By Richard Gibbs | 20 Sep 2023

The 2023-24 NSW Budget – the first Labor budget in 13 years – is oriented towards fiscal recovery, working towards a projected surplus of $844.0 million in 2024-25. This budget is a welcome first term milestone for the new Government. Keenly anticipated by many, we are pleased to see its comprehensive dedication to improving social and economic outcomes for the entire state.

The key themes reflected in this Budget are rebuilding essential services and providing cost-of-living support. The former focuses on addressing the NSW economy’s existing structural issues, while the latter focuses on alleviating the issues pressuring households and small businesses.

Significant investment is being funneled into Western Sydney, with funding directed towards new and upgraded schools, hospital upgrades and redevelopments, transport infrastructure, and cultural programs. Referenced in the media as a ‘shot in the arm’ for Western Sydney, this commitment ensures the region is provided with appropriate economic and social infrastructure to support its growing population.

We are pleased to see its comprehensive dedication to improving social and economic outcomes for the entire state

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This Budget features the state’s largest education promise in a decade of $9.8 billion. This investment is directed at enhancing and increasing school infrastructure, improving retention amongst teachers, and advancing educational outcomes through various in-school programs and initiatives.

Transport remains a key infrastructure focus, with the NSW Government committing $72.3 billion for improving the State’s essential transport and road network infrastructure. The initiatives will unlock greater connectivity and assist in providing critical upgrades to the existing network.

Major themes of the 2023-24 State budget include:

  • Confronting the housing crisis
  • Transport, health, and education infrastructure
  • Sustainability
  • Cost-of-living support
  • Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Confronting the Housing Crisis

The NSW Government will commit over $2.2 billion to support the delivery of much-needed housing supply and address the housing affordability crisis. Key investments include:

  • $2.2 billion towards accelerating housing supply under the Housing and Infrastructure Plan.
  • $691 million towards an expanded First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme, with stamp duty exemptions for purchases up to $800,000 and concessions for purchases between $800,000-$1 million.
  • $224.0 million Essential Housing Package to fund Homes NSW in delivering better outcomes for public and social housing tenants, more affordable and social housing, and reducing the number of homeless people in NSW.
  • $60.0 million for supporting Build to Rent trials on the South Coast and Northern Rivers.
  • $24.0 million to establish an NSW Building Commission to support high quality housing.
  • $9.1 million under the Faster Planning Program to evaluate housing supply possibilities on Government-owned sites, with a particular focus on facilitating the creation of new social housing.
  • The introduction of an NSW Rental Commissioner to work with the Government in designing and implementing changes to make renting in NSW more affordable and secure.


To better connectivity and delivery of essential services amongst growing communities, the NSW Government is committing $72.3 billion to improve essential transport and road network infrastructure. Key investments under the Essential Transport Infrastructure Plan include:

  • A combined $9 billion over four years to deliver the Sydney Metro West, Metro City, Metro Southwest and Western Sydney Airport metro line.
  • $4.7 billion to service the Western Harbour Tunnel Upgrade.
  • $3 billion over four years to establish an Urban Roads Fund, prioritizing delivery of major roads in Western Sydney, metro areas and key corridors.

The Government has also committed $300 million to expand the Transport Access Program to upgrade stations to make them more accessible, safe, and secure.


Within this budget, the NSW Government has demonstrated its committed to improving access to health services, rebuilding essential health services, and increasing Women’s access to healthcare.

  • The Essential Infrastructure Plan includes a significant investment of $13.8 billion in health facilities, including 600 new hospital beds across Western Sydney.
  • More than $2.5 billion to recruit and retain healthcare workers. This includes:
    • $572.3 million over three years to enable 1,112 full-time equivalent nurses and midwives whose positions were funded temporarily.
    • $419.1 million for an additional 1,200 nurses.
  • More than $100 million to support new essential services. This includes:
    • $52.7 million for 48 new Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and medical and forensic officers to fill critical gaps in healthcare services for victims of sexual assault across New South Wales.


The NSW Government has committed $9.8 billion – the largest education promises in a decade – to improving the state’s public education system. Over the next four years, the focus will be on infrastructure upgrades, appropriate service delivery and vocational investment. Key initiatives include:

  • $4.9 billion towards upgrades and new schools in Western Sydney and regional NSW
  • A plan to deliver new and upgraded schools in fast-growing areas, backed by an enrolment growth audit to improve Government school infrastructure planning.
  • $112.0 million to meet the TAFE funding shortfall, along with a review into VET.
  • $93.5 million allocated in the form of 1,000 extra apprentices across NSW Government by 2026.

The NSW Government also intends to address declining education outcomes, teacher shortages and neglected schools through the introduction of an Education Future Fund. The Fund will deliver new programs and provide teachers with a historic and nation-best pay rise (entry-level teacher pay increased to $85,000). Other Education Future Fund initiatives include:

  • $278.4 million towards permanent literacy and numeracy tutoring programs in primary and secondary schools.
  • $20.0 million for the Innovative Teacher Training Fund.


Over the next four years, the NSW Government has committed to supporting a transition to renewable energy and sustainable economic growth. Investment in clean energy transmission and storage solutions will help to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for households and communities.

  • $3.5 billion over four years for the Transmission Acceleration Facility.
  • $1.8 billion invested in the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, with $1.0 billion allocated for the Energy Security Corporation and a further $804 million into Renewable Energy Zones to drive stable and affordable renewable energy delivery.
  • $95.5 million over four years for Zero and Low Emission Vehicle Reform to ensure an efficient and equitable rollout of electronic vehicles.

Cost-of-living support

A key focus of the 2023-24 Budget is alleviating cost-of-living pressures for NSW residents. Energy relief, toll relief, and childcare are significant issues addressed in the Budget. Key initiatives include:

  • Maintaining the $5.0 billion investment over 10 years in the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund, and the $5.7 billion funding for universal preschool access.
  • $615.0 million toll-relief program to support motorists, providing relief through a $60 weekly toll cap for private motorists from 1 January 2024 and a 33% reduction in the truck toll multiplier on the M5 East and M8 (two-year program).
  • Funding to expand energy relief beyond 2023-24, increasing the Family Energy Rebate, Seniors Energy Rebate, Low-Income Household Rebate, Medical Energy Rebate, increasing the value of equipment under the Life Support Rebate.

Regional NSW

The 2023-24 Budget aims to support regional communities by enhancing their access to healthcare and education services, while also fortifying and safeguarding these communities.

  • $3.8 billion to support new and upgrade health facilities, this includes:
    • $538.0 million for Albury Wodonga Regional Hospital to improve patient safety and increase the capability of the health service to meet future health needs.
    • $200.0 million for the Bathurst Hospital redevelopment to serve the Central West
  • $1.4 billion allocated to Regional NSW for 19 new and 35 upgraded schools.
  • $390.0 million Regional Emergency Road Repair Fund.
  • $70.0 million debt financing to accelerate the delivery of social, affordable, and private homes in regional New South Wales as part of the Essential Housing Package.

Rebuilding communities

The NSW Government is committed to rebuilding and protecting communities by investing $4.0 billion in natural disaster support and response programs.

  • $3.2 billion through the Disaster Relief Account, which is eligible for co-funding from the Australian Government.
  • $299.3 million for Transport for NSW to restore roads damaged by disasters.
  • $128.3 million to repair critical water and sewage infrastructure damaged in flood events.

Future-Proofing Initiatives

$3.6 billion is committed towards establishing a new Essential Services Fund.

The NSW Government has also promised to focus on unlocking improved social outcomes, enhanced disability and accessibility support, diversity, gambling reform and veteran support. Such programs include:

  • $3.9 billion for cash and in-kind contributions for individual packages and other flexible supports under the NDIS to support people with a disability, their family, and carers.
  • $200 million for children in need of Out-of-Home Care, as an initial step in the Government’s commitment to implementing whole-of-system reform that is financially sustainable while improving outcomes for children.
  • $100 million to support an extended cashless gaming trial, the delivery of harm minimisation programs and gaming reform.
  • $47.8 million for the Multicultural Communities Support Package
  • $39.1 million to prevent domestic, family, and sexual violence, and support victim safety.

First Nation Communities

The Government is committed to reconciliation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of New South Wales. This Budget includes:

  • $131.4 million towards progressing the 28 co-developed Closing the Gap initiatives.
  • $35.3 million to continue to provide housing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through Services Our Way.
  • $5.0 million allocated to undertaking a 12-month consultation with Aboriginal communities in NSW to inform a pathway to Treaty.
  • $3.4 million for the Stolen Generations Keeping Places project which affirms the Government’s commitment to the Stolen Generations Survivors.

The 2023-24 NSW Budget strikes a credible balance between supporting improved socio-economic outcomes and restoring the state’s fiscal flexibility. Focus is given to both the provision of necessary household and business support in the face of current financial constraints and ensuring future structural change and resilience amongst industries and communities. The State’s fiscal strategy should assist in offsetting some of the current headwinds that are buffeting business and household confidence.

Housing affordability remains one of the greatest concerns for households and policymakers, with rising sales and rental prices, as well as declining vacancy rates. The Housing Infrastructure Plan, investment in build-to-rent (BTR), social and affordable housing provisions and rental reforms are measures aimed at accelerating housing affordability and accessibility for NSW residents.

The NSW Government’s investment in housing supply is set to boost the construction industry and create jobs. However, success in providing sufficient housing in NSW depends on the availability of construction workers, which is currently a significant challenge.

The Faster Planning Program intends to help streamline the process of evaluating housing supply possibilities on Government-owned sites. This may lead to the development of more social housing units, addressing a critical need but putting pressure on the Department of Housing.

As the BTR market continues to emerge, the support of BTR trials in the South Coast and Northern Rivers will potentially provide renters within Regional NSW with more stable and secure housing options. It may also attract institutional investors into the regional property market and deliver greater depth to this fledgling sector of the housing market.

The introduction of an NSW Rental Commissioner to make renting more affordable and secure may have mixed economic implications. While it can benefit renters, it may impact landlords and property investors, potentially affecting the rental property market’s dynamics.

With imminent urban expansion and growing communities, transport infrastructure investment remains a key focus in ensuring future sustainable growth and outcomes. Continued investment into the Sydney metro network and the provision of future Western, South-Western, City and Western Sydney Airport lines will help support anticipated employment and population growth in the Western Sydney region. Continued improvements to the broader NSW road network and promotion of active transport through cycle and walkway upgrades meets the continued demand for convenience and active commuting.

The Budget recognises Regional NSW as a key component in addressing housing shortages. This complements the State Government’s focus on investing in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. These infrastructure investments are intended to enhance the appeal of regional NSW for families, fostering its growth and development.

Future-proofing the efficiency and delivery of key health services and facilities has remained an ongoing focus of the NSW Government. The Western Sydney region will see one of the largest investments in health infrastructure in history as part of a $13.8 billion state-wide investment to provide new and improved facilities. Aside from infrastructure upgrades, considerable focus has been given towards recruiting, training, and retaining essential healthcare workers and the provision of new essentials services, meeting considerable gaps in healthcare demand.

The NSW Government’s commitment to investment in education reflects a necessary focus on improving outcomes for both students and staff members, inside and outside of the classroom. The focus on improving and increasing schools in Western Sydney and regional NSW ensures that critical infrastructure is provided in the face of growing population shares. A commitment to providing opportunities to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes is critical in ensuring the population’s future success. The investment placed into the retention of teachers, namely by providing a pay rise to teachers, will support the profession in becoming more competitive as a career pathway.

Production and storage of renewable energy remains a key pillar to ensuring sustainable economic growth, community outcomes and meeting the global push for net-zero. Investment in clean energy storage and infrastructure under the $1.8 Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap will help to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for households and businesses as global coal-powered energy supply and prices become increasingly volatile.

The New South Wales Government’s budget allocations for First Nation Communities reflect a further step in the right direction towards reconciliation and addressing historical injustices. Building on the previous Government’s efforts in terms of Closing the Gap initiatives and housing services, the Government aims to improve social, health, and economic outcomes for Indigenous communities. The Labor Government is committed to a wide-reaching improvement in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the State through the consultation for a Treaty pathway.

The NSW 2023-24 Budget, Labor’s first in 13 years, has landed with quiet applause. Our assessment and initial media response of the Budget is positive. The commitments have potential for wide-reaching improvement across all areas and aspects of the state. The budget is not underwhelming or over-ambitious – providing the state with something real to work with and within-reach achievements.