Teachers and healthcare workers are the big winners in this year’s NSW Budget.
In its first budget in more than a decade, the NSW Labor Government is also providing fee relief for parents of pre-school children and investing $2.2 billion in housing.
“We are looking for every available opportunity we can to provide practical assistance to people,” said treasurer Daniel Mookhey upon his release of his first budget.
“It’s about making sure that we are fixing the fundamentals about what’s wrong with our essential services and it’s about responsibly repairing the State’s finances.”
Here’s Hope’s quick guide to the 2023/24 NSW Budget, under Premier Chris Minns.
Teachers will receive an “historic” 12 per cent pay rise in the budget.
The entry-level pay for teacher is now up from around $75,000 to $85,000.
Top tier teachers will receive an increase from around $113,000 to $122,100.
The injection of cash is coming from a new Essential Services Fund worth $3.6 billion.
The fund will also cover pay rises for other essential workers such as firefighters, nurses and paramedics, as well as other frontline workers.
The Government is also splashing out on Western Sydney.
As part of its pre-election pledges, there will be 24 new and 51 upgraded primary and high schools in the region. The new primary schools will each have their own preschool centre.
Sydney’s west will also receive $3 billion for new and upgraded hospitals.
In a $100 million package, the families of up to 64,000 children will get $500 in fee relief for children in long daycare preschool programs.
The Government will also build 100 new preschools at a cost of $769 million.
On the downside, the popular Active Kids vouchers – previously worth $200 a year per child to help pay fees for organised sports – are being rebooted. The vouchers will now be available under a means-tested scheme and will include two $50 vouchers.
Tolls & transport
In another fulfilled pre-election promise, road tolls will be capped at $60 a week. The $561 million scheme will benefit more than 700,000 motorists.
The Parramatta Light Rail will also get $200 million boost for “Stage 2” which will link Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park (with 14 stops). Stage 1 (connecting Westmead to Carlingford, via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia) is expected to open in May next year.
The Minns Government is investing $2.2 billion in housing and infrastructure.
This includes $1.5 billion to build infrastructure networks (schools, hospitals, parks, roads) across Sydney to support the construction of new homes.
And $300 million will go to Landcom, the state-owned land and property development organisation. This is aimed at accelerating the construction of thousands of new homes, including affordable housing.
Still, some housing advocates say the package does not properly address the housing and rental crisis in NSW, including the fact that no cap has been placed on rental rate rises.
“We wonder when the Government is going to have the courage to confront the crisis,” the Community Housing Industry Association’s Mark Degotardi told the Guardian.
“It’s a pretty underwhelming centrepiece, if it truly is the centrepiece of this budget.”
Women’s health centres throughout NSW will get a $34 million boost over the next four years.
The cash injection will enable the centres, which provide support for thousands of vulnerable and at-risk women, to hire more staff.
The budget involves a projected deficit of $7.8 billion, but in 2024-25, the State is projected to have a surplus of $844 million.
But the treasurer said the surplus could not be guaranteed given variables such as the Russian-Ukraine war and climate change.
“I’m certainly not going to suggest this surplus is locked and loaded,” he said.
“Ambitions and aspirations”
In delivering his first budget, treasurer Mookhey reflected on his youth in the Sydney western suburb of Merrylands, where his neighbours worked in factories, quarries and refineries.
“Today people in my old neighbourhood have very different jobs, but their ambitions and aspirations have stayed the same, ” Mr Mookhey said.
“They expect honest businesses to make good profits, they expect their hard work to be rewarded with greater wealth and they extend the hand of friendship to those experiencing adversity.
“The budget I deliver is a budget driven by those values, made for a state who voted for an energetic government… with a vision for what this State can become.”
Opposition leader Mark Speakman will deliver his budget reply speech on Thursday.
For more information visit here.