The government in South Australia is set to pour billions into road projects and sporting facilities as the state seeks to rebuild its economy after COVID-19.

But there the state’s debt is set to nearly double and there will be a series of record deficits whilst there have been no new projects announced in commercial building.

Unveiling its state budget for 2020/21 earlier this week, the South Australian Government said it expected to spend $16.7 billion on infrastructure over four years.

This includes:

  • $6.9 billion on road infrastructure, including work on the remaining stage of the North-South Corridor and a range of new road projects and existing road maintenance and safety upgrades
  • $204 million in sport and recreation facilities including a$45 million investment to bring Hindmarsh Stadium to a contemporary elite standard as well as state two of the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre redevelopment, regional sporting facilities and a grassroots grand program supporting construction of shared use clubrooms and other facilities for local sporting facilities.
  • $1.3 billion for new schools at Aldinga and Angle Vale, Whyalla, Goolwa and support for non-government schools.
  • $1.7 billion over four years on healthcare facilities including construction of the new women’s and children’s hospital next to the Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • $204 million to upgrade sports stadiums and facilities.

As well, the government has announced a waiver of payroll tax equivalent to 15 months’ of payroll tax for businesses with a turnover of less than $4 million and $6 months for those with a turnover of greater than four million.

A $32 million trade and skills fund will also fund up to 750 traineeships and apprenticeships in government agencies.

Still, the state’s net debt is expected to almost double from $17.5 billion in 2019/20 to $33.2 billion in 2023/24.

Master Builders SA CEO Ian Markos welcomed the investment but said there had been a missed opportunity to announce new commercial building projects.

“These large-scale projects create jobs and drive economic growth and are badly needed in the current climate where private investment in commercial building is significantly down and expected to be quiet over the next few years,” Markos said.

“With record low interest rates we must keep building South Australia and protect the jobs of the more than 70,000 South Australians directly employed in the building and construction industry.”