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Victoria’s Fiscal Challenges: Major Projects Delayed and Budget Sweeteners for Families



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Victoria‘s Treasurer Tim Pallas has unveiled the state’s 10th budget, revealing a shift towards fiscal responsibility with major projects like the Airport Rail Link being postponed. In a bid to address the state’s growing net debt, now predicted to reach $187.8 billion by 2027-28, the budget emphasizes initiatives to manage spending more prudently.

Premier Jacinta Allan‘s first budget in her current role focuses on families, with a notable $400 payment set to be distributed to each public school student. Despite the government’s efforts to navigate the economic challenges, Victoria’s net debt continues to rise, prompting credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings to downgrade the state’s credit rating from AAA to AA.

The budget’s $2.2 billion deficit for this financial year is projected to transition to a $1.5 billion surplus by 2025-26. Treasurer Pallas defended the budget as a balanced approach, aiming to reduce net debt relative to the state’s economy while ensuring economic growth isn’t stifled.

While major projects like the Airport Rail Link face delays, initiatives like the $10 billion allocated to healthcare and the $700 million extension of the Victoria Homebuyer Fund underscore the government’s commitment to essential services. The plan to construct a new hospital campus near the Arden train station had been deemed unfeasible due to electromagnetic interference.

In regional Victoria, funding has been allocated for a mental health, alcohol, and drugs hub at the Ballarat Base Hospital‘s emergency department. The budget also includes provisions for teacher retention and mental health support in schools.

Despite no significant tax increases, the budget introduces adjustments to waste and fire services levies. Additionally, the scrapping of the COVID-era sick pay guarantee and other cost-cutting measures reflect the government’s efforts to streamline expenditure.

Rachel Adams

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