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Health Gets $900M Boost in Tasmanian Budget

Tasmania’s budget will boost health spending by $900 million (US$588 million), with a forecast surplus expected to be pushed back.

State Liberal Treasurer Michael Ferguson will hand down the 2023/24 budget on May 25, almost two weeks after the government was plunged into the minority when two MPs quit the party.

It will reportedly include $12 billion over four years to improve an ailing health system.

The figure is more than a third of the state’s overall spending and $900 million more than what was allocated in last year’s budget.

“We are investing in innovative programs and initiatives,” Premier Jeremy Rockliff told News Corp.

“(That means) … Tasmanians can access the healthcare they need in their communities, closer to where they live, and boost resources in our hospitals for those needing acute care.

“Investments will focus on providing targeted support for innovative, community-based initiatives that deliver positive results for Tasmanians.

“Tasmania has many grassroots health and wellbeing initiatives that are doing great work in our community, and the government is going to back these organisations in.”

Ferguson flagged economic headwinds earlier this week, including a write-down of $940 million in GST revenue over four years.

“(Despite) the GST reductions in revenue to our state that were outlined in the recent federal budget …. this budget does chart a path to surplus,” he said.

Last May’s budget predicted a return to a slight $19 million surplus in 2023/24.

Ferguson said the budget would include outlays towards plans for a contentious $715 million stadium in Hobart and the state’s AFL team.

The state has pledged $375 million to the stadium, $12 million per year over 12 years towards a team and $60 million for a high-performance centre.

Ferguson said the budget would include $347 million over four years to help lower-income people pay water, sewerage, power and local government bills.

He said health and education would account for 60 percent of the budget spent, roughly $8 billion.

According to last year’s budget, the state is set to carry almost $5.2 billion of net debt by 2025/26.

It is Ferguson’s second budget as treasurer for the Liberals, who have been in power since 2014.

The government will also spend $1.5 million on trialling an affordable rental initiative.

Under the program, the government will rent properties on the private market and provide them to eligible low-income Tasmanians at a reduced rate.

The government has just 11 of 25 lower-house seats after John Tucker and Lara Alexander quit the party and became independents.

They cited concerns with transparency surrounding the Hobart stadium and AFL deal. However, both have promised to support the budget and vote it through parliament.

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