News State New South Wales NSW budget preview: Health and education splurge ahead of state poll
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NSW budget preview: Health and education splurge ahead of state poll

nsw budget
The premier, treasurer, Education Minister Rob Stokes and Penrith Public School students and principal last week. Photo: AAP
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The election-year New South Wales budget is shaping up to woo voters with cash for core issues on health, education and cost of living.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will deliver the 2018-19 budget on Tuesday, though much of the government’s vision was revealed in the weeks prior.

A strong surplus has allowed the government to go big on core voter issues in the lead up to the state election in March next year.

Almost one in three dollars from the budget will go to health, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said over the weekend.

More initiatives will be revealed on Tuesday, the Premier said, taking the 2018-19 health spend to $23 billion.

Here’s what we know so far.

Health

Almost 1400 extra nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health workers will be recruited for NSW hospitals.

Hampers will also be given to new mothers, including $150 worth of supplied baby items and educational booklets, as part of a $157 million support package to ease cost of living for new families.

The funding will boost the number of midwives and family health nurses, and invest in testing and treatments for children’s diseases.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard last week announced an additional 700 paramedics and 50 ambulance call centre staff would be hired over the next four years to reduce response times, paramedic fatigue and bolster safety.

Mental health units will get a $700 million boost, directed towards children and teenagers, and new mothers.

An additional 260 mental health workers will also be hired to cope with 1400 extra places.

Education and training

The government will dole out 100,000 free apprenticeships to ensure there are enough skilled workers to deliver infrastructure projects to service the growing population.

The $285 million package will cover all 121 courses currently funded under the Smart and Skilled program over the next four years at TAFE and approved independent providers.

gladys berejiklian nsw budget
Ms Berejiklian speaks to new mother Ofa Katu and baby Petilisa at Westmead Hospital, to show off the Baby Bundle hamper. Photo: AAP

About 900 new full-time science and maths teachers will be recruited as part of a $15 billion schools budget.

The teachers will be deployed to areas experiencing booming populations, such as Sydney’s north-west and south-west.

An extra 20 new and upgraded schools will be delivered under a $6 billion program, taking the total number of schools to 170.

An extra $500 million will go towards air conditioning classrooms at 1000 public schools.

The government also announced an extra $32 million to Catholic and independent non-government schools over the next four years to assist them in building more classrooms to accommodate a growing population.

NSW Labor described the health and education funding as playing “catch up” after “eight years of neglect”.

Cost of living

The government announced a new service to switch households to cheaper energy deals, saving up to $1000 a year on bills for the average family.

Households will be able to take their bills to Service NSW, which does the admin work to find the cheapest deal and switch providers.

nsw budget gladys berejiklian
The premier announced the 100,000 free apprenticeships on Monday. Photo: AAP

The pilot program will be rolled out in five locations at Wynyard, Parramatta, Wetherill Park, Lismore and Taree in August.

Ms Berejiklian said it would encourage greater competition and give energy providers incentive to be more transparent with their deals.

Mr Perrottet on Monday said cost of living would be “front and centre”.

“Infrastructure is always there and continuing, at the same time … cost of living is front and centre,” Mr Perrottet told AAP.

“In the last two budgets we’ve substantially cut tax, business taxes and stamp duty taxes, and that will continue.”

The Treasurer earlier announced the 10 most common parking fines would be reduced by 25 per cent.

Roads and transport

Western Sydney roads will get a $2.6 billion revamp over the next four years, including a $100 million facelift to Henry Lawson Drive.

Construction works is also planned for Bringelly Road, the Northern Road, Campbelltown Road and the M4 motorway.

Heathcote Road in south Sydney will get a $173 million upgrade. It will widen the existing bridge at Woronora River and duplicate 2.2 kilometres between Infantry Parade and The Avenue at Holsworthy.

A further $3 billion will go to building the first section of the F6 extension.

Every highway in the state will be sealed by 2023, with $40 million towards sealing the last 200km of the Cobb and Silver City highways.

Regional areas will get $600 million of safety upgrades, with the installation of wire rope barriers, audio tactile line markings and more highway patrol officers.

Additional morning and afternoon peak train services on the T4 Illawarra and T8 Airport lines has also been announced. The services will be delivered progressively from the early 2020s as part of an $800 million system upgrade.

More than 2000 extra weekly bus services will be rolled out across the state over the next year, with a focus on the Northern Beaches, Wentworth Point, Penrith, Blacktown and Lane Cove.

A $10 million fund will go towards expanding trials of driverless vehicles over the next four years.

The government will also make a multi-billion dollar commitment to the state’s police over the next four years, including $118 million set aside to build six new police stations.

AAP reported regional tourism would also receive a funding boost.

Business

The payroll tax threshold will be progressively lifted over the next four years from $750,000 to $1 million.

The threshold will rise to $850,000 in 2018-19, saving almost 40,000 businesses up to $5450 each or up to $13,625 by 2021-22.

-with AAP

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