Sometimes vanilla can be a good thing.
Drawing on his experience as a political journalist and government relations specialist, Font PR Managing Director Becher Townshend has provided his insight into the 2022/23 Budget below.
Some people will tell you that vanilla is boring, but after two years of the most dramatic COVID upheaval, there is a reason why vanilla ice cream is the most popular in the country.
And with the 2022-23 State Budget, Michael Ferguson has delivered us a bowl, with not much strawberry topping, but a decent sized serve regardless.
That is because on an economic front, the state continues to defy the odds and produce what can only be described as a tasty set of numbers.
Unemployment currently sits at 3.8 per cent and it is predicted to remain stable over the 22-23 financial year.
In terms of economic growth, this year the state has had a healthy three and ¾ per cent growth, and this is predicted to be two and ¾ per cent over the next financial year.
That will be driven by retail trade, which is 15 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, while exports are up 25 per cent to reach $4.6 billion – something all of Tasmania should be proud of.
Despite all this sweetness, the largess of pump priming during the pandemic may leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths, with net debt expected to grow from $1.5 billion this year to just under $3 billion next year.
From there, net debt moves to $4 billion, and then will be at over $5 billion by 2025-26.
Given this rise in debt, it is no wonder the State Opposition is already targeting the $750 million AFL stadium at the Regatta Grounds as a waste of money.
In terms of overall spending, the budget is worth some $8.3 billion – 32 per cent being spent on health, 25 per cent on education, while a whopping $5.6 billion has been earmarked over four years for infrastructure to improve our schools, hospitals and roads.
In that sense, this Budget is very much like the Peter Gutwein ones that have come before it, conservative and prudent with a big spend on infrastructure.
The difference is that now, debt appears to be raising its ugly head, and with inflation starting to bite, the new Treasurer Michael Ferguson will have to continue to work hard to balance the need for growth, while ensuring we live within our means.
Budget at a glance 2022-23:
Income: $7.85 billion
Expenditure: $8.32 billion
Net debt: $2.9 billion
Digital Health system - $475 million
$12.5 million Family Violence
$26.1 million safeguarding officers
$36.4 million commission of inquiry
$40 million Ashley
$2.7 billion – roads and bridges
$10 million for Tourism Tasmania