Budget Reply 2019

Disappointed in the 2019 Budget, Abigail spoke in Parliament about how this Government's obsession with privatisation, austerity and putting corporations before public good is impacting the most vulnerable in our community.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (15:56): I address the Appropriation Bill 2019 and cognate bills on behalf of The Greens. I place on record that we will go through the detail of those bills during budget estimates. The 2019-2020 budget continues the Government's stubborn allegiance to discredited neoliberal ideals of small government and low taxes. The flipside of that approach is fewer services delivered by a smaller number of overstretched public-sector workers, environmental degradation and higher economic inequality. In his address the Treasurer celebrated the supposed collective wealth of New South Wales, but there is nothing collective about the wealth of the State of New South Wales. As we know, in Sydney the top 20 per cent of income earners have an income around five times higher than those in the bottom 20 per cent. Household debt and expenses continue to skyrocket, median wages have flatlined and one in six people are living in poverty.

For anyone who has not been paying attention, the global economy has not recovered since the global financial crisis and it is does not look likely to. The current economic system is on life support. The Australian economy is heading for recession and the so-called "Fortress New South Wales" will crumble. Running a surplus is these circumstances is the act of a government unable to manage the New South Wales economy for our future prosperity. Maintaining a surplus means that the Government is taking more from households and businesses in New South Wales than it is giving back, right at the time when those households and businesses are least able to take on more debt. Successive surpluses push economies into recession.

In an increasingly shaky economic environment now is the time to act to stimulate productivity, reduce unemployment—not turf 2,500 workers out on their ears—to grow wages and to reduce economic inequality. The Government has shown that it has not been looking at the economic statistics or paying attention to the evidence that neoliberal policies cause harm to people, the economy and the environment. If it does understand these things then we must conclude that it simply does not care. Again, it is public sector workers and the most vulnerable people in society who pay the price for the Government's lack of economic management. This budget is about individual wealth and building more stuff. It is a budget of a government that sees itself as a business; the people of New South Wales are its customers—the people it sells its services to in order to make profit or surplus—to please its shareholders, whoever it thinks they might be.

This Government is not—and no government should be—a business. A government is the representative body of the people of New South Wales. It is a critical part of a society that provides for the wellbeing of all of its citizens. It could not be more different from a business. This budget tells us a lot about who and what this Government thinks is important. It is not people with a disability. It is not people at risk of sexual and gendered violence. It is not young people. It is certainly not the environment. It is not the community. It is not the wellbeing of people and animals. It is just business as usual while the planet burns and more and more people in this State go without their basic, fundamental human needs being met.

Read the full transcript here.

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