SYDNEY, AAP – The NSW treasury says a controversial $3 billion land and property sales target will increase the state’s net worth but NSW Labor and the unions are demanding clarity about the plan to sell off state-owned assets.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed on Wednesday that a briefing document marked “sensitive” asked departments to come up with $3 billion worth of land and property sales by 2023 to “manage fiscal headroom” and bankroll infrastructure.
The sales target for “surplus and underutilised property” was first flagged in the 2018-19 budget.
A spokesperson for NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the program helped the government “best match our assets to the current needs of our people”.
“The whole of government surplus land and property sales target is part of our successful asset recycling strategy, which will see the state’s net worth increase to $234.5 billion by June 2022, the highest of all states and territories,” the spokesperson said.
NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns said forcing departments to hit a “privatisation target” would mean selling of services that belong to the public.
“The government must come clean about what this target means for frontline departments and agencies across the board,” Mr Minns said.
“How many schools or hospitals risk being sold to meet this number?”
The briefing document, obtained by the NSW opposition under an order of Parliament, showed the Department of Education has been allocated a $90 million sales target.
“TAFE NSW understands that the cluster’s contribution to the target is over and above divestments planned for asset recycling or other budget measures,” the document reads. “TAFE NSW is required to meet this contribution commitment.”
The Community and Public Sector Union NSW, which represents all non-teaching staff, said this confirmed the union’s fears the government ultimately wanted to sell off TAFE NSW after it was advised in February the vocational trainer was slashing 700 jobs.
The union’s assistant secretary Troy Wright said the plan appeared to be “privatisation by stealth”.
“[The premier and treasurer] are helpfully trimming it down for future corporate buyers to come in and snap it up in another NSW assets fire sale,” Mr Wright said.