Fairer taxes but doubts about better services
6 April 2004
The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) has welcomed the major land tax and stamp duty reforms announced in today's NSW Mini Budget but will call on the Premier to ensure that private tenants, especially in lower cost urban localities and rural communities are not savaged by investors and landlords passing on costs through increased rents.

"It is fair that all who have enjoyed the massive property price gains of the past five years should share in the responsibility of funding State services," said NCOSS Director, Gary Moore.

"At the same time, NCOSS is bitterly disappointed that not one cent of new money has been allocated to social housing. First home purchasers will now enjoy stamp duty relief, but 60% of these are in the top two quintiles of NSW income earners."

"We welcome the transfer of funds from the roads to the public transport Budget, but we are concerned about the impacts of $20 million savings on State Transit, especially with recent commitments arising from the Unsworth Bus Review."

"NCOSS is alarmed at the decision to axe the highly effective Mature Workers labour market program and the Skilled Migrant Strategy. This is short-sighted Commonwealth Government cost shifting and must be reversed."

"Whilst we are pleased there appear to be no obvious cuts to frontline health, education and community services, NCOSS notes that only Health and Education are exempt from the $81 million efficiency dividends."

"It also appears that the majority of suggested new spending in Education, community services and disability services are previous announcements or budgeted for items."

"We welcome the extra funds over four years for mental health but also note that at least $77 million of it was announced last October Once again, the majority of new health funds go into acute care. And, we do believe that a $300 million projected Budget deficit is modest and manageable."

"But the Mini Budget should have given a Government commitment to report on the performance of its spending each year. The bottom line must include social outcomes. This remains the Carr Government's greatest Achilles Heel."