Statutes Amendment (Boards and Committees – Abolition and Reform) Bill | SPEECH


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 12:54 ):

It is a pleasure to rise again to speak on the Statutes Amendment (Boards and Committees—Abolition and Reform) Bill. For people who are following this issue closely, I ask them to look at Hansard from 2 December, when this bill was dealt with in this house prior to parliament being prorogued and I had the opportunity to make a contribution then. I will not go over everything I said then because it is on the record and I meant it then and I mean it now.

Some things have also changed since then—some welcome changes, as far as the opposition is concerned. As the government and you would know, Deputy Speaker, we are fully supportive of finding efficiencies. We are very supportive of contributing and helping the government where we can to making government, on behalf of the people of South Australia, more efficient, and removing a lot of the boards and committees that are currently in place—many of which serve no purpose whatsoever and many of which, perhaps, could be improved on—is something we support in the main, but we decided that there were four specifically whose removal we could not support in any way.

That is not to say that there are others in addition to the four we are not supportive of, but there were four where we thought we really needed to dig our heels in: the Pastoral Board, the Health Performance Council, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the South Australian Tourism Commission Board. I know that the deputy leader, the member for Bragg, has amendments ready to go on behalf of the opposition to support this bill, as long the amendments are accepted which would result in the retention of those four boards and committees I have just mentioned.

I am advised that the government has agreed to those amendments. I am advised that the government has agreed that the best way forward is to accept the opposition’s proposal to keep those four boards and committees, and on that basis we will support the government in their effort to remove the others, but I would like to comment on the Pastoral Board specifically. I had extensive discussions with minister Hunter about the Pastoral Board and about my reasons and about my constituents’ reasons; in fact, many constituents from the electorate of Giles also have a view on this.

I had extensive discussions with minister Hunter, and I think from memory there were two discussions with pastoralists involved and three discussions just between the minister, myself and his staff. I very genuinely thank the minister for engaging in those discussions and very openly and very forthrightly discussing what we could agree on and what we could not agree on, and I have no doubt that he was open-minded with regard to trying to find some improvements.

Without going into all the detail of those discussions, the broad understanding from everybody involved was that the Pastoral Board serves a very important purpose but that it has not done everything everybody would want it to do. The Pastoral Board has not been perfect in its support of the pastoral industry and its negotiation on behalf of pastoralists with the government; nonetheless, the pastoralists and I certainly did not want it to disappear without it being replaced by anything.

We got a way down the track with minister Hunter in terms of discussion about what could replace the Pastoral Board. No commitments were given. Minister Hunter said that he would be comfortable with a particular style of engagement and representation. The pastoralists and I did not make any commitment with regard to accepting the minister’s proposal, but we did make it very clear that we thought it was a positive one to consider and that we would be very happy to consider it. Those discussions did not progress any further because I suspect they were superseded by the government agreeing with the opposition that these four boards and committees should be retained.

I thank the minister for his engagement, and I also put on the record that if, down the track, he would ever like to pursue those discussions further so that we could seek further and better improvement on behalf of pastoralists and the government with regard to the way that industry is managed, I would be happy to do that in the future.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.R. Kenyon.