Newcastle port sale absurd – Labor
THE State Government has devastated residents of Newcastle with plans contained in its budget to sell off the last major port in New South Wales, says the Labor Opposition.
The controversial privatisation of the Port of Newcastle, expected to be worth up to $700 million over its 99-year lease, will go towards funding infrastructure costs.
The move was unveiled as a centrepiece of yesterday’s (Tuesday) budget and about $340 million of the proceeds are specifically earmarked for the revitalisation of Newcastle.
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson describes the sell-off as “absurd”.
“Most people in Newcastle I imagine will be devastated,” Mr Robertson’s told Sydney journalists.
“Jobs are provided at Newcastle port – it’s the world’s largest coal exporting terminal and it’s being sold off.
“It generates revenues for the budget in NSW, it provides employment opportunities.
“What we know is that when you sell these assets jobs go.
“All for the sake of investing all that money into projects in Sydney.”
NSW Labor also slammed the government for planning public sector cuts while benefiting from increased taxes and GST revenue.
“It’s worrying that we continue to see increases in taxes in NSW and frontline services continued to be cut,” says Mr Robertson.
Infrastructure spending was down from last year and $3 billion had been taken out of the health system, he says.
Meanwhile, Labor’s Education and Training spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, says the “disappointing” budget has reduced education spending from 22.4 to 21 per cent.
“Axing the jobs of another 315 high school staff is the worst possible strategy when we are meant to be promoting greater Year 12 retention,” she says in a statement.
Ms Tebbutt says the budget for school infrastructure remains at the same level as 10 years ago, despite higher enrolments and the need to upgrade physical assets.
Greens MP and spokeswoman on Family and Community Services, Jan Barham, says the homeless have been neglected in the budget, which had been an opportunity to deliver much-needed increases for services that support disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
“Keeping families safe and together and ensuring they have a stable home are fundamental aims that needed more investment than this budget delivered,” Ms Barham says in a statement.
The NSW Teachers Federation has welcomed confirmation that the Gonski schools agreement will be funded over the next six years, but she says she’s unhappy that tertiary students will suffer as a result.
“The Gonski agreement will provide significantly increased funding to public schools and distribute it more fairly to the students who need it the most,” says Teachers Federation president, Maurie Mulheron.
“It is bitterly disappointing, however, that TAFE colleges will continue to suffer funding cuts and students face increased course fees to offset the costs of the Gonski agreement.”
Mr Mulheron says the government should be looking to raise revenues through taxation reform and other measures, rather than cutting public services. [more]