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Butler vows to avoid budget cuts

Wednesday, 1st May, 2019

By Callum Marshall

Local state MP Roy Butler has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to prevent spending cuts in the electorate after it was revealed the NSW Government’s budget surplus was much lower than previously stated.

Before the election the government forecast an estimated a $4.3 billion surplus over the next four years.

But a large drop in GST revenue has put it down to $2 billion.

That, and a $9.6 billion reduction in forecast stamp duty revenue since June 2007, has some worried that services could be cut to make up for the lost money.

Mr Butler said it would be “outrageous” if the government used lower than expected revenue as an excuse to cut services, particularly when there was still heavy spending going on in Sydney.

“The lower than expected budget surplus shows how important it is to cut back on wasteful spending in Sydney,” he said.

“I will be fighting tooth and nail against any spending cuts in the Barwon electorate. We’ve already had core services cut to the bone.

“This government has wasted billions on Sydney projects such as light rail, stadium rebuilds and moving the Powerhouse Museum.

“It would be outrageous if they used a lower than expected budget surplus as an excuse to further slash services in the bush.”

Mr Butler said he intended to discuss the issue with NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. 

“I have reached out to government ministers to discuss the issues in my electorate and am yet to receive a response, but I will persist until they listen.” 

NSW Shadow Treasurer, Ryan Park, said the government had not properly prepared for a future of declining revenue. 

“Dominic Perrottet has failed to secure the long-term future of the NSW budget: both GST and stamp duty revenue are down,” said Mr Park.

“He will have to borrow an extra $7 billion to meet his election commitments and his ‘rock-solid’ surplus has just been slashed in half. 

“When the cuts to services inevitably come then we will have the Liberals and Nationals’ failure to plan for a rainy day to thank.”

The unpopular privatisation agenda had not helped either, he said.

“The privatisation spree of the past eight years has deprived the state of the safety net of assets that deliver annual dividends to the state’s coffers,” said Mr Park.

“This is what happens to a budget when a government has sold every revenue-raising public asset and has become more reliant than ever on fluctuating revenue streams. 

“The Treasurer’s claim to be some sort of financial wizard is looking more threadbare by the day.”

In an opinion piece written for the Sydney Morning Herald this week, Mr Perrottet said: “Essentially state budgets are subject to external forces over which governments can exert little direct control, meaning funding world class services can be challenging in times when revenues are down.

“That’s why our government has been so doggedly focused on exercising strict fiscal responsibility, living within our means, running surpluses whenever we can, and keeping debt and expenses under control.

“(There is a) need for states like NSW to consider options for making funding for the critical services state governments provide more stable, more predictable, more reliable, and above all, fairer.

“One simple, practical change would be for the federal government to provide the states with more timely advice about its own budget forecasting, so that GST writedowns like the one recently revealed in the federal budget don’t come as an unnecessary surprise.”

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