Victorian budget 2022 LIVE updates: Energy bill rebates, healthcare funding on the agenda as Tim Pallas hands down state budget

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Setting the scene

Josh Gordon, acting state political editor at The Age, wrote a good piece this past weekend looking at key markers in the budget.

It featured some great graphs highlighting the key moving parts.

This chart shows the state’s rising net debt balance.

This one shows that debt as a ratio compared to the size of the state’s economy.

Gordon notes: Whether the high debt matters is a point of conjecture. Leading ratings agency Moody’s has warned of “downgrade pressure” on Victoria’s credit rating, amid concerns the government should be doing more to tackle massive COVID-era public debt levels.

One thing to watch of course is the interest bill which is rising substantially in dollar terms.

But when you look at the cost of servicing that debt against the state’s revenue then the picture is very different.

Read the full piece here.

Watch for the debt number

The size of the state’s debt – and what it has paid for – is going to be a major feature of today’s budget.

David Hayward, an emeritus professor of public policy at RMIT University, wrote a piece this week on the topic.

Here’s a taste:

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas brings down his eighth budget on Tuesday, the last one of Labor’s second term. He seems surprisingly chipper for someone sitting on so much debt, especially now the international credit rating agencies are keen to give him some stick.

A rating downgrade would normally make a Treasurer go weak at the knees, and there is much he will say on Tuesday that might be expected to cause his to wobble. Over the next couple of years, net debt will climb to levels we last saw in the early 1990s, when the Kirner Labor government was turfed from office.

Treasurer Tim will also confirm that our population has shrunk, just like it did back in the early 1990s, partly because Victorians have once again been heading up to Queensland in search of sunnier skies.

So why is Treasurer Tim so chipper?

Next year the economy is likely to grow in real terms by more than 4 per cent and by nearly 10 per cent if we exclude inflation.

The unemployment rate in the regions is at record lows, and in Melbourne next year it is likely to start with a number 3, the first time it’s been that low for at least a generation.

That’s a very different circumstance to 30 years ago, when rising debt was accompanied by a shrinking economy, and an unemployment rate that hit a startling 12.5 per cent.

You can read the full piece here.

Home care to get $700 million boost

The government announced this morning that it would give in-home healthcare a $700 million lift as it tries to free up hospital beds to deal with the pandemic-fuelled jump in elective surgery waiting lists.

Premier Daniel Andrews said expansion of the state’s in-home healthcare service would reduce pressure on the health sector, which continues to be strained by the “long tail” of the pandemic.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley with Premier Daniel Andrews.Credit:Joe Armao

He said the $698 million investment will expand the program – which started as a pilot in 2020 – and allow 15,000 more Victorians to access care at home. It will also help fund telehealth check-ups, he said.

“Today’s budget is all about a pandemic repair plan to make sure that we can treat more patients, give them the very best care and deal with the impacts of this … pandemic,” Andrews said.

He said he received home care in 2021 while he was recovering from a spinal injury. “It’s such a powerful thing to be able to be discharged from hospital to go home,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Good morning and welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Victorian state budget for 2022.

I’m Timna Jacks and I’ll be helming our blog.

Our journalists are still in the media lock-up and we will bring you all the news when the embargo lifts at around 1.30pm.

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