The next NSW election shapes up

The NSW Budget was handed down on 21 June 2022, with the Opposition response given a couple of days later.

They set the terms of battle for the State election due on 25 March 2023.

The Government framed the Budget as providing the opportunity to:

give our children the best start to life; reform to make owning your own home easier to achieve; and reform to break the barriers to women’s opportunity in this State

with Liberal Party documentation particularly making the point that:

investment in childcare is the best way to improve women’s economic opportunity, increase female workforce participation and close the gender pay gap,

leading to some (including the Opposition) to describe the Budget as being a ‘teal’ document designed to gain back inner-city support lost during the last Federal election and others to be critical about the level of debt and deficit contained by the Budget to support these policies including the increase of net debt to nearly 14 per cent of Gross State Product in 2026.

There were some areas where there was agreement.

This included an investment of $734m in palliative care (in no small part a response to the euthanasia legislation which passed the Parliament over the course of the term) as well as Closing the Gap expenditures on indigenous communities.

However, the Budget speeches revealed some areas of differing approaches.

Areas include:


The Government promised $520 million in new toll relief over two years, claiming that will save drivers up to $750 a year.

The Opposition proposed that it would retain the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Tunnel (for which has the current PPP agreement expires on 31 August 2022) in public ownership and ‘put all that money (presumably the toll payable under the Sydney Harbour Tunnel PPP concession) into toll relief’.

The Opposition also indicated that ‘windfall gains (from toll road operators) should be contributed back to the public in toll relief’ (whatever that means in this context). Positions will undoubtedly be fine-tuned after a Government review on road tolls due in September.


The Government proposed spending $5.8 billion over 10 years to establish a year of universal pre‑kindergarten in the year before school and investing over $280 million over four years to support the early childhood workforce.

They also proposed providing $2,000 of support per child to access preschool services in long day care from the beginning of 2023.

The Opposition proposed building 100 government preschools, co‑located with primary schools in the first four years.

Land tax

The Government proposed giving first home buyers ‘the choice of paying an annual property tax instead of stamp duty’, claiming it will cost the budget over $729 million over the next four years. ‘but save (home buyers) years of waiting to achieve their aspirations of home ownership’.

The Government originally proposed the removal of land tax in its 2020 Review of Federal Financial Relations, both on grounds of equity (people who do not move very often contribute very little toward essential services in critical infrastructure via property taxation) and may, in the long run, lead to lower house prices.

The proposal may be the first step in removing land tax, although even this will apparently require support from the Australian Government.

The Opposition claimed the Government had no mandate to introduce a land tax before the 2023 election, claiming ‘it leaves the door open for a future Liberal government to extend this tax to everybody’.

Public sector pay

The Government propose increasing public sector pay by 3% a year for the next two years, and will fund a $3000 acknowledgement payment to health sector workers. The Opposition promised to replace the current way that public-sector wages are set with a system ‘based’ on productivity‑based bargaining.

As an incumbent, the Government could promise a number of spending commitments, including:

  • ‘helping’ eligible households save up to $600 a year on their power bills by installing roof-top solar and energy efficient appliances;
  • a back-to-school voucher of $150 per child to help with the costs of school supplies for term one next year;
  • $4.5 billion over four years (or a full parliamentary term) into our health workforce;
  • providing a ‘infrastructure pipeline’ including building the Western Harbour Tunnel, extending the M6, upgrading the Great Western Highway, and building a Metro network for Sydney; and
  • $780 million over two years in a shared equity scheme for single parents, key workers and vulnerable older citizens who do not have a partner to share the cost with.

The commitment to Net Zero in the Budget was a proposed expenditure of $1.2 billion investment to establish the Transmission Acceleration Facility which will fund things such as the Hunter Transmission Project and the ‘Waratah Super Battery’, to replace power sourced from the coal fuelled power stations being shut down.

The Opposition focused on job creation. They included:

  • setting a target of 50 per cent minimum local content for future rolling‑stock contracts by the end of a first term;
  • increasing tender weightings to 30 per cent, with the intention of stimulating local skills and investment;
  • redefining “value for money” to capture wider economic benefits, jobs creation and industry development, which has been recommended by the McKell Institute’s recent report which strongly suggested building transport infrastructure such as trains and ferries in NSW and not overseas; and
  • establishing a NSW Jobs First Commission, to ‘ an independent, expert body—to oversee the implementation and growth of local industries and support local firms as they bid for government tenders’ as happens in Victoria. See if this works

A promise was finally made to transfer the holdings contained in an entity called the Transport Asset Holding Entity (largely tangible assets such as railway stations) back into Transport for NSW. The Auditor-General has criticised the efficiency of this structure ,which is largely an accounting device that reduces the reducing the nominal size of the Budget.

They also promised to ‘crack down on pork barrelling.’

The conclusion

The current government is 12 years old. It has been weighed down with internal dissent. There has been some criticism in how it managed the recent Covid lockdowns, particularly in Western Sydney and the recovery of flood affected areas of the State. It has lost a Premier to ICAC and have made contentious appointments to overseas posts.

The Opposition have provided some idea of its proposed direction although its policies need to be fleshed out.

However, if they adopt the messaging of South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas in his victory speech (from 10:20 of the video):

labour at its best always embraces the notion that achieve the right balance between the interests of capital labour and hard-working independent contractors, sole traders, small and medium businesses-they are just as important as any of Labors’s other judicial constituencies

they will do well.


By | 2022-07-11T19:51:54+10:00 July 11th, 2022|NSW|0 Comments