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Child Protection Not Safe From Gutwein's Cuts

4 Jun 2019

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Treasurer has refused to commit the government to quarantining the child protection system from the so-called ‘efficiency dividend’ after his Premier yesterday confirmed the Tourism Tasmania marketing budget would be quarantined.

With Child Safety officers carrying unsustainable and dangerous workloads, this refusal of the Treasurer’s is inexcusable.

Prioritising tourism over the wellbeing of Tasmania’s children tells us everything we need to know about the Hodgman Government’s priorities.

Monied interests win over people, every time.

The Treasurer has a proven track record for dishonesty and obfuscation.  He has always been allergic to honesty. This year’s Budget Estimates has displayed him at his worst.

Mr Gutwein pretends he is a fiscally disciplined ‘tough love’ figure, who makes tough decisions to bring the Budget back into the black in order to invest in people.

This Budget shows this to be dishonest at its core.

$16.8 million of Out of Home Care spending, a significant 11.5% of the Children Services budget, is not allocated beyond 2019-20.

The Tourism Tasmania marketing budget will be quarantined from the efficiency dividend – yet the Treasurer refuses to quarantine Out of Home Care.

Mr Gutwein is putting the entire Child Protection system at risk and, consequently, the lives of highly vulnerable children.

This Budget sees significantly increased revenues from projections than the last Budget.  A simple fact in black and white he refused to acknowledge, repeatedly claiming revenues have declined.

What did Mr Gutwein do with the record revenues? He is plunging Tasmania into net debt, something we’ve not experienced in a decade.

Despite record revenues, the Treasurer still places an “efficiency dividend” on the public service. Effectively a 0.75% cut.

The Budget papers outline $450 million in cuts across the forward estimates, a number he refused to verify despite it being in black and white.  Mr Gutwein also refused to detail how this $450 million cut will impact on the delivery of health, education, housing and child safety services.

He has taken Budget dishonesty to the next level.

Mr Gutwein has also foreshadowed health service cuts by saying he believes Health could be more efficient. This coming from a Treasurer whose own department was found, by the leaked KPMG audit, to be applying insufficient indexation to meet rising costs of delivering health services.

It is clear that we went in to net debt, not to fund essential services, but to fund the Liberals’ pork-barrelled election commitments.

The Treasurer’s inability to secure funding for essential services and his irresponsible electoral spending shows him to be heartless, arrogant and fiscally incontinent.