This week’s Estimates questioning and further follow up with Ministers in coming weeks will serve to provide more details about last week’s State Budget announcements and how they will impact all who live and work here in Narungga.
Under Health, one welcome line in the budget papers was “increased cancer services at Wallaroo Hospital” which was great news I flagged back in February. This funding means this 4-chair chemotherapy unit is to increase its operation from one day to two days a week.
Other positives include the investment in nine new firefighting aircraft that regions such as ours will benefit from; the abolishing of stamp duty for first home buyers purchasing a new home valued up to $650,000 (this price point being particularly beneficial in regional areas); the establishment of the Office for Regional Housing within Renewal SA; the $2.4m snapper licence fee relief for fishermen impacted by the ongoing snapper closure; and the new Regional Skills Development Fund which pledges to enable TAFE SA to offer more courses in rural and regional SA.
The $100.2 million over four years for upgrades at government schools and preschools includes allocations to Wallaroo Primary and Moonta Area School (more details to come), and I also welcome the energy rebates for low-income households that were announced last month.
It was a city-centric budget overall however, with little regard for the economic value of our powerhouse agricultural industry with its harvest farm gate in 2022/23 of $4.4 billion. With great frustration, the blow out alone of $55 million for the new $135 million Adelaide Aquatic Centre could have repaired one or two jetties at least, or built amazing swimming facilities in multiple regions, including in the Narungga electorate.
With last month’s announced local sporting club funding of $266,000 and a further $220,000 for local coastal projects, I was hopeful the good news would continue with further allocations for roads and health in our patch. Whilst there is not much known yet about what sits under the broad heading of “$406.2 million for regional roads upgrades and maintenance”, it does appear that road safety initiatives this time around are more about new speed cameras and audio tactile line marking than shoulder repairs or overtaking lanes.
I welcomed the additional funding to continue the duplication of Highway One to Lochiel, but it is disappointing no further headway appears in sight to tackle the huge and growing backlog of subpar roads that need fixing across our electorate.
On the topic of security at Wallaroo Hospital, last sitting week in the chamber I questioned when the entrance doors smashed in February would finally be repaired and pleasingly, these glass panels were replaced next day. However, re any additional security measures for staff, we continue to await the outcome of an underway task force review.