State Policies

A Smaller, Harder Working Executive and Parliament

Our priorities are:

  • Relentlessly push for deep reform to ensure more responsible, transparent and accountable government.
  • Introduce into the Parliament legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to cap the number of ministers at nine and abolish the provisions for parliamentary secretaries.
  • Limit Ministerial titles to one or at most two for each minister.
  • Require Government departments and agencies to report to only one minister.
  • Introduce legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to reduce the size of the House of Assembly from 47 members to 34 and the Legislative Council down from 22 members to 17. The Parliament as a whole would be reduced from 69 members to 51. 
  • Reduce the terms of Legislative Councillors from eight to four years so that the entire Legislative Council faces election at the same time as the House of Assembly.
  • Push for the SA Parliament to sit at least 72 days each year, plus 18 days for Estimates committee hearings with both house of parliament participating. This would total 90 days of parliamentary and Estimates sitting days. By the end of 2017 the SA Parliament will on average have met on only 47 days each year over the past four years.


A transparent and accountable government.

Australian politics is broken. The Labor Government and Liberal Opposition are more focussed on fighting over power and perks than advancing the best interests of our state. The worst outcome on March 17 politics as usual, regardless of who occupies the Premier's office.

We must do better.

If successful in securing the balance of power in the SA Parliament, the SA-BEST team will be relentless to pushing for deep reform to ensure more responsible, transparent and accountable government. We must fix our broken government if we are to fix our state's many problems.

South Australia's parliamentarians need to work much harder and more efficiently to deliver the progress our state desperately needs.


Six fewer ministers: A smaller, more focussed executive

South Australia's Cabinet currently comprises fourteen ministers. SA's constitution currently allows the appointment of up to fifteen ministers and two parliamentary secretaries.

When our state's current constitution was adopted in 1934, the number of ministers was limited to six. Premier Tom Playford oversaw the state's industrial transformation with just six and later only eight ministers. However in the decades that have followed owing to the growth of government and the desire of successive premiers to find jobs and rewards for political mates.

There has also been an explosion in the numbers of ministerial appointments and titles. Labor Premier Jay Weatherill's Cabinet of fourteen ministers hold between them no less than 58 ministerial positions. One minister has as many as nine ministerial positions. Some government departments report to as many as five different ministers.

This complexity erodes ministerial responsibility and leads to administrative confusion.

SA-BEST strongly favours a much a smaller, more focussed and less costly government executive.

Tasmania's Government covers the same responsibilities of state administration as its South Australian counterpart with a Cabinet of only eight ministers. The Northern Territory has eight ministers while the Australian Capital Territory has seven.

SA-BEST believes the next SA Government should be comprised of no more than eight ministers including the Premier.

Ministerial titles should be limited to one or at most two for each minister. Government departments and agencies should report to only one minister.

Parliamentary secretary positions are of little value in state government and have mainly served to provide political reward for those MPs who cannot be squeezed into a ministerial position.

SA-BEST will introduce into the Parliament legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to cap the number of ministers at nine and abolish the provisions for parliamentary secretaries.

A smaller and more focussed executive will be more accountable to the parliament and more cost effective.

Cost savings from a smaller Cabinet, including the reduction of bloated ministerial staffing, should be devoted to enhancing front-line services for South Australians. A leaner, more efficient Cabinet will save tens of millions of dollars.

The size of the Cabinet will be one of a number of matters SA-BEST will weigh in the balance if we are in the position to decide who will form next SA Government.

The prospect of six fewer ministers should cause both the Labor Government and the Liberal Opposition to look closely at the Cabinet and Shadow Ministry and ask themselves who is really performing well enough to remain on the front bench.


A smaller, more efficient parliament

Have South Australians been getting value for money from the 69 parliamentarians who occupy seats in the SA Parliament? Few people would think so.

SA-BEST believes that a smaller, harder working parliament will deliver better results and more accountable government at a lower cost.

A smaller SA parliament will place greater pressure on political parties to select the best, most qualified and energetic people to serve our state, rather than provide jobs for party time-servers and hacks who expect rewards for factional loyalty.

Preselection to become a candidate in a winnable seat shouldn’t be seen as some sort of reward for service in a political machine.

SA-BEST will introduce legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to reduce the size of the House of Assembly from 47 members to 34 and the Legislative Council down from 22 members to 17.

The Parliament as a whole would be reduced from 69 members to 51.

The number of voters for each Lower House seat would grow to 35,000 — 10,000 more than now — and bring South Australia in line with Queensland, which has 35,427 voters for each seat. SA lower house electorates would still be much smaller than those in Victoria (46,178 voters for each state seat) and NSW (55,815).

Members of the House of Assembly would have to work harder, but their responsibilities would also still be significantly less than those of Members of the Federal House of Representatives.

The proposed reduction in the size of the SA Parliament would be appropriately referred to a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee for review and public consultation, including in regard to resourcing for members of parliament representing geographically larger country electorates.

SA-BEST also supports a reduction in the terms of Legislative Councillors from eight to four years so that the entire Legislative Council faces election at the same time as the House of Assembly.

Eight years is just too long for an MP to serve without facing the judgement of the people.

Legislation to reduce the size of the parliament will need to be introduced, debated and passed early in the next parliament to put MPs on notice that they will have to lift their game if they want to remain in parliament after the 2022 election.

We need to put a rocket up MPs and expel the complacency that has infected state politics and caused South Australia to fall behind the rest of our nation.

Support for reducing the size of the Parliament will be one of a number of matters SA-BEST will weigh in the balance if we are in the position to decide who will form next SA Government.


Getting parliament to work longer and harder

The South Australian parliament doesn't work very hard.

By the end of 2017 the SA Parliament will on average have met on only 47 days each year over the past four years.

By comparison the Federal House of Representatives will have convened on average 67.5 days a year over the past four years.

Federal parliament usually meets on four days in a sitting week. South Australian MPs only manage a three-day sitting week.

The Federal Senate holds extensive Estimates hearings to closely examine government expenditure and administration - 16 days scheduled in 2017 and more days in previous years.

In comparison the South Australian parliament managed only five days of Estimates hearings in 2017 with Ministers being able to veto public servants from answering questions.

This is woefully inadequate to ensure effective scrutiny of government or progress the legislative reforms required to ensure better government for our state.

SA-BEST will push for the SA Parliament to sit at least 72 days each year, plus 18 days for Estimates committee hearings with both house of parliament participating.

This would total 90 days of parliamentary and estimates sitting days.

Ministers and public servants need to be regularly grilled and held fully accountable for their decisions and actions.

Agreement for more parliamentary sitting days and an enhanced program of Estimates hearings will be another key issue SA-BEST will weigh in the balance if we are in the position to decide who will form next SA Government. 


Our priorities are to:

  • Implement 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.
  • Review the proposed Farm to Farm vehicle inspection regime to find a solution that is practical and cost-effective for farmers, without compromising road safety.
  • Investigate options to strengthen legislative protections for agricultural land to reduce land use conflict.
  • Investigate 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.
  • Explore funding and regulatory options to encourage alternate uses of agricultural waste products.
  • Continue the current ‘90-Day Change Project – Improving Road Transport for the Agriculture Industry’, as a key reform initiative working towards reducing transport costs for farmers.

As part of our broader policy supporting regions, SA-BEST also supports:

  • Establishing a Royalties for Regions fund to leverage investment into new, catalytic infrastructure to help grow our regions and activate local economies
  • Establishing a Regional Entrepreneurs Programme to encourage new businesses to start-up in regional areas.
  • Increasing the Departmental budget for rural road maintenance and, in consultation with local authorities, reinstate speed limits on country roads.
  • A substantial commitment to regional telecommunications funding 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.
  • Reviewing the NRM funding and delivery model to return the focus to local, on ground action.
  • We recognise that many issues relating to agriculture require cooperation between state and federal governments. We commit to working with our federal SA-BEST colleagues to extend the Seasonal Workers Incentives Scheme.

We need to support the agricultural sector in this state to grow exports and grow their contribution to our economy.

Agribusiness has been identified as one of five “super growth” sectors of the next 20 years.

With global population growth of 60 million per year increasing food demand and Asia’s growing middle classes set to boost their protein intake, South Australia is ideally positioned to build on its existing reputation for produce excellence and benefit from this growth.

Each Australian farmer produces enough food to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas.

According to Primary Producers SA, agriculture contributes 25% of South Australia’s economy, with one in five jobs associated with the food industry. Food, wine and fibre exports have increased by more than 50% over the last decade.

Despite the significant opportunity before us, farming in South Australia, particularly dryland agriculture is at a cross-road. The increase in farm size, improvements in machinery, technology, crop genetics and farming systems over the past few decades has significantly increased productivity. However, shifts in growing season rainfall, more droughts and the globalisation of agricultural markets is increasing business risk for South Australian farmers. Locally, farmers are also facing additional pressures with rising costs and red-tape, land-use conflict and workforce shortages.

With the broad move away from traditional Government funded drought and exceptional circumstances supports, transition mechanisms must be put in place to minimise and manage the growing risks. Encouraging greater uptake of multi-peril or farm income protection insurance is gaining momentum in several jurisdictions as a mechanism to support farmers to become more resilient and better prepared for natural disasters, and to reduce reliance on government drought assistance.

Many farmers have voiced concern over difficulties to access a heavy vehicle inspection station 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.

Advances in agricultural technology and produce marketing means access to good telecommunications is critical to the efficiency, productivity and safety of farms. Whilst there are over 830 sites in South Australia identified in the national Mobile Blackspots database, only $2 million has been allocated at a state level towards this task. This is woefully inadequate.

Farmers 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 bureaucracy, with too much focus on planning and administration. We need a much stronger focus on on-ground and extension support.

Less than five percent of South Australia’s landmass is suitable for dryland agriculture to grow crops such as wheat, barley, canola, chickpeas and lentils and a further three percent for high rainfall grazing. We must protect it from competing land uses.

Transport is a major cost for farmers. The current ‘90-Day Change Project – Improving Road Transport for the Agriculture Industry’ is making good progress in reducing the costs of first-mile access from farm gate to the supply chain in an efficient manner.

Despite ongoing concerns about a lack of jobs in South Australia, the agricultural sector continually struggles to attract and retain enough workers. From seasonal fruit picking, abattoir and greenhouse workers, through to broadacre farmhands, machinery operators and technicians. The ongoing struggle to attract and retain employees in agriculture is exacerbated by a rapidly ageing workforce. We need to consider a range of incentives to encourage a new generation into the agricultural industry.

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 droughts and changing rainfall patterns - cannot be made without advances in agri-technology, biosecurity, plant breeding, carbon management and soil microbiology. We need much stronger state commitment to R&D in order to leverage Commonwealth and private sector investment and support new advances in productivity and sustainability.

Our agriculture sector has exciting and significant opportunities in the emerging bioenergy industry, with potential to create more jobs and diversify our economy. By-products like straw, forestry and other organic waste can be used to produce electricity, heat, fuel and other products.

We need to recognise the value of the agricultural sector to our economy, our communities and our state.

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


Arts and Culture

Our priorities are:

  1. Growing our Arts Industry
  2. Arts in Schools
  3. Regional Arts and Theatres
  4. Cross Sector Community Arts
  5. Live Music


1. Growing our Arts Industry

South Australian arts and recreation services industries are performing above the national average in terms of productivity.

However, a successful arts and culture sector in South Australia relies not only on infrastructure, festivals and arts centres, but on artists themselves and the small and medium sized organisations that develop, commission, present and nurture them.

To grow our creative and cultural economy, facilitate local creative enterprises, create new jobs and employment opportunities, and bring social and cultural benefits to our state, SA-BEST believes we need a much stronger focus on funding, individual career development and arts innovation. This will have a deep impact on the development of new South Australian artistic work and, importantly, keeping artists in our state.

As a first step, SA-BEST supports establishment of a cross-departmental taskforce and development of a long-term arts and cultural strategy for South Australia, based on the ‘Creative State’ initiative in Victoria.

Whilst there has been some restoration of previous funding cuts to Arts SA and investment in infrastructure and presentation platforms, SA-BEST is concerned that funding for the small-to-medium sector, independent artists, community and regional engagement, and innovation in the arts, remains at an all-time low and needs urgent investment.

The sector is in immediate danger of losing numerous well-loved arts organisations, as well as artists and arts leaders to other sectors of the economy and to other states. We must invest in the heart of art-making in South Australia, in artists themselves and keeping them in South Australia, and in the future of contemporary, global artistic practice in South Australia.

SA-BEST commits to working with arts sector practitioners and industry associations to:

  • Increase funding for programs that directly benefit small-to-medium organisations and individual artists, including community arts and cultural development, ATSI arts development, disability and contemporary music.
  • Establish an annual Arts Development and Fellowship Program to invest directly in both established and early-career artists and keep them in South Australia.
  • Establish an Arts Innovation and Experimentation fund for new work and artistic projects, which demonstrate innovation and experimentation and invests in the future of contemporary, global artistic practice in South Australia.


2. Arts in Schools

SA-BEST acknowledges the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in education.

However, we must also recognize creative activities as an equally important part of education – many secondary students (especially in regional secondary schools) do not have access to dedicated arts teachers.

Visual and performing arts should feature more prominently in the primary and secondary school curriculum alongside subjects such as science and maths.

Instead of STEM, SA-BEST prefers a ‘STEAMED’ curricula (an expansion of ‘STEM’ that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship and Design).


3. Regional Arts and Theatres

Access to arts and cultural activities is a significant factor in attracting people to live in regional South Australia. Regional communities rely on access to movies, live performances and dance at their local theatre. Dance schools, amateur theatre groups and schools rely on access to theatres to put on concerts and performances. Local government, government agencies, the corporate sector and NGOs use the venues for conferences and meetings.

Unfortunately, declining state funding has reached a critical point that is impacting on the sustainability of arts in regional South Australia and has already forced the winding back of key regional arts programs and services.

The State’s four regional arts centres (Middleback Theatre in Whyalla, Northern Festival Centre in Port Pirie, Chaffey Theatre in Renmark, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre in Mount Gambier) are ageing and deteriorating to a point where, in some cases, fire and safety compliance standards are unable to be met and key infrastructure and equipment is failing. Without action, these issues will result in temporary or long-term closure of one or more of these facilities.

Whilst we welcome recent State government funding for major redevelopment works for the Adelaide Festival Centre and Her Majesty’s Theatre, SA-BEST is also committed to investing in the regions. The benefits of creating more jobs in the arts sector and more money being injected into our visitor economy must be shared wider than the capital city CBD.

SA-BEST calls for much stronger investment into South Australian Regional Arts, including urgent investment into our ageing regional theatres.


4. Cross Sector Community Arts

Community arts programs that partner with other sectors such as health (especially mental health); youth; Indigenous; environment and CALD can have far reaching outcomes. Cross sector programs and projects are an efficient way to utilise scarce resources. Professional community arts and cultural development practitioners are skilled at working with individuals, community groups and other professional workers to meet the needs of participants and organisations.

Funding for community arts programs and projects has been eroded over the last 10 years.

Many community arts organisations in SA have been de-funded. Cross sector programs have also been affected by funding cuts to other sectors such as primary health care. Many community arts and cultural development practitioners have moved interstate to seek work opportunities.

SA-BEST supports a reinvigoration and long-term investment in cross sector community arts programs as a proven mechanism of providing significant benefits to individual wellbeing and community cohesion and a positive impact on a broad range of issues such as rural isolation, celebrating cultural diversity, addressing social injustice, and building community pride.


5. Live Music

SA-BEST strongly supports South Australia's live music industry and has committed $5 million over the next four years.

The $850,000 allocated annually from pokies revenue for the live music industry does not go anywhere near far enough in supporting live music and emerging local talent.

Venues who choose to focus on pokie revenue with little or no live music will contribute the $1.25m a year in extra funding, effectively cross-supporting venues who already champion our live music industry or who are working hard to grow and showcase more live music and local talent.

Criminal Law Sentencing

In South Australia, legislation that guides sentencing provide a list of ‘factors’ a court must consider – the rest is a matter of ‘instinctive synthesis’ or gut instinct in what may end up being the final outcome. The High Court has cautioned the courts against using a mathematical approach to sentencing because it said this fails to take into account the complexities of each case.[1] This is also sometimes referred to as ‘individualised justice’.

The Victorian Government has already announced it will establish a sentencing guidelines council in 2018 and is currently in the process of gauging with stakeholder and community consultation.[2]

In the interest of promoting greater public confidence in the criminal justice system as well as furthering consistency and transparency in how courts come to making their decisions, SA-BEST is advancing the introduction of sentencing guidelines as a part of its law and order policy.

Our proposal would include the creation of a ‘Sentencing Advisory Council’ which will be tasked with developing, consulting, publishing and then publicising the different guidelines based on a specific range of crimes.

We understand this is no small undertaking, but sentencing is a fundamental aspect of justice and we need to make sure any attempt to change the approach to how criminal law sentences are dealt with are properly incorporate into South Australia’s sentencing landscape so that constitutional issues do not arise unexpectedly.

Some of this ground work has already been undertaken by another Australian jurisdiction and while no definitive model has been agreed, early signals suggest there is a national appetite for better sentencing approaches which we are on board with. 

Why do we need sentencing guidelines?

  • Sentencing guidelines are designed to provide a stepped approach to a decision that promoted better consistency
  • These guidelines would then be reflected in the court’s reason as to how it comes to its decision in a manner that is uniform and consistent
  • The court retains an overall discretion as to whether it departs from the guidelines if it is necessary in the interests of justice – but any departure from the guidelines will need to be reasoned in the decision also.
  • Sentencing guidelines are better for all parties involved in the matter – the offender, the victim and importantly also, they promote public confidence in the criminal justice system.

What is a sentencing guidelines council?

  • An independent statutory body (independent of government and the courts)
  • The council would comprise of 7 serving judicial members as well as a blend of 6 legal and community members – including, if appropriate, the Commissioner for Victims Rights
  • Their role would be to consult with the various stakeholders (including victims of crime) and then develop, publish and publicise the different criminal law sentencing guidelines

How do these Sentencing Guidelines work?

  • Each guideline is tailored to a specific area of law written specifically to address the levels of seriousness and harm done in the different offences within our legal criminal framework (for example: drug offences, assault, corporate crime, manslaughter etc.)
  • Each sketches out a step by step approach tailored to that specific crime
  • This approach is structured in a series of stages to conform to a series of priorities
  • Each with a comprehensive range of factors the court should take into consideration

Important: The court will still maintain its complete discretion to depart from the sentencing guideline if doing so would be in the interest of justice

Will sentencing guidelines change the outcome of sentences?

  • No, the model we are proposing is designed to guide the court in its underlying approach to a sentencing so that their reasons are more consistent and easier to follow – they are not designed to influence the outcome of the sentence
  • This is not the same model that is utilised in the USA where a more mathematical grid-like structure is designed to calculate and directly influence sentencing outcomes

Discretion remains an essential feature in sentencing guidelines:

  • Sentencing guidelines are not designed to detract from the court’s ability to impose individualised sentences based on the circumstances before them
  • They do not limit or restrict the court in the matters open to consideration

They should require the court to give reasons as to why it has departed from the guideline in order to maintain transparency and integrity in the guideline

Do sentencing guidelines reflect the interests of victims of crime?

  • Yes, the Sentencing Guideline Council would be required to consider the interests of victims by consultation and research into how a specific crime impacts a victim and the community
  • The guideline may also be used to remind the court to look at compensation if the offender is in a position to remedy the damage caused by the crime

[1]Anthony Vasken Markarian v The Queen (2005) HCA

[2] Sentencing Advisory Council 2017, ‘A Sentencing Guidelines Council for Victoria: Issues Paper’, November 2017, <>

Cyber Safety

Our priorities are to:

  • Implement ‘Carly’s Law’ at a state level to make 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.
  • Empower the Commissioner for Children and Young People for South Australia to manage complaints about cyber bullying from young people in conjunction with the Commonwealth Office.
  • Empower the Commissioner for Children and Young People for South Australia to provide mediation services between victims and bullies.
  • Roll out the Carly Ryan Foundation’s ‘Online Safety and Emotional Intelligence Seminars’ to all Year 6 students in South Australia to bring about cultural change.
  • All young people responsible for bullying behaviour to undergo an intensive education program to change behaviours.
  • Empower the Commissioner and Young People for South Australia to make referrals to police, in certain cases.

Cyberbullying is a complex contemporary issue affecting our young people with devastating consequences for the victims and their families. A strong legal framework is essential, but the law alone cannot effect the cultural change necessary to reduce the frequency and harm caused by modern methods of bullying behaviour.

The World Wide Web has become weaponised enabling those with malice and ill intent to harass others while frequently enjoying anonymity. Hate has gone viral with words and images hurled by cowards and bullies who rage against women, ethnic and religious minorities, vulnerable children and the LGBTIQ community.

It has been estimated by the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner that in the 12 months to June 2016, 19 per cent of teens and eight per cent of children were cyberbullied. The cyberbullying ranged from being socially excluded, being called names, receiving unwanted online messages, having lies spread about them, receiving threats to their safety, having their accounts accessed without their consent, having personal information posted without their consent, having inappropriate private photos posted of them without their consent and even having someone impersonate them.

SA-BEST will make it a priority to protect the safety of children in the digital space. We must protect those who cannot protect themselves.

We can provide children with strategies and tools to stay safe online so they can experience the benefits of the internet without being at risk of the dangers.

SA-BEST is committed to providing prevention through education.

Sonya Ryan, founder and CEO of the Carly Ryan Foundation is a leading e-safety advocate is an accredited Safety Provider with the Commonwealth e-Safety Commissioner. Sonya has pioneered education and awareness of online safety for children for over 10 years following the death of her beloved daughter, Carly, at the hands of an online predator and her expertise demonstrates that the Carly Ryan Foundation is well placed to provide prevention programs.

Harm minimisation through mediation and support

We would work with the Commissioner for Children and Young People for South Australia to find the best way to manage complaints of bullying and cyberbullying from young South Australians and to work in conjunction with the Commonwealth Office of the e-Safety Commissioner.

To work with the Commissioner for Children and Young People to develop the best mediation solutions between victims and bullies and to ensure a safe, secure environment conducted by mediators with expertise in youth mental health.

All young people responsible for bullying behaviour to undergo an intensive education program to change behaviours.

Empowering the Commissioner and Young People for South Australia to make referrals to police, in certain cases.

Education and Learning

Opening Statement

SA-BEST will put student centred learning as the focus for all South Australians now and in the future. Every student deserves an opportunity to excel through quality learning experiences.

In November 2017, a Grattan Institute report concluded that Australia’s school education system is not fit for purpose, and we need to rethink the way students learn.

SA-BEST will change how students learn by moving emphasis from education to learning, from system centric to learner focussed. To highlight this, we propose the Ministry and Department of Education will become the Ministry and Department of Learning.



In an ever connected, digital world, where information and answers are a scroll or click away, the way we learn has changed.

The way our schools teach and support our students – and our communities - has also changed.

The traditional African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” now applies equally to our schools as it does to our communities.

Teachers are no longer just educators. They’re adjudicators, psychologists, enforcers, philosophers, even nutritionists, sports coaches and career counsellors.

The ever-growing gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in Australia means that many children are simply slipping through the cracks.

Teachers are hard-working dedicated professionals who have had far too little support when dealing with the complex problems children often bring with them to school.

We must make sure our schools, and our teachers, have the resources necessary to equip our students in the 21st century and the flexibility to apply these resources to meet their local needs.

We need to do better.








In 2017 Nick Xenophon’s federal team negotiated an extra $4.9 billion in education funding – including an additional $424 million for South Australia. This was on top of the federal government’s $18.6 billion in extra funding.


We will fight to ensure Commonwealth and State education funding and resources are allocated fairly and equitably; and remove the centralized bureaucracy and ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies that are failing our schools and our students, particularly those in country communities and those with high levels of disadvantage.

The majority of funding for the public school sector comes from the State Government. Under Gonski 2.0, if any public school is not at its target Schooling Resource Standard by 2027, that is the fault of its State Government.

Because of the NXT, all schools in Australia will receive at least 95% of their target SRS by 2023.

We will meet that target with a view to reaching 100%.

In addition, we will better support our teachers with skill development programs rather than simply more funding.

We will rigorously evaluate the impact of new reforms and focus on raising the quality of education expenditure.


Further research has highlighted that, “…overall student performance is declining, and an unacceptably high number of our students are not ready for life after school….”. Further research has found that school productivity in Australia has fallen over the past four decades and that resources alone are not the answer to improving school performance.



Underpinned by a significant body of national and international research, SA-BEST intends to work with sector experts and practitioners to support learning excellence by:

Supporting schools

  • Reduce the centralised bureaucracy and administration and more effectively allocate resources to where they are most needed and will make the most difference, including needs-based loadings. (For example, fully funded needs-based loadings for students whose education needs require greater levels of sustained investment, including many students with disabilities, Aboriginal students, students from low-SES backgrounds, regional, rural and remote students, and students requiring English language support.)
  • Review incentives, support mechanisms and infrastructure to overcome the challenges associated with geographic location and communities with concentrations of disadvantage (this includes attracting and retaining teachers and principals, lack of access to relief teachers and training for country schools, decent internet etc)
  • Review findings and recommendations from the Debelle Royal Commission and determine why some recommendations were not enacted. Particular attention will be paid to the role of school governing councils and whether they have meaningful authority or act merely as an advisory board.

 Supporting teachers

  • Address the lack of job security for teachers and support staff, particularly the high levels of short term contracts and casual employment; and the increase in non-core administrative tasks.
  • Address the increasing incidence of violence in our public education workplaces by implementing effective early intervention and training measures, as well as assessing and improving safety in schools.
  • Improve workforce planning to ensure adequate supply of appropriately qualified and trained teachers, leaders, and support staff. Explore innovative solutions to ensure graduate teachers are provided with meaningful teaching opportunities here in South Australia. For example, a scheme to give schools a rebate for offering SA graduates work opportunities, to prevent those young graduate teachers from leaving the state.
  • Targeted, incisive professional development opportunities in support of improving NAPLAN scores in primary schools. For instances, teachers may need additional professional development in two distinct areas. Firstly, in how to extrapolate and interpret data from NAPLAN and other sources. Secondly there’s a consistent dip in achievement from year 3 to year 5 across all metrics which has to be addressed with further PD in how to teach reading and how to teach numeracy
  • Trial the Phonics check in line with Dyslexia SA’s recommendations.
  • Structured peer led feedback and review as a core element of a raft of professional development programs to raise standards.

Supporting parents

  • ‘Village SA’ – pilot an online one stop shop for parents to visit which provides details on how to support excellent learning for their children and provides a platform for collaboration between the wider community including government departments, NGOs, community groups, business groups and individuals.

 Supporting students

  • Work with stakeholders to offer innovative, engaging ‘STEAMED’ curricula (an expansion of ‘STEM’ that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship and Design) to address the 40% of teenagers The Grattan Institute believe are disengaged from learning.
  • Digital Literacy programs are needed for 10-12-year olds initially as they transition from devices as platforms for games to the world of social media and potential risk of cyber bullying

Supporting learning

  • We support transitioning year 7 into secondary school. There’s compelling reason to move 13 year olds into secondary school when all of the resources and support in not only Australia but also internationally, is based on the assumption that year seven students will be learning from specialist teachers.
  • Review the ‘Research Project’ as currently delivered in senior secondary schools to determine its relevance how to best support teachers, parents and students.
  • Encourage and support foreign language (in particular those with shared linguistic roots) teaching in schools as it broadens the vocabulary of English speakers, improves their grammar and provides greater cultural awareness and cultural intelligence. Fluency in language will increase opportunities for business and employment beyond Australia’s shores.
  • Pilot a scholarship scheme for up to 50 students each year from disadvantaged backgrounds to live at a residential college whilst undertaking their tertiary studies.
  • An urgent independent inquiry into TAFE SA with regard to course accreditation and operational management to be conducted by senior academics, experts and industry organisations, and to report back to the parliament by 1 June.
  • Support vocational learning and training with its applied assessments along with its focus on personal learning and development. This support is crucial especially in light of catastrophe at TAFE under Labor.
  • Restore industry skills boards (dismantled under Labor) in order to provide professional advice to maximise the effectiveness of vocational training and its integration into workplace outcomes.


Our Plan to Bring Down Power Prices

SA-BEST has a vision for a renewable energy future that provides for affordable, reliable, quality and secure power, that is good for jobs, business, residents and the environment.

With proper and careful planning, the SA-BEST energy policy will drive economic development and jobs by reducing prices and maximising opportunities for local manufacturers, along with lower power prices through greater competition through a community-based retailer.


South Australian electricity prices are amongst the highest in the world [1]. They have skyrocketed. The Australian Energy Market Commission reports that bills have increased by 17% in the past year alone [2].

This has had a huge impact on domestic consumers, particularly those who are vulnerable, on low and fixed incomes; and small businesses in South Australia. Energy intensive businesses have also been hit particularly hard with negative impacts on employment.

South Australian consumers must be protected. Power prices must be reduced, and reduced substantially. Power supplies must be reliable.

SA-BEST intends to use a balance of power position in the Parliament to make sure that whoever forms the next South Australian Government ensures that South Australian consumers and industry and business pay less and enjoy reliable supply.

If the Government fails to deliver on this key issue, SA-BEST will withdraw its support.

If the Government can’t get prices down, or can’t keep the lights on, then the lights will go out in the Premier’s office.



Independent reports commissioned by the Department of Premier and Cabinet in 2009 [3] and disclosed in the course of a Federal Senate Select Committee Inquiry into the 28 September 2016 state wide black out, emphasised the need for proper planning to transition to renewables, including issues of grid stability and security, particularly due to variable renewable energy generation (in the absence of battery backup or other means to make it dispatchable).

SA-BEST strongly supports renewable energy, in conjunction with storage, energy management and dispatchability. We also support the targets under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases in Australia by 26-28% based on 2005 emission levels. Out of necessity this involves an orderly transition to renewables to meet, and exceed, those targets.

Key to this, SA-BEST supports a full simulation model of the national electricity market (NEM) for South Australia. This will assess pricing, grid robustness, distributed generation, demand management and storage under different scenarios to underpin proper, long-term planning.

Bad planning at a State Government level does not absolve the policy uncertainty and poor planning at a Federal level. The political bickering federally has led to enormous policy uncertainty, and with it, a lack of investment confidence to build more capacity to secure a reliable supply of power. Increased generation supply will make markets more economically efficient and lower prices.

In 2009, Nick Xenophon - as an Independent Senator in the Australian Parliament - worked with then Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull MP and leading energy economists to propose an alternative to the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). That report -  jointly commissioned by Mr Xenophon and Mr Turnbull - and underpinned by extensive modelling, proposed an Emissions Intensity Scheme as a simpler and cleaner way to meet greenhouse reduction targets, and indeed, to exceed them.

Unfortunately, at the time the Coalition did not endorse the scheme, and Mr Turnbull was soon replaced as Opposition Leader by Mr Abbott. The Labor Party referred to the Scheme as a “mongrel” at the time, but six years later, in the lead up to the 2016 election, effectively endorsed it [4], with a policy that mirrored the original proposal.

SA-BEST is also concerned that the national energy market (NEM), with its centralised Commonwealth control, may not be serving the best interests of SA electricity consumers. We support an urgent review of the NEM, with a view to bring back control to the states, with more accountable mechanisms for the benefit of electricity consumers large and small.

We also believe there needs to be greater transparency, accountability and efficiency across the various energy regulating and advisory authorities, including the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) and the Australian Energy Market Energy Security Board (ESB).


The Immediate Problem 

One of the most urgent problems is that domestic electricity consumers on lower incomes, particularly those on fixed incomes and receiving welfare benefits, are particularly hard pressed by the rise in electricity prices. There are some 20-30% of electricity consumers who are in living in quite challenging economic conditions. In turn, those consumers, through no fault of their own, haven’t been able to take advantage of the opportunities in the market to maximise the benefit of negotiating a better deal. 

SA-BEST is concerned over the influence in this state of ‘Gentailers’ - businesses which both generate and retail electricity - who exercise enormous market power, particularly since the closure of power plants in Victoria. The average 12 month wholesale price was $50/MWh in December 2015, $70 in December 2016 and $110 in December 2017.


Community Power

SA-BEST proposes the following plan to alleviate prices, particularly for vulnerable domestic consumer (not covered by the Government’s recently announced Virtual Power Plant (VPP) deal for Housing Trust customers), and for small to medium businesses:

  • Establish a new electricity retailer based on a cooperative model, under a legislated governance framework. The new co-op retailer could be called Community Electricity Trust of SA (cETSA).

  • cETSA will enter into a tender process for a power purchase agreement for the development of a new 150MW dispatchable renewable energy power station in South Australia, to compete in the highly concentrated generation market.

  • The SA Government will act as guarantor for the power purchase agreement to give investment certainty for the construction of the new capacity within South Australia.

  • The new capacity would need to be independent of existing major players in the SA generator/ retail market (ie Origin, AGL and ENGIE.)

  • cETSA would operate as a ‘consumer trust retailer’ (as has been implemented overseas, including Germany). It will be a member-based organisation facilitated by a governance structure passed through the South Australian Parliament. 

  • Membership will be open to two broad categories of members who between them will share equally the new generation capacity of approximately 500,000 megawatt hours.

  • Domestic consumer membership will be open to those households with an income of less than $75,000 per year (or other such threshold based on appropriate modelling to reflect vulnerable and low-income households). This would allow a membership base of approximately 50,000 consumers. The ‘small business’ membership base will be open to approximately 5,000 small businesses with electricity bills of up to a prescribed threshold (in the order of $20,000 a year), based on modelling to maximise benefits to small businesses. The state government will conduct the auction, design the contract and supervise the contract management.

  • The increase in capacity and competition will give immediate benefits to those who are part of cETSA. SA-BEST expect that it will reduce generation prices that the AEMC says averages $178/MWh for residential customers to around $100/MWh [5].

  • This would drive down average prices paid by residential and small business cETSA customers by $78/MWh or about 20% (Prices falls from an average of $377/MWh to $299/MWh).

In addition, the extra competition from the new, independent, competitive cESTA dispatchable generator is expected to reduce prices for all customers, irrespective of whether they participate or not. Previous analysis by the government of the similarly sized Solar Reserve Aurora project shows that prices across the state would fall by an additional 3% [6]. On top of the competitive effects of the 250 MW VPP and 150 MW Aurora initiative, consumers not eligible to participate in the cESTA project are expected to experience a reduction in bills of about 10%, due to additional competition.

In addition to cETSA, other community power options currently being proposed by Local Councils must also be supported. A much stronger focus on incentives to encourage energy efficiency and installation of household generation and storage for Renters/Landlords is also an imperative.

We must also consider the merit of moving from a flat rate energy concession to one that is based on a percentage of the bill. This would ensure that the energy concession is better targeted and gives most relief to eligible households with the largest bills.


Gas Reservation Policy

SA-BEST is open to a 15% gas reservation policy if, within two years, power prices have not come down in South Australia by at least 20%.


Ensuring Competition

SA-BEST is well aware of concerns that ‘gentailers’ in SA have an enormous amount of market power. We believe the next South Australian Government should play a strong, proactive role to ensure competition laws are being enforced. In the absence of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) action (noting constraints as to the number of actions it can launch), SA-BEST believes the South Australian Government should obtain independent legal advice to take action against anti-competitive behaviour. It should maintain a ‘watching brief’ over the conduct of gentailers, have additional regulatory powers, monitor their conduct and obtain all documentation necessary to determine if laws have been breached.

As a first step, all retailers should be required to provide consumers with a simple and clear power purchase plan and power bills that follow a standard format. Retailer power plans and bills are too complicated, riddled with multiple discounts that disappear after specified periods and are difficult to compare.

With standardised power offerings, consumers can more easily compare retailer offerings, enhancing competition. With simplified bills, consumers can more easily confirm that they are paying as per agreed terms.


Maximising Local Industry Participation

The benefits of the boom in renewable energy investment must be maximised in South Australia to ensure the greatest extent of local industry participation, including building our research and development capacity.

Procurement rules should reflect this, in order to maximise the economic and employment potential of this sector to South Australia and encourage strong flow-on benefits through local manufacturing.


Electric Vehicles

Any energy policy should include a comprehensive plan to maximise uptake of electric vehicles. SA Government vehicles housed in government car parks should be used to further stimulate the uptake of electric vehicles.

SA-BEST believes this needs to include provision to facilitate necessary infrastructure, integration into the grid and energy capacity planning.

Appropriate incentives for the manufacturing and purchase of electric vehicles in South Australia should also be considered, along with a trial vehicle-to-grid storage mechanism.


Energy Efficiency Measures

Energy efficiency can deliver cheaper energy bills, more viable businesses, more liveable buildings and a cleaner environment. Smarter energy use will also foster growth opportunities in new and expanded markets for energy efficient products and services.

SA-BEST supports a strengthening and revamping of energy efficiency schemes for households and businesses. This should include assessing the efficacy of various measures in relation to building design and construction, heating and cooling systems, insulation and glazing, appliance efficiency, lighting systems and energy star-rating systems.

South Australia has the potential to play a leading role in energy efficiency measures, to drive integration and coordination across the states.

SA-BEST would also support incentives for landlords to invest in energy efficient rental properties, including a $1 million pilot programme over 12 months to evaluate the benefits for wider implementation.

The current South Australian Energy Advisory Service provides free, independent information for residents on a range of energy topics, including saving energy, understanding energy bills and energy efficiency. SA-BEST supports expanding this service to also include advice to small business regarding energy consumption and demand reduction initiatives.


The Sting in the Tail

SA-BEST wants cheaper and more reliable energy to be a key priority of the next Government of South Australia.

Both the Liberals and Labor have made big promises in relation to energy.  But can they be relied on to deliver?

All too often the major parties promise much before an election and then offer excuses afterwards.

SA-BEST will ensure that they do get prices down, and if they don’t, they will pay a heavy political price.

If power prices are not reduced by at least 20% on December 2017 retail price by December 2019, and remain on a downward trajectory each year thereafter, SA-BEST will reserve the right to withdraw from any agreement of support should it be in a balance of power position.

We believe that would focus the mind of whomever is in Government to ensure there is cheaper and more reliable power in South Australia. 

If this involves the need for greater regulation and control of our electricity assets, then that ought to be considered as well – it would put the private operators on notice.

If SA-BEST holds the balance of power in the Parliament, no excuses or back-tracking from Government will be allowed.

Either they will deliver cheaper and reliable power, or they will cease to be the Government.

Energy needs to be an absolute focus and priority for the next Government of South Australia.

SA-BEST will guarantee that.


[1]Bruce Mountain, CME, 2017

[2]AEMC website:

[3]McLennan Magasank Associates; 11 May 2009; Potential for Renewable Energy in South Australia - Report to the South Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet and;  National Institute of Economic and Industry Research; 14 May 2009;  The Future Prospects for Renewable Energy in South Australia – A Report for the Sustainability and Climate Change Division of Dept Premier and Cabinet


[5]AEMC Retail Price Trends) p134,



There is an intrinsic, intertwined relationship between the natural environment, human wellbeing and economic progress.

Global pressures on the environment such as climate change, exponential population growth and unsustainable use of natural resources are reminders that we cannot take our natural environment for granted. Everything has a breaking point.

The last South Australian State of the Environment report brought little joy - further decline in our biodiversity; increased impact on our coastal zone; increased pollution; an increase in volume of per capita waste; reduced water flows for the natural environment from the River Murray; and changes in the acidity, salinity and temperature of our marine environment.

Within this context, SA-BEST will focus on the following strategic sustainability and environment priorities:



The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report concludes that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are at the highest levels in at least the last 800,000 years, with many of the flow-on effects to our natural systems, unprecedented.

As a result of atmospheric warming, the oceans are also absorbing this heat and warming and as a result, the rate of sea level rise since the industrial revolution has been greater than during the previous two millennia. Climate systems are changing, bring about shifts in rainfall and weather patterns. The oceans are also absorbing more CO2, resulting in their acidification.

The increasing frequency and severity of heat waves, storm surges, droughts, floods, cyclones, and bushfires are already exposing our vulnerability and the vulnerability of many of our natural ecosystems.

We do have some capacity to adapt, but these efforts will only be effective if we also make substantial and genuine effort to reduce our greenhouse emissions.

SA-BEST strongly supports Australia’s commitment at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement to reduce our greenhouse emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 – at least, and will work with our Federal colleagues to urgently and substantially increase the level of funding and commitment towards both climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.



In 2004 the new Natural Resources Management (NRM) Act established a legislative framework to support ecologically sustainable development in the State.

The Act consolidated a range of previously separate legislative arrangements for water catchment management, land management, animal and plant control and also brought together incorporated regional natural resource management bodies established by the Federal Government to manage and deliver funding through the Landcare, Coastcare and Bushcare programs.

Whilst there was a need, and strong support, for a more integrated approach to managing natural resources, the current system has been a disappointment.

Instead of delivering real action on the ground, it has been plagued by inefficiency and bureaucracy, with too much focus on planning and administration at the expense of on-ground and extension support.

SA-BEST believes funding and administrative arrangements for NRM delivery in South Australia need to be completely overhauled and the focus returned to delivering real results on the ground.

In addition, land managers need more local access to technical expertise, particularly when it comes to navigating regulation in the area of native vegetation, coastal and land management. SA-BEST supports a review of funding and resourcing to more strongly re-integrate this technical support into local NRM delivery.

We need our NRM system to work.

SA-BEST supports a complete overhaul of the funding and administrative arrangements for NRM delivery in South Australia to return the focus to delivering real results on the ground, including to more strongly integrate native vegetation, coast and land management technical support into local NRM delivery.



It goes without saying that our water resources are critical to life, the environment and economic growth.

High-quality water supplies are needed to support our growing population and enrich our surroundings. Future water availability will also be a key determinant of industry growth, including in mining, manufacturing and agriculture.

Key to our state’s water supply is the River Murray.

In 2009, as part of negotiations with the Rudd Government over its $42 billion stimulus package, Nick Xenophon – in his balance of power role in the Senate – insisted that a package of measures be funded and implemented at the height of the millennium drought. That included $500 million for environmental water buybacks to help restore the health of the Murray, $200 million for stormwater harvesting and $200 million for River communities under stress.

SA-BEST’s Nick Xenophon has called for a Royal Commission following ongoing problems with the Murray Darling Basin Plan, the Authority, and allegations of water theft along the Murray Darling river system.

All levels of Government have a case to answer.

In addition to the Murray, our state’s other rivers, groundwater systems, ephemeral streams, wetlands, estuaries and rock-holes are under increasing threat. Many of our water resources are not managed within sustainable limits, with water quality and pollution levels highly variable across the state.

Furthermore, whilst the quality and reuse of treated wastewater is increasing - as is the capture and reuse of stormwater - we need to do more, and faster.

The 2015 Senate Inquiry on Urban Stormwater Management initiated by then Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon revealed that water sensitive urban design (WSUD) has the capability to reduce costs of flooding and management of stormwater systems, to improve urban greenspace, to improve urban coastal water quality, and to increase liveability of urban areas and reduce use of mains water in summer.

SA-BEST supports the existing Murray Darling Basin Plan and a Royal Commission into allegations of water theft in the upstream states.

SA-BEST also calls for a substantial increase in funding for water sensitive urban design and stormwater capture and reuse initiatives for both metropolitan and regional areas.



South Australia’s coastline stretches for just over 5,000 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 then placed under further stress from development pressure, along with increasing foot, motorbike and vehicular traffic.

On top of that, the effects of sea level rise will continue to see greater erosion of dunes and loss of beaches at many locations right 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 our own coastal lifestyle.

The current level of resources allocated to coastal management in South Australia are woefully inadequate for the task ahead. SA-BEST supports establishing a Coastal Management Authority that relies on the best science and evidence available to manage our coastline and required remedial action.

We are running out of time.

SA-BEST supports an urgent and thorough review into how we will protect, manage and fund our coasts into the future.



Around 80% of marine life found in South Australia's waters are found nowhere 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 to conserve marine biodiversity and habitat, within four levels of protection. The mandatory 10-year review of the Marine Park management plans by 2022 will provide a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of each park in delivering the objectives of the Marine Parks Act, including zoning arrangements.

Since their introduction, South Australia’s Marine Parks have not been without controversy. SA-BEST recognises the challenges in finding a balance between protecting our marine environment and growing the opportunities this brings for marine-based tourism, whilst recognising the importance of our world-class, sustainably managed fishing industry.

SA-BEST supports maintaining the current network of marine parks in South Australia, with sanctuary zones based on a clear, thorough and evidence-based process, not political interference.



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.

Unfortunately, the extent and health of remaining native vegetation in South Australia is declining, with less and less revegetation and habitat restoration being undertaken.

The number of threatened species and ecological communities are increasing. So is the number and distribution of most pest plants, animals and diseases.

Farmers and other private landholders are the custodians of around 65% of the state’s remaining native vegetation. We must provide stronger support for private landholders, as environmental stewards, to maintain and improve these remaining pockets of important habitat and biodiversity.

SA-BEST supports a much stronger focus, and increased landholder stewardship support for landscape revegetation and restoration efforts across the state.



Whilst South Australian recycling rates are commendable, the volume of waste generated per person in this state has increased. We are increasingly becoming a throw-away society.

China's decision to implement bans and more stringent contamination standards on a range of imported recyclables is a further reminder that our own waste management behaviour at home has global impact.

Whilst China’s decision will undoubtedly cause short-term disruption to our recycling facilities, it also offers a timely opportunity for us to develop stronger domestic recycling markets and local processing and secondary manufacturing.

The waste management and resource recovery industry is already a significant contributor to our state’s economy, with an annual turnover of around $1 billion and employing around 4,800 people.

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

As at 30 June 2017, the balance of the Green Industry Fund was $108.3 million. SA-BEST believes the timing is right to significantly increase the level of re-investment from this fund back into growing the industry and helping to further reduce waste from landfill.

SA-BEST supports a significant increase in the level of re-investment from the ‘Green Industry Fund’ back into new initiatives that result in waste reduction, a greater diversion of waste to landfill and; new re-use and recycling industry and employment opportunities. 



Renewable energy is our future.

SA-BEST is a strong supporter of storage-based renewable energy technologies, such as solar thermal. Nick Xenophon stands by his deal with the federal Coalition Government to secure $110 million concessional equity loan to Solar Reserve, to secure their $650 million ‘Aurora’ concentrated solar thermal power plant at Port Augusta. The first in Australia. The largest in the world.

There are many other exciting, new opportunities for South Australia in storage-based renewable energy, including more solar thermal and solar PV, bioenergy, waste to energy, pumped hydro and hydrogen fuel, along with rapid advances in battery storage, demand management that is improving efficiency, stability and bringing down the price.

SA-BEST is committed to a renewables future that provides affordable, reliable, quality and secure power, that is good for jobs, small business, residents and the environment.

SA-BEST supports the current state target of generating at least 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025, to drive investment and reduce emissions. SA-BEST is open to a more ambitious target if it can be shown that it will lower electricity prices and enhance reliability of supply.



Australia ranks close to the bottom in transport energy rankings.

South Australia has low rates of public transport and cycling, and high and growing private car use. Not only does this contribute to congestion, air pollution and noise, but vehicles are a significant source of greenhouse emissions.

SA-BEST supports initiatives to increase public transport accessibility and use, including inter-regional options; and to further encourage cycling as a transport option. We also support and encourage the manufacturing of electric vehicles and related industries in South Australia.

SA-BEST supports an increase in public transport accessibility and use, including inter-regional options. We also encourage cycling as a transport option and strongly encourage the uptake, and manufacturing, of electric vehicles and related industries in South Australia.



Extraction of unconventional shale and tight gas relies on a controversial practice called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”- fracturing underground coal seams and injecting water, sand and chemicals into the fracture to release the gas contained within.

In other parts of Australia, there are limitations and prohibitions on ‘fracking’ for a number of reasons, including potential to contaminate groundwater.

Farming and primary production growth in the south-east of SA has a strong future, which SA-BEST does not believe is compatible with fracking. There is considerable risk to the Limestone Coast’s Clean and Green image with this technology, including the export wine industry.

There is also overwhelming opposition in the local community over fracking.

SA-BEST has significant concerns about unconventional gas extraction in the South-East and we oppose fracking in this region until all health and environmental safety concerns are addressed and a social licence is achieved.

The risks of groundwater contamination, reputational damage for our agricultural sector and social damage to our communities is too great if we get it wrong.

SA-BEST opposes fracking in our state’s South-East until all health and environmental safety concerns are addressed and most importantly, until a social licence is achieved.



Underground Coal Gasification is a very different – but equally controversial - process, underground coal gasification converts coal into gas by burning coal underground and then extracting and processing the resulting “syngas”, which is brought to the surface in pipes.

Nearly two years ago, the Queensland Government put a ban on underground coal gasification because it believed the environmental risks outweighed economic benefits.

SA-BEST supports responsible business investment in South Australia and appreciates the need to avoid presenting a sovereign risk. However, taking into account action by other jurisdictions and with precautionary principle in mind, we must tread very carefully until such time as environmental safety can be assured through a rigorous and independent assessment.

SA-BEST insists that proposals for underground coal gasification in South Australia must be subject to a rigorous and independent assessment with regards to safety, environment and economics in a fully open and transparent manner.



The 2017 Senate Standing Committee report into oil or gas production in the Great Australian Bight considered a number of issues including resource security, economic activity, jobs, professional and recreational fishing, tourism, environmental conservation and risk management of a catastrophic event.

Evidence given to the committee set out 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.

Any proposal to justify drilling in the Great Australian Bight must unequivocally demonstrate that the potential benefits far outweigh harm to the environment and our economy.

Weighing up the risks and benefits to date, SA-BEST is not yet satisfied that the burden of proof that drilling in the Great Australian Bight would not be harmful, has been met.

SA-BEST opposes drilling for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight until such time as it can meet the burden of proof required by the precautionary principle.



Radioactive waste is produced each year from the use of radioactive materials in medicine, industry and research. Over 100 sites across Australia are currently licensed to store radioactive waste and materials on an interim basis, including Lucas Heights near Sydney. Many of these facilities are nearing capacity or were not designed for disposal or long-term storage.

On 12 December 2014, the Commonwealth announced it would be seeking voluntary nominations of land for a national low-intermediate radioactive waste management facility. Twenty-eight nominations from landholders across Australia were received. Three shortlisted sites are in South Australia – two near Kimba on Eyre Peninsula and one near Hawker in the Flinders Ranges. The issue has divided both communities.

The Commonwealth has stated it will not proceed to the next phase unless there is broad community support.

Earlier this year Senator Matt Canavan, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, advised he would need a figure in the range of 65% community support to progress plans in Kimba. Three ballots have been run in Kimba and none have reached 60%. More recently, the Minister said there was no threshold which constituted ‘broad community support’.

SA-BEST fully supports the action of our Federal colleagues to instigate a Senate inquiry into the radioactive waste management facility consultation and selection process, if the Federal Minister does not make public all relevant information.

ESL – Supporting our Emergency Services Volunteers

SA-BEST will:

  • Provide a full rebate on emergency services levy for active volunteers.
  • Support more agency administrative resources being located in local communities to take the load off our volunteers.
  • Provide a stronger level of focus and support on the health and wellbeing of our volunteers.
  • Match the Liberals pledge to reduce annual ESL bills by $90 million a year.

Our emergency services simply would not function without our volunteers.

There are around 15,000 South Australians who give up their own time and often at their own cost to help others in need.

From those involved in front-line firefighting, securing storm-damaged buildings, attending road accidents and rescue operations through to those providing the vital control centre support and logistics – SA-BEST says ‘thank you’.

Whilst volunteering has its own rewards, we need to more strongly recognise and support the efforts of our emergency services volunteers.

For example, we have already seen a large number of our farmers and rural landholders deserting the Country Fire Service over recent years in protest against massive jumps in the emergency services levy – in some cases increases of more than 1,000 per cent.

SA-BEST does not believe it is fair that our volunteers should be expected to pay the emergency services levy where, in many cases, they then risk their own lives.

We also need to recognise that many of our emergency services volunteers are exposed to traumatic stress and critical incidents, placing them at increased risk for adverse mental health outcomes, including increased rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, stress-related anxiety, and suicide.

Whilst there are good inroads being made into supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our volunteers, SA-BEST believes we must do more.

With any emergency situation and ongoing maintenance of volunteer operations, there will always be necessary administrative requirements.

But we need to make sure we are not loading up our volunteers with additional administrative burden. SA-BEST supports additional agency staffing to provide the administrative resources for our volunteers, so they can get on with the job they are trained for.

Family Violence

Our priorities are to:

  • Bolster services for victims of domestic and family violence through additional funding and advocacy.
  • Fully implement the GPS monitoring system for domestic and family violence offenders with data recorded to be used as evidence in prosecution.
  • Implement aggravated offences and high penalties for repeat offenders who breach intervention orders.
  • Increase the number of places in crisis accommodation services for women and children fleeing violence.
  • Implement a rental subsidy scheme to help victims fleeing violence.
  • Support the creation of a domestic violence personal protection app.

Domestic violence is severely under-reported, especially amongst women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

SA-BEST is committed to implementing programs and supporting advocacy groups aimed at reversing this would include supporting those services aimed at providing victims with education and financial independence.

The Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service (WDVCAS) is a critical service being delivered by Victim Support Service (VSS).

WDVCAS directly assists victims of family and domestic abuse to navigate legal matters regarding intervention orders and tenancy disputes. They have a high success rate in obtaining private intervention orders despite operating the service with only two full-time lawyers (including a junior lawyer) and two-part-time lawyers.

The statewide service is currently underfunded and cannot cope with the overwhelming demand for services with increasing demand from women from CALD backgrounds.

SA-BEST is committed to providing $200,000 immediately in order to secure the services of two additional lawyers to alleviate the pressing demand.

In addition, SA-BEST commits to further funding for the service beyond the current funding deadline of 30 June 2019.

We are committed to bolstering this service which is projected to assist 800 women in 2018 and other similar services aimed at supporting domestic violence victims.

SA-BEST is committed to holding perpetrators to account by implementing the GPS monitoring system which is currently being trialed in South Australia, aimed at protecting victims from domestic violence offenders.

Too often victims report breaches of intervention orders to police after seeing offenders near their homes, places of work or near schools. However, without corroborating evidence these breaches are often not followed through.

Despite this, data released by the Courts Administration Authority shows the number of breaches that end in court has risen steadily since 2012, to more than 40 per week last year. This demonstrates what we already know, that domestic violence offenders are often repeat offenders.

SA-BEST supports victims of domestic and family violence in wanting to break the cycle of fear that permeates their lives even after they have made the brave decision to leave a violent partner. Victims deserve to live without constant fear.

The GPS tracking system has already been in place in Spain since 2005 and in many other places in the world for years. We know it works.

The data captured from the tracking system is vital for future court prosecutions.

A GPS monitoring system is currently being trialed in South Australia for people on bail or released on parole.

Almost one woman is killed by violence each week in Australia. We must act immediately and not delay when women’s lives are at risk.

SA-BEST will ensure that repeated breaches of an intervention order will be an aggravated offence subject to higher penalties.

SA-BEST will act decisively to ensure offenders cannot continue to flout the law and torment their victims. Victims should not have to live their lives constantly looking over their shoulders in fear.

We know that the major cause of homelessness amongst women includes domestic violence, sexual assault and family breakdown.

A study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that between 2011 and 2014, 36 per cent of the people – mostly women and children – who accessed homelessness services in Australia did so due to family violence.

SA-Best is committed to working with relevant stakeholders to increase the number of crisis accommodation services places available for women and children fleeing violence and importantly in equipping women with the necessary tools to rebuild their lives.

Catherine House is recognised as an exemplar of integrated services transforming the lives of women experiencing homelessness. Their Emergency Program is always full and as soon as they find a housing outcome for a woman and she leaves, another woman in crisis fills her place. They are currently fundraising to expand their Emergency Program with four additional places that won’t be funded under the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA).

SA-BEST is committed to providing Catherine House with an additional $100,000 annually to provide Casework to support the expansion of their Emergency Program.

In addition, SA-BEST is committed to providing Catherine House with $50,000 in order to assist them from moving away from a paper-based operation to an online system.

SA-BEST will also ensure that short to medium-term financial support is provided for people escaping domestic or family violence by way of a rental subsidy that helps people secure private rental accommodation so they do not return to the violent situation they are escaping from.

The financial support will be modelled on the NSW Rent Choice Start Safely program which consists of a $25 million rent support program that provides support for an initial three months and up to three years.


Supporting our Forestry Communities

The South Australian Forestry industry is worth $2.8 billion to the South Australian economy annually and employs 13,000 people directly and indirectly across the state.

Unfortunately, the forward sale of Government harvesting rights from our state forests has been a major blow to the South East community and substantially undermined local confidence.

We need to ensure that reporting requirements on the conditions of sale have a higher level of independent scrutiny and audit that gives the community confidence. SA-BEST will make this a priority.

Furthermore, we believe the loss of consistent revenue stream from Forestry SÁ directly back to the people of South Australian and commitment to regional processing and jobs was an opportunity squandered.

We now need to ensure initiatives are put in place to support our forest communities by encouraging diversification and sustainability of the forest, wood and paper industries in our state. This is important to help create more jobs and increase productivity, resulting in growth of our regions and our economy.

As a key focus, SA-BEST wants a much stronger emphasis on local processing and manufacturing.

We propose to work with the South Australian Industry Advocate to develop a local procurement policy for timber and forestry products that would apply to government purchase of goods and services and grant funded projects.

Based on the principle applied to the steel industry, the approach aims to give the local forestry and timber industry a competitive advantage. It would also help drive a stronger focus on local employment and workforce development, improving industry capability and capacity and importantly, retaining economic activity in the state.

SA-BEST also commits to stronger support to facilitate forestry supply-chain industry clusters to help drive collaboration between businesses, encourage modernisation, innovation and higher value-adding; and attract investment.

In addition, there is potential to further integrate forestry and nature-based tourism and recreation initiatives and exciting prospects in emerging industries such as bioenergy and biomaterials, which are not only good for our economy, but will contribute towards reducing our greenhouse emissions and increase our renewable, dispatchable energy mix.

As highlighted in our energy policy, SA-BEST wants to maximise local industry participation in renewable energy. We have opportunities to particularly encourage development and commercialisation of newer technologies.

To achieve this, we need to build our research, development and workforce capacity and support new, innovative approaches, particularly where they can achieve multiple benefits.

To help realise the opportunities our Forestry industry has, SA-BEST fully supports a second round of $2 million over four years to support the growth of the Mount Gambier National Institute for Forest Products Innovation hub.

A range of initiatives already announced through our agriculture and regions policies will also support forestry in this state, including SA-BEST’s commitment to:

  • Continue support for the current ‘90-Day Change Project – Improving Road Transport for the Agriculture Industry’, recognising this initiative is making good progress in reducing the costs and red tape to access to other parts of the supply chain in an efficient manner.
  • Explore funding and regulatory options to encourage alternate uses of agricultural waste products (including forestry waste streams)
  • Establish a Royalties for Regions fund to leverage investment into new, catalytic infrastructure to help grow our regions and activate local economies.
  • Establish a $15 million Regional Entrepreneurs Programme to encourage new businesses to start-up in regional areas.
  • Increasing the Departmental budget for rural road maintenance.
  • Reviewing the NRM funding and delivery model to return the focus to local, on ground action.
  • Increase Regional Telecommunications funding to $30 million to leverage Federal and private investment into mobile phone, internet and internet blackspots.
  • Develop tertiary education study hubs that integrate university and vocational education pathways, tailored to meet the needs of local industry and communities.
  • Return Service Delivery, Policy and Decision Making to the Regions

Gambling Reform

Poker Machines

Since their introduction into pubs and clubs in 1994, poker machines have driven an exponential increase in gambling losses in SA, and with it enormous social and economic harm. Over $14.3 billion dollars has been lost while state government has collected $5.6 billion in tax revenue.

The Gambling Industry in SA and its large poker machine owners have disproportionate economic and political influence, with both Labor and Liberals seemingly falling over each other to keep them happy.

In their aggressive pursuit of profit they have unleashed an enormous amount of individual, family and community misery. In response governments have failed to provide responsible and effective regulation to protect the community.

SA-BEST is all about a clear pathway of real, practical reform to transition the SA government and hotels, from their poker machine dependence.

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

The SA-BEST plan differs from what is being proposed in Tasmania, because of the nature and structure of poker machine licences in SA. SA-BEST's plan will maximise the reduction in poker machine harm, whilst minimising the transitional revenue, economic and employment impacts of these measures.

The issue of poker machine reform will be a priority issue for SA-BEST in the new parliament. In the event that we are fortunate to win the balance of power it will be a key issue in any negotiations about who will form next SA government.

The poker machine problem in a nutshell

SA has a proliferation of poker machines in hotels and clubs – approximately 12,100 machines in over 500 venues. It is well documented that accessibility to poker machines is a key factor in gambling harm. 

Research by the Productivity Commission and two landmark research reports indicate that about 40 per cent of poker machine losses come from those people who experience severe gambling harm.

In its 2010 report the Productivity Commission noted that nationally there were between 80,000 and 160,000 people suffering severe problems from their gambling and between 230,000 – 350,000 Australians at real risk of a full-blown gambling addiction. That equates to almost one person per machine has a severe gambling problem and almost two other people (1.7) at risk of full blown gambling addiction Australia wide.

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

That’s a huge social impact.

Poker machine addiction drives up levels of crime, poverty, depression and other serious mental health problems. The majority of gambling related fraud was due to poker machines. Poker machine fraud generates crime amongst many otherwise non-offending citizens.

Whatever the government makes in poker 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 10 years some $731 million has been lost each year on poker machines in hotels and clubs in South Australia alone (2007/17); 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 poker 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 poker 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.

What needs to be done

A clear, two stage approach for reform to slash the level of harm, is required.

SA-BEST is proposing a practical approach to tackle the issue comprehensively:

  • Poker machine licences to be converted to a seven-year licence, commencing 1st January 2019. 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 parliament by the end of 2022. (This would then become a key issue for the March 2022 election.)
  • From 1st January 2019, the number of poker machines will be reduced on a gradual basis as follows:
      1. 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 clubs, community hotels or the casino. 
      2. A buyback scheme should apply, and include those over 140 venues with 10 or fewer machines, to encourage those venues to become poker 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 poker machine sector).
      3. 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 poker 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 poker 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.
  • Despite industry claims, implementing the $1 bets and lower jackpots and ‘con-free’ changes should be implemented as software changes within 12 months and in any event by 1st July 2019.
  • Removing EFTPOS machines in poker machine rooms within six months. Easy access to cash is a key driver of increased harm.
  • Reduce the maximum number of trading hours for gaming rooms from 18 to 16 with only one continuous break.
  • Enhance 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.
  • Provide additional funding of $3m 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.
  • Restrictions on gambling advertising – within 12 months all gambling advertising in SA should be required to comply to a stricter code of conduct, not be targeted towards children directly or indirectly and have a minimum of 30 per cent of the advertising space or time designated to a regulatory gambling warning, and details of where help can be obtained.
  • The above reforms, particularly in relation to implementation of time limited licences, the reduction in licences, changes to machine features, buybacks, a compensation and transitional jobs support framework will need to be supervised by a better resourced Independent Gambling Authority, with the economic, social and research expertise to facilitate the implementation of the reforms.
  • The Premier should make an annual report to parliament, incorporating research and advice from across government and independent experts, detailing the economic and social impact of poker machines, including the results of the progressive implementation of reforms. 
  • The social effects test in the Gaming Machines Act also needs to be strengthened to make it clearer that the community impacts of a poker machine licence must be considered.

In Summary

  • The proposed changes will lead to a reduction in machines in SA by approximately 4000 from 12,100 to 8100 over a five year period.
  • The cost of these measures will need to be the subject of detailed modelling. It is expected these costs will be partly offset by the significant reduction in poker machine harm and the harm associated with it such as crime and the cost of incarceration. Most importantly, thousands of South Australians will have their lives markedly improved by these reforms or not get addicted. In addition, the diversion of spending to non-gambling activities will create more jobs, including payroll tax, greater economic activity and greater GST receipts. The IGA, assisted by independent research expertise, will be given the resources to properly model these effects and to determine the most effective transition options, particularly for those with smaller holdings of poker machines. These transition options will include appropriate measures to support employment, and if there is compelling evidence, compensation mechanisms for smaller poker machine operators.
  • The measures outlined in this policy paper are designed as the first steps along a path leading to further progressive reductions in poker machines and the harm that they cause. Those further steps would be developed in the light of implementation experience and would be the subject of parliamentary and public debate prior to the next election in 2022. 

Finally, in relation to poker machines, SA-BEST will champion a complete ban on all political donations from the gambling industry and its associated industries/entities.

The corrosive impact of the gambling lobby on the democratic politics of our state should not be underestimated. These measures will significantly decrease the harm caused by poker machines.

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. Whilst 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. 

  • SA-BEST will press for implementation of a sustained public health messaging campaign particularly targeting young people.
  • 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 betting). In addition, 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.
  • 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.


Gender Pay Gap

South Australia has always had a strong progressive history. On 18 December, 1894 South Australian women were granted the right to vote and stand for Parliament - this was the first legislation in the world of its kind.

With the concerted efforts of formidable women such as Muriel Matters and Mary Lee South Australians acknowledged, over a century ago, the importance women play in public life.

From the suffragettes to the women’s movement of the 1970s and beyond, much has been gained for women’s participation in paid work, leadership, government and sport but there is much more to do.

SA-BEST will make women’s participation in the workplace a priority.

While women comprise the majority of public sector employees, they continue to be underrepresented in executive positions in the South Australian public sector.

The effect of this is that formidable, hard-working women are being underutilised and held back from achieving their full potential especially in senior leadership roles. With that is the loss of mentoring that women in executive roles provide to younger women.

SA-BEST will make the advancement of women in senior leadership roles in South Australia a priority.

Gender pay

At the current rate, it will take us a century to close the gender pay gap. We need to fast-track this.

A State Government study in 2016 (‘A Gender Pay Gap Analysis – of the South Australian Public Sector’) found that South Australia has the lowest gender pay gap in the country but this discrepancy is larger in the public service where some men are paid up to $43,000 more on average than their female colleagues. This is despite women making up nearly 70 per cent of all state public servants.

The Study’s findings include:

  • South Australian male public servants are paid on average $13,473 more than their female colleagues – that represents a 15 per cent pay gap. This is unacceptable and well above the SA average of a 9.8 per cent gender pay gap in the private sector.
  • The largest gender pay gap is amongst medical officers where men earn a whopping 21% more than their female colleagues.
  • Male emergency services workers make 11% more than their female counterparts.

The gender pay gap has implications for women's financial security, particularly in older age.

Taking time out of the workforce to raise a family can no longer be used as a justification for holding women back and paying them less.

We need to close this gap as a priority and ensure that South Australian female public servants and indeed all female employees are not undervalued and underpaid.

To achieve this SA-BEST will seek a thorough independent inquiry to report within 12 months. The purpose of the inquiry will be to:

  • establish the extent of the gender pay gap;
  • make recommendations aimed at ensuring the gap is closed as soon as practicable and, in any event, within the term of the next parliament.

Women apprenticeships and traineeships

There is a 27.4 per cent gender pay gap in construction and there is a 26.7 per cent gender pay gap in technicians and trade. A 2015 report by Quay Connection found that women make up less than 10 per cent of total applicants for traditional trade apprenticeships while few employers consider taking on female apprentices.

We need to breakdown long standing stereotypes. SA-BEST is committed to doing this by offering incentives to employers to offer female apprenticeships and jobs. This is particularly important given critical skills shortages and would obviate the need for 457-type visa workers coming into Australia. 

Growing SA

South Australia is at a cross-road.

Our economy is rapidly transitioning. We have tremendous opportunities before us – in advanced manufacturing, Defence, renewable energy, agriculture and food processing, tourism and in the health and education sectors.

To realise this potential, we need a Government that is honest, transparent, responsive and most of all accountable.

We need a political vision for growing our state – not just Adelaide, but our regional centres as well.

Not growth for the sake of growth, but targeted, well planned and sustainable growth. Growth underpinned by well-planned public infrastructure and private investment to raise the level of economic activity and create the jobs that set our path to sustainable growth.

SA-BEST wants our State to prosper, to grow and in the process to deliver better social and environmental outcomes as well – to tackle inequality through good, full time jobs, to fill skill shortages through a vocational education system that delivers results not dysfunction, and a university sector with a Research & Development nucleus being a catalyst for growth in high tech, biomedical and advanced manufacturing.

We should do more than pay lip services to the considered reports and analysis of Deloittes and Adelaide University’s South Australian Centre for Economic Studies who have done much of the groundwork of the challenges the state faces and the potential for growth.

With that in mind, SA-BEST proposes the following suite of reforms to help drive confidence, investment and growth in South Australia:


Reform our Parliament

SA-BEST will be relentless in pushing for deep reform to ensure a more responsible, transparent and accountable government and a smaller, harder working and less costly executive and parliament.

Underpinning the growth of our State must be systemic reforms to the way our State is governed – especially how the executive arm of Government is held to account by the Parliament.

We will strengthen the role of the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, ICAC and Parliamentary committees to ensure tax-payer monies of the $19 billion state budget are spent wisely and well.

We will move for the most comprehensive whistle-blower laws in the nation so that public servants are empowered to come forward with evidence of mismanagement or waste – and even – hopefully rarely – of corruption.

A tangible example is SA-BEST will ensure speedier responses to Freedom of Information request which are now delayed and take so long they are really Freedom from Information. South Australian’s deserve better.

SA-BEST will be relentless in pushing for deep reform to ensure more responsible, transparent and accountable government. The State Parliament has been too lazy for too long. The rocking horse finally needs to become a workhorse – to keep Government on its toes and facilitate private sector growth and jobs.


Grow our Population

SA-BEST is committed to developing a long-term population strategy aimed at achieving at least the national growth rate.

Population growth and inward migration have stalled. On current projections SA is facing negative population growth in just 5 years’ time.

In the last three decades population growth in South Australia has been half the rate of Victoria and Australia as a whole; there are fewer young people than there were in 1982; the key workforce aged group are growing at half the national rate; the employment to population ratio continues to decline; the aged dependency ratio is 5 percentage points above that for Victoria and Australia.

In the 35 years from 1981/82 to 2015/16, the total population of South Australia increased by a little over 382,000 or some 28.8 per cent. Over that same period, Victoria’s population increased by 54.0 per cent and the population of Australia increased by 59.5 per cent.

Over that same period, the South Australian population grew at an average annual rate of 0.75 per cent, the Victorian growth rate was 1.28 per cent and the Australian growth rate was 1.38 per cent.

That we have fewer young people - 18-to-34 year olds - living in South Australia today than 35 years ago is emblematic of the state’s decline.

In the last ten years some 26,000 young people, skilled workers and families in the age range 20-39 have left South Australia. We are losing the economic dividend that young people and skilled workers offer. We must turn this around.

We are losing young people faster than other states, with significant flow-on effects through labour force productivity, lifecycle income and consumption from this ‘de-younging’ of our profile. The number of young, well-educated graduates and skilled workers who are leaving the state in search of employment and economic opportunity is of significant consequence. We need to get them back.

SA-BEST believes that it is an absolute priority to grow the State’s population to at least the national average.

Not only will this, necessarily include a population target for our capital city, Adelaide, but also for our key regional centres, where there is strong emerging industry and employment opportunities and capacity in existing infrastructure for growth.

We want to be part of driving positive outcomes that will see that exodus of our young reversed, and those who have left to come back as well as encouraging business migrants to our state.

We need to strongly promote the benefits and opportunities of South Australia to interstate business and investment migrants, those wanting to escape the congestion and high prices of the eastern states.

Alongside a population strategy, SA-BEST strongly supports a review into the branding and identity of our state to deliver a long-term approach to strategically and purposefully promoting SA interstate and abroad.

We also need to work hard to have our regional migration status reinstated so boost our fair share of overseas migration.


Reform our Taxation System

SA-BEST will push for a thorough and transparent review of the State’s taxation system within six months of the election

An independent review of the state taxation system, backed by robust economic modelling, will be a key pathway to economic reform and recovery.

Taxation is a significant revenue source for government as it funds our education, social and community service, however we need to ensure that it is optimised to both fund the public services our communities need, but also incentivise business and industry to grow, thus generating additional flow-on economic and social benefit to our state. An independent review is both timely and necessary.

A taxation system which is based on a shrinking economy and shrinking population is in trouble---we need a taxation system that is based on strengthening the level of economic activity, that leads to more employment and then that in itself contributes to taxation revenue.

The goal of SA-Best is to raise the level of economic activity which will contribute to higher taxation revenue---That is our goal----to make the pie bigger.

A one example, stamp duty is the largest transactional cost for purchasers of residential property.

It is an inefficient tax and a disincentive for property purchase.

SA-BEST believes calls to abolish stamp duty on new residential owner occupier housing under the median price (approx $460,000) has great merit, particularly as a mechanism to increase affordable housing and to stimulate housing construction. We also support investigating options around the first home-owners grant to encourage more young people to stay in SA and get into their own homes.

Similarly, the current land tax arrangement is counter-productive and anti-development.

It is an investment and jobs killer that SA’s land tax is virtually double the national average.

The rate of land tax needs to be brought down within no longer than five years to the national average, from 3.7% to 1.9%.

SA-BEST is concerned that South Australia has the highest maximum rate threshold (3.70%) and collects the most land tax as a share of its GSP (0.6%) compared Queensland as the least GSP at 0.3%.

Land tax aggregation is also a barrier for development.

As part of the overall taxation review, SA-BEST would seek modelling on the impact of:

Reducing the maximum threshold rate (to the national average) over a three to five-year transition period (and delaying the revaluation until such time as the revised land tax regime is in place)
Removing the land tax aggregation mechanism

The modelling would examine what the overall likely impact would be on stimulating investment in commercial property in SA and thereby increasing the land tax base.

In contrast, whilst payroll tax is a relatively efficient economic tax, the taxation review should consider how this could be made even more efficient.

Unfortunately, South Australia has the worst payroll tax threshold of any state, including NSW and Victoria.

Payroll tax in South Australia is paid on a payroll above $600,000. In the Northern Territory, it does not start until $1.5 million, in Queensland $1.1 million and in Western Australia at $850,000. These states are direct competitors for South Australian jobs.

SA-BEST would like to see a lower burden of payroll tax on small business to encourage employment and supports a proposal for small businesses who employ up to five new workers to pay no more in payroll tax.

Even if just 3 per cent of the businesses that employ fewer than 20 people took on 5 more

people as a result of the change, South Australia would have created around 21,000 extra jobs.

Fundamentally, we need a payroll tax regime that encourages increased employment, exports, consumer spending and overall higher South Australian Government revenues.

In reforming our taxation system, we want to ensure that SA is once again competitive with the other states – that we attract investment instead of repelling it.

However, we must bear in mind that any reform of state taxation is likely to cost revenue and it can only be done in the context of an overall plan to grow the economic pie.


Grow our Small Businesses

South Australia is a small business state.

Relative to other states South Australia’s private sector is more reliant on small business activity to generate private sector employment.

South Australia has the highest share of sole trader (non-employing) businesses of all states. It also has the highest proportion of employment from businesses employing less than 20 people.

We also have a workforce older and ageing more rapidly than any of the other states.

This presents a challenge, but also means we must be creative with our solutions – tailored to meet our unique business environment.

In addition to the review on taxation, we must also ensure the administrative and cost burden of regulation and compliance in this state is comprehensively evaluated and minimised wherever possible. We must consider the benefits to business if we were able to reduce avoidable compliance costs and find more effective and efficient ways to process forms, approve licences, handle applications and verify compliance.

SA-BEST also supports stronger legal protections for our small business when dealing with large suppliers, through rights of mediation and adequate notice before supply agreements can be terminated. We are a small business state. They must be better protected.


Grow our Industries of the Future

Over the past 5 years, most of the State’s employment growth has occurred in health care and social assistance, personal care services, real estate services, professional, scientific and technical services, public administration and safety.

Into the future, South Australia also has fantastic potential in areas such as advanced manufacturing, Defence, renewable energy, agriculture and food processing, aquaculture, wine and tourism and in the health and education sectors.

We also have considerable legacy infrastructure and expertise that can, and must, be transitioned to support these new growth areas.

Just like economist Antoine van Agtmael and journalist Fred Bakker in their book “The Smartest Places on Earth”, we must gather these remnants, foster research and develop materials and applications for the new and emerging products, services and technologies of the future.

We can do that in South Australia. We have already proven we can.

South Australia has made strong inroads in promoting a ‘clean and green image’; developing our world-class viticulture sector; developing the mining sector; pockets of high-end manufacturing; innovations in renewable energy and water technology; expansion of the aquaculture sector; product development to support tourism; and much greater emphasis on international investment and trade.

We have proven excellence in the processing of premium quality food; agribusiness and food technologies; medical technologies and medical research; electronics, surveillance systems and defence manufacturing; aerospace; pharmaceuticals; and expertise in coupling industry with research.

Government must do all in its power to create the conditions for new private capital investment from companies seeking to expand and attract new investment from out of the state - preferably without subsidies - but with offers of support that improve company performance, enhance skills training, workforce productivity and international competitiveness.

Industry commentators report that South Australia consistently ranks low on business investment, economic and population growth but with higher than average unemployment. It consistently ranks low on business start-ups, yet they have been responsible for over one million jobs in Australia in the last few years, while big companies and banks have been shedding labour.

SA-Best recognises that working with our Universities and Research Institutes is a pathway to employment growth, to retaining our young people in South Australia and turning around the “brain drain”.

We must lower business costs and entry costs and facilitate start-ups and we must continue to expand our export growth, provide modern infrastructure that is productivity enhancing, minimise regulatory and compliance costs and incentivise the benefits of employment growth.


Grow our Workforce

South Australia is facing substantial challenges related to managing the ageing of the population, securing skilled labour, succession planning for unincorporated businesses, and recruitment of international VET students.

We are losing the competition for attracting and retaining talent.

Skilled Migration

Migration to South Australia, from interstate or overseas, can have a positive impact on the South Australian economy.

South Australia must develop a population growth policy to target and attract young, educated and skilled migrants to the state. We must also stop the brain drain of our own best and brightest. SA-BEST will hold a young people’s forum within the first three months of the new Parliament to garner new ideas and incentives to make this a reality.

Providing opportunity and pathways to permanent residency for young, educated people with a desire to start a business in South Australia should be strongly encouraged and promoted.

Government, business, and the university sector should work together to encourage and provide clearer pathways for young international student graduates with innovative and entrepreneurial skills.

Unfortunately, changes to Australian migration policy is also impacting on many businesses, particularly in our regions.

Despite the focus on filling positions from domestic sources, and the relatively high unemployment and underemployment rates in South Australia, many businesses, particularly those in regional areas, report that they struggle to find suitable skilled and semi-skilled employees, and so are forced to turn to the migration system. However, these businesses also report that the current migration system does not meet their needs.

With eligibility criteria being progressively tightened, access to post-study work rights for international students substantially reduced, and concessional arrangements previously available to employers in regional Australia such as the regional 457 visa eliminated, migration to address short to medium term skills gaps has been challenged.

As such there are very few opportunities for semi- or unskilled labour migration into Australia outside of the humanitarian resettlement program.

At the same time, there is a mismatch between the semi- and low-skill needs of many regional businesses in SA and immigration’s focus on skilled labour. The bureaucracy and cost of lodging visa applications and the time taken for visa processing are also a barrier.

SA-BEST will continue to work with our Federal colleagues to address these challenges and enable the benefits that migration can bring to our state.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation is an important determinant of productivity growth within an economy, which in turn, is the most sustainable driver of long-term economic growth. Innovation can also lead to less tangible, but incredibly important benefits, such as improved quality of life.

At the heart of a stronger culture of innovation are individual entrepreneurs or innovation active enterprises.

South Australia is recording a lower rate of business formation (at 5.4 per cent of the national total) than either its share of the population (7.1 per cent) or its share of employment (6.9 per cent).

This suggests South Australia is experiencing less innovation and productivity increase through new enterprise formation than the Australian average, further exacerbating our relative economic underperformance.

Skilled migration programs could be an important way to increase South Australia’s entrepreneurialism, but there are several potential barriers. South Australian only receives 4.2 per cent of the visa outcomes for the Business Innovation and Investment Program. And even within that program, most of the strands are not targeted so much at those planning to operate businesses within Australia, but rather at high net worth individuals willing to invest in Australia.

Current Australian migration policy settings are not suited to South Australia’s needs. This includes issues with:

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), which sets the minimum wages for migrants entering under the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
Identification of occupations for inclusion in eligible (skilled) occupation lists for temporary and permanent skilled migration visas;
Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) visas, which offer temporary or permanent residency to citizens of other countries wishing to invest or manage a business in Australia; and
Graduate Temporary work visa provisions and (Simplified) Streamlined Visa Processing of student visa applications (including Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) test provisions) that define international students’ and graduates to access to education and work in Australia.

We must adapt the international migrant visa system to improve its responsiveness to changing economic environments and, specifically, capable of supporting the South Australian economy.

SA-BEST will continue to work with our Federal colleagues to ensure these policy settings support, not hamper, South Australia’s future population and economic growth.

Training & Education

SA-BEST supports a more flexible, regionalised funding model that ensures our secondary schooling, vocational training and higher education is more closely linked to jobs we need.

South Australia’s economy is transitioning. We have huge opportunities before us in renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, Defence - but to fully realise these opportunities, we need to grow our skilled workforce.

Tertiary education – vocational and university training is critical to achieving this.

Unfortunately, we are seeing a persistent gap between the knowledge and skills that are most in demand in the workplace and those that education and training systems continue to provide. This is true at both the state and federal levels.

SACES (2017) reported that, despite South Australia’s unemployment rate, reports of skills shortages and recruitment difficulties were widespread amongst the firms and peak bodies. This is at odds with the skills demand found by the Commonwealth Department of Employment.

There is significant dissatisfaction with the way in which all the mechanisms for meeting labour demand are functioning at the present time. Employers are reporting that VET education is too expensive, too inflexible, and not targeted at regional skill needs, with university training often disconnected to industry needs.

This points to the centralised, ‘one size fits all’ approach to both school and higher education in this state is becoming a real barrier for development of our workforce and places a significant cost on both employers and students.

Our training and education system must be more responsive to the needs of industry and our emerging opportunities. There needs to be more seamless pathways between vocational and university study. There needs to be a stronger focus on reskilling and upskilling our workforce.

SA-BEST supports regionalised, industry-based skills boards to provide professional advice to maximise the effectiveness of vocational training and its integration into workplace outcomes.

Delivery must be tailored to suit students and businesses, not to suit the needs of a centralised bureaucracy.

We must have a much stronger focus on growing our own workforce. SA-Best will ensure that we link up our investment attraction activities and funding of our training system to reduce the need for financial subsidies, yet ensure new businesses coming to South Australia can hire the skills they require.

At least four heads of Government departments are from other states or other countries. That is a sad indictment on the confidence this Government has for its own workforce capability. It is a failure to lead by example.

We must do better.


Grow our Regions

SA-BEST is committed to working with regional communities to establish clear growth strategies and population targets for South Australian regional centres.

The latest census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there are now 30 regional cities in Australia with populations over 30,000 and 10 with populations over 100,000.

None are in South Australia.

Our regional cities and towns offer 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.

According to the Regional Australia Institute, for every 100,000 Australians who choose to live in growing regional centres rather than our large capital cities, an additional $50 billion will be released into the economy over 30 years in reduced congestion costs and increased consumption.

Our regional centres and rural communities have, for the entire history of South Australia, been exemplary agricultural 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 positioning them for a new future in value adding in food production, energy generation, sea water desalination and hence new energy intensive industries. Already we are seeing this in Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Mount Gambier and Murray Bridge.

Committing to actively growing our country centres offers a chance to stop the urban sprawl of metropolitan Adelaide, 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.

Supporting this commitment will be a Royalties for Regions 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 in regional areas.


Planning for the Best

SA-BEST will maintain close scrutiny on the new reforms under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, to ensure they deliver the benefits promised.

South Australia’s liveability and affordability are undoubtedly two of our states best attributes.

We must ensure they remain so.

Our state is currently in the midst of significant reform of our planning and development system that aims to deliver more liveable neighbourhoods, facilitate economic growth, create a sustainable environment, and maximising the efficient use and integration of infrastructure.

The new Planning Reforms offer the opportunity for faster, more streamlined approvals, greater consistency across the state and much clearer, upfront detail on requirements for more complex development.

However, the risk of the reform transitional timeframes not being met and implementation outcomes not meeting initial expectations, are significant.

SA-BEST intends to be a strong ‘watchdog’ to ensure the new planning reforms achieve their aims and their timeframes.

Rather than building sprawling ‘commuter suburbs’, SA-BEST supports urban design that more closely aligns where people live, work and play and provides the local cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to facilitate this.

Integrating land use and transport planning when developing new infrastructure and residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas makes sense.

We support the focus on transport-oriented design – new mixed-use development close to public transport - and public transport that is accessible, affordable and takes people where they need to go.

We support greater range of housing choice to meet changing household needs - taking into account the genuine land use and development conflict concerns raised by the community.


Building SA

SA-BEST supports a new independent infrastructure body, Building SA, to determine the best, most cost-effective way to deliver infrastructure that will be focussed on driving economic growth.

SA-BEST supports establishment of an independent infrastructure coordination body ‘Building SA’ to coordinate core infrastructure and utilities to maximise timeliness and efficient use of resources, and in particular, an independent body free of political interference.

Taking into account the scale and geography of many rural developments and local contractor and workforce availability – and consistent with SA-BEST’s policy for Regions

- we would also ensure well-resourced decision-making units of Building SA are also located within each of the regions to ensure more localised access and response.


Greater Transparency and Better Outcomes

A Royal Commission

SA-BEST will be insisting on a Royal Commission to conduct a root and branch review of South Australia's health system.

We want that inquiry to be conducted by health experts of the highest authority and expertise. We will want an interim report delivered to government and parliament within six months and a final report six months after that.

We will 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.

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.

A Royal Commission need not delay the next government from putting its own health policies into operation, but it will provide an objective lens through which that policy implementation can be assessed.

Alongside the Royal Commission SA-BEST will also 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. Priorities include to:

Secure our Medical and Health Services
1. Protect existing health capacity with no further beds to be closed.

2. Reinstate acute and critical care and emergency support services at Modbury and Noarlunga hospitals, and maintain acute and special care services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

3. Repurpose the Repat to support community healthcare and suspend any deal or signing of a contract with ACH until after the election.

4. Ensure the commitment to relocate Hampstead Rehab Centre to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at equal or better standards is honoured.

5. Find a workable solution for Labor's broken promise for a co-located Women's and Children's Hospital.

6. Develop a dedicated Eye Health centre to address the ophthalmology needs of Central and Northern Adelaide and increase resources for eye health in Southern Adelaide.

7. Recruit an additional neuro interventionist to support a 24-hour stroke service at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, recognising the costs of this will be more than offset by better health outcomes requiring less hospitalisation.

8. Provide sustainable operational and administrative resourcing for our Ambulance service, including additional paramedics, ambulances and equipment.

9. Review the capacity of mental health, palliative care and cancer health resources across the state to determine where additional resources are needed.

10. Develop a primary health care plan which supports the integration of community-based health care provision into the management of patients within our public hospitals.

11. Increase sustained investment in community, preventative and lifestyle programs, noting that, for example, even six additional nurses in the community to support patients with Parkinson's disease will have significant social and economic benefits and savings to the health system through reduced hospitalisations.

Country Health
12. Restore and maintain Country Health SA budgetary requirements for country hospitals, including fast-tracking capital upgrades and maintenance that have been neglected by the centralised SA Health administration.

13. Increase the scope of medical services available in regional hospitals to enable more patients to be treated locally and help reduce demand on metropolitan hospitals.

14. Establish a stronger network of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and support services in country communities.

Support Our Hospital and Medical Staff
15. Real protection for whistleblowers to ensure they can speak out on failures in health and health administration without fear of losing their careers or any form of recrimination.

16. Violence against our health care staff is totally unacceptable. We must increase protection for our ambulance officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses who provide emergency services to our community.

17. Greater investment into training to develop stronger own in-house skills rather than the habitual and default use of external consultants.

18. We must have stronger and more pro-active planning and training to address current and future workforce shortages; and we must improve and resource administrative support to let our health professionals do their job.

19. Move to increase availability of permanent and full-time nursing and midwifery roles to levels that meet workforce demand while retaining flexibility.

20. SA-BEST provides a clear and unambiguous commitment to supporting the maintenance of penalty rates in the SA public health sector and categorially opposes any further privatisation or outsourcing of public health services.

Improve Governance, Transparency and Accountability
21. Initiate an online data and performance statistics program for all hospitals including surgical waiting times, outpatient appointment waiting times and medical activity data, consistent with the model in Sweden.

22. Urgently and independently review the Electronic Patient Administration System (EPAS) to address hardware, technical, reliability and operational issues.

23. Implement standard clinical pathways across local health networks for all highly utilised clinical interventions to improve care, quality and consistency of patient stay.

24. Strengthen local decision making and reduce overcentralisation of health administration.


SA-BEST will be making further specific announcements in relation to health that are consistent with this policy.

State and Commonwealth Collaboration
We recognise that many issues relating to our health system require cooperation between State and Federal Governments. We commit to working with our Federal SA-BEST colleagues to:

  • Improve focus on integrating patient care from hospital to home and tailoring health services to meet the needs of individuals rather than asking them to navigate a system built around funding models,
  • Improve planning and collaboration between state and commonwealth governments, clinicians, students, universities and colleges to ensure we have a strong health and medical workforce to service all South Australian communities,
  • Support the development of principles that underpin the concept of advanced nursing practice that will assist necessary workforce flexibility.
  • Better coordinate, resource and implement preventative health measures that will improve the health of South Australians, whilst reducing hospital admissions, stays and associated costs.



With a net cost to the state government of $3.6 billion and a further $2.3 billion from commonwealth revenue, grants and other sources, $5.9 billion is spent on health and ageing each year, making it the biggest and fastest growing expenditure line in the state budget.

One of the great paradoxes of public health and public hospital spending is that as medicine has become more advanced and sophisticated it seems the way we plan our health system, and changes to it, has not.

That paradox continues with the inescapable fact that before new pharmaceuticals and medical devices can enter the market they must go through a rigorous evidence-based approach - research, lab testing, clinical trials and evaluation - the type of rigour that seems all but lacking in planning our health system.

Labor's Transforming Health has inflicted substantial and ongoing damage in the delivery of public health care services in this state. There have been serious flaws in planning and implementation that has left many essential health services depleted, putting further strain on the entire health system.

We have had scandal after scandal, a politicised health administration, waste, massive cost overruns, declining services and tragedy for patients.

It hasn't 'transformed health', it has simply 'transferred health' away from patient-focussed outcomes because it has ignored those at the front-line.

Waiting lists are blowing out, medical services in other metropolitan sites are being withdrawn or left stranded, the loss of services and backlog of maintenance in country hospitals is putting lives in danger and further increasing the pressure on city facilities.

Many of these issues reflect the fact that policies have been implemented without proper planning and without early, frank advice from the front-line practitioners who deliver our health services.

The medical professionals we rely on so much feel pressured, under-supported and ignored.
There are increasing reports of a bullying and an oppressive culture within SA Health and an increasing rate of burnout, psychological distress and self-harm in our medical professionals.

Morale amongst ambulance employees is at an all-time low. Our nursing and midwifery workforce is too highly casualised.

There is a lack of pro-active training and workforce development in our health and medical professions.

The growing levels of centralised decision making, administration and bureaucracy are making matters worse.

There are serious concerns across the medical profession about whether the Electronic Patient Administration System (EPAS) is fit-for-purpose or at all workable.

There have been too many near-misses.

We have dilemma of commitment. We have already spent over $470 million on EPAS - we need to make sure we are not continuing to throw good money after bad.

Our health system should provide seamless care for patients from hospital to home and the flexibility to tailor health services to meet the needs of individuals rather than the needs of funding models and central bureaucracies.

The state has a preoccupation with hospitals and not how to build health services.

The importance of appropriate planning in our health system based on appropriate data and rigorous modelling would help to provide the evidence base to justify the level of resources to achieve better health outcomes. Such modelling can also be used to improved efficiencies that will, in turn, free up resources to achieve better outcomes such as reduced waiting times in emergency and for surgery. The cost of such modelling will be more than offset by the savings delivered. The savings could be in the order to ten to twenty times the cost of the modelling, based on overseas research and experience.

The role of our doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals cannot be overstated. They must be fully engaged in setting out a clear, long-term and sustainable pathway for planning and future delivery of health services in this state.

SA-BEST recognises that many external determinants of health must also be considered in any policy setting. This includes the impacts of domestic violence, gambling addiction and substance abuse to name a few key issues.

Unacceptable waiting lists
Waiting lists for elective surgeries in South Australia are unacceptable and, in many cases, a disgrace.

Orthopaedic operations such as knee and hip replacement waiting lists have increased by 100% in just three months from November 2017.

Medical professionals are frustrated that waiting times for colonoscopies are over two years and up to four to five years at the Lyell McEwin, and for cataracts - over three years.

We know that colon cancer is highly treatable if detected and managed early.

Unfortunately, the waiting list for colonoscopies means many will die from this preventable disease. That is scandalous.

And up to 13 years wait on eye health appointments, with over 3600 people on the waiting list shows just how broken the system is.

We also know that cancer treatment waiting lists are also blowing out, with category one patients - who should be seen within thirty days - regularly being bumped to category two, with a wait time of sixty days.

The 'big squeeze' - medical services strained and patient safety compromised
Doctors in South Australia are predicting this coming winter as a disaster waiting to happen, with health services unlikely to cope.

Medical staff at Modbury have already operated under 'code yellow' - an imminent risk to life. Noarlunga and Flinders are rapidly heading the same way.

Emergency care resources at Noarlunga, Modbury and the Queen Elizabeth hospitals have been downgraded and acute care bed capacity reduced, without adequate replacement in the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The issue of emergency department ramping is still not resolved.

The decision to build a new Women's Hospital in the biomedical precinct and leave the Children's Hospital in North Adelaide is a broken promise by Labor. It means a fragmenting of care for women and children, double handling within the system and inefficiencies that clinicians and patients can ill-afford.

There is no plan for providing transitional hospital and community care arrangements for young people with chronic disease or disability as they move to the adult system.

There are no comprehensive lymphoedema clinics, dedicated public lymphoedema practitioners or clear referral or treatment pathways for lymphoedema.

Access to appropriate palliative care is severely limited because funding models have made it difficult for general practitioners and allied health to provide these services. There is no integrated palliative care model for home care and specialist support for patients, palliative care accommodation for patients in the Northern Adelaide region is in very poor condition and funding for palliative medicine specialists to visit country regions was withdrawn last year.

Cardiology services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are under threat.

Veteran services at the Repat have gone.

And it goes without saying, the recent power failure at the new RAH is totally unacceptable.

Country Communities Sold Out
For years country communities have seen a decline in services and funding into local hospitals.

There is now a country hospital capital works and maintenance backlog of $150 million and an ongoing shortage of doctors, registered nurses, allied health professionals and visiting specialist services.

Many of our country hospitals are not appropriately equipped with neo-natal and paediatric resuscitation equipment, colonoscopies, anaesthetic supplies and ophthalmology equipment.

The annual training allowance for country doctors falls well short of that provided to practitioners in city hospitals.

Money raised for local hospitals through decades of volunteer fundraising effort has been ripped out of communities and is now controlled by bureaucrats in Adelaide.

And to rub salt into the wound, the State Treasurer last year declared "our largest regional hospital is the new Royal Adelaide Hospital".

Not only is the lack of focus and support for our country hospitals insulting, it means substantial travel, accommodation and emotional costs for patients and families spending extended time in Adelaide, away from their own communities, and simply adds to the pressure on metropolitan services.

Many who do need to travel to Adelaide for medical treatment or to support family members experience significant financial hardship. The new RAH only provides short term, single daybed accommodation and the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) still does not adequately meet the expenses of country patients and families.

Ice Rehabilitation

Fighting Ice with Mandatory Rehabilitation

SA-BEST is committed to slashing the level of ice use by at least 50 per cent in South Australia within two years.

A report released late last year by the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring program revealed Adelaide was the methamphetamine (‘ice’) ‘capital’ of Australia, with the city found to have the highest levels of use, of about 80 doses per 1,000 persons per day being used. This compares to the national average of 30 doses per 1,000 persons per day.

That rate is among the highest in the world and is more than double the national capital city average, as well as being the highest level recorded for the Adelaide area in the data’s eight-year history.

Not only does this impact directly on individuals, but the flow-on impacts to our health and corrections systems, family violence, community safety and crime mean this scourge must be dealt with as a priority.

SA-BEST believes mandatory rehabilitation is a key part of a suite of measures to attack this issue head on and is committed to a six month mandatory program in a well-resourced rehabilitation facility for high end users and repeat offenders.

The model is based on a successful rehabilitation approach in Sweden where their levels of ice use are dramatically lower, and also involves intensive support once people are out of the facility and into the community and back with their families.

As part of the suite of measures SA-BEST will also push for provisions to strengthen laws to seize assets of drug dealers, which would be used to fund rehabilitation programs.

Other priorities include:

  • A 20-bed rehabilitation trial facility to be established in the Southeast of SA, with another in metropolitan Adelaide, based on a wellness model
  • Funding for at least 2 detox beds within the Mount Gambier and Whyalla hospitals.
  • Detainment for those under the influence who have lost the ability to make informed choices to keep themselves and the public safe
  • Better support for families and carers
  • A tailored programme and ongoing support to rehabilitate addicts to reengage back into society and ultimately into some form of work
  • A full education program through schools starting as early as primary school specifically related to Ice
  • Drug courts which provide treatment and rehabilitation as alternatives to custody and financial penalties.


Industrial Manslaughter

SA-BEST has a strong history of commitment to workplace safety and in supporting people affected by unsafe work.

The question as to whether South Australia needs a new Industrial Manslaughter offence is best answered with another question – would that just introduce another toothless tiger into law?

SA-BEST believes the priority on work health and safety prevention sits firmly with law enforcement. We are concerned about the steep decline in prosecutions under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 as well as a sentencing regime that hands down inconsistent results, we think these areas should be the focus of our attention.

Our position on Corporate Manslaughter law is that if we were to go down that path, we should take advantage of jurisdictions that have successfully developed and prosecuted dozens of corporations. The UK model is precisely that - based on gross negligence and with a penalty regime and sentencing guidelines capable of delivering just outcomes to even the largest multinational corporations (unlimited fine). 

The but remains; until an appetite exists to prosecute current safety laws, there is no logic to adding another to the wastepipe. 

What we can and should address immediately are the flaws in the current law. This is a list of our priorities in that regard.

Our immediate position is to address the issues that can make a difference now:

  • Victims of Crime: We need to provide families impacted by a workplace death with independent advice to guide them through the institutional corridors from the outset. This would include being represented at various times in proceedings. It should also include alternative responses like restorative justice or inquests. They have a stake in this process and they should be afforded some control. 
  • Enforcement: There is no greater risk to general deterrence than failing to enforce the law – we would look to making this the greatest priority in dealing with unsafe work
  • Insurance: The ability for companies to insure themselves against criminal penalties when prosecuted must be prohibited to safeguard the deterrence element in the law
  • Dishonest Directors: Where a director has acted dishonestly in relation to a conviction under safety laws where a worker has died, the court is empowered to activate s 206B Corporations Act – to disqualify that director from managing a corporation into the future
  • Enforceable undertakings: They will no longer be available in matters relating to a fatality or serious injury without the expressed consent of the victims and only then, with the complete disclosure of evidence relating to the charges.
  • Reasonable Excuse: The party contending they had a reasonable excuse to place a worker at risk of death will bear the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt
  • Sentencing Guidelines: Sentencing guidelines are an important measure of justice. We would implement specific and definitive sentencing guidelines designed to deal with a corporation and its quirky legal persona.



Corporate Culpability Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (UK)

  • As of April 2017 it had been subject to more than 25 successful convictions – the majority of which involved workplace deaths.
  • Separate charges under Work Health and Safety Laws are still possible and quite common
  • This offence was designed to capture large scale disasters such as ferry and rail disasters – it projects beyond industrial deaths.
  • The maximum fine is unlimited – it operates to ensure even the largest corporations are appropriately fined with sentencing guidelines to direct sanctions.
  • The health and safety laws focus on the worker being exposed to a ‘risk’ – this corporate manslaughter legislation focuses on the outcome of death.
  • There is no prison sentence – this law uses financial penalties to deter. 
  • There is a separate offence to which individual culpability applies. It is based on gross criminal negligence and this is not as difficult a hurdle as that of the category 1 offence.

Individual Culpability - Gross Negligence Manslaughter

  • The reckless conduct element as drafted in s 31 (Category 1 offence) in the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) requires a conscious mindset to take a risk without justification.
  • The UK has maintained its common law offence to prosecute directors where conduct falls far short of the standard of a reasonable person in his position. There is no need to prove an intention to place a worker at risk.[1]
  • This common law offence has successfully imprisoned negligent directors in the UK but so far has only been successful against small sole-director businesses.
  • It is often used as a bargaining chip for a guilty plea under the broader corporate offence.
  • South Australia has successfully convicted and imprisoned a company director under its common law criminal negligence offence. This matter reflected a road traffic accident where the police and the DPP controlled proceedings.


  • Real Law Reform: Workplace safety and accountability mixed with the criminal law has been shown to cause substantial harm to the people who survive the deceased worker. Recent research confirms the need to revisit how the process of investigation, prosecution and compensation interact together. We will be calling for stakeholders to engage in discussions that look more closely at progressive models such as those being utilised in other areas of the criminal justice system. If they can fit the industrial relations landscape, then our goal of harm minimisation becomes achievable.



21/01/2018: SA LABOR announced its promise to amend Work Health and Safety legislation with the introduction of an Industrial Manslaughter provision - if elected in March. The gauntlet was then thrown down in seeking SA BEST’s support those changes.

Historic snapshot: Industrial Manslaughter SA

It should be noted; Nick Xenophon has historically endeavoured to bring about tougher corporate accountability measures by way of private members Bills.

  • December 2004: Nick Xenophon tabled Industrial Manslaughter legislation in the upper house. Labor did not support
  • May 2005: Nick tabled amendments to remedy an unused and unworkable s 59 ‘aggravated offence’ in the old OHS laws. No support from Labor.
  • December 2006: Labor expressly rejected Industrial Manslaughter legislation.
  • July 2010: Labor rejected the Green’s push for industrial manslaughter legislation in favour of harmonised laws.
  • November 2012: Labor’s Industrial Relations Minister refers to industrial manslaughter laws as providing little more than ‘symbolic appeal’.
  • April 2016: The Government rejects Industrial Manslaughter amendments put forward by Greens because the current WHS and criminal laws are adequate.
  • April 2016: The SA Union’s position voiced concerns on industrial manslaughter fearing the current criminal and common law would be compromised. The preference here was to amend the Category 1 offence to reflect a penalty more aligned with causing death by dangerous driving.
  • Note: There is no instance where SA Liberal party has supported industrial manslaughter legislation

What this shows us is a snapshot of the general reluctance over more than a decade of Hansard of both major parties in their view of bringing about a connection with employment activity and the word ‘manslaughter’.

[1] R v Adomako [1995] 1 AC 171; R v Misra, R v Srivastava [2004] EWCA Crim 2375.

Live Music

SA-BEST strongly supports South Australia's live music industry and has committed $5 million over the next four years.

Currently, $850,000 is allocated annually from pokies revenue for the live music industry, but there are widespread concerns the fund does not go anywhere near far enough in supporting live music and emerging local talent.

Based on grassroots industry feedback and consultation, the additional $5 million will be spent on a range of initiatives including:

  • Encouraging emerging bands and live gigs in schools;

  • Cross-promotion of new bands on social media and music radio stations, and;

  • Mentoring and training programs for musicians, songwriters and band promoters.

The Live Music Fund will have a formula that requires those venues with little or no live music to contribute the $1.25m a year in extra funding, with bigger, high profit venues paying more.

Below is Lead Singer of 'The Screaming Jets' and 'The Angels', Dave Gleeson, talking about supporting SA's live music industry:

Local Government Reform

As the level of government closest to the people, local government is a vital and trusted part of our democracy and our community.

Unfortunately, Local Government is becoming increasingly squeezed by a combination of shifting of responsibilities onto Councils from other levels of government and a declining level of funding and resources to deliver this. This was comprehensively documented in the 2003 Australian Government Inquiry into Local Government and Cost Shifting (‘The Hawker Report’), with the report also finding that duplication and inefficiency across all levels of government amounted to more than $20 billion per annum.

Clearly, something needs to change.

In 2013 the South Australian Local Excellence Expert Panel headed by the Hon. Greg Crafter AO, made several recommendations to reform the Local Government sector, including: a move towards regional Local Government; a closer working relationship with the State Government, particularly with a focus on regional development, infrastructure provision and service delivery; a stronger role in strategic planning and environmental and natural resources management and; new strategies to build capacity within governance and administration.

In handing down its report, the Expert Panel formed the view that not to embrace change would be most unwise.

We agree.

Our intent for Local Government reform focusses on finding better, more efficient ways of delivering the services that communities need and expect, but without compromising local decision making and democracy.

SA-BEST will work with local government and sector experts to:

  • Establish a Parliamentary standing committee and a Commission for Local Government;
  • Review the Local Government Act and regulations;
  • Enable the community to directly submit a significant local issue to the Parliamentary standing committee, where supported by a petition of 1500 or 10% of local ratepayers, whichever is the lower;
  • Review the mandatory rebates Councils are required to provide;
  • Strengthen provisions of the Act that support diversity of representation on Councils;
  • Strengthen elected member code of conduct and behavioural standards;
  • Regularly publish elected member and senior staff entitlements, gifts, benefits, Council-related travel and attended activities;
  • Establish a register of state owned land and assets under the care and control of Councils;
  • Implement mandatory live streaming of Council meetings, with $1 million funding to help upgrade and install appropriate technology;
  • Implement sector wide benchmarking for Council services and standards;
  • Review the local government subsidiary provisions to facilitate better regional collaboration;
  • Investigate the merit and costs of implementing compulsory voting in Council elections, the same as for state and federal elections.

We support a thorough review of the services and functions of state agencies to identify where those resources may be better re-allocated and delivered through local government.

We won’t cap Council rates.

We believe Councils need to be empowered and resourced to respond to the needs of their local communities.

As democratically elected local members, they will be judged by their own communities at every Council election.

Managing our Metropolitan Beaches

There are locations along the Adelaide metropolitan coast which now have very unhealthy beaches, from Seacliff to Henley South and in particular West Beach, which has eroded to the point of virtually no sand.

Each significant storm event we experience wreaks more and more havoc on our beaches.

The loss of public access to the shoreline, and associated decline in revenue from coastally-dependent commercial activities, if not addressed appropriately, will result in significant environmental, social and economic costs.

SA-BEST proposes to establish an independent coastal management authority to manage our metropolitan beaches, including a specialist team with marine ecology, oceanography, coastal geology, coastal engineering and surveying expertise.

The authority will investigate the historical data of the coast, along with future hazard assessment, separated into sections or ‘cells’, to identify high risk areas requiring urgent action.

Each cell must be addressed individually as there will not be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Strategies to counter the effects of structures, for example the Adelaide Shores boat ramp, on our loss of beaches, will need to be specifically considered.
Overall, each local analysis will then contribute to a collective plan and a progressive restoration of our metropolitan coast.

We must undertake an initial assessment within the first six months and commence implementation of solutions within the first year, to stop further erosion and increase public safety.

SA-BEST also supports stronger community participation in regular monitoring and updates on the health of our coastlines and reporting any damage and hazards resulting from weather events.
The Adelaide Coastal Waters Study of 2007 recommended, as a matter of priority, that steps must be taken to reduce the volumes of wastewater, stormwater, and industrial inputs into Adelaide’s coastal environment. This should be done within the context of an overarching strategy designed to remediate and protect the metropolitan coastal ecosystem.

Effluent and stormwater being discharged along the coast is changing the biology of the water in the gulf, which in turn is having a detrimental effect on the seagrass. Once seagrass becomes lost offshore, the seabed becomes scoured, water depth increases, and higher energy wave action occurs closer to shore which then causes significant damage to our beaches.

SA-BEST supports investigating emerging technologies and alternative treatments to decrease the harm caused by effluent and stormwater to seagrass; and trialling of seagrass seeding to increase the density and coverage of seagrass along our coastline. This, in turn, should improve sand retention and water quality, and promote aquatic biodiversity.

SA-BEST also proposes a review and upgrade of the metropolitan sand pumping system as a priority, as the current system is just not working. Sand pumping and trucking needs to continue until systems are in place, then this should need to occur less and less frequently.

Mental Health

Our priorities are to:

  • Provide funding to reinstate services provided by the Lyell McEwin Hospital’s mental health short stay unit.
  • Increase primary prevention.
  • Increase prevention which includes effective rehabilitation programs.
  • 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.
  • Adequately fund 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.
  • Publish on a monthly basis key benchmarks on mental health, including details of waiting times for people requiring various types of treatment for mental health problems and restraint and seclusion in mental health facilities.

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

The cost of mental ill-health in Australia each year is around four per cent of GDP or about $4000 for every tax payer and it costs the nation more than $60 billion.

Of all disease-related compensation claims, 77 per cent were for mental health issues, accounting for 19,000 out of 25,000 lost working weeks a year in SA.

According to Commissioner Chris Burns, more than $30 billion was lost in productivity in Australia each year.

As the SA Mental Health Commission points out, every dollar invested in strengthening mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has an average return of $2.30 – a good investment of the mental health of South Australians!

SA-BEST supports the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan, and the work of SA Mental Health Commissioner, Chris Burns, and his office.     

The three core strategies referred to in the SA strategic plan of promotion, community education and early intervention; services and care to provide quality and support aligned to need; and, strategic leadership, governance and improve outcomes are all to be commended.

However, the real challenge is the practical implementation of those core strategies.

What we will do

SA-BEST wants to ensure that those that work in the mental health space receive adequate support, and that those who have concerns about the administration practices in mental health are able to speak out without fear of recrimination. For instance, Sharon Olsson, a former Director of Nursing at Oakden, a decade ago, raised serious issues of resident care, and concerns of the administration of the facility, which were ignored by her superiors. She feared speaking out to members of parliament or the media due to the serious criminal penalties that apply, as well as employment ramifications. SA-BEST believes that if strong whistle-blower protections were in place back then, Ms Olsson could have raised these issues publicly and the ensuing problems and scandal avoided.

There must be a fundamental shift in dealing with some of the most vulnerable in the community, particularly in mental health, particularly from cost cutting to the best quality care.

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.

The Oakden scandal highlights the need for greater recognition and funding for dementia and related conditions, including appropriate training and resources for those responsible for caring for particularly severe cases which need a specialised facility.

Families of patients with severe mental health conditions such as dementia which cannot speak for themselves need to have an appropriate mechanism for their concerns to be raised and acted upon.

For those that require long-term accommodation, particularly in cases such as dementia, such facilities should be located to allow, wherever possible, reasonable geographical access. Those dementia sufferers require regular support from family members, and only having one such facility in South Australia for acute cases is not satisfactory.

Unfortunately like other aspects of health policies there are ‘silos’ between the Commonwealth and States on both facilities and funding. The State Government can provide a strong role to breakdown those silos so that there may be an integrated approach to the provision of services. For instance, there should be better coordination between overlapping State and Federal services, so that people do not fall between the cracks.

There is real concern over the implementation of the NDIS, itself a nation building program for the wellbeing of Australians with a disability. Currently a person living with mental illness will be eligible for the NDIS if it impacts their life in a significant way. However, as the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia points out the role out of the NDIS is “shifting psychosocial support to a much smaller cohort of people - 64000 (12%) of the 230,000 Australians requiring psychosocial support. This comes on top of a reduction of the $10m in the last two years in funding for psychosocial services despite evaluations showing these services were highly effective in supporting people with severe mental illness to lead better lives, increase social inclusion and reduce reliance on acute and emergency care. In SA this equates to 16000 people with severe mental illness will need psychosocial support outside of the NDIS”.

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.

SA-BEST, as part of its transparency and accountability platform, considers key benchmarks on mental health should be published on a monthly basis, including details of waiting times for people requiring various types of treatment for mental health problems. This would be similar to the health dashboard that exists for surgery waiting lists in our public hospitals.

Palliative Care

Our priorities are to:

  • Make palliative care a state health priority.
  • $24.5 million-a-year recurrent funding that will increase access to palliative care services
  • $14 million a year on properly designed community palliative care, which will give an additional 5600 people the choice to die where they wish, including at home
  • Increasing palliative care services to provide access 24/7.
  • Integrating palliative care into chronic care pathways with $6 million a year allocated to this initiative.
  • $400,000 has been allocated per year to keep people informed about palliative care services available to them.

The Access to appropriate pain management and being surrounded by family are most important to people who are dying. South Australians deserve to die with dignity and be surrounded by the people they love.

Palliative care is not just about pain and symptom management, it is about providing meaningful social, spiritual and emotional support for families and patients.

Their end-of-life journey will likely be punctuated with avoidable or unwanted admissions to hospital with the confusion, loss of dignity and loss of control that comes with it.

Palliative Care in South Australia has been ignored by the major parties for too long. Currently, it’s in the worst state it’s been since 1980, when it was first implemented into the SA health system.

Palliative Care Australia estimates that while 70 per cent of Australians wish to die at home, only around 14 per cent do so.

The Productivity Commission released its Draft Report into Human Services released in June 2017 specifically considering palliative care services and which stated: “Each year, tens of thousands of people who are approaching the end of life are cared for and die in a place that does not reflect their choice or fully meet their end of life care needs”.

Most people who die, do so in two of the least preferred places — hospitals and residential aged care.

The Productivity Commission’s report argued that:

  • More community based palliative care services are needed to enable more people who wish to die at home to do so.
  • End of life care in residential aged care needed to be better resourced and delivered by skilled staff, so that its quality aligns with that available to other Australians.
  • There are just 213 palliative medical specialists across Australia.

The sums spent would mean fewer acute care hospital beds being occupied by end stage palliative patients, leading to more efficient use of health resources and significant savings in the health system that would be equal to or exceed the money allocated to Nick Xenophon’s SA-BEST’s palliative care initiatives.

Below is Tracey Watters, Chief Executive Officer for Palliative Care South Australia, discussing the importance of Palliative Care in South Australia:

Regional Telecommunications

SA-BEST supports a State Regional Telecommunications fund allocation of $30 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.

There are over 830 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 the backlog.

The Federal Government has committed $220 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program from 2015–16 to 2019–20 to invest in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes, in small communities and in a number of identified priority locations.

The Commonwealth has already committed $160 million in Rounds One and Two, supported by $287 million from the mobile network operators, $141.2 million from State Governments and $2.2 million by local Councils, businesses and communities.

The South Australian Government has so far contributed only $1.4 million with a total 2017-18 budget allocation of only $2 million.

In contrast, Western Australian Government contributed $53.8 million, Victoria $28.9 million, Queensland $23.7 million and New South Wales, $32.7 million.

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

Regional communities also face additional risks during natural disasters and a greater risk of mass service disruptions due to telecommunications outages.

During the statewide blackout, mobile phone coverage in many parts of regional South Australia was out for several days.

SA-BEST is committed to improving the reliability of mobile phone signal for rural communities during emergencies.

We will work with telecommunications providers, regional communities and local emergency services to identify priority locations and find solutions through, for example, battery or generator backup for mobile phone base towers in vulnerable regional communities.

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.

Renewing our Regions

SA-BEST is committed to working with regional communities to:

Grow our Regions

1. Establish clear growth strategies and population targets for South Australian regional centres.

2. Establish a Royalties for Regions fund to leverage investment into new, catalytic infrastructure to help grow our regions and activate local economies.

3. Establish a $15 million Regional Entrepreneurs Programme to encourage new businesses to start-up in regional areas.

Improve Rural Roads

4. Increase the share of arterial road maintenance budget to address the backlog of rural road repair and, in consultation with local authorities, reverse speed limit reductions on country roads. 

Improve Regional Telecommunications

5. Increase Regional Telecommunications funding to $30 million to leverage Federal and private investment into mobile phone, internet and internet blackspots.
Improve Local Access to Higher Education
6. Develop tertiary education study hubs that integrate university and vocational education pathways, tailored to meet the needs of local industry and communities.
Reform NRM
7. Review the NRM funding and delivery model to return the focus to local, on ground action.
Support Country Schooling
8. Review incentives and country loading support for country schools.
9. Reduce the centralised education department bureaucracy and administration and return more decision-making to the regions.
Boost Regional Health Services
10. Boost the role and function of regional hospitals and rehabilitation services to keep country patients closer to home.
11. Restore and maintain Country Health SA budgetary requirements for country hospitals, including fast-tracking capital upgrades and maintenance that have been neglected by the centralised SA Health administration.
12. Establish a stronger network of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and support services in country communities.
Return Service Delivery, Policy and Decision Making to the Regions
13. Review incentives and job tenure for regionally-based Government positions and increase the level of front-line services and departmental decision and policy makers in the regions.


SA-BEST also supports a range of initiatives to ensure that the South Australian agricultural industry is sustainable and better positioned to take advantage of the big and growing export markets that will support our local economy.



For too long our regions have been taken for granted.

For instance:

  • Money raised for local hospitals through decades of volunteer fundraising effort have been ripped out of communities and now controlled by bureaucrats in Adelaide.
  • Regional communities being literally left in the dark for days at a time due to a lack of forward planning to ensure an orderly transition of our electricity sector.
  • Years of on ground action by Landcare and Coastcare groups replaced by NRM boards whose main job is to write a plan there is no money to implement – with the NRM levies collected from local communities and siphoned straight into city coffers.
  • A backlog of rural road maintenance solved by reducing speed limits rather than fixing the problem.
  • Country schools battling poor internet, a lack of support staff and limited access to professional development.
  • Emergency services volunteers putting their lives on the line, and as a ‘thank you’, being slugged significant increases in their emergency services levy.
  • Tertiary education through TAFE and universities being scaled back or centralised into the city, in some cases meaning young apprentices are driving up to 1000km to attend training in Adelaide.
  • Country Councils being loaded with more and more paperwork and responsibility being shifted onto them by the state, but with no extra funding.
  • Rural residents paying through the nose for mobile phone, internet and landline services that barely function.
  • An EPA who, instead of protecting residents, is a toothless tiger.
  • Our agriculture sector facing pressures with rising costs and red-tape, land-use conflict and workforce shortages.
  • Limited and inadequate access to local drug and alcohol rehabilitation and support services.
  • A public service now so centralised and disconnected from the communities their decisions impact on.
  • A Labor Government that by admission of their leader, Jay Weatherill, has ‘no votes in the country’.
  • And an opposition who takes their traditional support base for granted and have become lazy, out of touch and driven more by factional warfare than by what is good for their constituents.

Country communities deserve better.

Our Policy to Support Regions

The latest census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there are now 30 regional cities in Australia with populations over 30,000 and 10 with populations over 100,000.

None are in South Australia.

Our regional cities and towns offer 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.

According to the Regional Australia Institute, for every 100,000 Australians who choose to live in growing regional centres rather than our large capital cities, an additional $50 billion will be released into the economy over 30 years in reduced congestion costs and increased consumption.

Committing to actively growing our country centres offers a chance to stop the urban sprawl of metropolitan Adelaide, 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.

But we must start with a commitment to, and a vision for, the future of our regions.

Royalties for our Regions

To help pro-actively support the growth of our regions, SA-BEST wants to see a stronger return of state income generated from country areas put back into new, catalytic infrastructure and initiatives to help develop our regional centres, activate local economies and improve services.

A Royalties for Regions scheme, based on the Western Australian model of quarantining at least 25% of royalty revenue for country communities, will ensure an ongoing funding stream for new economic and social infrastructure that demonstrates confidence in our regions and will help facilitate and leverage certainty and investment by the private sector.

Based on lessons learned from other states, and unlike the Liberal party policy, SA-BEST’s Royalties for Regions initiative will make additional investment in regional infrastructure, services and facilities - over and above existing State Government departmental core responsibilities.

Re-connecting Government with Regions

SA-BEST supports a strong, efficient, responsive public service, where decisions are directly connected to the communities, lives and livelihoods they impact upon.  We don’t support a centralised, bureaucratic administration.

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 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 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. And we need to get more departmental decision-makers out of the city and into the regions where their decisions impact.

Retail Shopping Hours

Our Position: 

  • 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 South Australian 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.

SA-BEST opposes any further expansion of trading hours because it would threaten 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.



SA-BEST respects the worth, dignity and values of senior South Australians and their rights to access support community services. SA-BEST is committed to strengthening communities across our State to ensure that people are not isolated, neglected or abused. With respect to the special needs of the elderly, we will improve both the standard of and access to support services through a comprehensive range of evidence based policies initiatives.

As many of the financial responsibilities for senior citizens sit with the Federal Government, we will lobby Canberra to ensure that services are better co-ordinated and financed to maximise outcomes for the elderly. In addition to our separate but related Vulnerable Protection Policy, we support a range of initiatives which will improve the scope and standard of community support and commonwealth care services to vastly improve the wellbeing of our senior citizen’s.

SA-BEST will work on targeted education and training for health care professionals, increased access to improved community based services, increased palliative care, mobile dental services and advocate for free public transport. In recognition of the key recommendations of the Council of the Ageing (COTA), SA-BEST will also advocate for stronger and more flexible housing options for the elderly. SA-BEST is committed to standing up for aging South Australians and in particular it will work to achieve:


  • Negotiate reform of the Federal Government’s “My Aged Care Portal” to allow better and more timely access to commonwealth funded community based and residential services. Simplification of the portal will help deliver services faster and therein reduce unnecessary admission to acute hospitals. There are some 101,000 people waiting too access community care programs at a national level. This equates to approximately 7000 South Australians. This reform MUST be driven at a state level.
  • Support implementation of CCTV in aged care facilities where requested by the resident, family or guardian with appropriate privacy and governance controls in place. This will greatly enhance the monitoring of safety for residents in aged care settings.
  • Improve standard of training for all certificate 3 health care and social welfare staff. South Australia should be driving the reform in aged care training. Pushing for a standard national curriculum, minimum training periods of 6 months. Establish new minimum criteria that RTO’s need to achieve before they can be accredited to provide the training. Introduce an annual audit of all training outcomes achieved by RTO’s to ensure quality training outcomes.
  • Advocate for increased gerontological and palliative care curriculum time within the undergraduate nursing degrees.
  • Increase the number of Transitional Professional Practice places to around 700- 1000 per annum to provide greater supports for new graduates within the state health system. This is an increase from the current 300 places made available. South Australian graduate nurses are being neglected by poor support systems in the SA Health System. The cost of this increase can be funded through the direct reduction in the use of agency staff which attract higher rates of pay.
  • Work with all stakeholder groups to better manage the aged care industry to develop and implement a more appropriate level of staff ratios which is reflective of higher level skill mix.
  • Increase the capacity of the South Australian Ambulance Service to respond to aged care services to support nursing staff with palliative care issues. This will reduce the number of inappropriate acute admissions and save hundreds of $000’s per annum in acute bed occupancy and improve lifestyle options for aged care residents.


  • Expand community based health services to provide ‘one stop shop’ information and advice source to support individual consumers to make informed decisions and remain in control of their own health status. Information should be focused on healthy living activities across the life spectrum, recreational and sporting activities, general health promotion and chronic health management (diabetes / asthma / emphysema). By providing greater access to education and service information at community level, there will be greater opportunity for equity and access and appropriate referrals to appropriate health interventions and this will avoid unnecessary presentations to acute hospital A&E services
  • Remove the eligibility requirements and limitations on the use of the Senior’s Card to permit free public transport. This will mean all South Australians over the age of 60 will be eligible to free public transport and not discriminate against age or income. This will cost the government a mere $1.2 Million per annum
  • SA-BEST supports the need to increase funding for palliative care services by $24.5 Million per annum, and an additional $ 400K for recurrent operational funding to Palliative Care SA Inc.
  • Implement mobile dental services delivering services to high need designated areas with the outer reaches of Adelaide’s metropolitan area, rural and remote areas including indigenous dental care. This will involve the supply and delivery of 6 new mobile dental vehicles which will create jobs in SA. Dental disease is well documented to be a significant cause of heart disease and strokes in the elderly. Reduction in dental decay in our elderly will ultimately reduce costs to the health system. The vehicles will be designed around the current SA Breast Screen Model that are used across the state
  • Lobby Federal Government to ensure South Australian Meals on Wheels receive the increase in recurrent funding. Missing out on a calculated $1.6 million dollars in recurrent funding provided to all other states in 2017.


  • Support replication of the highly successful State Government of Victoria’s ‘Home at Last’ program which promotes use of existing resources in a flexible manner to better deliver housing services.

This supports the use of existing housing to support socially and financially disadvantaged, those without families or in drug and alcohol recovery programs.

  • Investigate the most cost effective model of reducing the cost of electricity usage to low income individuals regardless of their accommodation options. The cost of electricity to those occupying either public housing or private rentals who are living solely on pensions should be calculated as a percentage of usage with a realistic fixed cap. The difference between the cap and pensioner contribution will be made up by the government.
  • SA-BEST acknowledges the skills and life experiences that can be utilised through employment of the over 60 population. We will investigate the most cost effective models to provide incentives to employers to employ older South Australians.

Tobacco 21

  • Our priority is to increase the minimum age of smoking from 18 to 21

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

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

The vast majority of smokers started well before the age of 21.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and adolescents are more susceptible to its effects because they are still going through critical periods of growth and development. For example, lungs do not fully mature until young adulthood, meaning smoking during this critical developmental phase compromises ongoing function.

Preventing young people from taking up the deadly habit before they turn 21 minimises the likelihood of future use.


The tourism industry currently employs over 37,500 South Australians in direct jobs and many more in indirect employment. In March 2017 tourism was worth $6.3 billion to the South Australian Economy.

The South Australian Government has set a goal to grow our visitor economy to $8 billion and 41,000 jobs by 2020. Tourism has been identified as one of the top 5 key economic growth areas. It is a great employer and jobs can be created quickly, the more the State is marketed the more visitors we get and the more jobs we create. It is a sustainable industry that will always need people to work in it.

Tourism matters because much of the economic benefit it brings to the state flows to regional communities, regions are only 22% of the population but provide 42% of the income. The visitor economy has a positive flow on impact on other industries such as agriculture, wine, retail, education, real estate and transport.

Now is not the time for complacency we need to unlock our full economic potential in the visitor economy. We are on the cusp of amazing growth.

We can unlock that potential with the following key policies:

1. Tourism Cabinet Committee

Chaired by the Minister of Tourism and attended by the Premier, the Treasurer the Ministers for the Environment, Small Business, Transport and Infrastructure and Regions. The tourism committee to meet monthly and to work together for the whole of the visitor economy and no longer work in silos. The tourism cabinet committee should work together to reduce bureaucracy and deliver better outcomes faster.

2. Annual Forum

The current tourism agenda does not go beyond 2020.

The tourism cabinet committee in cooperation with the South Australian Tourism Industry Council should hold an annual forum with key tourism associations and the rest of the visitor economy including but not restricted to the Australian Tourism Export Council SA, Australian Hotel Association. Restaurant and Caterers Association, Education Adelaide.

This forum will set the agenda for the visitor economy in the short medium and long term. This agenda for growth should be formalised by a partnership agreement between the South Australian Government and the South Australian Tourism Industry Council. This agreement should be transparent, measurable and set clear goals for growth. This agreement to be reported on at the annual forum.

3. The Re-establishment of a Tourism Development Fund

The Tourism Development Support Program (TDSP) fund, decommissioned in 2014 must be reinstituted. This grant funding was critical to ensuring accommodation upgrades, supporting the development of new tourism products and experiences and encouraging the private sector to invest in new and/or existing tourism investment opportunities. It has been identified that South Australia is 20 per cent behind the national average for quality 4-star accommodation in regional areas with an oversupply of dated 2 and 3-star accommodation properties. The State’s occupancy rate is also below the national average with Victoria’s occupancy highest at 68.7 per cent and South Australia seventh at 61.6 per cent. To reach visitation targets, research has identified that 1,075 rooms need to be upgraded from 3-star or below to 4-star and above, and 1,155 new rooms need to be built in regional South Australia.

The grant funding will speed up the decision-making process by operators to upgrade their rooms and to expand the number of rooms. The reinstatement of the TDSP fund can play a crucial role in ensuring this gap is closed. Closing this gap will drive up yield, assist in achieving expenditure targets for each region and contribute significantly to achieving the $8 billion 2020 tourism expenditure goal and beyond.

$4 million should be allocated from the SA-BEST's Royalties for Region program.

4. Workforce Development (Training and Education)

The Industry Development Program (Service IQ) must be maintained to provide tourism businesses with training and mentoring covering customer service, quality standards and digital marketing.

We must invest in workforce development. We need a highly skilled and passionate workforce who see a career in tourism as a desired choice. Continual investment in building business expertise and capacity so our visitors get amazing experiences and services is fundamental to our State being a destination of choice; and product development, providing new experiences to the ever-changing marketplace are all critical elements.

As the visitor economy grows we need a skilled workforce or our experience delivery will not be maintained. It is vitally important that our visitors receive an exceptional experience and that we encourage people to enter the tourism workforce and provided them with the skills needed.

SA-BEST will ensure that the Government allocates $500,000 annually to partner with the industry to ensure we deliver on the marketing promise.

5. Events

Both business and leisure have significant impact on hotel occupancy and the accommodation sector in CBD and regional areas. The state government investment of $57.3 million since 2014 in the event bid fund allocated to bring more events, business and leisure to the state has had phenomenal impact and is critically important to the accommodation sector. 54 leisure events have been successfully secured with a potential economic impact of $245 million. Case in point is the impact of the Ashes and the Pacific School games in Adelaide in Dec 2017.

These events resulted in the accommodation industry recording the highest occupancy for the year at 99 per cent on Dec 6, 2017. The average takings for December 2017 was $1.2m up 37 per cent on December 2016 according to STR. An even more telling example is the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, India versus Pakistan match on Feb 15. Adelaide saw an increase of 56.1% in occupancy, +103.6% in ADR and +217.7% in RevPAR. The overall event resulted in more than 70,000 interstate and international visitors here during the event spending $75 million in South Australia.

According to latest figures from the Adelaide Convention Bureau, the Convention Bid Fund has secured 73 conventions and conferences which will attract around 89,000 visitors to our state. This in turn will generate 437,388 bed nights and an economic benefit of $431 million (Jan 2018). Events like Perfect China with 3000 international delegates, World Routes with 3,000 delegates from major airlines, airports, tourism and aviation businesses and ATE with 2,500 delegates have all been secured through this funding. Business events help fill hotel rooms in non-peak season and are critical to the accommodation sector.

The event bid fund must continue to be funded and we will commit to the Liberal pledge of an additional $5 million over 4 years and recognise the commitment to the regions to establish exciting business and leisure events which increase the length of stays in the region and this is vital to their future economies. This is not only critical to the existing hotels and accommodation providers, but also to future private investment in the State. A healthy occupancy rate will result in investment in new properties as well as the upgrade of existing properties in Adelaide and the regions.

6. Funding for Marketing

Northern Territory announced a $103m package to turbo charge their tourism industry over the next 2 years. By any comparison, be it population, SGP, or the size of the economy the NT is less than a third of the size of South Australia. They recognise the importance of tourism to their economy. Their package will take their marketing budget to something over $50 million per year compared to the South Australian Marketing budget of $36 million. We are competing against the other States and Territories as well as other destinations around the world. Visitors will not come to South Australia unless they know about us.

If SA-BEST is in a position to influence our next Government, one of our conditions will be for an immediate increase of funding for marketing of $15 million per year taking the marketing budget to $51 million per year. This will be specifically for marketing and not for any other purpose.

Victims of Crime


  • In serious cases victims or their families will have the right to separate legal representation at the trial
  • Victims to have say in any plea bargain with rights to legal representation under Legal Aid
  • Sweeping reforms - costing $10 million per year - to be paid for by the Victims of Crime Compensation Fund, which currently has almost $300 million sitting in it

Victims of crime in South Australia will have the strongest rights in the Commonwealth under proposals unveiled by SA-BEST.

SA-BEST is proposing sweeping changes to remedy the inescapable fact that victims of crime are often revictimised by the criminal justice system.

The proposed changes - to be a key issue for negotiation - should SA-BEST win the balance of power include:

  1. Establishing an enforceable Victims of Crime Charter placing an obligation on police and prosecutorial authorities to fully inform victims of their rights and recognising them as genuine participants in the criminal justice system.
  2. Criminal matters can no longer proceed unless the court is satisfied that firstly, the victim has been consulted in any plea bargain, and that victims have the right to legal representation for advocacy, and secondly, during sentencing that the victim is given the opportunity to provide a Victim Impact Statement.
  3. A legal aid system is to be established for victims to be funded for advocacy and legal representation - consistent with the UN guidelines for legal aid and in matters involving death or serious injury the victim's family or the victim will have the right of legal representation at the bar table at trials - similar to a highly successful system operating in Sweden.
  4. Grossly underfunded victim support services are to be subject to an immediate audit to ensure victims get the support they need, and to establish a new support service for victims of online abuse and scams.
  5. Alleged perpetrators in offences involving acts of violence must be drug and alcohol tested, and the statistics made available on a quarterly basis specifying the type of offence and the type of drug found in the alleged perpetrator.
  6. Reviewing the mental impairment defence under 269A of the Criminal Consolidation Act so that the defence cannot be used by those who say they are under the influence of drugs, such as ice.
  7. Victims should have the right to legal representation at pre-trial hearings in the Magistrates court.
  8. Increase the budget of the Commissioner for Victims Rights by at least $1 million per year to ensure that they can fund victims to have legal representation at coronial inquests and at judicial inquiries/Royal Commissions.
  9. The introduction of sentencing guidelines, with the establishment of a Sentencing Guidelines Council to include representative voices from victims of crime. Whilst not in the category of mandatory sentencing, it will include a requirement for the courts to explain why a sentencing guideline has not been followed.
  10. An annual reporting requirement to the Parliament through the Commissioner for Victims Rights as to the outcomes contained in the reform measures so there is greater transparency in the criminal justice system.

For too long victims of crime have been ignored, or just given lip service to their rights and concerns that they are to be treated fairly.

Too often victims are revictimized by the criminal justice system.

The eminent UK jurist Lord Steyn summed up the imperative when he said in a 2001 House of Lords case: 'There must be fairness to all sides. In a criminal case this requires the courts to consider a triangulation of interests. It involves taking into account the position of the accused, the victim and his or her family and the public'.

The process for reforming victims rights should commence within the first 100 days of Parliament sitting and should include a draft exposure bill and consultation leading to a bill being tabled within six months of the new Parliament sitting.


The criminal justice system has struggled to hold a corporation to account in the same way it does ordinary civilians. A corporation can chameleon from a personal entity to insolvent at the stroke of a pen. In law a corporation has no brain and yet it thrives financially on all manner of decision-making. The difficulty has always been in finding a single controlling mind to hold to account when decisions are made that harm others. It is an awkward side to criminal justice and unfortunately, in life and death matters, the real human factor is often overshadowed by the complexities of very old law.

Family members finding themselves suddenly impacted and traumatised by a workplace death need. Currently there is no mechanism to provide that help. The Statutory body charged with regulating safety are an impartial organisation that is ill equipped to provide that support.

If SA-BEST is given an opportunity, we will make sure families have:

  • An independent legal representative to assist in providing:
    • Immediate independent assistance and advice at the outset
    • Acting as a conduit between SafeWork SA and Prosecutor
    • Acting on behalf of the family in procedural matters
    • Acting on behalf of the family as legal representation (but not in civil matters)
  • The VOC fund should be used to provide this support. The legal representative should independent from the AGD and SafeWork SA.


The greatest downside to the way we handle investigations and prosecutions into a workplace death. How can prevention be a genuine WHS objective when most of the factual evidence surrounding the cause of a serious incidents are hidden away in the filing cabinets of lawyers? 

The criminal law is constrained by a very narrow lens – and this limits the permissible evidence in relation to much of what lands outside the ‘event’ itself. Another focus is on the individual worker. This is especially frustrating for families because a common defence strategy is to blame the deceased worker.

Latest research confirms the long-term harm caused by the current systems and procedures following a workplace fatality. The criminal justice system has demonstrated time again that it fails to provide satisfactory outcomes for the families of deceased workers and the broader working community.


A coroner’s inquest is a fact-finding exercise whereas a prosecution is an adversarial contest. One seeks the truth and the other pitches adversary against adversary to find a winner.

  • SA-BEST is eager to put together a consultation think-tank in order to discuss ways in which justice can better be served after someone dies at work.
  • We will discuss the recommendations made by the state Coroner, Mark Johns in 2011 as a starting point as to what the best institutional response is to a workplace death

If SA-BEST is given an opportunity, we would endeavour to ask the following questions of key stakeholders currently involved:

    • Should a death in the workplace matter progress first to an inquest?
    • What are the advantages and disadvantages to this course of action?
    • To what extend should the family be involved?
    • Is there an advantage in giving the Industrial Court coronal-like powers so that it may operate as a quasi-inquisitorial court to determine the immediate cause of a death?
    • Is it still then possible to cease an inquiry so criminal charges can be laid?


The principal objective of any changes to the current WHS regime should aim to provide realistic and constructive outcomes to all participants – and that includes those who have been impacted by the offending.

Restorative justice places the spotlight on those who have been harmed. The victim plays a central role as a significant participant in all facets of the proceedings. In contrast the criminal justice system places the victim on the outer as a mere spectator. 

If SA-BEST is given the opportunity, we would:

  • Support and promote therapeutic measures of restorative justice as a means to providing a more cost effective and kinder remedial outcome for all concerned 

Vulnerable Adults Protection

Protection of vulnerable people is a fundamental responsibility of government. The current laws and systems in South Australia are wholly inadequate to afford vulnerable people over the age of 18, even the most basic of protections.

In 2011 the State Government of South Australia received the “Closing the Gaps Report” (published by the South Australian Office of the Public Advocate, in collaboration with the University of South Australia). This key report made strong recommendations for the protection from abuse of all vulnerable adult South Australians, particularly the elderly. 

The foundation recommendations of the “Closing the Gaps Report” was emphatically reinforced by the subsequent South Australian Parliamentary Enquiry: Final Report of the Joint Committee on Matters Relating to Elder Abuse, of 31 October 2017 and was ostensibly echoed by the Australian Law Reform Commission report ‘Elder Abuse- A National Legal Response’ of May 2017.

The Council on the Ageing (COTA) in its recent election manifest of January 2018, has also endorsed the “Closing the Gaps Report”as the authoritative plan.

Despite the horrific failings at the Oakden facility, the unacceptable increasing rate of reported abuse of the elderly and the recent reports calling for immediate implementation of the key recommendations of the “Closing the Gaps Report”, the State Labor Government has failed to act to prevent and reduce harm. We say this lack of accountability and action is wholly unacceptable.

SA-BEST will act to provide a comprehensive policy strategy to promote both the wellbeing and protection of vulnerable adult South Australians. In addition to strong whistle-blower protections and in conjunction with SA-BEST’s related broader Seniors Policy aimed at promoting the independence of older South Australians, SA-BEST will also implement protective measures without further delay for the benefit and protection of all vulnerable South Australian adults. Our reform will protect the elderly as well as vulnerable disabled adults over the age of 18 years.

These measures should receive bi-partisan support and should not be compromised by politics of the day.

Consistent with the key recommendations of the “Closing the Gaps Report’’, SA-BEST will:

  • Introduce legislation to provide for a South Australian Vulnerable Adult Protection Act to provide for the protection of the elderly and other vulnerable adults from neglect, psychological, physical, sexual and or financial abuse (this will involve reform of associated legislation);

  • Establish an Independent South Australian Vulnerable Adult Protection Unit to take the lead for investigating, intervening and co-ordinating interagency responsibilities for protective measures;

  • Ensure legislative and regulatory reform carries sanctions against health care staff, operators and departmental administrators, including ministers, who are found to be guilty of failing to report to regulatory authorities issues of abuse and or maladministration. Sanctions should also include significant financial penalties, which may be equally applied against any ministers found to be in breach;

  • Ensure that there is strong inclusion for consumer’s within all levels of governance of the proposed Protection Unit;

  • Facilitate installation and use of CCTV cameras in residential care facilities balanced with privacy and governance considerations with the consent of the resident/ or guardian.

  • In regard to protection of financial interests, provide review mechanisms of activities under the Power of Attorney and Agency Act 1984 (SA); to provide for mandatory auditing of financial transactions of people holding Power of Attorney

  • Work co-operatively with all State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments to coordinate a best practice national approach, including interagency collaboration to develop:

    • reliable risk assessment tools for identifying persons at risk of elder abuse, the use of chemical and physical restraint and seclusion.

    • a national data base to collect and collate research and all reported incidents of elder abuse;

    • culturally effective programs to reflect the diversity of our community and to promote access to services; and

    • Community awareness of the significant value and contribution of senior members of South Australia and awareness of the rights of all people to the highest standard of care.

    • Official visitors need to have unrestrained capacity to furnish reports outlining issues and concerns identified in consumer service outcomes.

Below is a video from the families whose loved ones were abused at the Oakden Aged Care facility:

Learn more about the Oakden tragedy here.

Workers Compensation


The Return to Work Act (SA) was sold to us as to finally open up common law rights to people seriously injured at work. Those common law rights are best described as illusory.

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following where negligence can be established in law:

  • Seriously injured workers (30% WPI) have full common law rights (entitled to damages for non-economic and economic loss)


The current legislation throws injured workers off the scheme, removing income support after 104 weeks whether they are fit for work or not. The practical effect of this is that people return to work before their injuries are healed adequately – risking further aggravations and health problems and thus, increasing the burden of cost to the worker and the community

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • For workers with a whole person impairment of 20% to 30%, there must be a right of review where that worker risks causing aggravation to a claimed injury that has yet to have suitably healed


The Government has shown time again it has no interest in properly considering families impacted by a workplace death.

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • Weekly benefits to be retitled to ‘economic loss’ providing a claimant with the choice of either weekly payment until the deceased worker would have retired – or by immediate and fair commutation
  • The Lump Sum benefit to be retitled to reflect ‘non-economic loss’ and that such benefit is made available to be claimed by a deceased worker’s estate where there are no financial dependants
  • A move to full common law rights (economic and non-economic loss) where an action for negligence can be established for a death
  • Section 84 disallows non-workers from a common law nervous shock claim – we will amend the Act to exempt immediate family members from that provision


Government are pushing people to work beyond the retirement age of 65 and we will ensure those workers, if dealing with a work-related injury, are also entitled to fair compensation

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following where workers over the age of 65 are seriously injured:

  • We will amend s 76 to ensure work capacity remains a relevant consideration in determining future economic loss for workers of a retirement age
  • Compensation beyond the age of retirement should not be impeded by superannuation benefit

Work Health and Safety

There is much that could be done to improve how the current work health and safety legislation functions. We would argue that long before any new laws are thrown into the mix – we should address the inadequacies in the current law, or rather, have this law enforced and applied as it was intended.

The following courses of action refer to Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (SA)


There has been an unmistakable decline in prosecutions from 2011-2012 (36)[1] to 2016-2017 (7)[2] – that depicts an 88% reduction in prosecutions. The questions then must be whether there is any real deterrence factor when common law rights for workers are also unable to impact prevention.

The penalty regime has also become redundant; with only 1 Category 3 (s 33) conviction and zero Category 1 (s 31) – and then weighing this with over 12,000 injuries lodged under the Return to Work Act in 2017 - this disparity is blatant.

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • Our laws are written to be enforced and our priority will be to make sure that when people are injured and the reason for that injury rests with negligent conduct, the employer or PCBU must be held to account.


An enforceable undertaking is a statutory instrument that is a part of the penalty regime, available to the regulator to use in place of a prosecution in certain circumstances. They have become a popular alternative across all jurisdiction including SA and may be a suitable sanction. 

However, we have serious concerns for their use in matters where someone dies or suffers catastrophic injuries. Our priority is to make sure the families and injured are able to make a fully informed choice when considering any transgression in criminal culpability.

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • Amend s 216 to prohibit enforceable undertakings in the event of a fatality or catastrophic injuries unless the following provisos are met -
    • Consent: The immediate family or injured party (where capable) has given expressed consent
    • Full Disclosure: That consent is provided after the consideration on all factual evidence
    • Independent Advice: The immediate family or injured party has been provided with independent legal advice in relation to that evidence


It’s time to close that loophole the Government has failed to.

We agree with the Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court,[3] in that the current model legislation is unclear. South Australia’s legacy from the 2013 Ferro Con prosecution;[4] where the criminal penalty (fine) was indemnified by the employer’s insurance policy. The ability for a company to protect itself from criminal penalty hinders the court’s ability to do its job and prevents the laws from having a deterrent factor.

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • Amend s 272 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) to include a clarification to remove any doubt that a contract indemnifying or policy aimed at indemnifying any liabilities under the Act is void.


It is unacceptable to tolerate deliberate attempts to frustrate investigations or tamper with evidence or witnesses. It is not tolerated under Corporations law and it should not be tolerated where people’s lives are at risk.

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • Amend the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (SA) and would-be Corporate Manslaughter legislation to empower the disqualification of a director convicted under those laws and those under s 31(1) from the future management of any corporation pursuant to the Corporation’s Act s 206B(1).
  • Examples of the kind of conduct that might amount to ‘dishonest’ conduct
    • Deliberate concealment of evidence
    • Falsifying documents
    • Deliberate attempts to avoid scrutiny in the lead up to the breach
      • Obstruction of justice


Currently the Category 1 offence pursuant to s 31(2) requires the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the PCBU had no ‘reasonable excuse’ to expose a worker to the risk of death, serious injury or illness. We think that runs against the natural course of justice. 

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • We would seek to amend s 32(2) to reverse the onus of proof to the party contending that it had a reasonable excuse to place a worker at risk. 
  • This would then reflect a defence to the charge requiring a standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt.


Current sentencing practices under the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 have delivered inconsistent and frustrating outcomes in dealing with corporate offenders under work health and safety laws. 

If in a position to do so – SA-BEST will do the following:

  • Consult with relevant stakeholders to develop a structured and definitive sentencing guidelines developed around the UK model with a view to progressing transparency and consistency of the penalties handed down in WHS offences.
    • We would include payment plans of up to 10 years under the guidelines as a central feature to ensure financial hardship claims are carefully evaluated; paying careful attention to the balance sheet that discloses the audited accounts from the previous 3 years and that reflect:
      • Turnover – and profit before tax
      • Directors remuneration
      • Loan accounts
      • Pension provisions
  • Guidelines do not remove the court’s ability to use its discretion where the guidelines would be contrary to the interests of justice, but they will require clear reasoning why the guidelines have been deviated from.

[1] Creative Commons, Comparative Performance Monitoring Report - Part 2 Work Health and Safety Compliance and Enforcement Activities, SafeWork Australia, (2017)

[2] From Austlii and SafeWork SA website data:

[3] The Hon TF Bathurst (Chief Justice of New South Wales), 'Insurance Law: A View from the Bench' (Speech delivered at the Australian Insurance Lawyers Association National Conference, Sydney, 19 September 2013)

[4] Hillman v Ferro Con (SA) Pty Ltd (in liquidation) and Anor [2013] SAIRC 22 (27 June 2013)

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