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Tasmania’s Stories

State welcomes Canberra Budget

Edition 184_Morrison

Tasmania missed centre-stage in May's Commonwealth Budget (in fact, the State wasn't even mentioned in the Budget Speech), but Government in Hobart was satisfied with the outcome and an absence of nasty surprises.

Critics lamented a lack of positive surprises and pointed out that Tasmania's share of $70 billion in national infrastructure spending amounted to only $1.1 billion.

If population had been Treasurer Scott Morrison's only criterion, Tasmania could have expected 2 per cent, or $1.4 billion.

The Premier, Will Hodgman, didn't think we were hard done by, suggesting that the Budget's detractors were "either being dishonest or delusional".

“People may have short attention spans if they think that significant announcements made in the last month or so ‒ $1 billion in investments for Tasmania ‒ aren’t significant and aren’t real money going into supporting our community,” he said.

Recent announcements include the $730 million in a decade-long funding deal for the Mersey Community Hospital and the Launceston City Deal, which provides $130 million for the relocation of UTAS's northern campus to Launceston CBD, $7.5 million for the City Heart project and $2 million for UTAS's National Institute for Forest Products.

The State Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, described Mr Morrison's document as "a welcome no-surprises Budget for Tasmania."

Mr Gutwein said: "Our additional education funding under Gonski 2.0, which means an extra $200 million for our schools, has been confirmed, as has funding for the University of Tasmania northern transformation projects."

Tasmania's share of infrastructure funding includes $60 million over four years for the Roads to Recovery program, $9.2 million over four years for black spots and $5 million until 2019-20 for bridge renewal.

There is $96.5 million towards the progressive $400 million upgrade of the Midland Highway.

The 500m extension of the Hobart Airport runway receives its final instalment of $13.25 million next year after expenditure of $22 million in 2016-17.

Complementing that is a $5 million allocation towards the $24 million cost of upgrading the Hobart Airport roundabout.

Tasmania also receives $12.9 million in 2017-18, and $15.3 million in 2018-19 in the final two years of rail line upgrades under the $59.8 million Freight Rail Revitalisation program.

The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme will receive $171 million in 2017-18 including the extension announced in 2015 for north-bound export goods from companies such as Nyrstar, Cadbury, Bell Bay Aluminium and Norske Skog.

The most notable omissions include UTAS's $400 million STEM (science technology engineering and maths) project in Hobart, the $535 million Bridgewater Bridge replacement and about $730 million in water and sewerage improvements for Launceston, Devonport and Hobart.

UTAS's Acting Vice-Chancellor, Mike Calford, told The Mercury: “The STEM proposal is the only Tasmanian project on Infrastructure Australia’s priority list for the country ‒ it is disappointing not to see it as part of the Budget."

Mr Hodgman said the STEM project and Bridgewater Bridge were still priorities and he was committed to ensuring “they start as soon as possible".

“[These] are part of a priority list and we will continue to work with the Federal Government to not only develop the planning, but the funding of those commitments into the future," he said.

Tasmania receives $40.1 million over the next two years under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program to keep its ambitious irrigation projects rolling out.

Importantly for many in Hobart's scientific community, the Budget confirms Canberra's $49.8 million commitment to provide year-round access to the State's sub-Antarctic outpost, Macquarie Island, with funding over 11 years.

Leading economist Saul Eslake said the Budget contained some bold and worthy initiatives, but was in some ways a surprisingly unambitious document in terms of seeking to improve the nation's bottom line.

Mr Eslake said: "By the standards of previous pre-election Budgets, this was a sober, responsible effort on the part of the Government ...

"But the Government is unnecessarily, and perhaps dangerously, blinded by its ... belief in the inherent nobility of small businesses, and to the property industry. Both have prevented it from delivering a better Budget."

The Advocate summed up in an editorial: "Losers include employed Tasmanians, who will get hit with a higher Medicare levy, purportedly to contribute to the NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme].

"People with disabilities are among the winners, given the NDIS commitments.

"Bank shareholders (most working Tasmanians, either directly or through super, and many retired ones) will lose from the new tax on the big banks.

"University students get a whack on degree costs and earlier student-loan repayments.

"Schools will get extra cash, while housing affordability measures will make a difference for some Tasmanians.

"Welfare recipients who avoid job opportunities or Centrelink commitments will be penalised, while health patients will benefit from improved bulk-billing incentives."

The three major international rating agencies confirmed the Australian Government's AAA credit rating after considering the Budget's content.

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

6 June 2017, Edition 184

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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