Infrastructure spending and job creation measures will headline the South Australian budget, the last before Premier Jay Weatherill's Labor government goes to the polls.

Many plans and commitments to be outlined by Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis on Thursday have already been revealed including more than $1 billion for hospital upgrades across Adelaide.

Meanwhile, the government previously outlined its $500 million plan for energy security including funds for a new gas-fired power station and a battery to store renewable energy.

On Wednesday, the government announced tax relief for small businesses with a cut in payroll tax and a $5000 incentive for each apprentice or trainee taken on by local companies.

The tax cuts will cost $45 million over the next four years and the trainee grants will cost $8 million over three years, costs that will hit the budget bottom line.

Mr Koutsantonis is still expected to deliver a surplus in his fourth budget, but he will be more keen on reducing the state’s jobless figures, which have consistently been the worst in the nation in recent years.

The treasurer said SA had already made inroads with stronger jobs growth last year and an improvement in economic output, but more remained to be done, especially considering the upcoming closure of Holden’s assembly operations in October.

“We are doing some things right, but what you are seeing is a major transition,” he said.

“The forced closure of Holden is hitting South Australia hard. But new, high-growth industries are emerging.”

The treasurer said the budget would continue the government’s track record of cutting taxes and investing in core services and doing both in a sustainable way.

There’s been no shortage of advice heading into the budget with some key lobby groups urging the government to consider cutting taxes, while other are calling for higher taxes and more spending.
Business SA says the budget has to be all about jobs, especially jobs for young people.

It also wants accelerated stamp duty reforms on business transfers and a $150 million infrastructure fund.

The South Australian Council of Social Services argues the government must look to its revenue measures to help improve vital community services and consider where it can raise more money.

While the Property Council says the government should introduce a flat land tax, slash stamp duty on home sales and establish a task force to attract big companies back to SA.


By Tim Dornin