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From The Editor

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The NSW Budget handed down in June has been generally well received by business, a focus on infrastructure, jobs, housing, health and education.
The underlying surplus of $713 million for 2015-2016 is welcome and shows that the strength of the NSW economy.
The $68.6 billion allocated for over the next four years for infrastructure will provide the state with a major economic boost that will provide benefits well into the future.
Locally it is great to see the $103 million allocated for continued work on the new light rail system that will help revitalise Newcastle and provide additional momentum to the growing volume of private investment flowing into the city.
Additional funding to complete the new Newcastle Courthouse is also welcome.
Another major step is the $19 million to build an online Planning Portal with an additional $16.9 million to halve the time it takes to assess state significant projects, expand community consultation opportunities and ensure there is adequate capacity to assess environmental and social impacts of projects. It is great to see that the government has listened in this area and made positive steps to address the concerns expressed. There is still some way to go in streamlining the planning process but this is definitely a great start.
In recognition of the importance of small business, $27 million has been allocated over the next four years for the Small Business Employment Incentive Scheme which will provide up to $2000 for non-payroll tax paying businesses when they hire new employees.
Another notable inclusion is $2 billion for TAFE to help build a skilled workforce. As part of this Hunter TAFE will receive funding for a refurbished customer service and industry development centre to improve services for students, businesses and industry.
An additional $20 million has also been allocated to the Regional Industries Investment Fund.
There was disappointment that several significant local projects didn’t receive funding, including the Glendale interchange and the M1 to Raymond Terrace link. Hopefully these will be addressed in the near future.
Others perceived a lack of action in state taxes, including stamp duty which has ballooned in recent decades. Realistically, however, this area is unlikely to be properly addressed unless there is a national approach to tax reform.