Feb 23 2018
SA election: Xenophon’s policy under question, Labor’s electric car push and the Liberal’s pledge funds for food business
The South Australian Government hopes to incentivise electric cars by making lowering fees. (ABC News: Leah MacLennan)
SA Best leader Nick Xenophon has announced his party’s seniors policy, but the government says he needs to make it clear how will find the money to pay for it.
Mr Xenophon said one-in-four South Australians are over 60 and he wants to make seniors central to the election campaign.
His party’s policy includes increasing the funding for palliative care services by $24.5 million and creating a mobile dental service for older people.
When asked how he would fund the policy, Mr Xenophon said it would pay for itself.
“It won’t be reducing the health budget at all. I want to make that clear,” Mr Xenophon said.
“The palliative care measures means fewer people in hospitals but getting better care at home or in a hospice.”
He said poor dental health can lead to a range of medical conditions including strokes and heart disease, so the dental service would also save money in the long run.
“We are spending millions of dollars more than that in terms of the number of people needing heart surgery and suffering from strokes and needing urgent, emergency medical treatment and emergency surgery,” he said.
Labor disagreed with Mr Xenophon’s costings, and said he’d have to make cuts or take on more debt to fund the measures.
“Preventative health in itself is a good thing to spend money on but it costs extra,” Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said.
“Jingles and stunts are one thing, building a health budget is another. There is not a spare $25 million in the health budget. If there was, we would have found it by now and used it on more services in our health system.
“If it’s more spending, he needs to tell us we’ve got to borrow more money, or are we taking more money out of police, out of education, out of road maintenance, out of infrastructure?”
SA Best’s policy also includes free public transport for seniors extended to include peak hour.
The promise came at the same time Labor was promising to make transport cheaper
The party has promised to make electric cars in South Australia cheaper by waiving the stamp duty and registration fees on new electric and no-emission cars if it’s re-elected in March.
Environment Minister Ian Hunter said Australia was lagging behind Europe and the US in its uptake of electric cars, and was hopeful government subsidies would change that.
“We want to add a little bit of an incentive to purchasers,” Mr Hunter said.
“If we can do that, we’ll increase the number of units coming into the country, then we’ll bring down the unit cost per vehicle, making them much more accessible to more people right across the country.”
The Government said there are about 190 electric cars registered in South Australia, and more than a 100 charging stations.
Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese said the city council is building another 40 charging stations and is hopeful the Government’s promise will help boost car numbers.
“If we look at the example of solar panels in the early 2000s, when that market emerged in Australia, it was led by government incentives. Now it’s thoroughly mainstream,” he said.
Labor’s scheme would run for five years, and while registration fees would be waived, car owners would still have to pay compulsory third party insurance and other associated fees.
Real-time fuel data promise
Labor also had a promise for drivers still using fossil fuels, with a plan to introduce legislation to force the publication of real-time fuel price data.
RAA senior manager of future mobility Mark Borlace said the organisation had been calling for such a scheme to be introduced in South Australia for more than a year.
He said access to real-time petrol prices would make a real difference to people living on low incomes.
“It’s real-time so within 15 minutes of the price going up they have to put it on the database, and then people who make apps or anything like that use that data to give people real-time fuel data,” he said.
Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party said it would support Labor’s move to introduce the scheme.
Mr Xenophon has also pledged to make public transport cheaper for seniors, by waiving fees during peak hour traffic.
Food manufacturing the focus for Liberal Party
While the other major parties were focussed on transport, the Liberal Party set its sights on food manufacturing.
Steven Marshall said a Liberal government would support food manufacturing in SA. (ABC News: Tom Fedorowytsch)
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said a Liberal government would provide Food SA with an extra $1.25 million to grow the sector.
Visiting the Haigh’s chocolate factory, Mr Marshall said the peak body needed the extra money to help develop local food manufacturing.
But Mr Marshall said smaller food makers are ripe for growth.
“So many of our great food producers in South Australia are selling their products interstate and overseas,” he said.
“We think this is great because it brings money into South Australia, creates more jobs and to keep our young people in South Australia.”