Boost to aged care
Following last week’s visit from the Federal Minister for Aged Care the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, the budget contains several measures that were raised by those that attended the Community Forum at Victor Harbor.
- 14,000 new high-care level home care packages will be created over the next four years.
- 13,500 residential aged care places will be funded to meet the dramatically increasing demand
- $102 million over four years will be provided for mental health services in aged care residential facilities and in the community.
After several people asked the Minister about the difficulty of accessing the My Aged Care website and filling in the subsequent forms, $61.7 million has been allocated to make the My Aged Care website simpler to use.
New funding for local drug rehabilitation to address our ice crisis
Rebekha Sharkie has secured $40 million for drug addiction services. $20 million will be spent on ice-focused rehabilitation centres in rural South Australia, including at least one on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
The further $20 million to be spent over the next three years to support GPs and other allied health professionals in regional and remote Australia to access professional development and specialist skills in addiction medicine.
Ending the craft beer tax
After more than a year of lobbying the Federal on behalf of local craft brewers in Mayo, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the tonight’s Budgt decision to drop the excise on smaller kegs and cut the red tape on taxation.
The excise rate will be lowered for small kegs, and brewers will receive up to an additional $70,000 in the excise rebate. Under existing rules, kegs smaller than 48 litres attract a higher rate of excise, disadvantaging our local small-scale brewers.
Independent Brewers Association Executive Officer Chris McNamara said the decision would allow craft brewers to invest back into their businesses and hire more staff.
“We’re really appreciative of Rebekha’s assistance with this. She appreciates the importance of independent brewers in her electorate and has been a great help.”
Hits and misses on infrastructure spending
Unfortunately, the government has yet again neglected to provide funding for the Victor Harbor Road duplication or give support to public transport corridors around one Mount Barker, one of the fastest growing towns in Australia.
On the other had, the Federal Government’s $206.5 million commitment to a third round of the Building Better Regions Fund will deliver real opportunities for the electorate – especially because large parts of our electorate were prevented from applying initially.
It was only after Rebekha Sharkie raised the issue repeatedly with the former Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash that the Government allowed the majority of the electorate to apply in the second round.
And here’s what the major Budget announcements were in key policy areas:
INCOME TAX CUTS
- A once-off income tax offset of $530 will be available to people on incomes up to $90,000, with the offset phasing out at a rate of 1.5 cents per dollar to $0 for people on incomes of $125,333
- The upper end of the 32.5% income tax bracket will be increased from $87,000 to $90,000 – a person earning $90,000 or more would save $135 on their tax bill.
- An additional $769 million to support PBS listings for a range of medications, including for spinal muscular atrophy, breast cancer, refractory multiple melanoma, multiple sclerosis
- $154 million for promoting active and health living (including $83m for sport facilities and expansion of Sporting Schools and Local Sporting Champions programs)
- New rural and regional workforce incentive programs for nurses, allied health practitioners, and Australian-trained doctors
- $20.9 million for maternal and child health, including new tests for health conditions for infants.
- $535.8 million over five years for the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Plan
- Consolidation of existing funding into an Australian Heritage Grants Program ($23.1 million over 4 years).
SECURITY IN RETIREMENT
- The existing Pensions Loan Scheme will be opened to age pensioners, allowing a loan of up to $17,800 for a full pension couple, and $11,799 for full pensions singles, without affecting the age pension or other Commonwealth benefits
- Existing Pension Work Bonus to be expanded to allow an extra $1,300 of earnings a year ($50 a fortnight) without affecting the age pension. The Bonus will also become available to self-employed age pensioners, who can now earn up to $7,800 a year without reducing their pension
- The existing Restart Wage Subsidy for employers of workers over 50 will be expanded. This subsidy provides payments up to $10,000 to a limited number of employers who employ workers over 50 years of age.
- Superannuation funds will now be banned from charging exit fees and there are a range of reforms for low-balance super accounts ($6000 or less):
- Fees will be capped at 3%
- The ATO will proactively transfer funds from inactive accounts to the person’s active super account to stop their super being eaten up by fees
- Superannuation funds will not be able to automatically opt people in to life insurance products (this provision will also apply to people under 25 years of age, and for people whose accounts have been inactive for at least 13 months)
- $189.7 million of existing and new funds over four years to help mature age job seekers (defined as 45 years and older) develop skills and find employment
- A Regional Employment Trials Program to deliver employment services to 10 disadvantaged regional areas.
- $250 million for the Skilling Australian Fund which will be drawn down over time to provide support to apprenticeships and traineeships
- $1.9 billion over 12 years to implement a Research Infrastructure Investment Plan
- $247 million for the extension of the National School Chaplaincy Programme
- $96.1 million to implement the Government’s response to the Independent Review into Regional Rural and Remote Education, including, annually:
- 500 additional places for sub-bachelor degrees and university bridging courses, and
- 185 additional places for bachelor degree courses through a regional study hub
- Increased access to Youth Allowance for rural and regional students by relaxing the Parental Income test by an additional $10,000 per annum per child.
FARMING AND AGRICULTURE
- $86.8 million over 4 years to enhance biosecurity systems (especially pests, diseases, and import controls)
- $51.3 million for Agricultural Export Growth Plan over 4 years
- $20 million over 4 years to support renewable National Forest industry growth.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND LOCAL ROADS
- Continuation of Supplementary Local Road Funding for SA as negotiated by Centre Alliance
- $1.78 billion for infrastructure spending in SA, including:
- $1.38 billion for upgrade of South Road
- $220 million for electrification of Gawler rail line
- $160 million allocated for the duplication of the Joy Baluch Bridge in Port Augusta
- $206.5 million over 4 years for another round (Round 3) of the Building Better Regions program which invests in regional infrastructure
- $25.9 million over 2 years or another round (Round 4) for the Stronger Communities Program which invests in community infrastructure
- Creation of a $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund from existing funds
- $29.7 million to deliver up to 500 local community sporting infrastructure development grants.
- $37.6 million over 4 years to provide aftercare for people discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt.
- $33.8 million over 4 years for Lifeline Australia for its telephone crisis services.
- $40 million over three years for professional development in primary care for treatment and support for alcohol and drug abuse and residential rehab services.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY
- The instant asset write-off for purchases up to $20,000 for small for businesses of up to $10 million annual turnover will be extended for Financial Year 2018-19
- $41 million for a National Space Agency
- $70 million for supercomputer investment
- $36.9 million for satellite imagery.