2021-22 Tasmanian Budget Delivered

Tasmanian Budget 2021-22 Analysis

Quotes

“Our economy is strong, we live in one of the safest and most beautiful places in the world, our businesses and our people are confident.” 

Tasmanian Premier and Treasurer Peter Gutwein

“Tasmania’s debt will spiral to nearly $3.5bn by 2025 and it’s taxpayers who will foot that bill. Ignoring the problem is not a budget strategy.”

Shadow Treasurer Dr Shane Broad

“This investment in the ‘care economy’ — in the wellbeing of our people — is not only the right thing to do, but will also generate a significant return on investment for government by keeping people well and bringing more money into the state’s economy.”

Adrienne Picone, Tasmanian Council of Social Services (TasCOSS) CEO

The 2021-2022 Tasmanian State Budget was handed down on Thursday, 26 August 2021 by Tasmanian Treasurer, the Hon. Peter Gutwein MP.

OTA has prepared a summary of those budget measures most relevant to occupational therapists.

The Bottom Line

Tasmanian Liberal Premier and Treasurer Peter Gutwein has brought down a state budget that defers a return to surplus in order to fund infrastructure and honour promises made in the May election campaign.

Despite a doubling of government debt, the state’s finances are relatively healthy, particularly when compared to those mainland states with economies devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and long lockdowns.

The budget reveals a deficit of $411 million in 2020-21, less than half the sum originally forecast, thanks mainly to stronger than expected growth. Growth is forecast to remain strong, at 4 per cent in 2021-22, before stabilising around 2 per cent the following year. This has resulted in greater GST revenue, and a stronger bottom line.

Mr Gutwein will, however, allow net debt to rise to $3.47 billion over four years to fund infrastructure and restore a health system that has been struggling for years to meet community needs.

The investment in infrastructure is estimated to create 28,000 jobs over four years, which will help see unemployment fall from its current 6.4 per cent to 5.5 per cent later this financial year.

These optimistic growth and employment forecasts assume Tasmania remains Delta COVID free, and mainland Australians are soon able kick start the state’s tourism industry.

Of particular interest to occupational therapists is an additional $900 million in health spending over the next four years.

Health and hospital

The Government’s commitment to health has seen total expenditure grow by $900 million to a total spend of $10.7 billion over the next four years. This makes health the largest expenditure item in the budget at 32 per cent of total spend. $2.58 billion will be spent this year across existing and newly announced projects.

Over the next four years, $196.4 million has been allocated to deliver more elective surgeries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic through the provision of an additional 180 staff state-wide including 112 nurses, 10 doctors, 16 allied health staff and over 40 hospital support staff. Similarly, $198 million has be committed to supply an extra 50 permanent hospital beds across the state.

Other investments over the next four years includes:

  • $15.7 million to implement the Health Workforce 2040 Strategy which includes recruitment, training, re-training and postgraduate training and recruitment processes;
  • $40.8 million to recruit more paramedics state-wide including an additional crew in Launceston;
  • $27.5 million for community-based health care, including hospital-in-the-home services and other health care delivered in the home or community;
  • $8 million to support better GP after-hours access and reduce pressure on emergency departments;
  • $18.3 million to increase staffing in Tasmania’s District Hospitals as part of the safe staffing model;
  • $2 million to amend the Controlled Access Scheme and enable improved access to Medicinal Cannabis;
  • Over $9.4 million for ill-health prevention and community-based wellbeing programs; and
  • $10.5 million to strengthen in-home and community-based Palliative Care services.

Over two years:

  • $7.5 million for residential rehabilitation beds for alcohol and drug treatment and detox; and
  • $4.5 million for new Community Health and Wellbeing Networks in Ulverstone, Huonville and Scottsdale.

Over one year:

  • $9.2 million to support the implementation of the End of Life Choices, Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The Tasmanian Government has continued to fund large scale infrastructure projects including the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital with health infrastructure spend over the next four years totalling $524 million.

The following existing and newly announced projects are to be funded over the following timeframes:

Over four years:

  • $12 million to commence Launceston General Hospital redevelopment Stage 2 – Mental Health Precinct;
  • $8.1 million for the North West Regional Hospital to fully operate a second linear accelerator; and
  • $4.3 million to establish and operate a new Rural Medical Workforce Centre at the Mersey Community Hospital.

Over three years:

  • $20 million for the North West Regional Hospital – Mental Health Precinct;
  • $9 million for new ambulance vehicles and equipment; and
  • $10 million towards the expanded redevelopment of the Mersey Community Hospital.

Over two years:

  • $110 million beginning in 2023-24 to expand Royal Hobary Hospital Stage 2 development;
  • $2.5 million for ward upgrades and additional bed capacity at North-West Regional Hospital; and
  • $10 million towards Stage 2 of the Kingston Health Centre.

 

Mental Health

The Government has allocated $108 million to fund mental health services across the State. The trial program of the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) will become permanent with $2.1 million in funding over the next four years.

The Budget also includes $41.2 million to fully fund a response to phases one and two of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Review report and its recommendations. An additional $8.8 million will fund the continued rollout of the broader Tasmanian Mental Health Reform Program across the entire state.

Over the next two years the following programs will also be funded:

  • $7.8 million to continue and expand COVID-introduced mental health services, including a mental health phone triage service and increased capacity for Rural Alive and Well;
  • $5.1 million to pilot an innovative Emergency Mental Health Co-Response Model where mental health professionals travel with police and ambulance officers on relevant triple zero calls; and
  • $8.5 million for the Mental Health Hospital in the Home Pilot in the North-West.

The continued funding of the existing project of 27 new mental health beds in Southern Tasmania was outlined totalling $9.4 million in 2021-22. This project is expected to last until 2024. Similarly, the continued upgrade of the Launceston General Hospital Mental Health Precinct was funded with $500,000 of the $80 million project coming in 2021-22.

Disability

The budget states that there are now more than 10,900 Tasmanians on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with more than 6,000 of them receiving support for the first time. The 2021-22 budget will contribute $660,000 over 4 years to support the National Disability Service as the peak body for local disability providers. This support goes alongside the $1 billion the government has committed to funding the NDIS over the next four years.

The State Government has committed $1.2 million over four years to establish the first Tasmanian Disability Services Commissioner. Additionally, this budget has committed $1.4 million over four years to improve the Tasmanian Autism Diagnostic Service by providing three additional assessors.

Aged Care

The 2021-22 budget did not allocate any specific funding towards Aged Care services. A reference was made to the additional 600 training places for aged care announced by the Government in March.

Additionally, previously announced funding for the CHHP Queenstown Allied Health and Aged Care Facility was carried over from a previous budget.

Education and Workforce

The 2021-22 Budget has raised total government spend on education to $8 billion over the next four years. This includes new education infrastructure commitments of $116.2 million.

Specific education programs over the next four years include:

  • $56 million for disability funding to support students with disabilities;
  • $3.8 million to provide free speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers in family learning centres;
  • $5.36 million to employ additional school nurses and 3 full time Grade Clinical Nurse Educators; and
  • $15,000 over a single year for school nurses to undertake specialised training in Youth Mental Health First aid.

The 2021-22 Budget also includes $135 million of new investment to boost workforce capabilities. The central part of this funding includes $98.6 million over four years for the TasTAFE program that will deliver 100 extra TasTAFE teachers, a virtual campus for regional students, $45 million of facility upgrades and $4 million to increase library access for regional students.

The budget also funds the $20.5 million Working Tasmania package that seeks to support employees and employers in providing and sustaining jobs through wage subsidies, low-cost transportation and job matching services.

 

Small Business

The Government has outlined that 97 per cent of the 38,000 businesses in Tasmania are small businesses. The following initiatives were announced to develop them:

Over four years:

  • $800,000 to boost Business Tasmania to better support Tasmanian businesses; and
  • $1.2 million for Small Business Financial Counselling and Advice.

Over three years:

  • $2 million for the Small Business Incubator and Accelerator Pilot Program; and
  • $300,000 for Regional Chambers of Commerce, to support their small business members.

Indigenous Tasmanians

The Government has committed an additional $4 million towards developing Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations to better meet the needs of Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

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