NSW State election – how do the two main parties compare?

22-Mar-2019

 

With Election Day tomorrow, here is a comparison of some of The Liberals/Nationals and Labor’s key promises.

Health Policy

Health has been described in the media as the ‘new battleground’ and ‘a sore point’ in the NSW election. There’s no doubt that health is right up there with cost of living and education as a vote decider. Herald polling has found that 1 in 5 voters consider health and hospitals to be their number one priority.

Hospitals and health centres

Once again infrastructure has dominated the political debate, with both major parties promising new hospitals and upgraded health facilities.

The Liberals/Nationals have said NSW ‘can have it all’ and will spend big, with $8.4bn on health infrastructure across the state in the next four years. This includes building or upgrading 29 more hospitals and health facilities over the next term. This includes $1.3bn to redevelop the Bankstown-Lidcombe hospital, $1bn at Nepean, $932m at Westmead Children’s hospital, $750m at Royal Prince Alfred and $750m for John Hunter hospital in Newcastle.

Labor has been campaigning on ‘schools and hospitals over stadiums’ and is committed to building a new $700m North West Public Hospital at Rouse Hill and has matched the $1bn for Nepean Hospital. It has promised that regional hospitals will be upgraded if it wins office, including $434 million for Shoalhaven Hospital, $100 million for Manning Base Hospital and $200 million for a new Eurobodalla hospital .

Labor has also made promises for other health services including:

  • 6 nurse-led walk-in Health Centres to take pressure off emergency departments. The centres will be located at Glenmore Park, Kiama, Gosford, Burwood, Waverley and Camden.
  • 6 detoxification and rehabilitation clinics including in Western Sydney and Dubbo, providing an additional 125 beds to address drug use.
  • $8 million over the next four years to help Women’s Health Centres across NSW expand their work.

Staffing

In addition to infrastructure expansions, both parties have promised there will be more staff to meet demand.

The Liberals/Nationals have promised to hire 1,060 medical staff including doctors, psychiatrists and specialists, 5000 extra nurses and midwives, 880 allied health workers and 1360 support staff. They have also focused on improved palliative care services, including 100 palliative care nurses, as well as increased workforce to deliver more cataract surgery.

Labor have committed to mandated nurse-to-patient ratios following a strong campaign by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, promising 5500 new nurses and midwives in their first term. Labor has also promised an extra 4,900 health and hospital workers including paramedics, allied health workers, security guards and cleaning and support staff.

Privatisation

The bungling of the Northern Beaches Hospital which we have reported on previously here, has highlighted the dangers in public private partnerships.

The Liberals/Nationals have abandoned its plans to privatise five regional hospitals following a successful campaign by ASMOF and the other health unions. They have said that the new hospitals they are currently building will be public, and that they are “not ideologically wedded to privatisation”. However, it should be noted that since 2011, the Liberals and Nationals have sold $70 billion worth of public assets and privatised thousands of NSW public sector jobs. They will also not commit to reducing the use of contractors and contingent labour across NSW Health.

Labor has made a clear commitment to no more privatisation or outsourcing of public sector jobs and has firmly stated that there will be no privatisation of NSW hospitals. They have promised to install an independent monitor, backed by medical staff, to ensure proper levels of patient care for public patients at Northern Beaches. Labor has also said they will review the use of contracted, labour hire, casual and temporary employment used across the public sector (including health), ensuring such work forms are for their intended purpose only.

Kid’s health

The Liberals/Nationals have promised to double the Active Kids program to $200 to reduce the cost of sport and activities. It has also promised an additional $2 million over four years to Life Education NSW, who deliver Healthy Harold, to deliver health-focused education.

Labor has said it will invest $7 million to encourage more children to walk or ride to and from school.

Mental Health

Both parties are targeting mental health in school as part of their election campaign

The Liberals/Nationals have committed to 100 additional psychologists and counsellors, as well an additional 350 full time student support officers to be on site at every public high school.It has also stated that it willimprove teacher training to support students, target regional areas through specialised programs, and partner with specialist mental health providers to support schools. The Liberals/Nationals are not committed to establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter in the public sector.

Labor has matched this commitment with an additional 450 psychologists and support officers, and an offer of mental health first aid training for senior staff in schools. Labor has also drawn attention to its commitment to increased transparency of staffing levels and mandated nurse-to-patient ratios within mental health services. Labor has also indicated it will hold a Parliamentary Inquiry into the mental health system in NSW if elected. Labor is committed to establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter and rolling out programs across the NSW public sector.

Climate change and healthy environments

Climate change and the environment are increasingly on voters’ minds and impact the health of our communities.

The Liberals/Nationals have delivered the $1.4bn climate change fund since 2017 which aims to reduce energy inefficiency and cut household power bills. The Liberals/Nationals has a net-zero emissions target by 2050. The Liberals/Nationals will appoint a Minister for Public Spaces to protect, enhance and expand the State’s parks, gardens and open spaces and invest $150 million in new and improved public parklands.

Labor supports the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050and will introduce a Renewable Energy Target of 50% by 2030. Labor has promised to hold a Summit to develop a Climate Action Plan and introduce a Climate Change Act. If elected Labor has promised to ban single use plastic bags within 100 days of taking office and support electric cars. Labor has also said it will invest $50 million over the next four years to deliver more green spaces across greater Sydney, and plant trees in areas such as Western Sydney which currently have poor tree cover.

Social determinants of health

We know the health of our communities is impacted by factors much broader than that which are typically considered within ‘health’ policy, and education and socio-economic disadvantage is strongly tied to health outcomes. Here is a snapshot of some other party policies.

The Liberals/Nationals have promised they will:

  • Recruit 4600 extra teachers
  • Expand before and after school care under a new $120 million package, to improve access and affordability
  • Commit $500m in funding for new buildings for non-government schools
  • Continue building almost 27,000 social and affordable homes over ten years.
  • Offer almost 700,000 free TAFE and VET places over the next 4 years for students who want to combine work and study through a traineeship.
  • Invest $5.85 million to support women who want to start a home business, supported by the TAFE

Labor promises it will:

  • Recruit 5000 extra teachers
  • Commit $7.4b to build and upgrade public schools
  • Achieve 100% of Gonksi school resources standard
  • Offer free public transport for children under 16
  • Offer free TAFE courses to target skills shortages, for more than 600,000 students over the next decade.
  • Extend early childhood education funding to every three-year-old
  • Improve housing affordability through Housing Affordability mandates on government owned and privately developed land.
  • Invest $158 million over the next four years to address domestic, family and sexual violence.

Wages Policy

Labor will scrap the 2.5% Wages Cap and reintroduce the independent umpire (the Industrial Relations Commission) to the bargaining system. This would give back conciliation and arbitration powers to both our union and the IRC and would allow for fair fights for fair wage increases.

The Liberals/Nationals will keep the 2.5% Wages Cap and the powers of the union and the IRC will continue to be restricted. From 2021, the Liberals and Nationals will reduce the annual wage increase to 2% to fund the compulsory superannuation increases.