NSW Budget 2017: Boom time budget just the beginning
IT has been billed by the NSW government as the "envy of the western world", a Budget that includes an $11.1 billion spend on health and education infrastructure over the next four years and also boasts a cash giveaway to help parents put their children into sport.
The Daily Telegraph can today also reveal the NSW Budget includes an extra $1 billion put aside for the Western Harbour Road Tunnel and F6 Motorway. This money, a "reservation" from the government's Restart NSW fund that can be found in the Budget Infrastructure Statement, shows it isn't planning to stop building anytime soon.
"Our work is not yet complete," Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.
"This is only the end of the beginning, and I say to the people of NSW, the best is yet to come."
Mr Perrottet told The Daily Telegraph there was $12 billion of reserved funds set aside thanks to the government's electricity privatisation on top of the total $73 billion in infrastructure spending over the next four years announced.
The extra money could be spent on projects like the motorways, major stadium upgrades and the Parramatta Light Rail. It's also an impressive pre-election war chest.
Mr Perrottet declared the Budget the "envy of the western world" as he also unveiled a cost of living giveaway, the Active Kids Rebate; a $100 annual payment for parents for each school-aged child who engage in sport or swimming lessons.
The rebate, to cost the government $207 million over four years, will come in the form of a voucher able to be claimed annually from January 1 to reduce the cost of sport registration or membership fees for after-school and weekend sport.
It will not be means tested.
Mr Perrottet described the measure as "the soul of the Budget" and said it was about achieving the Premier's priority target of reducing childhood obesity by 5 per cent over the next 10 years.
Small businesses and farmers will get some relief with $330 million worth of insurance and tax cuts - with the government abolishing insurance duty for small businesses with turnover of more than $2 million on commercial vehicle insurance and professional indemnity insurance. Duties on crop and livestock insurance will also be abolished. The Budget contained $7.7 billion on building hospitals and $4.2 billion on building schools over four years.
As well as already-announced upgrades at Campbelltown Hospital, Concord and Tweed, Mr Perrottet announced a $720 million upgrade at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick as well as upgrades at 16 other hospitals. There is also planning money for a new hospital at Rouse Hill.
The Opposition accused the government of some smoke and mirrors as only $5 million is being spent on Campbelltown Hospital in 2017-18 and some hospital projects announced will not be completed until 2024.
But Mr Perrottet said the hundreds of millions would flow after initial allocations.
The Budget also contains $1.3 billion for small regional projects in a blatant play to retain votes for the Nationals in the 2019 state election.
As foreshadowed, the surplus for 2016-17 was $4.5 billion with a surplus of $2.7 billion in 2017-18, a $2.1 billion surplus in 2018-19, and $1.5 billion surpluses in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Mr Perrottet pointed out that the GST collect from the federal government had dropped to 79c in the dollar of the amount NSW citizens pay in GST.
If the GST was awarded on a per capita basis, he said, the difference would be $15 billion over four years to NSW government coffers.
The drop-off in GST revenues meant annual cuts required of government departments - known as the "efficiency dividend" - will be increased from 1.5 to 2 per cent a year.
The government not only has achieved zero net debt thanks to its $30 billion sale of the electricity industry but is $7.8 billion in the black.
But debt will rise as the major infrastructure projects like WestConnex and North West and South West Metros are built - with $16.1 billion allocated over the next four years for those projects alone. The government has committed to selling off at least 51 per cent of WestConnex, easing some of that burden.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Question Time: "Our Budget is all about equality of opportunity for everyone in NSW. No matter what your postcode.
"I can't remember a time when we've had the opportunity to invest so much, not just in roads and rail, but in our hospitals and our schools," she said.