Rein in NSW spending or face $17b black hole

HOOKED: Kingaroy’s John Lacey on the right foot for a successful roll down the green.
HOOKED: Kingaroy’s John Lacey on the right foot for a successful roll down the green. Kate Darvall

A TENFOLD increase in New South Wales residents over the age of 100 is expected to contribute to a $17 billion deficit by 2056 if current spending levels continue.

The Baird Government's latest intergenerational projections predict more than a quarter of people will be aged 65 or older within 40 years.

The Future State: 2056 report said the aging population would be especially pronounced in the regions, areas that would play an increasing role in protecting the state's economic growth.

"In 2015, there were around 1.2 million people employed in regional NSW accounting for 32.7% of all state employment," it stated.

"It is expected that over the period to 2055-56, more than half a million of the 1.6 million jobs created in NSW, will be in the regions."

But if the 2015-16 budget was replicated year-on-year, the deficit would be the equivalent of $17 billion, with debt 75 times higher than the current level.

However, plans are in place to avoid that financial calamity.

The NSW Fiscal Responsibility Act 2012 mandates that the state's finances remain stable and its triple-A credit rating be maintained.

"But we cannot afford to do nothing," the report stated.

"This long-run fiscal position is unsustainable and we need to address the challenge."

The forecast said the NSW economy would be worth $1.3 trillion by 2056 - on par with some small nations - and the population would rise 50% to 11.2 million people.

Life expectancy will increase from 81 to 89 for men and 85 to 91 for women, adding to the health sector's status as the government's biggest expense.

"We live in the best state in Australia with the strongest economy - we are living longer, healthier lives and living standards are higher than ever before," Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said.

"But we need to make sure we're planning now to face the challenges of the future so NSW remains the best place to live and work."

Shadow treasurer Ryan Park claimed Premier Mike Baird's short-sightedness had set NSW on a path to potential financial ruin.

"The Baird Government's complete mismanagement of housing affordability in this state will see NSW miss out on the lion's share of new migrants seeking a more affordable place to call home," he said.

"Despite the future budget black hole the government has continued to overspend with a milestone $10 billion blow-out on its major projects being reached earlier this month."

The intergenerational report is released every five years. -ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  gladys berejiklian politics population

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