Welcome to Font PR’s 2018-19 State Budget wrap for the first Liberal budget of this term.
Drawing on his experience as a political journalist and government relations specialist, Font PR Managing Director Becher Townshend has provided his insight into the budget below.
For those with less time to spare, we have also put together a video of Becher’s summary, outlining the key facts and figures from the budget.
A golden time for Tasmania’s economic fortunes
If the Tasmanian community voted for four more years of stable government and strong economic growth, they’re certainly well on the way to this with the 2018/19 State Budget.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein has delivered his part, with a beautiful set of numbers that at first glance appear to be too good to be true, but further scrutiny shows they are the real deal.
Economic growth is running at 3.25 per cent for the current financial year and predicted to level to 2.25 to 2 per cent over the Forward Estimates, while unemployment is predicted to remain stable at 6 per cent.
However, the real story of the success of the economy is a 35 per cent increase in exports, while tourism sees an annual local spend of $2.33 billion, which is up 8 per cent on last year. On top of this, households are spending more and we have record business investment.
This strength of the economy, along with Peter Gutwein’s simple economic maxim of spending less than you earn, has resulted in a Net Operating Surplus of $75.3 million for this financial year, rising to $161.9 million for the Budget year and then well over $100 million over the three remaining years of the Forward Estimates.
There aren’t many who can be disappointed with these numbers and it has allowed the Government to deliver on their election promises and even look further to the future.
Headlining the Budget are some ambitious goals, such as an undertaking to have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation by the time of the next election, plus a 10-year infrastructure plan and a 30-year infrastructure vision.
These are lofty aims and come with $2.6 billion of spending on infrastructure, including $1.1 billion on roads and bridges and $475 million on improving hospital and health infrastructure such as the Mersey, the Royal Hobart and the Launceston General.
Education doesn’t miss out, with $200 million worth of upgrades and funding for two new schools, while the commitment to affordable housing has been funded with $100 million, as well as further funds for the third tranche of the irrigation scheme.
On top of this is $70 million for a southern remand centre and seed funding for a northern prison as well as $7.3 million for the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
But there is more, small to medium business will get further relief with cuts to payroll tax on wages bills up to $4 million each year.
Elsewhere funding of recurrent services continues with record levels of cash for health and education as well as pledges to support a new private hospital co-located at the Launceston General.
Interestingly a foreign investor duty will be introduced, while further land tax incentives will be provided for those putting their properties on the long-term housing market.
For the booming tourism sector, there will be $72 million for Cradle Mountain, $16 million for regional tourism and a further $12 million to market our state, while the plush Treasury offices in the heart of Hobart will be open to expressions of interest.
Peter Gutwein says ‘we are entering a golden age of investment in this state and the Government will ensure that we firmly grasp and deliver on the opportunity for future generations’.
On reading the Treasurer’s 2018/19 Budget documents, that golden time may well have already arrived – how long it lasts, only time will tell, but long may it stay.