Constance 'deep concern' over health, education budget cuts

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance has expressed "deep concern" over Joe Hockey's budget announcement that the Commonwealth will cut $80 billion from health and education funding to the states over the next decade and warned a co-payment to visit the doctor could see hospitals overrun.

NSW Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

NSW Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

As he prepares to unveil the NSW budget on June 17, Mr Constance said Treasury estimates the state is being asked to find an extra $1.2billion in health funding over the next four years.

"The NSW Government has major concerns over the Commonwealth’s budget, with what appears to be ‘cost-shifting’ in health and education services," Mr Constance said.

“We can’t sustain these cuts to health and education.

“We make no apologies for stating it’s a major concern for us.

“If the Commonwealth is prepared to have a sensible conversation about infrastructure and growth, which it has indicated, we look forward to working with them – but then don’t then shift the costs to the states.

“We understand the heavy lifting the government has to do and the mess they have had to clean up – we had to do the same three years ago.

“However, they can’t continue this mismatch of federal tax revenue but state expenditure.

“It’s unsustainable.”

Mr Constance said the state was also concerned about the impact of a $7 co-payment to visit a GP announced by Mr Hockey and "its potential impact on overwhelming our emergency departments".

“We need to have a long and detailed discussion with the Commonwealth about further details regarding this announcement,” Mr Constance said.

On Tuesday, Mr Hockey said the Federal Government would rip $80billion from schools and public hospitals to the 2024-25 financial year.

From 2017, indexation of health and education funding will change to reflect the growth in population and inflation instead of the amount of activity in each system.

It is estimated NSW schools and hospitals could face a $25.5billion reduction in funding over the next decade.

However, one bright spot in Tuesday night’s budget was the commitment of the Federal Government to the full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Mr Constance said.

“I’m very pleased and proud to hear that,” he said.

“I negotiated the NDIS with the Commonwealth around two years ago now and it has to be protected.

“That’s a gold star for Abbott and Hockey that we will see our agreements honoured.”

He also welcomed the Federal Government's commitment to spend $1.5billion on the first section of the WestConnex motorway.

“This money will allow us to fast-track the second stage of WestConnex, that will transform the way NSW commuters move through and around Australia’s global city,” he said.

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