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NSW Budget comment: Short-term sugar hits lead to long-term decay

In a post-budget media release this afternoon the NSW Local Government Association Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said “The so-called ‘people’s budget’ is actually anything but,” In their statement they state that the 2018/19 NSW State Budget swaps funding critical to local infrastructure and services for a grab-bag of short-term sweeteners that will be forgotten long before election day 2019.

“The Government thinks a $100 voucher for after-school art classes means families won’t notice if public library hours are cut, their local roads deteriorate further, and their parks and playgrounds go downhill through a lack of available funding.

“A $150 ‘baby bundle’ is great, but it is far less important than the local infrastructure and services that will genuinely improve liveability for new parents, and for communities across NSW.”

Clr Scott said the 2018/19 State Budget included a $25.2 million cut to the grants and subsidies that enable local government to provide local infrastructure and services.

“Funding to public libraries has been slashed by 18 per cent,” she said.

“Public libraries in NSW already receive the lowest per capita support of all Australian states.

“This NSW State Budget sees library funding plummeting to record low levels.

“NSW is at the bottom of the leagues table in terms of pensioner rate rebates, which are fully funded by State Governments everywhere but NSW.

“In a State that boasts a $3.9 billion surplus, local government is disappointed the State Government has chosen to ignore community resources while splashing cash around on stadium rebuilds,” she said.

Clr Scott said the Government had ignored the recycling crisis brought about by China’s National Sword policy, and had also missed the opportunity to make real inroads into the road maintenance backlog.

“The Budget offers $315 million to improve road safety outcomes on NSW roads, including a significant increase in funding under the Road Safety Plan targeting regional areas,” she said.

“The funding allocations for council-maintained local roads, which make up 90 per cent of the State’s road network, remain the same, with no more than minor CPI-style increases.

“Given the other cuts councils are being asked to absorb, it’s unlikely NSW will be reducing its road maintenance backlog under this state government.”

As previously announced, the Budget provides $31 million over 10 years for low interest loans to councils to invest in infrastructure to address housing affordability.

“While small low interest loans for councils are welcome, an annual allocation of $3.1 million is unlikely to have any material impact on housing affordability,” Clr Scott said.

“There’s a constant theme here, and that’s a steady stream of ‘smoke-and-mirrors’ announcements that win the Government a quick headline but do very little to genuinely improve the quality of life in this State.”

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