Families will be encouraged to hit their local pool with $100 vouchers for swimming lessons being offered to every pre-school child aged three to six. All up, the $44 million program is among $6 billion in rebates, concessions and cost of living perks.
Free preschool for NSW families will also be extended, with 15 hours a week funded next year, saving families up to $4000 a year per child in 2022.
The Powerhouse Museum
Things are looking up for the Ultimo museum, with a $500 million slice of the budget pie. It’s a big turnaround, almost one year after reversing the decision to shut its doors. It is the biggest investment in a single cultural institution in the state since the Sydney Opera House.
A new cultural precinct is being promised to revamp the museum with a focus on fashion and design.
Future EV drivers
If you’re thinking about getting some new wheels, the government wants you to consider going electric. To get you over the line, stamp duty will be abolished on electric vehicles that cost less than $78,000 by September this year, and a $3000 rebate will be given to the first 25,000 vehicles sold in NSW for under $68,000. It’s all part of an ambitious $500 million plan for battery-powered cars to constitute more than half of all new car sales by 2031.
In some good news for nurses, police, paramedics and teachers the Berejiklian government will scrap its controversial policy of capping public sector wage rises and will revert to its regulated wages cap of up to 2.5 per cent. The move will cost the state $2.7 billion over the next four years.
Almost 246 paramedics will also be upskilled for intensive care services as part of a $214 million injection to NSW Ambulance, which will move its headquarters from Rozelle to Homebush.
Women in the public service who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth will be granted five days of paid leave.
Women and girls will also get a much-needed boost to change rooms at community sports facilities. The funding will form part of $200 million in upgrades to equipment, playing surfaces and lighting and local sporting facilities.
Domestic violence services
Frontline services helping women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence will be given an extra $60 million over two years. The government will also invest an extra $32.5 million over four years to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program, which helps families stay in their homes while they are experiencing or recovering from domestic abuse.
There will also be $4.9 million for St Vincent De Paul to provide crisis accommodation for women fleeing violence.
CBD businesses and hotels
After the Dine and Discover program comes “Thank God it’s Friday”. The latest $50 million government voucher scheme will be targeted at businesses in the Sydney CBD, with 500,000 people issued four $25 vouchers for use towards dining and entertainment experiences. As the name suggests, the vouchers can only be used on Fridays.
City hotels are also in line for a voucher boost with $100 on offer to NSW residents to use on a Sydney winter getaway in the CBD.
Kids in the bush
More than $6 billion has been committed to regional NSW for new schools, technology and support staff and teachers. Nine new and upgraded schools have been given the green light for funding from Wee Waa, to the Hunter, to Bomaderry and Murrumbidgee.
Renewable energy projects
Solar, wind and storage projects are at the centre of $380 million to help expedite investment in renewable energy zones, which will go towards construction of renewable energy plants in the state’s central-west, New England, Riverina, Hunter and Illawarra regions.
Gone are the days of ailing teachers thumbing through heavy printed syllabuses, with $196 million being allocated to develop a new school syllabus, which will include online capabilities allowing teachers, parents and students to find what they need in seconds.
It was less than a year ago the NSW National Party was threatening to blow up the Coalition over the cuddly native. With this budget, the government is committing more than $193 million over five years as part of its effort to double the number of koalas in the state by 2050. Conservation groups still remain sceptical of this goal.
The government will attempt to woo major arts and tourism events to NSW with a $200 million injection over four years. More importantly for Sydney’s revellers, the plan will include closing the Cahill Expressway to traffic for a week-long party between December 31 and January 6. Think musical acts, pop-up food stalls and bars in the vein of New York City’s High Line.
Wentworth Point residents
Public transport-starved residents of Wentworth Point will be relieved to have the second stage of the Parramatta light rail revived after months of speculation over its future. The government will commit $50 million to the second stage, which will link Camellia and Sydney Olympic Park via Wentworth Point. It comes seven months after NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance indicated he was considering a trackless tram option for the route. When it will be completed remains to be seen.
Rough sleepers will be helped into housing and connected to tailored supports with $57 million to provide 250 packages to house the homeless and help community providers to deliver more than 100 new homes across the state.
Children and young people
Almost $110 million will be committed to fund five specialist mental health response teams for child and adolescent mental health.
There will be $30 billion to go towards infrastructure in the next year alone, with the government anticipating 4600 jobs to be created for the Sydney Gateway and the upgrade of the Warringah Freeway.
Future EV drivers
Sure, there are some winning incentives to attract new EV drivers, but they should keep their eyes peeled for a tax down the road. Future EV owners can expect a road tax of 2.5 cents a kilometre by 2027, or once electric vehicles make up 30 per cent of new car sales – whichever comes first. The tax is designed to fund road and infrastructure spending and compensate for the loss of fuel excise revenue.
While paramedics secured a 2.5 per cent pay rise, it’s not quite what they had in mind. They were hoping for an increase of 4.5 per cent. The dispute has seen paramedics take unauthorised industrial action, including on Tuesday when they are only attending the most urgent and life-threatening emergencies for 24 hours.
If the cold hasn’t already got them, mice will want to watch out for measures in a $150 million mouse control package to help farmers, small businesses and households blitz them as they plague regional NSW.
Before COVID, business activity in the CBD made up almost 21 per cent of the state economy – $130 billion of output in 2019. But with no sign of international borders opening anytime soon, the city economy’s recovery is expected to remain constrained. And don’t forget languishing office real estate, with the government expecting remote working levels to stay at 69 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.
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