THE latest attack by the Member for Lyne Robert Oakeshott about the NSW Government being forced to make the tough decisions and make education cuts including cuts to TAFE is not unexpected, Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said.
“After 16 years at the hands of the previous Government, NSW was left a financial basket case,” Mrs Williams said.
“The O’Farrell/Stoner Government has been left to pick up the pieces and sort out the mess we were left by the former Labor Government.
“The State Government will spend $53.5 billion on education over the next four years. The reduction of $1.7 billion forced upon us is about 3 per cent over four years.
“Nobody wants to see cuts to education but this is about supporting a Government that is fiscally responsible. Quite simply, we cannot spend money we don’t have. The O’Farrell/Stoner Government is receiving $2.5 billion less in revenue each year since we came into office.
“That means $10 billion less over the Budget period for infrastructure and services. This is mainly due to the collapse in GST revenue as households save more and spend less. Not to mention the $5 billion per year being directed from NSW to other states by the Gillard Government.
“It would be good if Mr Oakeshott focussed his attention on getting that GST money back into the NSW budget.
“Unfortunately, the State Government has had to make the tough decisions to ensure NSW is living within its means.
“As a former teacher I completely understand the importance of education.
“TAFE is very important particularly in regional areas. If the Government is to ensure that education services at any level are sustainable, we must make the very difficult decisions now. I am proud of the achievements of North Coast TAFE and understand the significant contribution it makes to our local economy.
“TAFE plays a critical role in training people to meet the needs of our local industries, businesses and communities. These reforms will include measures to ensure that TAFE NSW is able to continue this role and remain viable in a competitive environment.
“Let me state what $2.5 billion would fund - more than 20,000 nurses, teachers or police officers. It would fund more than 500,000 additional people treated in public hospitals. It would build 5000 new classrooms. So these cuts are about balancing the budget.”