|The Budget of diminished returns|
24 May 2000
In its second response to the 2000/2001 State Budget, the Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS), and the 70 peak community sector agencies at its Budget night analysis, have expressed delight and extreme disappointment at various elements of the Budget package.
"Not nearly enough is committed, or rightly targeted, in this Budget to improve the social and economic well-being of the State's 1 million low income earners, in urban and rural NSW, so that they can survive the next economic downturn," said NCOSS Director, Gary Moore.
"Whilst the State average unemployment rate is predicted to marginally decrease, the Budget has no strategy to knock over 10% plus jobless rates in many Sydney neighbourhoods and rural towns."
"The post Olympic capital works program may plug construction industry holes for current workers, but the big spending cuts to TAFE and education access programs will do little to skill the unemployed and under-employed in part time and low paid jobs."
"The Budget projects growth of 4% in 2000/2001, an optimistic figure, higher than anywhere else in Australia."
"NSW Treasury, in the Budget papers, also indicates an inflation rate of 6% for the year, a fact lost on many Departments, which seem to mistakenly believe that inflation in 2000/2001 will be less than 3%, and which also assume no other GST impacts."
"Many claimed spending increases, in individual Departments, are blatantly wrong. And, although NSW has record revenues and a higher than projected surplus, overall government outlays will decrease by a post inflation 3% in 2000/2001."
"A welcome, and clear winner from this Budget are people with disabilities. After a few false starts, Faye Lo Po' and Michael Egan have delivered a package which will significantly improve supported accommodation, will move people from institutions, and will meet one off crisis situations."
"Other Budget winners include those suffering pain and harm on public dental waiting lists or those seeking appropriate mental health services. Extra funds in both these areas are a long overdue start to rectifying grave social injustices."
"The Treasurer has dressed up stamp duty exemptions for first home purchasers as an inappropriate counterweight to criticisms about the Government reaping windfall post GST stamp duty gains."
"Housing groups have made it plain that this measure is inequitable, will do little for low income private renters, may lead to increasing mortgage defaults in an accelerating interest rate environment and masks the failure of the Carr Government, like the Howard Federal Government, to address public housing waiting lists and growing homelessness."
"NCOSS notes the increase in Juvenile Justice funding and the pleasing drop in the number of detention centre inmates. At the same time, we view, with dismay, the growth in new cell numbers for the Department of Corrective Services capital works program."
"The Budget papers show that the Department of Community Services (DOCS) will overspend this year's Budget by $82 million. As with previous years, this overspend indicates how much the demand for community services outstrips what the Government actually provides. This Budget only provides a 0.6% nominal increase in funding."
"Within this global Budget, NCOSS welcomes proposed increases to foster care payment levels. However, with a 11% suggested increase in substitute care placements for children and young people, the notional 2% funding increase for these services is unacceptable."
"The Carr Government has been correctly critical of Commonwealth cuts to child care funding over the past 3 years. Unfortunately, this Budget contains no measures to improve NSW's poor performance in providing pre-school places."
"It is also silent on meeting the additional vacation care costs of the compulsory extra 1 week school holiday during the Olympics."
"Whilst the capital cost of Olympic venues are now paid for, co-ordination spending by the Olympic Co-ordination Authority and transport spending the Olympics Roads and Transport Authority, in 2000/2001, will increase by over 200% in both cases."
"The Budget papers provide no clues to extra Departmental spending on Olympic related services, nor the post Olympic financing and management arrangements for the venues."
"With 6 weeks to the GST D-Day, Michael Egan has also been silent on whether the State Government will increase its grants to community organisations to compensate them for having to pay the GST on each grant."
"This silence has been met with anger and grave concern. NCOSS has sought an immediate meeting with Treasury to resolve this major bone of contention."