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STATE TO SPEND MORE ON ROADS

Debt to grow after budget

 

December 2020

After 16 years on the opposition benches, Rob Lucas returned as Treasurer in 2018, with a plan to bring SAís budget back into black.

But two years on, after catastrophic bushfires and in the midst of a world-disrupting pandemic, everythingís changed.

Mr Lucas has delivered a budget he says is "drowning in red ink".

According to the ABC, itís not forecast to return to surplus until the end of the 2023-24 financial year, and the Treasurer admits thatís not a done deal.

He said if a COVID-19 vaccine isnít available by the end of next year the government will be in "a world of pain".

But while the deficit indicates the government is spending more money than itís collecting in revenue in any given year, another figure is also reaching record levels ó the stateís overall debt.

Debt was due to grow to $21.3 billion by 2022-23, but this latest budget forecasts it to reach $33.17 billion by 2023-24.

The Treasurer said the good news is low interest rates are making debt cheap.

One of the most exciting revelations in the budget is the governmentís plan to improve the final piece of the North-South Corridor, the section of South Road from the Torrens River to Darlington.

Itíll build two tunnels, one starting one kilometre from Darlington and ending just before the Glenelg tram line, and another stretching from just south of Sir Donald Bradman Drive, and ending before West Thebarton Road.

Theyíll be connected by a series of lowered and surface motorways.

The Government estimates that project will cost $8.9 billion, but it wonít act as an immediate stimulus.

Major construction wonít begin until late 2023, and the project is scheduled for completion in 2030.

Another major development thatís a long way off is the new Womenís and Childrenís Hospital to be co-located with the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The Government allocated $685 million towards the project over four years, and believes it will be completed by 2025-26, but hasnít finished the business case and doesnít know the final cost.

The Treasurer wants a Ďtwo-year, in-and-outí stimulus

With big projects too far away, Mr Lucas says he wants to "spend significantly in the next two years, in and out, on projects which are either completed or significantly completed". Projects include, the South Eastern Freeway, and Main South Road. Also, improvements to sport and recreation infrastructure including Memorial Drive, Hindmarsh Stadium and schools infrastructure improvements and grants for maintenance works.

Thereís also grants and other support measures for small businesses, tradies and tourism operators.

Greek Tribune

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