NSW Budget preview: What’s in it for you
A $3 BILLION high-speed underground rail line connecting Sydney's CBD to Parramatta is set to be the centrepiece of the NSW government budget.
The budget, to be handed down this afternoon, will also earmark $28 million to finalise the final business case for the project expected to begin in 2020, The Daily Telegraph reports.
"This is a super train for three million people in Western Sydney," Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
"It will absolutely smash the travel time between Parramatta and the Sydney CBD via Olympic Park to less than 20 minutes."
The construction of the so-called Metro West project has a preliminary completion date of around 2025.
Last year, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet had more than $72 billion burning a hole in his pocket.
This year, he's still going to have a lot of cash to splash about, given the enthusiasm for the government of Premier Gladys Berejiklian for selling things off.
There's no doubt the first state is looking healthy. In 2017, the government managed a $5.7 billion surplus. This was a cheeky $1.2 billion more than expected, chiefly due to throttling back on the money spent by Macquarie St, but also raking in more of your cash in taxes, dividends and fines. The NSW Government thanks you for your largesse.
The state's net debt also went down by more than expected with NSW $9.3 billion in the red in 2017. All eyes will be on the surplus and debt on Tuesday.
In its State of the State Report, CommSec has, for some time now, placed NSW as Australia's leading state on a range of metrics, including house building, investment and employment.
In the run-up to the Budget, and in time-honoured fashion, politicians have been busy drip-feeding a preview of the spoils on offer. Expect everything from cheaper parking fines to airconditioning in schools to be announced, as well as a start on a new motorway.
There are also some rather idiosyncratic goodies on offer, including $50 million to bring an exhibition of Egyptian mummies to Sydney.
Here's the rundown of the what we know will be in the NSW Budget so far.
Ten of the most common parking fines, that don't impact safety, will be slashed by 25 per cent. These include misdemeanours such as parking after a ticket has expired or for longer than permitted.
A 10-minute grace period for tardy drivers before fines are issued will also be floated. But that won't apply to five-minute parking zones.
If you run a red light though, or use a phone behind a wheel, there will continue to be no mercy.
ROADS AND RAILS
One link in the several missing motorway links between Sydney and the state's third city of Wollongong will be built, with up to $2.6 billion on offer for stage one of the F6 freeway.
The motorway between the M5 in the inner west and Kogarah in the St George region will take 10,000 vehicles a day off local roads and bypass 23 sets of lights. There will be a price, with a $1.77 toll for the new road.
But it will take a lot more to fully complete the motorway between the two cities and critics say the circuitous rail line, which does the same job, is being neglected.
Rail passengers should spend less time on platforms with an $880 million boost to two suburban lines. The T4 Illawarra line and T8 Airport and South line will see fancy new signalling technology installed. This means up to eight more trains per hour will be able to squeeze onto the tracks, one every four minutes.
An injection of $133 million will see 11 further stations given new ramps, lifts and footbridges to make them fully accessible.
If you catch the bus, 2000 extra weekly services will roll out across Sydney's northern beaches, western Sydney and the north shore.
An extra $600 million will be pushed into road safety initiatives, including highway patrol officers and lifesaving wire road barriers.
The government will plough $55 million into mental health initiatives in the workplace. There will also be $150 million to fight heart disease, with $60 million earmarked for more research into Australia's number one killer.
More than 170 new or upgraded schools will open across the state over the next four years, 20 more than previously announced, including at Westmead in western Sydney and Green Square in the inner south. A $500 million boost will also see airconditioning installed in classrooms in 1000 schools.
Six new police stations will be built at a cost of $119 million, including at Parramatta, Hurstville and Port Macquarie. An extra $83 million will also go towards policing on country roads, which will see the controversial mobile drug testing program expanded. That will mean 100,000 additional tests per year.
EYEBROW RAISING BUDGET SPENDING
Fans of mummies will just love the 2018 state budget with $50 million set aside so Sydney's Australian Museum can be refurbished to host the exhibition Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh.
Caravanners rejoice as your rego and that for camper trailers will be slashed by 40 per cent.
Also, $630 million will be spent on hikers and trampers with big bucks for national parks and, in particular, walking tracks.