GOVERNMENT debt is no longer a negative term after the State Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, delivered a budget with a record $16 billion deficit, the first in almost a decade.
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The Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, held a webinar straight after the budget to answer questions from business people from all over the state.
Ms Berejiklian said that the substantial deficit was because of stimulus packages, with record spending in health, education and social housing, and she hoped that the state would recover within four to five years.
She praised small businesses, telling them, ”Please feel confident to be flexible and adaptable.”
Ms. Berejiklian went on to tell participants that the budget focussed on creating jobs to facilitate a business-led recovery, with 3000 businesses no longer having to pay payroll tax and that small businesses would benefit by $1500.
However, the $1500 grants are only for use on Government fees and charges and not other costs.
Questions generally indicated that the majority of webinar participants supported the budget.
However, as more people had time to examine the budget papers in detail, criticisms have emerged.
Major issues appear to be the change from stamp duty to land tax, the freezing of public servants’ pay, the lack of a safety net for 300,000 people when Job Keeper winds down and private schools receiving $1.5 billion.
Locally, the Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh, released figures that indicate that the Coffs Coast will benefit by up to $245 million, with early works for the Coffs Harbour Bypass and the expansion of Coffs Harbour Hospital accounting for $208 million.
Other beneficiaries include TAFE, the jetty foreshore and boat ramp, the airport, the Aboriginal Housing Office and Lees Bridge at Karangi.
A spokesperson for the NSW Leader of the Opposition, Jodi Mackay, told News Of The Area that issues for the Coffs Coast include land tax being introduced for the first time for farms, cuts to tourism funding and insufficient funding for social housing.
The spokesperson also indicated that money announced for the hospital, TAFE upgrades, the boat ramp and Lees Bridge have been announced previously.
Mr. Singh said, “Local residents will benefit from the $100 Out and About vouchers which will stimulate our hospitality and cultural economy, as well as providing much-needed relief for families.”
These vouchers will be trialled in the Sydney CBD in December and be extended to the whole state in the new year.
NSW residents over the age of 18 can apply for the vouchers which will be linked to the Service NSW app via QR codes.
They may also be limited to less busy days such as Monday to Thursday.
The vouchers will be two $25 vouchers for eating out at restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs and two for activities, such as visiting cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas and amusement parks.
Any money remaining after using a voucher disappears and they cannot be used for cigarettes or alcohol.
Hotels and retail stores have pushed to be included in the vouchers, without success.
Reaction to the budget has been low key, with many people appearing to adopt a “wait and see” approach.
Ray Smith, President of the Coffs Harbour chamber of Commerce told News Of The Area, “Every bit, no matter how big or small can be very beneficial if it helps to keep a business door open or helps to keep a job, so I believe that anything is better than nothing and could potentially help many people and businesses locally.”
Generally, the budget appears to provide something for most people in NSW, with the possible exception of public servants, recent home buyers and hotels and retail stores.
By Andrew VIVIAN