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Labor on the NSW budget

Geoff Helisma |

The NSW Labor Party has plenty to say about Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s “people’s budget”, with particular focus on the “$1.6 billion … to be ripped from the budgets of the agencies that are delivering our services every day, [while] at the same time the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on external consultants”.

This, the Public Service Association’s general secretary Stewart Little says, could lead to 11,799 redundancies within a year, to the state’s 390,000 public servants, a proportion of whom are employed in the valley.

Shadow minister for primary industries, lands and western NSW Mick Veitch reckons “the economic divide between Sydney and the rest of NSW has reached alarming levels”.
“This year’s budget continued a trend of job cuts, service downgrades and under-investment on vital infrastructure,” he said in a media release.
“Few in the bush would be feeling any better off as a result of this budget.
“Sydney has continued to get the lion’s share of the budget– with less than 15 percent of the total government expenditure on roads going to country NSW.”
Shadow tourism minister Penny Sharpe MLC says the NSW government’s decision to cut funding from the state’s tourism promotion and support agency, Destination NSW, from “$206million last year to $173 million this year” is “short-sighted”.
According to CVC’s website, “in 2015/16, the total tourism and hospitality sales in Clarence Valley Council area was $210.7m, [and] the total value added was $107.4m”.
On the environmental front, Penny Sharpe, who is also shadow environment minister, says the government is “cutting $66 million out of the state’s chief environment agency, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), in addition to a large underspend of $165 million from last year’s budget”.
“This cut and underspend means that there is $231 million less funding available to spend on the environmental challenges facing NSW,” she said.
“Less money for national parks, tackling plastic pollution, solving the waste and recycling crisis and saving the more than 1,000 threatened species in NSW.”
She highlighted issues such as “pursuing renewal of the 20-year regional forest agreements without reference to proper science or the impact of these agreements on the state’s ability to combat dangerous climate change; and failing to protect the marine environment by watering down sanctuary zones within marine parks”, both of which have potential ramifications for the valley.
Shadow minister for skills Prue Car was unimpressed with the 100,000 newly announced free places for apprentices at TAFEs.
“Unlike every other budget before this one, the number of students enrolled at TAFE campuses across NSW and the numbers of teachers sacked has been deliberately concealed to hide the truth from the public,” she said.
“Based on the 2017-18 Budget and leaked internal TAFE documents, we know that since 2011 there are 175,000 fewer students enrolled, 5,700 teachers and support staff have been sacked and campuses have been closed,” she said.
“These ‘connected learning centres’ and ‘mobile training units’ have become synonymous with campus closures, particularly in regional towns.”

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