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NSW: Tax cuts may undermine dental care spending

03 July, 2007

The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) has welcomed the recent budget announcements on additional infrastructure but has expressed disappointment that property tax cuts will undermine spending on key services.

“The Iemma Government was elected on the promise of better services. This budget goes some way to deliver that, but hasty cuts to land tax cuts will take out over $467 million that could have been directed at front line services and affordable housing over the next four years,” said NCOSS Acting Director, Michelle Burrell.

“Whilst NCOSS welcomes the extra $2 billion on infrastructure and the honouring of election commitments on education and mental health, so much more could have been done,” said Burrell.

“Despite a stronger than expected revenue base, this Budget fails to overturn years of neglect on basic services like dental health and physical aids for people with disability”.

“We all know our public dental health system is in crisis, with over 200,000 people on the waiting list, yet no real increases in funding are included in the budget, instead the Treasurer has re-announced paltry increases from last years budget”.

“Similarly, pre-school fees remain at unaffordable levels but the Treasurer refuses to top up funding to the level that would bring pre-schools within the reach of low income families”.

“There is no relief for struggling families facing $300 electricity price hikes over the next three years, despite the simple solution of extending concessions being readily available”.

“The Treasurer has quite rightly recognised that fixing the infrastructure backlog requires significant investment,” said Burrell. “Unfortunately he has not applied the same logic to one of the biggest challenges facing our State – affordable housing”.

“The Government admits that there are over 175,000 households in housing stress in Sydney alone. This budget delivers a paltry $17 million whereas investors get substantial cuts in land tax and mortgage duty, none of which is targeted to deliver housing that people can afford” said Burrell.

“Smoke and mirrors around redevelopment of existing stock cannot hide the fact that the significant investment needed to crack the housing affordability problem has not been delivered,” she said.

“There has been enormous pressure from the developer lobby to cut land tax,” said Burrell. “But this corporate welfare must be avoided at all costs if the State is to have a strong revenue base to deliver services”.

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