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Breaking down the budget: Business leaders, teachers and health advocates react

Article image for Breaking down the budget: Business leaders, teachers and health advocates react

The state’s budget deficit is half what was expected, but delays to the vaccine rollout and borders reopening are keeping the economy volatile.

In handing down the 2021-22 NSW budget, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet declared the government will aim to take the state “from recovery to reform” in the wake of COVID.

NSW faces a $8.6 billion deficit in the coming financial year, but the budget forecasts a $466 million surplus in the financial year 2024-25.

Business Western Sydney Executive Director David Borger told Jim infrastructure investments like the Bradfield aerotropolis development and second state of the Parramatta Light Rail are “great news” for his region.

A lack of toll relief however is “the sting in the tail” of the budget, and something the government will need to address.

“300,000 people in the west have to travel sometimes very long distances, and there’s a real cost to that.”

In his speech, a $3.3 billion education investment was hailed by the Treasurer as the “biggest state school building program in our country’s history”.

However, NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos was dissatisfied by the “gloomy” announcement, which is around $400 million lower than promised.

“We’re expecting an increase in student enrolments of somewhere in the tune of 200,000 students in the next 20 years.

“We need a massive injection. We need a plan.”

For young Australians, more than $100 million has been committed over four years to develop child and adolescent mental health response teams.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey welcomed the funding, particularly following the litany of disasters – including the bushfires and pandemic – causing kids distress.

“Our young people are really at a crossroads.”

Press PLAY below to hear the response from key community and industry stakeholders

A $44 million learn-to-swim program has also been announced, giving three to six-year-olds $100 off swimming lessons.

Legendary swimming coach Laurie Lawrence, a swim safety advocate, told Jim the program won’t just save lives, it’ll give kids’ development a boost.

“It’s a winner all round.

“Kids who have lessons early, by the time they to prep they’re up to 10 months ahead of their peers socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually.”

Press PLAY below to hear the full interview

Image: Nine News

Jim Wilson
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