Full house at business Budget breakfast

Full house at business Budget breakfast

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon hosted a full house of business people at their breakfast debriefing of the Federal Budget.

Photograph: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie with Gumeracha business owners Donna and Stuart Flew from Talunga Estate.

The Budget breakfast function was held at the Locavore in Stirling, a small business taken over by Rosanne and Conan a few months ago.

Nick told the crowd that the Budget was a “mixed bag” for South Australia.

THE GOOD:

The Nick Xenophon Team helped secure over $500 million in funding for key projects in advanced manufacturing ($100 million), apprenticeships ($60 million), SA roads ($40 million), solar thermal plant for Port Augusta ($110 million), cancer treatment (Proton Therapy Centre - $68 million), Defence abuse victims ($32 million), nuclear test veterans ($137 million) and community radio ($6 million) – with over $250 million directly benefiting South Australia.

The big banks levy that will raise over $6 billion is welcome, but NXT will still push for a last resort compensation scheme that is still lacking.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

Whilst NXT welcomes a commitment for a Defence spending target of 2% of GDP, the Budget papers reveal that in the 2017/18 year $319 million will be spent on the Future Submarine Program, but it appears most of it will be used to set up Australian teams in France, and for submarine design work overseas and for combat system design work in the US. Only a portion will be spent on infrastructure for Adelaide.

 The Budget also allocated $270 million for supply ships in the coming financial year, but almost all of that will be spent on boosting jobs in Spain.

 THE BAD:

South Australia is being dudded with no new spending of the $70 billion infrastructure spend allocated in the Budget. The $3.1 billion of the $70 billion referred to in the Budget is in fact money that was previously allocated, and still only amounts to 4.5 per cent of the total spend – well below SA’s 7.1 per cent share of population and more than 10 per cent of the nation’s roads.

And it seems that SA may miss out on major inland rail and other infrastructure projects with no certainty that steel from Arrium will be used.

Rebekha said the Budget announcement to bring back local road funding for South Australian Councils was a big win for Mayo and South Australia.

It was a measure negotiated by NXT.

“Not only does it close the gap on the amount of money allocated to our state compared to the eastern states, means more than $40 million over two years will fund the maintenance of council-managed roads in SA,” she said.

“That money includes more than $4.6 million for the Adelaide Hills, Mount Barker, Victor Harbor, Yankalilla, Kangaroo Island, Barossa and Onkaparinga Councils in Mayo.

“Our councils maintain about 5500km of roads and when the 2014 Abbott Government Budget axed Supplementary Road Funding they faced road funding shortfalls of between $200,000 and $1 million.

“This in turn put pressure on councils to increase rates to meet long-term road plans.”

It will take some time to unravel the full impact of the Budget but the following is a list of key items for Mayo.

  • A three-year, $375 million national agreement for homelessness services. Mayo has one of the highest rates of homelessness in SA (48 people per 10,000 compared with state average of 38 per 10,000) so I am pleased that the budget has a three-year commitment with a modest increase of $35 million over three years on current funding levels.
  • An end to the Medicare freeze in 2018, which should make it easier for GPs to continue bulk-billing or maintain low out-of-pocket costs.
  • Mayo should benefit from an extra $9 million over four years to improve access to psychological services through telehealth in rural, regional and remote Australia.
  • The Government has cut funding to palliative care, with only $8.3 million allocated over three years for home palliative care for the whole country.
  •  Mayo will be able to continue to apply for Black Spot Road Funding with the Government extending the program for another three years. The Budget shows an allocation of $624.5 million from 2013/14 to 2019/20.
  • The Government has announced changes to the way schools will be funded, with all schools in Mayo to receive increased funding.
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been given $7 million to monitor the roll-out of the NBN. Following repeated complaints from people in regional areas about internet providers giving inaccurate information about available speeds, the competition watchdog will have new powers to expose and crack down on these companies.
  • Community radio funding has been restored with $6.1 million provided across the country. Some of these funds will go towards the roll out of digital radio. Mayo has some great community radio stations serving their communities.
  • NXT has secured $60 million worth of funding which will ensure 45,000 apprentices will now receive valuable mentoring to support them to complete their qualification.
  • Nearly every business in Mayo will benefit from the continuation of the $20,000 instant asset write-off.
  • Businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million will pay $3000 for employees on permanent work visas and $1200 for employees on temporary skill shortage visas.
  • Thanks to the lobbying of NXT, this budget includes a one-off energy assistance payment of $75 for single recipients and $125 for couple recipients of the Aged Pension, the Disability Pension and the Parenting Payment.
  • Mayo pensioners affected by the changes to the Pension Assets Test will have their Pensioner Concession Cards restored. This means they will be eligible for a range of State Government concessions.