“Generational” budget applauded by SA-BEST – but more pain ahead!

16 June 2023

SA-BEST today labelled the State Budget “generational” for the thousands of first-home owners who will be eligible to have their stamp duty abolished allowing them to enter the housing market for the first time. 

SA-BEST MLCs Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo welcomed a range of other initiatives announced in the State Budget to assist families struggling to cope with the increasing costs of living – including SA households paying the highest electricity prices in the world – and pouring more money into the health system. 

However they urged the State Government to look at reducing the current land tax imposts – strongly opposed by Labor while in Opposition – which has provided a significant spike in tax revenue while causing a major decline in available rental properties. 

And they warned further problems will occur at the current Women’s and Children’s Hospital with the government only committing $27 million to sustainment works at the hospital - despite committing to investing an extra $2.3 billion into health spending over five years – when clinicians believe more than $100 million is required. 

“The abolition of stamp duty for eligible first-home owners will be generational for them. It will be the catalyst for thousands of young South Australians to get off the rental roundabout or fly the coop from their family home and into their own homes for the first time,” Connie said. 

“But I am concerned the horror stories will continue to hear from the current Women’s and Children’s Hospital will continue as conditions and services continue to deteriorate due to the lack of money being committed to sustainment works,” she said. 

“That’s simply not good enough given the new W&CH will not open for another 10 years. 

“More also needs to be done to reduce the devastating harm caused by gambling addiction – starting with significantly more funds from the government’s $500 billion gambling tax revenue being committed to gambling harm minimisation services and programs and the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund. 

“We also note additional money has been committed in the areas of health, child protection, mental health and public housing affordability – but it’s what’s not printed in the government’s glossy pages that SA-BEST will be focussing on.” 

Frank said the State Government had an ideal opportunity to provide further financial relief to taxpayers by reversing or reducing the land tax reforms introduced by the former Liberal Government and opposed so strongly by Labor in Opposition. 

He also questioned why stamp duty exemptions only applied to new builds at a time when the construction industry cannot finish thousands of homes on schedule because of ongoing supply issues. 

Connie and Frank welcomed the government for a broad range of budget initiatives specifically designed to help struggling families. These included: 

  • a $500 rebate for 420,000 eligible households and a $650 rebate for 86,000 small businesses on power bills; 
  • $5 million for food charities such as Foodbank; 
  • the $15,000 first homeowners grant cap lifted to homes up to $650,000 (from $575,000), and; 
  • committing about 1140 new homes for public housing, 700 new affordable homes and 25,000 new blocks released for housing in Adelaide’s north and south. 

“We are living in some of the toughest economic conditions for a generation – but there is still a lot of pain to come for all South Australians,” Frank said. 

“The government is going to have to grapple with huge debts in coming years and will need to find alternative ways to get revenue without hurting taxpayers while maintaining its big project spends and promises,” he said. 

“It might start looking at getting more for mining and gas royalties and asking the Federal Government to review the distribution of the GST revenue.” 

Connie said: “The government has gone some way in acknowledging the hardships being faced by thousands of South Australian families and we welcome its commitment in attempting to address many of those impacts. 

“But we believe they could have gone a lot further – including reducing payroll tax to help ease the pain being felt by SA small businesses, the engine room of the state’s economy,” she said.

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