The Grattan Institute’s State Orange Book report shows that Tasmania has made strong progress in key areas including employment, budget position, energy costs and education funding.
The report shows that five years ago Tasmania was at the bottom of the nation in nearly every area, and we’ve made significant ground in many areas since then.
The report shows employment for 25-64 year-olds improved faster in Tasmania over the past five years than in any other state. Since 2013 we’ve significantly closed the gap on other states on this measure.
Tasmania was the only state where average residential electricity prices reduced, while every mainland state had price increases. Given Tasmania’s performance in keeping power prices lower, we don’t agree with the recommendation in the report that we should privatise electricity assets.
The report confirms Tasmania’s budget position has improved dramatically over the last five years, with the largest turnaround in Net Debt and largest improvement in Net Operating Balance as a percentage of Gross State Product. This has been achieved without privatisation of Government assets to pay down debt, as the report notes has occurred in other states.
In housing, the report shows Tasmania has the highest levels of housing stock and the lowest levels of rental stress and homelessness in Australia. However, we remain very conscious of the increased pressure in this area due to our improving economy and higher property prices and that’s why we’re investing a further $125 million into second stage of our Affordable Housing Strategy to deliver an additional 1500 new affordable homes.
The heath budget has grown by more than $1 billion since 2016-17, and this significant investment has enabled the Government to recruit over 600 more staff for our health system. This means more patients able to be seen at our hospitals and record elective surgery levels, resulting in significant reductions in amount of the time patients are waiting.
But we do recognise the increased demand pressures on our health system, but that’s why we have a $757 million plan for over 1300 more hospital staff and almost 300 more hospital beds to provide Tasmanians with easier access to a better health system.
As we’ve consistently said, there is much more to do in essential services and in particular health. That’s why we have a long-term plan to continue to grow the economy so we can invest record amounts into health, education and building the infrastructure our growing state needs.