The strong advocacy of the community services industry has been recognised with the appointment of a Minister for Strategic Growth as part of the cabinet reshuffle today.
While it is an exciting time for Tasmania and our economy is growing, the biggest challenge we face is making sure the growth is inclusive so all Tasmanians can participate and prosper.
The Premier’s appointment of Sarah Courtney as Minister for Strategic Growth acknowledges the need to address rising inequality as a matter of priority for the Gutwein Government.
We were heartened by the Premier’s comments on Monday when he spoke about exercising compassionate leadership and ensuring the opportunities are there for all Tasmanians. Today this has been backed up by the appointment of the ministerial position.
For people living in regional parts of Tasmania there can be confidence that the new Premier is listening and understands their challenges including how critical it is for the strong economic growth to be inclusive of all Tasmanians.
Across Tasmania many people are facing a range of barriers beyond their control such as a lack of access to reliable, affordable transport that can get them to services, training and work. Other system barriers preventing participating include low levels of literacy and lack of access to digital technology and essential services such as health and dental care.
We must now work strategically to tackle these barriers and to give all Tasmanians the opportunity to live a good life. Otherwise, who is our strong economy for?
The other critical issue facing low income Tasmanians was the prevalent impact of climate change, as acknowledged by Premier Gutwein’s appointment of a Minister for Climate Change today.
As we have experienced firsthand in Tasmania, the impact of climate events is often hardest felt by those on the lowest of incomes who do not have the range of financial and other resources to recover quickly.
With the lowest income levels in the country and climate change impacts a reality for our state, we must work to ensure budget and policy decisions are made with the needs of low income Tasmanians front and centre.
This includes ensuring the important role played by community service organisations during and beyond climate change incidents is well-planned and well-resourced.
TasCOSS looks forward to working with Minister Courtney and Premier Gutwein in their new roles.
For more information about inclusive growth, please refer to the 2019/2020 TasCOSS Budget Priorities Statement (Unlocking our Potential: an inclusive growth strategy for Tasmania).