As their federal colleagues prepare for the start of an election battle, the NSW coalition government has been keen to heap praise on the 2016 budget.
NSW was one of the biggest winners from Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first budget, with $2.9 billion promised for infrastructure projects over five years in the key election battleground of western Sydney, including $115 million towards the Badgerys Creek airport.
Much of that funding – about $2.2 billion – was unlocked under the federal government’s 2014 asset-recycling scheme following the Baird government’s sale of the poles and wires network.
NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian welcomed the cash injection, saying it was $200 million more than the government expected.
However, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli was less positive about the Turnbull government’s $1.2 billion allocation for education, saying it fell short of ensuring the Gonski reform plan was funded until 2020.
“Gonski talked about a schools resourcing standard, which is the amount of money that every student needs to reach their full potential,” Mr Piccoli said.
“Even with the full Gonski, we’re only going to get to 95 per cent of that.”
He said he would continue to push for the extra money.
“Say they win and their budget position improves, we’ll be going back to them and saying 95 per cent is the agreement we signed up to,” Mr Piccoli said.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley says that may be too little, too late.
“Yet again, for the third year in a row, the federal budget locks in $25 billion of cuts to NSW schools and hospitals,” he said.
“The scenario for school students and hospital patients is a very grim one over the coming years.”
The Labor leader also accused Premier Mike Baird and his frontbench of being more interested in the electoral fortunes of their federal counterparts than in securing better funding from them.
“I don’t mind the fact that Mr Baird wants his Liberal colleagues to win an election- that’s politics, that’s life,” he said.
“But what I do mind is he won’t use that relationship with his Sydney Liberal colleagues who run the treasury benches in Canberra to get a fair deal for our schools and our hospitals.”