NSW budget 2017: What’s in it for the Hunter

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. DESPITE a record surplus as the government reaps the rewards of asset sales, the Hunter has largely missed out in this year’s state budget.
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Most of the spending earmarked for the Hunter is for projects the government has previously committed to.

Key highlights in the 2017-18 budget$206 million for Newcastle Light Rail

$29 million for the New England Highway Scone bypass and $23.4 million totowards Cormorant Road, Industrial Drive to Stockton Bridge (state and federally funded

$12 million to widen the rail underpass for the New England Highway, Gowrie Gates

$5 million in 2017-18 for the upgrade of the New England Highway, Belford to Golden Highway upgrade planning

Continuing works on Rutherford Public and Belmont High schools

$5 million towards building a new hospital at Maitland with an estimated total cost of $450 million

Continuing work on the Muswellbrook Hospital redevelopment with $13 million

Additional prison capacity at Cessnock Correctional Centre with an investment of $587 million for more than 1000 prison beds

$75 million in total Restart NSW funding for the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund

Continuing works on the relocation of V8 Supercar Championship Grand Finale to Newcastle

$43 million to remediate Newcastle BHP sites

$7 million to undertake urgent repair works across seven sites within the Hunter Valley Flood Mitigation Scheme

$700,000 for Environment Protection Authority PFAS strategy including Williamtown

$11.8 million to continue work on the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor between Hexham to Fassifern

MORE INFORMATIONState government pledges $5 million for Maitland HospitalStamp duty revenue, privatisations push to $12b surplusHunter misses out on big infrastructure spendBerejiklian Government to fund Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange business case

NSW Budget 2017-18: Stamp duty revenue, privatisations push to $12b surplus

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Photo: Jessica HromasNSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has unveiled budget surpluses worth almost $12 billion, underpinned by stamp duty from a booming property market and asset privatisations as well as $23 billion worth of cost cuts.
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Describing his first state budget as “the envy of the western world”, Mr Perrottet outlined measures squarely focused on the provision of “social infrastructure”.

Apart from the surpluses, his biggest new announcement on Tuesday was more spending on hospitals, with $720 million to upgrade Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.

This adds to $632 million for Campbelltown Hospital, $534 million for Tweed Hospital and $576 million for Nepean Hospital and $341 million for Concord Hospital in the budget that has been previously announced.

The expenditure on health comes after the government on Monday said it would spend $2.2 billion over five years on 123 new and upgraded schools across NSW to create 32,000 for student places and 1500 classrooms.

Combined with spending promised in last year’s budget, it means total expenditure on education infrastructure will be $4.2 billion over the next four years.

Mr Perrottet also announced that from January next year parents will be eligible for a $100 “active kids rebate” per child per year to cover registration and membership fees for sport and swimming lessons.

During his press conference Mr Perrottet defended the size of the rebate, declaring it “the soul of the budget”.

Small businesses and farmers will also benefit from tax cuts worth $330 million over four years.

From January next year businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million a year will be exempt from paying duties on insurance for work vehicles, professional indemnity and public liability.

For farmers, the duty on crop and livestock insurance will be abolished.

The budget papers confirm a $4.5 billion surplus in 2016-17, dropping to $2.7 billion in 2017-18, $2.1 billion in 2018-19 and $1.5 billion in 2019-20.

The 2016-17 surplus is $856.9 million higher than forecast in last year’s budget, thanks largely to stamp duty revenues from the part-privatisation of electricity companies Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.

The $11.7 billion in forecast surpluses to 2019-20 will be underpinned in part by savings achieved by increasing the efficiency dividend – or budget cut – imposed on government departments from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent for three years from 2018-19.

This is expected to save $547 million.

Along with existing measures, including the 2.5 per cent cap on public servant wage increases and procurement savings, the government anticipates savings of $23 billion over four years between 2017-18 and 2020-21.

However, the revenue side of the budget has taken a hit due to NSW’s share of the GST continuing to fall.

Under the present system NSW’s share of GST is set to fall to 25.5 per cent – or by $13.1 billion – by 2020-21.

This is worse that the forecast in last year’s budget which said NSW’s share is set to fall to 25.9 per cent – or by $10.8 billion – by 2019-20.

The budget papers confirm that under a per capita system of GST distribution pushed for by NSW the state would be $14.7 billion better off in the four years to 2020-21.

They say that net debt, currently below zero at -$7.8 billion, is set to rise to $18.6 billion by 2021, as the government borrows to fund its infrastructure program.

Elsewhere, the budget includes the previously announced housing affordability package targeting first home buyers.

From July 1, first home buyers of existing and new properties costing up to $650,000 will be exempt from paying stamp duty – up from $550,000 and adding existing homes to the scheme.

Buyers of first homes worth between $650,000 and $800,000 will receive stamp duty discounts – up from between $550,000 and $650,000 and again including existing homes.

To help fund the package, the stamp duty surcharge for foreign investors will be doubled to 8 per cent and the land tax surcharge lifted from 0.75 per cent to 2 per cent.

However, the budget papers reveal that property development companies that are foreign-owned but based in Australia will be eligible for a refund on the surcharges if they sell their developed properties within five years.

In his speech to parliament, Mr Perrottet said the budget contained infrastructure spending of $73 billion over the next four years.

“That’s the equivalent to building 124 Harbour Bridges – a once in a generation investment that will transform our state forever,” the Treasurer said.

The Sydney Morning Herald

MORE INFORMATION

State government pledges $5 million for Maitland HospitalWhat’s in it for the Hunter?Hunter misses out on big infrastructure spendBerejiklian Government to fund Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange business case

Stamp duty revenue, privatisations push NSW to $12b in surpluses

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has unveiled budget surpluses worth almost $12 billion, underpinned by stamp duty from a booming property market and asset privatisations as well as $23 billion worth of cost cuts.
Nanjing Night Net

Describing his first state budget as “the envy of the western world”, Mr Perrottet outlined measures squarely focused on the provision of “social infrastructure”.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Apart from the surpluses, his biggest new announcement on Tuesday was more spending on hospitals, with $720 million to upgrade Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.

This adds to $632 million for Campbelltown Hospital, $534 million for Tweed Hospital and $576 million for Nepean Hospital and $341 million for Concord Hospital in the budget that has been previously announced.

The expenditure on health comes after the government on Monday said it would spend $2.2 billion over five years on 123 new and upgraded schools across NSW to create 32,000 for student places and 1500 classrooms.

Combined with spending promised in last year’s budget, it means total expenditure on education infrastructure will be $4.2 billion over the next four years.

Mr Perrottet also announced that from January next year parents will be eligible for a $100 “active kids rebate” per child per year to cover registration and membership fees for sport and swimming lessons.

During his press conference Mr Perrottet defended the size of the rebate, declaring it “the soul of the budget”.

Small businesses and farmers will also benefit from tax cuts worth $330 million over four years.

From January next year businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million a year will be exempt from paying duties on insurance for work vehicles, professional indemnity and public liability.

For farmers, the duty on crop and livestock insurance will be abolished.

The budget papers confirm a $4.5 billion surplus in 2016-17, dropping to $2.7 billion in 2017-18, $2.1 billion in 2018-19 and $1.5 billion in 2019-20.

The 2016-17 surplus is $856.9 million higher than forecast in last year’s budget, thanks largely to stamp duty revenues from the part-privatisation of electricity companies Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.

The $11.7 billion in forecast surpluses to 2019-20 will be underpinned in part by savings achieved by increasing the efficiency dividend – or budget cut – imposed on government departments from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent for three years from 2018-19.

This is expected to save $547 million.

Along with existing measures, including the 2.5 per cent cap on public servant wage increases and procurement savings, the government anticipates savings of $23 billion over four years between 2017-18 and 2020-21.

However, the revenue side of the budget has taken a hit due to NSW’s share of the GST continuing to fall.

Under the present system NSW’s share of GST is set to fall to 25.5 per cent – or by $13.1 billion – by 2020-21.

This is worse that the forecast in last year’s budget which said NSW’s share is set to fall to 25.9 per cent – or by $10.8 billion – by 2019-20.

The budget papers confirm that under a per capita system of GST distribution pushed for by NSW the state would be $14.7 billion better off in the four years to 2020-21.

They say that net debt, currently below zero at -$7.8 billion, is set to rise to $18.6 billion by 2021, as the government borrows to fund its infrastructure program.

Elsewhere, the budget includes the previously announced housing affordability package targeting first home buyers.

From July 1, first home buyers of existing and new properties costing up to $650,000 will be exempt from paying stamp duty – up from $550,000 and adding existing homes to the scheme.

Buyers of first homes worth between $650,000 and $800,000 will receive stamp duty discounts – up from between $550,000 and $650,000 and again including existing homes.

To help fund the package, the stamp duty surcharge for foreign investors will be doubled to 8 per cent and the land tax surcharge lifted from 0.75 per cent to 2 per cent.

However, the budget papers reveal that property development companies that are foreign-owned but based in Australia will be eligible for a refund on the surcharges if they sell their developed properties within five years.

In his speech to parliament, Mr Perrottet said the budget contained infrastructure spending of $73 billion over the next four years.

“That’s the equivalent to building 124 Harbour Bridges – a once in a generation investment that will transform our state forever,” the Treasurer said.

Ex-Roosters star Shaun Kenny-Dowall escapes conviction for cocaine possession

Shaun Kenny-Dowall has escaped conviction for cocaine possession Photo: Ashley FederFormer Roostersstar Shaun Kenny-Dowall has escaped conviction for possessing cocaine,after making the”monumental mistake” of accepting a small amount of the drug at Sydney’s Ivy nightclub.
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Kenny-Dowall appeared in Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday, and pleaded guilty to possessing 0.29 grams of cocaine.

Defence solicitor Bryan Wrench told the court the 30-year-old underwent urine and hair testing soonafter he was caught with a resealable bag of cocaineon May 5, provinghe did not take the drug, and had not used drugs in previous weeks.

“It still doesn’t excuse what he did, but this is a case where we can say it’s a one-off,” Mr Wrench said.

Mr Wrench said Kenny-Dowall “gives a lot to the community”, and had several character references in his favour.

Magistrate Greg Groginsaid Kenny-Dowall appeared in court as a member of the community, who happened to have a high-profile.

Mr Grogin noted Kenny-Dowall had lost his contract with the Roosters as a result of the charges, as well as his registration with the NRL.

“The collateral damage is huge,” Mr Grogin said.

“There’s no evidence of drug use by you either at the time of the incident … or in the many weeks prior.”

The magistrate said Kenny-Dowall supported many community causes, including the Clovelly Crocodiles junior rugby league club.

Mr Grogin said he consideredKenny-Dowall’s early guilty plea, and the fact that it was his first offence when discharging him, and placing him on a year-long good behaviour bond.

It is not the first time the former centre has appeared in court.

The Kiwi national was last year acquitted of domestic violence after he was accused of headbutting, pushing and putting his former girlfriend Jessica Peris in a headlock.

After news ofthe drug charge,the Roosters saidKenny-Dowall would be stood downindefinitely “pending the conclusion of the club’s internal investigation and consultation with the club’s board of directors”.

He was in talks with the Newcastle Knights at the time.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Sneezed germs travel four metres and lasts for 45 minutes in the air, study finds

The spread of airborne diseases could be reduced through redesigned ventilation ofoffices, schools and hospitals, Queensland researchers hope.
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Scientists from the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland have discovered that some bacteria can spread up to four metresand remain alive in the air for up to 45 minutes after being coughed or sneezed.

Photo: iStock

The outbreak of theSARSepidemicin 2003 sparkedthe research ofProfessorLidiaMorawska, director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health at QUT.

The SARSoutbreak in 2003 sawabout 300 peopleinfected by one person who stayed in aHong Konghotel for just one night.

Following the outbreak, questions were asked how the epidemic spread so quickly tosomanypeople.

“Most research in this area to date has focused on laboratory-generated bio-aerosols, or airborne droplets, which are different from natural respiratory droplets generated by humans,” said ProfessorMorawska,wholookedinto the physics of infectious airborne bacteria expelled by the body.

An experiment was conducted in which twopeoplesat in a four-metre long tunnel and the bacteria the infected subjectsexpelled by either sneezing or coughing was monitored and measured.

The findings,that the germs could be propelled up to four metres and infectious quantities of bacteriastayed alive for up to 45 minutes, disproved the theory from medical experts that one metre was a safe distance from an infected person.

ProfessorMorawskasaid the next stage of the research would be to test the distance and durability of different kinds of bacteria, such as those behind the common cold or flu.

She also hoped to investigate preventative measures including the effectiveness of masks and how ventilation systems help to spread the bacteria.

“We will test masks using the tunnel again, but testing ventilation systems will be difficult becauseevery building design is different,”ProfessorMorawskasaid.

“We have been struggling for resources because we are working in prevention, curing studiesoften attractmore attention for grants.

“But we will lookacross a range of different designs because it could prevent the spread of airborne bacteria inoffice buildings, schools and hospitals.”

with Amy Mitchell-Whittington