It’s a post-election budget for a second-term Government with few surprises. Health is a winner, but anyone looking for a rental property is out of luck.
We knew there would be some good news for those waiting in line for surgery.
There’s a $20 million boost for elective surgery, which the Government says will ensure more patients are seen within the clinically recommended times.
Over the past four years, the Government says the record has improved from 59 per cent being treated within recommended times in 2014-15, to 74 per cent in 2017-18.
The extra $20 million comes on top of $76 million delivered for elective surgery by the previous Liberal Government.
- The Government is backing a new private hospital in Launceston on the same site as the Launceston General Hospital, but with no taxpayer money attached
- The North-West Regional Hospital is getting $79 million over the next six years, including a $19.7 million upgrade in 2018-19 for an eight-bed acute medical unit and new maternity services
- $35 million in capital upgrades to the Mersey Community Hospital in 2019-20 and 2020-21 will advance, with a total allocation in 2018-19 of $8.6 million
- $28 million for Royal Hobart Hospital and Repatriation Hospital ward upgrades over five years, starting in 2018-19
- $28.3 million, including $11.8 million for 2018-19 and the rest over the forward estimates, for 25 new mental health beds in the southern region
- $12 million for new ambulance stations at Burnie and Glenorchy
- $87 million over next six years for a major redevelopment of the Launceston General Hospital, including $37.2 million in 2018-19
- $2.5 million redevelopment of the Midlands Multipurpose Centre at Oatlands, including two more paramedics, and building renovations
- $10.5 million for stage two of the King Island Hospital redevelopment
- $4.9 million in 2018-19 for hospital air conditioning upgrades around the state
Loser: Housing and living costs
Tasmania’s booming economy has resulted in more people wanting to live here, but without places for them all to rent. A summit was called in March to address the crisis. The State Government has pledged to bring $25 million of its $125 million Stage Two affordable housing plan forward to 2018-19.
This is part of Government’s plan to provide an additional 1,500 new affordable homes.
Welfare groups had their fingers crossed for more funding for homeless services, so we can expect reaction from the welfare sector and opposition parties.
The Government is targeting a 25 per cent increase in building and construction over five years to 2013, and a 40 per cent increase in apprenticeships in private sector by 2025.
- No new or increased taxes for households or business
- The Government is working with TasWater and Local Government to freeze water and sewerage prices rises in 2019-20 and cap future price rises to no more than 3.5 per cent
- 50 per cent stamp duty holiday for first home buyers purchasing property worth up to $400,000, a saving of up to $7,000
- 50 per cent stamp duty holiday for seniors downsizing to a home that better suits their needs, saving $7,000
- An extension of the boosted first home builders’ grant of $20,000 to encourage housing construction
- Three-year land tax holiday for all new-build homes for long-term rental
The budget forward estimates includes $69.4 million for the first four years for employment of an additional 192 teachers and 80 teacher assistants, as part of a total investment of 368 staff over next six years.
The 2018-19 budget has more than $13 million in new funding for school farms. Of this, $4.9 million will be invested over four years into 10 teachers in farm schools, as well as $800,000 to assist schools with the cost of running their farms.
- $30 million for a new Brighton High School
- $25.8 million for new Sorell school
- $20 million for Cosgrove High School
- $20 million for redevelopment of Penguin School
- $10.5 million for a Devonport High rebuild
- $7.3 million for redeveloping farm schools
- $10.5 million for the first four of six new early learning hubs and $15 million to build and upgrade kindergartens across Tasmania
- $18.9 million in TasTAFE infrastructure including TasTAFE centres of excellency in agriculture, trades, and tourism hospitality
- $3 million for Ticket to Play voucher system to enable more children to participate in local sport
The Treasurer is boasting $711 million in new projects, upgrades and maintenance across the state.
The budget includes $24.1 million for road upgrades in the north-west and west coast regions. But a new Bridgewater Bridge is the star.
- The Government is promising a new Bridgewater Bridge will be built by 2024 with the State Government locking in its share of $121 million of an estimated $576 million price tag. There is $6 million dollars of joint funding in 2018-19 to start planning and design, with construction to begin in 2020-21
- $30.8 million for Hobart traffic congestion, including establishment of a Derwent River Ferry Service bus priority measures, a fifth lane on the Southern Outlet and improvements to Macquarie and Davey Streets over budget and forward estimates
- $21 million towards a South East Traffic Solution, and further funding of $27 million for a plan to ease congestion at the Hobart Airport interchange
- $53 million for the Launceston and Tamar Valley Traffic Vision, which includes funding to make the Mowbray interconnector safer and for West Tamar Highway upgrades
- A pledge to match the Federal Government’s $59.8 million commitment to Tranche Two of the freight rail revitalisation program to improve TasRail freight services
- $25 million for tourist roads
- $31.4 million towards the combined system and catchment works for the Tamar River
Neutral: Abuse survivors
Tasmania’s Abuse in State Care compensation scheme operated between July 2003 and February 2013 and assisted 1,800 survivors who were the subject of sexual physical or emotional abuse while in state care at a cost of $53 million.
Tasmania joined the national redress scheme in the last month and has made provisions in the 2018-19 budget for possible costs.
- $70 million for Tasmania’s expenses as part of $3.8 billion national redress scheme to support victims of child abuse in state care
- Survivors will be eligible for up to $150,000 as well as substantial contribution to counselling and support
Winner: Law and order
Given the prominence of issues of child abuse and protection of children in care, the 2018-19 budget has allocated $24 million to protect Tasmanian children at risk, including more child safety officers and assistance for children with complex needs in out-of-home care.
This is on top of the $51.2 million in increased funding for out-of-home care and the redesign of child and safety services.
- $70 million for new southern remand centre
- $7.3 million for a major redesign and upgrade of Ashley Youth Detention Centre and an upgrade of Risdon Prison Shared Facilities
- The allocation of $45 million to begin stage one of the construction of the new $270 million northern prison
- $22 million for new police stations at New Norfolk and Longford, and an emergency services centre in Sorell
- $8 million for an upgraded Burnie Court
- Funding for an additional police boat, and support for ambulance volunteers
- $400,000 for drones to combat anti-social driving and other crimes
Winner: Tourism, parks and wildlife
The good news for anglers is that trout licence fees will be frozen for four years at 2017-18 levels at a cost of $300,000. There’s a new visitor centre planned for the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens at $3.6 million. Last year, 461,000 people visited the gardens.
- $51 million for the Cradle Mountain Experience
- $25 million for tourist roads
- $3.7 million for new and improved fishing infrastructure
- $20 million for a multi-day, hut-based walk
- $4 million for an Event Attraction Fund
- $12 million for tourism marketing
- $31 million for national park infrastructure and upgrades
- $100,000 to support 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships in Tasmania, to attract about 600 anglers from 30 countries.
- $1.1 million for the Inland Fisheries Services Angler Access Program, Anglers Alliance Tasmania, representing Tasmania’s 26,000 trout anglers to build and upgrade facilities
Business can look forward to some tax relief through:
The industry can look forward to better support in the education system with a boost to school farms.
The appointment of a fruit fly specialist will ease concerns about the infestations detected earlier this year, and those about preventing new incursions.
The Government plan is to grow the agricultural sector ten-fold to $10 billion by 2050.
- $5.6 million over four years form the new $20 million Biosecurity Emergency Response and Research Fund to combat fruit fly risks, including a new specialist fruit fly advisor
- $70 million for tranche three irrigation schemes
- An additional $600,000 for a stock underpass pilot program for improved stock and road safety, which will make funding available into 2021-22
- $1 million over five years for the development of agriculture shows
- $2 million over four years for truck and machinery washes at Smithton, Devonport, Oatlands, Scottsdale and Huonville
- $4.9 million over four years invested into 10 teachers in farms schools as well as $800,000 to assist schools with the operations cost of running their farms
- Farmers will be able to take part in the $10 million energy rebate scheme announced in budget week
- Other issues addressed include promised funding for Rural Alive and Well, King Island Shipping, expansion of the dairy industry, and the ongoing problem of feral deer
Loser: Public sector
Hobart’s heritage-listed Treasury building is set to be sold off, and public servants are set to face a Government firmly against any changes to a 2 per cent wage increase, in place since 2011.
Tasmania’s public sector unions have been lobbying hard as early negotiations get underway on new enterprise bargaining agreements with the Government.
Tasmania’s energy businesses are predicted to deliver almost half a billion dollars in dividends to the state’s coffers over the forward estimates.
Hydro Tasmania will return generous dividends of $67.7 million in 2018-19, increasing to $84 million by 2021-22.
Sustainable Timber Tasmania, formerly Forestry Tasmania, will pay a special dividend of $15 million next financial year, due to the sale of its hardwood plantations.