Last week’s Liberal state Budget lacked compassion and courage. It offered nothing for small business in Tasmania, which is the engine room of the Tasmanian economy, and did not put one extra dollar into public housing despite waiting lists blowing out by over 40% since the Liberals came to office.
The Greens will present an alternative Budget vision in Parliament tomorrow. We will create a $40m fund to assist small business with their electricity bills over the next four years, and invest $50m into affordable housing plus $10m into energy efficiency for low income Tasmanians and small business. These funds will be drawn from the $220m election slush fund created by Treasurer Peter Gutwein last week.
Nick McKim MP | Greens Treasury spokesperson
The state Budget claimed to be all about business, but while it had plenty for big business, small business did not even rate a mention in Mr Gutwein’s budget speech.
The Greens will create a fund to assist small businesses with less than 20 FTE employees and a separate commercial premises with their electricity costs.
This will assist around 17 500 small businesses with an average cash rebate of over $500 each year.
Small business is the engine room of the State’s economy. Tasmanians who establish small businesses have often taken significant financial risks to follow their dreams, and deserve more support from their state government.
Major industrial consumers have bargaining power that small businesses just do not have. They get massively discounted electricity, while small business continues to pay top dollar for their electricity at the retail rate. This is fundamentally unfair, and means that dollars are flowing into multinationals at the expense of Tasmanian small business owners.
Small businesses would simply need to provide evidence that they qualify, and that they have payed an electricity bill. The $10m would be allocated to small businesses that qualify based on their electricity bills, and would result in cash rebates that would average well over $500 per annum for each eligible small business. The larger the bill, the larger the rebate.
These same small businesses will also be able to access the $10m fund proposed today by the Greens for energy efficiency audits and upgrades.
Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Health and Human Services spokesperson
One of the biggest failings of the second Hodgman Budget is the lack of investment in providing homes for Tasmanians experiencing housing stress. This lack of investment reveals a lack of heart on the Hodgman Government’s part.
The housing waiting list has soared by 43.5% since the Liberals took office in March last year. The Budget papers project the waiting list will continue to grow over the next four years, the number of applicants housed will fall along with the number of allocations to those in greatest need. Meanwhile, the Budget also projects the average time taken to house Category 1 applicants will be longer, as it will be for every other person or family waiting for a home.
It’s a bleak outlook for housing because this government clearly doesn’t understand that having access to secure, affordable housing is a foundation for education, training and employment opportunity.
Rather than squirreling away $220 million into the Liberals’ infrastructure slush fund, we’ll top up the near-empty Housing Fund established in 2009, with a $50 million capital injection to increase the supply of affordable, energy efficient housing, create local construction jobs and build communities.
In recognition of what a struggle it can be for low income households to pay their power bills, we’ll build on the work of the previous Labor Green government and establish a $10 million energy efficiency fund to deliver free upgrades that can save many hundreds of dollars off electricity costs each year.
This fund would be available to low income households in the public and private rental market, as well as community organisations and small business.
Like the Housing capital injection, this money would also create local jobs and opportunities, while enabling Tasmanians to reduce their energy consumption.
It is possible to deliver a Budget that creates jobs and opportunities, while also looking after disadvantaged Tasmanians.