Public transport built in NSW, toll relief, and 100 new public preschools will center the state opposition’s budget reply speech as the NSW treasurer, Matt Kean, continues selling his “reform” agenda ahead of the state’s March polling date.
Chris Minns, the NSW opposition leader, will on Thursday unveil several pledges but will stop short of presenting his entire pitch to the voting public, with his plans for home ownership remaining under wraps despite an earlier attack on the government’s planned stamp duty reform for first home buyers.
Following the announcement that the government would fund the development and implementation of a universal free extra year of school by 2030, Minns will pledge a Labor government would build 100 preschools on school grounds within four years.
The centers would be built at every new school and existing but underutilized school paid for with money already allocated in the budget for early childhood learning.
“Parents will tell you they can’t wait until 2030 for the Liberals and Nationals to start acting on delivering accessible and affordable preschool,” Minns said.
The opposition’s education spokesperson, Prue Car, called on the government to first focus on building onsite preschools at flood-affected Northern Rivers schools.
Following months of attacks on the so-called “toll-mania” hitting driver hip pockets across Sydney, Minns also vowed that a Labor government he leads would keep the Sydney Harbour Tunnel toll concession in public hands.
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He said revenue from the tunnel and the bridge would go to drivers for toll relief. His government would also push for greater transparency, oversight of tolling, and extra signage on toll roads.
“This is the first step to toll relief for NSW motorists under Labor, and we’ll have more to say as we get closer to the next election,” he said.
Further policy announcements would be contingent on the findings of a government inquiry looking at the impact of Sydney’s patchwork network of tolls on spiraling cost of living pressures.
Minns will also pledge to set up an independent body – the NSW Jobs First Commission – to oversee the growth of local manufacturing to boost the proportion of local businesses successfully bidding for government tenders.
A Labor government would set local content targets to back NSW manufacturers, boosting jobs and supporting ethical supply chains if elected.
The opposition’s transport spokesperson, Jo Haylen, argued that building trains, trams, buses, and ferries in NSW were part of the answer.
“That way, we create good jobs across our community and make sure passengers and taxpayers get trains, trams, and ferries that work,” she said.
Key among the government’s policies announced in the budget was implementing an alternative to stamp duty for first-home buyers looking to snag a property under $1.5m.
Scrapping stamp duty has long been a goal of the premier, Dominic Perrottet. Still, after insisting that getting rid of the tax entirely was impossible without the help of the new federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, he introduced a smaller reform as a pilot.
Minns labeled it a never-ending tax.
“There’s no doubt he’ll introduce a broad-based land tax on residential properties for every household [if re-elected],” he said earlier this week.
The opposition’s treasury spokesperson, Daniel Mookhey, rebutted claims Labor was running a “low-level scare campaign” after Perrottet ruled out introducing a land tax on properties where stamp duty had already been paid.
“We are pointing out the facts about the premier’s proposal … he wants this land tax to apply to every home in NSW; his first stop on that journey is first home buyers,” he said.
Kean continued to sell his budget on Wednesday with a speech at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia think tank.
After unveiling billions of dollars in measures to get mums back into work, he challenged business leaders in the audience to consider what they could do to make their work environments better for women.
“The structural and cultural change we are trying to achieve is something that everyone in our economy builds,” he said.