On Thursday 25 May 2023, Treasurer, the Hon Michael Ferguson MP, handed down the latest State Budget.
While the Government has openly acknowledged this was going to be a tough Budget, even in challenging economic times, the goal of every budget must be to ensure all Tasmanians can afford the basics. However, this Budget fails to do this.
For the 120,000 Tasmanians doing it tough, this Budget won’t make a difference. And while the Premier has boasted that Tasmania’s economy has notched up ‘more records than Elvis’ in recent years, our not-so-greatest hits include a record-high social housing waitlist and wait times, the biggest increase in homelessness in the country, the most unaffordable rents, and the worst levels of digital exclusion.
The biggest gap however in this Budget was the Government’s failure to recognise the critical value of the essential services our industry provides, barring an inadequate one-off payment. This is incredibly concerning, especially in the face of increasing demand for community services, as we battle a housing, health and cost of living crisis. As you will well know already, this funding shortfall will result in our organisations being left with no choice but to turn away Tasmanians who are in desperate need.
Sadly, this short-sighted decision not to provide fair and reasonable funding for our frontline services will ultimately result in more people presenting to Emergency Departments, more people living on the streets and more people unable to afford the basics.
And while the $250 energy bill relief is welcome, it will quickly be eaten up by the anticipated electricity price increase, meaning all Tasmanians will be worse off each year. As such we call on the Government to cap energy prices at CPI to protect Tasmanian consumers against further price hikes — it’s been done before and we know it works.
It was welcome to see the $1.5 million announced for a new Affordable Rentals Initiative, which will assist in making housing more attainable for those currently grappling with skyrocketing rents. There were also some smaller scale funding announcements for mental health, LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians and neighbourhood houses, but overall we believe this Budget fails to deliver for Tasmanians at a time when they need it most.
More 2023/24 State Budget information: