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Debt record of $21.3 billion to pay for State projects

 

24 June 2019

The South Australian Government is hoping interest rates will stay low for years to come as it borrows big to fund a major infrastructure program. South Australia’s debt will rise by 57 per cent to $21.3 billion by 2022-23, in order to pay for major infrastructure projects including the North-South Corridor.

Despite a $517 million writedown to GST revenue revealed in this year’s Federal Budget, Treasurer Rob Lucas is budgeting for a $94 million surplus in 2019-20, with surpluses slowly increasing to $251 million in 2022-23.

Premier Steven Marshall said the budget was "firmly focussed" on "growing the South Australian economy".

"Despite this very significant writedown we have a massive investment in our roads, in our regions, in our health and education system," he said.

Among the new spending, the Treasurer announced a $104.5 million housing stimulus package "in recognition of the softer outlook for housing construction".

Interest-free loans of up to $10,000 will be available to help low-income earners with home deposits — the Treasurer insisted there wasn’t the money to fund a state-based first home owners grant.

The budget also includes $21.4 million to build 90 new housing trust homes, and $21.1 million for home maintenance and upgrades.

The Treasurer has not cut into services as deeply as he did in last year’s budget, but there will be changes that will sting some services.

The Government has also announced $550 million for a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital to be spent after June 2020.

However, the Treasurer Mr Lucas wants the health system to reduce its expenditure by $169 million next year. This could mean the reduction of health employees by around 1,140.

Up to 1588 public servants may be cut next year by the State Government. It is also looking to make "operational savings" of millions of dollars from other sectors such as education

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said budget also revealed tax hikes worth about $353 million.

Mr Malinauskas said the government was hitting South Australians’ hip pocket by jacking up everyday expenses, including motor registration, drivers’ licence renewal, public transport fares, hospital car parking as well as increasing business expenses.

He said the Government’s plan to hike the solid waste levy by 40 per cent would increase every home owner’s council rates.

"Steven Marshall promised lower costs, yet every time South Australians drive their car, catch public transport or even put out their wheelie bin, he is hitting their hip pocket," Mr Malinauskas said.

"Struggling South Australian families will bear the brunt of the Marshall Government’s second Budget as increases to a raft of everyday fees and charges hit the family budget", SA-BEST has warned.

SA BEST MLC and Treasury spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said Dozens of fees and charges – including car registration, public transport fares and traffic fines – are about to increase by up to five per cent, well about the inflation rate of 1.3 per cent.

"Households are also likely to bare the brunt of a 40 per cent hike in the waste levy – from $100 a tonne currently to $140 a tonne – which is charged to local councils, but which SA-BEST fears will be on-passed to households and businesses via their council rates", he said.

 

Greek Tribune

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