SA election: What’s in it for SMEs and startups?

SA election Steven Marshall Peter Malinauskas

Steven Marshall (left) and Peter Malinauskas (right) during a leaders debate at the South Australia Press Club in Adelaide on March 10, 2022. Source: AAP Matt Turner.

Training and skills has emerged as a focus area for the major parties in this weekend’s South Australian election, with both the Liberal and Labor parties making million-dollar commitments to help the state’s businesses access better trained staff. 

The latest polls show South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and his team could be facing a defeat over the weekend, with a YouGov poll for The Advertiser, conducted last week, giving Labor leader Peter Malinauskas a lead of 56-44. 

However, it may be some time before a final result is known, due to a large volume of postal votes this time around, according to ABC election analyst Anthony Green. 

So as South Australian business owners prepare to cast their votes tomorrow, here’s a quick look at some of what the major parties have promised the business community. 

Liberals

Skills and training

The government says it will spend $18.2 million over two years to provide a payroll tax exemption for new trainees and apprentices in the state if it is elected for another term. Meanwhile, another $12 million has been pledged for a 12-month extension of a skills program for apprentices and trainees. 

Digital skills and cyber security

The government has pledged $20 million for a small business support package, which will include a new “one stop shop” digital portal and concierge for small businesses, and the establishment of a team of small business support advisers at Service SA centres. 

The funding will also go towards improving the cyber security of small businesses, including by subsidising cyber security training for 1000 small businesses. 

Space Manufacturing Hub

If re-elected, the government says it will create more than 1000 jobs by establishing the Australian Space Park — an Australian-first dedicated space manufacturing hub — at the Adelaide Airport. 

The $66 million facility, to be funded in partnership with the federal government, is billed to have room for four large space manufacturing companies, as well as smaller startups and space businesses. 

Submarines

The Liberal Party has also promised to spend a combined $12 million across a number of measures to help local businesses get involved with the state’s submarine program. This includes $5 million for a local industry and expertise taskforce; $3 million for a worker accreditation program; and $4 million to be spent towards ensuring the state has skilled workers in this area. 

Labor

Skills and training

The Labor opposition has pledged to address skills shortages in occupations such as bricklaying, saw doctoring and concreting, by allocating $8.7 million for training programs in those areas. 

If elected, the party has also pledged a $1 million grant for an outreach program run by Master Builders SA to create more pathways for female and Indigenous trade apprentices. 

Manufacturing

The Labor Party says it will provide $10 million in grants programs to help boost local manufacturing. The Labor opposition also wants to make changes to government procurement processes, to maximise the use of local manufacturers. 

Taxi industry

The Labor Party has promised to offer greater support to the taxi industry to help it recover from the effects of the pandemic. This includes a promise to reduce the cost of Compulsory Third Party with a CTP assistance payment, which it says will save operators $6184 over two years. 

Industrial relations

Malinauskas and his team have also committed to ‘modernising’ workplaces in South Australia, through a number of industrial relations policies. These include expanding portable long service leave beyond the building and construction sector; introducing criminal offences for wage theft and industrial manslaughter; and applying labour hire laws to all occupations. 

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