Broken promise accusation as kids sport vouchers change
Higher-income families will be excluded from a kids' sport and arts program to ease costs on NSW taxpayers, leading to accusations of a broken promise.
About 750,000 children will be excluded from a sport and arts program, saving the NSW government an estimated $163 million a year.
Opposition Leader Mark Speakman called the changes a broken promise after Premier Chris Minns, prior to the election, said he would roll over the Active Kids and Creative Kids vouchers in a "similar" way to the existing program.
From next year, eligible families can apply for two $50 vouchers each year, issued at the start of Term 1 and Term 3, to help cover the cost of participation in sports or creative fields.
The new vouchers will only be available to families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A, encompassing roughly 600,000 out of a total 1.35 million schoolchildren across NSW.
For most single-child families, the tax benefit caps out once income hits $109,000 while a family of three teenagers can earn up to $141,000.
Previously two $100 Active Kids vouchers and one $100 Creative Kids voucher were available for all school-aged children each year.
Cutting the program established in 2018 by the former coalition government was the tough but economically responsible decision, the premier said.
"I want kids from low- and middle-income families participating in sport, creative activities and learning to swim," Mr Minns said.
"This new program ensures we can continue these important initiatives in a fairer, more sustainable way."
But hundreds of thousands of families would be worse off under the new scheme, Mr Speakman said.
"Before the election, Chris Minns promised to fund Active Kids vouchers, and after months of uncertainty families across NSW are paying for Labor's broken promise," Mr Speakman said.
The former government didn't allocate funding for the program beyond June 30 this year but had promised to continue it if re-elected.
As an interim measure, the 2023 sport and art voucher program will be extended beyond July 1, with vouchers available to the lesser value of $50.
Starting from 2024, the new cost of the Active and Creative Kids voucher program is estimated to be $28 million per year, compared with an estimated $190 million in 2022/23 for the previous scheme, comprising of $136 million for Active Kids and $54 million for Creative Kids.
NSW Sports Minister Steve Kamper accused the Liberals and Nationals of spending "hundreds of millions of dollars pork-barrelling" without funding children's sport.
"The Minns Government has fought to make sure that NSW families facing the tightest budgets will still be supported to enrol their kids in sport," Mr Kamper said.