Government has “talked the talk on Budget, now time to “walk the walk”: SA-BEST
SA-BEST today optimistically welcomed the Malinauskas Government’s maiden state budget – but warned the real work starts now.
And it blasted the government for attempting to use budget day to bury legislation to remove protections for people injured at work labelling the move the “ultimate act of betrayal” to everyone who has a job.
SA-BEST MLCs Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo said the budget’s major ticket items predictably mirrored Labor’s key election promises - specifically in the area of health where a record $2.4 billion has been committed.
“On first glance, the Malinauskas Government’s inaugural budget commits much-needed funds to critical areas of our public health system – areas that were exposed as part of a Parliamentary Select Committee established by SA-BEST,” SA-BEST Government Accountability spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said.
“The Labor Government has definitely talked the talk with this budget - but the proof of its success or otherwise will now be in the government walking the walk,” she said.
“The government will be judged over the next 12 months on keeping its budget promises and implementing the crucial projects and initiatives it has outlined in the budget.
“Nothing less will suffice. Our health system has been on life-support for more than a decade – the result of major failures by both Liberal and Labor former governments.
“We’ve heard previous governments announce how they intend to fix our public health woes – and history tells us very few of them had any impact.”
Frank said SA-BEST was pleased to see the government had kept to its election promise that the budget would not include any new taxes on families and businesses.
“The COVID pandemic has created never-before seen impacts on the economy – not just domestically, but globally - which requires strong leadership and stewardship to ensure the state continues to be able to navigate its way through everything the pandemic throws at us,” said Frank, SA-BEST’s Budget and Treasury spokesperson.
“The Malinauskas Government’s debut budget appears to meet that criteria with sensible, fiscally-responsible commitments and spending in key areas without overstepping the mark,” he said.
“Household budgets are at breaking point with soaring cost of living expenses, and small businesses continue to struggle with the impacts of COVID, so we congratulate the government on sticking to its election commitment in not introducing any new taxes to fund its election promises.
“SA-BEST implores the government to maintain that promise and not hit families and businesses with any new taxes down the track.”
SA-BEST said stand-out commitments in the budget were the:
- creation of more than 550 extra public hospital beds;
- commitment to employ more than 100 doctors and 300 nurses across the public health system;
- investment of 350 more paramedics and ambulance officers;
- near $850 million health infrastructure investment including $160m to the Flinders Medical Centre upgrade, $121m for a new hospital at Mt Barker and $120m for a new CBD ambulance headquarters;
- $128.9 million additional investment in child protection over the next five years;
- $305 million commitment to regional health including more doctors, improved mental health services and community drug and alcohol rehabilitation;
- $208.8 million to build five new technical colleges;
- $177.5 million commitment for public housing improvements;
- 24/7 free public transport for eligible seniors, and;
- major commitment to education including $50 million for mental health and learning support in schools; $28.8 million to appoint an autism lead teacher in every government primary school, and $26.6 million for local school infrastructure upgrades.
“SA-BEST optimistically welcomes the Malinauskas Government’s maiden state budget – but the real work starts now,” Connie and Frank said.
“Labor was elected on the back of a health crisis gripping SA and made a number of key announcements in areas SA-BEST was pushing for and supports,” they said.
“We now need to ensure the government delivers on all of its promises.
“But using a busy day like Budget day to introduce virtually unannounced legislation to remove protections for people injured at work is an outrage.
“The proposed legislation is the single biggest act of bastardry and betrayal of injured workers - and the rank and file members of trade unions - this state has ever seen.
“It strikes at the very foundations on which the Labor Party was apparently established – protecting the rights of workers.
“Every worker who went to the polls and voted for Labor did so on the basis that it supported the rights and entitlements of workers in this state.
“If this legislation is passed, Labor has effectively shafted every injured worker in this state.
“After only two months into government, the Malinauskas Labor Government is already showing a level of arrogance and belligerence towards workers rarely seen before.
“It’s a disgrace. Every union leader and union member should be incensed by this decision.”