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GST Windfall - Public Service Job Cuts
Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Twelve hundred public sector jobs is not a modest cut. You came into office promising Tasmanians you would rebuild essential services. Instead, is it not true that your Government has taken a sledgehammer to essential services, sacking an estimated 1 200 public sector workers this financial year, including teachers, nurses, allied health workers, Parks staff, and the list goes on?
Do you agree that elective surgery and public housing waiting lists have soared over the past year as a result of your cuts, your dismantling, rather than rebuilding, of essential services?
Now that the state is expecting to reap a GST windfall of more than half a billion dollars over the next four years, how can you, your Treasurer and Cabinet in all conscience refuse to repair the damage you have done? Is it not true that you could afford to reinvest the GST windfall in the manner it was intended, in essential public services to help out Tasmanians needing an affordable home or waiting for a hip replacement? Your Government is refusing to do so because it has no intention of rebuilding essential services.
Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for her question and congratulate her on her elevation. We have worked out that it is not going to be Mr McKim because he does not even want to be here. We can assume that the new Leader of the Greens - perhaps the best leader of the opposition in this place - is so doing but on an entirely false premise. The conclusion to that question just demonstrates how unaware the Leader is of our position. Yes, we have to fix the Budget. We have made significant reductions and cost savings measures, which we committed to do. It has not been easy, but we have to do it. It is something the former Labor-Greens Government was unable and unwilling to do.
There have been no forced redundancies. There will be no more frontline reductions or teacher reductions. All these things which you are claiming are going to happen are not going to happen. Are we reducing the cost of public expenditure on our state's Budget? Yes, we are because it is critical so we can reinvest more into health and human services. This week's Budget will reveal that not only are we getting the Budget back into a strong condition, not only is the economy returning to a strong condition, but we are investing record amounts in health and education. We are investing into public services because having a stronger Budget position allows us to do that.
It is very much part of our plan to not only fix the Budget and build the economy, but to reinvest in those essential public services. We will take no lectures from Members opposite who sacked teachers and nurses when in Government and made cuts to essential public services. Not only did we stop those cuts in the police service but we reversed them, putting more police into our communities to make them safer.
We will not allow our Budget to get back into appalling shape as happened under the former Government, because it makes it very difficult to better invest in essential services. This week's Budget will reveal that not only are we getting the Budget back into good shape, but we are investing in public and essential services.