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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Daniel Mookhey walks the line with NSW budget

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NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey. Photo supplied.

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey’s second budget in nine months, unveiled last week, was a classic Labor document in its support for education and health, somewhat brave in its slugging of property investors, and disingenuous in its blaming of the GST carve-up for the financial woes of NSW going forward.

This time around there were no expensive sweeteners to ease the cost of living, no initiatives specifically aimed at women and no Liberal-style cash splashes.

Instead, the boy from Blacktown announced a $6.6 billion investment in social housing, new incentives for bulk-billing in the form of a payroll tax rebate for qualifying GPs, and some new support for flood-affected communities across the state. Generally though the focus was all on Sydney, particularly Western Sydney.

Parramatta’s light rail will be extended, as promised, to the tune of $2 billion, and the new Western Sydney International Airport will benefit from over a billion dollars to be spent on new roads snaking across what was once quiet, semi-rural country, servicing an airport which will pollute the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

The NSW budget also includes a plan for potentially 21,000 new homes to be built on surplus government land, mostly in and around Sydney, as the Emerald City continues to expand.

Education spending includes $3.6 billion for schools in Western Sydney, with $1.4 billion allocated for new and upgraded schools across regional areas of the state.

Logging Cherry Tree State Forest. Photo Dailan Pugh.

Trees can’t vote

Despite the big talk of Chris Minns and his Labor team at the last election, NSW nature continues to be left out in the cold, just as it was under Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perrottet.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW noted that the government is spending just 1.61 per cent of its latest budget on the environment (an even lower figure than last year’s effort), with increased spending on renewables doing nothing to address the biodiversity and extinction crisis unfolding across the state, and taxpayers continuing to foot the bill for the destruction of native forests.

As yet, there are no publicly announced plans to follow Queensland, Victoria and WA and end native logging in NSW.

NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford responded to the 2024 budget by saying, ‘Whilst Premier Chris Minns loves spruiking the beauty of NSW nature and posting selfies in pretty places, it’s clear biodiversity isn’t a priority for this government.’

The ongoing destruction also makes no sense economically, with the native hardwood division of Forestry Corporation losing $44 million over the last three years.

Former Liberal treasurer and minister for energy, Matt Kean. Photo supplied.

Kean’s parting shot

With exquisite timing, former NSW energy minister and treasurer Matt Kean chose budget day to announce his departure from the political landscape, stealing attention from his replacement’s big annual moment in the media spotlight.

Before going through the revolving door to undoubtedly greener pastures as the head of the Climate Change Authority, the former leadership contender told the press, ‘I’m sorry to take you away from the worst NSW budget in modern history, but I’ve got another announcement to make today.

‘Today, after thirteen years as the member for Hornsby, I will be retiring from parliament.’

Mr Kean used his final political statement to continue to defend the indefensible behaviour of his ‘great friend and mentor’ Gladys Berejikilian, claiming she had been unfairly savaged by ICAC and the media, despite her proven and corrupt wrongdoing.

For all that, Kean was also someone who publicly accepted that climate change was, in his words,  ‘the challenge of our generation’. His resignation represents the departure of one of the last prominent moderate Liberals from the state and potentially federal scene, clearing the decks for someone more in the spirit of the times, i.e. another populist utterly disconnected from reality.

Who will be the next former Young Liberal to stumble into the NSW spotlight?

David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

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  1. The mystery is solved – Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has appointed former New South Wales treasurer Matt Kean as the Chair of the Climate Change Authority. good choice!

  2. Yes David, great Labor budget wasn’t it, the type of budget that really helps Aussie battlers and following in the footsteps of an equally great Federal budget.

    • Yeah keith ..your Guru The Honourable Albo
      Just gave the new Governor General a payrise
      Over 200 grand ..her annual salary in over 700k
      Seriously Albo is paid more annually than
      President Biden ..just about to hand themselves
      a 3.5 percent payrise…claims of those who approve such payrises are independent..yeah all ex politician’s…and this will include all ..including those Greens . In a cost of living crisis you would think the Greens would put this payrise on ice
      Until the country finds its feet again ..but no
      They will take it ..hypocrisy in the first order..
      The most over governed country in the world..
      Oh by the way keith ..all those corporates not to happy with Dutton bringing up the Nuclear
      Discussion again ..how many countries use
      Nuclear power ? Let’s face it Keith that complete
      Failure Bowen never ever has he been a success.
      Pontificating that renewable energies are cheaper
      I see never ..has the labor government informed the Taxpayer’s how much this madness is costing us to go to net zero ..Nuclear emmisions ? Zero !
      Australia once had the cheapest electricity
      Costs to the population in the world ..
      How did it come to this Prime Minister ?

      • Oh Mr Barrow, I don’t know whether old Mate Joachim or yourself is carrying on like a spoiled brat the most?, your both working yourselves up into a state of paranoia, for God’s sake get some medication, the Labor Govt has made it a lot cheaper you know, along with visits to your local GP. Happy to help.

        • Keith just for your information…i pay 10k
          a year Medicare levy surcharge an annually
          Thats not cheap Keith..and to be fair this gos
          Way back the entire time the coalition were in Government regarding the levy/ Tax
          Had private for years ..not worth it anymore
          To expensive…once again Keith Australia 🇦🇺
          Enjoyed the cheapest Electicity costs in the world..no the dearest ? Please explain Keith .
          Send all those resources to other countries to keep warm or cool ..but not Australian’s..
          Next Keith ?

          • Australia DOES NOT have the dearest energy prices in the world. Where’d you pluck that from? And the increasing percentage in the system, generated by renewables is bringing them down.

          • Well good for you old son, I am truly happy that you do pay your way, but keep up the whinging and whining you are a glutton for punishment indeed.

      • Mr Barrow, I seriously doubt that the Labor Govt needs any lecturing by the likes of you and the climate change denying Neanderthals in the Coalition, who are either totally incapable of understanding the science behind global warming, or are just playing a destructive role in order to scuttle the transition to cheaper, renewable energy. We are more than happy to take our chances at the next election, getting worried are you?

  3. David, I would advise that some more research is needed on your part. You have stated that Education is a benefactor of this budget. In short, it is not. All schools in NSW have had their savings funds that were designed for infrastructure taken back by the government. One school in Ballina lost 2.9 million dollars in this move. All schools have had their funding cut by 1.5% statewide in this budget. Schools are struggling. Talk to the Federation if you want to know more. Our schools were already not being fully funded, and this budget has brought further cut-backs. Good investigative journalism involves…….investigation. In claiming Education was a winner from this budget, you are very very wrong.

    • Yes, the Education story that the ALP desperately wants to bury.
      How good is it that Minns / Mookhey keep giving the gambling industry $’shundreds of thousands in tax concessions and slugs our already under funded schools for the bill to keep Gambling Inc in the style that it has become accustomed too.

      Our Keith, “great Labor budget wasn’t it”. Yeah, sure, right, just ask the schools.
      The greatness of it all, just ask Gambling Inc.

      • No old son, we don’t take lectures from fanatical inner-city Greens with an axe to grind seriously, we will just ask the voters at the next election, they do the hiring and firing my poor man.

  4. Every billion dollars a State loses in GST to other States, is a billion it doesn’t have to spend. NSW claims its around $12 billion, thats a lot of billions we don’t have to spend isn’t it? The difference between proper funding of infrastructure projects and or being in the red or the black?
    At least we don’t have the LNP “Lunatic Nuclear Party”, wasting buckets of our money anymore in NSW, or anywhere else on mainland Australia, which has to be a good thing for all concerned!
    And yes Keen, the last Liberal moderate, instead of being thrown under it, has jumped from the LNP crazy bus, leaving only the branch stacking fundamentalist factions fighting among themselves, in their never ending culture wars on the commonwealth of Australia! Good to see the Albanese Govt reaching out in this appointment of Keen.


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