‘The more you fall, the more you bounce back’: David Martine highlights key Vic budget initiatives

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday May 21, 2021

parliament-house-victoria
The timber workers’ union voiced concerns about a bill before the Victorian legislative council on Tuesday. (Image: Adobe/Stephane Debove)

Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance secretary David Martine has outlined a number of the key initiatives in Thursday’s 2021-22 state budget, including the huge $3.8 billion mental health package.

Speaking at an IPAA Victoria event on Friday morning, Martine said the Victorian economy is forecast to grow by 6.5% in 2021-22, after an estimated fall of 2% last year.

“Growth of 6.5% in 2021-22 sounds unrealistically high, but it’s not,” he said.

“Importantly, the trajectory of economic growth means the size of the Victorian economy in 21-22 will be slightly higher than pre-COVID levels. In annual growth terms, this translates to a 2% reduction in the average level of GSP in 2021, and growth of 6.5% in the average level of GSP in 21-22.

“As is often said, the more you fall, the more you bounce back.”

The budget provides $19 billion in new output initiatives, and $7.1 billion in new asset funding. Martine noted that the new output funding predominantly reflects investments in health, mental health and wellbeing, and education and training, while the new asset funding is predominantly focused on transport, health, and education and training infrastructure.

One of the government’s major commitments responds to the recommendations of the mental health royal commission, by investing $3.8 billion in mental health.

Building on a $869 million commitment to mental health in last year’s budget, the package includes $954 million to deliver community based care, $370 million to improve access to mental health beds and acute care, $196 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of infants, children and families, and $173 million for suicide prevention.

To enable this huge spend, the government is introducing a mental health and wellbeing levy as a payroll tax surcharge for businesses that pay more than $10 million a year in wages.

“The mental health and well being levy is forecast to raise an average of $843 million each year over the forward estimates, which under legislation will only be able to be spent on mental health services,” Martine said.

Martine has thanked all Victorian Public Service staff for their hard work, particularly those within the Department of Treasury and Finance.

“It’s been a busy time preparing two budgets within six months, and I appreciate your dedication and professionalism,” he said.

See below for other key initiatives unveiled in the budget.

Health and education

Key health and education initiatives, according to Martine, include:

  • $3.7 billion for more emergency department staff, extra highly specialised therapies, and support for new wards,
  • $1.6 billion to deliver new schools and upgrades to existing schools,
  • $185 million to support the teaching workforce, including through the new Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership,
  • $167 million to continue the rollout of three-year-old kinder,
  • $50 million to support establishing Victoria’s capability to manufacture mRNA vaccines.

Communities

  • $448 million to advance Treaty, progress Aboriginal self-determination, and improve outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians,
  • $384 million to continue the Reducing Bushfire Risk program and Safer Together Strategy,
  • $354 million to support victims, survivors and address family violence,
  • $194 million for services to prevent homelessness,
  • $46 million for Australia’s first public zero emissions vehicle subsidy program.

Industry

  • $288 million for creative industries,
  • $86 million to establish the Victorian Skills Authority,
  • $107 million in additional support for business recovery in Melbourne’s central business district,
  • $51 million to support the international education sector,
  • $50 million for the Growing Suburbs fund,
  • $43 million for the Business Events program.

Transport and infrastructure

  • $986 million to build 25 trains and upgrade the Craigieburn train maintenance facility,
  • $368 million to deliver enabling infrastructure for next generation trams, including constructing a new tram maintenance facility,
  • $242 million to upgrade rail infrastructure at Caulfield junction, to segregate the Frankston and Dandenong lines,
  • $100 million to commence design and planning of targeted upgrades on the Calder Freeway for safer and more reliable journeys.

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