NSW budget: winners and losers

Public schools
Pupils in NSW public schools will benefit from a $1.6 billion school building boom. More than $478m will also go to nine public schools in Sydney’s west and south-west as part of the WestInvest fund, launched to help areas worst hit by last year’s COVID lockdowns. Suburban schools such as Austral, Parramatta East, Leppington, Rouse Hill and Telopea are all in the mix.

Rural and remote health workers
GPs, nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers could earn an extra $10,000 a year, provided they step into critical and ‘hard-to-fill’ (read: remote) roles. The sweetener will come on top of other relocation costs to incentivize health workers to help regional facilities in need of professionals. Health care workers across the state also landed a $3,000 “thank you” payment for their service during the pandemic.

Lone parents, key workers and vulnerable older people
The government wants to help 3,000 frontline workers enter the housing market and will pilot a $740 million capital equity program over two years. You probably remember a similar idea developed by the Albanian government. NSW will take advantage of this and contribute up to 40% for new property or up to 30% for existing property under $950,000 in Sydney and other major regional centres.


First Nations Communities
Health, justice, housing and land rights strategies for First Nations people will receive $716 million over four years to strengthen Closing the Gap goals and other outcomes. It will include nearly $150 million for 200 new homes and 260 modernized homes. An additional $25 million has also been committed to permanently placing the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. There will also be $900,000 for a dedicated repatriation of ancestral remains, led by the Australian Museum titled ‘Returning Them Home’.

Police, SES, RFS and National Parks
State police forces will receive $5.5 billion, including more than $430 million for new and upgraded stations and facilities. Following the Northern Rivers flood disaster, the state’s emergency service will receive its biggest boost of more than $132 million for infrastructure, resources and personnel. Lismore will also have its own incident control center. For the Rural Fire Service, there will be $191 million over four years, while National Parks and Wildlife Service firefighters will receive $598 million for things like improving radio networks and protecting important habitat, like the famous Wollemi pines.


The buses
More than $218 million has been invested in the state’s bus fleet to go green and support the shift to zero-emissions technology. The plan is to transition over 8,000 buses and cut Transport for NSW emissions by 78%. (So ​​it’s not quite “zero” emissions, but it’s getting close.)

If you tend to exercise with your e-tag most of the time, this one’s for you. Drivers who spend more than $1,400 on tolls a year will save up to $750 a year under a two-year, $520 million program to subsidize road toll users. The plan will replace the enrollment relief program from next year.

queens of culture
The state’s arts and culture sector has felt the pandemic and its closures particularly hard. To help revitalize the struggling sector, the government will provide $5.9 million for free admission to the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums for next year. It’s time to get your culture going, folks.


Foreign investors
Wealthy foreign investors looking for a humble abode in the port city will see the property tax on residential property rise by 2-4%. The move was particularly unpopular with the Property Council of Australia, who described it as a tax on new developments and “a handbrake on new homes”. But it’s sorry-not-sorry from the government, which says the tax hike will raise $300million to help pay for healthcare services enjoyed by NSW residents.

NSW budget (at least in the short term)
Tinkering with stamp duty will mean giving up a serious source of government revenue. It set aside about $728 million over four years to offset some of the losses, which exceeds the $660 million projected in the budget documents. Stamp duty payments jumped by more than $5 billion during the pandemic. Over the past 20 years, the median house price in Sydney has fallen from $418,000 to around $1.59 million. The cost of stamp duty on this median-priced home jumped 406%, from around $14,300 to nearly $72,400.


Public sector workers
The government says this is a win for workers: a pay rise bringing the wage cap to 3% this year and a possible 3.5% next year. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what workers had in mind, sitting well below inflation (5.1%) and not keeping pace with the rising cost of living. It follows an ongoing strike by teachers, nurses and paramedics. The peak body for unions says more is to come.

Inhabitants of the northern beaches
The government will delay several of its large-scale mega-projects, including the Beaches Link. It’s all thanks to advice from its independent infrastructure body to divert spending to less risky, smaller projects with “high returns and faster paybacks.” Too bad for those Balgowlah bourgeois who are living in limbo in homes slated for demolition amid plans for the seven-kilometre stretch of road, on ice for now.

Residents of South Sydney
The second leg of the M6 ​​motorway, linking Kogarah with Sydney’s southern suburbs, is also on the back burner for now. The first stage should open at the end of 2025.

The government will close a tax loophole in the betting laws to align the tax rates for online and on-track betting, raising them both to 15%. The reform is expected to bring in $740 million over four years, but the government will also compensate industry to support the transition.

Social housing
The government will commit $300 million to modernize 15,800 social housing units. But with 50,000 people on the social housing waiting list, sector advocates will be disappointed to see there isn’t more for the new housing stock. However, there will be 120 new social homes for the homeless under the Together Home Transition program.

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