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Families SA offices to close: Budget 2016 at a glance

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The Government will close three Families SA offices in Adelaide’s northern suburbs – to be replaced by a consolidated super-site, today’s budget reveals.

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However there is no specific funding allocated in the Budget to establish the new standalone Department of Child Protection, following the agency’s removal from the embattled Education Department last month.

A Government spokesperson said there was a contingency fund – established to respond to likely recommendations of the Nyland Royal Commission – set aside within the DECD agency budget, but said the amount it contains would not be revealed.

The Elizabeth, Gawler and Salisbury Families SA offices will be “consolidated” at the Smithfield Plains High School site, which will get a $15 million refurbishment.

According to Budget documents, the consolidation of the northern services would “deliver assessment and support, protective intervention and guardianship services in a more effective manner and improve support for vulnerable children”.

It’s part of Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis’ third Budget, which also contains a $500 million spend on school science labs and a $100 million grants scheme for a small and medium businesses to employ new people. It’s the Government’s first surplus budget in almost a decade.

Scroll down to see how the Government intends to stop South Australia having the nation’s highest unemployment rate, encourage children to engage with maths and science, maintain health services, upgrade public transport, cap public service pay, investigate building an Adelaide contemporary art gallery, privatise elements of government and more…

Jobs

The State Government will offer $4000 grants to small businesses that fall under the payroll tax-free threshold, and $10,000 for medium-sized businesses that do not, for each new employee they take on.

Businesses are now eligible for the grants, which will last until mid-2018.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis told reporters in the Budget lockup today the scheme would “target 90 per cent of South Australia’s businesses” and create 14,000 full time-equivalent positions.

It’s expected to cost the taxpayer $109 million.

The grants will be available for positions that exceed 22 hours per week.

In addition to the grants scheme, Business SA will get a $600,000 cash injection for a coaching and advisory program to help small-to-medium businesses export their products.

And the Office of the Small Business Commissioner will get more than $1 million for mediation services.

Education

Public schools will get $250 million to build and upgrade science, technology, engineering and mathematics “labs”, in an effort to encourage kids to study STEM subjects.

Koutsantonis said there was no point in building submarines in South Australia if, in the longer term, young people don’t acquire the skills to be employed in the advanced manufacturing industry.

Another quarter of a billion dollars will go towards furnishing private schools with low-interest loans to upgrade their facilities over the next five years.

The Treasurer said the loans would not go to the most “elite” schools, but would go mainly to independent and Catholic schools.

Premier Jay Weatherill told InDaily the loans would be given on a “needs basis”.

Health

The Government is still warning of a major hole in its health services budget from Joe Hockey’s unpopular 2014 Budget.

However, its health spend in this financial year will amount to $5.8 billion – $230 million more than last year.

The Budget also includes a $44 million injection into health programs for indigenous people.

The Government will spend $8.7 million maintaining mental health Rehabilitation services in Whyalla.

There will also be a $11.5 million boost for the Medstar Rescue, Retrieval and Aviation Services base at the Adelaide Airport.

Public sector

Bureaucrats’ wages will grow below the rate of inflation, with the Government looking to cap growth at four per cent over the next three years, for the next round of enterprise bargaining – that’s 0.5 per cent below forecast inflation over that period.

“I’m asking [the public service] to be a little more understanding of South Australia’s financial position,” Koutsantonis told reporters.

The wage growth cap would save the Budget $357 million over the forward estimates.

The Government will “proceed with separating and commercialising some of the transactional services procided by the Land Services Group” and there will be a review of “options for private investment” in loans to HomeStart finance.

The city

Lord Mayor Martin Haese got the $50 million North Terrace tram extension for which he’s been campaigning over the past several months, but there’s little funding for recently flagged Adelaide City Council-State Government joint projects.

There’s no new funding for:

However, the State Government announced last week it would spend $4.7 million supporting ultra-fast internet in the city.

Transport

The Budget includes $58 million over the next three years to modernise South Australia’s diesel-powered trains, upgrade the City South tram station and improve “low-carbon” transport infrastructure, including cycling routes.

And there’ll be $350,000 for a study into traffic management improvement at the South Road, Candy Road and Lander Road intersection, plus an investigation into possible “road improvements” for Kenihans Road.

As aforementioned, the State Government has committed $100 million – with an extra $5 million from the city council – for a 1km-long, three-stop tram extension to the city’s East End.

The council’s contribution will fund one of the tram stops and upgrade the “streetscape” of the neglected southern side of North Terrace – however, InDaily understands the council is yet to know the detail of the streetscape upgrades.

“The benefits of investing in public transport flow right through the economy – reducing travel times for work, easing traffic congestion in the city and creating jobs for South Australians during construction, upgrades and maintenance,” Koutsantonis said.

“We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the electrification and extension of the Seaford line and on upgrades to the Glenelg tram line.

“The O-Bahn City Access Project is well underway and the electrification of the Gawler line will begin next year.”

Tax

The Government will introduce a gambling tax of 15 per cent on net wagering revenue, starting mid-2017.

That’s expected to bring $10 million into public coffers each year.

The small business payroll tax concession introduced in the 2013–14 Budget will continue an extra four years, until 2019–20, costing around $10 million each year.

The measure is expected to give more than 2300 businesses up to $9800 each year.

And a maximum $15,500 off-the-plan stamp duty concession will be extended to subsidise all new apartment purchases.

Arts

The Government will spend $500,000 to “further progress” a business case for the much-discussed new contemporary art gallery in Adelaide.

It’s part of the $57 million in Arts spending in this budget.

Other measures include a $35 million upgrade to Her Majesty’s Theatre, $1.35 million for live music, $750,000 for the OzAsia Festival and a $700,000 spend to fund a “special event” at the 2017 Adelaide Festival of the Arts – which is yet to be revealed.

Carbon neutral city

There will be $3.6 million in funding for “community activity to build green infrastructure, reduce and recover community waste and promote shared transport” as part of the Government’s Carbon Neutral Adelaide goal.

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