Irrigation and stadiums are Tasmania’s biggest winners from the Federal Budget.
Irrigation may not be a very exiting headline to many, but it is one of Tasmania’s biggest winners from the Federal Budget: $109 million has been allocated towards the construction of the Northern Midlands Irrigation Scheme and $62.1 million for the Sassafras-Wesley Vale Irrigation Scheme. These schemes will assist 40 and 95 irrigators respectively.
As already announced, the Budget dedicates $305 million over the next 5 years to the Macquarie Point Precinct and University of Tasmania Stadiums in Hobart and Launceston total, with $20 million to kick things off this year. Tasmanians should note, however, that there has been no agreement to exempt this money from future GST shares. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, Tasmania has the highest proportion of residents living in poverty of any state. The measures to address costs of living increases, including the boost to GP bulkbilling, increased parenting payments and household energy bill relief, will do a little, but not enough to help Tasmanians doing it tough.
As for initiatives to address the biodiversity and climate crises, the establishment of Environment Protection Australia, a national agency to enforce environment laws, is a step in the right direction, but without significantly more money environmental decline is set to continue.
On energy, Battery of the Nation initiatives include $1 billion dedicated to low-cost debt for Tasmania. Spending will continue on the Tarraleah Hydro Power Station redevelopment and upgrade with $42.2m over the next 2 years. This is considered a cornerstone project of the Battery of the Nation initiative, according to budget papers.
Funding will continue for the controversial Marinus Link, another connection to the mainland’s electricity grid, with $25 million this financial year and $15 million next year. By the end of the 2024-25 financial year, the Federal Government will have spent $75m on the design and approvals phase of Marinus.
The Disaster Ready Fund will provide $2 million in 2023-24 for Tasmania to target high priority coastal and estuarine disaster risk mitigation projects. The same fund is providing $1.8 million to reduce the impacts of floods on Tasmanian communities. Another $2.1 million over the next two years is dedicated to support disaster resilience.
And last but not least, hydrogen. Although not specifically mentioned, Tasmania’s Bell Bay is likely to get a share of the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart funding, according to Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen.
It will be interesting to see what the Tasmanian Government does with less than expected GST revenue in the upcoming State Budget on 25 May.
Tanya Martin Office Manager
Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser