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Second reading - Supply Bill (No 1) 2021 (10 of 2021)

Tuesday 29 June 2021, Second Reading Speech

[3.50 p.m.] Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Madam Deputy President, we are again looking at another very bottom-heavy year in terms of parliamentary business with the state going into election mode during April and May and having only two weeks before the winter break. It is extremely important to pass Supply Bills (No. 1) and (No. 2) to keep our state at work, so I will keep my remarks brief.

Supply Bill (No. 1) is set to appropriate $2 189 745 000 to provide for the continuity of government services until the date of the 2021-22 Budget supply bill is passed which is set to occur in October. Contained in this sum is $1947 million for operating services and a further $222.7 million for the continuity of the Government's infrastructure program through the new financial year.

These are significant sums. The Government has stated these are largely administrative costs and I am inclined to show flexibility here when there are still uncertain circumstances relating to the pandemic, the election and the state's overall economic position. Australia retained its AAA credit rating and Tasmania was reported as the country's strongest economy for the fifth quarter in a row in the last CommSec State of the States Report in April.

I note, however, not all Tasmanians are feeling the prosperity that characterises Tasmania's economic position at the moment. I gather the ambitious plans and promises unveiled by the Government during the election campaign will be more fully costed and planned in the budget come August. The longer it takes for the Government to address matters of inequity, particularly around housing and health, the more difficult they will be to address.

To this end, I am expecting some impressive costed policy measures in the budget As I reviewed this bill, I noted that the sum to be appropriated by this bill was determined with reference to actual agency expenditure for the first four months of 2020-21, the revised 2021-22 Estimates and consultation with relevant agencies.

I wonder if the Leader could make any comment about the extent of that consultation with the agencies and indicate whether the sums contained in the bill will be sufficient for their operations until October. In other words, are we certain they will be adequately resourced until then? I emphasise despite Tasmania's positive economic position relative to the rest of the country, not all Tasmanians are feeling the benefits. We need to be considering what challenges will lie in the years ahead and to address them as soon as possible.

According to the latest Fiscal Sustainability Report from Treasury, projected health expenditure is the single most significant driver of the projected future fiscal challenges for the state, being the largest expenditure category that is set to grow at a significantly greater rate than projected revenue growth. This is, perhaps, obvious to some but to see some of the numbers in black and white is jarring. It is incumbent upon the Government which now has a mandate to govern for all Tasmanians for the next four years to ensure the state's relatively strong economic position translates into recovery for everybody.

Day in and out I hear horror stories of people on housing waitlists and young people whose dreams of home ownership become further out of reach. As a result, young people are putting off or avoiding altogether buying a home or having children. Many young people consider growing a family a luxury which they cannot afford, and the country's population is set to seriously decline over the next 50 years. We must act as soon as possible to avoid this bleak future. Madam Deputy President, I support this bill and look forward to the Government's innovative approaches to solving these issues in the upcoming budget.


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