Very good time to be NSW Treasurer

"Since the June Budget, we’ve revised up our 2015-16 surplus to $3.4 billion - an improvement of $876 million, $438 million of which was from TransGrid,” New South Wales (NSW) Treasurer, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian told a CEDA audience.

Ms Berejiklian said that NSW now had a half-trillion dollar economy and, “Over the next four years, we will be averaging $2.6 billion surpluses year-on-year.”

“It’s very rare to have this combination of strong surpluses forecast over the next four years, nearly zero debt in the government sector, yet record spending in infrastructure and services,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian outlined revenue pressures moving forward, including an expected hit on GST revenues; declining royalties from the mining sector; and the need to absorb Federal Government decisions on health and education funding from 2017–18.

“In 2017–18, the change in health funding will be a net impact of about $700 million on the state’s budget, and up to $1.5 billion in 2018–19,” she said.

“Which is why the Premier and I, and all the other states, are so keen to resolve reform issues with the Federal Government … reform the tax base so we have a greater proportion of the revenue coming to the states.”

Ms Berejiklian said that, in housing affordability, residential building approvals are at a 40-year record high.

“The challenge for government is to convert these approvals to construction … to stock … supply, supply, supply is the answer when it comes to affordability,” she said. 

Ms Berejiklian said that NSW net debt was down to $1.8 billion in 2015–16, not including Commonwealth incentive payments for privatising electricity.

“Even though the net debt position is extremely positive, that will go up as we start spending the money we have,” she said.

“The whole notion of asset recycling allows us to get capital up front, invest in new infrastructure, but also stay well within the metrics of the Triple-A credit rating. 

“We’ve put in nearly $16 billion to Restart NSW, our infrastructure fund. And since we’ve been in government, we’ve created more than 350,000 jobs.

“We now have the highest participation rates in employment in NSW history – 64.7 per cent … and in the last monthly job figures, there were 70,000 jobs created around Australia, 59,000 of which were in NSW.

“This is the one indicator that’s a bit off the chart: we had assumed employment growth of one and three-quarters. We’ve now revised that to three and a half.”

Ms Berejiklian attributed much of NSW success to the discipline of living within its means. 

“Every single minister knows that we cannot be in a position where we are allowing our expenses to grow faster than our revenue,” she said.

“NSW is in an extremely strong position. NSW is outperforming the nation in a big way.”