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Fact sheet

Fact Check: Jodi McKay says the NSW firefighting budget is facing a $40 million cut. Is that correct?

Australian Labor Party Budget Firefighting

There were claims during the NSW bushfires that the NSW Government had slashed spending on firefighters and emergency services. Opposition Leader Jodi McKay claimed $40 million had been cut from Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service. RMIT ABC Fact Check found Ms McKay's claim, based on numbers in the June 2019 budget, doesn't stack up. She had compared initial estimates for the 2019-2020 financial year, with revised estimates for the previous year. These numbers are not a like-for-like comparison, and budget papers make clear initial estimates are subject to change. Her comparison ignores the fact that the revised 2018-19 estimates include more than $40 million in retrospective reimbursements for spending on natural disasters. By contrast, the initial 2019-20 estimates do not include top-ups for disaster spending, which the fire agencies are almost certain to receive. Recurrent funding was also particularly high in 2018-19 due to a change in workers compensation that muddies the comparison. Nor would lower spending on workers compensation affect the firefighting agencies' ability to combat bushfires. Experts told Fact Check that budget outcomes inevitably varied from the initial estimates, meaning it was too early to say if funding had been cut.
Verdict: Doesn't stack up

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