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State Budget at a glance

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Today’s State Budget looks to save money across a range of portfolios and programs, with select areas of Government spending increasing. Here’s our rundown of the key measures.

Aboriginal Affairs

The Government will axe $1.7 million from its Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation division next financial year, with those cost savings to come from the abolishment of the previous Government’s Aboriginal Regional Authority initiative, as well as funding cuts to Indigenous higher education programs.

Policing on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands will also face annual cuts of $1 million from 2020-21, despite the Government flagging the establishment of a new “national first” Indigenous police service.

InDaily previously reported that since 1986, the Government had struggled to fill the 10 full-time community constable positions on the APY Lands – with only three community constables currently working on the lands.

A Government spokesperson told InDaily today the number of community constable positions on the APY Lands would increase in line with a renewed push to encourage more Anangu people to participate in the program.

The spokesperson said cost savings would come from replacing full-time SA Police officers on the lands with fly-in fly-out workers from SA Police’s tactical response group.

New spending on Aboriginal affairs is concentrated on arts and cultural artefacts– with $500,000 pledged to finalise the design and ongoing operating model of the new National Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery at Lot Fourteen, and $2.6 million over the next two financial years on an upgrade to the Aboriginal Cultural and Collection Storage facility at Netley.

Spruiking the Government’s investment in the National Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery this morning, Treasurer Rob Lucas said the business case for the facility was currently being drafted.

“It’s not just an art project, it is critically an economic driver and a job driver for the state,” he said.

“It’s a decision that will require courage from the Government and from the community.”

Arts and culture

Funding cuts for festivals such as the Adelaide Fashion Festival and the Motor Sport Festival were already made public.

However, the Government will also deliver savings of under half a million dollars by exercising “operational efficiency” measures in the Department of Education. The efficiency action will target arts and humanities organisations, such as Carclew Youth Arts, the Windmill Theatre Company and the History Trust of South Australia.

The South Australian Film Corporation’s Production Investment Fund will receive an additional $6 million to help finance local and international screen productions in South Australia.

The budget also allocates an extra $1.25 million to the Adelaide Festival over the coming three years.

There are also new funds for Aboriginal arts and culture (detailed above).

Child protection

According to the Government, the number of children and young people in out-of-home care has “unexpectedly” surged this financial year, prompting a funding pledge of $26.9 million over the next three years towards prevention initiatives.

From that $26.9 million, $6.9 million will go towards developing new early intervention programmes for vulnerable young children and their families.

An allocation of $568,000 will be spent next financial year on a new “family group conference” pilot in the Department for Child Protection – with that funding commitment to increase to $1.1 million in 2020-21.

The Budget papers say family group conferences “provide an opportunity to identify a family care option for a child or young person that addresses the Department’s care concerns”.

“This initiative will enable more children to remain in safe family-based care arrangements,” the papers state.

The Government will also spend $3 million for the Department for Human Services to trial an “intensive family support program” for families that are at risk of having their children enter the child protection system.

The program, to be delivered by Anglicare SA, will target families in northern Adelaide, including those with histories of domestic violence, mental health concerns and drug and alcohol abuse.

Lucas said today the Government was prioritising early intervention spending over costly residential care options.

“The point she (Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson) and her office make is we are intervening earlier… for people at risk and those who are going into the system,” he said.

“This is an area we are extraordinarily sensitive to”.

However, the Government has flagged it will cut $5 million each year from the Department for Child Protection, with those savings to come from reducing the number of employees aligned with the “corporate areas” of the department.

The City

A further $350,000 over three years has been pledged towards coordinating the development of Lot Fourteen at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

Adelaide Railway Station will receive a $2.7 million upgrade to its exterior heritage façade, with those restoration works scheduled to start this financial year.

Although it technically sits outside the city realm, the Enfield Memorial Park will receive a noteworthy funding boost to the tune of $25 million over four years.

The Government says that money will be spent on building a new “multi-function” cemetery complex including reflection rooms and lounge areas, an on-site café and florist, and new park space.

Crematorium facilities will also be upgraded as part of the multi-million dollar redevelopment.

Courts

The State Government will spend more than $40 million on buying the Sir Samuel Way building in Victoria Square, eschewing fears of an unprecedented justice system budget cut.

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis told InDaily in March that he had been told to expect an “unprecedented” cut to funding for the Courts Administration Authority in the Marshall Government’s second budget.

Kourakis embarked on a statewide consultation tour with some of his fellow judges to discern where the cuts could be made least painfully.

But today’s state budget includes $43.5 million for the to buy the Sir Samuel Way Building, which houses the District Court, from Funds SA, ending the Courts Administration Authority’s obligation to pay rent on it.

According to the government, this will result in savings to the authority’s budget of $6 million each year.

The Government has also budgeted $591,000 for the implementation of a statewide document management system, called Judge View.

In addition, there is an extra $1 million for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and $2.1 million for a new CT scanner for Forensic Science Australia – which the Government hopes will reduce waiting times for post-mortems.

Domestic violence and victims’ support

The budget cuts grant funding for the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service by $750,000 and reducing grant funding for the Victim Support Service by $3.6 million, over the forward estimates.

From 2020-21, funding for the Victim Support Service will be focussed on core counselling services to support victims of crime.

Other services now provided by VSS, including advocacy, victim support and information provision, will be brought under the Commissioner for Victims’ Rights responsibilities.

Education

Lucas says this Budget offers the largest investment in schools by any State Government in the history of South Australia.

However, the Department for Education will deliver savings of $12 million per annum from “operational efficiencies” in “non-teaching” and “non-school areas of the department”.

The Budget promises to spend roughly $163 million over five years to address enrolment growth and other structural works at government schools.

The Berri Senior Campus of Glossop High School will also receive a campus redevelopment, valued at $17.2 million over five years aimed to better suit its 800 students.

The Government will spend $1 million on reducing the state’s contribution to “bad debts” with Commonwealth Vocational Education and Training student loans.

In a move designed to attract more foreign workers to South Australia, dependents of temporary skill shortage visa holders (457 to 482) attending regional public schools will be exempted from paying student contribution fees, by the government introducing a $350,000 offset in this budget.

TAFE SA will be provided with an extra $25.5 million over four years in response to “lower forecasts for external revenue growth”.

TAFE SA will reform its operations to be “competitive” in the provision of Vocational Education and Training services.

Environment and Water

Lucas’s spending in this portfolio includes a strong focus on Adelaide’s beaches with the Treasurer declaring; “West Beach has disappeared under the policies of past administrations.”

The Budget will allocate $52.4 million to protect and secure metropolitan beaches, such as West Beach, and also grant funding for a range of regional coastal works.

These erosion works include the Great Southern Ocean work receiving a cash injection of $6 million over four years to connect the parks running from the Southern Coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Parks will also be a benefactor as the Glenthorn National Park will be provided $2.5 million to for its continued infrastructural development.

In a bid to raise $8 million in net revenue over four years, the Government will sell off Crown Land that is “surplus to requirements.”

In a sting to the local government sector in Adelaide, the cost to residents and metropolitan councils of dumping hard rubbish will rise dramatically, with the solid waste levy increasing to $103 to $110 a tonne from July 1, then jumping to $140 a tonne from January 1 next year.

The price hike will raise $14.8 million across the new financial year, rising to $24.9m from 2020/21.

The increase aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, and encourage recovery and recycling.

Charities which have to dump unwanted goods as part of donations will pay half the charge from January 1 next year.

The solid waste levy will fund $10m over four years to help councils and the waste management industry to modernise and transition in the wake of international markets refusing to accept exported Australian recyclables.

Health and Wellbeing

The new Women’s and Children’s Hospital will be provided $550 million in funding to commence construction.

The final development cost of the hospital will be identified next year and the Government estimates it will be completed in 2025-26 rather than 2024.

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.

SA Pathology must implement “fundamental improvements” as recommended by an independent report from PricewaterhouseCooper or else the Government will “procure” these services from other providers.

SA Pathology has 12 months to implement these changes before another subsequential review.

Housing

The Budget has announced a $104.5 million housing stimulus package to boost home ownership and increase jobs in the South Australian construction industry.

The package will include an interest-free deposit gap loan of up to $10,000 – to be provided from a $2 million Affordable Housing Fund administered by HomeStart.

The loan will be available from September this year for a period of two years.

An additional $21.3 million will be provided to start a housing construction program, which the Government estimates will build a total of 90 new homes – many of which Lucas said would fit the affordable price bracket.

A further $21.1 million will be spent on establishing a preventative maintenance and upgrade program, to be coordinated through the SA Housing Authority.

Lucas said the total package will result in around 170 new housing contracts being entered into 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.

Rob Lucas selling his Budget today. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Transport

Cyclists, 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.

The Government says the cut will align with a rationalisation of “corporate services and lower priority programs” and will include a reduction in grants to local councils for cycling programs, a reduction in funding to regional airports and a review of the Living Neighbourhoods road safety program.

Public transport fares will increase by two per cent, with the Government also reintroducing the $5.00 purchase cost for new Metrocards – saving $712,000 each year from 2019-20.

The Government has previously flagged that it will remove the two-section public transport fare to avoid fare evasion in circumstances where passengers pay for a two-section fare but travel more than two sections. That cut will save the Government an additional $1.1 million each year.

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.

There was no mention in the Budget papers of a privatisation of the state’s rail fleet – despite earlier suggestions from Marshall and Transport Minister Stephan Knoll that the Government was open to the idea.

Much of the Government’s transport spending has focussed on previously foreshadowed regional road projects and transport infrastructure programs including the North-South Corridor and level crossing upgrades.

The Horrocks Highway and Victor Harbor Road duplication will receive $330 million, the Princes Highway will receive $250 for upgrades and $275 will be spent on upgrades to roads around Renmark, Cockburn and Port Augusta.

The Government will also spend $834 million over four years on various road safety measures, including increasing penalties for high-risk offences and increased funding to improve dangerous roads under the National Blackspot Program. The regional road spending is designed to allow the Government to meet its election promise to increase speeds on a select collection of regional roads.

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