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Industry groups respond to budget

Business

The immediate reaction to the new government’s first budget was cautiously optimistic across industries as diverse as tourism and mining.

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The CEO of the Tourism Industry Council of South Australia, Shaun de Bruyn, found a number of commitments from the Malinauskas Government which will provide benefits across different parts of the tourism industry that were not specifically within the South Australian Tourism Commission budget to promote the state and its attractions.

De Bruyn was, however, was happy with the continued support of their tourism training program.

“TiCSA is very pleased to receive confirmation of the election commitment to expand our Tourism Industry Capability Building program to $400,000p.a. for the next four years to deliver training workshops, one-to-one business coaching as well as a program to encourage young people to consider a career in tourism,” he said.

He looked across all ministries to find specifics of funding that will help the industry as a whole, such as the $534 000 in 2022-23 increasing to $1.7 million per annum from 2025-26 to employ 15 Aboriginal park rangers by 30 June 2025.

The $21 million in 2022-23 and $16 million in forward estimates for the Adelaide 500 was of course welcomed, as was the additional $1.4 million per annum from 2022-23 to bring back the Motorsport Festival.

Renewed support of the Adelaide Fringe and plans to make the Adelaide Film Festival annual would help tourism, as would the $10 million per annum from 2022-23 for a new Major Events Fund to fund new events and grow existing owned and managed events.

The $2 million per annum (indexed) for two years from 2022-23 and $1.1 million per annum (indexed) from 2024-25 to relaunch Brand SA was also seen as a positive way to get the story of South Australia out to the world.

The big spends on outback highways and roads was also welcomed as a way to ensure regional tourism continued to flourish.

This same infrastructure spend was flagged by the South Australian Chamber of Mines & Energy (SACOME).

SACOME CEO, Rebecca Knol, said SACOME welcomed the $50 million of additional State and Commonwealth funding for the Horrocks Highway Corridor and a further $20 million for outback road flood resilience works.

“South Australia has a road network comprising some 10,000km of road. It is vital that the momentum of funding is continued to ensure the safety of supply chain routes for the resources sector,” she said.

Knol noted the other road maintenance in the budget as well and specifically mentioned the introduction of a ‘Rural Roads Safety Package’ of $12.5 million, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments.

She said the State Budget also provides certainty for the exploration sector by confirming previously announced funding for the Accelerated Discovery Initiative over the forward estimates.

According to SACOME, exploration incentives are a proven economic multiplier – for every $1 million invested, an additional $23 million in benefits is returned.

“Exploration is critical to ensuring a future pipeline of resource projects in South Australia, and key to increasing the resource sector’s already-significant economic contribution to the state,” Knol said.

Knol said that while global demand for critical minerals is increasing and driven by significant growth in markets for complex technologies such as defence, space and renewables, the occurrence of critical minerals in South Australia is not uniformly understood.”

“There is an urgent need to align opportunities in critical mineral project development, R&D activity, advanced manufacturing, and related upstream processing activity,” she said.

SACOME also reiterated its call to urgently fund an Energy Transition Roundtable and commit to the development of an Energy Transition Roadmap.

“The cumulative impact of past policy decisions, across multiple electoral cycles, has resulted in a vastly more tenuous operating environment for industry, which now bears greater expense and greater uncertainty. This needs to be urgently addressed if we are to maintain a manufacturing capability in South Australia,” she said.

“The resources sector is the engine room of the South Australian economy and continued sector growth depends on funding for projects and initiatives that will remove impediments to growth, resolve structural hurdles and improve regulatory outcomes. The 2022-23 Budget provides much-needed funding stability for the resources sector.”

Employer association Ai Group State Head Jodie van Deventer said the establishment of InvestSA along with a $100m Economic Recovery Fund to drive industry transformation will help drive the economic complexity the new government is seeking to achieve.

“Initiatives such as a $10 million manufacturing innovation grants program are welcomed along with a focus on the circular economy and the Catalyst program which will bring renewable leaders to SA,” she said.

“The Government has also recognised labour and skills shortages investing $8.8 million in skills shortage funding, $208 million in new technical colleges as well as pledging to support SA businesses to access more skilled workers through the state’s migration program.”

She added that it is essential this Government adopts a laser-like focus on ensuring its policies and programs encourage productivity, business competitiveness and growth.

“In particular, close scrutiny needs to be given to commitments such as the $593m hydrogen jobs program to ensure they deliver genuine returns to the state’s taxpayers,” van Deventer said.

“In a similar vein, infrastructure project delivery should be scheduled so that those that give the biggest bang for the buck are prioritised.”

Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins said it was good to see the full delivery of Labor’s election commitments, including the creation of a Commissioner for the River Murray, and welcome support to voluntary groups and landowners”

“Creating a Commissioner to advocate for SA’s interests in the face of the continual challenge to the Murray Darling Basin Plan by upstream states is a smart move,” Wilkins said.

“In the midst of an extinction and climate crisis, and with the Murray Darling Basin Plan on a knife-edge, we desperately need our Environment Department to have the capacity to plan ahead, not be scrambling to play catch up.”

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