New South Wales is pumping billions into health and infrastructure as the state seeks to address COVID-19 and rebuild its economy after COVID.

Releasing its budget for 2020/21, the NSW Government announced a deficit for 2020/21 of 15.984 billion – a number which is then set to fall back almost to balance over the next three years.

Net debt is expected to rise from $19.7 billion or 3.1 percent of Gross State Product in 2019/20 to $53.2 billion or 8.4 percent of GSP in 2020/21.

By 2023/24, this will reach $104.3 billion or 14.7 percent of GSP.

But the budget has invested billions into healthcare and infrastructure.

On infrastructure specifically, the state has a pipeline of $107 billion worth of projects – $7 billion of which is new money and the remainder of which relates to previously announced projects.

Major expenditure commitments include:

  • $10.4 billion over the next four years to complete the Sydney Metro West project which will double the capacity between Sydney and Parramatta.
  • $9.2 billion over four years of the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport project which will become the transport spine for Greater Western Sydney and will connect communities and travellers with the new Western Sydney Airport.
  • $2.2 billion over four years for the Greater Sydney Gateway project which will deliver a new high capacity road connection from Sydney Airport and Port Botany to the new WestConnex St Peters Interchange.
  • A record $10.7 billion investment in health infrastructure over the next four years including completion of the $673.3 million Tweed Hospital Redevelopment and the $632 million Campbelltown Hospital Stage 2 Redevelopment.
  • A record $7.7 billion invested in Education and Skills infrastructure, with $1.4 billion in new schools infrastructure funding for new and upgraded schools, and
  • $100 million for asset replacement and maintenance for TAFE NSW to deliver quality training services.
  • $100 million over two years for the Greater Cities and Regional Sports Facility Fund to deliver sports infrastructure grants of up to $1 million, with a focus on regional NSW.
  • $812 million for social and Aboriginal housing across NSW including: $400 million for the construction and acceleration of new social housing properties. ƒ $200 million to deliver maintenance and upgrades of social housing.
  • $212 million for the new supply, upgrades and maintenance works of aboriginal housing.
  • $256 million for upgrades and maintenance works across National Parks, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Centennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park and the Crown Land portfolio.
  • 7 million for capital works and maintenance of courts, police stations and corrective services, as well as upgrade of the Goulburn Police Academy into a state-of-the-art training facility.

On health, the government will spend $29/3 billion in capital and recurrent funding $500 million to support COVID-19 clinics, hotel quarantine, and increased pathology testing and contact tracing; $385 million for additional PPE to keep frontline workers safe; $19.4 million over four years for mental health support services $30 million for additional emergency department attendances and ambulance calls and money addition money for telehealth, end of life support packages, access to specialist health professionals.

As well, the government is also looking at further ways to boost the development and construction sector.

Toward this end, it will seek feedback on a transition away from the current stamp duty and land tax system and seek ways to reduce development assessment timeframes, optimise industrial land use, reform infrastructure contributions along the lines of recommendations of the Review of Infrastructure Contributions and increase flexibility within employment zones.

NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian said the government had taken action to meet needs of people across the state as it emerges from an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

“The people of NSW have done it tough over the past 12 months, faced with the triple crises of drought, bushfires and COVID-19,” Berijiklian said.

“We are doing whatever it takes to stay ahead of the pandemic and provide the support our households, businesses and communities need to get back on their own two feet.”