What an opportunity!

The Property Council of Australia today congratulated the state government on a net operating balance surplus of $54.3 million, and the continued focus on new infrastructure investments totaling $245 million as outlined in the 2017/18 State Budget.

Tasmanian Executive Director Brian Wightman acknowledged several announcements which will stimulate the state’s economy.

“Tasmania has a unique opportunity to put the building blocks in place to ensure that the state is underpinned by continuous economic growth for a generation.

“Investor confidence remains extremely strong; the state government must be bold and drive positive economic conditions that ensures the private sector continues to thrive.

“Maintaining the First Home Builders Grant at $20,000 ($10.4 million) is a positive move, however the Property Council assertively advocated for a return to $30,000 and an expanded definition to include families moving to Tasmania who have not built a house in the state before.

“Providing stamp duty relief of $7500 for eligible house and land packages together with a commitment to audit government land holdings in order to increase supply is an outstanding initiative to improve housing affordability.

“And when this is coupled with $300,000 to assist councils to finalise Local Provision Schedules as part of the Statewide Planning Scheme and $1.9 million for the one stop approvals shop iPlan, there is significant investment in the sector which is underpinning Tasmania’s economic recovery,” he said.

The Tasmanian Division noted additional spending as a component of the Population Growth Strategy.

“Additional funding of $1.5 million for the Population Growth Strategy over the next four years, and $500,000 for a skilled migration strategy are important commitments.

“And $11 million in marketing for the tourism sector will certainly raise awareness of our state.

“However, considering the impact of population growth on economic indicators, a more significant focus in the  forward estimates aimed at exceeding the 650,000 by 2050 target is essential,” he said.

The Property Council acknowledged the unique challenges currently being experienced in North and North West Tasmania, particularly in relation to employment and jobs growth.

“The $17 million payroll tax incentives to encourage businesses to employ apprentices or trainees is a welcome initiative.

“$6.9 million to support the Launceston City Deal, and the continued emphasis on the UTAS relocation in Burnie will also provide jobs for young people and reasons to stay.

“This will also be complemented by councils bringing forward infrastructure projects ($7.3 million) across regional Tasmania, in particular,” he said.

Mr. Wightman reiterated that water and sewerage remained a major challenge for Tasmania and looked forward to the state government, together with their local and federal counterparts providing leadership that included substantial funding sooner rather than later.

“Tasmania is crying out for water and sewerage infrastructure investment.  The state government should immediately take over TasWater and lobby the federal government for funding.

“$20 million per year over the next seven years from 2018/19 to ensure dividends to Councils is extremely generous considering the urgent works required to fix our water and sewerage infrastructure, and should be accepted by the local government sector immediately.

“Investment in water and sewerage infrastructure will create jobs now and enable them into the future.  It’s difficult to create a university city in Launceston with inadequate services,” he said.

Mr Wightman concluded that 2017/18 State Budget underpinned by record levels of investment by the private sector provided Tasmania with a significant opportunity to deliver continuous economic growth for a generation to come.