NSW expected to post $4.5b budget surplus

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet

The expenditure on health comes after the government on Monday said it would spend $2.2 billion over five years on 123 new and upgraded schools across NSW to create 32,000 for student places and 1500 classrooms.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has unveiled budget surpluses worth nearly $12 billion, underpinned by stamp duty from a booming property market and asset privatisations as well as $23 billion worth of cost cuts.

He said this as he handed down his first budget on Tuesday morning.

Mr Perrottet crowed that the NSW economy was the envy of other states, thanks to prudent financial management.

Beyond the massive road and rail projects we've heard so much about for so long - Westconnex, Sydney Metro and the Pacific Highway upgrade - there's a 61 per cent spending boost for new and upgraded schools to a record $4.2 billion over four years, and a 50 per cent increase in health and hospital spending to $7.7 billion, also a record, over the same period.

As well as already-announced upgrades at Campbelltown Hospital, Concord and Tweed, Mr Perrottet announced a $720 million upgrade at Randwick (Prince of Wales) to service the marginal seat of Coogee.

With growth at above-trend across the forward estimates, Mr Perrottet said it was the regions outside of Sydney that were the "unsung success" of the strong budget position.

Planning for the M12 Motorway was also listed in the Budget to receive funding of $21 million from both the state and federal governments.

For farmers, the duty on crop and livestock insurance will be abolished.

The over-performing budget result will likely be attributed to the privatisation of some state assets, including the partial privatisation of electricity "poles and wires" company Ausgrid, higher investment returns and tight expenses control.

$8 million to regulate the private operator of the NSW land title system to ensure a stable transition and enhanced service levels and to support the transition to a paperless electronic based conveyancing system.

Roads spending across the state will total an estimated $72.7 billion over four years according to the Treasurer.

The state government says the projects will contribute to the delivery of its digital strategy, which takes into account the digital and connectivity infrastructure requirements of NSW over the next 20 years.

"Our reform agenda has been a game changer for NSW", Perrottet said. It's much easier to complain long and loudly, even if justifiably, about declining GST revenues due to the admittedly questionable redistribution from states with strong economies such as NSW to states with weaker economies that have so far avoided hard economic reform such as Queensland.

The government will increase the budget cuts imposed on government departments from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent for three years from 2018-19, and will also keep the 2.5 per cent cap on public servant wage increases and procurement savings.

Struggling first homebuyers will also get some relief under Premier Gladys Berejiklian's long-awaited housing affordability package, as stamp duty is scrapped on existing and new homes up to $650,000.

Buyers of first homes worth between $650,000 and $800,000 will receive stamp duty discounts - up from between $550,000 and $650,000 and again including existing homes.

Due to the additional tax burden on foreign buyers, the government will give back $34 million to foreign owned developers over the next four years to compensate for the loss in competitive advantage against domestic developers, provided they sell their developed properties in the next 5 years.

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