SA set for state's 'most important' budget

Tim Dornin
·2-min read

This year's South Australian budget will be the most important in the state's history, Premier Steven Marshall says.

The government will bring down it's delayed financial blueprint on Tuesday, but has already promised big spending on shovel-ready infrastructure projects and more assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to boost jobs.

That will plunge SA deeply into the red with the deficit for 2020/21 expected to be around $2 billion, partly the result of a sharp writedown in GST returns from the commonwealth.

Mr Marshall said South Australia had done extraordinarily well in managing the health crisis associated with the pandemic and must now deliver in terms of the economic crisis.

"I genuinely think this is the most important budget in the history of South Australia," the premier said.

"It's all about creating jobs and backing business. It's all about building what matters.

"There will be an increase in debt in South Australia, but most importantly there will be a massive increase in employment in our state and that's what we need at the moment."

The government has already flagged some initiatives including doubling the coronavirus stimulus package for infrastructure and other projects to $2 billion.

It has also announced a second round of $10,000 cash grants to small businesses, a $35 million spend on community sports facilities and an extra $15 million for mental health support.

How that spending impacts on cost-of-living measures is yet to be revealed, but the government has continued its mantra of wanting to lower day-to-day expenses for families.

It also remains unclear if the budget this year will include a headline project that points to a vision for SA after the pandemic.

For its part, the Labor opposition has called on the government to use the budget to freeze fees and charges, as a way to offer relief to households and businesses.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the government must avoid a repeat of last year's budget when fees and charges were increased above the inflation rate.

"All South Australians have been hit in some way, shape or form by the recession," Mr Malinauskas said.

"The government can offer relief by following the lead of other states and freezing fees and charges."