State Budget and North Shore Electorate

Published on: June 2022

Record: HANSARD-1323879322-126122

State Budget and North Shore Electorate

Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (16:46:47):

While we are all doing our best to move on from the past couple of challenging years, we do face a raft of new concerns. In this time of global conflict and geopolitical instability, cost‑of‑living pressures are biting household budgets. The people of New South Wales have shown that they are deeply resilient and able to navigate any challenge. That is why the Government has committed to a range of major policy reforms in its budget to build a brighter future for New South Wales. In releasing the budget, we have laid out a trajectory that will secure a better way of life for generations of New South Wales families. We are building that future with a focus on a once‑in‑a‑lifetime transformation to our education system.

We are also delivering the single largest economic and social reform for women's choice, workforce participation and financial security in a generation. Women have been left behind for too long. I have been fortunate to work with the expert panel on women's economic opportunities to help ensure that women are at the heart of our budget. Female founders and entrepreneurs will be empowered to launch their own businesses and women‑led startups, thanks to our $12 million venture capital fund named after the legendary Carla Zampatti. We are increasing women's workforce participation and opportunities by investing in technology and training in order to empower their return to the workforce, and we are overhauling child care across New South Wales through a $5 billion reform, which will increase accessibility through ensuring supply and affordability and will return choice to women.

This once‑in‑a‑generation economic reform will support more women to enter the workforce or take on more hours, driving down the gender workforce participation gap. This is not just good social policy. Increasing female participation in the workforce is crucial for economic growth and it will turbocharge the New South Wales economy. The Government is also investing in affordable fertility treatments, increasing support for domestic violence survivors, tackling the stigma of menopause and giving it the health funding that it needs, and supporting parents through perinatal mental health initiatives. We have backed in our commitment to ensure safe cities and safe workplaces for everyone.

We know that access to quality education can transform lives. That is why we are delivering the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of New South Wales. Our youngest learners will have the opportunity to thrive throughout their lives, with $5.8 billion to fund the introduction of universal play‑based pre‑kindergarten learning for all New South Wales children. Evidence shows that access to early education is the building block for lifelong success, and we are ensuring that no child will miss out. The investment in families on a scale never seen before in Australia will provide a strong educational foundation and deliver intergenerational results for our kids and our economy. I know, having two small children in early learning and preschool, that caring and supportive early childhood educators are crucial to the wellbeing and development of our children. So the Government is backing up this commitment with a $281.6 million workforce package to attract, support and retain the best early childhood workforce for New South Wales.

We are investing in a range of different infrastructure across our education system. In my community of North Shore, we already have major school upgrades underway. Construction is already occurring for a major upgrade of Mosman High School. It is the first time in more than 30 years that we have seen a major upgrade for the school. Works to undertake a major upgrade of North Sydney Demonstration School are also underway. Demolition has occurred and building will commence soon. We have also fully funded the major upgrade of Neutral Bay Public School. We acquired and have demolished the house that was located in the middle of the school grounds and have turned that area into green open space—grass—providing a 40 per cent increase in play space on an incredibly constrained school site. The designs are out today for the school community to provide feedback in order to make sure we get it right. I am really excited about that upgrade proceeding.

The Government is also taking action to ensure that the great Australian dream of home ownership is open to everyone in New South Wales. This is incredibly important for my own community of North Shore, where house prices are very high and a lot of young professionals are trying to get onto the housing ladder. It can take at least two years on average for people to save up for stamp duty alone on their first home. The Government will now offer a choice to first homebuyers purchasing a home of up to $1.5 million to pay either an annual property tax or up‑front stamp duty. We have a scheme to ensure that single parents, key workers and older singles can have funding to help support them invest in homes. Too many people are locked out of the housing market. The $780 million shared equity trial will ensure that they can buy their own homes. The Government's record of strong financial management enables us to fund major reforms to secure a brighter future for New South Wales families.

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