2017-18 State Budget wrap

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Welcome to Font PR’s 2017-18 State Budget wrap for the fourth Liberal budget of this term.

Drawing on his experience as a political journalist and government relations specialist, Font Managing Director Becher Townshend has provided his insight into the budget below.

Along with Becher, John Barker of John Barker and Associates has used his vast knowledge of the government sector to pinpoint the key take-aways from this year’s budget.

For those with less time to spare, we have put together a video of Becher’s summary and compiled a budget at a glance, outlining the key facts and figures from the budget, as well as a detailed summary for the majority of the state’s portfolios.

Click below to reach a selected portfolio summary:

Aboriginal Affairs, Arts, Building and Construction, Education and Training, Energy and TasWater, Environment and Parks, Health, Human Services, Information, Technology and Innovation, Infrastructure, Justice and Corrections, Local Government and Planning, Police and Emergency Services, Primary Industries and Water, Resources and Forests, Small Business, Sport and Recreation, State Growth, Tourism.

Becher Townshend – Managing Director, Font PR

Becher current low res

Four years in and Treasurer Peter Gutwein has managed to reap the rewards of strong fiscal management with health, education, cost of living and jobs at the heart of a pre-election budget designed to bring the Government back in majority at the upcoming state election.

The centrepiece for the 17/18 budget being an additional $650 million for health over the next four years, with 106 extra beds, more doctors, nurses and health professionals, while medical facilities will be upgraded in Kingston, Hobart, Glenorchy, St Helens and Latrobe.

In addition, we’ll see a second rescue helicopter in the skies, while child support funding will see a $27.5 million increase and NDIS commitments will total some $270 million.

Education sees an increase of some $250 million over the next four years, with a special fund of $17.8 million for better learning outcomes in regional areas.

For the many mum and dads out there finding it difficult to make ends meet, power prices have been capped at two per cent increase for the next four years, while water and sewerage charges will be capped to a maximum increase of 3.5 per cent, down from five per cent, should the Government be successful in its TasWater take over.

In addition to these is more funding for jobs, squarely aimed at getting young people in the workforce, with two year payroll tax exemptions for apprentices and trainees, with one year of assistance for those not in formal training who get a job aged between 15 and 24.

Small business gets a similar subsidy program, all designed to give young Tasmanians a reason to say in Tasmania.

Other initiatives include funding to support first home buyers purchasing a new house, while local government scores $300,000 to finalise local planning provisions and implement the statewide planning scheme.

Agriculture sees another $12.5 million for the agriculture food plan and Forestry Tasmania becomes Sustainability Timber Tasmania with an extra $8.5 million to support community service obligations such as roads and non-commercial activities.

Infrastructure spending is strong at $294 million for 17/18, while local government will be offered $60 million in interest free loans to stimulate the regional economies.

Tourism sees $11 million more for marketing, while the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre gets an additional $7 million, with the fighting fund for the TT-Line replacement vessels now at $180 million.

Overall the State Government has continued to manage a simple strategy of spending less than it earns and after four years it is paying dividends.

A $77 million net operating surplus is good news, but underlying fiscal deficit of $160 million and four years to take this number into a modest positive, shows there are still economic headwinds.

However, with an $88 million predicted increase in GST receipts and $55 million in additional stamp duty, revenue has risen by $300 million, along with sound prudent management has allowing the Treasurer to deliver a human budget, that shows this Government has a heart.

It will go a long way to helping the State Government in the lead up to the election.

John Barker – John Barker & AssociatesJB

Improved economic activity, strong business confidence, 94.2% employment, increased GST receipts and stamp duty revenues with sound economic management have enabled the State Government to deliver a very positive budget for 2017/18 and beyond.

Forecast state growth is 2.5%, spending has been limited to 2.4% and revenues are expected at 2.7%. The budget has forecast a surplus of $54.3m, in 2017/18 with surpluses in each year of the forward estimates. A massive, unprecedented $650m injection into health is the budget highlight.


  • $650m includes:106 additional hospital beds
    • More doctors, nurses and health professionals
    • $12.1m for a new St Helens hospital
    • $16m into mental health across 4 years
    • $9m for a second medical rescue helicopter
    • $3.75m for medicinal cannabis scheme
    • $6m for a State coordination and command centre
    • RHH completion mid 2019 (providing an additional 250 beds)


  • $6.4b is provided across the forward estimates including:
    • $57m over 4 years to implement new Education Act
    • $17.8m over 4 years towards children’s wellbeing
    • $6.9m for additional school support staff
    • $250,000 for schools mental health program

Business / Employment

  • The budget provides $25m to programs that will support the creation of 7600 jobs
  • $4m allocated to the Jobs Action Package in partnership with TCCI and TasCoss, a very encouraging initiative.
  • $2m for a small business grants program
  • $17.1m to a payroll incentive scheme for 2 years to provide payroll tax relief to businesses that employ a new apprentice or trainee will increase employment opportunities for young school leavers
  • $145,000 to assist young people in Bridgewater attain their drivers licence


  • $11m for tourism marketing
  • $22m to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience
  • $1m for a St Helens mountain bike trail
  • $3.2m to create a tourism and hospitality Centre of Excellence at Drysdale
  • $8m to Parks infrastructure
  • $6m to cycling tourism


  • $2b of job creating infrastructure across 4 years including;
    • $500m funding for hospitals, health and ICT
    • $117m for schools and education facilities
    • $800m for roads and rail ($294m for roads in 2017/18)
    • $7m for East Derwent Highway / Mowbray Junction connector
    • Continued upgrading of the Midland Highway
    • $60m for ICT systems
    • $19m to Freight Access Bridge Upgrades
    • $100m allocation to the Bass Strait vessel replacement fund ($80m from TT Line and $20m from this budget)
    • $60m interest free loans to extend Local Government capital programs statewide.

Primary Industries

  • $12.5m to the Agri-Food Plan
  • $5m has been allocated for the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • $2m biosecurity funding to fight weeds and pests
  • $1.2m for shellfish biotoxin testing in State is welcome particularly with the incidences of POMS disease
  • $500,000 for farm safety
  • $1.7m for Rural Alive and Well
  • $1.4m to implement the Cat Management Plan
  • $2m to on-farm landcare works supporting flood recovery.

Tas Water and Sewerage

  • Provision has been made for the takeover of Tas Water
    • Government prices will be capped at 2.75% in year one and between 2.75% and 3.5% Following year
    • $20m a year has been allocated from 2018/19 to Councils once the takeover is completed


  • Finalise the transition and restructure of Forestry Tasmania into Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT)
  • No provision to support commercial production activities
  • A new Community Service Obligation will fund tourist and general purpose roads and non-commercial activities of STT limited to $8m annually
  • $4m over 4 years for forestry Strategic Growth Plan

Family Violence

  • $1.68m to establish a Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit
  • $2.79m over 3 years for electronic monitoring of high risk family violence offenders.


  • $27.5m to support vulnerable children
  • 71 additional police officers
  • $3.8m for aerial fire appliances
  • $27m to the Fire Reduction strategy
  • $20,000 First Home Buyers scheme is continued
  • $9.5m over 2 years to support Copper Mines of Tasmania


This is a very strong budget with health as its flagship and should be attractive to the Tasmanian community.

The Government’s sound economic management strategy has paid off.

However GST revenues comprise 42% of State revenues, GST therefore remains a critical challenge to Government given the Productivity Commission’s current enquiry into GST allocation to the States.

The onus is now with Labor to provide an alternative budget, not simply a vision, particularly necessary in an election year.

The scene is set for the next State election.

When will the election be held?

The budget at a glance

  • Operating Surplus – An operating surplus for 16/17 of $77.3 million, falling slightly to $54.3 million for 17/18 but a fiscal deficit of $160 million which won’t become positive until 19/20 with a modest $2.8 million.
  • Growth for this financial year is expected to be 2.5 per cent, which is above trend and shows the strength of the Tasmanian economy when compared to the rest of the nation.
  • Revenue growth to government is expected to be 2.7 per cent over the forward estimates, while expenditure growth is still below that of revenue but has increased from a cap of 1.1 per cent in 14/15 to 2.4 per cent.
  • GST and tax: GST revenue is predicted to increase by $88.2 million next financial year, while stamp duty is up $55.6 million helping to contribute to a $300 million increase in revenue for a total 17/18 budget of $5.874 billion.
  • Unemployment predicted to remain steady at 6.5 per cent despite currently sitting at 5.8 per cent.

Portfolio summary

Aboriginal Affairs

  • $278,000 has been allocated to the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania to develop the wukalina cultural walk project.
  • $250,000 per annum to increase the number of Tasmanian Aboriginal people in the public service.

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  • $1.44 million to establish a dedicated Youth Arts Strategy.
  • $500,000 in additional annual funding for the Ten Days on the Island festival.
  • $300,000 in additional Screen Production funding for the second season of Rosehaven.
  • $700,000 in additional funding for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

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Building and Construction

  • First Home Building Grant of $20,000 extended for a further year.
  • Stamp duty will only be paid on the value of land for eligible house and land packages.
  • $300,000 to assist councils finalise their local planning rule so they can become part of the Statewide planning scheme.
  • A one stop online shop for building and planning approvals called iPlan, worth $1.9 million
  • An increase in the supply of Government land to be used for housing development.
  • Continuation of the $73.5 million Affordable Housing Action Plan.

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Education and Training

  • $6.36 billion investment aimed at improving educational outcomes and creating a job ready generation of young Tasmanians, including:
    • $134 million funding over six years to fulfil the Government’s Gonski pledge;
    • $6.9 million to employ an additional 14.8 FTE professional support staff across Government schools;
    • $5 million for student re-engagement programs;
    • $1.6 million to develop a new child and student wellbeing student strategy;
    • $250,000 funding to go to Stay ChatTY for suicide prevention and mental health awareness;
    • $12 million for the reforms from the Ministerial Taskforce over the forward estimates;
    • $1.5 million annually in additional funding to non-government schools;
    • $57 million over four years to implement the new Education Act;
    • $300,000 to encourage education and careers in primary industries;
    • $100,000 per year for three years to support the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra;
    • $280,000 for research and seed funding for strategies to improve the health and safety of our school principals; and
    • $4 million over four years to extend the School Health Nurses initiative.
  • $117 million investment on better school buildings across Tasmanian schools and TasTAFE including:
    • $1.8 million for additional learning areas and the refurbishment of administration, canteen, library and office spaces at the Boat Harbour Primary School;
    • $2.9 million to provide additional learning and support areas as well refurbishments to existing classrooms at Illawarra Primary School;
    • $4.7 million for Lansdowne Crescent Primary School to provide additional learning and support areas;
    • $3.2 million over two years to meet demand at Drysdale TasTAFE;
    • $1.9 million to replace a demountable building with permanent learning and breakout spaces at Molesworth Primary School;
    • $5 million for new learning spaces at Queechy High School;
    • $4.3 million to provide additional learning spaces at Southern Support School;
    • $1.7 million for a two-year project to provide new kindergarten learning facilities at Spreyton Primary School; and
    • $5 million to provide contemporary learning areas at Taroona High School.
  • $6 million over four years for capital improvements in Independent and Catholic schools in communities with high socio-economic need.
  • $2 million already announced to go towards a pilot program to support small business to employ apprentices and trainees.
  • Announcement of payroll tax relief from 1 July for a business that employs a new apprentice or trainee for a period of two years.

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Energy and TasWater

  • Power price increases capped at two per cent saving an estimated $300 per house over the next year.
  • A $15 million plan to provide lower power prices for medium to larger businesses and a $20 million relief fund for medium-sized businesses facing higher power prices.
  • A proposed cap of water and sewerage increases at 3.5 per cent, plus a $20 million fund for dividends to local government should the TasWater takeover proceed.

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Environment and Parks 

  • $8 million over two years to develop the Tourism Infrastructure in Parks Program.
  • $6.8 million in additional funding over the next three years for the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.
  • $1.8 million over two years to restore the Darlington site and improve visitor services on Maria Island.
  • $250,000 to complete the South Coast Track upgrade.
  • $4 million to complete works on the Three Capes Track.
  • $500,000 for the Fuel Reduction Program.
  • $3.2 million to construct a captive breeding facility and support the ongoing preservation of critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.
  • $200,000 to ensure the aboriginal cultural values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area are appropriately recognised.
  • $3 million in additional funding to deliver new climate change initiatives.
  • $185,000 over the next three years to NRM North to support the Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers Program.
  • $100,000 to trial a soft erosion mitigation project at Okines Beach in Lewisham.

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  • A total of $7 billion recurrent investment in health, including;
    • $144.4 million to open more beds and employ more hospital staff.
    • $16 million boost to mental health services.
    • $16.9 million to continue to implement the One Health System reforms.
    • $9m to secure a second medical and police and rescue helicopter.
    • $3.75 million to roll out the Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme .
  • $76.6 million recurrent funding package to address RHH Emergency Department pressures.
  • An additional $7 million for important capital works at the RHH.
  • $20 million to open 10 new short stay beds, five treatment chairs and additional triage and ED nurses at the RHH.
  • $19.3 million for the operation of a new ward at the Hobart Repatriation Hospital, providing 22 additional staffed beds.
  • $2.4 million to trial a range of initiatives to improve patient flow at the RHH this winter.
  • $1 million for increased orderly and infection control staff.
  • $840,000 to extend the occupational therapist rapid response initiative.
  • $2 million to increase capacity at the Tolosa St Respite and Rehabilitation Centre.
  • $6 million to establish a THS State-wide Operations and Control Centre, with regional hubs.
  • $493.7 million investment in major hospital and health infrastructure including;
    • $388.7 million for the RHH redevelopment.
    • $35 million to upgrade the Mersey Community Hospital.
    • $17.9 million for hospital upgrades and maintenances across the state.
    • $12.5 million towards the Glenorchy and Kingston health centres.
    • $7.7 million towards the LGH 4K children’s ward.
    • $7 million for a new ward at the Hobart Repatriation Hospital.
    • $11.4 million to fund the development of the St Helens District Hospital.

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Human Services

  • $750 million in cash and kind contributions to the NDIS, including $179.7 million of additional funding allocated specifically for the State Contribution to the NDIS.
  • $27.5 million to better support families and children at risk and to ensure the Out of Home Care system provides the best possible care.
  • $6.3 million to replace the children and youth services ICT system.
  • $400,000 to Foodbank over the next four years to establish a base in the North West region.
  • $60,000 in further support for mobile food vans including Loui’s Van in Hobart, Launceston’s Missionbeat and Gran’s Van in Devonport.
  • $200,000 to Volunteering Tasmania over the next four years to develop EV-CREW.
  • $1.46 million over three years to help refugee families in Tasmania.
  • $50,000 to support the Risdon Vale Bike Collective.
  • $100,000 in additional funding to the RSL.
  • $346,000 to support Tasmanian seniors including COTA, Seniors Week and to kick start Tasmania’s new active ageing plan.
  • $90,000 for the Tasmanian Men’s Shed Association to support Men’s Sheds around Tasmania.
  • $100,000 over two years to support additional community participation incorporating $10,000 per year over two years for the Moonah Taste of the World Festival and the Deloraine Craft Fair and $5000 per year for two years for Colony 47’s community Christmas lunch.
  • $50,000 to support Tasmania’s hosting of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia Congress.
  • $270 million in funding for Tasmanian community sector organisations.
  • An additional $900,000 over two years to support the Lead Support Coordination Service trail.
  • An additional $150,000 to COTA and Advocacy Tasmania.
  • Additional funding of $15,000 each for our Neighbourhood and Community Houses
  • $325,000 for a new Derwent Valley Community House.
  • $26.5 million invested in new and upgraded public housing for Tasmania.
  • $6 million in home deposits or loans for eligible low to middle income Tasmanians through the HomeShare program.
  • Funding for 8 additional units at the Thyne House, 9 at the Youth at Risk Centre and 25 units at the Devonport Youth Supported Accommodation Facility.

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Information, Technology and Innovation

  • $1.36 million over five years in an assistance package to secure 50 new jobs as part of partnership with DXC Technology.

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  • $7 million new repatriation ward Hobart.
  • $1.4 million Bonnett Hill road improvements.
  • $4 million Three Capes Stage 3.
  • $2 million Oatlands swimming pool redevelopment.
  • $35.8 19 beds LGH Ward 4D.
  • $20 million John L Grove Rehabilitation centre, 20 beds.
  • $50 million Northern Centre major development initiative.
  • $1.9 million Silverdome upgrade.
  • $5.8 million revitalisation of Launceston City Heart project.
  • $1.95 million Bridport Road Bridge up grades.
  • $800,000 Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails.
  • $17.5 million Scottsdale irrigation scheme.
  • $12 million 8 beds and staffing North West Regional Hospital.
  • $35 million Mersey community Hospital upgrade.
  • $2.2 million new nurse training facility, NW Regional Hospital.
  • $6.4 million Bass Highway Bridge upgrades.
  • $3.5 million Dial Regional Sports complex.
  • $3.5 million Circular Head new aquatic centre.
  • $3.5 million multipurpose sports clubhouse Devonport Golf Club.
  • $9.5 million projects essential to restart My Lyell mine.
  • $1m mining industry projects supporting technologies.

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Justice and Corrections

  • $15.4 million over the next two years to continue the Family Violence Action Plan.
  • $2.79 million partnership with the Australian Government to fund a trial of electronic monitoring of high risk family violence offenders.
  • $1.68 million for a Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • $420,000 over two years for an Eligible Persons Register to enable victims of family violence to opt in to be informed of a prisoner’s location and progress in the prison system.
  • $1.9 million over two years to cover court costs associated with extra sittings and support staff.
  • More than $2.5 million over two years to fund the legal assistance sector.
  • $2.4 million per annul to implement the first tranche of reforms, including:
    • Provision of drug treatment orders to be available for matters before the Supreme Court;
    • Providing for deferred sentencing for adult offenders;
    • Provision for a sentencing option of imposing a fine without recording a conviction; and
    • Making minor amendments to the existing drug treatment order provisions.
  • $8.6 million over four years to enable important infrastructure improvements, including:
    • Increase capacity in the Ron Barwick minimum security prison by an addition 40 cells;
    • Build additional pre-release accommodation units;
    • Construction of a new mother and baby unit within the Mary Hutchinson women’s prison; and
    • Additional associated staffing costs.
  • $1.4 million over four years to employ parenting and family re-integration facilitators and assistance for transitional accommodation for prisoners.

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Local Government and Planning

  • $60 million in interest free loans for councils to apply to bring forward infrastructure projects.

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Police and Emergency Services

  • $3.4 million commitment over four years to roll out body worn cameras to all frontline police officers.
  • $1.5 million for a wellness program to support police officers and fire and emergency service workers.
  • $3.75 million for new appliances to replace three ageing fire vehicles.
  • $9 million for the conclusion of the Statewide tenure blind program.
  • $1.25 million for police housing.

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Primary Industries and Water

  • $2 million in additional funding to protect the Tasmanian agriculture industry from weeds and pests.
  • $20 million for the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.
  • $800,000 for the Tasmanian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program.
  • $1.2 million to develop a biotoxin testing facility for Tasmanian shellfish.
  • $600,000 over the next four years to improve safety on Tasmanian farms.
  • $1.2 million for a Strategic Industry Partnerships Program to support growth in Tasmanian agri-food sectors.
  • $2 million in additional funding for agricultural landscape rehabilitation programs.
  • $30,000 for a Bee Industry Futures Report.
  • $750,000 for a Dairy Industry Stock Underpass Pilot Program.
  • $500,000 to differentiate and market the Tasmanian brand.
  • $1.54 million to support animal welfare, biosecurity and livestock productivity.
  • $632,000 to improve frontline biosecurity services.
  • $1.44 million for the Tasmanian Cat Management Plan.
  • $10.4 million for the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies.
  • $600,000 for the Aquatic Animal Health Centre of Excellence.
  • $765,000 in additional funding to support the Tasmanian Oyster Industry.
  • $146,000 over one year to deliver improved services for recreational fishers.

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Resources and Forests

  • $4 million over four years to implement the Strategic Growth Plan for the Tasmanian Forests, Fine Timber and Wood Fibre Industry.
  • The Forest Practices Authority receives $300,000 to analysis the socio-economic impacts of the Forest Practices System.
  • A total of $450,000 in community awareness projects related to forestry, while $150,000 will be provided to seed an umbrella organisation to coordinate cooperative growth and investment strategies, research and development.
  • The establishment of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation worth $2 million and matched in funding from the Federal Government.
  • A total of $8 million a year for the newly renamed Forestry Tasmania to provide Community Service Obligations such as roads and no revenue generating activities.
  • $1 million for a new Mining Sector Innovation Program.
  • Confirmation of $9.5 million to Copper Mines of Tasmania to assist in re-starting Mt Lyell mine.
  • Geoscience Initiative Program receives a further $1.4 million.

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Small Business

  • $2 million over two years towards the small business grants to support apprentices and trainees program.
  • $900,000 over two years to attract and form a new start-up accelerator program to help foster new and innovative business ideas.
  • An additional $1.1 million over four years to support enterprise hubs.
  • $50,000 to improve the capacity of the Tasmanian Small Business Council to engage with both Government and its members on the take-up of government programs.
  • $900,000 over four years to help business become Digital Ready.
  • $115,000 for Crime Stoppers shoplifting awareness campaign.

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Sports and Recreation

  • $1 million for new trails at St Helens.
  • $250,000 to upgrade Rugby Park to adequately provide for women.

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State Growth

  • Jobs Action Package with $4 million for a partnership between the Government, TasCOSS and the TCCI to help increase employment, especially in regional areas.
  • Support package to create an estimated 7,600 new jobs for young Tasmanians including:
    • $25 million for youth unemployment with $17 million in payroll tax relief for businesses employing apprentices, trainees and young people;
    • Grants of up to $4,000 for small businesses to employ a trainee or apprentices;
    • $600,000 for Whitelion’s Work Ready program to target high risk youth aged 16 to 24; and
    • $1.1 million for the Workforce for Now and the Future initiative, including the Driving for jobs trail
  • Tasmania’s export trade and investment attractiveness program receives $1.1 million, including $340,000 to increase engagement with India.
  • Population Growth Strategy gets $1.5 million towards the target of 650,000 people in the state by 2050.
  • $500,000 dollars to promote skilled migration to Tasmania.
  • Global Education Strategy gets $3 million.

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  • $11 million for tourism marketing.
  • $8 million to deliver flagship tourism experiences in national parks.
  • $6 million as part of the cycle tourism strategy to support new experiences and improve existing trails around Tasmania.
  • $1.7 million to progress the visitor engagement strategy, workforce development and destination action plans.
  • $245,000 to go to the Tasmanian Hospitality Association to further the Great Customer Experience program, and enable the THA to host a state-wide hospitality conference.

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