I rise today to provide my full support for the Appropriation Bill 2018. I am pleased to see a Treasurer hand down a Budget, which addresses key issues that I have spoken about for years in This Place. South Australian families are no longer burdened by a Government which views them as way to increase the state’s revenue. Instead, this Budget aims to improve efficiencies to allow for reductions in the cost of living, while providing the business environment which will enable our economy to grow well into the future.
For 16 years we were faced with sell-offs of state assets and tax hikes as a means to balance the Budget and bring about false surpluses. I am happy to see a budget which aims to return this state to a sustainable position. One which does not sell the farm, for glittering showpieces to distract from successive years of financial incompetence.
The rising cost of living has been continuing issue which has plagued most South Australians. By alleviating these pressures from households, a Marshall Liberal Government is not only providing budget relief to South Australians, but strengthening our own economic future. Less taxes means more money in the household budget, which in turn will flow into increased purchasing power and greater consumer confidence.
Households are already seeing how a Marshall Liberal Government’s approach to managing the Budget can alleviate the cost of living. The Emergency Services Levy has been reduced, as per our election promise. This has provided homeowners with substantial relief on their bill, a tangible piece of our plan for South Australia’s future, already in their hands.
Furthermore, families and businesses will soon see their electricity bills start to come down. South Australia has some of the highest electricity costs in the world. This has come about through the previous government’s experimentation with unreliable power generation, leaving the people of this state to be used as guinea pigs. Not only does this deter business investment and slow down our economy, but it hurts the average South Australian. When households are unable to afford skyrocketing prices and are forced to forgo cooling their homes in the height of summer, in state so resource rich, something is clearly wrong. A Marshall Liberal Government aims to reduce this trend and is committed to lowering costs for South Australians. This budget is squarely focused on reducing the cost of energy for households and businesses and delivering the Government’s energy solution.
Our election commitments will also see tax relief for small businesses, through the removal of payroll tax. With an exemption for businesses with payrolls below $1.5 million, small businesses will be free of unnecessary taxes and red tape, which held back many from employing more South Australians for their business. This will allow employers to move costs associated with payroll tax into further employment or increasing the wages of their employees, no longer charging them for wanting to grow and hire more staff. By exempting them from this tax, we will not only provide better business conditions in this state, but also increase our growth rate. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, by removing red tape and barriers in operating a business, we can give these hardworking people the right environment to grow and prosper.
As this Place knows well, the Veterans’ community is an area which I take a keen interest in. In particular, The Headstone Project is an initiative which I have been a great supporter of and was honoured to unveil the first of in this state. Last year I was honoured to be present in Port Pirie, where Archibald John Kenneth McVicar was able to receive a proper final resting place. That is why I am pleased to see the announcement of $10,000 per annum for three years to provide headstones for unmarked graves of World War One veterans, who so valiantly served our nation.
Finally, I would like to note funding made available for our regions. Long ignored by Labor, these communities will begin to see far overdue investment to local infrastructure. From major road projects, such as the Port Wakefield overpass, to black spot funding and CFS station upgrades, it is fantastic to see our vitally important regional areas receive the attention they deserve.
The end result of this Budget will see a return to a true surplus, strong investment in key growth areas and benefits to families and businesses from major tax reforms. After 16 years of financial mismanagement, I am proud to see a Marshall Liberal Government delivering a strong budget, which delivers on our election commitments and secure South Australia’s future. We are tailoring an environment which gives South Australians the opportunity to succeed. I for one am excited to see what this will bring.