21st June 2017:
The NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, has firmly placed families and communities at the centre of this year’s budget with a focus on hospitals and school building projects. As the Treasurer stated “our economic and fiscal position is the envy of the world” and this budget is about “delivery, not just promises, with every community across New South Wales sharing the benefits of our State’s success.” In other words, let’s spend big, show don’t tell, and let’s ensure everyone is happy when we next go to the polls.
The feedback from The Nationals’ loss of the Orange by-election last year to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party appears to still be front of mind for the backbenchers of the Berejiklian Government – and this budget directly appeals to communities which they had lost touch with under the previous Premier’s stewardship.
Directly appealing to the traditional areas of Labor policy, the NSW Government has taken a page out of their Federal colleagues’ Budget and is trying to make obvious and immediate differences in NSW residents’ everyday lives.
Health – Hospitals, hospitals and more hospitals
The aim to create world-class healthcare and hospitals is the message the NSW Government wants us to take from this Budget, with hospital upgrades to Randwick (Prince of Wales) Hospital ($720 million), Campbelltown Hospital ($632 million), Nepean Hospital ($550 million) and Concord ($341 million), to name a few.
In addition, the Government is spending $100 million for palliative care, including funding for new specialists and to train 300 nurses and allied health staff and 300 scholarships to boost skills in the field. Almost $7 million on services will be spent in Western Sydney that will include a 24-hour, seven day a week on-call specialist palliative care service at home.
The state government also has its eye on childhood obesity and has committed $100 for every school-aged student for sport participation and membership fees starting in January 2018.
In the mental health space, community based mental health services will receive a $20 million funding injection, recurring over the next four years. The funding includes:
- $2.4 million for older people community mental health services and the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network.
- $2.2 million for child and adolescent mental health teams.
- $4.8 million for psychosocial support services.
Infrastructure – Build, build, and more build
In a direct nod to the national party room, a $1.3 billion regional fund to spend on roads, water and community facilities including a $100 million cultural program investment.
Nearly $73 billion has been committed to unclogging roads and improving public transport including:
- 446 new or replacement buses, costing $170 million. $10 million for extra ferry services to and from Parramatta.
- $6 billion for WestConnexmotorway and Sydney Metro train line.
- $40 million to start planning three new motorways – the M12, M9 and M6.
- $1 billion for new Western Sydney roads.
- $200 million improving accessibility to public transport, including key measures for disabled people.
- Funding to start planning: Western Metro rail line, second Harbour road tunnel, northern beaches tunnel.
Education – Spend, spend, and more spend
The Government is stating it is the “biggest NSW government investment in education infrastructure in history”. The funding will pay for 120 new and upgraded schools that the Government says will create 32,000 more student places and 1,500 new classrooms across the state, and brings total spending on new and upgraded schools to $4.2 billion to 2020-21.
$47 million for 700 new preschool places including $200,000 for early childhood teaching scholarships, $217 million injection into the start strong program, $56 million to help children suffering from mental health problems and $30 million in continued funding to assist children with disabilities.
In additional to the big ticket items the Government is addressing housing affordability by introducing stamp duty concessions for first home buyers, appealing to art lovers with a $224 million for the Art Gallery of NSW – and don’t forget the Koalas, who will receive $800,000 through conservation projects.
It’s a Budget that reminds us that elections are won and lost on local issues and after the dark days of privatisation, it’s time to spend big to secure a third term in power.
- $4.5 billion surplus for 2016-17
- $72.7 billion over four years for infrastructure investment
- $4.3 billion over four years for new schools and upgrades
- $21.7 billion to be spent on health services next year
- $7.7 billion over four years in health infrastructure
- Close to zero net debt – the best result since 1996-97
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