They waited through the Golden Age budget — and they got this (The Mercury Talking Point, 24/05/19)

Government fails Tasmanians despite Premier’s pledge to share prosperity, says Kym Goodes.

BUDGETS are a message from governments to the community about what it sees as most important, most worthy of investment. And the State Government’s budget message to Tasmanians this year could not be clearer.

This government values investing in infrastructure over investing in people. For five years now this government has seen infrastructure spending as the panacea. They keep telling us that building things will create jobs and help deliver better essential services. If that is so then why are so many Tasmanians increasingly being left behind? Why are so many Tasmanians missing out on the opportunity to get a job and have a good life?

Minister for Building and Construction Sarah Courtney this week celebrated Tasmania recording “the strongest growth in the construction and building sector in the year to March 2019”. If that is so then why is Tasmania’s unemployment rate still disproportionately high? Local people are not getting local jobs because the Government is not investing enough in the supports that people need.

The Government’s own numbers tell the story of the past five years for many Tasmanians. There are decreasing numbers of Tasmanians enrolling in TasTAFE and VET training (63,400 in 2015 vs 54,100 in 2017). More Tasmanian children are in out-of-home care (1,054 in 2013-14 vs 1,310 in 2018-19). There are now 3,233 Tasmanians waiting on the housing register (vs 2,054 in 2013-14) and the wait time for priority applicants (including those fleeing domestic violence) has increased from 19 weeks in 2013-14 to 56 weeks in 2018-19.

Focusing investment in infrastructure is not solving these complex, entrenched social challenges in our community. A long-term, strategic investment is needed. And the Premier promised this in his State of the State Address in March. He committed to a “plan for strategic growth” including:

“INVESTING so more Tasmanians, across every region, can share in our state’s prosperity.”

“BREAK[ING] down the barriers to the greatest enabler of social inclusion — education, training and the opportunity of a good job.”

“FIND those ways to ensure all Tasmanians are feeling the benefits of a strong economy, and that no one is left behind.”

In the Treasurer’s Budget we see more of the same. The Government keeps throwing money in the same direction, hoping that something will change. But the truth is, if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got. Tasmanians doing it tough have been patient. The 17,000 job-seekers have waited.

They’ve waited through tourism budgets and infrastructure budgets. They’ve waited through the “golden age” budget that has not yet improved their lives. And this year they are being asked to wait yet again.

Tasmanians have waited and waited for a budget that invests directly in them. A budget that prioritises supporting the ability of every Tasmanian to participate in work, education and the Tasmanian way of life, not just a crisis investment for those needing acute care or intensive support. They have been waiting for a direct investment to help 120,000 men, women and children in Tasmania who live in poverty, be able to live a good life.

We can and should invest in the hard infrastructure but if we don’t also support local people to take up the jobs that creates then we’re not ensuring the prosperity can be shared. We need strategic investment to address the barriers that get in the way of getting a job and having a good life. Strategic investment to address inflexible and unaffordable public transport that can’t get people where they need to go and when they need to be there.

We need investment to ensure all Tasmanians have a place to call home and don’t have to resort to living in shipping containers or cars.

We need better support for people who struggle to read and write so they can have the basic skills they need to be able to get a job and keep it.

Over the past five years the quality of life has got worse for many Tasmanians. This should not happen in times of economic growth. We need to invest strategically now to unlock the potential that is dormant in our communities and make sure no one is left behind.

Kym Goodes is chief executive of the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS).


  • All
  • Advocacy
  • Community sector
  • For Members
  • Making News
  • Media Releases
  • Member resources
  • TasCOSS Board

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Welcome relief with electricity costs for households

The announcement by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator (TER) that household electricity prices will fall by 7.11% next month couldn’t come soon enough for Tasmanians grappling with mounting cost of living pressures.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: COSS directors call for national action to raise the age of criminal responsibility

The Council of Social Services (COSS) directors jointly call on Commonwealth, state and territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years of age.

Grocery Unit Pricing Code Review

Effective unit pricing is a consumer protection measure that is vital to the many thousands of Tasmanians who have low numeracy and/or literacy and live in poverty or on inadequate incomes.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Winter chill prompts calls to improve household energy efficiency and lower power bills

With the winter chill well and truly blanketing the state, TasCOSS is calling on the State Government to improve energy affordability for Tasmanians and provide increased support for households to lower their electricity bills.

Access Support for your Energy Costs

With the end of June fast approaching, it is a timely reminder to households that electricity disconnections can recommence as a further tranche of COVID-19 protections are removed.

The Value of a Safe, Warm and Stable Home — Adrienne’s enews Message (10 June 2021)

With winter upon us, the significance of a safe, warm and stable home to lay your head at night really hits home, writes TasCOSS CEO Adrienne Picone.

Goanna Report for TasCOSS on Tasmanian Residential Electricity Prices

TasCOSS commissioned a report to compare Tasmania’s residential electricity prices with those elsewhere on the mainland. This report and previous research confirm that investing in household energy efficiency will improve energy affordability and reduce power bills for Tasmanians.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Job Ready Fund to provide Tasmanian job seekers with practical support to enter the workforce

Today’s announcement by the State Government to partner with Searson Buck to provide Tasmanians with the essential tools and accreditation they need in order to gain meaningful, secure employment will be of great benefit to job seekers looking for a way into the workforce.

TasCOSS Submissions on Climate Change

While all Australians are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the impacts of climate change are and will be felt inequitably and will drive social inequality in the future. Mitigating future climate change and adaptation to ongoing climate changes are therefore social justice issues, particularly for young Tasmanians.

TasCOSS MEDIA RESPONSE: 2021/22 Federal Budget Initial Analysis

This budget provides welcome recognition that the health and wellbeing of our population underpins a healthy economy, not the other way round.

Rodney Greene, Organisation (North/North-West)

TasCOSS Board Member

2021 State Election Joint Statement on Poker Machines in Tasmania

Poker machines are designed to be addictive and are recognised as a potentially dangerous product. Figures show Tasmanians lose around $500,000 to poker machines each and every day.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Funding to address community services skills shortage welcomed

The commitment by the Tasmanian Liberal Party, if elected, to partner with the community services industry to address the current skills shortage and create 4,000 new jobs by 2024 to meet rising community demand has been welcomed by TasCOSS.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Securing the future of vital community service organisations

TasCOSS is pleased to see the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s funding commitment for some community services peak organisations which will support the delivery of core services and a number of important initiatives.

2021 State Election Joint Statement on Energy Affordability

Energy is an essential service. It is critical to individual, family and community health and wellbeing, as well as to overall economic activity. All Tasmanians, regardless of their means, have the right to reliable, safe and affordable energy.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Tasmania’s community services peaks call for urgent action on jobs

Tasmania’s community services industry peak bodies are calling for a commitment from all political leaders to partner with the industry to deliver the 4,000 new jobs needed to address increasing community demand by 2024.

Tasmanian Community Services Industry Joint Statement of 2021 State Election Priorities

As the peak bodies representing Tasmania’s community services industry, our vision is for all Tasmanians to have the opportunity to contribute to rebuilding their communities as resilient, healthy, safe and economically vibrant places to live.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Groups join forces to call for closure of Tasmania’s digital divide

The Tasmanian digital inclusion alliance have joined forces to urge all political leaders to commit to policies and actions that improve digital access, affordability and ability to ensure no Tasmanian is left offline.

2021 State Election Joint Statement on Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion is about making sure everyone can make full use of digital technologies so they can enjoy the social and economic benefits it provides.

2021/2022 TasCOSS Budget Priorities Statement: Household Energy Efficiency Initiatives

Energy is an essential service — one that is fundamental to community, family, individual health and wellbeing and overall economic activity.