The newly elected Malinauskas Labor Government handed down its first budget today. It’s focused on financing the commitments made in the March election campaign and delivering tangible service outcomes for South Australians.
With an emphasis placed on better funding for health and hospitals, economic recovery, relieving cost of living pressures and building new education and energy infrastructure, it’s clear that Mr Malinauskas and his team are exercising their mandate to move quickly on their promises.
Stronger revenues have bolstered a larger-than-expected surplus in Treasurer Stephen Mullighan’s first state budget. The Government’s strategy is to transition away from high levels of pandemic spending and begin exercising fiscal prudence.
In addition to the promise to deliver a budget surplus, the key new measures announced include:
Mr Malinauskas and his team ran their election campaign with a focus on the former governments’ alleged mismanagement of the state’s health and hospital system. In response, the government has announced $2.5 billion of funding over five years, including $187 million for five new ambulance stations, with another four to be rebuilt and 10 to be upgraded. They will also invest $58 million to double the number of extra beds at the Lyell McEwin Hospital in northern Adelaide.
This builds on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s election commitment to provide equal funding with the State Government to deliver a major expansion of Flinders Medical Centre and upgrades for the Repat. The $400 million expansion package of the centre will help deliver 160 extra beds for the south of Adelaide.
The government has also pledged to provide free flu shots to all South Australians this month and $300 million for mental health.
Expenditure specifically calibrated to assist business and industry grow jobs has taken centre stage in this Budget. In an attempt to aid the state’s economic recovery, the government will establish a $100 million Economic Recovery Fund, as well as establish InvestSA. Charged with selling South Australia’s credentials to national and global markets, InvestSA will assist investors wishing to establish in South Australia.
The Government has committed $19.6 million to establish Australia’s first dedicated space manufacturing hub.
Tourism is also a priority, scoring $45 million over the forward estimates to lure visitors back to the state.
As supporters of major interventions into the energy market, this Budget sees the government allocate funds for a $593 million hydrogen plant in Whyalla. This plant in conjunction with the proposed 250MWe electrolyser and $30 million towards a Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hub at Port Bonython will help create a new Green Hydrogen industry in the state as early as 2025. This allocation follows the announcement that Sam Crafter, a former Santos executive, has been named chief executive of the Office of Hydrogen Power South Australia, reporting directly to the Energy and Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis.
In important news for the EV market, the government recently introduced legislation to abolish the Liberals’ Electric Vehicle tax. This announcement, coupled with the declaration that RAA was awarded a $12.4 million grant to construct and operate the nation’s first statewide rapid electric vehicle charging network, gives the EV industry a boost in SA.
Growing concern about rising prices has seen the Government more than double the cost of living concession for 185,000 South Australians, all of whom will be eligible for a one-off payment of up to $449 in the next financial year. This expenditure follows the government’s call for an ACCC review into increased building costs and their impact on housing affordability.
Treasurer Mullighan has vowed to reduce spending to slash escalating state debt.
On the Federal front, earlier this week South Australia fared well with four key Cabinet ministers in the recently sworn in Albanese Ministry:
This augurs well for the state especially given the importance of new trade relationships for the wine, agriculture and seafood sector as well as defence projects.
Matt Williams, Associate Partner, SEC Newgate Communications – [email protected]
Nick Maher, Special Counsel, SEC Newgate Communications – [email protected]
Alistair Coleman, Consultant, SEC Newgate Communications – [email protected]
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