Bulletins

2014 State Budget

It came as no surprise to all and sundry at yesterday’s pre-budget lock-up, that the Weatherill Government  would target extrinsic factors in Canberra and start the blame game against the Liberal Federal Government. The Premier remains a lone wolf amongst his Federal and State Liberal colleagues, who can boast of their monopoly and stranglehold on cultural and socio-economic decisions in Australia.The Budget was a first for Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, one that he clearly “didn’t want to deliver.”  Quarantining South Australians citizens from the $898 million in health and education cuts over the forward estimates for 4 years, is a monumental undertaking. As its remedy, the government will resist these savage federal cuts by establishing a taskforce. Secondly, it will grapple with community services and voters to assess the damage. And thirdly, it will protect its capacity to limit further challenges by absorbing the impact with the sale of state-owned asset sales. The state budget may well be marketed as a sober document by the Government of the Day but its course of action appears to be all belts and braces.

The Budget was a first for Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, one that he clearly “didn’t want to deliver.”  Quarantining South Australians citizens from the $898 million in health and education cuts over the forward estimates for 4 years, is a monumental undertaking. As its remedy, the government will resist these savage federal cuts by establishing a taskforce. Secondly, it will grapple with community services and voters to assess the damage. And thirdly, it will protect its capacity to limit further challenges by absorbing the impact with the sale of state-owned asset sales. The state budget may well be marketed as a sober document by the Government of the Day but its course of action appears to be all belts and braces.

Specific measures to fill the black hole in this budget include the sale of the Motor Accident Commission and increasing debt in SA Water. An Emergency services Levy will burden the average homeowner with an extra $150 a year in property tax that will ultimately raise $322 million in general revenue. Forthcoming upgrades to four major suburban hospital projects have been sidelined as the State Government says it plans to begin a discussion with voters and clinicians about where to find $332 million in health cuts.

Infrastructure projects such as the $160 million spend on an O-Bahn tunnel will save the commuter four minutes in drive-time while people with disability and their family carers wait years, often decades, to be provided with adequate services. To provide disability services, we need to train and employ locals and retain them in the sector to support the roll-out of the NDIS. Dignity for Disability just don’t understand why you wouldn’t spend that $160 million on training and employing people for work in the disability sector so they can provide support to those most in need in our community. With these infrastructure projects, many of the workers are coming from interstate and overseas and not from our local communities.

“Every month we continue to see the disability unmet needs list grow, and our bus fleet remains 40 percent inaccessible on some bus routes, yet here we see the Premier and Treasurer prioritising car travel in the budget” says Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent”.

In better news, Dignity for Disability are pleased to see a strong and continued commitment to South Australia’s end of the NDIS funding agreement. We are also pleased that the government will be building a respite facility in the city and acknowledge the $400,000 over two years to determine the feasibility of setting up a disability hub in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

We also welcome the pre-budget funding commitment to the Disability Justice Plan, and hope that the legislative and cultural changes needed follow. The additional $50 per year concession for the medical heating and cooling scheme is justified, but we do hope the list of eligible conditions is expanded in the coming years to complement this increased rebate.

There is still much to be done.