The 2015-16 State Budget, handed down on 18 June, contains a number of new initiatives for regions totalling more than $187 million over the next four years.
The Budget delivers investment to further drive regional growth, create new job opportunities and build new infrastructure in our regions. This year’s Budget again features a regional chapter in the Budget Papers bringing together in a single location all the investment to regional South Australia, as well as a new interactive map highlighting key projects and new initiatives in each region.
Key amongst them were road safety and other transport investments worth $140.5 million, $20.3 million investment in regional arts, and the most significant tax reform in South Australia’s history. The tax reform package delivers changes directly targeted at removing barriers to business investment and expansion for key regional industries. This includes tax reductions of almost $670 million over four years. Read more on the tax package here.
The Budget commits $140.5 million to rural road safety improvements, out of a total road safety investment of $165 million. Some of these projects include $40 million over the next four years on statewide road safety improvements including shoulder sealing and audio tactile line-marking on high speed roads. About 110 jobs, predominantly in regional areas, will be created by that investment. $70 million will improve critical road infrastructure including the RM Williams Way (Yorke and Mid North region) and Copper Coast Highway (Eyre and Western region), and this work will also create local job opportunities around the state. A commitment of $5 million to upgrade the Sturt Highway (Murray and Mallee region) will improve its safety, and also help remove limits on using higher productivity freight vehicles on this vital interstate connection. This is part of a joint $25 million State Federal program. Read more on roads investment here.
Statewide investment in regional arts infrastructure and programs worth $20.3 million will revitalise this vital contribution to civil life. $4.3 million in 2015-16 will see upgrades to the State’s four main regional theatres in Mt Gambier, Renmark, Port Pirie, and Whyalla. In addition to the regional theatre upgrades, $16 million has been allocated to arts in regional South Australia for a range of programs and activities. These include the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra visiting Whyalla and Mount Gambier, a 250-seat Mobile ‘Pop-Up’ Theatre, the extension of the SA Living Artists Festival and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival further into regional SA, artists in residence programs, and the restoration of buildings to name a few. Read more on regional arts investment here and here.
Some highlights of new initiatives around the State
Adelaide Hills region
Approximately $3.5 million will be invested in the new Mount Barker children’s centre, one of five new children’s centres across metro and regional SA to be delivered as part of the 2015-16 State Budget. A planning study for the centre will commence over the coming year.
Barossa, Light and Lower North region
Work will commence in August on a new dialysis unit for the Gawler Health Service, and is expected to be complete by March 2016. The new renal unit will allow up to 18 patients from Gawler, the Barossa Valley and surrounding areas to receive treatment each day. The $2.9 million project also means that both current and new staff will receive specialised training, expanding the skill base within the hospital.
Eyre and Western region
A feasibility study will look at how public secondary education in Whyalla is delivered in the future. There will be opportunities for parents, carers and the wider community to have a say, and various options will be considered as part of the study. The priority is to provide better educational outcomes for Whyalla’s young people and ensure that any impacts on students and existing school sites are carefully considered. $350,000 has been committed to this process.
Far North region
Approximately $500,000 will be invested in a new Roxby Downs children’s centre, one of five new children’s centres across metro and regional SA to be delivered as part of this year’s Budget. It is expected to be established over the coming year.
$1.4 million over two years will go towards recruiting and training Indigenous workers to take up opportunities in pastoral property development, grazing operations or other job opportunities in the north west pastoral region.
Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island region
The $10 million federally funded South Coast Primary Health Care Precinct development in Victor Harbor is nearing completion. $600,000 in this year’s State Budget will see the completion of the car park and front entrance to the new community health building. The South Coast District Hospital, Victor Harbor Private Hospital and the Southern Fleurieu community health services will be housed all under the one roof with a shared entrance. The project will deliver primary health, mental health and rehabilitation services to the South Coast and include a new building focusing on community wellbeing, rehabilitation and restorative health services.
Limestone Coast region
Arts is a big Budget winner in this region, with $964,000 to replace the tiled panels on the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre in partnership with the City of Mount Gambier, and $50,000 to upgrade their wireless radio technology. $500,000 over two years to the James Morrison Academy will see the centre develop performance-based education at its best. Mr Morrison is forecasting an annual intake of 70 students, building to a potential student body of up to 200 by 2020.
Murray and Mallee region
The River Murray ferry fleet is a vital part of the road network for the river towns, essential for business productivity and tourism. The timber-hulled ferry fleet has been progressively restricted with load limits due to their deterioration, and $6 million in this year’s Budget will complete the renewal of the fleet over the next four years. Eight steel-hulled ferries are already in operation and two have already been commissioned to be built by Murray Mallee company Bowhill Engineering, providing job stability for their skilled workforce of about 25 people, of which up to 10 are working on this contract. The first of the already commissioned ferries is due to be delivered later this year and the second ferry should be complete by mid-2016. This year’s $6 million will fund the replacement of the last two timber-hulled ferries to create a fleet of 12 steel-hulled ferries.
Yorke and Mid North region
Port Pirie’s Northern Festival Centre will receive $1.4 million to commence the upgrade of its air conditioning and replace its fly tower, and $50,000 to upgrade its wireless radio technology. In Clare, Primary Industries and Regions SA will complete its move to a new Regional Office on White Hut Road, thanks to a State Budget investment of $1.7 million. After 30 years at the Old North Road site the new PIRSA home will bring immediate efficiencies and benefits for PIRSA and the community. PIRSA will now be able to develop facilities that are available for greater community and industry use. Front counter service at Old North Road will remain open to the community until the move is complete later in 2015.