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Budget 2019-20 - Essential Services Funding

28 May 2019

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Since your Government came to office, the elective surgery waiting list has soared, along with time spent in the emergency department, yet there is no new money for health in this year's budget. The number of children in out-of-home care is up significantly yet there is no new money for child safety. Twelve hundred more people are languishing on the housing waiting list and waiting times have blown out to a year. Beds in hallways are being advertised to rent yet there is no new money for housing in this year's budget. TasCOSS confirms more Tasmanians are in more economic and social distress since your Government came to office. These Tasmanians have never the warmth of your Treasurer's 'golden age'. How can you be proud of a budget that has so little heart?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member of the question. It is not true to say that there is not money in this budget for important essential services. This will continue what have been record investments by our Government into the essential services that Tasmanians need and to protect those most vulnerable in our community, and doing all we can to allow them better access to health care, better education, and better child protection services. This is only possible because our budget is back in good shape now, certainly a far cry from where it was when we came into government.

It is because our economy is strong, because we are a growing state investing in infrastructure to support the growing demands on our state, but also to create more jobs, that there is increased demand and we are responding.

Members interjecting.

Mr HODGMAN - It is not accurate for the Leader of the Greens to claim that we are not investing in these important areas when we are.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order - relevance. I pointed out to the Premier that there is no new money in those areas of portfolios so it is the Premier who is being misleading. Thank you.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order as you would be aware. Thank you, Premier.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. More arrant nonsense from the Leader of the Greens to assert, and it just is not so. When it comes to the areas that she has outlined I would like to put some facts on the table because it sounds like the Leader of the Greens has not even read the budget papers that were tabled in this parliament last week.

In health, this year's budget contains an $8.1 billion investment over the next four years. It is a top priority for this Government. We have increased health spending each and every year - a record 32 per cent of the budget is now dedicated to health when a decade ago it was just 25 per cent.

With respect to children and youth services, we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to help protect Tasmania's most vulnerable with additional funding allocated in the 2019-20 state Budget. Since 2016, the Strong Families, Safe Kids redesigned project delivering a range of new actions to improve outcomes for children, particularly those young people and their families at risk, is being supported by additional resources and funding in our budget.

In housing, in recognition of the increasing demand for social and affordable housing, the Government has allocated almost $68 million in the 2019-20 Budget to boost supply of new social and affordable homes. We have brought money forward. We have $125 million Affordable Housing Strategy, our action plan stage 2 of that, $10 million of the funding was brought forward with a total allocated in this financial year to $40.5 million.

Those facts repudiate the claims of the Leader of the Greens and, perhaps, we will see today who has more credibility when it comes to opposition in terms of an alternative budget. We are not expecting a lot from Labor, of course. We know there will be one from the Greens and it will be interesting to see what their priorities are.

When you look at these facts, when you look at the additional investments by this Government in those essential services, it is only possible because our economy is now strong; because we are managing our budget well; and because we live within our means. We are able to meet increased challenges and new challenges confronting government, including writedowns of revenue, natural disasters, and a decline in GST receipt. All these things will be managed by this Government, as will be taking on debts. Net debt will fund generational infrastructure to support our growing economy to support our growing state, to support the demand that now exists in Tasmania which has population growth, which has more people in employment now, 13 000 more jobs, and a lot more travelling the state.

Madam Speaker, our state is heading in the right direction. There is much more to do; we recognise that. This Budget does have a heart. Infrastructure is not a dirty word -

Ms O'Connor - What about housing?

Mr HODGMAN - It is affordable housing, it is into hospitals, it is into our schools, it is into essential services as well as doing things to support our economy, reduce traffic congestion and protect the Tasmanian way of life. That is exactly what this Budget does.