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Next-gen SA premier seeks fed ‘associate’

Newly minted South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas isn’t going to spend his time in power complaining about the state’s share of GST, or other perennial issues.

The Labor leader instead wants to focus on the future.

After a landslide election win in March Mr Malinauskas used a Wednesday National Press Club address to introduce his agenda for structural reforms to higher education, childcare and the economy.

He, of course, vowed support for federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s prime ministerial bid, accusing the coalition government of focusing on short-term fixes and “intergenerational envy”.

“I want to go beyond the here and now,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“I am not here to have a whinge about the GST, I’m not here to have a whinge about water. I’m not here to have a cultural war about renewables.

“Just as I spent the South Australian campaign talking about the next generation, I want to spend every day in government on the same project.”

State governments are “desperate for a federal partner” on future challenges, Mr Malinauskas said. He criticised the coalition for fixating on short-term cash handouts in the recent federal budget to address cost-of-living pressures, instead of long-term reforms.

The government had allowed the national economy to become reliant on exporting commodities such as coal rather than developing “brain jobs” for the future, he added.

“Look at (Australia’s reliance on) coal, it is like having your life savings in a hat manufacturer in 1945 – we have 15 years to make the most of it,” he said.

“The world will eventually stop buying this in a big way and if we want a living for our own retirements, much less for our kids, we need to make the transition really soon.”

Mr Malinauskas said he needed a better federal partner for his proposed reforms, such as reducing the number of SA universities from three to two larger, more influential academic institutions.

“There is no serious policy effort in the current federal government on higher education, there is just an inexplicable, irresponsible habit of intergenerational envy and Canberra politics,” he said.

Mr Malinauskas highlighted his promise for a royal commission into early childhood education, and unfavourably compared the coalition government’s efforts in this area to Mr Albanese’s promise for a “massive investment”.

In response to commentary that he would make a better leader than his federal counterpart Mr Albanese, Mr Malinauskis ruled out any future bid to enter federal politics.

“Mr Albanese … will bring an extraordinary degree of experience to the prime ministership which I hope he is able to succeed at achieving, potentially in a few weeks time,” he said.

Mr Malinauskas also said it will take a federal Labor government to implement an Indigenous voice to parliament, and highlighted his own promise to deliver a state-based treaty and voice for Aboriginal people.

He additionally vowed to advocate for an increase of Australia’s humanitarian intake cap of 13,750 refugee places.

“If we can’t at least double that, I think that would reflect a lack of national pride and contextual understanding of exactly who we are as a country and what our values are,” he said.

Mr Malinauskas assumed power when his party secured eight additional seats to form majority government, ousting Liberal predecessor Steven Marshall after one term.

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