Estimating the potential political pain

The Weatherill Government has cut the amount of time it will have to face Opposition questions in Budget Estimates, the annual review of the State Budget that begins on Thursday.

Last year Estimates ran for 61 hours and 45 minutes hours whilst this year the schedule has been cut to 54 hours and 45 minutes, an 11 per cent reduction.

“Given South Australia has skyrocketing electricity prices, the highest unemployment in the country and there is still no opening date for the nRAH, the Weatherill Government needs more scrutiny not less,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.

“It is particularly telling the time for questioning the Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis on his failed energy policies has been slashed by a third.

“South Australia is hurtling into a full-blown energy crisis as a result of the Weatherill Government’s disastrous mismanagement of South Australia’s electricity system, yet the Treasurer will only face an hour of questions.

“The Weatherill Government is also clearly not wanting to be exposed on unemployment, opting to allocate just 30 minutes for employment despite the fact South Australia has had the highest unemployment in the nation for 18 months in succession.

“The fact Employment Minister Kyam Maher will face just a handful of questions confirms the Weatherill Government’s ‘jobs budget’ mantra is a great deal more spin than substance.

“It also beggars belief that Health continues to be allocated just 2 hours and 15 minutes for scrutiny.

“Health accounts for 30 per cent of the State Budget but receives just 4 per cent of the allocated time.

“The nRAH is now $640 million over budget and still without a scheduled opening date, Transforming Health has sent the Lyell McEwin Emergency Department into meltdown and EPAS will cost $500 million at the very least.

“Each of these subjects alone are worthy of the 2 hours and 15 minutes set aside for health.

“The Weatherill Government has run into very heavy weather and has decided to bunker down in the hope it can ride it out.”