'What a stunt': NSW Treasurer slams Gillard government on West Connex road plan
May 12, 2013
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
NSW Treasurer Mike Baird has called on the Gillard government to stop using major infrastructure projects in NSW as a "political football", saying it was unrealistic to think Sydney's West Connex road could be built without a toll.
"What a stunt! Does anybody seriously believe projects such as the West Connex can be delivered under current economic circumstances unless user contributions are part of the funding mix?" he told Fairfax Media.
It has been reported today the Gillard government will commit $1.8 billion to the WestConnex but Ms Gillard's demand of no tolls remains a sticking point for the NSW government.
Mr Baird said he was sick of hearing about federal Labor's plans for vital NSW infrastructure in the morning papers and called for a collaborative working relationship instead.
"I'm calling for a healthy dose of honesty," Mr Baird said.
He warned the Labor government not to penalise NSW to get its own spending in order, and said $350 million in critical health funding is at risk in this week's federal budget.
"Treasurer Swan has been making promises to slash spending on government programs," Mr Baird said. "Is this just code for slashing state health spending?"
He said frontline services at risk if the funding was not secured included places for 12,000 palliative care and rehabilitation services patients a year; 195 acute care beds across 23 hospitals for elective surgery, 69 short-stay medical assessment beds that treated 17,000 patients, and 462 sub-acute care beds for rehabilitation and mental health.
Westmead hospital stood to lose 15 additional elective surgery beds, Gosford hospital had 11 beds at risk and Liverpool could lose 16.
The NSW government is cutting $3 billion from its health budget in efficiency savings over four years but claims frontline services will not be affected.