Labor responded to this year’s State Budget by presenting a serious alternative vision for Tasmania.
Our Economic Direction Statement clearly sets out our priorities and how we will pay for them from the first year of a Majority Labor Government.
It acknowledges the positive parts of the Liberal Government’s budget and addresses the gaps.
We make no apologies for making health our number one priority and we have demonstrated that commitment with $88 million on top of the funding already allocated in the budget.
But it’s not just health where we think the current government could be doing a lot more.
Labor would properly invest in public infrastructure and take on projects the Liberals have failed to address.
Water and sewerage is a prime example. While the Treasurer picks a fight with TasWater, three significant projects are not even on the Government’s radar.
Labor would move the treatment plant at Macquarie Point to allow the development to proceed, address the water and sewerage problems at Cameron Bay for MONA stage two and fix Launceston’s archaic storm water system.
The completion of these three projects will unlock enormous economic opportunities.
Rather than waiting, we are prepared to partner with superannuation funds to get the work started immediately.
Labor will also invest in make ready works along the Hobart rail corridor in preparation for future passenger rail. As part of this we will address zoning requirements to allow for medium density residential development.
The infrastructure investment in our Economic Direction Statement also focuses on education, tourism and renewable energy.
Building six new child and family centres across Tasmania will improve education and health outcomes while creating jobs in the construction phase.
Labor is backing-in the Tourism Industry Council’s $41 million Future Proofing Our Icons report. We are committed to projects like the Richmond Village Streetscape, the Three Capes Track and upgrading infrastructure on Maria Island.
We are prepared to be innovative and invest in new energy storage technologies and alternative fuel transport.
We also recognise the need for Budget constraint and have identified a number of savings measures to offset our investments.
The Government’s plans to unnecessarily lower the school starting age and take over TasWater are two areas where funding can be redirected.
We have proposed diverting money allocated for abolishing suspended sentences to employ much needed child protection workers.
The end result are modest projected surpluses over the forward estimates and increased investment in essential services.
By Scott Bacon, Tasmanian Shadow Treasurer