Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020



7:25 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make a contribution regarding the 2020-21 federal budget and its lack of a coherent economic stimulus plan for my home state of Tasmania. This year's federal budget was the most important budget since the end of World War II and has left Australians across the land wanting. Prime Minister Morrison promises a lot but delivers nothing—and this is what this budget is all about. The Morrison government has had the opportunity to invest in Tasmania with a plan to boost economic activity in jobs but has left my home state off the map. This crisis, above all else, demands the prioritisation of job creation initiatives, which means direct investment in small business and the industries which keep our state moving. But the government has missed that opportunity.

The government has also missed an opportunity to provide assistance to unemployed Tasmanians and those suffering under our housing crisis. There is nothing in this budget that builds confidence in the Tasmanian community, nor does it futureproof us against a future outbreak. There is no plan for jobs. There is no plan for Tasmanian hospitals. Tasmanians need more than the $360 million road infrastructure package that will supposedly be delivered over the next four years. This federal budget required a bold plan for our tourism, agriculture and emerging industries, yet the Morrison government did not take the opportunity that was provided to them. Tasmanian industries have not been adequately supported to recover from this crisis. The $13.5 million for Tasmanian tourism projects just doesn't cut it. Local interstate and international travellers spent a total of $4.5 billion on tourism in Tasmania in 2018-19. Tasmania needs a federal government that will actually build Tasmania's tourism infrastructure on a larger scale.

Over successive years, this government has been consistently guilty of reannouncing previously committed funds that are yet to be delivered. They do that across the country, not just in Tasmania. The funds committed to the Sorell Causeway duplication are welcome, but these funds were announced at the last election. Those opposite move around the communities and promise but don't deliver. For example, in last year's budget, the government promised much for my home town of Launceston but delivered very little. There are three commitments worth noting that not only haven't been delivered but may not be delivered until 2023-24—if ever. There is $10 million, under built cultural initiatives, for the Albert Hall renewal project; $47.5 million, under the Launceston City Deal, to improve the health of the Tamar River estuary; and $15 million for the northern suburbs recreation hub.

To ensure that we get out of the immediate danger of the crisis and overcome the recession that we as a nation find ourselves in, we must be bold with our policy advocates and we must deliver. The government has had one shot at this, but there are no second chances. Direct investment to get our state moving again and to help that momentum is crucial if we are to emerge from this Morrison recession. Tasmania can't afford funding commitments which will not be delivered until 2023-24. The people of Tasmania deserve better than this, and the people of Australia deserve better than this. A tax cut of less than $50 a fortnight just does not cut it. People will have $300 prematurely taken away from them through the reduction in JobKeeper. Australians need the full support of the federal government, not the termination of assistance that is keeping them afloat. Where is the plan to keep people in work and to keep older workers in work? Once they lose their jobs we know that they're unlikely to be rehired.

Instead of better targeting taxpayer funds, those opposite are condemning future generations to record levels of debt, with gross national debt expected to reach $1.13 trillion by 2024. Sadly, last night's budget is built on a wing and a prayer, with no plan for Tasmania and a wish for a vaccine by the end of the year. Building roads will not get us out of the Morrison government's recession. It won't work; their budget is not going to cut it.