Business leaders must support the NSW Budget’s plan to unlock the economic potential of women in the state, the Treasurer has said.
Matt Kean says his first budget is about “reform to support families and build a better future for all” and will act as a 10-year blueprint for prosperity.
But the Labor state opposition says the budget is more about re-election than reform, with leader Chris Minns fearing an austerity budget could follow if he cannot lead his party into government when of the upcoming elections in March.
The Liberal treasurer continued to sell his plan on Wednesday, telling Australia’s Committee for Economic Development think tank in Sydney that economic reform will set the state up for long-term success.
A return to surplus is on track and will be facilitated by rising government revenues and the phasing out of COVID-19 and flood support, according to projections.
Within a decade, as many as 95,000 women are expected to enter the workforce or work longer hours, Mr Kean said.
Unleashing women’s economic potential would increase household income by up to $4,400 per year and grow the economy by up to $17.1 billion per year.
But companies can’t leave everything to the government.
Mr Kean challenged business leaders to think about what they could do to improve their offices for the women who work there, or risk missing out on the business benefits.
“The structural and cultural change that we are trying to achieve is something that is being built by everyone in our economy,” he said.
Flexible hours, employer-provided childcare and eliminating workplace harassment are all steps that could help companies attract the talent they need to boost productivity, Ms. .Kean.
Earlier, the treasurer promoted the $150 back-to-school vouchers announced in the budget for each school child.
“The cost of living is rising and we want to help families deal with household budget pressures,” he said.
The state government will allow first-time home buyers to skip stamp duty and pay property taxes instead as part of one of its flagship policy reforms.
Mr Minns called it an endless tax and warned that a re-elected Perrottet government would extend the tariff beyond first-time homebuyers.
“There is no doubt that he will introduce a broad-based property tax on residential properties for every household (if re-elected),” he said earlier this week.
Mr Kean told the CEDA audience that stamp duty reform was a very costly exercise which the NSW Government cannot do without the help of the Commonwealth.
“Right now we’re looking at early owners, we have a pilot program to see how it works for this cohort,” Kean said.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the policy gives first-time home buyers a choice that could allow them to own a home sooner.
“You can pay the stamp duty up front, or you can pay an annual amount, which is usually what you pay on council rates,” he said.
“If the Labor Party wants to continue running fearmongering campaigns, that’s their business, it demonstrates once again that they have no positive view of our state.”
Opposition Treasury spokesman Daniel Mookhey said the government should present its reform proposal to the election and denied waging a fear campaign.
‘We are highlighting the facts about the Prime Minister’s proposal… he wants this property tax to apply to every home in NSW, his first stop on this journey is first time home buyers,’ he said.
Choosing the property tax option would allow first-time home buyers to save the high initial cost of stamp duty, but would require them to pay ongoing taxes even after exceeding what stamp duty would have cost.
The current tax could, however, give the government more certainty about future revenues.