MPs tussle as final siren looms on kids' sport vouchers

·3-min read

Children will be better looked after despite the looming end of a $430 million program that helps cover the cost of kids' sport, a NSW minister says.

Parents, carers and guardians of school-enrolled children can claim two $100 vouchers per child each year, under the Active Kids program established in 2018.

But the program was timed by the previous government to expire on June 30.

Now in opposition, the coalition in Question Time on Wednesday repeatedly pushed Sports Minister Steve Kamper to attest to the program's importance and confirm its future.

Four in five registrations for a Dubbo netball club's winter season were paid for through the vouchers, parliament was told.

Mr Kamper fired back, pointing to the extent of unfunded programs and unavoidable pressures in the state budget.

"How dare they walk in here, the people who defunded this program, who left a $7 billion hole in the budget," he told parliament.

"They left $200 billion for the kids to pay off and they care about the kids? Give us a break."

In April Treasurer Daniel Mookhey identified $7 billion worth of unfunded programs and unavoidable pressures during treasury briefings, which he said needed scrutiny.

Those include the agency tasked with building the cyber resilience of all NSW government entities, Cyber Security NSW, which had no funding allocated for the final two financial years of the budget cycle.

Mr Kamper said the Active Kids program was under review and the community would be updated "in due course".

"Let me guarantee one thing: we'll always look after our children better than you will," he said.

Opposition Leader Mark Speakman says it is not unusual for a government to fund a program on a year-by-year basis.

He said the coalition had committed to continue and expand the "essential" Active Kids scheme and were going to allow interchangeability with the similar Creative Kids program.

"For the sake of families and kids in NSW, their health and their budget, please don't cut Active Kids," Mr Speakman told reporters.

Meanwhile, MPs trying to get down with the kids on TikTok by using non-government devices were given the tick of approval from cabinet minister Penny Sharpe, even if she believed few knew what they were doing.

"There has been plenty of bad use of TikTok - as a general rule, I would say most politicians are very bad on TikTok," she said in Question Time.

She said Youth Minister Rose Jackson, courting 26,800 followers and accruing 433,000 likes, was an exception.

The government has also signalled the clock is ticking on pork-barrelling and politicised grant programs, introducing a bill placing restrictions on those sending money out the door.

Ministers will only be permitted to approve grants they believe are an "efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of money, and that it achieves value for money".

Premier Chris Minns said public servants would have regard of key principles including proportionality, probity and transparency.

"The blatant pork-barrelling and politicisation of public money needed to end," he said.

"This bill delivers on our commitment to lift standards."

Another bill was introduced to extend the list of prohibited political donors to include registered clubs with pokies or other gambling options.

NSW has some of the most restrictive political donation laws in the country, banning property developers and tobacco businesses from donating, and requiring public disclosure of all donations above $1000, and any donor giving a total of $1000 to one entity across one year.