Happy with the Turnbull government’s latest schools funding model and satisfied with a decade-long commonwealth sponsorship of a major hospital, Tasmania’s Liberal government is unlikely to be optimistic about additional big-ticket items in the federal budget.
The only state or territory to welcome Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Gonski 2.0 scheme, championing an extra $200 million over 10 years compared to what was on offer for the state 12 months ago, Tasmania was quick to praise the schools deal this week.
And April’s promise of a $730 million cash injection to pay for the northern Mersey Community Hospital for the next decade has eased what’s been a chronic funding headache for the island state’s administration for several years.
“The government is anticipating a ‘no surprises’ budget that locks in recent commitments like … education funding and the Mersey Hospital funding deal,” a spokesman told AAP, also noting the recent $150 million commonwealth pledge for redeveloping the University of Tasmania’s northern campus.
But there are still a few key infrastructure items that Tasmania will be hoping make the cut for budget 2017/18.
In 2016, Infrastructure Australia named a specialist science, technology, engineering and maths university research and training facility in Hobart as one of the nation’s most significant future projects.
The University of Tasmania is keen on the idea but would be seeking federal dollars to co-sponsor the project.
Canberra has previously agreed to fund a new $535 million four-lane Bridgewater Bridge over Hobart’s Derwent River with construction due to start in 2019-20 and it should get a mention in the financial plan.
There’s an outside chance Tuesday’s budget could include funds for a new Launceston water treatment plan, for which federal Labor pledged $75 million in the lead up to the last election.
There should be previously announced funding for ongoing irrigation schemes and a rail freight corridor, while a federal pledge for a second Bass Strait electricity cable seems unlikely.
Tasmania’s opposition leader Rebecca White said the state was still reeling from $2.1 billion in cuts from the coalition’s 2014 budget.
“The federal government has done nothing to help fix Tasmania’s water and sewerage challenges,” Ms White told AAP.
“Labor committed $75 million to fix Launceston’s storm water problem. That commitment should be matched as a first step by the Turnbull government.”
The Labor leader said Tasmania was in desperate need of further education funding, adding that the state government was wrong to accept the latest schools deal.
Furthermore, public hospitals in Hobart and Launceston continued to operate under enormous pressures which could be eased by federal funding, Ms White added.
TASMANIA’S KEY FEDERAL BUDGET WISHLIST:
* Promised $730 million cash injection to pay for the northern Mersey Community Hospital
* $535 million four-lane Bridgewater Bridge over Hobart’s Derwent River
* University of Tasmania wants funds to co-sponsor a specialist science, technology, engineering and maths university research and training facility
* Funds for a new Launceston water treatment plan, ongoing irrigation schemes and a rail freight corridor