SACOSS is promoting its policy platform to all parties contesting the election and our aim is to get broad cross-party support for all the policies and initiatives we are proposing. Our analysis of the parties' positions is in two parts:
- Major parties' responses to each of our policy proposals
This outlines the responses of the three parties who will be contesting to form government in South Australia, that is: Labor, Liberal and SA Best.
- Other parties responses
There are currently 4 other parties in the Legislative Council. These parties have crucial votes on legislation and can also play valuable roles in highlighting issues in and outside parliament and promoting policy initiatives that the major parties are not considering.
The scoring of policies on report cards is always difficult because we are not always comparing like-for-like, and the government party obviously has the advantages of Treasury and Departmental resources to assess and develop proposals, whereas a wise opposition needs to be more prudent in what they promise. By contrast, smaller parties not likely to be in government can make promises more easily. This was taken into account in assessing the policy positions.
For a quick summary, see our media release.
Major Party Responses to the SACOSS agenda
The tables below shows the positions of the three parties that will be key in contesting/forming government in the lower house in this election in relation to each of the policies in the SACOSS policy platform. The assessment is based on published party policies, or responses directly to SACOSS. It largely does not take account of existing government policy as it is assumed (unless there are announcements to the contrary) that these will continue, and that the SACOSS agenda highlights particular gaps which need addressing.
The scoring system is simple:
|Party is supporting the policy and will implement it if in government|
|Party supports some of the policy and will implement part of it if in government|
|Party rejects or will not be implementing the policy|
|Party has not explicitly rejected policy, but has other policies opposing direction|
|Party supports a different initiative which equally addresses the same issue|
|Party has made no response on this policy|
Where possible, the source of the policy is stated or the symbols link to the relevant party policy document.
Download the major party responses to the SACOSS platform.
|Go to parties policies on|
|A comprehensive approach to DI (statewide plan/policy package)||
Committed to state strategy; schools internet & laptops, fishbone broadband & Dept of Digital Innovation
Committed to state plan, mobile black spot program, & wi-fi audit & other measures
|Provision of free public wi-fi in areas of digital disadvantage||
Dept to look into it
|Un-metered (free) access to government websites||Will consider, but unable to commit without costing|
|Funding for increased data on digital inclusion in regional areas|
|Project to increase sector's digital capability||
|Will consider funding request in next budget|
|Online education for prisoners||See Health, Housing Justice below|
|Maintain services for non-digital citizens|
Digital inclusion has been the flagship of the SACOSS election campaign, and we were particularly keen to see the parties develop initiatives to address this emerging area of social and economic disadvantage. Accordingly, the headline ask is more important than the particular policies. Both Labor and Liberal have committed to the development of a statewide Digital Inclusion Plan, while SA Best has proposed an audit of connectivity gaps. The parties have also announced big digital inclusion measures beyond SACOSS policy proposals as referenced above.
SCORE: Labor 4.5 stars, Liberal 4 stars, SA Best 3 stars
Cost of Living
|Replace flat-rate energy concession to a percentage of the bill||
Support for investigation
|Land tax concessions for landlords investing in energy efficiency||Will discuss||
|Free home energy audits for non-concession low income households||Will discuss|
|Ensure REES energy audits are done by NGO vulnerability experts||Prefer status quo, but open to discuss||Will benchmark for quality|
|Introduce a residential energy efficiency disclosure scheme||Not considering it, but open to discuss|
|Water supply charges to default to landlords not renters||
Open to Review
|Revise processes to engage water customers before cut-off||
|Provision of free public w-fi in areas of digital disadvantage||
New Dept to look into it
|Un-metered (free) access to government websites|
Cost of living was perhaps the most disappointing area of the report card. SACOSS' major proposal was the move to a percentage based energy concession. While SA Best agreed to investigate it, neither Labor or Liberal even went that far. However, Labor has made a number of welcome changes in concessions in recent years (indexation and a new cost of living concession), and the new deal with Origin Energy potentially provides considerable cost savings to concession card holders. In addition, the Virtual Power Plant aimed initially at Housing Trust house clients will assist a number of people on concessions.
The other aspect of energy costs is the overall system design and prices, and all parties have announced policies to bring down energy prices. The comparison here is difficult as the modelling is highly assumption-dependent and price is only one consideration - alongside dependency and climate impact. Of the key policy proposals, SACOSS rates the Virtual Power Plant announced by Labor as the initiative most likely to benefit the broadest number of households on the lowest incomes, but we also acknowledge that the Liberal Household Storage Subsidy Scheme will be means-tested to enable low income households to access the scheme while SA Best's community-based retailer will also be targeted to middle and low income households.
SCORE: Labor 3 stars, Liberal 2 stars, SA Best 2 stars
Children, Young People and Families
SACOSS welcomes the fact that all parties have committed to the introduction of legislation to mandate harm prevention and early intervention initiatives. While SA Best has agreed to all SACOSS policy proposals, at the time of assessment they had not announced a detailed child wellbeing policy.
SCORE: Labor 3 stars, Liberal 3.5 stars, SA Best 4 stars
|Commit to agreed principles for funding of NFP sector (DPC 044)|
|Commit to standard indexation policy (as per Cabinet decision)|
|Finalise negotiations and implement standard NFP funding contracts|
|Extend Late Payment of Government Debt Act to all NFPs|
|Project to increase sector's digital capability||Agreement to work with SACOSS to explore project||Will consider funding request in next budget|
We are particularly pleased that all parties have supported the current moves to improve the funding regime for not-for-profits – and that Liberal and Labor have announced additional initiatives to support the sector.
The Labor Party have promised portable long service leave for workers in our sector which would be a major contribution to supporting and retaining workers in our sector, while the Liberals promise to abolish fees for DCSI screening of volunteers is welcome in minimising a cost and barrier to volunteering in our sector. Labor have also agreed to abolish such fees for volunteers over 50 years old (Source: Parties' responses to Volunteering SA&NT survey).
SCORE: Labor 4.5 stars, Liberal 4 stars, SA Best 4 stars
Gambling Harm Prevention
Of the major parties SA Best score is the highest, although the strongest policy addressing gambling harm prevention from poker machines in this election is the Greens Policy to remove pokies from clubs and pubs, limiting them to the casino.
The Liberal and Labor position essentially support the existing harm prevention measures in relation to poker machines (hence the 1 star rating), although both note the problems with the rise of online gambling, which SACOSS agrees is an issue which needs urgent attention.
SCORE: Labor 1 star, Liberal 1 star, SA Best 4.5 stars
Health, Housing and Justice
|Establish a Connected Health for All Strategy||
Explicit support, but SA Best health policy is largely hospital focused
|Separate Chief Public Health Officer from Chief Medical Officer Role|
|Establish 2 comprehensive primary health care centres||
Will seek Fed funding for centres, but other initiatives inc $15 for preventive health
|Would need to consult further given major investment required||
In principle support
|Commit to resourcing mental health strategy|
|Increase stock of public housing|
|Online education for prisoners|
|Implement income-based fines||
Open to investigation
Two very pleasing things to emerge from all the parties in response to our Health policy proposals were a) renewed recognition from all parties of the importance of investments in disease prevention and early intervention through community based primary health services – expressed differently by each of the parties; and, b) unanimous commitment to maintain and develop stronger community services and support for people who have mental health issues.
The other big policy area in this section of our report card is Housing. Given its importance we were disappointed no party was prepared to categorically say that there would be more public housing at the end of their term of government than at the beginning but we welcome Labor’s commitment to invest $150m in Housing Trust stock renewal. The Liberal party proposes a major audit of current stock amalgamating the functions of Renewal SA and Housing SA, and a 30% increase in stock transfers to community housing providers with a view to a building a robust social and public housing sector. The Labor party points to existing investments in stock renewal, stimulus investments, stock transfers to community housing organisations, the previously announced “New Foundations” accommodation and support service for prisoners on release, a new $8m investment to support people transition to secure housing from homelessness. SA-Best supports the idea of a stock audit and sees a priority in ensuring older people have access to secure, affordable and appropriate housing. While the parties all get some credit for their initiatives, Labor’s suite of policies clearly appears most likely to help move back to growth in the public housing estate.
SCORE: Labor 4 stars, Liberal 3.5 stars, SA Best 4 stars
Tax, Expenditure and Sector Funding
|Commit to no un-announced net cuts to health & community services|
Labor have committed to no un-announced cuts to NGO health and community services, but have already announced an efficiency dividend/cut and there is no detail on how this will impact on the sector. However, given that no cuts to NGO services have been announced as part of the efficiency dividend, we take the commitment at face value and expect funding of services to be maintained.
At the time of assessment, the Liberals had not released their election funding, but have promised large tax cuts which will cut available revenue and have also indicated that they will use "efficiency dividends" to balance the budget.
SA Best has given a strong commitment to preserving funding for sector services, but has also promised substantial tax cuts and the full election costings are unclear.
Authorised by Ross Womersley, 47 King William Road, Unley SA 5061