FOUNDATIONS SET FOR REFORM

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) has welcomed the State Budget, saying it lays the foundations for some exciting reforms in the future.

TCCI CEO Michael Bailey said while he would have liked to see the Government go further in terms of reform to the public sector, the Budget struck a balance between prudent restraint and not stalling the local economy.

“We welcome the Liberal’s first State Budget as laying the foundations for further reform in the future, while also ensuring there are no sudden shocks to the economy,” Mr Bailey said.

Mr Bailey welcomed money has been put aside to investigate the construction of a second Basslink connection to increase power security for Tasmania as well as capitalise on more export revenue from our clean green power.

“In addition funds have been put aside to further investigate bio fuels and bio mass from forest residues,” Mr Bailey said.

At this stage it is unclear what the future of Forestry Tasmania is, with a simple agreement from the Government and the Board to continue to work to make the organisation viable.

In terms of infrastructure spending, $6.55 million has been earmarked for agriculture, to see our production doubled by 2050.

Elsewhere, Mineral Resources Tasmania relocated to Burnie over the next four years, while some 16 Boards will be abolished or merged and a further 18 will have their funding cut.

For Police, Fire and Emergency Management services, these three organisations will be further integrated and some $197 million will be spent upgrading the Midlands Highway over the next four years.

Mr Bailey said the upgrade of the Midlands Highway was vital it increase economic activity between the north and the south, stating the funds could not be spent quickly enough.

“It is disappointing there appears to be no additional funding for the creation of a single statewide planning scheme and I can only hope this will come in later years,” Mr Bailey said.

While TasPorts and TasRail are not for sale, the two organisations have been asked to investigate working more closely together.

In terms of health, the Royal Hobart Hospital reconstruction is set to continue, while the extension of year 12 to regional high schools continues in the education sector.

An extra $16 million for tourism marketing is confirmed, while job creation initiatives are funded and predict the creation of some 5,000 jobs.

Mr Bailey welcome moves to further reform the public sector.

Treasurer Gutwein argued that by implementing a wages freeze, some 800 public service positions can be saved, meaning there will be a loss of 200 jobs over the next four years in addition to the 500 already earmarked to go.

“No doubt there will be more debate on this issue,” Mr Bailey said.

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