NSW unveils $2.8b economic recovery plan
The NSW government will spend $2.8 billion to help repair the $50 billion hole left by the state's lengthy pandemic lockdown - "a once-in-a-lifetime economic catastrophe".
Treasurer Matt Kean on Thursday unveiled his economic recovery plan, revealing the state's stay-at-home restrictions - which lasted 106 days in some areas - cost the economy $1.9 billion per week at their peak.
He says his stimulus package will rebuild consumer confidence and target support to industries hard-hit by restrictions, but ultimately its aim is to "leave no one behind".
"We know this was a once-in-a-lifetime economic catastrophe in NSW, but because of our strong health strategy, because of this economic recovery strategy, I'm confident we'll be able to bounce back better," he said.
The package includes a well-deserved reward for parents, said Dominic Perrottet, who has touted himself as "the premier for families".
In an expansion of the state's voucher incentive scheme, $250 per household will be provided to parents of school-age children to spend on entertainment and attractions from March.
That comes on top of $50 accommodation vouchers for every adult in the state announced on Wednesday, and the two extra $25 Dine and Discover vouchers already promised.
"This program is a big thank you to parents. Every parent who has homeschooled knows the enormous sacrifices and how challenging it's been during the past three months," Mr Perrottet said.
"We want you to get out with your kids, or take some respite from them and go out with your partner, and enjoy the best that NSW has to offer."
Deputy NSW Labor leader Prue Car says parents need the stimulus now.
"If this $250 is supposed to be a thank you, why do the working families of NSW have to wait six months?" she said.
"Family budgets will be very stretched for the next few months over the Christmas period."
The premier said the measure was designed to sustain demand through to next year, and parents will have three school holiday periods to use the vouchers.
He also rejected concerns the package's headline measure left out large swathes of the community, who also deserve a reward - including teachers without children of their own.
"There is something in this economic recovery package for everyone," he said.
"It is the most extensive economic recovery plan in the country by a long, long way."
Big ticket items in the plan include $50 million for performing arts, $300 million to fund a COVID-19 learning support program, $480 million for new housing or refuges for people fleeing domestic violence, and $130 million to bolster mental health services.
A new compensation scheme will reimburse businesses up to $20,000 if they lose stock as a result of local lockdowns in December and January.
With 235,000 jobs lost during lockdown and the unemployment rate expected to hit 6.4 per cent, $100 million has been set aside for helping job seekers to retrain or upskill.
The government hopes all jobs lost will be recovered by September next year, and another 25,000 created by December 2022.
The new package takes the money spent on lockdown support measures to more than $10 billion, the government says.
But shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey is not impressed.
He says the plan lacks detail, particularly on the impact on the state budget and debt.
"Most of what the premier and treasurer announced today are recycled ideas paid for with recycled money," he said.
The government should have extended the payroll tax discount for another 12 months and not have been so quick to taper off the JobSaver program, he says.
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