Seniors vote crucial in tight NSW election


According to the polls, it’s anyone’s game in the NSW election this Saturday.

The Coalition and Labor are neck-and-neck with the strong likelihood that neither will form majority government.

With such a tight election, seniors’ votes could make the difference. National Seniors looks at the promises made by the two major parties to help you decide.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said quality of health care, transport, the cost of energy, and housing were among the critical issues for NSW seniors in this election.

“National Seniors welcomes both parties making a number of commitments that will have positive impacts for older people in NSW,” he said.

Both the Coalition and Labor had pledged to reduce power prices and greenhouse emissions through schemes that encouraged the uptake of renewable energy systems – Labor was focusing on encouraging solar and the Coalition on battery storage systems.

More health workers promised

“With escalating power prices over the past decade, we are pleased to see both the Coalition and Labor announce policies that will help home-owning seniors cover the costs of installing renewable energy systems to reduce power costs and make a positive environmental impact,” Mr Henschke said.

The Coalition had also promised to introduce a $200 per year energy concession to 130,000 self-funded retirees holding a Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card.

“Extending energy concessions is a positive move,” Mr Henschke said. “It recognises that many low-income self-funded retirees also struggle with living costs.”

Both parties had promised to significantly increase the numbers of health workers in the state. They had largely matched each other on nurses and midwifes, with Labor committed to introducing nurse to-patient ratios and offering to employ additional paramedics, allied health, security, cleaning and support staff.

The Coalition had promised to deliver an additional 10,000 cataract surgeries over the next four years and focussed on providing a mix of extra palliative care nurses, doctors, specialists, allied health workers and support staff.

Transport policies

Another major focus for the major parties was hospitals, with the Coalition concentrating on the capital city and Labor regional areas. Labor had also committed to implementing a new model of specialised care in NSW emergency departments for people suffering dementia.

The transport policies of each party were starkly different. Labor had vowed to scrap the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link and the F6 extension, which were commitments from the Coalition.

Another point of difference was the Coalition offering funding for the Metro line from St Mary’s to Western Sydney Airport, while Labor would reinstate the M4 cashback scheme. Both parties were offering money to expedite the construction of the Metro West Line from Parramatta to the CBD.

The Coalition also announced they would freeze the $2.50 Gold Opal Card daily cap for four years and give pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders in rural and regional areas a $250 travel card for fuel, taxis and train and coach services.

Labor and the Coalition had taken different approaches to tackling the ongoing housing crises in NSW. The Coalition promised to provide funding for infrastructure to support the construction of new housing across the state.

Labor pledged to reintroduce housing supply targets to create more even density across the city. They will also mandate that 25% of dwellings built on government land and 15% on private land were affordable housing and create a strata commissioner to oversee strata rights and policy.

The Coalition had also committed to amend laws to mandate buybacks of retirement village units as recommended under the 2017 Greiner Review.

Health


Labor Liberals and Nationals
5,500 nurses and midwives 5,000 nurses and midwives
4,900 health workers and hospital staff (cleaners, admin) 100 palliative care nurses, 1,060 doctors, psychiatrists and specialists, 880 allied health workers and 1,360 support staff
1,500 paramedics 10,000 additional cataract surgeries over 4 years
6 walk-in nurse stations in emergency in Sydney
Mandated nurse-to-patient ratios
Palliative care hospices in Woy Woy, Taree and Goulburn

Hospitals


Labor Liberals and Nationals
Goulburn Hospital ($200m) Redevelop John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle ($780m)
Shoalhaven Hospital ($434m) Relocate Bankstown -Lidcombe Hospital to new site ($1.3b)
Nepean hospital ($1b) Royal Prince Alfred upgrade ($750m)
New hospital in north west Sydney ($700m) Children’s hospital in Westmead ($619m)
St George and Ryde hospital ($864m)

Transport


Labor Liberals and Nationals
Metro West line from Parramatta to CBD ($8b to fast track) Metro West line from Parramatta to CBD ($6.4b to fast track)
Scrap Western harbour tunnel and Beaches Link and F6 extension Metro line from St Mary’s to Western Sydney Airport ($2b)
Reinstate M4 cashback scheme ($113m) Western harbour tunnel and beaches link initial funding ($14b)
Expand pinch point program ($1.1b) F6 extension from Arncliffe to Kogarah stage 1 ($2.6b)
Improve safety on rural roads ($900m) Several billion for individual road projects and $450 million to expand existing pinch point program
Review rail timetables Great Western Highway duplication between Katoomba and Lithgow ($2.5b)
$250 Regional Seniors Transport Card

Energy affordability


Labor Liberals and Nationals
$2,200 rebates for solar panel installation on 500,000 households No interest loans of up to $14,000 to install solar-battery or battery systems for 300,000 households

Housing


Labor Liberals and Nationals
Revisit housing supply targets to ensure density is more evenly spread Infrastructure development to support housing development ($90b)
Create affordable housing register mandating that 25 per cent of houses on government land and 15 per cent on private are affordable Force retirement villages to stop charging fees for indefinite periods and buy back units within 6 months (12 in regional areas) when entering aged care
Strata commissioner to oversee strata rights and policy

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