NCOSS Says: State Budget will it make NSW Number 1 for Fairness?

by Alison Peters, NCOSS Director
NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, will deliver the O’Farrell Government’s second Budget on 12 June. Budgets are important reflections of governments’ priorities as they, in effect, provide the resourcing necessary to implement key policy directions. While most media and public attention is given to “Budget Day”, work is done over many months to distil and refine government spending and revenue measures that reflect these priorities.

The Premier has said that the Government’s Budget will focus on delivering the commitments made prior to the 2011 election and the goals outlined in the State Plan, NSW 2021. The Treasurer and other Cabinet members have talked about the need to rein in spending in light of lower levels of GST and other revenue sources. While the rhetoric is firmly one of no money for new measures there have been examples where money has been found for particular initiatives that NCOSS and others would argue could have been spent elsewhere for greater benefit.

This illustrates that government decisions are often a question of balancing competing priorities. It is important therefore for NCOSS and the community sector to understand the Government’s priorities as reflected in the Budget and assess what the implications are for low income, disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

Where there may be negative impacts it is incumbent on us to advocate for different priorities and strategies and to highlight the benefits of a fairer society for all people. This is our priority, not just when budgets are delivered but in the framing of future budgets as well.

Late last year, NCOSS released its Pre-Budget Submission (PBS), Making NSW Number 1 for Fairness where we outlined budget measures that we believed were necessary to make a difference and reduce disadvantage for people and communities. NCOSS recommendations included:

  • Investment to increase the supply of social and affordable housing over the next four years.
  • Increased funding for the NSW public dental system through additional Oral Health Fee for Service Scheme vouchers and other measures.
  • Funding so that the NSW Govern-ment meets its commitment to pay their fair share of funding to enable a seamless transition to pay rates determined in the Equal Pay case.

NCOSS believes that as a sector our role is to both deliver high quality services and to advocate for policies, programs and services that are the right ones, targeted to the right people at the right time to reduce disadvantage. The services delivered by the sector are critically important but these can be enhanced by work in other areas and this needs to be identified and supported as keenly as our advocacy for services delivered directly by us.

While our focus will be on the recommendations contained in the NCOSS PBS, NCOSS will also be assessing the Budget more broadly against the Government’s own priorities as outlined in their election commitments and NSW 2021. Regardless of whether NCOSS specific recommendations are reflected in the Budget that is delivered on 12 June, we will want to see spending and revenue measures that make NSW Number 1 for Fairness.

NCOSS will provide its analysis of the State Budget in a briefing for the sector on 13 June (details here). July NCOSS News will include a detailed analysis.


Originally printed in June NCOSS News , the NCOSS member newsletter.