The first New South Wales budget after the crippling coronavirus pandemic will be all about jobs, Premier Gladys Berejiklian says as her treasurer prepares to announce his first deficit.
Dominic Perrottet will end a run of three surpluses on Tuesday after the COVID-19 restrictions squashed revenue targets and forced the Liberal treasurer to turn to stimulus to help the state weather the storm.
“Our budget focus is on jobs – job security, job creation and job growth,” Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.
“Pleasingly, the initiatives that the treasurer will outline … will ensure 270,000 jobs are brought back into the workforce in NSW or created by 2024.”
NSW Treasury predicts the state’s unemployment rate will hit 7.5 per cent in December 2020 before receding to about 5.25 per cent in June 2024.
Pre-COVID, Mr Perrottet was aiming for a budget surplus of $702 million – adding to budget surpluses since 2017 totalling $10.7 billion.
“It’s that discipline that has set up our state for success,” he told reporters on Monday.
“We are prioritising the economy before the budget – that means people before numbers in a spreadsheet.”
Tuesday’s budget will include an increase to the payroll tax threshold from $1 million to $1.2 million, effectively wiping out payroll tax for about 3500 small businesses.
Larger businesses will save tens of thousands of dollars, the treasurer said.
“That is real money they can put into their businesses and bring on more staff,” Mr Perrottet said.
The change was welcomed by business advocate Nola Watson, who said payroll tax serves as a disincentive for firms to take on extra staff.
“At a time when global economies are reeling, any support mechanisms to encourage business owners to invest by taking on additional staff should not be penalised through payroll tax,” the chief executive of lobby group Business NSW said.
Tuesday’s budget will also include additional or fast-tracked funding for the Sydney Metro West and the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport projects, road upgrades for the Pacific and Princes Highway and the redevelopment of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Details are also due to be announced for a $104.5 million fund focused on improving accessibility, sustainability and functionality of cultural assets.
“Our state has literally been through the wars in the past 18 months,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We’ve faced drought, we’ve faced bushfires … and of course COVID.
“I don’t think it’s an underestimate to say tomorrow’s budget is the most important delivered in a significant period of time.”