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NSW Opposition leader Chris Minns has used his COVID-delayed budget reply to attack treasurer-turned-premier Dominic Perrottet's financial record, saying it's scarier than his personal views on Donald Trump and nuclear power.
Nearly four months after the budget was tabled, Labor leader Mr Minns on Wednesday got his say, calling for an extension of lockdown business support and a building blitz for schools and social housing.
Back in June, four days before Sydney was thrust into lockdown, Mr Perrottet announced a 2020/21 state budget deficit of $7.9 billion, with a $500 million surplus by 2024/25.
But the circumstances in which Mr Perrottet outlined his economic vision have since shifted.
NSW has changed premier, parts of the state have been locked down for more than 15 weeks, and the budget's bottom line has been hard hit.
And, Mr Minns argues, the city of Sydney has been divided.
"No one can make the case that the devastating effects of this outbreak have been felt evenly," Mr Minns told parliament in his first budget reply speech as Labor leader.
"No one in the state has been spared. But the people of west and southwest Sydney have paid the highest price."
Those areas saw high coronavirus case numbers and were subject to "the harshest lockdown of any place in Australia at any time during the pandemic", Mr Minns said.
More jobs have been lost in that part of Sydney than elsewhere, and businesses have suffered greater declines in turnover, he added.
Support - from both federal and state government - is going to be cut off too early, Mr Minns said, calling for the continuation of measures like JobSaver and payroll tax reductions.
If Labor were in government, it would also invest significantly in social housing and schools, to help boost the economy.
Urgent repair and maintenance work on ageing social housing stock should be fast-tracked, and school building projects brought forward, the opposition leader said.
Labor wants more support for students after two years of pandemic learning, with Mr Minns fearing a "kind of long COVID" for the education system.
A small-group tuition program for children whose learning was disrupted in 2020 should be extended, to help them recover from a lengthy lockdown.
Mr Minns is badging his budget reply as a "positive plan" for "inclusive growth", and he says he'd be happy for the government to steal his ideas.
The premier might need them, Mr Minns argued, given his record.
"The taxpayers of this state should be far more concerned about the premier's record of tolls, taxes, fines, charges, and record debt, than about the Perrottet collection of Trump hats and toy nuclear power stations," he said.
"Every time you pay a toll, send your kids to an overcrowded school, are stuck in traffic, or find the cost of living just that little bit harder, that's the record of the former treasurer, the new Premier Dominic Perrottet."
Mr Perrottet in turn accused Mr Minns of stealing his ideas.
He said Mr Minns' speech had been "a ringing endorsement of the Liberals and Nationals policy".
"Today we've had the best budget reply speech ... in 11 years, because it backs in every one of our policies and asks for an extension," Mr Perrottet said in question time.
Mr Minns was initially slated to deliver his reply on June 24, but he postponed it as COVID-19 case numbers grew ahead of the lockdown.