The New South Wales Coalition’s June 21 budget locks in a pay cut for public sector workers, introduces a new property tax and further bolsters transport privatization.
NSW Unions Secretary Mark Morey has criticized the Government for blocking an effective 2.5% pay cut for essential workers. “That means the average public sector worker in hospitals, schools, emergency services and other critical areas will see a real wage cut of $2,142,” he said.
The government’s long-standing 2.5% public sector salary cap has been raised to 3% for the coming fiscal year and 3.5% in 2023-24, but inflation currently stands at over 5 % and is expected to exceed 7% next year.
“It impacts all workers as the wage cap in NSW suppresses wages across the economy,” Morey said.
Regarding housing policy, in addition to other measures, the government announced a first limited property tax instead of the traditional stamp duty on purchases of new housing.
“Under the new watered-down property tax plan, first-time home buyers will have the option of paying the initial cost of stamp duty or a small annual property tax payment of $400, plus 0.3% of the land value of the property,” the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) explained on June 22.
“It’s still going to cost $664 million over the two-year trial period. This money could have been better spent, in the construction of social housing for example, for which there is nothing significant in the budget this year,” the CPSA said.
“Despite growing waiting lists, few announcements have been made to ease pressures on social housing, with just $37 million committed to providing 120 new social housing units for the homeless under the Together program. Home.
“There was also a contribution of $300 million for the maintenance of existing social housing, but community housing advocates were hoping for much more,” CPHA noted.
“Replacing stamp duty with a property tax can work for people with lots of money. But for low-income people, it’s unaffordable. This includes many retirees.
The budget further bolsters transportation privatization, including massive state subsidies to companies that own tolls and public transportation networks.
Ross Gittins commented in the June 21 Sydney Morning Herald that Sydney’s “maze of private tolls, most with a license to raise quarterly or annual tolls by at least 4% per annum” was a means of reducing public debt by shifting the cost onto motorists for decades present and future.
“This ill-considered waste has proven so costly for voters in outlying suburbs that the latest ‘reform’ is for taxpayers to subsidize motorists most affected – and thus the excessive profits given to toll companies.”
NSW Greens spokeswoman Jenny Leong said it was not about the ‘women’s budget’ according to the treasurer.
“This budget actively ignores calls from frontline services for desperately needed continued funding,” Leong said.
“This Government knows that one in three calls to the New South Wales Sexual Violence Hotline go unanswered and women’s health centers are struggling to cope. Instead of taking action, they opted for small offers and meaningless ads. Spending $100 million over 4 years is insulting.”
Nature Conservation Council spokesman Chris Gambian said the budget “will encourage habitat destruction, which is now occurring at a record rate”.
“Habitat loss from land clearing and logging is the biggest threat to koalas and many other native species,” Gambian said. “If the government is serious about tackling the biodiversity crisis, it must reform its broken land clearing laws.”