The state government handed down its final budget before next year’s election on Tuesday, which moved the spotlight from infrastructure to people and revealed a surplus of $3.9 billion.
The electorate will benefit from a number of key announcements including a pledge of nearly $200 million to give every three or four year-old child in state the opportunity to access early education, and the tax-free threshold for payroll tax jumping from $750,000 to $850,000.
“This budget has also delivered the payroll tax relief businesses have been crying out for and a $200 million dollar investment in preschool funding for three-year-olds,” Mr Marshall said.
“Schools around the state will get much needed air-conditioning infrastructure and the drought package was also extended.”
Earlier in the week, a new $285 million skills and training package was announced which will see 100,000 free apprenticeships will be offered to newly enrolled apprentices in any course as of July 1.
HEALTH: Paramedics, hospitals and community services
- A record $8 billion investment in health infrastructure over four years to continue the major capital program to provide new facilities, upgrades and redevelopments including $60 million for Inverell Hospital.
- An additional 200 paramedics and 13 call centre staff in 2018/19 to improve response times, reduce paramedic fatigue and support safety.
- A record $2.1 billion for mental health services including $82.5 million for increased admitted and community-based services across NSW.
RURAL: Drought assistance, projects and research stations
- Almost $600 million for drought-affected farmers including covering low-interest loans, mental health support and kangaroo management.
- An $44 million investment in Restart NSW for the Northern Tablelands, including water supply projects at Biniguy, Ashley, Moree and Bundarra.
- Glen Innes receives $2.1 million to upgrade the town’s DPI Agricultural Research Station.
More reading: Budget delivers for rural, regional people: NSW Farmers
EDUCATION: Schools, childcare and airconditioning
- Nearly $200 million over four years to extend the Start Strong program, and in an Australian state first will include three-year olds.
- In the next five years $500 million will provide cooling for schools through the installation of reverse cycle air conditioning.
- Armidale Secondary College will have $65 million to demolish Duval and Armidale high schools and start building of the state-of-art 1500 student school.
ROADS: Investment of $60 million for electorate’s roads
- $26.7 million to commence construction of the Newell Highway heavy duty pavement upgrade between Mungle Back Creek and Boggabilla;
- $10 million for major safety improvements, including audio-tactile line marking and shoulder sealing, on New England Highway between Uralla and Armidale;
- $1.28 million for heavy duty pavement on Newell Highway, north of Moree;
- $1.55 million for pavement repair on Waterfall Way near Wollomombi and Metz (east of Armidale);
- $3.5 million to seal first section of Main Road 507 (Carrigan Road) between Boomi and Mungindi;
- $4.62 million dollars for pavement repair on New England Highway at Tutts Gully, University Farm, Guyra,south of Armidale and Stonehenge, south of Glen Innes;
- $743,000 for draining improvements on Gwydir Highway at Gibraltar Range, east of Glen Innes;
- $950,000 for pavement repair on Gwydir Highway near Inverell;
- $2.5 million for Newell Highway overtaking lanes in Moree Plains Shire;
- $59,000 for the upgrade of Heber and Auburn Streets intersection in Moree.
COMMUNITY AND FAMILY: Police station, PCYC makeovers and rebates
- As part of a $39.2 million place to replace and refurbish Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYCs), the facility at Moree will undergo a makeover.
- Inverell police station will be demolished and a new $8.5 million 24-hour station.
- An investment of $5 million to upgrade Aboriginal Housing in Moree and across the Northern Tablelands.
- Nearly $1.7 million to upgrade social housing across the Northern Tablelands electorate.
- The new Creative Kids Rebate to provide families with a $100 voucher per school aged child, for extra curricular activities including music, drama, visual and performing arts, coding and language classes. This complements the existing Active Kids $100 Rebate, announced in last year’s budget.
- All new mothers will also receive a $150 ‘baby bundle’ hamper of products which will include nappies, a baby sleeping bag and a book.
- $626,000 to provide community transport and support to aged people and those with disabilities in Uralla Shire.