NSW opposition leader Chris Minns has criticized the state government for being “spin” in his budget defense speech held in parliament today.
- NSW Labor leader Chris Minns delivered his budget response today
- Policies he announced include building kindergartens and boosting the discount scheme
- Treasurer Matt Kean says the opposition’s plan lacks vision
Minns used the speech to begin outlining policies that Labor will take to the state elections in March, as an alternative to the coalition government.
“After 12 years of liberal and national government, after four liberal prime ministers and four liberal treasurers,” Mr Minns said.
“This prime minister and this treasurer have a press release for almost everything but a plan for almost nothing.”
He promised that a Labor government would build 100 kindergartens on existing primary school sites within its first term and said all new primary schools should be built with a kindergarten.
Minns said the plan would help deliver the government’s proposed universal kindergarten one year faster than the current 2030 timeline.
“I think we have already waited long enough,” Mr Minns said.
“All of this will help deliver universal preschool for four-year-olds well before 2030.”
The opposition has also pledged to spend more on tolls for commuters than the government.
In the state budget, the government allocated $ 520 million over two years to a toll rebate scheme where commuters would get up to $ 750 shaved off their annual toll bill when they spend $ 375.
Labor said it would retain this rebate scheme and add another $ 130 million by using the public revenue from the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Tunnel charges.
But it does not have a policy on how the toll relief will be delivered.
Minns has also ruled out privatizing both parts of the infrastructure, as the government will have to make a decision on the tunnel because the contract expires in August after three years of tolls since it opened.
“The government has refused to disclose what they want to do with this critical piece of transport infrastructure,” Mr Minns said.
“An NSW Labor government will hold the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Harbor Tunnel in the hands of the government.”
The opposition leader also used his speech to announce that he would set targets for government contracts to ensure more people go to local industries.
A Labor government would also abolish the controversial Transport Asset Holding Entity, which was set up to drive the state’s railroad surplus and required by law to make a profit.
“We will deliver a sound plan similar to the model previously administered,” Minns said.
“Where rail operators owned the assets they operated.”
Treasurer Matt Kean has criticized the budget response for having no vision.
“It was not a small goal strategy, it was a small strategy,” said Mr. Kean.
“There were no policies for women, no policies for the environment, no policies for climate change, no policies for health, no policies for transportation and no policies for housing.”
Minns said more political announcements would be made before the election, but stated that “there is a better way” to govern New South Wales.
“Together, we can change the way it works,” Minns said.
“Only if we turn the page on this government and start anew with a government with a real and credible plan.”