OUT-OF-TOUCH BEREJIKLIAN GOVERNMENT HOARDS THE CASH IN BUDGET OF MISGUIDED PRIORITIES

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Families in NSW will continue to shoulder the burden of a rising cost of living with tolls, flat wages, rising electricity costs and unaffordable housing, despite a gloating Berejiklian Government sitting on a hoard of cash.

In a budget of misguided priorities the Government has chosen to bank a $4.5 billion surplus rather than bring down our looming debt, assist hard-working families struggling to balance the household budget or spend it on essential services such as schools and hospitals.

In health, it has deceived communities who were told to expect a billion-dollar bonanza for new or upgraded hospitals but instead today received small change (see below) and facilities not delivered until the early to mid-2020s.

Much of that surplus is off the back of a surging Sydney property market with Tuesday’s stamp duty haul a record $11.8 billion – more than double in size since the Coalition came to office.

Its policy of unrelenting privatisation is putting the state’s finances at risk. After selling $50 billion in assets, it is running out of things to sell and is no longer able to rely on the enduring income of those once publicly-owned assets.

The Berejiklian Government has set the state up for massive debts in coming years. In four years, net debt is forecasted to rise to $18.6 billion and total borrowings to exceed $45 billion.

Its narrow agenda of building toll roads and pork-barelling expensive tunnels continues at the expense of essential services such as hospitals, schools and TAFE.

HEALTH

The Berejiklian Government has inflicted a cruel hoax on communities. It spent the past three weeks promising billions but delivering comparatively little.                                                   

  • Tweed Hospital was promised $534 million, but today it received only $2.5 million – and not completed until 2025;
  • Campbelltown Hospital was promised $632 million, but today received only $5 million – and not completed until 2024;
  • Maitland Hospital was promised $450 million, but today received only $5 million – and not completed until 2024;
  • Shellharbour Hospital was promised $250 million, but today received only $5 million – and not completed until 2022;
  • Concord Hospital was promised $341 million, but today the budget papers show only $10 million – and not completed until 2023;
  • Wyong Hospital was promised $200 million, but today the budget papers show only $10 million – and not completed until 2021;
  • Inverell Hospital was promised $30 million, but today the budget papers show only $5 million – and not completed until 2020;
  • Hornsby Hospital was promised $200 million, but today it received only $20 million – and not completed until 2021;
  • Coffs Harbour Hospital was last week promised $156 million, but today it received only $5 million – and not completed until 2021;
  • Nepean was promised $550 million, today it  received only $34 million – and not completed until 2023; and
  • Prince of Wales Randwick was promised $720 million, but today received only $30 million – and not completed until 2025;

EDUCATION

After six years of neglect for the state’s schools the Berejiklian Government is playing catch up.

The Budget reveals that:

  • Funds announced today will only deliver 1,500 of the 7,500 additional classrooms needed;
  • Thousands of students will be forced to wait after 11 new schools and major upgrades were delayed in the budget;
  • Of the 28 schools announced as either new or undergoing a major upgrade 13 have been previously announced;
  • The maintenance backlog sits at $775 million after a savage $270 million cut to capital works funding in the Liberals first budget in 2011;

The decimation of TAFE continues. Budget documents confirmed TAFE recurrent funding was cut by over $105 million and capital funding was cut by $30.4 million in 2016-17.

Since 2012, the Liberal-Nationals have sacked 5,689 teachers and support staff. There are 63,019 fewer enrolments in TAFE than in 2012.

ROADS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

The Government’s decision to press ahead with the Northern Beaches Tunnel – tipping $103 million in planning money - shows how misguided its priorities are, with more deserving projects in Western Sydney not receiving a cent, most notably the Western Metro.

It brings to more than $20 billion the amount of unfunded infrastructure projects, which have little chance of seeing completion under the current forecast of state finances.

The Parramatta Light Rail has been left stranded – with only $25m in planning money in the budget.  

This budget short-changes the regions by $1 billion after the Government failed to uphold their commitment that 30 per cent of Restart NSW funds in would be committed for regional NSW.

 Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“This is a budget of misguided priorities delivered by a Government that is increasingly out of touch with the community it purports to serve. They shouldn’t be crowing about this budget but hanging their heads in shame.

“It tells you all you need to know about this Government’s misguided priorities that it is spending more on the planning and building of a toll road to the Northern Beaches than it is on Campbelltown, Tweed, Concord, Coffs Harbour and Prince of Wales hospitals combined.

“We’ve all been deceived over the last fortnight about spending on hospitals. When you look at the budget today we learn that none of the upgrades will be delivered until the mid-2020s – it’s a cruel hoax.

“The citizens of NSW will be wondering why if this Government has got so much money in the bank, life under the Liberal National Government is getting harder, not easier.”

Quotes attributable Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park

“Stamp duty now makes up a third of the state’s tax take making us dangerously reliant on the Sydney property market for our future prosperity.

“They have sold the house to pay off the credit card.

“They call themselves good money managers but they botched the biggest tax reform in a generation – the fire and emergency services levy – and taxpayers are the ones that will pay.

“They are ‘proud’ of a housing market that has locked an entire generation out of home ownership.”