NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance’s first budget was written to win the next election with lots of bright shiny new projects to please marginal seat voters, all paid for on the back of once-only assets sales.
While services and environmental protection are starved of funds, the Treasurer continued to find tax breaks for the big end of town and even more money for private schools.
Greens NSW MPs have composed a budget wrap to summarise how the pre-election budget will affect communities, the environment and the future of the state.
Key features of the NSW 2014/15 budget:
- An election year budget that focused on headline grabbing project announcements while ignoring the impacts on services and the environment of the last three years of the O’Farrell/Baird government.
- Revenue loss from the privatisation of ports and foreshadowed impact of the privatisation of wires and poles
- Billions to be spent on wasteful and ill-conceived transport projects and road tunnels , such as the WestConnex Tollway and very little for integrated public transport solutions for Sydney.
Revenue losses to the big end of town
The budget will undermine the state’s future revenue base, creating pressure for post-election budget cuts on service delivery and environmental protection:
- The business sector who will reap the benefits of more than $780 million over the next four years and more than $1.6 billion in subsequent forward estimate periods from the abolition of a number of transfer and duty taxes.
- Poker machine tax concessions to clubs continues to cost the state more than $800 million a year
- Port Privatisation: income and tax equivalent payments of $99 million from the Ports will tumble to just $4 million next year before disappearing for good. Electricity network privatisation will be the same story but thirty times larger.
Key portfolio announcements:
- $3.5 billion over the next four years towards the wasteful and unnecessary WestConnex tollway, all before the Environmental Impact Statement is even released.
- $863 million for the unintegrated North West rail link shuttle service that will carry fewer passengers than a double deck service.
- Regional areas miss out again with no funding for regional public transport.
- Next to nothing in this budget about improving our current public transport system, such as prioritising signalling upgrades and building park and ride facilities
- A feasibility study into a Western Sydney light rail network – a project that the Greens have been advocating for.
- TAFE will experience a further $56 million cut in real terms, the equivalent of another 500 teachers and other staff lost.
- The budget also revealed the next step in privatising TAFE including 27.6% of all vocational education and training funding put to the market, with 69% of that money going to private providers
- Non-government school funding will increase by 4% increase, while public high schools will increase by only 3.5%.
- No vision for funding of public schools after the Abbott government’s Gonski money disappears.
- Welcome money for some new schools but public primary school capital expenditure is down by $42 million in real terms despite increases in the number of students enrolled
- A 24% decline in the number of public education students in special schools, support classes and receiving special education support in integrated settings since 2011.
- The Government has again failed to display the long-term vision required to deliver what the evidence shows we need – a major investment in prevention and early supports for vulnerable families, combined with secure and affordable housing to address the massive social housing waiting list.
- Despite modest increases in child protection and out-of-home care budgets, the number of risk reports and number of children in out-of-home care are expected to remain high in 2014-15.
- Social housing accounts for only 2.5% of the Government’s proposed capital expenditure, while tens of thousands remain on the waiting list.
- The Government has again failed to deliver on funding for public libraries – the subsidy to local government has remained unchanged since 1997.
- Environment funding stands still, with no extra money for much needed environmental protection measures or expansion of national parks.
- Staff cuts at the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
- At a critical time in the effort to tackle climate change, no boost for clean energy generation, with just $23 million for research and development of low emissions technologies.
- Band-aid solutions to rising power bills with $228 million to assist eligible households. This will fail to bring down electricity costs in the long term
- At least $113 million has been taken from the Workers Compensation scheme by way of cuts to employer premiums rather than returning benefits to injured workers suffering as a result of the drastic cuts to the scheme in June 2012.
Compiled and prepared by
Your Greens NSW MPs