Greens Treasury spokesperson Justin Field
The NSW Budget is a missed opportunity to make smart choices on how we invest in people and communities for the future. It fails to answer some of the fundamental questions for all political leaders:
Are things getting better for everyone in NSW? Are we building a fairer and more equitable society and economy, are we investing in the challenges of the future?
Off the back of windfall gains from one off privatisations and once in a generation property speculation in terms of stamp duty gains, this Government has presided over the squandering of some of the state’s most valuable assets, our essential services, has supported the profits of property developers and big business over the community and built mega roads to nowhere that will lock us in to an out-dated infrastructure that they only plan to sell off anyway and see the community pay through the teeth with more tolls and lacking public transport services.
We should judge our economic performance not only on surpluses and GDP growth but on fairness, equity, opportunity, and support for those who are disadvantaged. Our measures of wealth must include our natural assets, clean air, and water, natural habitats and biodiversity, a safe climate and our human assets in terms of time to spend with our children. What matters is what we measure and it is clear we are not measuring the right things.
The government has sold off $53 million of public services and assets since coming to power. Their privatisation agenda is how they have brought the budget into ‘surplus’. The bumper stick for the O’Farrell/Baird and now Berijiklian Government is – they came, they saw and they sold. But what has the public got to show for it? For the loss of these often essential and monopoly assets and services?
NSW still faces growing inequality, some of the worst housing affordability in the world, massive queues for public housing and crowded public transport. Energy prices are spiralling up while we fail to take action to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. There is growing youth unemployment in regional areas, with 23.7 per cent youth unemployment on the South Coast. . There is not one mention of climate change or building renewable energy in the NSW Treasurer’s speech, yet it looms as a key challenge now and in the future. The Budget has failed to come up with any plan to address climate change. This budget should be judged not on the year ahead or four years ahead but on its vision for the future of this state. It must be a vision on building a better and fairer community and a healthy and vibrant natural environment.