Labor Leader Rebecca White responded to this year’s State Budget by handing down an Economic Direction Statement.

We know that with the next election potentially just around the corner, Tasmanians want to know what a Labor Government would do and how we would fund it.

Like the Government has forecasted, our Financial Statement details modest but improving surplus budgets over the forward estimates.

Our additional spending initiatives are offset by a range of sensible savings measures.

Labor has identified more than $100 million in savings in order to fund the priorities contained in our Economic Direction Statement.

Labor’s savings total $109.3 million across the period from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Our savings clearly and unashamedly illustrate how we would redirect limited public money to priorities like health, education and child protection.

Instead of paying dividends to Local Councils, Labor will fund for new initiatives to combat bed block in our major hospitals and improve the health of all Tasmanians.

Instead of abolishing suspended sentences and placing increased pressure on Risdon Prison, we will support programs to reduce reoffending and investigate and fund a correctional facility in Northern Tasmania.

This will also give us the capacity to employ up to 20 new child protection and support workers.

Labor will abandon the Liberal Government’s ill-advised plan to send children as young as three and a half to school and their nonsensical policy of paying to close childcare centres.

This will allow us to build more child and family centres, restore pathway planning and invest in other strategies to genuinely engage children and their families in early learning.

Labor’s expenditure restraint extends to our own initiatives.

A saving of $12.5 million from a reduction in spending on Labor’s alternative fuel transport policy will go directly into relieving bed block in our hospitals.

For as long as our hospitals remain in crisis, health has to be the number one budget priority.

On top of our commitment to health and other services, we’ve announced a range of policies to stimulant economic investment.

Labor knows the best way to grow the economy is through true partnerships.

We will establish eight Industry Advisory Councils across key sectors of the economy.

Minerals, Energy and Advanced Manufacturing, Innovation and Information and Communication Technologies, Primary Industries and Forestry, Education, Science, Research and the Antarctic, Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage (built and natural environment) and the Arts, Building and Construction, Wellbeing, Care and Community Development & Employment, Regional Development and Trade.

The first task of each Council will be the completion of an Industry Audit to guide and develop new programs for each industry. Labor believes it is critical to have the University of Tasmania working directly with government and industry to drive positive economic outcomes for the State.

We look forward to working with the business community on all our policies to make them work for Tasmania.

We are excited about the prospect of the next election and looking forward to giving Tasmanians a genuine alternative.

By Scott Bacon, Tasmanian Shadow Treasurer