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Basking in the Post-COVID-19 Sunshine: NSW Goes Out and About Towards a Brighter Neoliberal Future

By Denis Bright

At federal and state levels of government, the LNP seeks to dazzle its support base with financial rewards.

Josh Frydenberg’s budget on 6 October 2020 advanced the timetable for tax relief for business and middle- income constituents as noted by Scott Morrison after the tax changes had cleared the senate:

The tax relief package, for both individuals and business, is part of our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan for Australia to create jobs, rebuild our economy and secure Australia’s future.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will update its schedules next week, with software payroll companies to update over the coming weeks, to get more money into the pockets of hard-working Australians as quickly as possible.

Getting money into the pockets of Australians will give them more to spend at their local shops helping to create more jobs.

The package brings forward Stage two of our Personal Income Tax Plan by two years. From 1 July 2020:

  • the low-income tax offset will increase from $445 to $700;
  • the top threshold of the 19 per cent tax bracket will increase from $37,000 to $45,000; and
  • the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket will increase from $90,000 to $120,000.

The NSW Budget Papers from 17 November 2020 show that the focus on distributing dollars and cents as a celebration of neoliberalism brought some challenges to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet at a time when net incomes from interest on reserves, dividends from state enterprises and royalties are all in decline during the current recession (Image of Revenue Sources in the 2020-21 Budget Statement):

Deviations in total revenue since 2019-20 Half-Yearly Review

Revenue from federal grants including GST is down in real terms by over a billion dollars to 40.6 per cent of total projected revenue for 2020-21.

These scenarios were anticipated by NSW Treasury which released its draft report on Federal Financial Relations on 1 July 2020 to call for discussion on a revision of the revenue tax base for NSW. NSW is very disadvantaged by the current carve-up of federal tax revenues as well as the current tax largesse by the federal LNP towards its crucial middle-income support base.

Using data that predates the current COVID-19 financial crisis, NSW Treasury has promoted discussion on a more equitable taxation formula that would take net income from Victoria ($16.9 billion), Queensland ($16.8 billion), SA ($4.2 billion) and Tasmania ($2.3 billion).

Both federal and state Labor should be joining in this national debate on tax reform as the Morrison Government continues to bask in the glory of its largesse to the business sector and to the largely LNP voting segments of its middle- and upper-income support bases.

To cap off the LNP’s taxation farce is the extent of the deficit which has been imposed on NSW for the maintenance of its service delivery and the added burden of the $500 million Out and About Reward Vouchers offered in the current NSW budget.

Channel Nine News offered some details of eligibility for the for viewers (Image from Channel 9 News 17 November 2020):

NSW residents will receive four $25 vouchers, totalling $100.

The idea of separating the $100 lump sum is to try and encourage residents to spread their spending around multiple businesses instead of pouring their free lunch or day out into one.

Every NSW resident aged over 18 will receive the vouchers. Those under 18 will miss out.

A pilot of the scheme will operate throughout December 2020 in Sydney’s CBD. It’s theorised that after a successful pilot scheme it will be rolled out across the state next year.

At a time when capital expenditure from both government revenue and the NSW Generations Fund is likely to peak in the two financial years prior to the 2023 state elections, NSW can hardly afford to splash a half a billion dollars on vouchers for restaurants and entertainment.

Some other suggestions from NSW Treasury are certainly worthy of bipartisan consideration. discussion initiatives to review burdensome property transfer taxes and payroll taxes deserve support from across the political spectrum.

NSW surely needs more real government priorities to build on the outreach of its Generations Fund which is largely from the proceeds of electricity privatization.

Keeping service delivery and new public sector investment going into the future requires great foresight which has been a real challenge to past administrations on both sides of politics. Even Labor has experimented with unsustainable neoliberal strategies which have assisted in placing it on the Opposition benches.

There are real opportunities for Opposition Leader Jodi McKay and Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord to repeat Queensland Labor’s successes on 31 October 2020 in the about to be redistributed electorates of NSW with the politics of a return to the basics in the spirit of William McKell and his successors who offered the people of NSW thirty years of Labor administrations until the defeat of Premier Jack Renshaw in 1968.

The revival of Labor at the state level in NSW may indeed have an unsettling effect on federal politics. An early federal election can be expected after the 2021-22 federal budget and before the NSW state elections. Might I add, that the Word of the Prophets are perhaps written on the Silo Walls. I suspect that the silos shown in the regional budget papers are long out of use like the public policies which generated this nostalgia for such far-off times.


Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizen’s journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.


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  1. Sofia

    Denis, thanks for an interesting article about the NSW budget. Another interesting read.

  2. Leila

    Where can you buy a restaurant meal for $25 these days? Thanks Denis for your background on the NSW Budget. Surely this Budget was an exercise in opportunism.

  3. Erica

    There is a noticeable link between the NSW and Commonwealth governments.
    Surely that $100 in vouchers for each person could have been better spent on creating more social housing .

  4. Paul

    Will the gift voucher work its political magic? That is the question. Thanks Denis for researching this issue.

  5. Tessa_M

    Why not a Countrylink ticket voucher, I say for a weekend at the Coast or the Blue Mountains?

  6. James Robo

    A new direction for the Premier State with Dominic Perrottet as the new Premier…

  7. Josephus

    Reminds me of the Tahitians some years ago who voted a corrupt pro French ‘demi’ stooge back into power after he gave the voters a bottle of spirits each.

  8. Lara

    A very different angle on Australian political life. Seems that NSW needs more federal funding for its cities and regions.

  9. New England Cocky

    Thank you for an excellent review of the on-going financial maladministration by the NSW Liarbral Nazional$ misgovernment who are promoted by those most benefiting from this ineptitude as ”the best financial managers of the Australian economy”. Remember the COALition mantra, ”If public servants can make it profitable then the private sector should exploit it”.

    Sadly, you have only perused the supply side and paid no attention to the expenditure on government procurement from Liarbral Party supporters and the growing number of purchases made by the Nazional$ replacing their financial base among the declining number of Australian family farm enterprises with foreign owned multinational agri-investment corporations having deeper pockets.

    It is marvellous what a little taxpayer infrastructure funding can do to support the reportedly fragile financial position of the Nazional$ Party at both a NSW and federal level. Perhaps there is a future AIMN article in the cost benefit analysis to Armidale NSW ratepayers struggling under Level 5 Water Restrictions during the worst drought in living memory while Giovanni Porkbarrelo et al fund an about $13 MILLION pipeline taking Armidale drinking water from Malpas Dam to grow export tomatoes at Costa Guyra Tomato Farm for the overseas shareholders of the Canadian agri-investment corporation about 50% owner.

    Oops!! Silly me!! I forgot to mention that the NSW Minister for Agriculture, Holla4A Marshall, is the local representative of the NSW Nazional$ while his colleague representing the Federal Nazional$ is the adulterous, alcoholic hydrophile Barnyard Joke. Anybody for an empty glass of MDB water?

  10. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks for those comments.The LNP will use every gimmick to get re-elected at a federal election in late 2022 with a try for re-election in NSW on 25 March 2023.

    The lack of support for NSW in the current state budget by the Morrison Government will be excused as the New Federalism in the future which winds back federal support for the states and territories in the 1960s.

    Expect a rough ride ahead in the mid-2020s if the federal LNP makes it across the line in an increasingly dangerous trading and security environment with China.

    At state level, NSW is is in the forntline of resistance to the new politics. Best wishes to Jodi McKay and the Labor team.

    NSW Treasury needs am independent corporatized investment fund which takes capital from overseas sources for a better balance in investment in metropolitan and regional development. Queensland has its QIC which also needs to open-up to overseas capital to counter the appeal of the far-right of the LNP and other parties in the regions.

    Articles on budgets can be very boring but my outreach is still worth a try as our national future is at stake in the brew generated by the NSW state budget.

  11. Bob T

    The voucher is a nod to socialism. The masses are being bribed into silent acceptance of govt ‘help’ leading to an attitude of dependency, too easy. UBI, bring it. BTW, are we in a post-covid-19 era? The SA lockup tells me it is far from done.

  12. rubio@coast

    Best wishes to the Labor Team in NSW. Now it the time to resist the state LNP when even restaurant owners are treating the vouchers as a joke which attracts clients in search of a free feed which is not available for a mere $25. Why are progressive friends so attracted to minor parties when Labor needs to be prompted to more resistance from its own support base?

  13. New England Cocky

    Re: Aunty Gladys & Dining Vouchers

    The traditional ”30 pieces of sliver” has been substituted by ”10 cups of coffee” with the attempted buying of Australian voters from the worst financial managers in the history of NSW. led by Lover Girl Gladys.

    Gifts to the corporates, gas to the foreign owned international mining corporations, destruction of the Great Artesian Basin groundwater and land tax to the farmers supporting the Nazional$.

    Now to spread COVID-19 among the metropolitan population to keep the population under control.


    A political sceptic could reasonably conclude that these policies may qualify as treason against the Australian people.

  14. Wam

    Hard to repeat labor’s successes in the ACT, NT and Qld because those had labor governments? But good luck to Jodi and Walt for 2023, when the vouchers will be long gone.
    Malinauskas showed the difference between labor and the lnp he pledged support for the premier rather than whinge and moan and backbite like O’Brien, fryburger and scummo.

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