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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Budget a missed opportunity

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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.

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  1. Greens Treasury spokesperson Justin Field states “The government has sold off $53 million of public services and assets since coming to power”.

    Mr Field needs to do his sums again.

    More like $53 billion!

  2. Field complains that the budget leaves us lacking in public transport services – that is certainly true in Northern NSW. But what should the Greens expect. During the last council elections Green counselors were surveyed and the only suggestion they had to improve public transport here was to reinstate the rail line – an approach which every expert report on transport in the region has rejected as incapable of meeting our dispersed and increasingly coastal population’s needs. In my shire the Ballina Greens had no specific policy whatsoever on public transport. So in the State budget is it any surprise that Sydney is getting new trains – something its five million population can support – while we get nothing. Why should the State government bother improving the bus services when not enough people who should care, take any interest in improving them. Much more fun to stand defiantly in front of a Toots banner than to read and think through who actually needs public transport, where they live and where they need to go, and then press local members to get the government to deliver what its own reports tells us is needed to get people where they need to go: better bus services. The member for Ballina now appears to recognise that the rail will not serve the region’s needs, but it is difficult for her to lobby for better public transport in Sydney if her constituents are not behind her in our region.


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