Speech to the Sydney Financial Forum

Published on 15 July 2022

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Treasurer Matt Kean passes on his apologies for not being here with you today. He has also asked me to pass on his thanks to you all for the great work you have been doing particularly over these past couple of years as you have helped ensure our economy is ticking along and is able to achieve such positive economic data as we saw yesterday in the stellar employment results.

The financial services industry is a powerhouse of the economy of our city and our state.

The sector is the largest contributor to the NSW economy – comprising approximately 10.5 percent of state economic output.

More than 80 percent of Australia’s foreign and local banks have their Australian headquarters in Sydney.

NSW is a compelling proposition – with a reputation for quality of life, low sovereign risk, and proximity to key markets in Asia.

But above all, we are fortunate to be known for our diverse and educated workforce that is full of creativity and talent.

Our people are our State’s greatest asset.

And that is why we need to keep investing in them to ensure we enhance our standing on the world stage and continue to build a resilient economy.

This was the agenda that anchored the State Budget we delivered last month.

We advanced new pillars of productivity that could both unlock opportunity for our citizens and underpin our long-term prosperity.

To succeed as a state, we need all our best and brightest participating fully in the economy and that starts with more than half our population.

The women of our state are some of the most highly educated in the world, yet their workforce participation rate is 9 percentage points lower than the participation rate for men.

If we close that gap, we can grow our economy so that it is eight percent larger by 2060-61.

That’s the equivalent of increasing the average income for every household in the state by $22,000.

It’s an economic opportunity our government will not let go to waste.

The transformational opportunity to increase women’s workforce participation is affordable and accessible childcare.

The prohibitive costs on women seeking to return to work limits their flexibility about when to return to work.

That is why we are investing $5 billion to expand access to high quality, affordable childcare.

We will work with the market to expand the number of affordable childcare places where they are needed most.

We estimate that these reforms – working in concert with Commonwealth childcare commitments and other early childhood education and care reforms such as Universal Pre-Kindergarten – will see up to 95,000 more women enter the workforce or take on more work.

This is not just the right thing to do for women, it’s a nation-leading reform that will turbocharge productivity.

We are also making a down payment on the educational prospects and lifelong opportunities of our children.

A child that is well educated today can become the entrepreneur of tomorrow who seeds the next great innovation that powers our economy and society in the future.

The NSW Intergenerational Report released late last year made clear that we’ll continue to see an increase in jobs utilising social, cognitive, creative and analytical skills.

Our investment of $5.8 billion over the next decade to establish a year of universal pre-kindergarten meets the moment.

We have also seen the power of engaging with the wonders of science over the past two years.

We are free and safe because a vaccine was developed in record time.

We have faith that the same spirit of invention will keep unlocking jobs and industries that we can’t even imagine today – and we want them to be conceived right here in NSW.

That’s why we’re investing $1 billion to build the facilities where our scientists, researchers, doctors and engineers will design the blueprints of a better, more prosperous economy.

The financial services sector will also appreciate that capital has made its call when it comes to a decarbonised economy.

70 percent of Australia’s two-way trade is already with countries aiming to achieve net zero emissions.

We’re on the doorstep of the rapidly growing economies and population of South East Asia.

Our state is blessed with the climate, resources and nous needed to become a renewable energy powerhouse by servicing that demand.

We have set clear targets to reduce our emissions by 50 percent by 2030, on 2005 levels, and to achieve net zero by 2050.

And we’re on track to meet them.

But we’re also becoming a destination of choice for investors as NSW seeks to transform its electricity network.

We want to free our State from a dependency on ageing power stations and global energy shocks by building a new system that generates cheap, reliable and clean power.

Our new Transmission Acceleration Facility will catalyse at least $14 billion in private investment to carry energy from the renewable energy projects flourishing across the state to homes and businesses.

These are generational challenges we are taking on and we do so from a position of strength.

We are maintaining a record infrastructure pipeline of $112 billion over the next four years to keep building the metro rail lines and modern motorway network that promote mobility and liveability.

Our State Budget remains on track to return to 2024-25 – and net debt will gradually fall over the rest of the decade.

We are rebuilding our financial buffers and preparing for future shocks.

We have the benefit of more people being in jobs today than before the pandemic, unemployment sitting at 3.3 percent, and buoyant state economic growth.

This is why we are optimistic about our prospects as a state but determined to make sure we seize the opportunity in front of us.

We will continue to take on the reforms that unleash the full potential of NSW and every citizen within it and look forward to working with you on the journey.

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