Premier speaks at St Mark’s on reconciliation, environment, COVID, and SA’s economic future

The Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall MP, recently spoke to St Mark’s students about some of the key issues facing the State – Indigenous reconciliation, the environment, COVID, and energising the State economy – and answered questions from students on these and many other topics.

Mr Marshall joined St Mark’s students, staff, and Board members for Formal Hall on Thursday 2 September, giving an amusing and engaging as well as informative address, and then answered questions from students for over an hour in the Learning Commons.

In discussing reconciliation, Mr Marshall spoke of South Australia’s leadership in such aspects as land rights and an apology to the Stolen Generations, and stated his strong commitment to a genuine Aboriginal voice to Parliament and Government in South Australia.

Mr Marshall also spoke of South Australian leadership on the environment, such as with the container deposit levy and banning of single-use plastics, and said that he was now particularly excited that the production of hydrogen and its export as ammonia could “shift the dial” in increasing the use of renewable energy.

Recognising the impact that the COVID pandemic unavoidably had on student life, the Premier spoke of the importance of increasing vaccination against COVID as the means of stopping lockdowns and restrictions, including on travel.

He also drew from his own experience as a residential college student at Durham University in England, where he studied for his Masters of Business Administration, to speak of the special benefits for students of the “holistic education” that came with being in college – including living and dining together, and developing lifelong friendships.

Mr Marshall said that he looked forward to the celebration of the centenary of St Mark’s College – this “wonderful institution” – in 2025.

Before answering student questions in the Learning Commons, Mr Marshall spoke of his great optimism for the future of South Australia’s economy, and of the special qualities of the State, including its respectful and positive civil society, and great focus on the environment, including renewable energy.

Mr Marshall took over a dozen questions from students, which he answered in detail, on diverse topics, including the future of live music, Afghanistan, a First Nations voice and difficulties in giving effect to native title and improving the health of our First Nations peoples, “ramping” at hospitals and wait times in emergency departments, different States’ responses to COVID, his own experience as Premier, whether unvaccinated people should be excluded from some activities, opening up South Australia when a high proportion of the population is vaccinated, how to attract the best and brightest to stay in South Australia, and the growth of defence industry.

In conclusion, Mr Marshall said that the pandemic had shown how attractive it was to live and work in South Australia – a community that was “safe, diverse, respectful, and harmonious”, with a strong focus on research and innovation, sustainability, and the arts and creative sectors, as well as other industries.

Many students also took the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the Premier, and to thank him for his generosity with his time and insights.

For the introduction of the Premier in Formal Hall by the Head of College (Professor Markwell), click here.

Photos by Kaidy Morgan