The first Baillieu-Wells budget was released on 3 May 2011 and has already been met with praise and criticism – it all depends on which newspaper you read!
Overall, the Coalition has received a big tick for delivering on election promises but has been criticised for failing to tackle debt which is expected to almost double from $11.9 billion in 2011 to $23.2 billion in 2015. Treasurer Kim Wells responded to criticisms by declaring that the government decided to deliver its election commitments rather than tackle debt.
So what does the Victorian Coalition’s first budget mean for Victoria, and in particular, what does it mean for our health and ageing sectors?
A $13 billion health and aged care package has been revealed that includes:
- More than $500 million on hospital upgrades
- 800 new beds, to cost $448 million over four years
- $241.9 million to halve ambulance membership fees
- $151 million to employ 340 extra paramedics and patient transport staff
- $88 million mental health package
And as for initiatives which would improve the lives of Victoria’s older population, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria and National Seniors have both welcomed the budget which addresses some of the problems affecting older Victorians.
Increasing concessions for older people facing rising utility bills are expected to alleviate increases in electricity and water while rebates for energy efficient appliances and concessions for municipal charges for gas and for low income households are expected to help some older Victorians.
An increase in interpreter services has also been welcomed by Victoria’s ageing migrant population as Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Nicholas Kotsiras announced $2 million over four years to help people with limited English language skills to access essential health, legal, education and employment services.
That’s the Victorian State Budget, now on to the Federal Budget which is due to be released 10 May 2011.