The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (16:11): When the Premier returned recently from his 23rd overseas trip he lodged FOI applications for the water contract of the former government and the contracts in relation to the electricity privatisation as well and indicated that from his viewpoint privatisation would be a major issue at the next election. I indicate at the outset that Isobel Redmond has made clear that she is more interested in the issues that will affect people in 2010, such as water security, jobs, education and health services and is not worried about issues that in particular relate to the mid 1990s when she was not even in the state parliament.
I am happy, if the Premier defines the battleground, to at least engage, and I want to highlight the hypocrisy of the Premier and the Treasurer on the issue of privatisation and related issues. The now Treasurer on 23 February 1994 said:
I am quite happy to stand here tonight and say that I support asset sales. Given the State’s severe debt situation, asset sales are an appropriate tool with which the Government can attack debt. I have no problem with an asset sales program.
The now Premier said on 5CK on 15 January 1996, in defending privatisation:
We have supported the privatisation of the State Bank; we have supported the privatisation of SGIC, the Pipelines Authority.
He did mention in that also the privatisation of SAGASCO, the Clothing Corporation and Travel Services by the former Labor government.
The Premier and the Treasurer were caught out in relation to the SA Water contract because, having tried to raise the spectre and ogre of privatisation, the Treasurer embarrassingly was forced to concede or confess on ABC Radio earlier this week that he, the Premier and the government had already taken the in-principle decision, if re-elected, to continue what they called the privatisation of SA Water. In fact, they have already employed a consultant to provide them with advice on how they would go about the process of managing the continued privatisation of SA Water, contrary to the claims they have been making in recent days.
The Premier is talking about using the 10 year FOI rule changes. I am happy also to look at the potential use of new flexibility in the new FOI legislation. Let me go back to the period leading up to the 1993 election, when Mr Rann was then the minister responsible for the Grand Prix. In 1993 he said:
As Minister for the Grand Prix I’ m trying to secure the event beyond 1996 when the contract runs out. The Grand Prix attracts thousands of visitors who spend millions locally. It has also put us on the map internationally , with a world wide audience of 520 million.
On 23 September, he issued a press statement challenging the opposition to declare its support. He said:
We have to know , once and for all , where the Liberal Party stands on the future of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix for South Australia.
However, the Premier must have known that there was a problem with that. A week before that stunt, on 16 September, Fokker had already signed the event over to Victoria—and a week later he was involving himself in that stunt calling on the Libs to support the Grand Prix continuing. In 1993, Mr Rann—
An honourable member: The Hon. Mr Rann.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: —the Hon. Mr Rann was also the minister for the MFP, and we all know what happened to the MFP in the period leading up to 1993. He was also the minister responsible for the Business Asia Convention, which attracted significant criticism from the Auditor-General during that period, when the Auditor-General commented unfavourably on the management of that event and the significant losses and blow-outs involved in the management of that event.
Of course, the Hon. Mr Rann was the person who gave such glowing tributes to Mr Marcus Clarke. He admired the brilliance of Mr Marcus Clarke and, indeed, it was a major coup for South Australia to have Mr Marcus Clarke heading up the State Bank. So, it will be informative to have a look at some of the cabinet submissions involving Mr Rann on those issues and many others in the period leading up to the 1993 state election.