explain his position as to the terms of the contract. On another occasion, this time later, on 27 September, in response to a question I asked as to why the $1.6 billion contract for the sale of Land Services was not made available, he said:

All the aspects in terms of the cost structure will be public.

He then went on to talk about the lands titles aspects. Later, he said in respect of the consortium:

…have said that they want some of their financing and some of the agreements under the contract kept private, or their competitors may get line of sight into the way they bid while they are bidding for other lands titles.

But any aspect that interacts with South Australians or the public has been made public—of course, we insisted on that.

He then went on to accuse me, as usual, for trying to suggest that there is some kind of quarrel in relation to the non-disclosure of this information. Well, now we know the truth. Now we know the absolute truth. The former treasurer, now the member for West Torrens—who, if I have anything to do with it, will never have any other political office in government in this state—treats the property and purse of the people of South Australia with such disrespect, with such a disgusting approach to his mismanagement of money.

Within the envelope of the billions of dollars we are approving in the Supply Bill, we are demanding a circumstance where our government will be of a higher standard than we have seen in this state for 16 years—for 16 years.

A disgusting waste of money. Of course we are having to allocate more money in relation to the Supply Bill. Of course we are obviously having to look carefully at the management of the finances of this state because of the wanton disregard of not only the process but any respect for the people of South Australia, of their property and of their money, which has been squandered under the former government. They have deceitfully kept this secret from the people of South Australia until after the state election. Well, never again. Never again should the people of South Australia have such incompetence as these Three Stooges of finance have imposed on the people of South Australia. Never again.