The South Australia Budget continues the trend of state budgets that spend heavily on infrastructure development despite the prospect of substantial future debt.
Substantial funds have been allocated for roads, however the budget points to a fall in compulsory third party insurance charges on car registration that equates to about $100 per vehicle. Outer area concessions for motor vehicle registrations – currently applied to residents of Kangaroo Island, Coober Pedy and Roxby Downs – will be cut by 50 per cent this financial year, and axed entirely by 2020/21.
South Australians face a one-off increase to fees and charges of five per cent, including licences, car registration and traffic fines.
Public transport fares will increase by two per cent and the $5 fee will be reintroduced for new metrocards, $3.50 for eligible seniors, to encourage card reuse.
Public transport users and those living in regional towns are expected to bear the brunt of a $19.9 million funding cut over four years to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. This will include a reduction in grants for cycling programs, a reduction in funding to regional airports and a review of the Living Neighbourhoods road safety program.
On 1 July 2019, there will be changes to the eligibility criteria and application assessment processes for the concessional Personal Alert Rebate Scheme, which enables people to call for help in an emergency if they are unable to access or use a telephone.
According to media reports, fees and charges have been raised ahead of the Budget, including hospital carparking charges. The government insists it’s keeping its promise of lower costs for households.
Modbury Hospital will receive upgrades valued at $97 million for a new acute ward for complex surgery, a palliative care facility, and an acute medical unit, among others. The Repatriation General Hospital will be provided with a new specialised brain and spinal industry rehabilitation facility and will be given additional Commonwealth Government funding of $30 million.
The Budget warns SA Pathology must implement “fundamental improvements” as recommended by an independent report from PwC or else the Government will “procure” these services from other providers.
Seniors relying on public housing could benefit from $21.3 million allocated to a housing construction program, which the government estimates will build a total of 90 new homes.
A further $21.1 million will be spent on establishing a preventative maintenance and upgrade program, to be coordinated through the SA Housing Authority. This is expected to result in around 170 new housing contracts and around 120 additional housing placements for those struggling to buy an existing property.
However, the package comes as the Government slashes $3.2 million from the SA Housing Authority’s community housing capital program.
$25 million has been allocated for the development of a new multi-function complex at Enfield Memorial Park. The new facility will include improved reflection rooms and lounge areas to accommodate for larger services, provide on-site cafe and floristry services, and include new green space for community use. Crematorium facilities will also be upgraded as part of the redevelopment.