The person who can best manage NSW’s finances was a point of contention during a debate between the state’s Premier, Dominic Perrottet and the man who wants his job, Chris Minns.
Mr Perrottet accused Labor for having a “short term” vision for the state, while Mr Minns said the government had unleashed a list of “unfunded projects” which would see the Coalition use privatisation or go deeper into debt to pay for its $116b infrastructure pipeline.
Speaking at The Daily Telegraph’s Future Western Sydney summit, Mr Minns said the next government will inherit a record $129b debt that will grow to $187b by June 2026, with an annual interest cost of $6.8b in 2025.
Chris Minns said the Coalition would leave behind $187b of debt. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles
“If the unfunded infrastructure is added to this bill, our annual interest bill will jump from $6.8b a year to $8.6b each year; every year and that’s just interest,” said Mr Minns.
In recent days Mr Minns has come under fire for wanting to cut infrastructure projects, such as two of the government’s proposed metro lines, the Northern Beaches motorway link as well as the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam, if elected.
However, he defended the cuts as necessary “hard choices”.
“We’ll be honest about what we can build and when and we will refuse to dangle false hope with unfunded promise,” he said.
Dominic Perrottet said Labor’s infrastructure plan showed ‘short term thinking’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles
Mr Perrottet said Labor’s infrastructure plan was “short term thinking that doesn’t set up our state for future success” and used Labor’s decision to cut the Westmead to Western Sydney Airport and Glenfield to Bankstown via Liverpool line as examples.
Differentiating between “good debt and bad debt”, Mr Perrottet said the Coalition’s infrastructure vision would create jobs and provide services for households.
“If you look here on our public infrastructure investment – 140,000 jobs created alone with those infrastructure projects,” said Mr Perrottet.
“That’s real opportunities, real opportunities for families across this country.”
Perrottet, Minns face off on housing affordability
Concessions for first home buyers was another point of contention for the two leaders.
This week, the government pledged to give all home buyers a choice between paying stamp duty or an annual property tax on homes under $1.5m if it wins on March 25.
The concession was introduced to first-home buyers in January.
Labor has proposed to cut stamp duty for homes up to $800,000 with concessions on properties up to $1m.
Mr Perrottet said his plan was a new way of fixing the problem of housing affordability, and allowed buyers to choose what “best suits their families”.
“The old, tired concessions clearly don’t work because we have the lowest proportion of home ownership in young people than ever before in our state and country’s history,” he said.
However, Mr Minns argued that property tax would become a “real burden” over time.
Both parties released policies to help first home buyers get onto the property ladder. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Western Sydney vital to victory
During Thursday’s debate, growth in Western Sydney was a focus for both leaders, with the area becoming a hotspot of the state’s residential growth and infrastructure investment. Parramatta is Sydney’s biggest CBD.
Western Sydney will also be a vital battleground area for both candidates, with voters in key electorates likely to decide the result of the election.
Labor will need to pick up five seats on top of its current 38 to be able to win with a minority government. To govern outright, it will need nine more.
Parramatta is Sydney’s second biggest CBD. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
Among the top seats eyed by both parties, Penrith could topple to either party, thanks to its slim 0.6 per cent margin. Currently held by former Deputy Liberal leader turned backbencher Stuart Ayres, Labor will run former Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown.
In the southwest, East Hills is another ultra marginal Liberal seat, balancing on a knife’s edge of 0.1 per cent.
Parramatta, which has been held by Liberal Geoff Lee since 2011, could also flip parties, with the popular MP retiring at the end March 25.
The nearby electorate of Ryde could also change hands, with Liberal MP Victor Dominello retiring.
Read related topics:Dominic PerrottetSydney