It’s lolly time for fam­i­lies

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - OPINION OURS & YOURS - LINDA SIL­MALIS

GROW­ING up in a fam­ily of 14 and with four kids of his own, Trea­surer Do­minic Per­rot­tet is no stranger to the fi­nan­cial jug­gle that goes on with run­ning a house­hold.

Gro­cery bills and school ex­penses aside, for most Syd­neysiders liv­ing west of Le­ich­hardt, there are the mul­ti­ple tolls, fares and fuel costs. Mr Per­rot­tet him­self re­ferred to them in his in­au­gu­ral speech to par­lia­ment, ac­knowl­edg­ing his Right ally Tony Ab­bott, as the “for­got­ten fam­i­lies”. The ones who face the chal­lenges of “crip­pling tolls” and “the ev­er­in­creas­ing cost of liv­ing.”

This week, those same fam­i­lies learned En­ergy Aus­tralia will hike their bills by 19.6 per cent, on top of Opal card in­creases to come into ef­fect next month. While those who own their homes are now as­set-rich thanks to a two-year prop­erty boom, they’ll re­main cash-poor un­less they sell up and go bush.

Against a back­drop of stag­nant wages growth, fam­i­lies want to know what re­lief Mr Per­rot­tet will of­fer in his first Bud­get on Tues­day.

An un­prece­dented prop­erty boom has filled Trea­sury cof­fers with record stamp duty rev­enue, which will con­trib­ute to a sur­plus above $4 bil­lion.

Throw in the sale of Aus­grid and En­deav­our and Mr Per­rot­tet is in pos­ses­sion of a sig­nif­i­cant bag of lol­lies.

This week Mr Per­rot­tet told me fam­i­lies were “front and cen­tre” in this year’s ‘health and ed­u­ca­tion’ bud­get. “The fo­cus of this bud­get is peo­ple,” Mr Per­rot­tet said.

“We want NSW to be the best place to live and work and raise fam­i­lies, and this bud­get will be all about com­mu­ni­ties.”

The gov­ern­ment has al­ready an­nounced its hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity pack­age, while out­lin­ing its plans for health and ed­u­ca­tion.

As for cost of liv­ing re­lief, one area of re­lief could be de­lay­ing the M4 toll to ease the av­er­age house­hold weekly toll bill of $80, com­pared with $50 in Mel­bourne.

Mr Per­rot­tet said the in­fras­truc­ture spend­ing would help fam­i­lies get home quicker and en­joy bet­ter ser­vices, and he ac­knowl­edged the en­vi­able fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion the State was in com­pared with its coun­ter­parts.

“We are build­ing NSW for the fu­ture, while ev­ery other State is strug­gling to live day to day,” he said. “We are not just liv­ing day to day, we are build­ing NSW for fam­i­lies for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

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