STATE BUDGET: A CON JOB THAT PUTS THE LIBERALS’ STADIUMS FIRST, AND SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS AND SERVICES LAST

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The NSW Labor Opposition has branded the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s pre-election budget a con job that builds new stadiums before schools and hospitals, cuts services and plays catch up after eight years of neglect of the health and education systems.

Today’s budget, the Liberals and Nationals’ eighth and last before the 2019 election, comes after seven years of failure to address the schools overcrowding crisis, to adequately staff hospitals, and prioritising the wrong infrastructure projects.

Only now with an election bearing down on them has the Premier and her government finally woken up to the pressing needs of the state’s schools and hospitals.

Patients in Tweed, Maitland, Westmead, Randwick, Liverpool and Campbelltown have to wait until the mid-2020s for hospital upgrades to be completed, yet the Government will begin the demolition and rebuild of the Sydney Football Stadium by the end of this year, bringing forward $729 million in the budget for the job.

Despite being in its eighth year in office, the Coalition has failed to address the fact that 180,000 new school places are needed in the next 15 years, announcing just 13 new schools and yet none of them have a start or finish date, nor a single dollar next to them, just a total figure of $417 million for “planning” over four years.

And, in a move that demonstrates its wrong priorities when it comes to transport, the Government has ignored an Infrastructure NSW recommendation to shift investment westwards. Rather than plough money into the Metro West fast rail between Parramatta and Sydney’s CBD, it has merely ‘reserved’ $3 billion for it out of a total cost of $16 billion- leaving a $13 billion black hole- preferring to proceed first with its Northern Beaches tunnel.

No construction money has been allocated to the Sydney Gateway and Rozelle Interchange sections of WestConnex, nor for the North-South rail link to the Western Sydney Airport or the second stage of Parramatta Light Rail.

Despite selling $50 billion worth of public assets net debt is forecast to rise from $0 to $28.7 billion in 2021-22.

And, aside from its gimmicks, the Budget forecasts further pain for families with wage growth downgraded again to an anemic 2 per cent.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“This is a Government trying to con its way back into office. The Liberals have committed to funding a stadium this year but many communities will have to wait until 2025 or 2026 for their hospital upgrade.

“A con in education as well. We get an announcement of 170 new and upgraded schools but only 13 of them are actually new.

“A con in TAFE. The Liberals have presided over the gutting of the TAFE system; 175,000 fewer students, over 5,000 staff sacked and yet this Government masquerades as being for TAFE.

“This con is financed by the public through soaring power prices after privatisation and unfair new tolls.

“After neglecting our health and education systems for eight long years, after underfunding our schools, TAFEs and hospitals – suddenly the Liberals have discovered health and education.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park

“After eight years, household budgets have never had it so difficult in NSW.

“Wages growth has been downgraded to two percent and there is no relief in sight for the people of NSW who are being whacked by higher power prices and unfair new tolls.

“This budget continues to put stadiums before schools and hospitals.”