David Mehan MP, NSW Member for The Entrance and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, has made a pre-budget statement in the NSW Parliament this week.
“The discovery that more than 1,000 of our state’s nurses are temporary and not funded beyond the 2024-25 financial year is just one of many budget surprises the new Labor Government has faced following the March 2023 State election,” Mr Mehan told the Legislative Assembly this week.
“ In one of the more extraordinary exchanges to occur on the floor of this Parliament, the former Treasurer and current shadow Minister for Health, Matt Kean, interjected during question time on 23 August to inform the House that these were ‘COVID recovery nurses’.
“This was the first time this fact had been publicly revealed.
“With that interjection, the former Treasurer confirmed that the former Liberal-Nationals Government was going to sack those 1,112 nurses at a time when the NSW health system remains under tremendous pressure.
“For my electorate of The Entrance, which is serviced by the Central Coast Local Health District, this would mean 57 fewer nurses within the year unless we can fund those positions.
“Nobody believes that having fewer nurses will improve our public health system, but that is exactly the budget position we inherited from the Liberals and Nationals.
“The Liberals and Nationals’ failure to fund our essential workers is just one line item of a $7 billion black hole uncovered by the Minns Labor Government, which also includes:
- A funding shortfall of $700 million to cover the costs of children living in out-of-home care;
- No funding for the Cyber Security NSW office beyond 2024;
- No funding for the Regional Seniors Travel Card beyond 30 June this year; and
- No funding for the Active and Creative Kids or First Lap vouchers beyond 30 June this year.
“The $7 billion black hole of unfunded programs and cuts baked into the budget by the outgoing Liberal-Nationals Government allowed the former Treasurer to claim during the election that there would be a return to surplus by 2024-25, despite providing no information about which programs were to be cut or left unfunded.
“The challenge of funding the services the people of NSW need is made much harder by the size of the state’s debt, the largest debt handed from one government to another in the state’s history.
“This debt will be $187 billion by 2026, or $22,384 per person in the state, on the budget settings inherited by the Labor Government.
“The interest bill alone on this debt is greater than the cost of running the state’s police force.
“When Labor’s Treasurer, the Hon. Daniel Mookhey, delivers Labor’s first New South Wales budget in 13 years next week, our priorities will be to better fund our state’s public services, our schools and our hospitals, and the teachers, healthcare workers and public servants who deliver the services we all rely on.”
According to Mr Mehan, Labor will rebalance the state’s spending to deliver the investment in the public services that the people of NSW have said they want and need.
“As part of the budget repair, we will make sure that they get their fair share of revenue from this state’s natural resources.
“Labor has already announced a new coal royalty rate, which will increase by 2.6 percentage points from 1 July 2024 and will improve the state’s budget position by more than $2.7 billion over the four years from 2024-25.
“Labor’s budget will not forget to invest in the infrastructure the State needs to keep it and its people moving forward.
“On the Central Coast, that will mean restarting the Gosford bypass, a crucial upgrade of the Pacific Highway.
“Work and planning for that bypass was halted in 2015 by the former Government, despite the route recording the most road and pedestrian accidents on the Coast, including just last week when a student was hit by a motor vehicle.
“Next week’s budget will begin to repair the state’s balance sheet.
“Budget repair will enable us to invest in our public services and meet the cost-of-living challenges being faced by the people of NSW.
“It will be a Labor budget, which will deliver for the people of my electorate and this state.” Should you wish to access the speech via Hansard, you can do so via this link: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardResult.aspx#/docid/HANSARD-1323879322-134466/link/113 .