By Editor Tom O’Meara
Tasmanians can expect this month’s State Budget to boost expenditure – creating development, more jobs and a healthier economy.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein’s fifth budget will open further opportunities for business to expand and create employment, while reducing the cost of living to assist the many Tasmanian families battling ever-increasing expenses.
Mr Gutwein has turned around the Tasmanian economy by spending less and saving more and is now in a stronger position to grow the economy by delivering on election promises.
This is despite the future of GST funding from the Federal Government remaining – although Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has personally guaranteed that Tasmanians will not be a cent worse off than under current funding.
Treasury will receive a hefty windfall through a significant increase in stamp duty returns from record house sales and prices, particularly in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.
The Budget is expected to deliver record spending in health and education through infrastructure developments and 250 additional teachers over six years, 300 nurses and 200 doctors.
The $689 million re-development of the Royal Hobart Hospital continues, with completion expected in mid-2019.
The Government will invest $160 million to support better health in Northern Tasmania including development at the LGH of a new women and children’s precinct on top of the proposed 4K project.
The future of the $100 million co-located private hospital to replace the two ageing Calvary Hospital sites is still in the hands of Coordinator General John Perry.
However the Treasurer and Health Minister Michael Ferguson would be unlikely to not support the $100m infrastructure spend, which would also increase hospital services in the North and North West.
The East Coast hospital at St Helens will receive funding as will the $21 million King Island health centre.
We can also expect allocations for consultation for the $20 million Penguin District School as a K-12 school; a $22 million rebuild of the Sorell School as a K-12 school and $20 million rebuild of Cosgrove High School to Year 12.
The booming tourism sector will be strongly supported with $30 million matching Federal money for the development of a cable way and facilities at Cradle Mountain.
Funding will be available for the feasibility studies for Tasmania’s next iconic walk following the massive response to the Three Capes Track for walkers from around the world.
It’s clear there is a market for another walk and the Government is putting aside $20 million with $18.5 million available to develop and construct the multi-day bush walk.
Business will continue to be supported for employing apprentices and trainees via payroll tax reduction and the extension of AgriGrowth Loans Scheme with a further $20 million in low interest loans.
Other projects likely to be funded are the relocation of the DPIPWE offices and 100 staff positions to the North and North West and the recruitment of AgriGrowth Liaison Officers.
Under the Affordable Housing Action Plan the Government is looking to an additional $125 million, or a $200 million spend over 10 years, with 2400 homes to be made available.
The Budget is also expected to outline a series of cost-capping including Hydro and TasWater costs and many are calling for local government rates to be capped after Glenorchy’s threatened huge increase.
The Treasurer is also adamant that Public Servants pay increases will be capped at 2 per cent – which will be welcomed by private enterprise.