Addressing Tasmania’s Infrastructure Needs

The Property Council of Australia today welcomed the State Government’s announcement of a net operating balance surplus of $169.9 million, and the continued focus on new infrastructure investments totalling $2.6 billion as outlined in the 2018/19 State Budget.

Tasmanian Executive Director Brian Wightman acknowledged several initiatives which will stimulate the state economy.

“The state economy is in great shape.  The property sector has underpinned this improvement.  More than 11,000 new jobs, and a Net Operating Balance Surplus of nearly $170 million is significant.  The State Government should build on the high levels of confidence and continue to make challenging decisions which aim to restructure the State economy,” he said.

“ Most of Tasmanian’s infrastructure is at least 50 years old.  Therefore, spending of $2.6 billion is welcomed.  $1.1 billion of that funding on road and rail upgrades should deliver improved services.  Traffic congestion remains a problem in Hobart, and increasingly Launceston.  An investment of $30.8 million for mitigation congestion measures and bus priority measures on key routes is important for ensuring workers make it to their destination on time,” he said.

“Housing affordability remains a significant concern in Tasmania.  We are pleased that 1500 new affordable homes will be built, an investment of $125 million over five years.  The State Government must continue to act with haste.

“Maintaining the First Home Builders Grant at $20,000 is a positive move, supported by a 50 per cent stamp duty discount for first home buyers up to $400,000.  Also providing stamp duty for down-sizing pensioners will hopefully free-up family homes in the suburbs,” he said.   

Mr Wightman acknowledged additional funding for water and sewerage reform, however maintained that TasWater transitioning to a Government Business Enterprise must remain on the table.

“$80 million over four years towards a $200 million investment is good, however creating a Government Business Enterprise to drive efficiency, productivity and increased investment in a more timely manner, remains crucial.

“Launceston’s combined storm water and sewerage system requires immediate attention.  It must be a priority of all levels of government, particularly with the delivery of projects under the Launceston City Deal,” he said.

The Tasmanian Division congratulated the State Government on cutting payroll tax.

“Reducing payroll take from 6.1 per cent to 4 per cent up to $2 million will ensure that Tasmanian businesses remain competitive, and hopefully creating jobs.  And the continuation of the Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme should encourage the employment of more apprentices and trainees which is desperately required.”  Rebuilding the TasTafe brand will also be essential to deliver trust, retain students, and ultimately more training,” he said.

The Property Council of Australia expressed concern that there wasn’t additional funding for finalising the Tasmanian Planning Scheme.

“The finalisation of the Local Provision Schedules of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme must be finalised as a matter of urgency.  Resources are required to support councils in timely preparation, which has not occurred.  The Planning Policy Unit and Tasmanian Planning Commission will be “snowed-under” attempting to provide policy recommendations, and public hearings.  It is not sustainable, and timelines set by State Government won’t be achievable,” he said.

Mr Wightman acknowledged the additional funding for of $1.9 million for the building of the Integrated Planning and Building Portal (iplan) which attempts to deliver a “one-stop shop” for home builders, investors and developers.

Mr Wightman concluded that 2018/19 State Budget, underpinned by record levels of investment by the private sector, provided Tasmania with a significant opportunity to deliver continuous economic growth.