By Sara Garcia

Posted , updated 

The state government says this year’s budget will focus on supporting South Australians who need it most as it pledges a $266.2 million cost-of-living package — while also keeping the budget in the black.

Concession holders in particular are set to benefit and families with school-aged children can look forward to saving $600 in 2025 through public school fee reductions and the doubling of sports vouchers.

Treasurer Stephen Mullighan says early childhood education and care reform, plus affordable housing are also at the core of the 2024-25 budget.

But while the government’s revenue has gone up, so has its expenses as it continues on a trajectory of record debt.

There is $2.5 billion more being spent on health alone — largely because it is getting increasingly expensive to run.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers of this year’s budget. 

Winner: Household budgets

  • As part of its $266.2 million package, $51.5 million is being allocated for additional, one-off Cost of Living Concession payments of $243.90, which the government says will support more than 210,000 households.
  • $36.6 million will be spent over four years to double the Cost of Living Concession for tenants and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, benefiting about 73,000 eligible people.
  • The government says it is also targeting families this year, with an average family with two children set to benefit by up to $600 a year —  but that saving will only benefit families with school-aged children.
  • One form of savings comes in the doubling of the sports vouchers program from the beginning of next year for the next four years. Families will now be able to claim a $200 deduction on sport and recreation fees per child. The program will also be extended to include music lessons for the first time.
  • Parents of children attending public school will save $200 a year thanks to a reduction of the materials and service charge for the 2025 school year.
  • The government is also pledging $20 million to support eligible small businesses and not-for-profit organisations to invest in energy efficient equipment or improvements to reduce energy costs.
  • Another $18.4 million over four years will go to support non-government organisations in meeting wage and inflation pressures.

Winner: Housing

  • Two housing projects at Seaton and Noarlunga will receive more than $500 million in a bid to deliver 1,900 new dwellings, including more than 400 social houses and nearly 300 affordable homes.
  • But in order to deliver the projects 341 tenants will have to move out of their public housing as homes are demolished to make way for new builds
  • $135.8 million will also be spent on building and upgrading 442 social housing dwellings.
  • $30 million over three years is being allocated to grow regional housing, plus additional funding for worker accommodation in Whyalla during the construction of the hydrogen plant.  
  • In the lead up to the budget, the government also announced it would abolish caps on stamp duty relief for first homebuyers buying or building a new home.
  • The government has also allocated funding for homelessness with $5 million for the Hutt St Centre. 

Winner: Education and skills

  • $715 million will be spent in the next five years to roll out preschool for three-year-olds in South Australia as part of key recommendations handed down in the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care.
  • As part of that spending, $127.3 million will be spent over four years to increase the minimum 15 hours to 30 hours of preschool for 2,000 children.
  • $256.3 million has been set aside for education initiatives, including a new secondary school in the northern suburbs and a new primary school and preschool at Mount Barker.
  • That funding includes $38.1 million over four years to upgrade facilities at five government schools.
  • $275.6 million has been allocated to increase the number of training places by about 35 per cent to more than 160,000.

Loser: Health

  • While the government will be spending big on health in this budget, $2.5 billion over five years, $1.6 billion of that is effectively a cost blow out. That is what it will cost to keep operating the system, which is why this category is a loser.
  • There is also $742.3 million more in the budget to cover the predicted increased demand in public health.
  • $17.1 million over four years will be spent on expanding renal haemodialysis in the northern suburbs, which will provide an additional 21 chairs.
  • $24 million over three years has been committed to building new ambulance stations at Whyalla, Marion and Two Wells.
  • $5 million will be spent on youth mental health services over four years. 
  • Funding has been allocated specifically to address the ramping crisis. That includes money for the electronic patient care record system, additional beds at the Lyell McEwin and Queen Elizabeth hospitals and $10.7 million over four years to pay for more staff for the clinical telephone assessment service as part of SA Ambulance Service’s clinical hub.  

Neutral: Roads and infrastructure

  • $15.4 billion, including $7 billion up to 2027-28 for the North-South corridor, River Torrens to Darlington. The project is expected to be complete by 2031.
  • $3.2 billion for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Early construction is expected to start in 2024-25.
  • $498 million for the Flinders Medical Centre upgrade.
  • $200 million over three years to finish the motorway between the Tollgate and Crafers on the South Eastern Freeway.
  • $150 million to upgrade two interchanges with the South Eastern Freeway at Mount Barker and Verdun.
  • While there is a lot of money being spend on infrastructure, very little of it is new, which is why we are making it neutral.

Winner: Law and order

  • $36 million will be spent to get more police officers out of administrative jobs and onto the beat. It includes $19 million over four years to develop a digital police station, where people can make non-urgent reports like vehicle collisions and national police certificate requests. It’ll also include $8.5 million over four years to fast track a telephone resolution desk and $9.4 million to employ 24 civilians in administrative roles over four years.
  • More than $205 million will be spent over four years to build 312 beds at Yatala Labour Prison, bringing its capacity to 1,158. There’ll also be a further 40 beds at the Adelaide Women’s Prison which will boost the site to a capacity of 316 at a cost of $21 million over two years.

Neutral: Arts

  • A $20.7 million arts investment fund has been created, which the government says will drive “targeted investment” in the state’s arts, culture and creative industries.
  • On top of that there’s $19 million for new accommodation for the State Theatre Company, State Opera and Country Arts Australia.
  • A partnership between the ABC and the SA Film Corporation that’s helped produce TV programs like Beep and Mort will get another $7.2 Million.
  • Mount Gambier’s Generations in Jazz festival will get $720,000 to build permanent pavilions.
  • But it’s not an overall winner because one of the biggest projects planned for the arts sector – the Tarrkarri First Nation’s art gallery planned for the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site is on ice. The government has not scrapped it, but it also has not provided any additional funding to make it a reality.

Winner: The regions

  • $43 million will be spent over two years to undertake significant emergency fruit fly response activities following further outbreaks in the Riverland and across Adelaide.
  • $26.3 million over five years is being allocated to the new mywater online water management system and River Murray operations, maintenance and monitoring programs.
  • $9 million has been dedicated to support skills programs in regional areas to connect learners, employers and trainers.
  • The government is setting aside $5.8 million over two years for 32 cabins at Whyalla to house the workforce needed during the construction of hydrogen plant.
  • And also in Whyalla, $1.7 million over two years will be spent to support the long-term sustainability of the steelworks.

Loser: Budget bottom line

  • The State Government says it’s keeping the budget in the black, with surpluses predicted across the forward estimates.
  • This year it’s predicting a $306 million dollar surplus, up from $154 million estimated in the mid-year budget review.
  • But it’s also continuing on a trajectory of record debt. In this budget it’ll reach more than $31 billion, and by 2027/28 it’s predicted to hit more than $44 billion.

Posted , updated