Real Change you can trust

Real Change You Can Trust

SA-BEST is the only centrist political party in SA not shackled by blind ideology, political factions or vested interests. For us, it's not about left or right, it's about right and wrong. 

We're about delivering practical solutions to our state's many, many problems.  And over the past 4 years, Connie and Frank have done just that!

We are ready, willing and more than able to work with anyone who has SA's best interests at heart.

Join with us to help transform our state for the better. The SA-BEST looks forward to bringing about the real change that SA desperately needs.

Support those who support you, your communities, your industries; support real change you can trust. 


Our Policies

Our seniors

SA-BEST's priorities are:

  • free full ambulance cover for pensioners over the age of 65 and low-income earners;
  • free car registration;
  • access to free public transport 24/7;
  • free 'swim and gym' access to public swimming pools and fitness centres for seniors - in line with the UK model;
  • free access to SA’s national parks;
  • Free parking for the first three hours at public hospitals;
  • provide a one-off waiver of stamp duty for aged pensioners who downsized to a smaller property;
  • no charge for driver’s licence tests for concession card holders;
  • fully fund the monitoring of personal alert alarms, and:
  • the reinstatement of government funding for DOME (Don’t Overlook Mature Expertise) – a not-for-profit employment and training organisation that assisted older Australians want to re-enter the workforce.
  • move for a parliamentary inquiry into all aspects of aged care in South Australia, including the state’s response to seniors during the pandemic, and;
  • introduce Australia-first legislation in 2022 for the creation of a Retirement Village Commissioner within the Office of Ageing Well to oversee the operation of the Retirement Villages Act; manage and adjudicate disputes; inform and educate people from all cultures about the ageing sector and their legal rights; enforce any penalties on operators; investigate any claims of abuse and whether protection needs to be provided.

SA-BEST respects the worth, dignity and values of older South Australians and their rights to age well with access and support from community services where and as needed.

We see this as one of our highest priorities, and are committed to strengthening ageing communities across the state to ensure older South Australians are well cared for and are not isolated, neglected or abused.

We also acknowledge and respect the invaluable contribution they have made – and continue to make – to society.

One of our first actions in the 55th South Australian Parliament will be to call for a full enquiry into all aspects of aged care in South Australia, including the state response relevant to older people during the pandemic.

With respect to the meeting the needs of older South Australians, we will improve both the standard of and access to all aged care and ancillary services, through a comprehensive range of evidence-based policies, initiatives and legislative change that place ageing people at the forefront, within a rights-based approach.

We will continue to reach out and consult with aged care advocacy groups such as the Council on the Ageing (COTA) and South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), as well as the Federal and State Government agencies responsible for ageing, health and wellbeing.

Federal Responsibilities

As many of the financial responsibilities for senior and ageing citizens sit with the Federal Government, SA-BEST will lobby Canberra to ensure all of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety are implemented.

The 2021 Royal Commission found over the past few decades successive Australian Governments have brought a level of ambivalence, timidity and detachment to their approach to aged care.

The Commission’s final report noted there are systemic issues that are partly a result of the split in responsibilities for health care and aged care between federal, state and territory governments.

It is indisputable aged care services need to be better managed, co-ordinated and financed to maximise outcomes for ageing South Australians in regional and metropolitan areas.

SA-BEST remains deeply committed to the urgent need to address the problems and gaps these systemic failures create.  

In particular, SA-BEST will focus on the mental health and wellbeing of residents in aged care facilities, including access to family, loved ones and or legal representatives during a pandemic or a crisis; and stringent checks and balances on the administration of chemical restraints, tranquilisers and other mind altering drugs to people in aged care residential settings.

SA-BEST will specifically lobby the Federal Government to increase funding to Meals on Wheels SA and other subsidised meal services.

 South Australian Priorities

SA-BEST is committed to protecting the rights of ageing South Australians and in particular we will work to achieve:

Aged Care Workforce planning and capacity building

SA-BEST will work on targeted education and training for aged, disability and health care professionals, better staff to client ratios, better total staff times, better pay and equity across the aged, disability and health care sectors, and better conditions for workers.

Registered Training Organisations delivering aged care training courses need to be properly accredited, monitored and standards enforced.

TAFE needs to be reinstated to deliver no fee high quality training to ensure the availability of suitably qualified and experienced staff for aged care services well into the future.

A Certificate III should be the mandatory minimum qualification required for personal care workers performing paid work in aged care.

SA-BEST will push for a standard national curriculum, minimum training periods of 6 months and a higher number and proportion of certificate four level and above staff,  in all aged care settings.

We will work with all stakeholder groups to better manage the aged care industry to develop and implement better staff ratios, reflective of a higher level skill mix consistent with the 147 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Increase the number of Transitional Professional Practice places to around 700-1000 per annum to provide greater support for new graduates within the state health system.

South Australian graduate nurses are being neglected by poor support systems, lack of tenure and being subjected to extreme workload pressure and risk in the SA Health system. SA-BEST strongly supports calls to maintain adequate staffing levels to ensure we provide the highest standard of care to aged South Australians.

SA-BEST will advocate for increased gerontological and palliative care curriculum time within undergraduate nursing and medical degrees and for more funding for gerontological and palliative care more generally.

Improve capacity and integration of medical, allied health care, palliative care, ambulances and dental services.

SA-BEST has consistently called for an increase in the capacity of the state’s public hospitals, including in emergency departments where record-level ramping has disproportionately impacted older South Australians.

We will continue to advocate for a substantial increase in gerontologic and palliative care services, including in regional areas, and for better funding for the South Australian Ambulance Service to respond to aged care and ageing South Australian’s health needs.

We will also strongly advocate for better access to free and mobile dental services throughout metropolitan Adelaide, and rural, regional and remote areas.

We will also call for better integration of federal and state services, as called for in the Royal Commission, so that older people can better navigate and access the services they need.


SA-BEST will proactively pursue making a wider range of concessions available to older South Australians.

Experts tells us our elderly citizens embrace such initiatives to maintain contact with family and friends, embrace social, physical and volunteer activities. 

SA-BEST is committed to pushing for greater preventative health funding and investment with the aim of keeping older South Australians healthier, more active and out of hospital.  This includes initiatives like free 'swim and gym' at public swimming pools and fitness centres.     


In recognition of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Council of the Ageing (COTA) and South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS),  SA-BEST will also advocate for better and more availability of flexible housing options for the elderly, particularly older people on lower fixed incomes.

Closed Circuit TV

We will continue to advocate for monitored CCTV where requested by the resident, family and or guardian, with appropriate privacy and governance controls in place, including personalised real time monitoring and alert systems. CCTV systems from overseas have suitable privacy settings that can be used.

Edith Cowan University in WA is currently undertaking a survey about CCTV in aged care facilities and has found 57% of family members and 38% of residents would like CCTV used in public spaces. The study also found 48 % of family members and 25% of residents would like it in bedrooms.

In 2019, SA-BEST had plans for an Australian-first initiative to have CCTV cameras installed in the bedrooms of residents in South Australia Government-operated aged care facilities – but both major parties refused to support the proposed new legislation.

Instead, after numerous delays, the South Australian Government announced plans for a trial in response to our pressure.

The results of that trial – in two small aged care facilities – have not yet been released.

Employment of Older South Australians

SA-BEST acknowledges the skills and life experiences that can be utilised through employment of older people and strongly supports initiatives advocated for by COTA and SACOSS to unlock the skills and experience of this sector, so they can re-enter or remain in the workforce more effectively than at present.

We will strongly advocate to the Commonwealth that older people can continue to work and be paid an appropriate salary and pay tax while maintaining their aged pension, to meet skills demand and workforce stress from the impact of the pandemic and skilled worker shortages.

We will strongly support state-based initiatives for re-entry program for skills and labour shortages.

Our kids

SA-BEST’s priorities are:

  • Advocate for and support the re-insertion of the best interests of the child paramountcy principle and the expansion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles into the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017;
  • Oppose the adoption from care model proposed by the current government in the Children and Young People (Safety) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020;  
  • Ensure the full review of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 considers the implications of the shift of power from the Minister to the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection and the growing number of birth to 18 year orders;
  • Advocate for the extension of support for young people in care who need it to the age of 25;
  • Push for mental health early prevention programs in schools;
  • Continue to call for the adequate funding of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the extension of health services (see Our Health policy)
  • Support and advocate for healthy eating campaigns for kids as a preventative public health measure; and
  • Continue to advocate for free menstrual hygiene products in schools.

SA-BEST is highly proactive in young people and children’s policy and legislative change.

SA-BEST was pivotal in the introduction of “Carly’s Law” - making it an offence for a person over 18 to intentionally misrepresent their age in online communications with minors for the purposes of encouraging a physical meeting or with the intention of committing an offence.

We introduced legislation to ban the use of spit hoods in juvenile detention, for better warning labels on LPG bottles to minimise harm or death from inhalation and mandating drug rehabilitation for young offenders.

SA-BEST will also continue to act to legislate where it will improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a priority.

Child Protection

SA-BEST recognises placing children and young people where connections with family, kin and/or community are maintained is optimal, but appreciate this is not always possible.

We are of the firm view the safety of the child or young person must always be paramount and will always put the best interests of children first.

SA-BEST continues to advocate on behalf of a large number of constituents experiencing difficulties with the Department for Child Protection and guardianship systems, consulting extensively with the Aboriginal Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Guardian for Children and Young People,  Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers (SA), Nunga Babies and the Grannies Group, families, lawyers and relevant departmental staff and responsible Ministers to achieve better outcomes for children and young people.

It is a sad fact there are unprecedented numbers of children and young people in care in South Australia - 4695 children aged under 18 years at last count, including 1676 in foster care and 2310 in kinship care. 

 SA-BEST is extremely concerned at the huge increase in these numbers, along with shocking reports of harm and risk these children have been subjected to, including death while in care and falling pregnant while in care.

Key drivers of this upward trajectory include generational removal and cultural alienation, mental health, family violence and drug and alcohol issues, as well as a lack of access to early intervention and wrap around services to support children, young people and their families with these and other challenges.  

 The disproportionate overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in these figures is at crisis point.

 SA-BEST is working in collaboration with the Nunga Babies Watch and the Grannies Group to advocate for this most vulnerable cohort, with particular focus on adherence to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles. 

 We also hold genuine concerns victims of domestic violence are having their children removed from their family rather than the victims being provided with the support and protective services they need to break the cycle, keep them safe and intact as a family unit with people who love and care for them.

 Adoption From Care

SA-BEST supports adoption generally where there are extensive checks and safeguards for parents, adoptive parents and most importantly the children being adopted.

We do not support the adoption from care model proposed by the government in the Children and Young People (Safety) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 which dispenses with the consent of parents.

We will strongly advocate for the inclusion of all stakeholders in any consultations on adoption law, including culturally and linguistically diverse communities, foster and kinship carer groups and indigenous groups with lived experience such as the Nunga Babies and Grannies Group.

Supporting foster and kinship carers

SA-BEST appreciates and respects the invaluable role foster and kinship carers play in the lives of thousands of children and young people’s lives.

Unfortunately, the same issues are arising over and over again for carers when it comes to the Department for Child Protection - poor communication, lack of support services, procedural unfairness and slow or no reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses for foster and kinship carers.

 Based on these accounts, SA-BEST voted in support of the Children and Young People (Safety) (Inquiry into Foster and Kinship Care) Amendment Bill 2021 to cause an immediate independent inquiry into foster and kinship care.

 Healthier Kids

One in four children in Australia are overweight or obese. Two in three children don’t get enough physical activity, and most don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables.

Predatory junk food advertising is setting our kids up for a lifetime of bad habits and preventable ill-health. Urgent measures are needed to restrict children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing, branding and sponsorships.

SA-BEST strongly supports a legislated ban on the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks on state owned asset.

We further support a revision of the Right Bite strategy to set a mandated minimum of 60% of green category foods on school menus and a ban on red foods.


See also our Health, Education and Law and Order policies as they pertain to children and young people.

Your family

SA-BEST’s priorities include:  

  • a reduction in the cost of living for families, with a particular focus on affordable housing;
  • support flexible workplaces for a greater work/life balance;
  • support legislation aimed at addressing domestic & family violence;
  • implement measures to minimise the harms of gambling on families;
  • address the scourge of domestic and family violence in our communities, and;
  • create healthier environments for children and families.

 We recognise there is no template for what constitutes a modern family. 

As families struggle to keep up with the cost of living, including rising food, housing, utility, health and transport costs, SA-BEST is committed to introducing and supporting measures aimed at tackling rising costs. 

We are particularly concerned about the impact the rising cost of living is having on vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians, many of whom who are struggling to cover the bare essentials. 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the emotional and mental wellbeing of all ages has introduced a new set of complexities for families including household income uncertainty and home-schooling. 

The goal is not to return everything to the way it was. 

While the economy needs to be kickstarted, there have been some positives for families. 

The shift to working from home options and more flexible workplaces has had some positive benefits for many families. 

The ability to work remotely has given families more flexibility. The digital age has contributed to many efficiencies but has also added a new level of complexity for families. 

SA-BEST was pivotal in the introduction of “Carly’s Law” making it an offence for a person over 18 to intentionally misrepresent their age in online communications with minors for the purposes of encouraging a physical meeting or with the intention of committing an offence. 

We will continue to make it a priority to protect the safety of children in the digital space. 

We must protect those who cannot protect themselves. 

SA-BEST supports initiatives aimed at keeping families, and in particular children, physically active. We fully support government financial assistance and incentives to encourage the participation of children and young people in sport. 

We hold grave concerns about the continuous bombardment of junk food advertising on children and young people and support bans on advertising on all publicly owned assets. 

SA-BEST’s family violence priorities 

  • advocate for the bolstering of services for victims of domestic and family violence through increased funding;
  • advocate for increase in the number of crisis accommodation beds and services (including Catherine House);
  • fully implement the GPS monitoring system for domestic and family violence perpetrators with data recorded to be used as evidence in prosecution;
  • advocate for an increase in the number of places in crisis accommodation services for women and children fleeing violence;
  • support a legislated minimum floor price of alcohol to reduce alcohol-related violence, and;
  • support appropriately drafted coercive control legislation. 

On average, one woman a week is killed by a current or intimate partner in Australia. 

It is the biggest driver of homelessness for women and a common factor in child protection notifications.  

Of the 278,300 clients accessing Specialist Housing Support in Australia in 2020/2021, more than 116,000 were doing so because of domestic and family violence. 

Every two minutes, police are called to a domestic or family violence incident. Even then, it is severely under-reported, especially amongst women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

SA-BEST is committed to supporting programs and advocacy groups aimed at reversing the trend, including perpetrator rehabilitation programs. 

In 2020/2021, more than 2200 breach charges were proven. Many more instances do not proceed to this point for a number of reasons. 

SA-BEST is committed to holding perpetrators to account by advocating for the permanent implementation of GPS monitoring system of people who are the subject of Intervention Orders. 

Too often victims report breaches of intervention orders to police after seeing offenders near their homes, places of work or near school, however, without collaborating evidence breaches are often not followed through. 

Your health

SA-BEST's priorities include:

  • Continue our call for a Royal Commission into South Australia’s public health system;
  • Establish a cardiac surgery unit at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to bring it into line with all other mainland states;
  • Reinstatement of funding of the Infant Therapeutic Reunification Service;
  • Adequate funding of the current Women’s and Children’s Hospital;
  • Improve the current structural and functional design of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital to increase patient accommodation and clinical services;
  • Oppose any further privatisation or outsourcing of all public health services;
  • Safe working hours and workplaces, including mandated staffing level ratios and breaks between shifts;
  • Implementation and monitoring of a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy within SA Health;
  • A mandated transfer of care of policy to ensure the transfer of care for a patient occurs within 30 minutes of arrival at a hospital;
  • Mental health crisis in South Australia (see our mental health priorities);
  • Increased investment in public health, prevention and promotion; and
  • Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol sales.

A Royal Commission

As part of the 2018 state election, SA-BEST called for a Royal Commission into South Australia's public health system. Both major parties rejected that call. The incoming Liberal Government argued it would step right in and fix the problems and brought in administrators.

We all know health is at crisis point some four years on. COVID-19 has exposed even more cracks in our health system.

Over that time, SA-BEST has driven the health agenda in the state primarily through a Parliamentary Select Committee established by SA-BEST and which Connie chairs.

Sadly, the Committee has exposed the parlous condition of our buckling public health system.

Numerous clinicians, nurses, medical experts and people with lived experiences from our public health system have been queuing at the door to give evidence before the Committee which emphatically points to a declining system.

At every turn, the government has been dismissive of the crises they reveal, to the point of arrogance.

SA-BEST continues to use its position of influence to push for a Royal Commission.

The Committee has been told point blank people have died unnecessarily in our public health system due to flaws, inconsistencies, and a lack of staffing and services.

For a state as rich as prosperous of South Australia – in a country as economically strong as Australia – that is totally unacceptable. Our doctors, nurses, ambos, frontline staff are exhausted and at breaking point. COVID-19 has pushed an already fatigued and overworked workforce to the brink.

SA-BEST wants that inquiry to be conducted by health experts of the highest authority and expertise.

We will insist an interim is report delivered to government and Parliament within six months and a final report six months after that.

We want that inquiry to look at every scandal - those that are already known, and those still hidden.

We will also want a Royal Commission to give an early opportunity for whistle-blowers to step forward, and for patients and families to tell of their experiences of a health system that has so badly failed many people – as has occurred in the Select Committee.

A Royal Commission will come at a cost, but money well spent to get more value out of our huge health budget.

We must uncover the root causes of systemic failure. Only then will we have the evidence and the policy review that will allow real progress to be made.

Alongside the Royal Commission, SA-BEST will also work with professional medical associations, health experts and practitioners – like it has over the past four years - to refocus health spending with a priority on patient safety, equity of access, a strong public health workforce and a more accountable and transparent health system.

Cardiac Surgery

One of SA-BEST’s top priorities is the establishment of cardiac surgery at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to bring it into line with all other mainland states.

The unspeakable and tragic death of four cardiac babies is a state disgrace. There is no logic when every other mainland capital city has a hospital that undertakes paediatric heart surgery.

It defies logic that when a critically sick child is fighting for their life awaiting potentially life-saving heart surgery, we put them in a plane and fly them to Melbourne for treatment, not to mention uprooting their families who have to accompany them for protracted periods. We know that in most cases this results in families and their children becoming separated between jurisdictions.

You don’t have to be a parent to understand the unimaginable trauma on the child and their parents.

Once established, this would be cost effective and will avoid the expense, disruption and hazards of transferring our sick cardiac infants and children interstate for surgery and other life saving procedures. 

The new hospital will never be state of the art or world class unless some way is found to accommodate advanced cardiac care and surgery and no family or child should be put through the trauma of being transferred interstate for potentially life-saving treatment and surgery.

Current Women’s and Children’s Hospital

The current Women’s and Children’s Hospital is chronically underfunded and under-resourced. The fabric, equipment and clinical services will not survive another fix years before the new hospital is available.

An investment of around $100 million is need to make it safe in the interim. There are critical problems in patient care in the Emergency Department, cancer services and mental health. Nursing and medical Staff shortages are a major contributor.

New Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Means must be found to improve the current structural and functional design of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital to increase patient accommodation and clinical services.

The current design is inadequate and unsafe because of the fragmentation of acute and essential facilities, such as operation theatres and ICU on different levels. The hospital will be unfit for purpose by the time it opens. There is no prospect for further expansion or inclusion of new tertiary services.

SA-BEST will press for an urgent review of the structure and design to try to find more room and support substantial extra funding to make this happen.

Infant Therapeutic Reunification Service

The first 1000 days of life are critically important and have lifelong health and wellbeing ramifications. In fact they can change the trajectory of a child’s life altogether. Infant trauma is the most preventable risk factor for mental health problems later in life. These kids are on a trajectory of ending up in the child protection system.

The Infant Therapeutic Reunification Service operated from 2011 to 2020 at a cost of under $200,000. It beggars belief the government would allow it to be axed! There is now no comparable state-wide service for vulnerable infants and families. SA-BEST will use its position to insist on the urgent reinstatement of this critical service as a priority. 

Safe working hours and workplaces

SA-BEST supports mandated staffing levels ratios, particularly for nurses and midwives.

We continue to hear reports of staff working double shifts and excessive overtime which is unsafe for both staff and patients. Inexperienced or under-skilled staff are being asked to fulfill tasks to make up for the short fall of workers on shift.

Domestic and Family violence is a major public health problem. One in six women have experienced physical or sexual violence by their current or previous intimate partner as have one in 16 men.

Nurses and midwives are at the coalface of the trauma caused by domestic and family violence each and every day. Educational support and effective strategies must be expanded to support the workforce in its support of others and to protect against this workplace hazard. 

SA-BEST will use its position to insist on legislation protecting workers against violence and the implementation and monitoring of a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy within SA Health.

Build the capacity of the public health workforce into the future and beyond COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed more cracks in our health care system. Now is the time to learn from our mistakes and future proof our public health system – starting with building the capacity of the workforce.

For too long we have watched our bright graduates disappear interstate for better job opportunities and a depletion of skills and expertise as graduates and mid-career professionals bore the brunt of job cuts and insecure work.

Workforce renewal must not only focus on increasing the number of graduates and increasing funding for advancing skills and leadership training, but also reverse the casualisation of the workforce.

Ambulance ramping

As a member of the Legislative Review Committee, Connie has heard first hand harrowing evidence of the ambulance ramping crisis in South Australia.

Patients should not be made to wait for hours on end in ambulances outside our hospitals. It is simply unacceptable.

SA-BEST will insist on a mandated transfer of care of policy to ensure the transfer of care for a patient occurs within 30 minutes of arrival at a hospital.

To achieve this, appropriate staffing and resourcing levels must be maintained in our hospitals – something which, at present is clearly lacking.

Increased investment in public health, prevention and promotion

Disease prevention and health promotion is a proven strategy and should be the foundation upon which our health care system is built. Australia wide, only around $2 billion or $89 per person is spent on prevention each year by all governments.  In that same year here in South Australia, the spend per head was a mere $58.

Programs targeted at increasing physical activity and tackling obesity and diabetes prevalence, reducing the smoking rate and preventing or reducing the harmful use of drugs and alcohol have a real impact and require continued and increased government investment.

The National Preventative Health Strategy 2021-2030 has set a target of 5% of total health expenditure across commonwealth, state and territory governments by 2030. SA-BEST fully supports increased government investment to bring us in line with worldwide best practice of at least 5%. We consider this is a modest target and should increase incrementally over time.

An important focus of this increased investment should be on the promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness, including early intervention programs in schools.

Illicit Tobacco

$3.41 billion is lost in federal excise every year from illicit tobacco sales. It is little wonder business is booming for the black-market tobacco trade especially organised crime, given the laughable penalties that apply. That is excise that could be going towards our health budgets which are ultimately impacted by chronic diseases associated with smoking.

Smoking is one of the largest preventable causes of disease and death.

There is no dispute smoking is detrimental to South Australians and a drain on the public health system. 

Illicit tobacco consumption is booming. In its 2019 report, KPMG reported a massive 47.6% increase in the consumption of illicit tobacco in Australia from the previous year. This amounted to 20% of the total combined market.

The health ramifications of the consumption of unregulated products which have likely been manufactured overseas at low cost are unknown.

We have already introduced a bill into Parliament that addresses the severely inadequate penalties currently prescribed in the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 (SA) to increase the expiation fee from $500 to $1,250 and the maximum penalty from $10,000 to $50,000. 

Right now, our laws are so inconsistent and weak when it comes to illicit tobacco that you are likely to get a tougher penalty including an imprisonment term for attempting to smuggle a packet of cigarettes into a correctional facility than you are profiting off illicit tobacco sales.

Minimum Unit Pricing

SA-BEST is fully committed to reducing the level of alcohol related harm in South Australia. That is why we strongly support a Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol sold or offered for sale in South Australia as a measure for minimising alcohol harm.

We know there is a direct correlation between alcohol and domestic and family violence with over a third of intimate partner violent incidents involving alcohol.

Since the introduction of a MUP of $1.30 per standard drink in the Northern Territory in October 2018, the early signs of the independent review one year on are promising - with a reduction in the sale of cask wine by 50%. Alcohol-related road crashes causing injury or fatality, assault, attendance by ambulance and emergency department presentations have also reduced in the time.

Your mental health

SA-BEST's priorities include:

  • the adequate funding of NGOs that deliver community psychosocial support and other services;
  • provide support for families of patients suffering from mental health who cannot speak for themselves and an appropriate mechanism for their concerns raised to be recorded and acted upon;
  • give priority to those at risk of self-harm and triaged for urgent help;
  • increased primary prevention funding and services;
  • increased prevention funding and services, which includes effective rehabilitation programs; and
  • implement systems to support mental health care workers to ensure they receive adequate support, and that those who have concerns about the clinical and administration practices in mental health are able to speak out without fear of recrimination.

Historically, South Australia had hundreds of mental health beds across the state. That number has now dwindled to just 30 and NGOs have been left to pick up the pieces of what is clearly a government responsibility with limited resources.

SA-BEST supports the Mental Health Coalition South Australia in calling for:

  • a strategy to reduce gaps in our community mental health support system by 50% within three years;
  • the elimination of avoidable mental health presentations in emergency departments;
  • access to suitable housing that allows people to recover and remain well; and
  • embedding the expertise of Lived Experience in system design, delivery and governance.

We support the key asks of the SA Salaried Medical Officers Association in calling for:

  • an increase in funding for Forensic Mental Health Services, including 20 additional beds as per the master plan, with no forensic patients in general hospitals;
  • an increase in Psychiatric Intensive Care beds at Glenside by at least eight;
  • a further 100 general adult mental health beds and 60 beds for older adults;
  • all vacant mental health staff positions to be filled;
  • additional allied health specialists and coordination to address NDIS waitlists, including long term housing for people with complex mental health conditions often with NDIS requirements;
  • additional staff resources including Allied Health, senior and junior doctors, nursing and psychology; and
  • a restructure of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.

With one in two Australian adults experience mental illness in their adult lives, and one in five experiencing a mental illness in any given year, an increase in government spending on mental health is needed more than ever before.

26% of young people are living with an anxiety, mood or substance use disorder, with suicide accounting for 1/3 of the deaths of young people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world we live in.

We are on the cusp of a mental health crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen, planned for or anticipated before.

The cost of mental ill-health to community is enormous.

The Productivity Commission has estimated the financial cost of mental illness in Australia at $220 billion. Workplace absenteeism is costing up to $10 billion per year.

Funding must be increased as a government priority.

SA-BEST considers preventative approaches and early intervention ought to have priority, particularly where causes and triggers for mental ill health can be prevented or mitigated.

For instance substance abuse can be a trigger and/or exacerbating factor for mental ill health. Substance abuse itself may be triggered by depression and anxiety left untreated and unsupported.

Effective rehabilitation programs including inpatient rehabilitation (in particular for ‘ice’ use which can cause psychotic episodes) must be adequately funded.

NGOs that deliver community psychosocial support and other services must be adequately funded. It would be useful for there to be a robust independent assessment of the benefits delivered by NGOs, measured against other programs, as anecdotal evidence suggests they are highly effective and their funding should be increased.

Those at risk of self-harm ought to be given an absolute priority, and triaged for urgent help. Too many lives have been lost because help was not forthcoming when it was needed most.

What SA-BEST will do

SA-BEST remains 100% committed to using every bit of its power to make sure people don’t continue to fall through the cracks.

We will continue to work with professional medical associations, health experts and practitioners to refocus health spending with a priority on patient safety, equity of access, a strong public health workforce and a more accountable and transparent health system.

We have and will continue to support humanised, trauma informed, peer supported initiatives like the Urgent Mental Health Care Centre, which embrace a philosophy of care totally lacking in traditional emergency departments but they need to operate 24 hours per day. People don’t plan a mental health crisis within opening hours.

We have and will continue to support a mental health system co-designed, staffed and governed by those with lived experience.

Your job and the gender pay gap

SA-BEST's priorities include:

  • a continued focus on gender equality in the workplace, particularly on reducing the gender pay gap and the disproportionate number of women in insecure work;
  • re-introducing the Gender Equality Bill 2021 in the next Parliament to ensure public sector targets and accountability;
  • supporting the promotion and expansion of jobs programs to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment (currently 7.3%), including a boost in the numbers of young people in trainee positions and apprenticeships;
  • supporting government financial initiatives to incentivise businesses to employ, train and maintain new staff;
  • continuing to shine a spotlight on wage theft and support legislative initiatives aimed at reducing its prevalence; and
  • supporting initiatives aimed at business and industry for the creation and maintenance of jobs, particularly in our regions. 

South Australia again holds the unenviable title of having the highest unemployment rate in the nation. 

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures (December 2021), our unemployment rate sits at 4.8% - compared to the national rate of 4.2%. 

As we enter the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of new jobs MUST  be a top priority. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many small businesses hard, with restrictions wreaking havoc on most sectors from hospitality to tourism and many in between. 

98% of businesses in South Australia are small businesses, employing 36% of the workforce. 

SA-BEST recognises the importance of supporting the small business sector for the ongoing maintenance and creation of jobs. 

We are fully supportive of financial incentives aimed at assisting small businesses, including the continued availability of grants, and will advocate on behalf of the sector for the support it needs. 

875,300 of the South Australian population are workforce participants, made up of 449,500 men and 425,800 women. 

And while these gender workforce participation rates are similar, the devil is in the detail.

The proportion of women in insecure work is overwhelmingly disproportionate – not just in South Australia but throughout Australia. 

41% of women participating in the workforce in Australia are in full time employment compared to 67% of men, meaning part time and casual roles are more likely to be filled by women. 

The repercussions of secure work favouring men has meant the COVID-19 pandemic has hit women the hardest. 

The gender pay gap is unacceptably wide. 

Women in Australia earn on average $7.72 for every $10 earnt by men – an average of $25,800 less per annum. There are also far less women in decision making positions. 

Women leave their positions at a far higher rate than men, more often than not only to be replaced by a male. In some professions, such as IT and the legal profession, upwards of 50% of women are likely to exit their chosen field by the middle of their career compared to their male colleagues who go on to reap the rewards of promotions. 

Less than one in five CEOs are women, as are one in three Board members. 

Wage theft continues to be a contemporary issue impacting many workers. 

In 2021, business owners were fined $870,000 for wage theft and denials of entitlements. Of course, these are just those who were caught and prosecuted. 

SA-BEST supports legislation aimed at protecting workers rights and entitlements.

Our economy

South Australia desperately needs a radical shot in the arm in its economic policy. 

The major parties are still falling well short of achieving what the state desperately needs, particularly on the other side of the pandemic.

The quickest way to spur economic recovery is to allow the workforce and successful businesses to keep more of the money they earn so they can more fully engage in economic activity.

Governments also need to cut red tape, which adds to the costs of running small business and impacts on jobs.

SA-BEST wants the state to become a “business utopia” and we need to kickstart small business by providing more incentives for this sector-the largest employer in SA- and help it grow beyond pre- pandemic levels.

The pandemic appears to have influenced a rebound to the South Australian economy - however the challenge is to sustain it. 

After two years of business weathering the Covid pandemic, the South Australian economy is now in a transitioning phase following the opening of state borders and a gradual easing of restrictions. 

The state is experiencing a small rise in population - caused in part by returning expatriates from other states and overseas - resulting in an overheated property market and a housing affordability crisis.

South Australia has an annual economic output of around $230 billion, representing 5.7% of the output generated in Australia, with manufacturing the largest contributor, followed by construction, real estate services, public administration and safety, financial and insurance services, mining, health care, primary industries, retail and hospitality.

However, our debt will reach an astronomical $3.3 billion in 2024/25. 

The State Government must learn to balance its budget and live within its means – just like ordinary, hard-working South Australians and their families. 

JobKeeper was a salvation. While the state’s jobless rate continues to fluctuate, economists predict a slight increase in total employment. 

Construction benefited from the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme, but measures are needed to help the education sector recover with lockdowns and travel restrictions impacting heavily on international education, worth almost $2 billion per year pre-pandemic. 

The State Government must work harder to find new markets for our exporters to overcome the economic setbacks including wine exports which plummeted by a third after China’s imposed exorbitant tariffs. 

Economists are optimistic the state’s economy will continue to rebound with growth in business investment. 

The University of Adelaide’s SA Centre for Economic Studies reports that economic recovery in advanced nations is tied to high vaccination rates. Australia’s is well past 90%. 

However, the state cannot rest on these laurels and the momentum must be maintained. 

While some sectors of the economy have managed to survive through the pandemic, others like tourism, hospitality and small businesses suffered from lockdowns and harsh restrictions. 

Housing affordability is emerging as one of the principal concerns with high prices and lack of available housing stock making the great Australian dream look like a mirage. 

SA-BEST will push for measures - including tax reforms and investment incentives. 

Royal Commission into Management of Covid in South Australia 

In the new parliament, one of the first objectives of SA-BEST will be to create a Royal Commission that will look  into all aspects of the management of the pandemic and how decisions made by appointed bureaucrats under Emergency Management laws impacted on all sectors of the community. 

The inquiry compromising of commissioners drawn from a wide section of the community, will be designed as an educative analysis to develop strategic plans for the future. 

The Commission will scrutinise decisions, take evidence from all interested stakeholders and make recommendations to pandemic-proof the State in the event of future epidemics. 


  • SA-BEST strongly supports the establishment of a deep sea port at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island as being essential to the state’s economy, and in particular the timber, livestock and tourism industries. A new deep seaport will enable commodities and freight to be transported to and from Kangaroo Island more reliably and cost effectively - and in greater volumes.
  • We also support ferry costs for all people and vehicles being further subsidised in line with other island communities in Australia, the sea link being seen as part of a national highway system. We strongly support additional subsidies for local people and vehicles who often have no choice as there are no alternative routes and there are limited services on Kangaroo Island.
  • SA-BEST will push for a feasibility study for a fast ferry from Glenelg to Kangaroo Island (Kingscote) to become a regular service. There are very few places in the world that lack the ferry connectivity from a mainland capital city to a nearby major tourism destination, like Kangaroo Island does.
  • SA-BEST will strongly advocate for increased road funding to address the woeful state of the roads throughout South Australia, to both repair and build new roads capable of moving traffic efficiently and safely throughout out state.
  • SA-BEST is opposed to the privatisation of public transport services, including rail, bus and tram and will support any return to public ownership pursued by an incoming Government.
  • SA-BEST strongly supports the retention of regional and interstate rail networks and will continue to oppose any closures, such as happened on Eyre Peninsula and almost happened to the Victorian passenger rail line. SA-BEST will fight for funding from the State Government to continue and expand The Overland rail service to Melbourne.
  • SA-BEST will support the further upgrading of Main South Road, to improve travel to and from the growing community of the South.
  • Free public transport 24/7 for seniors.
  • SA-BEST will demand additional funding for regular bus services in our regional areas where currently there is no service on weekends in key regional centres like Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla
  • We will also move for a parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the taxi industry and the impact of rideshare services and the introduction of e-scooters on city and suburban streets to determine whether there requires further regulation and compliance enforcement. 

Privatisation of public assets 

  • SA-BEST is opposed to further privatisation of public assets and will advocate for these to stay in public hands.
  • We will support the construction of a new Adelaide Aquatic Centre provided it remains in public ownership and on the existing footprint.
  • SA-BEST does not support the construction of a new and expensive entertainment stadium on the River Torrens Riverbank, whether it is in public or private ownership. 

Environment including management of our beaches  

  • SA-BEST has had a very active role in ensuring the sustainability of our environment and retention of our marine parks while co-existing with industry and public use.
  • We are opposed to sand pumping units being placed in residential areas and to any further sand removal and pumping that has a detrimental effect to the coastline, seabed or marine life.
  • We will strongly advocate for the rehabilitation of the St Kilda mangroves that were destroyed by salt leaching and will press for a better resourced Environmental Protection Authority with a much-stronger compliance capacity.
  • SA-BEST is strongly opposed to the imposition of recreational fishing licence fees and believes this activity needs to remain free and available to all along our coast, on jetties and offshore.
  • SA-BEST strongly supports increased grants for land management projects undertaken by community groups as well as private land holders. 


  • SA-BEST strongly supports the reestablishment of a strong manufacturing industry in South Australia, particularly in areas which Covid 19 demonstrated we are deficient in, or where new green and global opportunities exist for example in the electric car, solar and space industries. 
  • SA-BEST will back new power industry initiatives such as a hydrogen electrolyser facility and power station, along with a hydrogen storage facility, if they are shown to be viable and ease the burden of high power bills. 
  • We have been a strong supporter of renewable energy such that South Australia produces about 60% of its energy needs from renewables, primarily wind power. However, we have concerns current planning laws and controls on wind farms do not go far enough to ensure people, flora and fauna are not negatively impacted by the location and operation of wind farms and have opposed the increasing height and span of windfarm windmills. 
  • SA-BEST wants to see an expansion of solar capacity, both on home and in home systems but also by way of large sun farms and storage facilities, such as we have seen in recent years in South Australia. SA-BEST wants this to increase exponentially, by way of continuing subsidies to business, homeowners and to renters to offset the initial investment required.  


  • Sadly, South Australia has seen its manufacturing capacity drop from being a world leader to being a non-starter in making our own appliances, vehicles, engineering components and consumables such as refining oil, fuels, biofuels, wood and paper products. 
  • SA-BEST will strongly support the establishment of electrical vehicle and electrical vehicle component manufacturing in South Australia and will work with government and industry to ensure incentive settings for local manufacturing - and buying local - are right. 
  • To do this, SA-BEST moved legislation to establish a Parliamentary Committee to look into all aspects of the electrical vehicles industry and associated industries to maximise South Australia’s transition to zero emission electric vehicles while building our own manufacturing capacity. 
  • Covid 19 has illustrated South Australia needs to build and maintain its capacity to manufacture medical supplies such as personal protection equipment (PPE), vaccinations, medical test kits, and associated technology.  SA-BEST will support a specialised Industry and Small Business Manufacturing Development fund and a Research and Development fund designed to attract and locate this capacity here in South Australia. 
  • To complement South Australia’s burgeoning defence industry builds for ships and proposed nuclear submarines, SA-BEST will move for the return of technical colleges in our education system and specialist vocational training facilities for apprentices in key trade areas. We will also push the government to review and help supplement remuneration of apprentices to encourage greater participation from males and females. 

Primary Industries 

  • SA-BEST will explore pathways for the state’s wine sector and lobster and seafood industry to recover and find new markets for exports following the imposition of exorbitant import duties and prohibitions by China.
  • SA-BEST will work to ensure timber mill operators have fair access to forest products and are not disadvantaged by the exporting of locally grown logs to overseas markets, creating timber product shortages here and higher construction costs.
  • SA-BEST will push the government to commit $30 million in funding to address flooding concerns along the Gawler River which threatens one of the state’s major food bowls. 

Tourism and hospitality 

The pandemic - coupled with severe lockdowns and harsh restrictions - wreaked havoc on this sector, wiping more than $2.3 billion in value from the state’s visitor economy. 

Pre-pandemic this industry was worth $8.1 billion to our economy and up to 40,000 jobs. 

Only JobKeeper - and incentives for locals to experience their own state - prevented a total collapse.

Despite some easing of restrictions towards the end of 2021, the industry requires much more government assistance and attention to get it off life-support, reinvigorate businesses, and  attract further tourism investment opportunities. 

However recovery will be slow, particularly from overseas tourists who are only now beginning to trickle back. 

The SA Visitor Economy Sector Plan envisages growth of up to $12.8 billion per year by 2030. 

However for this objective to occur, the State Government needs to inject financial support. 


  • supports the Tourism Industry Council of SA’s request for an additional $81 million per year for three years to be invested in various areas of the industry;
  • strongly endorses the return of the Supercars on the city’s historic and acclaimed street racing circuit in December 2022;
  • supports a bid to attract a Formula E (electric powered racing cars) race to the city circuit, which would enhance the state’s green energy reputation and dovetail with any e-industry specific events;
  • supports attracting a major international airline carrier from the United States for direct flights;
  • encourages the State Government to add further value with a specific PGA tour event, once an international-class links golf course is completed on Kangaroo Island;
  • supports upgrading facilities and building a purpose-built passenger terminal at Outer Harbor to attract more cruise ships to our shores;
  • supports exploring opportunities in collaborating with the private sector to establish an exclusive international song festival for the Asia-Pacific region, based on the wildly successful Eurovision competition, and;
  • the provision of funds to establish and build an art gallery dedicated to the state’s film and entertainment/music/arts industries

The quickest way to spur economic recovery is to allow the workforce and successful businesses to keep more of the money they earn so they can more fully engage in economic activity.

Governments also need to cut red tape, which adds to the costs of running small business and impacts on jobs.

Our environment

SA-BEST believes there is an intrinsic, intertwined relationship between the natural environment, human wellbeing, economic progress and our long-term sustainable future.

South Australia needs to play its part in alleviating the global pressures on the environment, such as climate change, exponential population growth, emissions causing global warming, sustainable use of natural resources and protection from harmful waste and damage to the environment - for example through chemical run off or leaching such as we recently witnessed at the St Kilda mangroves.

With more catastrophic weather and disaster events, we have become even more aware we cannot take our natural environment for granted.

Every scientific report - including the last South Australian State of the Environment Report (2018) - points out the decline in our biodiversity, the increased impacts we are having on our coastal zones, increased pollution, emissions and waste, reduced water flows in rivers and catchment areas, with accompanying changes to acidity, salinity and temperature of our pristine marine environments.

SA-BEST will focus on the following strategic sustainability and environmental priorities: 

Climate Change

SA-BEST is committed to supporting legislation which will strengthen our short-term climate targets, including a target of at least 75% reduction in carbon emissions on 2005 levels by 2030 with a view to a target of net zero by 2035.

We will support conservation, restoration and improved land management initiatives with a view to becoming a world leader in natural climate solutions.

Climate change is undeniable. We are seeing the devastating consequences of climate change in more catastrophic weather events and rising sea levels and temperatures.

South Australia is particularly at risk from climate change as we already have extensive pastoral and dry land farming areas which are extremely rain fall dependent, as well as pristine marine environments and fish stocks sensitive to increased salinity and changing temperatures.

 Planning and Design Code

SA-BEST supports a comprehensive review of the Planning and Design Code.

As a member of the Legislative Review Committee, SA-BEST MLC Connie Bonaros heard first-hand evidence of the problem-plagued Planning and Design Code.

The review should include further consideration of a stronger response to water and biodiversity design, including an urban water security plan and clearer market signals for the development industry such as heat reduction strategies and urban tree canopy protections.

 Protecting Big Trees

SA-BEST supports a review of the Urban Tree Fund, including a review of the exemption process and how the funds are used.

 Native Vegetation

SA-BEST supports a review of the Native Vegetation Act 1991 to investigate the possibility of increased legislative protection and funding for assessment, monitoring and compliance under the Act. 

 Pastoral Lands

SA-BEST will continue to consult widely on any new draft of the pastoral lands bill.

We note the significant stakeholder concerns in relation to the first draft, including changes to stock maximums and lease terms and safeguards to prevent land degradation. We will also carefully consider the independence and balance of representation of the Pastoral Board.


SA-BEST supports an expansion of our container deposit legislation to include wine and spirit bottles and plastic milk bottles.

We support a national ban on the sale of products containing micro-plastics and micro-beads.

We will continue to support initiatives aimed at reducing the percentage of municipal solid waste going into landfill, including food waste and organics recycling.

While South Australian recycling rates are the best in the nation, the volume of waste generated per person remains unacceptably high with almost 17% of all waste generated going to landfill.

The waste management and resource recover industry is a significant contributor to our state’s economy, with 88% of recycled waste processed here in South Australia.

We are well placed to attract and grow new, potentially high-value added, advanced re-manufacturing enterprises and we are committed to supporting such initiatives.

 World Heritage Protection

SA-BEST supports World Heritage protection for the Great Australian Bight.

We also support a review into the possibility of protection for the terrestrial freshwater ecosystems of the Lake Eyre Basin catchment.

We are concerned about the potentially catastrophic consequences of an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight, with South Australia likely to suffer irreversible consequences to its coastal environment, and deep and long-term economic damage. 

 Water Catchment and Management

SA-BEST is committed to working in close collaboration with our federal colleagues to ensure the Murray Darling Basin Plan returns the equivalent of 3200GL to the environment by the 2024 reconciliation date.

SA-BEST is strongly opposed to Victoria and New South Wales over extracting water from the system and has been outspoken against any politically motivated deals to wind back or disadvantage South Australians impacted by changes made to the Murray Darling Basin plan, including allegations of wrong-doing exposed by independent SA Senator, Rex Patrick, and the subsequent Royal Commission.

We are particularly concerned at the mass fish casualties in our Lower Lakes caused by a lack of fresh water in the system to sustain the fish or to provide water to nearby towns. 

All decisions regarding the Murray Darling Basin must be based on scientific evidence as opposed to vested interests.

Most critically, there needs to be greater state and federal government transparency and accountability and a nationalised system of management in which South Australia plays a key role to protect our interests.

 Coastal Management

SA-BEST will support further legislation seeking to remove disposable and single use plastics and packaging from use to protect our oceans and marine life.

 SA-BEST will continue to listen to and support local coastal management advocacy groups such as those at Semaphore and Tennyson who are opposed to sand pumping stations and the further destruction of sand dunes.

 South Australia’s coastline stretches for just over 5000 kilometres and has a diversity of sheltered waters, gulfs, bays and open ocean coast.

More than 90% of South Australians live on or near the coast, with many commercial, industrial and recreational activities relying on our coastal and marine resources.

This means, in many cases, our precious coastline is quite literally being loved to death.

Our fragile coastal dunes and beaches, cliffs and estuaries are placed under further stress from development pressure, along with increasing foot, motorbike and vehicular traffic.

On top of that, the effects of rising sea levels will continue to see greater erosion of dunes and loss of beaches at many locations with across the state, along with increases in coastal flooding.

This will not only impact on infrastructure and development, but also coastal ecosystems and habitats and out own coastal lifestyle.

 Giant Australian Cuttlefish

SA-BEST is committed to advocating for a reinstatement of the fishing ban of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish in the Upper Spencer Gulf during spawning season.

 Marine Parks

South Australia's marine life is globally-unique and must be protected.

 Around 80% of marine life found in SA waters is not found anywhere else on Earth, with our marine environments more diverse and unique in many ways than the Great Barrier Reef.

 South Australian marine waters support more than 6000 invertebrate species, 350 fish species, 16 breeding seabird species, 33 mammal species, 1200 algae species and 12 seagrass species.  Our rich diversity of marine life is a result of the unique south-facing coastline, varying oceanographic conditions and the wide variety of coastal and marine environments.

 The Marine Park system in South Australia was introduced in 2012 with the aim of conserving marine biodiversity and habitat, within four levels of protection.

 Since their introduction, South Australia’s marine parks have not been without controversy.  In fact, it has been a vexed issue amongst competing stakeholder groups.

 SA-BEST recognised early on the challenges in striking the right balance between protecting our marine environment and growing the opportunities this brings for marine-based tourism, while recognising the critical importance of our world-class, sustainably managed fishing industry.

 No political party has invested more time and effort the SA-BEST in working closely with representatives from across the fishing industry in order to understand what unites it, what divides it and what can best assist it. 

 The same can also be said for the level of commitment we have demonstrated to other sectors with whom the fishing industry has historically competed, namely the conservation sectors.

 Following the last election, SA-BEST committed to working collaboratively with the environmental sector and the fishing sector to get the right balance in the lead up to the 2022 statutory 10-year review.  And we did!

 The result secured an unprecedent, multi-partisan agreement between the fishing sector, the conservation sector and all sides of politics.

 This includes no further expansion of the revised marine park network during the statutory review period scheduled for later this year and non-invasive commercial harvesting of abalone within an established marine park.      


SA-BEST supports increased landholder stewardship support for landscape revegetation and restoration efforts across the state.

South Australia has many important and endemic species – found nowhere else in the world.

Our biodiversity is critical to human life, helping to regulate air and water quality, mitigate increases in atmospheric carbon, control erosion and pests, pollinate plants, and contribute resources for food, fibre, fuel and medicines.

 Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is our future.

SA-BEST is a strong supporter of storage-based, renewable energy technologies, such as solar thermal, waste to energy and battery storage.

There are many exciting new opportunities for South Australia which will provide affordable, reliable, quality and secure power which is not only good for the environment but also jobs, small business and residents.

 Cleaner Transport

SA-BEST will insist on the establishment of a parliamentary committee inquiry into the rollout of Electric Vehicles (EVs), including a massive increase of financial incentives on new car purchases and smart home chargers to encourage uptake.

SA-BEST will push for a diversion of freight away from the South Eastern Freeway and Cross Road via a rail and road corridor behind the Adelaide Hills. 

We support the urgent electrification of the South Australian rail network and the transition of the state bus fleet to 100% electric.

SA-BEST supports initiatives to increase public transport accessibility and use, including the extension of the rail network to Mt Barker, Murray Bridge, Aldinga, Virginia and Two Wells.

We will advocate for the construction of a cycling and walking track to link the Royal Adelaide Hospital with North Adelaide and a further expansion of the Greenways network which is currently under construction.

SA-BEST will insist on the establishment of a committee to support our transition to cleaner transport vehicles.

Our state is well placed to benefit from the future uptake of EVs with our manufacturing experience and existing infrastructure.  

Manufacturing opportunities extend past just the vehicle build to charging systems, battery replacement and recycling. The training of a skilled workforce which will need to be transitioned from the current fleets also presents opportunities for South Australia.

Our regions

SA-BEST’S priorities are: 

  • to establish an innovative grants program allowing university graduates to have their HECS debt “repaid” in full in return for working in regional South Australia; 
  • demand the government undertake a two-year trial abolishing stamp duty for first home buyers and a 12-month trial for investors building new homes - capped at the median price; 
  • introduce a $8000 grant with discounted stamp duty exemption for the construction of new homes in regions for other home buyers; 
  • demand a one-off waiver of stamp duty for aged pensioners who downsize to a smaller property; 
  • improve public transport services within the regions, but also connecting to major cities; 
  • explore the feasibility of resuming a country rail passenger link between Whyalla, Port Augusta and Adelaide; 
  • increase the frequency of bus services from the Spencer Gulf region to Adelaide, including weekends; 
  • ensure appropriate funding by the SA Government to retain and expand the Overland train service between Melbourne and Adelaide; 
  • advocate for the refurbishment of the grain train rail line on Eyre Peninsula abandoned by multi-national grain handling company, Viterra; 
  • support calls for expanding the rail corridor to Mt Barker linking up with the Belair-Blackwood line to ease the congestion on the freeway as well as provide an alternative and comfortable journey to the city for commuters; 
  • seek to establish a parliamentary Select Committee to look at the feasibility of the Mt Barker rail project; 
  • revisit the decision to knock back the deep-water port at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island;  
  • support a proposal by Chateau Tanunda owner, John Geber, to reopen the rail line to the world-famous Barossa Valley for a tourist wine train, and; 
  • address the public housing and rental shortages in the regions. 

Growing our Regions

SA-BEST believes our regions have been taken for granted for too long.

We are committed to working with our regional communities to establish clear growth strategies and population targets for South Australian regional centres and to ensure that regional economies are supported to grow and prosper.

We will push for a comprehensive Regional Development Strategy to be developed and backed by a Regional Growth fund and a Regional Entrepreneur/Research and Development fund for existing and new regionally based or focused innovations.

We will also push for the recommendations of the Forestry Industry Advisory Council to be implemented.

Our regions and towns offer clean pristine environments, an affordable, safe and relaxed lifestyle with a strong sense of community.

There is existing capacity in regional schools and hospitals, for affordable housing, for job opportunities and a high level of local support for population growth and new industries capitalising on the assets of the regions.

Our regional centres and rural communities have been exemplary agricultural, fishing, forestry and aquaculture producers and exporters, home to skilled manufacturing, industrial output and mining.

Our regional centres have an abundance of space and on average 300 days of sunshine that position them for a new future in value-adding in land and sea-based food production, mining, wind and solar energy generation, sea water desalination,  forestry and tourism.

We are already seeing this in many regional areas including Roxby Downs, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Mount Gambier and Murray Bridge.

Committing to actively growing our country centres limits the urban sprawl of metropolitan Adelaide, while building a powering regional economic base to provide more workers for our rural industries and support a secure future for our regions and our state.

Solutions will need to be tailored for each region and will require both State and Federal Governments to work in strong partnership with Local Councils and communities to develop a comprehensive strategy with key performance measures and resourcing attached to foster sustainable growth.

Supporting this commitment will be a Regional Growth fund to leverage investment into new, catalytic infrastructure to help grow our regions and activate local economies and a Regional Entrepreneurs Programme to encourage new businesses to start-up or relocate in regional areas.

We need to invest substantial research and development funds into regional industries like forestry, meatworks, mining, fishing and aquaculture.

Improve Telecommunications

SA-BEST supports a State Regional Telecommunications fund allocation of $40 million to leverage Federal and private investment into mobile phone and internet blackspots and improve the reliability of mobile phone signal for rural communities during emergencies. We still do not have good nbn in many regional areas which is unacceptable in 2022.

There are around 800 sites in South Australia identified in the national Mobile Blackspots database.

We need to make sure there is sufficient State Government funding allocated to make serious inroads to fix this connectivity backlog.

The South Australian Government has so far contributed very little to these priorities.

South Australia needs to do better. We have a lot of catching up to do.

We have sadly seen how regional communities face additional risks during natural disasters such as bush fires, and have deal with great challenges of rebuilding and recovering after these.

SA-BEST will advocate for disaster recovery funding to be substantially increased.

SA-BEST is strongly committed to improving the reliability of mobile phone signal for rural communities during emergencies and to better resourcing emergency services such as the CFS, including purchasing specialised firefighting equipment.

We will also continue to work with our federal colleagues to push for legislative amendment to ensure mobile phone base towers have at least 24 hours of reserve power in regional areas particularly prone to bushfires.

Improve Regional Roads and Rail

SA-BEST will push for an increase in the share of arterial road maintenance funding to address the backlog of rural road repair and to support the retention of rail where it is currently available to keep as much freight off our roads as possible.  SA-BEST is a strong advocate to retain rail on Eyre Peninsula and will continue to oppose rail closures.

SA-BEST has been a strong advocate for the new Smith Bay deep sea port on Kangaroo Island so that timber and other commodities can be more economically and efficiently transported to and from the island, thus growing key economies such as non-GM crops and timber.

We will push for this project to be approved - as recommended to the State Government by the State Planning Commission – buts controversially overturned by the Planning Minister in 2021.

Expand Regional Education

SA-BEST strongly supports the re-establishment of a strong TAFE and tertiary education presence in regional centres, and a re-focus on school to work transition for trades in demand in the regions. 

We strongly support the reintroduction of teacher training and other trade training in regions, including the APY Lands and other remote centres such as Coober Pedy.

We also support increased funding to regional and remote schools for better infrastructure and technology.

Improve access to Health Services

SA-BEST strongly advocates for more permanent GPs in country and regional SA - and incentives to attract and retain them. We will also advocate for more permanent and visiting specialists, especially mental health and psychiatry services in regional areas.

We will press for improved funding for country hospitals, including fast-tracking capital upgrades and maintenance that have been neglected.

We will advocate for a stronger network of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and support services to be permanently available in country communities. We strongly oppose infrequent visitor mental health services or only online services.

We will strongly advocate for the maintenance of ambulances and staffing in the regions to ensure that there is never any ramping at regional hospitals.

See SA-BEST’s Health policy for more detail on health in the regions.

Improve support to the Agriculture, Forestry and Farming Sectors

SA-BEST will carefully consider any changes proposed to the SA Pastoral Land Act and consult closely with all stakeholders including Pastoral Lease holders.

SA-BEST is committed to acting in the best interests of those effected to ensure they are not disadvantaged by any proposed changes to the legislation.

We are strongly committed to implementing the 15 recommendations of the 2021 report from the Forestry Industry Advisory Council of SA.

SA-BEST founder, Nick Xenophon, was instrumental in establishing this Council and government should act on its expert advice.

The recommendations show how government and industry can work together to double the economic value of the South Australian domestic forestry related manufacturing.

Labor’s poor decision to privatise our forests has cost taxpayers billions of dollars in lost revenue and lack of oversight of production and forward planning.

SA-BEST strongly supports expansion of the forestry industry and associated manufacturing including wood products, paper manufacturing and biofuels in the South East region.

We are keen to ensure we learn from the pandemic and re-establish our own manufacturing base and supply chain in the regions to expand on these forestry-associated industries that already contribute $2.5 billion of product per year.

SA-BEST will advocate that the SA Government must prioritise selling its logs to SA timber mills and the domestic market first and foremost, rather than favouring exporters who on-sell the product to overseas markets in China and India for greater profit - but to Australia’s detriment.  

We will also continue to work toward;

  • implementing a five-year farm income protection (multi-peril) policy rebate, similar to that being considered in NSW. We also support a stamp duty exemption on multi-peril policies and will work with our federal colleagues to provide 150% tax deduction for farm multi-peril crop insurance.
  • reviewing the proposed Farm to Farm vehicle inspection regime to find a solution that is practical and cost-effective for farmers, without compromising road safety.
  • investigating options to strengthen legislative protections for agricultural land to reduce land use conflict and loss of our premium agricultural and pastoral estates.
  • introducing a “New to Farming” loan scheme, based on existing models in the United States and Canada, to encourage new entrants who have not previously owned a farm or agribusiness and who can demonstrate a viable business case, especially on pastoral land
  • recognising any seasonal work or other labour shortages and pressing for local training and recruitment to maximise workforce participation in the agricultural industry, including introducing incentives for pensioners to work in agriculture whilst without impacting their pensions.
  • pressing for regional relocation incentives for skills shortages including meat workers, trades, health personnel and teachers.
  • continuing to work closely with the fishing and aquaculture industries to maximise their growth, sustainability and future directions.   
  • carefully considering  transition mechanisms for fire, drought and disaster funding that must be put in place to minimise and manage the growing risks faced by land and sea farmers.
  • pursing issues such as difficulties many farmers have faced regarding access to a heavy vehicle inspection stations or officer and costs associated with the proposed annual roadworthiness inspection versus the frequency of use. We need to ensure a fair and cost-effective inspection regime for infrequently used heavy farm vehicles, without compromising road safety.
  • investigating and supporting better land management and natural resource management funding and supports to farmers and Native Title Holders who are the custodians of 65% of the state’s remaining native vegetation and many of our water catchments. Unfortunately, the current approach to managing our natural resources is failing - plagued by inefficiency and cumbersome bureaucracy, with too much focus on planning, administration and enforcement and not enough on supporting positive projects. We need a much stronger focus on on-ground and extension support and programmes and supports for land holders.

 SA-BEST  is committed to ensuring the state’s agricultural lands are not encroached upon by other industry or land uses that will deplete our already small food bowl.

We will call for increased research and development in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, viticulture and aquaculture industries.

There has been a significant reduction in funding for agricultural research and development over the past decade.

Further advances in agricultural productivity - in the face of more fires, droughts and changing rainfall patterns - cannot be made without advances in agri-technology, biosecurity, plant breeding, carbon management and soil microbiology.

We need a much stronger state commitment to R&D in order to leverage Commonwealth and private sector investment and support new advances in productivity and sustainability.

The state needs to recognise the value of the agricultural sector to our economy, our communities and our future.

Steps need to be taken to ensure the South Australian agricultural industry is sustainable and better positioned to take advantage of the growing export markets that will support our local economies.

Decentralised regional location of services

SA-BEST supports a strong, efficient, responsive public service, where decisions are directly connected to the communities, lives and livelihoods they impact upon.  

This is particularly evident for country communities. The more the public service is centralised, the more policy decisions are formed through a “city” lens and the more connection with the country is lost. 

SA-BEST supports a more equitable share of taxpayer funded jobs being located in regional and country communities. 

This provides new career options for our country kids, a broader mix of skills into local communities, and importantly - provides more efficient, practical and relevant citizen centric policy and decision-making. 

We need to look at improving the way incentives and job tenure for regionally-based public sector positions are implemented to make the option of living and working in country SA more equitable and sustainable. 

We also need to get more departmental decision-makers out of the city and into the regions consulting with people on whom their decisions will most impact. 

We will advocate for the retention of bricks and mortar shop fronts for Service SA, banks , and the like, in regional centres. 

We will also continue to call for better maintenance of existing public housing in regional areas, and an increase in new and appropriate public housing construction for smaller and ageing households.  

Our transport and infrastructure

SA-BEST’s priorities include:

  • support calls for expanding the rail corridor to Mt Barker linking up with the Belair-Blackwood line to ease the congestion on the freeway as well as provide an alternative and comfortable journey to the city for commuters. 
  • seeking to establish a parliamentary Select Committee to look at the feasibility of the Mt Barker rail project. 
  • revisit the decision to knock back the deep-water port at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island.  
  • advocating for the refurbishment of the grain train rail line on Eyre Peninsula abandoned by multi-national grain handling company, Viterra. 
  • supporting a proposal by Chateau Tanunda owner, John Geber, to reopen the rail line to the world-famous Barossa Valley for a tourist wine train, and; 
  • ensuring appropriate funding by the SA Government to retain and expand the Overland train service between Melbourne and Adelaide. 

South Australia is witnessing a massive $18 billion spend on transport infrastructure with the key North-South corridor project the almost $10 billion allocated for the next stage - Torrens to Darlington.

The State Government is also committed to ongoing roadworks and upgrades in the metropolitan area and regions, intersections, bridges and completing the Gawler rail line electrification in 2022 along with other rail network projects.

This investment is welcome in creating thousands of jobs during a critical period in the continuing post-pandemic recovery. However much more attention is required. 

Rail corridor from Mt Barker

The transport needs to meet the demands of rapidly expanding parts of the Adelaide Hills - including Mt Barker - are not being addressed effectively.

Tens of thousands of daily commuters to the city are reliant on the South-Eastern freeway corridor and, with it, the uncertainty of delays that are caused by accidents and heavy vehicle movements. Dozens happen on this transport lifeline each year.

The State Government recently announced a plan to install moveable road barriers in the event of traffic holdups caused by vehicle accidents - but for the Hills communities it is nothing less than a band-aid solution to an ever-increasing problem of dealing with traffic flows.

SA-BEST supports the concept of creating a rail corridor from Mt Barker and linking it up with the Belair-Blackwood line to ease the congestion on the freeway as well as provide an alternative and comfortable journey to the city for commuters.

The issue has been the cause of some debate because of the complexities created by the mix of rail gauges just to accommodate trains.

The State Government’s highly questionable line is that creating a new spur is economically unviable while creating a longer journey to Adelaide Railway Station than using cars or buses.  

However, supporters of the plan vehemently dispute this believing the costs could be in the region of  $163 million for infrastructure costs like stations, park and ride car parks and level crossings, with a further $154 million required for rail carriages - bringing the total to $312 million compared with the government estimate of $12 billion.

SA-BEST will seek to establish a Parliamentary committee to look at the feasibility of the project. 

Regional rail

Regional South Australia will never reach its true social and economic potential if successive state governments continues to abandon rail as an efficient and reliable mode of transport.

While the rest of the world – and other Australian states – continue to embrace rail as an economic and competitive form of transport, South Australia’s regional network is being left to stagnate due to a lack of vision and financial commitment by successive state Labor and Liberal governments.

It was extraordinary that Infrastructure SA’s 20-year blueprint for the state failed to include one regional railway project.

SA-BEST finds this state’s aversion to rail is bewildering.

In contrast, other Australian states are enthusiastically supporting the expansion of their rail networks, committing billions of dollars to nation-building intercity connections.

In the meantime, our once proud regional rail network is virtually in a state of ruin – left dilapidated and neglected by successive Liberal and Labor governments.

The company with responsibility for maintaining our regional rail network - One Rail Australia ( formerly Genesee Wyoming Australia {GWA})– has flagrantly ignored its contracted responsibility to maintain the network to the extent where much of it is now unusable.

Federal and State governments are continually looking at initiatives to stop the population drain away from our regions - while at the same time also trying to make them more attractive to young families and migrant families as a place to settle and raise their families. 

SA-BEST believes an efficient, reliable, and economic regional rail network is one such initiative that should be on the drawing board – not left lying in ruin. 

Rail is the backbone of efficient freight and passenger transport in just about every developed country around the world.

Yet not in South Australia, one of the largest states in the country. It makes no sense. 

Kangaroo Island-Smith Bay deep-water port

In August 2021, Attorney General and Planning Minister, Vickie Chapman, rejected a project by ASX-listed, Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers (KIPT), to build a multi-million dollar deep-water port at Smith Bay, on the northwest coast of the Island despite it receiving conditional approval by the State Planning Commission.

The decision effectively killed off a sustainable timber industry on the Island which would have generated hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy and created hundreds of jobs for decades. The wharf would have also provided services for other vessels, including cruise ship tenders.

KIPT had invested $29 million in its forest plantations on Kangaroo Island, including the cost of a Environment Impact Statement (EIS) and the development plans for the wharf to take logs and other freight off the Island - avoiding higher costs of using the ferry service operated by Sealink.

KIPT was also impacted by the 2020 bushfires on the Island, losing a substantial part of its plantations. Millions of tonnes of fire damaged logs that had been felled are in dam water storage still awaiting to be shipped during a time of critical timber shortages.

Sealink has consistently provided the Island with a reliable service from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw and continues to enjoy a monopoly after its long-term contract was extended by the Marshall Government.

However, the costs of shipping freight on its ferry service remain high without any subsidies provided by either the State or the Federal Government.

SA-BEST believes a deep-water port on Kangaroo Island must be prioritised and the incoming government – regardless of whether it’s the Liberals or Labor - must revisit the Smith Bay proposal and give it conditional approval and seek Expressions of Interest to complete the project as a matter of urgency. 

Point to Point Transport

The transport service which covers taxis, chauffeurs, tourist services and rideshare has been under review by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT).

The introduction of disruptive rideshare services by the Weatherill Government - and supported by the Marshall Liberal Government - caused severe economic harm to the long-established and regulated taxi industry.

Virtually overnight the value of taxi plates placed on the market by the State Government plummeted to the point where they are now worth less than 10% of the price paid by some owners, many of whom find themselves in financial distress from their investment done in good faith.

Post the midst of the COVID pandemic, many plates and vehicles remained inactive. Lease payments made to plate owners were slashed to next-to-nothing or simply returned.

While the taxi industry remains regulated, rideshare services are not required to meet the same standards or obligated to pay the same costs associated with owning a taxi.

Taxi Council SA - the state’s peak body representing owners - continues to complain about compliance issues by rideshare drivers and companies which are not actively policed by DIT.

A compensation scheme for plate owners introduced by the Wetherill Labor Government - funded by a continuing $1 levy on each taxi and rideshare journey - was inadequate to cover the loss of the taxi owners’ investments.

SA-BEST will continue to advocate for better outcomes for the taxi industry and plate owners.

In the 55th parliament, SA-BEST will move a motion to create a Select Committee in the Legislative Council that will analyse the impact rideshare services have had on established taxi services and whether there needs to be further remedies to correct the imbalance and economic hardship created by decisions by successive government. 


Successive state governments have continued to sell-off publicly owned assets to the detriment of taxpayers, making South Australia one of the most privatised states in the nation.

The Marshall Liberal Government has continued this practice privatising the metropolitan rail network to foreign-owned Keolis Downer.

The Labor Party, ironically, has indicated it will reverse the decision to privatise this important public asset.

SA-BEST MLC, Frank Pangallo, was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Privatisation which made several key recommendations in a majority report tabled in November 2021, including:

  • the establishment of an independent regulatory body to provide oversight over services that have been privatised
  • the establishment of a standing parliamentary committee to review existing privatisations and make recommendations on any proposed privatisations prior to government approval
  • subsidiaries of multinationals awarded contracts for delivering public services to publicly report on their domestic and international revenues and tax payments
  • protections of employment standards for those working in government services that are privatised
  • a moratorium on further privatisations on government services until all recommendations are actioned.

SA-BEST remains opposed to the privatisation of any remaining public assets unless there is justification after being scrutinised by the parliament. 

Road maintenance

While significant funding is being directed to major infrastructure projects, many roads and intersections in the metropolitan area and the regions remain in desperate need of upgrades.

In releasing its list of risky roads, the RAA cited key safety concerns about poor road maintenance, uneven surfaces, crumbling road edges, potholes and lack of overtaking opportunities.

According to the RAA, there have been 1171 casualty crashes resulting in 27 deaths and 1564 injuries on the ten riskiest roads between 2016 and 2020,

Among the worst roads requiring urgent attention are Main South Road between Aldinga and Sellicks Beach; the Southern Ports Highway in the state’s South-East; Main North Road from Gepps Cross to Gawler; the Victor Harbor Road; Glynburn Road between Payneham and Magill roads and Main Road from Coromandel Valley to Chandlers Hill.

Complaints from locals about the state’s worst intersection at Curtis and Heaslip roads, Angle Vale, continue to be neglected by both major parties with no firm commitment to fix it.

SA-BEST supports the RAA’s demand for the establishment of a $600 million fund to specifically address outstanding roadworks in the network and will advocate strongly for it in the new Parliament.

Shop trading hours

SA-BEST’S priorities include: 

  • SA-BEST does not support deregulation of retail trading hours in SA. 
  • SA-BEST supports the small independent retailers in South Australia. We support the little guy against the big end of town.

That is why we will not support any move to deregulate shop trading hours, including trading hours for car dealers, in South Australia.

Any move to deregulate shop trading hours would devastate small and medium-sized businesses, including independent stores like IGA, that take advantage of big supermarkets having to close early on weekends and open late on Sunday.

The policy proposed by the Liberal Party is an aggressive push by the big end of town that would force out small independent retailers.

The retail market pie remains the same and deregulation would only serve to re-slice it. It just gets redistributed.

South Australian independent retailers enjoy stronger local support than any other state with over thirty per cent of the market share. SA-BEST stands with our independent retailers.

Deregulation only favours Coles, Woolworths and Aldi at the expense of South Australia’s proud local fruit and veg, butchers, bakers, independent supermarket business and other locally owned general retailers. It threatens the viability of smaller operators who are the lifeblood of our community.

We believe it is important to support local independent business and SA-BEST is proud to stand alongside them.

Our COVID vaccination policy

SA-BEST does not support mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, including in our schools.

We acknowledge and respect a person’s right to make their own informed choices.

We also note the advice given by the Commonwealth Government’s Chief Medical Officer and SA Health about vaccinations.

We encourage people to seek the professional advice from their own doctor before determining if they or their family members should be vaccinated.

Our fishing industry & our waters

South Australia's marine life is globally-unique and must be protected.

Around 80% of marine life found in SA waters is not found anywhere else on Earth, with our marine environments more diverse and unique in many ways than the Great Barrier Reef.

South Australian marine waters support more than 6000 invertebrate species, 350 fish species, 16 breeding seabird species, 33 mammal species, 1200 algae species and 12 seagrass species.  Our rich diversity of marine life is a result of the unique south-facing coastline, varying oceanographic conditions and the wide variety of coastal and marine environments.

The Marine Park system in South Australia was introduced in 2012 with the aim of conserving marine biodiversity and habitat, within four levels of protection. 

Since their introduction, South Australia’s marine parks have not been without controversy.  In fact, it has been a vexed issue amongst competing stakeholder groups. 

SA-BEST recognised early on the challenges in striking the right balance between protecting our marine environment and growing the opportunities this brings for marine-based tourism, whilst recognising the critical importance of our world-class, sustainably managed fishing industry.

No political party has invested more time and effort the SA-BEST in working closely with representatives from across the fishing industry in order to understand what unites it, what divides it and what can best assist it.  The same can also be said for the level of commitment we have demonstrated to other sectors with whom the fishing industry has historically competed, namely the conservation sectors. 

Following the last election, SA-BEST committed to working collaboratively with the environmental sector and the fishing sector to get the right balance in the lead up to the 2022 statutory 10-year review.  And we did! 

The result secured an unprecedent, multi-partisan agreement between the fishing sector, the conservation sector and all sides of politics. This includes no further expansion of the revised marine park network during the statutory review period scheduled for later this year and non-invasive commercial harvesting of abalone within an established marine park.       

So where to from here for the fishing industry?

The fishing industry continues to make an invaluable contribution to the South Australian economy and its regions, as well as to the state’s reputation as a seafood destination point, nationally and internationally.  It is the backbone of many of our world-renowned regions.      

There are a myriad of issues government ought to be addressing to ensure the fishing industry’s continued viability and the flow on effects that has for the state’s economy. During these challenging times, industries which are the backbone of our community - and especially our regions - should not be hamstrung by unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. 

We remain committed to continuing to work closely with all sectors of the fishing industry to find practical and workable solutions to the challenges it faces - especially when it comes to delivering more balanced, streamlined and efficient fisheries management practices, compliance regimes and cost recovery models.

The SA-BEST team will always be guided by experts with firsthand experience rather than political ideology when it comes to finding such common ground and sensible solutions.  This includes experts from within the fishing industry itself - it's a tried and tested model and it works!

And while we do not hold the government purse strings, we remain in a unique and enviable position of holding governments to account for their decision-making and advocating fearlessly for industry sectors that create jobs and security, including your own.



Since their introduction into South Australian pubs and clubs in 1994, electronic gaming machines (EGM or poker machines) have driven an exponential increase in gambling losses in SA - and with it enormous social and economic harm.

SA-BEST has been the most outspoken and active political party in South Australia in trying to rein in the negative impacts and damage poker machines - and gambling more generally - have on ordinary South Australians.

SA-BEST has - and always will - advocate strongly for a clear pathway of practical reforms to transition the SA Government - and the hotel barons - from their gaming machine dependence.

We want to see a substantial reduction in the number of gaming machines as well as measures that greatly reduce harm to the community, families, and individuals. 

The issue of gaming machine reform will continue to be a priority issue for SA-BEST in the new Parliament.

Gaming machines, casino games, betting and online gambling have unleashed an enormous amount of individual, family, and community misery.

In response, successive governments have failed to provide responsible and effective regulation to protect the community.

Political Influence of the gambling lobby

The gambling industry in SA and the poker machine owners - the state's wealthy poker machine barons – through its collective organisation, the Australian Hotels Association, have a disproportionate economic and political influence, with both Labor and Liberals falling over each other to keep them happy while freely accepting their political donations and support.

 As a former Federal politician observed: “even at the highest level, Australia’s major parties were running a protection racket for the gambling industry”. 

Over the past 22 years, the AHA has spent more in South Australia ($1.76m) than in NSW ($1.42m) despite NSW having nearly three times the number of licensed premises.

At the 2018 election, the AHA’s appalling saturation advertising campaign attacking Nick Xenophon and SA-BEST virtually handed the election result to Steven Marshall’s Liberal Government.

Its greedy reward by the Liberals (and Labor for that matter after it supported the legislation) was the introduction of note acceptors - regarded by experts as the single most damaging technology when it comes to the harm caused by poker machines - introduced off the back of a cozy deal done between the two major parties and the poker machine lobby.   

The corrosive impact of the gambling lobby on the democratic politics of our state should not be underestimated.

Make no mistake - these measures will significantly decrease the harm caused by these insidious machines. They will lead to more people destroying their lives and those of their loved ones.

SA-BEST will continue to push for greater transparency and disclosure on political donations to South Australian registered parties from the gambling industry.

SA-BEST will champion a complete ban on all political donations from the gambling industry and its associated industries/entities to all South Australian registered parties. And we will push for the commencement of the committee of inquiry into online gambling that was promised but never delivered by the major parties!

The electronic gaming machine problem in a nutshell

SA has a proliferation of electronic gaming machines in hotels and clubs – approximately 12,964 machines operating in almost 500 venues. This figure is down from a 2001/2002 high of over 15,430 machines.  It is well documented accessibility to electronic gaming machines is a key factor in gambling harm, and it is clear these machines are by far the greatest revenue raisers of all gambling forms - for the operators and the Government.

Since they were introduced, more than $12 billion has been spent by patrons on poker machines. That is a staggering figure!

Government revenue from EGMs since 2001/2002 to 2018/2019 is an obscene $5.8 billion dollars.  

For every dollar of net gaming revenue, 40 cents goes direct to the State Government and 9.5 cents goes in GST which ends up with the State Government.

The only thing certain about electronic gaming is that patrons cannot win.

Research by the Productivity Commission and two landmark research reports indicate about 40 per cent of gaming machine losses come from those people who experience severe gambling harm and who can least afford to lose money.

The Productivity Commission has found that for every ‘problem gambler’ there are an average of seven other people adversely affected. 

That’s a huge social impact.

Gaming machine addiction drives up levels of crime, homelessness, poverty, depression, and other serious mental health problems. Most of the gambling related fraud was due to gaming machines. Gaming machine fraud generates crime amongst many otherwise non-offending citizens.

Whatever the government makes in gaming machine revenue in the short term, it just isn’t worth it, especially in the long term.

And the economic impact can’t be understated. On average over the last 20 years over $700 million has been lost each year on electronic gaming machines in hotels and clubs in South Australia alone (2001/2002- 20018/2019 ); that’s money that’s diverted away – not just from the individuals who have lost their money and their families – but it also deprives retailers, supermarkets and other small businesses of valuable revenue.

A study by Adelaide University’s SA Centre for Economic Studies found that for every million dollars spent on gaming machines, only three jobs were created, compared to more than double that for one million spent on retail and double again for jobs created in hospitality, cafes, fast food, and restaurants.

For every $100 million not spent on gaming machines but spent on retail goods there would be 300 to 350 additional jobs in retail and more than double this in hospitality, cafes, restaurants and other small business.

Recent Reforms

SA-BEST has strongly pressed for reform of the gambling industry in South Australia, particularly regarding gaming machines.

However, on 3 December 2020, seriously detrimental gambling reforms came into effect in South Australia after the Liberal Government and Labor Opposition colluded to ensure their successful introduction. There was no meaningful debate - it was a done deal between the major parties. As a result, bank note acceptors and Ticket-In-Ticket out technology was allowed on gaming machines in licensed gaming venues.

Machines can now accept any note up to $50 and up to $100 can be loaded into any machine. This was a huge step backwards in gambling reform and a huge pay day for the political donations made by the gambling industry to the Liberal party.

A very small consolation SA-BEST managed to achieve, was those venues using a bank note acceptor must have approved facial recognition technology installed in their gaming rooms.

We were also able to limit the daily EFTPOS withdrawal to $200 from EFTPOS machines in gaming venues. We would like to see no EFTPOS machines in gaming venues at all, and if we must  have them, then a much lower limit, especially since there have been plenty of breaches of this rule.

Since late in 2020, when these limited reforms came into effect, there have been more than 2500 detections of potentially barred  patrons. Gaming staff are meant to be “intervening appropriately” but we do not know what this actually means, or if those detection figures are accurate.

The obvious harm that these reforms will cause gamblers was strongly opposed by SA-BEST, but the Government was able to get the Bill passed, albeit with amendments moved by SA-BEST.

Another reform SA-BEST was able to advocate strongly for was the new Community Impact Assessment that applicants for new or transferred gaming licences must complete and comply with to be approved. The applicant must outline how they will  minimise harm from their operation through identifying possible problem gamblers, informing customers and their families and facilitate access to voluntary self-exclusion and formal barring, designing, and locating the gaming area so it does not attract minors, or detract from other areas of enjoyment in the premises and detail the security provisions in gaming areas.

What needs to be done

SA-BEST needs to be ever vigilant and continue its focus on further reform to slash the level of harm.

SA-BEST is calling for:

  • an urgent comprehensive enquiry into the Adelaide Casino mirroring the terms of reference of the recent Royal Commissions held in Victoria and NSW; 
  • banning all political donations from hotels with gaming, gambling operators like casinos, gaming machine manufacturers and gaming industry lobbyists;
  • gaming machine licences to be converted to a seven-year licence only. This would deal with the argument that particularly smaller country hotels would have their loans at risk with any sudden change (although SA-BEST’s concerns, first and foremost, are for those who have been harmed by the machines). Converting machines to a seven-year licence would put the industry on notice not to invest beyond that time, with consideration of licence extensions beyond that seven-year period to be considered by the next Parliament in 2026;
  • an ongoing reduction in the number of gaming machines including;
  • a 10% per annum reduction in the number of machines in hotels in those venues with 10 or more machines, for a period of five years, until a 50% reduction is achieved. This 10% reduction per year will not apply to sporting or recreational clubs, community hotels or the casino;
  • a buyback scheme to be implemented immediately, to include those over 140 venues with 10 or fewer machines, to encourage those venues to become gaming machine free. In addition, any scheme should preference those smaller holders of machines in aggregate terms of up to 120 machines over multiple venues and to those who have entered the industry relatively recently (i.e. venues that haven’t made the huge super-profits of early entrants into the gaming machine sector);
  • establishment of an industry restructuring fund to assist businesses to move away from their reliance on gaming machine revenue to other higher employing industries such as live entertainment, events, music, dancing, performance or other positive social activities;
  • establishment of a jobs fund to support and help transition employees in the industry affected by these changes (including other changes to machine design being proposed). The emphasis will be on transition and support, and acknowledges the less money lost on gaming machines, the more jobs will be created in other sectors;
  • making the machines much less harmful – for all machines in pubs and clubs - by implementing $1 maximum bets per spin and reducing the maximum jackpot to $500. This is broadly in keeping with the Productivity Commission’s key recommendations and, given that 90 per cent of recreational gaming machine players don’t put in more than $1 per spin, will have a negligible impact on most players;
  • a lower jackpot will also mean the machines are less addictive and significantly reduce hourly losses to closer to $120 per hour, compared to $1000 or more per hour that can be lost now. Making the machines ‘con-free’ by removing misleading and addictive features such as near miss and losses disguised as wins. Consumers must be protected from deceptive features and allowed to make fully informed choices with relevant information;
  • removing EFTPOS machines in gaming machine rooms within six months. Easy access to cash is a key driver of increased harm;
  • removing the note accepting function from all gaming machines;
  • reducing the maximum number of trading hours for gaming rooms from 18 to 16 with only one continuous break;
  • enhancing the power of the Independent Gambling Authority to discipline venues (including the casino), that do the wrong thing by strengthening gambling codes of practice, and increased penalties for breaches, increased staffing for monitoring, compliance and enforcement;
  • provide additional funding of $5m per year for community education and gambling help services. Currently only about 10-15% of problem gamblers are seeking help – that is unacceptable and drastically needs to be increased in two years to at least 50%. This would also involve robust and independent monitoring of the levels of gambling addiction in SA as well as the impact of treatment programs in the state;
  • restricting gambling advertising – within 12 months all gambling advertising in SA should be removed from all public advertising spaces outside of the gambling venue itself;
  • an increase in advertising of regulatory gambling warning, and details of where help can be obtained inside and outside of gambling venues. The Government and the Industry should co fund an expanded quit gambling help line with face-to-face counselling and support also being offered in follow up to any initial contact;
  • the South Australian Government to fund ongoing research into all aspects of the industry and an annual report to parliament, incorporating research and advice from across government and independent experts, detailing the economic and social impact of gaming machines, including the results of the progressive implementation of reforms and possible future reforms;
  • the Federal Government should immediately request the Productivity Commission to update its 2010 report into gambling and associated harms, to include a particular focus on casinos, gaming machines and all forms of online gambling, including enticements, sucker bets and other marketing ploys used by online gambling platforms.

Online Gambling

The Reverend Tim Costello over 15 years ago said: “with internet gambling you will soon be able to lose your home without ever leaving it”.

Unfortunately, his prediction has in many ways come to fruition at increasingly alarming levels. While online gambling is seen as primarily a federal government responsibility, there is still much our state government with real political will can, tackle with exponential increase in online gambling. 

With unauthorised, illegal offshore online gambling, the SA Government should facilitate disrupting the access of such sites to SA consumers. The SA Government must also work with federal authorities to take action with other jurisdictions to prosecute alleged illegal gambling operators to protect SA consumers from harm.

We will also call for:

  • the implementation of a South Australian-tailored, sustained public health messaging campaign about the harms of online gambling, particularly targeting young people.
  • a complete ban on online gambling advertising, including print, television and all online social media or other media.
  • a stronger regulatory environment in SA. The Authorised Betting Operations Act allows those online gambling companies who are generally licenced within the weaker regulatory environment in NT to operate in SA. The gambling codes of practice that apply to these operators must be strengthened to prohibit any forms of inducements and access to exotic bets (e.g. ball by ball and sucker betting).
  • Online betting operators must be required to provide patrons with mandatory pre-commitment options and the ability of those who want to stop gambling to be barred from all authorised online betting operators.
  • Gamblers should be able to voluntarily or as in gaming machine use be deemed to be a barred gambler.


Gambling harm is a global issue, South Australia is a world leader in gambling losses, with the majority of those losses coming  from gaming machines and online options.

Despite COVID-19, not much has changed in South Australia, indeed many of the government’s reforms such as approving note acceptance on gaming machines have caused more harm.

Gambling profits and losses continue to rise.

More research is needed to examine the full impact of this on the South Australian population.

However, existing evidence is already enough for us to know that already vulnerable groups from low socio-economic areas are likely to be most affected.

To effectively reduce gambling harm in South Australia a public health approach to problem gambling is necessary.

Policies and solutions must go beyond  ‘personal responsibility” and ad hoc reforms.

 At present, policy change barriers include increasing reliance on gambling tax for state revenue and the gambling industry’s growing influence in the policy process.

People’s well-being must always come before profits. To increase the likelihood of policy change, stakeholders must continue to work towards a common goal; engage further to build an extensive network for support; and implement well-thought-out solutions and effective reforms to reduce the harms gambling causes.