Priorities and spending do not align for Tasmanians

by Eloise Carr

A recent survey by Australian Community Media found the top three issues for Tasmanians right now are health, climate and cost of living. This year’s federal budget gets a fail from the AMA on health and the measures to tackle climate change and cost of living pressures are not what is required either.

There are a number of line items in the budget specifically targeted at Tasmania. The additional funding for mental health in northern Tasmania is welcome, as is the cost of living tax offset.

The vast majority of new spending is on roads and infrastructure ($639.9 million) and the voters of Bass, Braddon and Lyons look like the targets of this approach. Safe southern electorates have been ignored. But with the misalignment of spending with Tasmanians’ priorities, will this be a winning approach?

The official election campaign is yet to begin so there is still hope that these concerns will soon be addressed.

Tasmania’s globally significant coastal marine life continues to be ignored, despite being under serious pressure from a range of threats. Australian Conservation Foundation analysis shows environment spending continues to decline under the Coalition government from 0.5% of the total budget in 2013-14 to 0.3% in 2025-26.

There is no good news for Tasmanians on GST sharing arrangements or revenue as a result of upward revisions to estimates of GST revenue. As Tasmanian-based economist Saul Eslake explains, it is all going to be given to Western Australia. He rates the government’s decision to borrow more money while handing more profits to the richest state in the country as “one of the worst pieces of public policy making in the last 25 years”. Unfortunately, Labor has said that if they win the election, they won’t change GST arrangements either.

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